Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

By Truth Seeker Staff

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah's knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: "If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it."

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

The life of Aishah is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also proof that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also proof that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.

She did not graduate from any university there were no universities as such in her day. But still her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied and researched by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.

The bulk of her vast treasure of knowledge was obtained while she was still quite young. In her early childhood she was brought up by her father who was greatly liked and respected for he was a man of wide knowledge, gentle manners and an agreeable presence. Moreover he was the closest friend of the noble Prophet who was a frequent visitor to their home since the very early days of his mission.

In her youth, already known for her striking beauty and her formidable memory, she came under the loving care and attention of the Prophet himself. As his wife and close companion she acquired from him knowledge and insight such as no woman has ever acquired.

Aishah became the Prophet’s wife in Makkah when she was most likely in the tenth year of her life but her wedding did not take place until the second year after the Hijrah when she was about fourteen or fifteen years old. Before and after her wedding she maintained a natural jollity and innocence and did not seem at all overawed by the thought of being wedded to him who was the Messenger of God whom all his companions, including her own mother and father, treated with such love and reverence as they gave to no one else.

About her wedding, she related that shortly before she was to leave her parent’s house, she slipped out into the courtyard to play with a passing friend:

“I was playing on a see-saw and my long streaming hair was disheveled,” she said. “They came and took me from my play and made me ready.”

They dressed her in a wedding-dress made from fine red-striped cloth from Bahrain and then her mother took her to the newly-built house where some women of the Ansar were waiting outside the door. They greeted her with the words “For good and for happiness may all be well!” Then, in the presence of the smiling Prophet, a bowl of milk was brought. The Prophet drank from it himself and offered it to Aishah. She shyly declined it but when he insisted she did so and then offered the bowl to her sister Asma who was sitting beside her. Others also drank of it and that was as much as there was of the simple and solemn occasion of their wedding. There was no wedding feast.

Marriage to the Prophet did not change her playful ways. Her young friends came regularly to visit her in her own apartment.

“I would be playing with my dolls,” she said, “with the girls who were my friends, and the Prophet would come in and they would slip out of the house and he would go out after them and bring them back, for he was pleased for my sake to have them there.” Sometimes he would say “Stay where you are” before they had time to leave, and would also join in their games. Aishah said: “One day, the Prophet came in when I was playing with the dolls and he said: ‘O Aishah, whatever game is this?’ ‘It is Solomon’s horses,’ I said and he laughed.” Sometimes as he came in he would screen himself with his cloak so as not to disturb Aishah and her friends.

Aishah’s early life in Madinah also had its more serious and anxious times. Once her father and two companions who were staying with him fell ill with a dangerous fever which was common in Madinah at certain seasons. One morning Aishah went to visit him and was dismayed to find the three men lying completely weak and exhausted. She asked her father how he was and he answered her in verse but she did not understand what he was saying. The two others also answered her with lines of poetry which seemed to her to be nothing but unintelligible babbling. She was deeply troubled and went home to the Prophet saying:

“They are raