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editor's note

Seeing God? And when Moses arrived at Our appointed meeting and his Lord spoke to him, he said, “My Lord, show me, that I might look upon You.” He said, “You shall not see Me; but look upon the mountain; if it remains firm in its place, then you will see Me.” And when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon. And when he recovered, he said, “Glory be to You! I turn to You in repentance, and I am the first of the believers. [Surat Al-A ‘raf, 7:143] The foregoing verse tells us emphatically that humans are unable to see God in this world. It corroborates Allah’s saying in another ayah: Sight comprehends him not, but He comprehends all sight. [Surat Al-An‘am, 6:103]. Now, you may ask: what prompted Moses to make that request to God? One Quran commentator remarked: “Moses’ desire to see God was engendered by the state of intimacy he experienced with Him upon the mountain. There Allah spoke to him without intermediary. A hadith has it that God was so close that Moses could hear the scratching of the pen across the tablets as they were being written upon by God. With this closeness and the sweetness of God’s speaking to him, Moses was overcome with spiritual ecstasy and yearned to be yet nearer to God, and was emboldened to ask: My Lord, show me, that I might look upon You.1 ”

Another Quran exegete commented: “Moses knew that God could not be physically seen in this world, but he asked this only to satisfy the Israelites, who had challenged him thus: O Moses, we will not believe you till we see God openly. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:55].” Why are humans unable to see God in this life? The answer to this question, as per the ayah, is: because they would perish if Allah were to manifest Himself to them. To illustrate this point Allah said to Moses: You shall not see Me; but look upon the mountain; if it remains firm in its place, then you will see Me.” And when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble to dust, and Moses fell down in a swoon, which shows the annihilating power of God’s Self-Manifestation. For if the mountains, which were so much larger and stronger than Moses, could not stand His vision, then, a fortiori, neither could Moses. The Companion Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari narrated: …His veil is light. Were He to remove it, the Glory of His face would burn up everything His Sight reached. (Muslim) 2 So, out of mercy does Allah spare us the hazard of trying to come face to face with Him. The great Mauritanian Shaykh, Mohammed Al-Hasan Al-Dadw, remarked: Humans, in their present form, could not bear coming face to face with the realities of the realm of the unseen, like God, the angels, etc. For them to be able to safely encounter things from that

veiled and different domain, humans must undergo a radical change (a leap, if you will) in their physical nature. And in this light we should view the tremendous squeeze which the Archangel Jibreel dealt Prophet Muhammad when the two encountered each other for the first time. Jibreel gave that squeeze -- which was so massive that the Prophet thought he was going to die of it -- to effect a change in the physical makeup of the Prophet, elevating him to a new level of existence such that he could bear the encounter with the tremendous realities of the world of the unseen. The same can be said about the squeeze of the grave (dammat al-qabr). The Prophet’s saying that no one, a believer or otherwise, is exempt from dammat al-qabr demonstrates that this squeeze is not a form of punishment, but rather a procedure to prepare man physically for entrance into the otherworldly domain (which he could not handle in his thisworldly form and nature). Quran commentators differed as to their opinions on what exactly happened to prophet Moses when he saw the mountain crumble to dust. Some say he fell unconscious out of awe or as the result of being smitten by a thunderbolt. Others indicate that Moses actually died in that moment and was brought back to life, but opponents of the death proposition countered that the word afâqa (recovered) connotes arousal from a state of unconsciousness, rather than from physical death. But regardless of what exactly Moses went through in that perilous moment, it was a trying experience for him; he learned the hard way that he and his fellow humans shall not see God in this world. ..................................... 1. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, p. 534. 2. Ibid

Volume 29, Issue 01 Rabi Al-Awwal 1438 H / Dec. - Jan. 2016-17

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In between Olaya Rd. & Al Urfaj Rd. Tel: (+9661) 478 7100, 478 1700, Fax.: (+9661) 478 6400 AlJumuah (ISSN 10923772) is published quarterly by AlJumuah Inc. USA, 437 S. Yellowstone Dr. Suite 109B Madison, WI 53719. All rights reserved. The publication date for this issue is December 23, 2016. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior permission is prohibited. Writers’ opinions are not necessarily that of AlJumuah Magazine. Aljumuah is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided by the advertisers. Readers are encouraged to verify such information directly with the advertisers. AlJumuah Magazine reserves the right to reject any advertisement. This magazine contains some of Allah's names and Qur’anic verses. Please do not throw in the trash. Either keep, circulate, shred, or recycle.




Ü Adab 4

Ü Perspectives l The Myth of Unbiased Islamic Scholarship 40 l Strange Bunk-Buddies: Evil and a Loving God 47

l God With You


Ü Fatawa

l Why We Must Study Hadith Once Again


l Making Mistakes in Determining

l The Life of the Prophet is the Highest Ideal

Ü Article

The Direction of Qibla

Ü Islam for Our Times l Modern and Religious, Mutually Exclusive?


l When Race Matters: How I learned About Jesus Through Malcolm X 32

Ü Waha




Ü Counsel & Comment l Choosing A mate Wisely


l Tawakkul: The Best Remedy for Anxiety 60

Ü The Last Word l On Stereotyping 64



The Life of the Prophet Is the Highest Ideal Selections from Sayd Al-Khatir by Ibn Al-Jawzi NAJWA JAFFER, TRANSLATOR



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NE WHO SEEKS to grasp the truth about how to be pleased with Allah and His actions, and to know the source of this pleasure with Allah’s decrees, should look to the life of the Prophet.


Knowing his Lord For indeed, when he perfected his understanding of the Creator (glory be to Him), he came to understand that the Creator is in essence, a Master, and the Master has the right to do as He wills with those whom He owns. The Prophet recognized Allah as the Wise, who has not created anything aimlessly --without a serious purpose. Hence, he submitted himself to His Lord, the Wise, whose miracles keep on coming forth, and in Whom no change is to be seen, nor can any tiredness or frustration be detected in His nature. The Prophet would not say: ‘If such and such were to be the case...’1 Rather, he would submit to his Lord’s decrees just as firmly as would the mountains in the face of the stormiest of winds.

He had to come out every now and then, saying: ‘Who will shelter me? Who can protect me?’ Finally, he had no choice but to leave Makkah for Al-Ta’if. And when Al-Ta’if proved to be as inimical to his cause as Makkah , he returned to his hometown only after a prominent non-Muslim Makkan2 offered to protect him. In spite of this, he harboured no rancour for his tormenters.

Patient in Adversity

Embracing Servanthood

This [Muhammad] was the master of all the prophets, sent to all of mankind at a time when disbelief was spread across the horizons, and he was made to flee from one place to another, because the people would abuse him if they find him. They caused his heels to bleed, they tossed upon his back the placenta of a camel, and in response to all this, he did not say a word or retaliate.

If it had been anyone else, other than Muhammad, he would surely have said: ‘O My Lord! You are the Master of all creation, You are capable of granting me victory, so why then do you disgrace me like this?’ Just like ‘Umar had said on the day of the Hudaibiyya treaty: ‘Are we not in the right? Then why are we being disgraced because of our religion?’3 VOL. 29 ISSUE 01 RABI AL-AWWAL 1438 DEC - JAN. 2016-17



And when ‘Umar said this, the Prophet said to him: ‘Indeed I am a slave of Allah, and He will not ruin me.’ Hence, in this way, the two original statements which we had mentioned earlier came together (through the Prophet’s own words). His words: ‘Indeed I am a slave of Allah,’ are a proclamation of (Allah’s) ownership of him, almost as if he is saying: ‘I am (in His) possession, He may do with me whatever He wills.’ Furthermore, his words: ‘He will not ruin me,’ are pointing towards Allah’s wisdom, and the fact that He does not do anything without purpose.

Tested by Loss of Life, Health & Wealth Thereafter, He was tried with


hunger and endured a severe boycott, whilst all the treasures of the skies and the earth are Allah’s. Companions of the Prophet œ were killed, his own face was bashed in, a front tooth was broken, and his uncle’s body was mutilated4 (in an act of extreme vengeance), yet he remained silent. Then, he was blessed with a son5, but even this child was taken away from him. And after this, his heart was consoled when he was given Al-Hasan and Al-Husain as his grandsons, but even then he was foretold the evil that would befall them (later in their lives).6 Furthermore, his soul found comfort and peace within the companionship of his young wife ‘Aishah, but even this peace was spoilt for him when she was

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slandered.7 He was given plenty of miracles (to prove his prophethood), yet there came up against him false prophets like Musalaylamah, Al-Ansi and Ibn Siyad. He had established for himself the good reputation of being ‘the honest and truthful one,’ and yet it was followed on with titles like ‘liar’ and ‘magician.’Then he was stricken by ill health in which he endured as much suffering as two men, yet he remained calm and silent.8 And when he informed (us) of his state it is only so that we too would know and understand what it means to be patient. Thereafter, when death came upon him, he was in a humble condition with him wearing coarse dress, a thick, rough undergarment, and his family


did not even have oil to light a lamp with.

His Excellence Among the Messengers None other than Muhammad would have been able to bear this resignation to Allah’s decrees. Not even the prophets before him could have done so, so much so that even if such trials had been sent upon the angels, they would not have been able to endure them patiently. We have before us the example of Adam, who was granted a license to enjoy the entirety of Paradise , except for a single tree from which he was forbidden. And yet his utmost desire was to partake of that which was made unlawful.9 As for our Prophet œ, he used to say

concerning lawful things: I’m not one who is given to indulging dunya [i.e. material things even if they are permissible].10 Then there is prophet Nuh (Noah) , who cried out in frustration at what his people were doing to him, and pleaded to his Lord in a state of utter dejection and grief: ‘O My Lord! Do not leave a single disbeliever upon the surface of the earth!’11 As for our blessed Prophet, look at what he says in a similar situation: ‘O Allah, guide my people, for indeed, they do not know [what they are doing].’12 Then we have the example of Musa (Moses), known as ‘AlKalim’ (for he used to converse with Allah), who protested when his people took to worshipping the calf, ascribing what his people did to divine destiny, saying: ‘This (matter of the calf)

is nothing but a trial from You.’13 Thereafter, when the Angel of death approached him, Musa struck him.14 As for ‘Isa (Jesus), he said (to Allah): ‘If you have ever averted death for the sake of anyone, avert it from me.’ However, when our Prophet, Muhammad œ, had to choose between staying alive or dying, he chose to journey towards the Greatest Companion.15 Then we have the example of Suleiman (Solomon) saying: ‘Grant me a kingdom.’16 And as for our Prophet œ look at what he said: ‘O my Lord, make the livelihood of the family of Muhammad as qut.’17 By Allah, this is surely the attitude of a person who knows the creation and the Creator; hence his own motives and desires were over and done with, and his objections were

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ADAB quelled, thence his desires only revolve around what his Lord had decreed for him. ........................................ 1.This is part of the hadith in Sahih Muslim that reads: The strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than the weak believer, but still there is good in both of them. So pursue diligently that which benefits you, seek Allah’s help and do not lose heart, and when a misfortune befalls you, do not say, ‘‘If such and such were to be the case,’ but rather say, ‘That was Allah’s decree, and when Allah wills something He does it,’ for Indeed, the word ‘if’ prefaces the acts of Satan. (Muslim) 2.The author is referring here to AlMut’im ibn ‘Adi, the chief of the Qurayshite clan of Banu Nawfal. When the Prophet and Zaid ibn Thabit (the Prophet’s adopted son) went to Al-Ta’if to invite them to Islam, but did not succeed and returned to Makkah, he did not return openly. Rather he sent Zaid to seek protection for him among his friends in Makkah. Al-Mut‘im provided asylum for the Prophet, hence the latter was able to return to his hometown. Al-Mut’im died a non-Muslim but his son, Jubayr ibn Al-Mut’im, became a Muslim. As proof of his appreciation of AlMut’im’s kind act towards him, the Prophet said, if Al-Mut’im were alive and he asked me to free those wicked ones (i.e., the Makkan’s prisoners of war who fell in Muslims’ hands in the wake of the battle of Badr) I would happily hand them over to him. 3. See the full story in Sahih Muslim, Hadith no 1785. 4. Ibn Al-Jawzi is alluding here to the martyrdom of the Prophet’s beloved uncle, Hamzah ibn Abd


Al-Muttalib, in the battle of Uhud, and whose body was mutilated by Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan [the leader of the Makkans’ army in that battle which the Muslims lost]. Hamzah’s murder and mutilation pained the Prophet so much that he vowed to avenge him by killing seventy Makkans. But the Prophet soon abandoned this idea. 5. The reference here is to Ibrahim, the Prophet’s son with his wife Mariayh who died when he was only 2 years old. 6. Al-Hassan was savaged by his own followers who rejected his decision to abdicate [i.e. the Caliph office that devolved on him following the murder of his father, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib] in favour of Mu’awayah ibn Abi Sufyam. They would call him: The Disgracer of the Believers. At age 45, Al-Hasan was murdered by poisoning. As for Al-Husain, he was killed along with a number of his household members in a confrontation with an Ummayyed army. Al-Husain did not recognise the rule of Yazid, who ascended to power after the death of his father, Mu’awaiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, and led an armed rebellion against his government. Al-Husain was 54 years old when he was martyred. 7. The reference here is to the Incident of Ifk (the Slander). You can learn more about this incident in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith no. 3910. 8. The author is referring to a hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, no.5324, narrated by Ibn Mas‘ud who said: I once visited the Prophet when he was sick. I said, ‘You look very unwell, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied: ‘That is right. I usually suffer double the pain felt by an ordinary sick person. [the Prophet then added:] No mu’min is afflicted by any misfortune, even as insig-

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nificant as a brick of a thorn, except that Allah makes it a penitential expiation (kaffara) of his sins.’ 9. Quran, Surat Al-Baqarah, 2: 35. 10. Part of a hadith reported by Tirmidhi, no. 2377, on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ud who said: ‘The prophet once slept on a rough matt. When he woke up we saw that the rough surface of the matt had affected his skin. So we said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah, why don’t you get a tender mattress to sleep on?’ He replied, ‘I’m not one who indulges dunya. My example is no more than the example of a traveller who slept under the shade of a tree and then stood up and left it.’ 11. Quran, Surat Nuh, 71:26. 12. This statement was uttered by the Prophet in a number of occasions. He said it on the day of the battle of Uhud, when his face was bashed in and he was urged by some of his Companions to make du‘a’ against the mushrikin. He also said it when the Mountains’ Angel proposed to destroy the tribe of Quraysh in return for their opposition to Muhammad and his message. Some say the Prophet also said it on the day he conquered Makkah. 13. Quran, Surat Al-A‘raf, 7:155 14. The story of prophet Musa and the Angel of Death is mentioned in Sahih Muslim and Sahih Al-Bukhari. For more on this story see Fath AlBari, 6/805 and Imam Nawawi’s Commentary on Sahih Muslim, 8/3497. 15. See Ibn Kathir’s Al-Bidaya wa AlNihaya, 5/248 16. Quran, Surat Sad, 38:35 17. This is an agreed upon hadith (reported by Bukhari and Muslim). ‘Qut’ may be translated as enough sustenance that would be necessary for the maintenance of life.


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TREE FALLS in the forest. Now, suppose there is no one within earshot to hear it. Does the unheard collision of that tree with the forest floor qualify as a “sound”? This is a classic philosophical question in the history of science.1 Must “sound” be defined reciprocally, that is, in terms of a necessary coordination of an event with its perceiver(s) --in this case about a human hearer’s hearing? This kind of question has arisen out of man’s attempt to understand the parameters of his existence in this world, with himself as the final judge of truth. By the same logic, can Deity be said to exist if He is not open to human observation? Even prophet Moses (Musa) struggled with this limitation.


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View from Mount Moses at Mount Sinai at dawn

So when Moses came at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said: My Lord, show me [Yourself], that I may look upon You. He said: You cannot [withstand this, so as to] see Me. But look upon the mountain. If it holds firm in its place, then shall you see Me. Yet when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He caused it to crumble, and Moses fell down [faint, utterly] stunned. Then when he recovered [his senses], he said: Highly exalted are You [far above all]! I repent to You! And I am the foremost of the believers [in You among my people]! [Surat Al-A‘raf, 7: 143] Can the legitimacy of the alleged “sound” be judged without a human observer to receive it

though his physical sense of hearing --and consciously to register it in his mind? Now take a not-quite observer of “sound” who felt the ground tremble. He saw the tree go down but missed its attendant noise. Is he to suppose that there was no sound made by the crashing tree when he himself saw and felt the event but --due to distance-- didn’t himself hear it land! Can one excuse his rejection of God by saying, “I studied the vast night sky in search for God but I didn’t see Him”? And so too did We show Abraham [the celestial majesty and divine authority

in] the vast kingdom of the heavens and the earth, so that he would be of those [who believe in God] with certainty. So when the night spread over him, he saw a star ... the moon ... So, when he saw the sun rising, he said: This is my Lord! This is greater [than both]! Then when it disappeared, he said: O my people! I am innocent of [worshipping] all that you associate [as gods with God]. I have turned my face, being ever upright [of heart], to the One who [alone] originated the heavens and the earth-and I am not of those who associate gods with God! [Surat Al-An'am, 6:75-79] Furthermore, the would-be observer’s perception of the sound of a falling tree may

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depend upon his own degree of sensitivity developed within a particular bodily sense? But barring any optic impairment, doesn’t one’s successful hearing of what should be a soundproducing event ultimately depend upon his/her degree of external physical awareness and the internal direction of his attention? To what extent is one to “read between the lines” --or bring to bear all manner of evidence, weaving it all together -- to arrive at what to take as true or certain? The above classic question points up a way of thinking that puts man at the center of his universe as the final arbiter in his own affairs, creating his own moral compass and his own law and order. This goes beyond the divine mandate which installs humankind as ‘vicegerent,’


or caretaker, of his earthly environment, as assigned to him in the Abrahamic faiths (that is, in the Bible and in the Quran):

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Now, behold! Your Lord said to the angels: I am placing upon the earth a [human] successor [to steward it]. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:32] And God prepared the man in His image; in the image of God2 He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them. And God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule over fish of the sea and fowl of the heavens and over every living thing that is creeping upon the earth.... [Bible, Genesis 1:27-28]

If man does not perceive the “sound” of the falling tree --or perhaps he somehow measures its occurrence in keeping with the Scientific Method-then the alleged truth of the posited sound-event is thus open to skepticism by rational Western man, and the ‘correct’ characterization of the falling tree event (whether or not ‘sound’ is necessarily produced in the process) will be gauged based on whether the relevant observational data meets a meaningful verifiable standard. The proposition must stand up to the test of falsifiability. If the event is known to have taken place, but no one was there to ‘hear’ it, then is it correct to say that ‘sound’ did not take place or that we cannot be sure whether ‘sound’ took place? In the end, nothing can be certain in this

ARTICLE controlled way of thinking, most of all Deity, who is beyond the scope of investigative probing from the outset. Any empirical statement will be couched in human language (which has its own limits and unknowns) and the proposition’s truth value --regardless of whether that something is widely believed-- must be allied with human cognition, says Science. If multiple human observers can agree on the same observation, this gives its truth value more certainty. I do not mean to denigrate the power of the Scientific Method, but rather to deny its universality: It cannot decide questions outside the normal purview of human sensory observation and other approved means of taking quantifiable measurement. The Quran, of course, is God-centered. It claims to speak authoritatively with the Voice of the Creator - Sustainer of all worlds of existence, to mankind in all cultures and experiences. The Quran calls its listener/reader to ponder over its claims, for him/ her to notice God’s “Signs,” since these constitute His selfproclaimed evidence. Those ‘Signs’ are everywhere around us and require us to combine the use of our physical senses and our mental powers - the empirical and the rational. Man is asked to assess the totality of his time-andspace experience in terms of these Signs, which point to the One not bound by our time-and-space dimensions. The Quran, itself a Book of Signs, calls one to verify for himself an intricate, holistic package of eternal truth as made

I do not mean to denigrate the power of the Scientific Method, but rather to deny its universality: It cannot decide questions outside the normal purview of human sensory observation and other approved means of taking quantifiable measurement. meaningful in the practicalities of human life. When you read the Quran --even in translation-- does its Speech of God ring true? Does it call out to your innermost self? The rise of the Scientific Method came against the background of an oppressive

religious authority structure in Europe, where Church dogma and priestly power controlled the public purview and collective worldview. Truth for the common man was the province of the Church, not yet the prerogative of his own powers of critical thinking.] Today we celebrate the achievements of Science and its allied mathematical innovations, as well as the critical thinking that has grown up with it. Need we be reminded that Muslims played a key role in this heritage!3 Along with questioning old assumptions, especially religious ones, has come an appetite for rejecting whatever the mancentered measure-of-all-things has not yet been able to handle intellectually. Establishing the existence of God is perhaps the most elusive to the insistent empiricist. The ancient Greeks, whose philosophy and pre-science we celebrate, reasoned that the world had always existed --that it had not been created. There was thus no place for a Creator in this scheme of things, except perhaps in traditional language, mythology and cultic

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O man! What is it that lures you away from your bountiful Sustainer, who has created you, and formed you in accordance with what you are meant to be, and shaped your nature in just proportions, having put you together in whatever form He willed [you to have]? [Surat Al-Infitar,82:6-8] practices. Accordingly, modern intellectuals tend not to see the need for a Divine Person to have created them and their world, a Deity to be in control of it, or even any type of ‘God’ to exist at all. If our world was not created but has always existed, what could be the meaning of an origin or an Originator for it?! Trouble is, of course, that everything in the world is dynamic, not static. All living things have a beginning of life term and an end, even when their “seed” or DNA or biochemical structure information is passed


on to new individuals who continue that life in a new iteration. Some changes take years, centuries or eons, but, as is said, “The only thing that remains the same is change.” 4 Even scientific hypotheses can have a life span before they are displaced in favor of something else that explains more data. To rule out the existence of ‘God’ based upon the need for Him to conform to modern scientific methods is at best to say that Science is not equipped to tackle such a question: If He exists, He does so outside the reach of our

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sensorial world. Atheists feel that logic and sophisticated thinking are on their side: There can be no God, they conclude. Do they require Him to show Himself as a creature within His own Creation? (If so, then did God create Himself!) The foremost question to pose to them is, What kind of ‘God’ is it that you reject? Is it a poorly conceived, made-in-the-imageof-man sort of ‘God’ or is it a correctly understood SelfRevealed Deity, as presented uniformly throughout the Quran? Agnostics may have reservations about the ‘God’ of the atheists and suspect that there is more to the issue than how atheists present their case. Theists will counter-argue that a sense of justice and purpose is engrained in the human fabric of being. Man struggles to discover acceptable meaning in his existence if he does not already have it. He wants to submit himself to Truth and to align himself with Goodness. It is true, as has often been observed, that if God were not to exist, then man would have to invent him! The Quran weighs in on this innermost truth that God is the One who cannot not exist. If the Science-enamored atheist insists that this double negative is yet to be proven, how would one establish the existence of something when he admits that by its very nature that something is beyond the

ARTICLE capability of Science to detect it? Science cannot argue from lack of observable evidence; philosophy can. At the same time the Voice of the Quran (Allah) calls on the seeker to see the unity of all truth -- the patterns of truth which the individual finds within himself, the truth which he observes and ponders: He is the One who has created [all of] you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot. Then He brings you forth as children, that you may then reach full maturity, that you may then become elderly--though among you are those who are made to die before [this. It is thus,] so that you may all reach a preordained term [of death], and so that you may all [come to] understand [that God alone could do this]. He [alone] is the One who gives life and gives death. For when He decrees a matter, He but says to it: Be! And so it is. [Surat Ghafir, 40:67-68] The atheist’s intellectual ride may indeed be heady, giving one the sense that he is in the forefront of courageous innovation, a member of an elite, avant-garde clique; but he will have to live in a “brave new world” lacking a sure-footed purpose behind his existence, ultimately inviting injustice/ wrongdoing. It is simply hard to deny: The psychologically-healthy person with a clear conscience is “hardwired” to believe in a Creator. The Quran addresses, from angle after angle, those prepared to think about the underlying

questions of man’s existence: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” For He has made you to inherit the earth, and has raised some of you by degrees above others, so that He might try you by means of what He has bestowed upon you... [Surat Al-An‘am, 6:165] O man! What is it that lures you away from your bountiful Sustainer, who has created you, and formed you in accordance with what you are meant to be, and shaped your nature in just proportions, having put you together in whatever form He willed [you to have]? [Surat Al-Infitar, 82:6-8] Consider the human self, and how it is formed in accordance with what it is meant to be, and how it is imbued with moral failings as well as with consciousness of God! [Surat Al-Shams, 91:7-8] Is it to be considered a weakness, as some in the West argue, to have God as a “crutch,” to need

a Higher Power to “prop him up”? Maybe this is a failing in the Brave New World 5 of failed man-made utopias, but --in the Qur’anic paradigm-- human flaws and limitations are part and parcel of man’s innate dependency on his Sustainer. However, man is, above all else, always given to contention... [Surat Al-Kahf, 18:54] Verily, man is born with a restless disposition. [As a rule,] whenever misfortune touches him, he is filled with self-pity; and whenever good fortune comes to him, he selfishly withholds it [from others]. [Surat Al-Ma‘arij, 70:19-20] No, indeed! Most surely, man [is unmindful of his covenant with God. And thus he] does transgress, for he sees himself [as] selfsufficient. [Surat Al-‘Alaq, 96:6-7] The Voice of the Quran calls man to recognize his dependency on his Maker, to submit to His allknowing, all-merciful guidance,

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and thus to be in harmony with his own innermost needs. The Quran holds the individual accountable for his intents and deeds. But at the same time the individual is to be “propped up” through a like-minded community which seeks harmony and justice, as well as truth and goodness for all mankind. Such values are to be taught, implemented and lived in a brotherly cooperative community who measure goodness and right against a common divine standard. As for the believing men and the believing women-all [of them] are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.... [Surat Al-Tawbah, 9:71] Should it be considered a humiliating fault on the part of an individual if he admits to seeking connection in the Presence of his Creator to guide and protect him while that individual exerts the full power of his less than ideal physical and intellectual powers to develop himself, to meet


his obligations, and to enjoy a meaningful and productive life? Is there any human who never finds himself in need of help beyond himself? Is there anyone who has never found himself in a critical danger in which he instinctively called out for help from some power beyond himself? ...whenever harm strikes you at sea, all that you [used to] call upon [in worship] vanishes [from your hearts] --except for Him [alone]. Then when He delivers you to [dry] land, you turn away [from worshipping Him alone] .... [Surat Al-Isra’, 17:67] In the thought world of the Quran, the Creator is always “with” each of us. True, He does not “exist” in the time/ space material form that we do; nevertheless, His Presence pervades His creation. He is never absent, never unaware of our intents and deeds. That may be a strange story for those who neglect, or give up, seeking their personal origin and their responsibilities in this

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life --and thus fail to see their accountability and the critical importance of the choices they make. A failure to see one’s true meaning in this world is referred to in the Quran by various metaphors in which God responds to intentional human rejection of their own innate purpose. He fully cooperates with human choice. As for those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you forewarn them...or you do not forewarn them...God has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing. And over their eyes, there is a veil... [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:6-7] Now, there are those who say: We believe in God and in the [coming Judgment of the] Last Day! But they do not truly believe. They seek to deceive God and those who believe. Yet they deceive none but themselves, though they do not perceive [it]. ... Their parable [is this]: ... deaf, dumb, and blind-- [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2: 8-9, 18]

ARTICLE To conclude that one has no Originator simply because such a One cannot be perceived by empirical means is to miss the point that indeed Deity does not “exist” in a human sort of existence. If God is to be imagined as an All-Powerful version of man, then it IS correct to conclude that such a “God” in fact cannot, does not and never has existed. Consider this proposition: A God “made in the image of” man, is logically the reciprocal of man being “made in the image of” God when understood in the sense in which this idiom has been traditionally misinterpreted. (See endnote ii.) A God that can, does and always has existed must be far beyond humanity’s ability to imagine or to arrive at Him, apart from a Self-Revelation of that God. He [alone] is God. There is no God but Him ... Highly exalted is God [far] above all that they associate as gods [with Him]! He [alone] is God. The Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner.... [AlHashr,59: 23-24] It is only reasonable to conclude that the essence of such a God is of a nature other than what we can grasp. Neither are we humans “like” God in our essential being, nor is He “like” us. We do not stand on equal ground. Created “in God’s image” has nothing to do with likeness, resemblance, sameness or equivalence of the pattern according to which man is formed. Rather, man conforms to the pattern (“image”) according to which God has shaped him. As for an “image” or “blueprint” in which God exists, we can say

nothing. It is God who has existed eternally. It is not His creation which is without beginning and has always existed. The Greek philosophers were wrong on this point. According to the Voice of the Quran --in spite of the gaping gulf between the essence of man

He is telling us. Accordingly, throughout mankind’s experience, Deity has “spoken” through persons chosen to “hear” and to transmit His message. Such spiritual channeling has been bestowed by Allah upon the prophets. Prophet after prophet has followed one another in this venture.

To conclude that one has no Originator simply because such a One cannot be perceived by empirical means is to miss the point that indeed Deity does not “exist” in a human sort of existence. and that of man’s Creator-- His Presence is closer to our personal being than we could have invented on our own. For very truly, We [Allah] created man [out of earth]. Thus We know [with certainty] all that whispers within his [very] soul. For We are nearer to [each] one than [even] the jugular vein. [Surat Qaf, 50:16] This Divine Being claims our personal attention throughout the Quran, giving us the rules and regulation for the implementation of our lives, and He mandates that We depend upon Him, that we ask Him, Him exclusively, to supply our needs, in trust that He will provide. Since we cannot “see” or “hear” Him in the usual human manner, His outreach to us is one-sided from the start. Our mandate is to listen to what

Indeed, God has chosen Adam and Noah, and the Family of Abraham, and the Family of ‘Imran, above [the people of] all the world. They are descendants, one of another.... And behold! God made [a sacred covenant] with all the prophets, [saying: Convey to your people} whatever I give you of the Scripture and [of revealed] wisdom. ... [God] said: Do you pledge your consent and accept My solemn compact [to fulfill this trust]? They said: We do consent. He said: Then bear you witness [to it]! For, indeed, I am with you among those who so bear witness.... [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:33-34, 81] Only a few of the many prophets have their stories told in the Islamic sources. ...These [aforementioned] are [some of] the [great] ones

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ARTICLE upon whom God bestowed grace--from among the prophets of the seed of Adam, and from those whom We carried [in the Ark] with Noah, and from the seed of Abraham and when the verses of the All-Merciful were recited to them, they fell to the ground [in worship of Him alone], bowing [their faces] down and weeping. [Surat Maryam, 19:58] For how many a prophet did We send among the peoples of old! [Surat Al-Zukhruf, 43:6] Throughout this prophetic venture, an angelic intermediary has always conveyed, and a prophet has always delivered, the Creator’s messages --now recorded in sacred books. The Final Book has been preserved in the hearts and minds of Muslims to a degree that no other revealed Text has been remembered, recited and acted upon by its adherents. The Quran unreservedly claims to be the “speech” of God, in the form of human language and addressing the “who-am-I” and “why-am-Ihere” concerns for the questing souls of all mankind. According to the Quran, the inspiration of human prophets, and their strategic placement throughout time and space has been the pattern followed by man’s Originator from the very beginning of humankind. Man does himself the ultimate disservice by arrogating to himself the pronouncement that no type of Deity does or can exist based upon man’s inability to resolve issue X, Y or Z. We would do well, rather, to ask


ourselves and each other what kind of foundational Truth, what kind of ‘God,’ can, does or must exist. Returning to the conundrum regarding what constitutes “sound” in the mind of philosophers of Science. Suppose one person (A) claims to “hear” the sound of a tree falling in the forest, but his companion (B) --whose hearing faculties are just as intact-- cannot confirm that same sound perception as having been registered in his aural equipment. Perhaps his eardrum mechanism was working perfectly well, but his registering it in a meaningful manner was lacking. Now, alternatively suppose that the mental awareness of the second person (B) did not respond to the crash event when it took place but that his companion (A) immediately remarked about it to him, whereupon the second person then came to realize that his unconscious perceptual equipment did receive that sound and that it was retained in his unconscious mind just long enough for him to call it back and to interpret it because his attention has now been directed to that data before it is deleted. Had a few more seconds passed --without his consideration having been re-directed-- then his conscious mind would have dropped that sensation as not meaningful. This is to point out that a huge amount of sensory data is available to us, though we habitually filter out what we do not consider useful to us. The ever-presence of Deity may be one of these kinds of data which typically goes unnoticed.

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A sense perception event may be retained within one’s brain long enough for him/her to recover it a few seconds later. We all fail, much of the time, to respond to a physical perception --sound, sight, smell, taste, touch --or to a composite perception like a sense of direction or a feel of balance based on gravity (from the earth, sun or other cosmic forces) or based on the magnetic fields of the earth, even though these are instinctively employed as a regular routine by various animal species. Does un-interpreted data go to the computer files of our brain without ever being “opened”? Scientific “observation” is linked to events of human cognition. So what about the possibility of “sensing” the silent, unseen, imperceptible Source of our being? Islamic sources make it clear that Allah “sees” and “hears” us, even when we do not perceive Him: Ihsan [perfection/excellence of faith] is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then [take it for granted that] Allah sees you. -Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Al-Bukhari 47,1) Why do some persons feel that they have tapped into divine Being and Revelation, if only imperfectly and fleetingly, while others feel that no kind of ‘God’ does, can or even in fact has ever existed? Is it that we have become deaf, dumb and blind to foundational Truth by filtering out the ‘Signs’ of God that are available for all to see everywhere

ARTICLE and always surrounding us? Has negligence brought on the veils over our ears and eyes, except when we are shaken out of complacency --perhaps by some drastic emergency or tragic event such as death, accident or natural disaster? Is it only then that we are thus jolted in a quantum leap beyond our normal mental and spiritual orbit, causing us to ponder and meditate on ultimate realities? It is up to us to make sure that we are awake to our own reality, that we hear, that we listen, and that we consciously assess our ongoing situation. At one time or another, for some more than for others, all of us wander from our consciousness of belonging to our Creator and Sustainer, of our belonging in His creation. Truly we can perceive Him, not directly through the human senses of physical and material observation, but through the “Signs” that inhere (1) in our physical environment, (2) in our physical bodies and, as the Quran claims, (3) in the Signs [verses] encompassing His prophetically delivered Speech. How are these Signs to be accessed and interpreted? The simple and straightforward answer: Through our pondering over what our physical senses deliver to us. Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the daylight are signs [of God’s creative power] for those endowed with [discretion and] understanding [and so heed admonition] [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:190]

Nevertheless, We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in themselves-until it become [utterly] clear to them that this [Quran] is, indeed, the [divine] truth. [Surat Fussilat, 41:53] Now, all through the earth there are [wondrous] signs [of God], for those who are firm in faith. And they are within yourselves, as well. Can you not, then, see? [Surat Al-Dhariyat, 51:20] In the Quranic mindset, God is “within earshot” and “within sight” of every falling tree --even of every falling leaf or raindrop! -- and He always “hears” its “sound” or sees its “sight,” even though He does not “live” or “be” within the time- and spacebound, material world to which we human beings are tied. As long as man insists on trying to control the narrative into which he has been placed by One other than himself, and if he thinks himself independent of rules and regulations not ratified by himself, then he is liable to miss out on the Signs of his Originator and Guide. He is liable to miss recognizing that the foundational Truth of his own being and of his universe is never absent from him. According to the Voice of the Quran, God is “with” each of us in His Presence, personally and globally, in unbroken continuity. As Muslims we greet and take leave of one another with an exchange of a set phrase which serves to reinforce among us a mutual brotherly relationship based upon God’s blessing of peace / security / safety /

preservation / well-being: al-salaamu ‘alaikum (“Peace be upon you!”) This blessing of comprehensive security comes through acknowledging our dependence upon --that is, our lack of independence from-- our Creator. It comes as a natural result of submitting ourselves to His Rules and to the overall order which He has installed in His universe. In the English-speaking world, our traditional leave-taking expression has been “Good-bye.” This idiom is etymologically a shortened form of the phrase, “God be with you!” Indeed, by the very nature of things, God does go with us wherever we go and He does ‘be’ with us wherever we “be.” Never does He ‘be’ absent. This means that His Presence is eternally “with” all in His creation. Even the angels of Allah encourage us and urge us on to seeking His Guidance, to doing good, while He Himself puts limits on the pushback and evil effects of our malicious or mistaken choices --both individual and collective. Of course, one’s personal awareness of his Maker’s Presence may waver or be lacking, so perhaps the full intent of the idiom “God be with you!” is: “Don’t forget that God IS present with you as you take your leave.” For the believer in God the implications of this phrase include: (1) Be assured of His protection and provision (Arabic: tawakkkul), and (2) Conduct yourself as in His Presence (Arabic: taqwa). Both implications match with core sentiments and concepts at the heart of Islam.

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ARTICLE thankful for His Presence and blessings, instructed to boldly approach God with supplication for our needs and wishes. Indeed, we are reminded throughout the Quran to “go with God,” on whom we depend for provision and guidance, the One who hears, sees and knows all. All praise is for God [alone], Lord of All the Worlds ... [Surat Al-Fatihah, 1:2]


1. falls_in_a_forest

Above all, the speech of Deity, the Quran, reminds us repeatedly that the Presence of Allah --God-can, does and totally always will, stay ‘with’ us: hearing, seeing, and thus intimately knowing all, including each of His creatures, while it calls us to respond to His overtures. If none of us are in the forest to hear the crashing of the fallen tree, or to see the un-seeable, even so God does hear, see, and fully know: Moreover, with Him are the keys of the [realms of the] unseen. No one knows [of] them but Him. And He knows, [as well,] all that is in the land and the sea. Not even a leaf falls but He knows it. ... [Surat AlAn‘am, 6:59] Moreover, to Him [alone] belongs all that dwells [in stillness] in the night and the daylight. And He is the AllHearing, the All-Knowing. [Surat Al-An‘am, 6:13] It is closer to the truth to take


leave of your companion --not with the wish of “God be with you” (“Good-bye”) for in fact God’s Presence never does leave us-- but rather one could express better advice and counsel with a re-phrasing: “Go with God!” Is this not hair-splitting? No. Why then the distinction? Because to “go with God” implies that a person will maintain a certain level of awareness and commitment, casting aside the earplugs, the blinders. In Islamic terms we are talking about an individual’s taqwa: his Godconsciousness and the strength of his determination to please God. In the mental state of taqwa, he recognizes God’s eternal Presence with him, and, in so doing, he submits himself to the ways of God with full intention. Such a person knows who he is and what is his purpose here in this enigmatic world. As muslims (those who submit to the will of God”), we are instructed to stay in communication with God,

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2.The Biblical phrasing that God created mankind ‘in His image” or “in the image of God” is ambiguous, hinging on the tzehlem). word, ‘image’ (Hebrew: Christians interpret this phrasing to mean that human beings not only stand in for the interests of God on earth as its caretakers, but that the human being --male and female-- theologically, is somehow “like” God, even potentially of the essence of Deity! But here is another ---non-theologized, and simpler--- understanding of “in God’s image,” namely: according to the image that God intended for mankind to have when he ‘created,’ ‘formed’ and ‘shaped’ them. In other words, “in God’s image” is a concise way of stating (1) that God had in mind an intended form for His creature man (different from that of the angels, and from the various multitude of earthly creatures) and (2) that He followed through in bringing about that preplanned imagined creature. Moreover, this understanding carries the implication (3) that man did not come about by happenstance. Furthermore, (4) that the complementary pair of male and female was likewise intentional, not an afterthought or developmental flaw. 3. 4.“Change is the only constant in life.” or “The only constant is change.” -Heraclitus (Greek philosopher who lived in Ephesus / modern-day Kusadasi, Turkey, 500 BCE) 5. New_World


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Why We Must Study Hadith Once Again UWAYMIR ANJUM

Why should we worry about authenticating the Hadith literature any more—given that we have the impeccable collections of sound traditions of the Prophet in Bukhari and Muslim, among others?


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ELL, BECAUSE IN the light of new and increasingly damaging attacks against Islam from its enemies and critics, in addition to the efforts by world powers to rewrite Islam in accordance with their interests, it is essential that believing Muslims—who love Allah and His Din—also girdle up their defenses. Some of the most vehement attacks against the Din of Allah have been on the issue of authenticity of the Sunnah of the Prophet — which has been preserved in the form of ahadith (Prophetic reports).


Why are Ahadith Attacked? There is a reason why the Hadith literature is often attacked both by the enemies of Islam as well as by those Muslims who are enchanted by other ideals and are trying to reinterpret Islam to fit their vision. To challenge the pure monotheism of Islam or its irrefutable appeal to good human nature is a lost cause; and the enemies of Islam know this well. To challenge the authenticity of the final Book of Allah—the Quran—is also hopeless for any reasonable person, even though attempts are now being made by some desperate enemies. The only option left is to reinterpret the Message of Allah—by assigning its words arbitrary, selfserving meanings. This becomes possible especially if the Quran is reduced to a book in a vacuum, by attacking and making

suspicious the entire corpus of Hadith literature that tells us when, how, and why the various Qur’anic passages were revealed. Of course, the Quran explicitly demands that we follow the additional and independent legislation and instruction of the Final Messenger. If you detach the words of the Quran from the person of the truthful Messenger of Allah—from his example and his explanations—and suspend them in a vacuum—then of course a million interpretations of each verse are possible. Any word can have any number of meanings, so long as you can change its entry in your dictionary. Without the guidance of authentic Sunnah, the verses of the Quran are no longer real, alive and concrete words that were understood, applied and explained by a real, living human being—known to us through

richly documented history—and understood correctly by an entire community—a community, that, as a sign of God’s approval and blessing, soon became the world’s greatest power and civilization. Rather, they become reduced to enigmatic allusions whose meaning is anybody’s guess. In other words, they become like words of the Bible and other scriptures whose original texts were lost or utterly disfigured.

The Rise of Western Scholarship of Islam and its Implications For the last two centuries, while the best and most dedicated minds among the Muslims have been busy learning engineering and medicine from the West, thousands of Western scholars have been engaged in studying, evaluating, reinterpreting and questioning the entire corpus of

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ARTICLE Islamic sciences. Not all nonMuslim scholars are malicious towards Islam, and a good number of studies coming out of Western universities invite Muslims to rethink a lot of what they have been taking for granted and a lot of what they have by now forgotten. However, and to no one’s surprise, most of these studies serve to cut at the roots of Islamic belief. A brief history is in order. Since the nineteenth century, as the Muslim world encountered Western modernity and as Western scholars began to critically study Islamic sources based on the methods of textual study (philology) which they had developed in their Biblical studies, questions were raised about the authenticity of Islamic sources, especially about the Quran and the Hadith literature. These Western scholars of Islam, called Orientalists, were influenced by the 19th century trends in a secularizing Europe where religion was fleeing from the intellectual and public sphere and religious texts were being, for the first time in Christian history, studied critically and historically. These philological scholars found plenty of evidence that these Biblical texts were written a few centuries after the actual events they describe took place, and were distorted by political and other considerations that surrounded the writers. These biblical studies devastated claims of the Christian Church for all practical purposes, so that Christianity was to become a religion of the laymen or of those


who could have faith against all evidence. It could not be a faith of reason or history any more. As the West colonized the Muslim world and came across Islam—a religion that the religious West had thus far feared and hated—the new kind of Western scholar, mostly secular and post-Christian, started to study Islam with a new interest, and for their own specific purposes. Those sympathetic to Christianity, like the famed Max Weber, wanted to show the superiority of their religion to Islam and give reasons why Islamic societies could not develop and modernize while the Christian ones could. Others wanted to study Islam for colonial

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purposes— to rule the Muslims better. Still others wanted to prove their atheistic theories about religion being a figment of human imagination and not based on God-sent message, and so attempted to show that Islam too, like Christianity, was a human product. To them, the Prophet was an intelligent man— someone who told brilliant lies to humanity for good intentions. This viewpoint is still widely embraced by Western scholars and writers today. Some others, who simply wanted attention perhaps, made claims that were laughable even to other Westerners, such as that Islam was created by the Arab imperialists to justify their rule. At the heart of all these

ARTICLE claims about the human origin of Islam lay the basic Orientalist bias: just as the Christian texts were ‘invented’ a few centuries after the appearance of Jesus, so must Islamic texts be shown to have originated a few centuries after Muhammad. Most of the attempts to discredit Islamic texts, however, have been frustrated, sometimes by other Western scholars who have pointed out serious problems with these kinds of claims. These days, the heat against Islam is once again back on, and on high, and so are attempts to ‘reform’ Islam in the image of the Western religions and to show that the Islamic texts, particularly the Hadith literature, are not authentic. The Muslim response, for the most part, has been to wait for some revivalist, some scholar, or some miracle that would prove to the world, and the coming generations of Muslims, that all the propaganda is baseless, fabricated, and incoherent. While there have been efforts by some scholars to engage the modern critics with reason, argument and historical research—and one brilliant example of that is Dr. Hamidullah’s work on ‘the Sahifah of Hammam’—generally, our response has been to ignore and neglect the challenge.

Hadith Studies: An Intellectual Challenge for the Muslim Ummah Today Hadith is the only means by which we can know the Sunnah of the Prophet and consequently

the full meanings of the Quran in its proper context. But since the Hadith literature, unlike the Quran, is not a single, well-known, bounded text, but rather a baffling amount of literature collected over several generations—its authenticity and organization have been a great challenge. This challenge, however, was taken up by the great scholars of Islam, who duly produced the most amazing large-scale efforts in history— as allowed by the technology of the time—to protect and preserve everything that the Prophet ever said or did. The fact that some people tried to fabricate ahadith shows that the ahadith were deemed extremely influential and authoritative—nobody fakes a currency that has no value. All studies of early Islamic history, even by the most cynical and critical of non-Muslim scholars, have shown that the learning, teaching and preservation of Hadith were the focus of Muslim scholarship during the first few centuries of Islam. Because the ahadith of the Prophet had such great currency at the time, so then liars and opportunists—as have always existed in all societies— fabricated ahadith to accomplish worldly goals. History attests to the fact that our Pious Predecessors, who were chosen by Allah to be the recipients of His final message, did not fall short of their obligation to preserve the Sunnah: Colossal attempts were made to resist and eradicate this forging of ahadith by the scholars and leaders. Thousands and thousands

of scholars began to study, memorize, authenticate and preserve the Hadith literature.

What Happened to the Traditional Scholarship of Hadith? It is still around: there are numerous scholars devoted to Hadith who have spent their lives memorizing, sorting and evaluating ahadith. However, in my humble opinion after taking stock of Hadith studies both by Muslims as well as non-Muslims, I venture to say that there is a lot that has not been done, and a lot that cannot be done without a serious revival of Hadith sciences and methodology. More rigorous historical research has unearthed even older manuscripts of Hadith than the canonical ones which we are used to as Bukhari and Muslim—I mean specifically the collection of Abu Hurairah’s one hundred and forty reports that he dictated to his disciple, Hammam ibn Munabbih. These ahadith are found in either Bukhari or Muslim, which is a tribute to the accuracy and veracity of these two collections. More such discoveries are possible, and Muslim historians must labor hard for them. Similarly, there is a lot that the scholars of today, both traditional and modern, do not know about the context, meaning and authenticity of many reports. For example, a tremendous amount of work is yet to be done in understanding the context of these ahadith, thereby resolving conflicts and disagreements

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ARTICLE about their meanings as well as authenticity.

What Can We—the Ordinary Muslims— Do about It? For the ordinary Muslim, it is no longer possible to turn a blind eye to this challenge, because it is no longer only a battle in the academy—in the echelons of Orientalism far removed from Islam and Muslims. It is rather a very pertinent, a very real-life battle. More and more young Muslims, in the West but ultimately everywhere in the world, are growing up reading, learning, discussing and internalizing these attacks on Islam and skepticism towards its authentic sources. The questions raised by skeptics, out of antipathy or apathy, are becoming political weapons in some hands, and a means of social and financial gain in others. Legions of pseudo-Muslims and pseudo-scholars and pseudoexperts have mushroomed, and it is becoming an uphill battle, for unaware Muslims as well as nonMuslims, to figure out the true teachings of Islam. What can ordinary Muslims do about this? Doesn’t Hadith scholarship require a lifetime of study? No—not at all. It requires not one lifetime, but in fact many, many lifetimes. And that is precisely why we need ordinary Muslims, all Muslims, to worry about it. True, we need the piety and rigor of Al-Zuhri, Shu‘bah, Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, and the painstaking precision of those like Imams Bukhari and Muslim in the science of Hadith. But all


excellence and success can start with ordinary Muslims: There is no clergy in Islam. As long as resourceful and educated Muslims keep sending their best and most productive young minds to the sciences of this world for seeking money, status and comfort, and as long as they abandon the sacred sciences for the drop-outs and the have-nots to take on—or, worse yet, for non-Muslims to distort or misuse—we will never regain the intellectual superiority and convincing power of our faith. So long as these trends of neglect and negligence continue, we will keep losing both intellectual ground as well as our coming generations. The history of Islam, which I have drawn upon in posing the challenge, also gives us hope. As the great Indian scholar Abu Al-Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi said, Allah has always raised among Muslims those who have protected Islam against its enemies and awakened Muslims from their slumber. This time around, the task is big. I cannot emphasize enough that this work must be done by Muslims— believing, dedicated, and brilliant Muslim scholars. These must outdo all others in using the best historical and analytical tools. No science is completely objective, but especially the science of interpretation and historical criticism is deeply connected to one’s beliefs and worldview, to how much one understands or identifies with the texts or to the people whom one is writing about. Accordingly, things like interpretation of Quran and Hadith, or like their historical

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criticism, can never be correctly accomplished at the hands of non-Muslims or non-committed Muslims. Knowledge and certainty are inspired by Allah, as are arguments and counterarguments about interpretation and authenticity, and so the belief and piety of the scholar are critical to his or her credibility. Muslims must reclaim in the light of modern methods and sciences once again the sciences that they pioneered: criticism, authentication and interpretation of reports. It is necessary that not only the foremost historians and interpreters of Islamic texts be Muslims, but that they be true Muslims—connected with the Muslim Ummah, and engaged with the struggle to establish Allah’s Din. This is precisely what our pious predecessors meant when they said: such and such scholar was “‘alimun ‘amil” and a “mujahid”—that is, a righteous scholar, one who upheld the truth even against oppression and tyranny, and struggled in the way of Allah with a pure soul. Only then did the light of Islamic knowledge shine upon him. It is a historical fact, and an example of the amazing collected wisdom of the Ummah, that it never followed, revered as Imams or took its knowledge from nonMuslims, sell-outs or hypocritical scholars. My purpose in writing this article will have been accomplished if even one father or mother decides, upon reading this, that they are going to devote their most brilliant child, boy or girl, to the study of the Hadith of the Final Prophet.


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Modern and Religious, Mutually Exclusive?



O OFTEN WE only know ourselves by our opposite. What our foil embodies is everything we are not. And this idea of the self only works on the seldom occasions when we define ourselves in the simplest terms. To illustrate this point, someone can be tall because they are not short. But when defining ourselves by our opposite happens in more complex ways, it fails to hold true. This is what happens when people use the identifiers “modern” and “religious” to explain to themselves and others what they are not. Some may claim to be modern, meaning they are not religious and vice versa. These terms have been dressed up by some segments of society as if they are directly opposed to each other.


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ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES But to say this is a tenet of faith— except when it comes to the Amish—is untrue and extreme. And those who do reject modernity define what modern is in inaccurate ways. It can be anything from simply “Western” to anything “debauched.” Zarqa Nawaz writes about her parents’ rejection of modernity and her coming to understand how they define modern in her book Laughing All the Way to The Mosque. She writes, “It took me years to understand that not being ‘modern’ didn’t mean that we couldn’t use electricity or drive a motorized vehicle. What it meant was we were going to look like the Amish but still drive cars, as long as it was to the mosque and not to the liquor store. ‘Modern’ Muslims, she observed, acted like white people—had short hair, wore miniskirts and, the biggest heresy of all, talked to boys on the phone.” Nawaz’s parents are not alone. Many people, especially

It is true that those who consider themselves religious and not modern can be immoral and adopt some “Western” ideals. those from Muslim societies, define themselves as distinctly not modern and in doing so they have constructed a collapsed idea of what it means to be modern and turned it into a caricature of a white Westerner, who has illicit relationships, loves immodesty, and most of all-is not religious. The truth is that some people who consider themselves modern do fit this description that Nawaz’s parents have

To some, both the idea of religiosity and modernity are collapsed from their dynamic, many shaded, and deep meanings to nothing more than static extremes. Each group constructing an inauthentic and extreme foil by which to define themselves. And neither understanding the true depth of their opposite, not the depth of the self.

Those Who Reject Modernity To be sure, there are religious people who reject modernity.

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ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES constructed. But it also excludes the fact that non-white, Easterners, or Africans can also be modern. It excludes the fact that white people can belong to a variety of different religions, be modest, etc., and still be modern. It is also true that those who consider themselves religious and not modern can be immoral and adopt some “Western” ideals. Their idea of modern excludes most of reality and this narrow interpretation of what modernity looks like makes it hard to live within oneself. So, what does being “modern” look like? Being modern is a pretty broad and vague concept. It can mean many things to many people. And it should. Because isn’t that what we are striving for in modern times: the acceptance of everyone’s narrative? The representation and validation of many different experiences? No one style of dress, way to think, or mode of expression has a monopoly on modernity. Modern is not exclusively Western. Being modern is not just for the young. But also, being modern is more than what it is not. Recognizing and dealing head on with the problems of the day while striving for a better future is modern. Selfexpression in many ways and in many platforms is as modern as rejecting the over exposure of the self. Accepting others’ experiences and making room for them in the human tapestry is modern. Being technologically savvy doesn’t necessitate modernity, but being connected does. Being modern is sifting


Young Muslims’ religiosity touches every aspect of their lives. “They are a tech-savvy, self-empowered, youthful group who believe that their identity encompasses both faith and modernity.” through culture and finding what has actual value while holding little respect for the illogicality of thoughtless tradition. Shelina Janmohamed, author of Young Muslims Changing the World writes that young Muslims’ religiosity touches every aspect of their lives. “They are a techsavvy, self-empowered, youthful group who believe that their identity encompasses both faith and modernity.”1 This generation of Muslims that Janmohamed speaks about is not the only generation –nor is it the only religious group– to have this outlook on faith and modernity. There is nothing about modernity that excludes religiosity. And to say that it

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does is to have a superficial understanding of both.

Those Who Reject Religion Furthermore, there exists a segment of society that defines themselves as modern by way of rejecting religion. In a Pew Forum poll, people who categorized themselves as “nones” (those identifying with no religious group) cited modern advancements and science as the reason for their leaving their faith. While others referenced a lack of common sense and the bad behavior of the faithful as reason for leaving a faith.2 The people who have rejected faith in favor of being “modern” have constructed a collapsed idea of what it means to be religious and turned it into a stereotype of an unthinking person who hides from progress and contradicts the religious laws he or she claims to believe in. The truth is that some who consider themselves religious do fit the descriptions of the constructed stereotype. But this assertion of modernity excludes the fact that many scientists and philosophers are deeply

ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES religious. It ignores the fact that most engineers and doctors recognize the advancements in science and recognize a designer of all that exists. It blatantly ignores the truth that we are all illogical at some point and often hypocritical. This idea of what it means to be religious excludes most of reality, and this narrow interpretation of what religiosity looks like excludes the “modern by way of rejecting religion” from exploring the many and varied religious thoughts that exist.

What Does Religiosity Look Like? Defining what it means to be religious is as varied as there are religious people. But to narrow it down, a person of faith is not someone who accepts their religion simply because they were told to or because they inherited it from their family, culture, or environment. This is insincerity and not religiosity. Being religious is not a set of rules and rituals to be adhered to thoughtlessly. Being faithful is not about rejecting logic or good sense, nor about being closed minded and judgmental. Having faith does not mean hiding from the world and fearing what will come. But more than that, religiosity is not defined merely by what it is not. Examination of human nature and how it relates to the Creator is religious. Seeking to understand the patterns of our world and everything in it is being religious. Being aware of

their promises whenever they promise, and who are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God [Surat Al-Baqarah 2:177]

how acts of worship connect us to the Creator and directly affect our lives is being religious. Being consistent in acts of worship and believing with certainly in the promise of God is being religious. Helping those in need and being patient for no other reason than to please God is religious. Being aware of Allah’s knowledge of all things is religiosity. Furthermore, who can define what religiosity looks like other than Allah? And as Allah says in the Quran: True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west — but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and who spends his substance —however much he himself may cherish it— upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and who is constant in prayer, and who renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep

But you do not need to be a Muslim to be religious. Any person can be religious if he or she holds true to his or her holy book with an authentic effort to connect with the Creator. Any person can be truly religious if they are committed to sifting through edicts and finding what is true while holding little respect for the illogicality of thoughtless tradition. There is nothing about religiosity that excludes modernity. And to say that it does is to have a superficial understanding of both. Sure, we can disagree with some things that some religious people do or believe, but that doesn’t mean that our modernity depends entirely on rejecting all religion. And similarly, we are not ‘religious’ due to refusing to act or to embody anything we deem to be “modern.” If we believe either aspect of this to be true, we have failed to recognize that depth of our own beings and all the ways in which being “religious” or “modern” can take shape.


. 1. world/2016/sep/03/meet-generationm-the-young-affluent-muslims-changing-the-world?CMP=share_btn_fb 2. fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/

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How I learned about Jesus through Malcolm X FURQAN JABBAR


NE OF MY earliest memories as a child is going to the cinema as an eleven-yearold with my father and sisters. My father didn’t take us to see a superhero movie or some other blockbuster that a child my age might have reveled in seeing; rather, it was Spike Lee’s 1993 film Malcolm X (which I must say as an eleven-year-old was quite the educational experience). In my father’s defense, I should mention that (seeing as there was no Google at this stage) he knew next to nothing about the titular character other than the basics; that he was a courageous champion of American civil rights and that at some point during his struggles he ended up embracing Islam during a pilgrimage to Makkah.

Since being introduced to Malcolm X in this way, I have read Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X on at least three occasions and have always, in some form or other, gotten something out of doing so. One of the more memorable scenes from the movie (even alluded to in Haley’s book) is


how Malcolm, as played by Denzel Washington -- whilst in prison for charges of larceny and breaking & entering -- smugly points out that the description of Jesus (peace be upon him) as indicated in the Bible is akin to that of a non-white, specifically in his reckoning, that of a blackperson.

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The scriptural evidence which Malcolm, at this point in this life, was referring to was a vision of Jesus as recorded in the Book of Revelation. In it, John describes Jesus as having hair akin to wool: The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. [Revelation 1:14]

ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES This passage, albeit circumstantial in nature, led several Afrocentric groups such as the Nation of Islam and the Church of the Living God to entertain the notion that Jesus was in fact black. No doubt, the authors of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America continue this ‘tradition,’ as can be seen in their ‘jubilant assessment’ of the concept: If Jesus was [an] original Black man, as many believe, then his referenced flowing loc[k]s and lamb’s wool hair might have looked a lot like Bob Marley’s glorious mane. Let the Church say Amen to the possibility.1 Admittedly, when concentrating on such an issue far too more than necessary, the reason as to why Malcolm originally felt the need to bring forth this concern becomes lost. Rather than being an issue of racial pride and jingoism, it should be one which informs us to question religious claims rather than blindly obeying them. This is especially the case when such claims do not have strong bases to begin with and when they are intended to be used in such a way so as to prolong a narrative that is disingenuous to begin with. Regarding this notion, the authors of The Color of Christ: The Son of God & the Saga of Race in America write: The differing and evolving physical renderings of white Jesus figures not only bore witness to the flexibility of racial constructions but also helped create the perception

that whiteness was sacred and everlasting. With Jesus as white, Americans could feel that sacred whiteness stretched back in time thousands of years and forward in sacred space to heaven and the second coming.2 As a child from a subcontinental background who studied at a private Anglican school populated predominantly by white upper middle-class boys, I found that Malcolm’s example resonated with me to the extent that I challenged my school chaplain just as Malcolm

-- as far as Christian belief is concerned -- is described in his ‘godly form,’ one in which he is to ascend to heaven with a glorified body. Although Malcolm’s proof might not have been a decisive one (as the passage in question may even be interpreted symbolically, given that a neighboring passage speaks of a sword coming from his mouth), it is nonetheless one which does raise a valid point in so far as prolonging shaky narratives are concerned.

did with his own chaplain at prison. The fact that I perceived school to be my own ‘personal prison’ only heightened the parallels I saw between myself and Malcolm. Upon doing so however, I was quickly rebuffed and told that there were no descriptions of Jesus as far as the Bible was concerned. As it turned out my school chaplain may have had a point, just not one which was as ‘black and white’ as he may have thought it to be. The passage which Malcolm references, after all, was one in which Jesus

Though the Bible does not explicitly mention Jesus’ racial or physical features, which are ultimately not that important from an Islamic perspective due to Islam’s stance on racial equality, Muslims may nonetheless be interested to know that there are biblical proofs-aside from a purely Israelite genealogy--which indicate a physical appearance: But he (i.e. Jesus) walked right through the crowd and went on his way. [Luke 4:30] According to this passage, Jesus

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ISLAM FOR OUR TIMES possessed an appearance which allowed him to easily blend into a crowd of Israelites. Islamic teachings would not necessarily disqualify this view, only adding to them in that his descriptions, as mentioned more specifically by the Prophet œ are that: • He has a reddish complexion.3 • He has wavy hair and a broad chest.4 • His hair falls to his shoulders and will appear as though it were wet when not wet at all.5 • He is of medium height, neither abnormally tall nor abnormally short.6 To accurately explain to the Companions what he meant (and perhaps clarify that what he meant was by no means metaphorical), he explained that the individual which Jesus most resembled (though was not identical to) was a Companion (and a chieftain of Taif) by the name of ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud Al-Thaqafi7, in other words, an Arab with a specific appearance amongst several other Arabs. For this reason, despite how sympathetic we as Muslims might be to ideas which are intended to unite rather than divide, it would be misleading for us to argue for the acceptability of interpreting a Jesus (or any other prophet for that matter) that is subject to the “infinite malleability” spoken of by Reza Aslan, the author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. According to him, the reason as to why Christianity spread so rapidly and is currently the largest religion is because it “allows different people to


define what God in human form would look like.”8 In response to such a view, Bryan Hurlbutt, the Lead Pastor of Lifeline Community, explains that when this approach is taken to its logical conclusion: Theology then becomes just an opinion or an assent to other opinions postulated from a particular perspective of the world…9 There are many differences we may potentially have concerning Jesus, which the Quran even alludes to: …And We gave clear miracles to Jesus, the son of Mary, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. And if Allah had pleased, those after them would not have fought one with another after clear arguments had come to them, but they disagreed… [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2: 253] Though we may disagree on the specifics, we Muslims and Christians do have a commonlyheld belief regarding what it is that will actually occur once Jesus does return back to the world he left so long ago – an end to the unnecessary divisions which have plagued humanity for so long and an opportunity to finally enjoy an era of peace and prosperity. As far as Islam is concerned, the return of Jesus to earth implies an existence in which men will use their weaponry for nothing other than farming.10

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More notably, in part of a longer hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, we are told by the Prophet, You will not bear grudges against one another or envy one another or hate one another.11 In other words, a world which has successfully eliminated even racism. I know he would have loved the idea, but I can’t help wondering what Malcolm would have said about it. ................................................... 1. Byrd, A. & Tharps, L., Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, Macmillan, 2014, p. 114. 2. Blum, E.J. & Harvey, P., The Color of Christ: The Son of God & the Saga of Race in America, University of North Carolina Press, 2012, p. 8. 3. Bukhari 4. Bukhari 5.Bukhari 6.Bukhari 7. Muslim, no. 167 8. news/zealot-author-reza-aslanresponds-to-megyn-kellys-jesus-waswhite-controversy-says-he-lookedpalestinian-110703/ 9.Hurlbutt, B.F., Tasty Jesus: Liberating Christ from the Power of Our Predilections, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2013. 10.Recorded by Ahmed in his Musnad. Al-Haythami referred to it as authentic in Majma’ Al-Zawa’id. 11. Recorded by ad-Daylami in Musnad al-Firdaws, classified as Sahih by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Sahihah 4/559.


VOL. 28 ISSUE 04 Dhul-hijjah 1437 September - October 2016



َ َ َ َ ْ َّ ُ َّ َ َّ َّ َ ُ َ َ َ َْْ َ َ َّ َ َ ‫ات والرض ِف ِستةِ أيا ٍم ثم استوي ع‬ ِ ‫هو الِي خلق السماو‬ ُ َ ََ َْ ُ َُْ ََ َْْ َْ َ َْْ َ َ َّ ُ َ َ ُ ‫زنل مِن السماء‬ ِ ‫العر ِش يعلم ما يلِج ِف الر ِض وما يرج مِنها وما ي‬ َ ُ َ ْ َ َ ُ َّ َ ْ ُ ُ َ َ ْ َ ْ ُ َ َ َ ُ َ َ ُ ُ ْ َ َ َ َ ٌ ‫وما يعرج فِيها وهو معكم أين ما كنتم والل بِما تعملون ب ِصري‬

It is He Who created the heavens and the earth in six days then firmly established Himself on the Throne. He knows all that enters the earth and all that emerges from it, all that comes down from Heaven and all that ascends to it; and He is with you wherever you are (with his knowledge and Might). [Surat Al-Hadid, 57:4]

Prophetic Guidance A man asked the Prophet, “When will the Hour be, O Allah’s Messenger? “The Prophet said, “What have you prepared for it?” The man answered, “I haven’t prepared for it much in terms of salah or fasting or alms, but I love Allah and His Messenger.” The Prophet said, “You will be with those whom you love.” (Bukhari)


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A Wise Man’s Will

mam Al-Shafi’i left a will stating the following: “I bear witness that none is worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. We do not differentiate among the Messengers of Allah. I bear witness that my salah, my sacrifice, my living and my dying belong to Allah the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims. And that Allah resurrect all from the graves. And that Paradise is a truth and so is Hellfire. And the reckoning is a truth and so are the Mizan (scale) and the Sirat (a bridge extending over hellfire). And that Allah is the One who rewards the servants according to their deeds. And that the Qur’an is the very word of Allah and that it is not created. And that Allah is seen in the hereafter by the believers. They will look at Him with their eyes openly and they will also hear His words. And that He is above the Throne. And that the Qadar, both its good and bad, is from Allah. There will be none except that which He wants, decrees and preordain. And that the best of people, after the Messenger of Allah, is Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and then Ali, may Allah be pleased with all of them. To all four them I pledge my allegiance, and for them I beseech Allah’s forgiveness as well as for those who killed or were killed during the battles of Al-Jamal and Siffeen. Indeed, I ask forgiveness to all the Companions of the Prophet. I advise all to obey those in charge so long as they are establishing Salah and that the Caliphate stays in Quraysh. And that what much of it intoxicates, then little of is haram. And that the Mut‘a (temporary marriage) is haram. I advise all to have taqwa of Allah in secrecy and openness. Stick to the people of Sunnah who follow the footsteps of the Messenger and his noble companions. Never miss the Jumu‘ah Salah and always remain part of the Jama‘ah or the Community. When death befalls me, let my visitors put on good oil scent and beautify themselves.”

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Wit Wisdom

You People Are Hasty! Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt narrates: We complained to Allah’s Messenger (of the persecution inflicted on us by the unbelievers) while he was sitting in the shade of the Ka‘bah, leaning over his cloak. We said to him, “Would you seek help for us? Would you call upon Allah for us?” The Prophet responded, “Among the nations before you a (believing) man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would separate his flesh from his bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion will prevail, so much so that a traveler from San‘a’ to Hadramaut [names of two Yemeni cities] will fear none but Allah --or [he will fear] a wolf [when it comes] to his sheep-- but you (people) are hasty.” (Bukhari)

They said about the Prophet ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “In dealing with other people, the Prophet stayed away from three things: he did not find fault, lay blame, or seek to expose anyone’s weak points.” (Shama’il Al-Tirmidhi)


“Man should hope in none but his Lord, fear none but his sins, not be ashamed of learning what he does not know and of saying no when he does not know, know that the place of patience with respect to faith is like that of the head to the body, no body is good without the head.”

-- ‘Ali ibn abi Talib

“Du‘as and ta‘awudhât (supplications and seeking refuge with Allah) are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is strong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can lay waste the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, then the effect will be lacking accordingly.” --Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah

Change yourself and fortune will change. __Portuguese Proverb


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“The Scholar continues to be ignorant of what he has learned until he acts upon it. So when he acts upon it, he becomes knowledgeable.” AlFudhayl ibn Iyadh “Wisdom is not finding ways out of troubles; wisdom is not to get one’s self in troubles in the first place.” Anonymous



Every year, 3000 as much garbage is dumped in oceans as the weight of fish caught.

1. 2.

A majority of the global Muslims population (%62) live in the Asia- Pacific region.

By the year 2050 India will take Indonesia’s place as the country with the world’s single largest Muslim population, with more than 300 million Muslims.


43 % of pilots admit to falling asleep during flight. %33 of them report waking up to find that their co-pilots had fallen asleep as well.

5. 6.

Summer on Uranus lasts 21 years.

Each year, more than 50,000 people are injured by jewelry in the U.S.

Play & Learn Islamic Terms Matching List Match the items in the left column to the items in the right column. The correct answers will appear in the next Issue. Good luck!

Match Up 1. Qisas

A. A fiqhi device

2. Tarjih

B. Talion

3. Muhtasib

C. Glottal Stop

4. Qawama

D. Seceders

5. Khawarij

E. Responsibility/authority

5. Hamza

F. Morals enforcer

Answers of last month’s Matching List:

1>D 2>A 3>E 4>C 5>B VOL. 29 ISSUE 01 RABI AL-AWWAL 1438 DEC - JAN. 2016-17



The Myth of

Unbiased Islamic Scholarship ZAINAB BINT YOUNUS

Muslim feminists just want to throw out all Islamic scholarship because it’s male-dominated!


UCH IS THE rallying cry of those who wish to dismiss any and all questioning and critique from those who wish to engage with Islamic scholarship in a more critical manner.


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PERSPECTIVES First of all, it should be acknowledged that there are some individuals or groups who would in fact like to destroy Islam completely and claim that its scholarship is completely corrupt. Nevertheless, one should never make the dangerous assumption that all Muslims – feminist or not – who wish to take a closer look at our history and its scholars are automatically of some certain bent or agenda. In fact, to do so is a direct violation of the Islamic principle of husn al-zann – to have a positive assumption of another Muslim. Unfortunately, it’s far more common for some Muslims to have su’ al-zann – negative suspicions – towards any believer who does not conform to their own personal ‘Islamic’ philosophy. When it comes to discussing gender bias in Islamic scholarship, anyone who expresses an interest in examining our history from a less than romanticized perspective is demonized as being some kind of ‘Western secular liberal’ tool or being corrupted by such mentalities, rather than being seen as having sincere intentions to improve the Ummah by pointing out and changing harmful phenomena that continue to have disturbing consequences on our communities at large. Islamic scholarship has existed from the time of the Prophet until today. In its earliest days, men and women alike had almost equal access to the

source of religious evidence – the Prophet himself. In many cases, women had a unique position of access to him due to their being married to him, related to him, or being close to his wives. These women would not only teach each other, but teach men as well, in matters related to “women’s issues” and otherwise. Such examples of female scholars included ‘Aishah, Hafsah, Umm Salamah, Fatimah bint Qays, ‘Amrah bint ‘Abd Al-Rahman, and Umm Al-Darda’ Al-Sughra. They were not only narrators of hadith, but engaged in the active process of formulating legal rulings and addressing contemporary issues in their lifetimes. As Shaykh Muhammad Akram Nadwi discussed in both his class on the History of Islamic Female Scholarship, and his book Al-Muhaddithat, female scholarship after the 2nd century AH declined significantly, particularly in fields outside that of Hadith. While Muhaddithat (female scholars of Hadith) continued to flourish, female scholarship in other fields of the Islamic sciences faded away dramatically. Of those women who were in fact specialized in fiqh and other areas, many were muhaddithat as well, or began in the field of Hadith before exploring other areas of interest. Unfortunately, those women were viewed as anomalies not only of their time, but throughout Islamic history as a whole – they were the exception, not the rule. While names such as Imam VOL. 29 ISSUE 01 RABI AL-AWWAL 1438 DEC - JAN. 2016-17




Bukhari, Imam Abu Hanifah, Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, and so many others, are so familiar to us that we don’t even think twice, most of us would not even recognize the names of Umm Al-Darda’ Al-Sughra, ‘Aishah bint Talha ibn ‘Ubaydillah, Fatimah AlSamarqandiyyah, or Fatimah bint Sa‘d. The reasons behind this decline in female scholarship are in many ways very predictable. Whereas in the time of the Prophet and his Companions women were not barred from

pressure to keep women within the confines of domesticity. Such influences permitted their access to knowledge only to a certain extent. Of the female scholars in later Islamic eras, a common factor is that the men in their lives (fathers, brothers, husbands) did go out of their way and inconvenience themselves in order to support and encourage these women. Fatimah bint Sa‘d’s father ensured, from the time of her infancy, that she would be taken to circles of knowledge; later on, her husband sponsored her

access to knowledge, from interacting with the society at large, or from being actively engaged with the spiritual and political affairs of their time (which often included traveling), Muslims of the centuries immediately afterwards did not continue this tradition of fostering female involvement. Rather than going out of their way to facilitate opportunities for women to study, travel, and engage, there was societal

travels to Syria and Egypt. The same was true of Fatimah AlSamarqandiyyah, and Fatimah bint ‘Abbas Al-Baghdadiyyah, who was a contemporary of Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. As for the majority of women, they did not have the same opportunities provided to even the most disadvantaged of their male counterparts. Rather, the chauvinistic attitudes of Jahiliya (including but not limited to the influence of the Greek

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philosophers) --and not the Sunnah of encouraging female contribution-- were the norm in the Muslim Ummah for hundreds of years. How dare you imply that male scholars had any kind of bias towards women? Just because they were men doesn’t mean that they hated women! They were married and knew women; how can you say that they weren’t influenced ?by the women in their lives The answer to this is both nuanced and simple. On the one hand, yes, we do have husn alzann for our scholars, both past and present, but we must also be honest and not live in denial of clear evidences. The scholars of our Islamic history were human. While they dedicated themselves to studying Islam, and no doubt were sincere in their endeavors to seek the truth, this does not absolve them from the basic human flaw of having internal biases, whether as a product of their society or otherwise. Just as we are quick to say that Muslims today have been influenced by external factors (the media, un-Islamic environment, intellectual colonization, etc.), we must recognize that the Muslims of the past had just as much external influence to contend with. This is obvious when one considers the history of Islamic creed as it was impinged upon by Greek philosophy; it must equally be recognized when it comes to gender relations and fatawa passed regarding women. The evidence for that

PERSPECTIVES statement is (unfortunately) overwhelming. From relatively early on in the history of Islamic scholarship until today, statements and rulings were made that described women as being inherently inferior and denied basic rights. Women were prevented even from learning to read or write out of a ‘fear of corruption’; even today, excuses are made to deny women Shar‘i rights such as khul‘ out of a belief that they will ‘abuse’ this right and somehow destroy society itself. Ibn Kathir said in his Tafsir (363/1): The [Quranic] phrase ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ means that they are superior in physical nature, attitude, status, obedience to the commands of Allah, spending, taking care of interests, and virtue, in this world and in the Hereafter…1

are somehow more reasonable, more rational, more intelligent, and more religious, when one cannot find proof of such a claim in the Quran or Sunnah. In fact, the Quran and Sunnah do not differentiate between the religiosity of genders, but rather of individuals themselves. It is true that the hadith regarding women’s “deficiency of intellect”3 was used as evidence to make statements regarding women’s ‘lack of reason,’ but even this was critiqued by other scholars of the past. Sadly, the above are not the only scholars to reinforce the position that women are “deficient in intellect.” Al-

Baydawi said in his Tafsir (184/2): The Qur’anic phrase: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women means that they are in charge of them and take care of them. He gave two reasons for that, one that is inherent in females and one that is acquired subsequently, and said: ‘because Allah has made one of them to excel the other’, means: because Allah has favored men over women by making men more perfect in reasoning and running affairs, and has given them more strength with regard to work and acts of worship.4 Here is yet another emphasis

(The implication being that the reverse is true: that women are inherently inferior and are not as obedient to the commands of Allah, and have less virtue than men when it comes to this world and the Hereafter.) Al-Baghawi said in his Tafsir (206/2): … because Allah has caused one of them to excel the other means, men excel women because they have more powers of reason and religious commitment and they are in charge of affairs.2 Again, this is to say that men

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PERSPECTIVES on how men are ‘more perfect’ in intelligence and ‘strength’ in acts of worship, though again, the latter is not possible to prove definitively from a textual perspective. Imam Al-Ghazali offers advice in dealing with the supposed female evil and weakness: …It is necessary to follow the path of moderation both in disagreement and in agreement, and to follow the truth in it all, to be safe from their [women’s] evil; because their scheming is great, their evil is widespread; their predominant characteristics are bad manners and weak minds, and this cannot be set straight except through a certain amount of kind­ness mixed with diplomacy… Thus there is evil and weakness in them [women]; while diplomacy and harshness are a cure for evil, consolation and mercy are the cure for weakness. The skillful doctor is one who can estimate the amount of cure needed for the ailment; so let the man first know her character through experience, then let him deal with her in a manner that will set her straight in accordance with her state.5

Our scholars say:

Imam Al-Qurtubi, in his tafsir of Surat Al-‘Alaq, says: It is narrated from ‘Abdallah ibn Mas‘ud that the Prophet said, Your women should not descend from their rooms, nor should they be taught writing.


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The Prophet warned against this because in their descending from their rooms, they will look at men, and this action is not (considered) safeguarding oneself, or concealment. And, they will be observed by men. The narration speaks of temptation (fitna). So, they are cautioned to stay in their rooms on the pretext of fitna. And this is because the Prophet said, There is no good in women unless they do not see men, and they are not seen by men. This is because the woman was created from man, and man was created with desire, and she provides him with comfort. So, they find comfort in each other. And accordingly, writing can be a path to fitna, for example, if she learns writing, and then writes (letters) to the one she loves. Writing is like an eye,

it is seeing the one who is not present. And writing is from the effort of the hand. It is an expression of conscience; it is what cannot be told by the tongue, but starts with the tongue. So, the Messenger of Allah sought to cut off all causes of fitna, safeguard women, and purify their hearts.6 Related to the hadith quoted by Al-Qurtubi above --which has been declared fabricated by scholars of hadith7 --the following is recorded regarding the Shafi‘i scholar Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami: Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami was asked: What is the ruling for teaching women writing, and Surat Al-Nur, and what has been narrated that it is not recommended. Is it authentic, or not? He replied: It is authentic, Al-Hakim

PERSPECTIVES narrated, in an authentic form, from Al-Bayhaqi, from ‘Aishah who said, The Prophet said, Women should not descend from their rooms, and they should not be taught writing, and teach them the spindle, and Surat Al-Nur. Because of the great number of provisions in them which lead them to safeguarding themselves from all kinds fitna and uncertainty… It should be known that prohibiting women from writing does not prevent them from learning the Quran, knowledge, or proper etiquette. Because, this a general right that has no fear of sin associated with it, unlike writing. The fear of sin and repelling it takes precedence over all other interests.

It is necessary to note that at least nine muhaddithin have declared the original hadith ‘evidence’ as fabricated, notably Ibn Hibban, Al-Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab Al-Iman, Ibn Al-Qaysrani, Al-Dhahabi, and Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani.9 It is also interesting to know that there is a statement attributed to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab that goes, Learn Surat Al-Tawbah, and teach your womenfolk Surat Al-Nur, and give them silver (jewelry) to wear.10

He was then asked, “Abu Dawud narrated from AlShaffa bint ‘Abdallah that she entered upon the Prophet who said to his wife Hafsah, ‘Why do you not teach her [Al-Shaffa] the ruqya for ant bites, as you taught her writing?’ Is this not proof that women should be taught writing?”

The contrast between the fabricated hadith and the statement of ‘Umar is stark, despite the commonality of mentioning Surat Al-Nur. The former seeks to render women isolated and ignorant; in the latter case, ‘Umar considers it worth emphasizing the relevance of Surat Al-Tawbah for men due to its ayat on Jihad, Surat Al-Nur’s direct address to women, and urges men to support women’s financial well-being. One possible wisdom behind the urging of men to read Surat Al-Tawbah is that one of its themes is that of the equality between men and women in terms of the rewards they receive from Allah for obedience to His Commands.11

Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami replied, “This is not proof that women should seek out how to write, it is only proof that they are permitted to learn it. But we say that this is a dangerous matter, and severely disliked for the sinful consequences that can arise from it.8

With regards to the scholars mentioned whose opinions on women come off as less than savory, we do recognize that these men were no doubt righteous Muslims and individuals who spent a great deal of their time studying the Din, who certainly considered

themselves as seeking to live according to the Sunnah and to guide others accordingly; we pray that Allah will reward them for their good and forgive them for their mistakes. However, this does not mean that we should acquiesce in their problematic statements and the (negative) impact they had on the rest of the Ummah. It should further be noted that those who try to deny any kind of male bias in Islamic scholarship also say that the issues which Muslims have regarding gender relations are a product of corrupt outside influences, and that in the past, those issues did not exist because the Muslims had a near-utopian society. Yet when one considers some of the greatest gender- and sex-related crimes that are committed today (fornication, adultery, lack of physical modesty, homosexuality, and so on), one observes that these same issues existed even during the Prophet’s time. Thus, to say that misogyny – or any other kind of prejudicial mentality, such as racism or classism - did not exist amongst Muslims up until recently is absolute nonsense. Their mere acceptance of Islam, understanding its theology, and performing certain religious acts of worship does not, in and of itself, change or purify people and society radically. The embrace of Islam must be accompanied by a spiritual overhaul of mentality and behavior, which can only happen when one is willing to be

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PERSPECTIVES honest with their own internal biases. Anything less than that results in both denial and arrogance, which is a potent and dangerous combination… and one of Shaytan’s greatest tools. To be continude.... .............................................. 11. 22. Ibid 33. Bukhari 44. 55. Al-Ghazali, “Book on the Etiquettes of Marriage, Ihyâ’ ¢Ulûm Al-Dîn.” http://ghazali. org/works/marriage.htm 66. Muhammad Ibn Ahmad AlQurtubi (d. 671 AH/1273 CE). AlJami Al-Ahkam Al-Quran (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi). For the identical wording see also Al-Hakim Al-Tirmidhi (d. 320 AH/932 CE). Nawadir Al-Usul fi Ahadith Al-Rasul. https://selfscholar. female-education-a-view-fromearly-islam/ 77. http://webcache. search?q=cache:http://www. r5BNbwyQKNpI2YBA and showthread.php?t=194211 88. Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami (d. 909 AH/1503 CE). Al-Fatawa AlḤadithiyah https://selfscholar. female-education-a-view-fromearly-islam/ 99.

e s i t r e v d A ! s U With

1010 book37620-/page1201111 media/index.php?page=article&la ng=A&id=169509


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N SCHOOL, I studied with an Imam, several Catholic Priests and Friars, several Protestant Ministers, and practicing Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews, all with a spread of degrees in the academic study of their own faith. I have no proof to produce for this, but it certainly felt as though I had one of the most well-rounded religious educations that someone could hope to get out of one institution.

My relationship with these professors was not limited to the classroom. I also had a work study position as an assistant in their offices. I say with some shame—but no regret—that I spent very little of my worktime over those four years

“assisting” with anything. I vaguely remember photocopying a handful of quizzes and readings. That one cumulative hour of honest work over my entire college career aside, I spent the rest of my paid time pestering these professors with

questions. Not once did I leave disappointed from a conversation that followed. I suspect that very few of you young doubters reading this have ever confronted a religious leader directly with your doubts. And why would you have? Even if

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you’d had the chance, what could be more intimidating? Having now lived on both sides of belief, however, it’s something that I would recommend. Even if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, I can promise that it’ll at least lead to some surprising stories. I’ve sat through quite a few of these stories, and I have a favorite. While I haunted these offices, I became good friends with an on-and-off Protestant minister. Over the course of his adult life, he had flirted with a few different denominations, moving from church to church. More than once, he had been booted from congregations for holding views that they considered heretical. Admirably, he had never lost his ability to draw the distinction between religion and its rotten


fruits, and, with a few hiccups along the road, had held fast in his search for a spiritual niche. By the time I’d found him, he had succeeded. He had acquired a PhD in Theology, he had a career in writing, and he was the most electric, ecstatic lecturer on Christianity at the institution. He was deceptively youthful in appearance, he was tolerant and kind, and he could draw from his audience any reaction for which he had a hankering, using only words. He was cool. He was, and is, a hero of mine. Out of my respect for him, there grew in me a hope. By this point in my education, I had most of my reservations about religion answered. I had learned that science and religion could coexist—and in fact, for most of history, they had; I had learned

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that religion was not innately stifling of free thought, and had only ever advanced because of it; I had learned that it was not religion that made people evil, but the other way around. But even after all this learning, there was a holdout. The lingering doubt that I had was this: how could a God of boundless love and mercy allow such evil to leak into the creation? If God were truly full of compassion and power, how could even one person suffer unduly? On my next shift, like a good worker, I clocked in and immediately went to this professor’s office. He offered me a caramel, as he always did, and invited me to sit. I can only imagine that I was holding him up from doing some important work, but even if I had been, he

PERSPECTIVES never would have told me. I asked him my question. He reacted as though he had been waiting for it. Smirking, he informed me that he was going to tell me a story. He had once, as a pastor, been perusing the news online. He had come across a story about a child in Palestine who had been buried under the wreckage of his home in a barrage. There had been video to accompany the article, showing a mob of dust-chalked civilians pulling the limp-but-

living child from the rubble while onlookers shouted “Allahu Akbar!” The article had gone on to inform the reader that the boy had had two brothers, neither of whom had had the fortune to escape with their lives. My professor fixated on these two other boys. He imagined them wedged painfully under the pummeled masonry, maybe coughing, maybe calling for help, completely blind, unsure whether

they would be saved. He had felt completely useless. He had felt an itch to stand, to move some wreckage, to call into the hole that someone knew they were still down there. But it was done. The boys had been eventually pulled from the hole, but not while they were still living. Naturally, as a man of faith, he had fallen to his knees, and spoken to God. But he didn’t ask for anything. He gave no praise. “I hope You understand,” he said to God, “why I’m angry at You.” This was the end of his story. He hadn’t crossed his legs and

listed off a dozen theologians and all of their positions on the subject, as he had always done with my other questions. I wasn’t immediately sure what to make of his words. With some distance now, I think I have an idea of what he was trying to tell me. I was far from the first to ask these questions. I’m guessing that you, reading this, have probably asked some variation of them. It’s part and parcel of being a feeling human to bear witness to suffering, and to instinctually ask “why?” According to the Hebrew Bible, some of the most significant Abrahamic prophets did it. According to the gospels

of Matthew and Mark, even Jesus did it.1 Does this mean that it is right to turn our backs against God at the first sight of evil? I would say no. Clearly, these prophets did not. But perhaps the lesson here is that it is impossible to be a person of faith, no matter how strong that faith may be, and to make it to the tail-end of life without having your heart broken a few times. Perhaps especially in the modern world, where there is so much access to and so little censorship of real-life examples of grisly death and suffering, is it understandable to feel a little bit of soul-fatigue. How could our loving God wish on us a tsunami? How could our loving God permit famine, or genocide, or senseless, random murder? Why does it feel as though the cosmos is trying to excise us at every turn? Like my pastor friend, I will not be arrogant or cold enough to pretend I have an answer. I will not speculate, like so many theologians have, on the divine nature, or the nature of the cosmos, in order to explain away or minimize the problem of evil. What I will say is this: point me to a passage—in any holy book—that claims that life will be easy. Where does God ever promise us that we will have a smooth, pleasant ride straight to the grave? In fact, the books of religion promise left and right that life will brim with hardship (i.e. John 16:33, Quran 3-29:2). Job, 2 a prophet shared among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, lived one of the most miserable lives

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PERSPECTIVES imaginable. As sour as this may taste, it is a human invention to assume we are entitled in this life to constant comfort and happiness—or, in truth, any of either. As ‘Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “I was not created to be occupied by eating delicious foods like tied up cattle.” Who are we to insist we should be sheltered from all pain? When did we come up with the idea that our bodies and lives

act like this, inevitability is an injustice, is childish. There is, however, one difference between atheists and theists in this regard. For a believer, out of the absurdity of this life comes a promise: Suffering and even death are temporary states. All of our agonies will ultimately have meaning. I have never seen this quite so beautifully put as in the Jewish Writer Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel, Shosha, as his

were our property? This notion has even been dismissed by famous atheists of history. In The Discourses, the philosophical stoic Epictetus wrote:

character Elbinger discusses the soul: I say this because no matter how many dead people I see in life, they have had the same expression on their faces: Aha, so that’s what it is! If I had only known! What a shame I can’t tell the others about it! Even a dead bird or mouse presents this expression, although not as distinctly as a man.

I must die; if instantly, I will die instantly; if in a short time, I will dine first; and when the hour comes, then I will die. How? As becomes one who restores what is not his own. 3 A quick look at the behavior of nature around us should prove to both atheist and theist that our bodies can easily be reclaimed from us at any time. To then


Do I believe, like some theologians, that I have discovered the reason why we must carry the heavy

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burden of a flawed, mortal life? Resoundingly, no. Allahu A‘lam— God knows best. But I look forward to someday finding out, God willing. Does this mean that human beings have license to harm one another—because suffering’s only temporary? Absolutely not. Just as our own life is not our property, neither is another’s. Am I suggesting that we should feel no pity for our neighbors as they go through their lives’ trials? The opposite. We are partners here. As human beings, we are perhaps in the best position to understand what others of our kind are going through, and we should do everything in our power to limit suffering on others’ behalf, and console them when we cannot limit it any further. And what about God? Does all of this mean that God is indifferent? That we’re stuck down here, bandaging our wounds with no accountability from above? I don’t believe so. I believe that God knows what we don’t: that someday, it will make sense, or it won’t matter. And to borrow an expression from one of my professors: In the meantime, when we cry, God cries with us. SubhanAllah!


1.For Muslim readers, there is obviously some disagreement over the historical details of Jesus’ “crucifixion.” While we cannot accept the literal truth of these Biblical passages, we might still draw a moral lesson from them, should we choose to. 2.Known in Islam as Ayyub. 3.From the translation of Elizabeth Carter.


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Making Mistakes in Determining The Direction of Qibla ANSWER BY HASSEN AHMED

Question: What should one do if he missed the correct direction of the Qibla (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah) when performing obligatory salah? Answer: This is a situation that can happen to

any Muslim. Often that we find ourselves in a place where we do not know the direction of the Qibla --or where we do not have enough space to face the Qibla properly—as in the case when one is performing salah in an airplane. Scholars are in agreement that directing one’s self towards the correct direction of the Qibla is an obligation and a condition of correctness for the salah, because Allah says, We have seen you turn your face to the heavens. We shall turn you to a Qibla that will please you. So turn towards the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), and turn towards it wherever you may be. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:144] Also, Al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib narrated,


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We performed salah with the Messenger of Allah for about sixteen or seventeen months towards Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem), after which time he turned towards the Ka‘bah (the Sacred Mosque). (Muslim) This obligation is fulfilled when one faces that particular direction such that: • If one sees the Ka‘bah, one must exactly direct himself towards it. This includes all of those who live in Makkah. • If one does not see the Ka‘bah but knows its direction, one must direct himself to that direction, as this is all that one is able to do. This is understood from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah who narrated that the Prophet said, Between the East and the West there is a Qibla. (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) This hadith was directed to those who lived in Madinah. Obviously, it applies to all of those who have a similar position, like in Syria and Iraq. Others must determine the direction of the Qibla—the shortest

FATAWA distance between them and the Ka‘bah— according to their longitude and latitude. For example, for those who live in Egypt, the Qibla is between the East and the South. And for those who live in the continent of North America, the general direction is northeast. This direction is to be determined through acceptable means of Ijtihad— commonsensical ways of finding where North is. To find out where North is, one may use a Qibla Compass if he has one. If not, he should ask around. If one knows to figure the direction of north from the position of the sun or the moon, one should use that information. If none of this works out for them, one should try his best to determine it in one way or another. In such a case, his salah is correct and valid, and there is no need for him to redo the salah in the case that his choice of the Qibla was incorrect— even if he discovers he was mistaken shortly or immediately after he has finished making the salah.


Insha’Allah, this answers the question you had in mind. For the sake of completeness, however, and because your question deals with a recurring situation, I would like to deal with other related issues pertaining to the Qibla: • If, while in salah, one discovers that he is facing the wrong direction of the Qibla, one needs to turn to the proper direction without break off the salah. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar narrated that the people were performing the Fajr (dawn) salah in the masjid of Quba’ when suddenly a person came to them and hollered, “Qur’an has been revealed to the Prophet in which we have been ordered to face the Ka‘bah (in salah), so face it.” They immediately turned their faces from Al-Sham (Jerusalem) to the Ka‘bah (in Makkah). (Bukhari and Muslim)

If one remains in the same place until it is time for another salah, one must question again the correct direction of the Qibla. If his search leads him to a direction different from the previous one, he should face the new direction. Again, there is no need for repeating his earlier salah. • There are two cases where one does not have to face the Qibla when making salah. The first is related to the situation of performing voluntary salah while riding—a car, an airplane, etc. In this case, one is free to sit straight and face whatever direction his ride is taken. Some scholars require that one must face the direction of the Qibla at the time one is making the first takbir (takbirat alIhram). In addition, it must be noted that while one is the driver, one should not be performing salah. The second case has to do with doing salah (obligatory or voluntary) while in a forced condition, and severe illness or fear. Under such circumstances, one is allowed to perform salah without having to face the Qibla. In all of the preceding discussions, the main Shari’ah principle applied and maintained was, “Applying Allah’s commands to the best of our ability.” Allah says, Maintain the taqwa of Allah to the best of your ability. [Surat Al-Taghabun, 64:16] As a general principle, the Prophet said, If I command you to do something, do it to the best of your ability. (Bukhari and Muslim).

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Choosing A Mate Wisely



ISCUSSIONS WITH A close friend of mine were once dominated by her excitement and continuous expressions that she wanted to get married. She told me she had a brother in mind that captivated her with his charm, intelligence, and handsome looks. She said that he was interested in her as well. She said many things about him, but none of what she knew was of real substance.


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COUNSEL & COMMENT To help her think through her quest for marriage, I reminded her about the importance of practicing patience when choosing a mate. However, in haste, she drove an emotional whirlwind full of infatuation and excitable hormones straight into the marriage. They were not so lucky. Within eight months the marriage was over. Incompatibilities in their practice of Islam, their cultures, and their life goals were key factors which doomed the marriage. What was her explanation for the failure of the marriage? She said the brother was not ready for marriage. She also thought that she would not have been able to know that he was not ready even if they had not rushed. She and I disagreed. Choosing a mate is the most important decision to make, after taking the shahada (testimony of faith). The Quran says, Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasses all, and he knows all things. [Surat AlNur, 24:32] Allah places special emphasis on the importance of marriage and its role in our lives. Marriage is half of our din (religion). The Quran states, And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates

from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect. [Surat Al-Rum, 30:21] Because marriage in Islam is so significant, it is important to devote quality time and consideration in choosing the person in which you will spend the rest of your life. Oftentimes, intended couples spend more time planning the wedding ceremony than in pre-marital planning. Actually, more time should be spent getting to know your potential mate. Here we provide basic guidelines that women should follow when choosing a husband.

Develop a Foundation First and foremost, women should begin preparation for marriage with education, Prayer, dhikr (remembrance of Allah), designation of a wali (guardian) if necessary, and a study of religious practices. Education is fundamental in learning about the importance of Prayer and other Islamic traditions. For example, women should understand that marriage in Islam starts in the dunya (world) and continues in the Hereafter. Thus we are not only selecting a mate for this life, but also for the next life, insha’Allah. Artificial factors such as social status and beauty should be regarded as less important compared to piety. The Qur’an says,

But to those who receive guidance, He increases the (light of) guidance, and bestows on them their piety and restraint (from evil). [Surat Al-Muhammad, 47:17] Piety strengthens character and brings us closer to Allah. It is natural for women to want security and for men to desire a beautiful wife. Despite society’s emphasis on these and other ideals, Muslims should refrain from placing too much effort and focus on attaining worldly ideals. In other words, ascertaining a potential mate’s sincerity in practicing the din of Islam supersedes other factors such as wealth, beauty or status.

Seek Allah’s Guidance Women should always seek Allah’s guidance throughout their search for a spouse. And so, anytime one experiences doubt or concern in the process of vetting a potential mate she should make Salat Al-Istikhara—a Prayer for Guidance. This salah can be used at any time along the way.

Practice Proper Etiquette Courtship in Islam has parameters. While you getting to know your potential mate, it is best to do so within the permissible guidelines. Generally speaking, a man and a woman are not to be alone if they are not married to each other. One hadith says,

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COUNSEL & COMMENT A man should not be alone with a woman, for verily Satan makes a third [companion]. (Muslim) Another says, A man should not be secluded with a woman except with a mahram (guardian). (Muslim) Also, if an unmarried woman finds a man she is interested in, she must not stare at him or approach him directly. Consider the following general principle,

Consider Religious Compatibility It is important to find out if you are compatible religiously with regard to day-to-day practices. One cannot always assume that being Muslim is a guarantee that you will be compatible or “equally yoked.”

Does he adhere to the performance of salah (5 times daily obligatory salah) with punctuality?

Discuss Expectations At advanced stages of your exploration, talk about each other’s personal expectations. • Ask about his views on birth

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. [Surat Al-Nur, 24:30] All contact between the woman and her potential mate should be supervised by the woman’s wali. A wali is a legal guardian that is a friend or protector who is supposed to look out for her best interest. When speaking to her potential mate, a woman should speak in a straightforward manner. Avoid flirtation and any sexually-oriented discussion. Instead, discussion should remain casual and include topics relevant to the pursuit of marriage. Discovering common interests, understanding financial situations, sharing parenting techniques and relating to in-laws are examples of allowed topics for discussion. If and when it becomes evident that the potential marriage couple is not compatible, the discussions should end.


Ask yourself, Does his practice of Islam seem freeing or restricting? • How does he feel about how you wear your garments? Would you prefer that he wear thaobs (traditional garments)? • How does he measure piety? How does he spend his time during Ramadhan? • What are his views about the cultural practices of Islam around the world? •

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• •

control. Discuss a timeline in which you would like to have children. Once you have children would he prefer that you stay home? Would you rather work? How do you feel about home schooling your children? How does he feel about helping with chores around the house? Discuss what your living arrangements will be.


Talk to His Family and Friends Learn about your potential spouse by talking to his family and friends. By doing this you will gain an understanding about his character. Talk to people who know him outside of his family. •

Ask questions about his manner and how he treats people. • Find out about his temperament on various issues. • What kinds of activities does he involve himself with in the community? • What are his immediate and long-term plans? • Find out his level of tolerance and accommodation for people different from him. • How does he relate to his parents and members of the opposite sex? • If he already has children, how does he relate to them? • Research his character and personality by talking to people that know him. A man of good character is highly regarded in Islam. Imam Tirmidhi narrated the following hadith, If one whose character and religion please you comes to you (with a proposal), you should marry him (to your single women). If you do not do so, there will be tribulations in the land and great corruption. Also get to know about his parents.

Determine their level of likeability for you. Believe it or not, this is a very important factor. Find out what his obligations to his parents will be once you get married.

Listen Closely to What He Has to Say Find out why he is interested in marrying you. • Determine whether or not he is interested solely in you or if his intentions are superficial. For example, does he want to get married because all of his friends are getting married? • Determine if he is genuine, and if he seriously wants to marry because he is in love.

Ask Personal Questions As the discussions continue, ask more personal questions. • Ask him what his views are on possessions, lifestyle and money. • Inquire about past legal issues. Has he ever had a run-in with the law? • Does he have propensities to certain illnesses? Also, in this day and age, your potential mate should be willing to have an AIDS examination prior to marriage. • If he has been married before, ask him how he dealt with conflict and disagreements. Make certain that he is not learning just enough about you in that he begins to tell you what he

thinks you want to hear. • Ask him about his past career and future career plans. • Ask him questions that will reveal his values and perspectives on life and global issues. • What are his thoughts about women’s rights? • How important is health and diet to him? • What is his opinion about polygamy? Ask probing questions to help determine the possible success or failure of a marriage. The more you can think to ask, the better you will set your marriage up for success.

Observe Him Attend community and social activities that he will also attend. Vary the situations and observe him to see how he interacts with people in different settings at different times.

Ponder the Long-Term Does this man have flaws and weaknesses that can be tolerated for a lifetime? • Is he worth pleasing for Allah’s sake even when he does not live up to expectations? • Will he be a good father? • Are there any situations in which he would feel himself likely to abandon his spouse? Seriously consider the number of times he has been married if he has been married before.

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Know Your Needs Ponder whether or not he is the person that can meet your needs. • Do not rationalize and accept characteristics you know do not suit you because you think you can change them later. • Ask yourself, “Is he responsible and does he know how to prioritize? • Does he respect me for who I am or does it seem like he wants to change me? • Does he want me to grow mentally and spiritually as I continue on the path of Islam?

Be Patient Marriage is serious. Do not rush into it. Operating in haste usually leads to disaster. Time is needed to get to know the person. Allah teaches that those with patience will enter paradise. The Qur’an describes those who please Him, ..those who show patience, firmness and self-control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of Allah; and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning. [Surat Al ‘Imran,3:17]

Think for Yourself Try not to assume that the way he dresses or the way he speaks are necessarily indications of his personality or how he will treat you. • The “pious” look does not always mean that this person is pious.


Similarly, a man who references the Qur’an in every conversation he has with you is not necessarily pious. Weigh negatively any traits of his that may be artificial or that may be forms of deception to win your hand in marriage.

Go with Your Heart Use Allah’s signs and guidance to assist you along the way. Your heart has the potential to guide in many cases where your mind may fail. Sometimes we use our minds to rationalize negative things that we may not want to see or acknowledge. My personal experience in choosing a husband was unique because I was extremely particular. I was more particular than was my wali. When making salah (the five daily Prayers), I would ask Allah to grant me a husband that met my list of 44 marital expectations. I considered the list a prescription for a healthy marriage.

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Although my intended thought my list was somewhat over the top, he agreed to all 44 conditions. We have been married for three years and counting. In fact, we got married three times— first Islamically, second civilly, and third with family and friends present at the walima (marriage feast). Al-hamdulillah! In spite of the best in premarital preparation, there are no iron-clad guarantees that a marriage will be successful. Of course there are things that can help reduce problems, and we should do our part with the help of Allah in preparing for the success of our marriage. But I truly believe to be true what one friend once told me, A marriage is like a daily battle: Every day both spouses must fight for it. I think this is one main reason why marriage is such an interesting part of life, and that is why it becomes so dear and valuable to us when we succeed in keeping it alive.


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Tawakkul The Best Remedy for Anxiety TABASSUM MOSLEH


MAGINE A PERSON sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, with a road map marked with a red cross to denote the desired destination. He begins his journey and, following directions deduced from the map, takes several turns.

But the way seems to be more complicated than he had expected. At one point, he is overcome with worries – about whether he is on the right track, whether he will be able to reach the red cross before the fuel runs out, whether the path will lead up to a dead-end or be out of repair.

Then something strange happens. The steering wheel gets stuck. He had planned to take the next left turn, but now his car can only move straight ahead. He stops the car, restarts it and attempts repeatedly to move the steering wheel, until his fingers become sore and his throat dries up with panic, but to no avail. And then the truth dawns on him. Although he is in the driver’s seat, he is not in full control. The steering wheel is in remote control, and the controller, who has immobilised it, is better informed of the correct way to reach the destination. And, sighing with relief, he lets go of all attempts to control the uncontrollable and directs all his focus towards keeping the car moving.


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Anxiety We all know what it is – that incessant buzzing of all kinds of thoughts, rushing one after another, that has the potential of hampering a person’s life with their persistent noise, as though the mind were a formula 1 circuit, with a thousand cars racing on a three-mile track, burning scorch marks on the smooth pitch that is your brain. And it isn’t just the brain. Your body undergoes changes too. Your neck muscles are tensed into a hard knot, your shoulders are slumped, your nerves tingle, your chest feels like there’s a balloon inside, and so on. Your anxiety also affects people around you – you snap at your boss (fail-safe way of getting fired), you kick your next-door neighbour’s cat (sign of having


your door kicked off its hinges by an enraged cat owner), you shout at the waiter and bring him to tears because he brought you plain potato chips instead of French fries, till you realize that they are the same thing. Anxiety is an irrational fear of the future. Instead of focusing on

the work at hand, we brood over “what if� questions: What if I fail my exams? What if my assignment paper gets eaten by bedbugs? What if the promotion I worked so hard for is given to someone else?

Remedy There are plenty of methods

to treat anxiety, including psychotherapy, medications and meditation. Many of these are highly effective and worth trying. However, there is one method which is more effective than all the others combined and does not have any side-effects. This method is to be like a bird, as the

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COUNSEL & COMMENT heights will cross over the seemingly dangerous visual cliff merely based on their trust in their mothers. The baby trusts his mother blindly, knowing that she will never let him down. He looks to her for cues on how to react to a strange situation.1

A sparrow doesn’t ask “what if” questions. It simply wakes up at the crack of dawn and goes out to work, and by the time it returns, it has got food for itself and its babies.

Prophet said: If you were to rely upon Allah with the required reliance, then He would provide for you just as He provides for birds, they go out in the morning hungry, and returns full. (Tirmidhi) A sparrow doesn’t ask “what if” questions. It simply wakes up at the crack of dawn and goes out to work, and by the time it returns, it has got food for itself and its babies. A classical infancy experiment called the Visual Cliff, appearing in many standard textbooks on developmental psychology, indicates that infants learn to perceive depth only after a certain age. The experiment goes


like this: an infant is placed on a checkerboard beside a hollow area covered with a glass top, giving the illusion of a sharp fall. The infant’s ability to perceive depth is measured by his or her willingness to cross over to the other side of the apparatus. In a more recent variation of this experiment, the infant’s mother is told to stand on the other side of the apparatus and show certain standardised facial expressions. The researchers found that, when the mothers expressed fear, none of the infants crossed over to them, and nearly all of them did so when the mothers smiled. This cute little experiment shows that infants who have learned to perceive and fear

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If only we could trust Allah in this way! And yet He deserves our trust much more than a mother deserves that of her child. Before reading on, ponder on the following question: What makes the baby trust his mother?

Ways of Increasing Tawakkul 1. Make a habit of reading the Quran daily. The Quran helps us develop tawakkul in several ways: • It introduces us to Allah and His beautiful and powerful names and attributes. When you let Allah talk to you about Himself, in His own words, you can’t resist trusting Him. • It reminds us to have tawakkul, and gives us incentives for doing so.

COUNSEL & COMMENT Example: And whoever fears Allah He will make for him a way out and will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. [Surat Al-Talaq, 65:2-3] • It tells us amazing stories of the prophets and the righteous who put their trust in Allah with astounding results. Example: refer to the story of Prophet Yusuf. • It is a miracle. Imagine you were right behind Musa when Allah parted the Red Sea for him. Imagine how high your tawakkul would soar. And yet we have a greater miracle within our reach – the Quran. Now Imagine a blind man standing behind prophet Musa in that historical moment. Although he has some inkling of what amazing things are happening, he’ll never be able to experience the full impact of the miracle.

That’s our situation regarding the Quran. To understand its miracle, we need to learn Arabic. It is a long-term solution to the problem of not having tawakkul.

2. Watch and reflect on nature Look at the high mountains, the endless sky and the tall ocean waves. It will seem laughable that the One who created them all will not have the power to solve our problems.

3. Put the best effort you can, no more, no less. What does “best” mean? To an anxious mind, “best” seems like an endless abyss. “Best” doesn’t mean breaking your back, losing sleep or stopping having meals. What did the Prophet say to the man who came to the masjid with a camel parked outside? The man asked him, O Messenger of Allah! Shall I tie it and rely (upon Allah), or leave it untied and rely (upon Allah)?” He replied, “Tie it and rely (upon Allah). (Tirmidhi) Tying your camel doesn’t mean buying a heavy, rust-proof chain, tying the formidable thing around the poor animal’s neck and padlocking the other end to the most deep-rooted palm tree in the area, and then hiring a man to keep a watch over it, and hiring another man to watch over him, in case he decides to bunk it. Remember what Allah said: … Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship …. [Surat AlBaqarah, 2:185] Doing your best just means

putting as much effort as necessary without overburdening yourself or others. When we turn all our focus on doing our best, we are likely to go into a transporting state, called “flow”. In this state, we become so absorbed in the task that every worry vanishes, and only the enjoyment of the moment remains. Once the task is accomplished, we feel content in our hearts that we’ve done our bit, and that makes it easier to leave the rest to Allah.

4. Pray Now that you have done your best, verbalise your tawakkul. Talk to Allah and tell Him all about it, and ask Him to bless it. Acknowledge your powerlessness to the AllPowerful, submit your sense of control to Him, and express your faith in His decree. Sufficient for me is Allah; there is no deity except Him. On Him I have relied, and He is the Lord of the Great Throne. [Surat Al-Tawbah, 9:129]

Summing It All Up Tawakkul isn’t a piece of cake that you can eat and have done with. It’s a life-long commitment. It’s a bit like gardening – sowing a seed in a good bit of earth isn’t enough; you need to take care of it continuously and, with consistent patience and perseverance, help it flourish into a fruitful tree.

-------------------------1. Erica Burman, Deconstructing Developmental Psychology.

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T AMAZES ME how certain people can be stereotypical about the overall character of others solely on the basis of national origin. Having lived a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C. for a while, I have experienced a vast range of nationalities. And, because I have always striven to be accepted for who I am, instead of any group I may have been perceived to represent, I try very hard to reserve my judgment for my own personal experiences with individuals. And even then, I keep in mind that we all have days when we are not at our best. For this reason, I find the prevalence of stereotyping among Muslims very troubling. I see a lot of negative comments flying around, each one accusing another of some unbecoming trait. Some are just in jest while others are deliberately inflammatory. Where does this need to promote such harsh judgments originate? Enjoining good and forbidding evil? No, for you cannot change your lineage. Warning Muslims about the influence of Disbelievers? No, these groups include Muslims. Why promote such judgments? If we perceive others to be in a lower position than ourselves, are we superior to them? Isn’t that what we call arrogance? Prophet Muhammad informed us, All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a nonArab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor does a black have any superiority over a white—except by piety and good action. (Ahmed) Allah judges all people on the basis of individual merit. Shouldn’t our community be the one that is the most inviting? Why can’t we perceive the people in the world around us as potential Muslims? Don’t we want them to perceive us as peace-loving, God-


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fearing individuals? Prophet Muhammad said, One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment must not cause hardship and inconvenience to his neighbor; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day must respect his guest; and he, who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment must speak well or keep quiet. (Bukhari and Muslim) Notice that this hadith specifically mentions neighbors and guests—people who potentially could be Non-Muslims. So, our manners of speaking kindly --or not speaking at all-- apply to all of the people around us, be they from among us or beyond. In fact, our scholars mention the pertinence of the exclusion of speaking in a neutral manner in this hadith. It is a directive to say something good or not say anything at all. This is an oft-repeated theme in many arenas. Furthermore, stereotyping is contrary to the Sunnah and --if it is based on pride-- it will bar us from entering Paradise, for Prophet Muhammad said, One who has an iota of pride in his heart, will not be able to enter Paradise. One of the Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, some persons like nice clothes and shoes.” The Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah is Elegant and Beautiful, and he likes elegance and beauty. Pride means rejecting the truth out of self-esteem and considering others as low. (Muslim) So, let us renew our efforts to avoid hurtful generalizations and stereotypes at all times. We need to strive to be a people of ideal character. It is our responsibility to present Islam in the best possible way by emulating the example of Allah’s last Prophet, for there is no better invitation to the Truth.

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Aljumuah magazine for web  

Volume 29, Issue 01 Rabi Al-Awwal 1438 H / Dec. - Jan. 2016-17 Al Jumuah Inc.USA Publisher Prof. Mansour I. Al Mansour Editor Ahmed El...

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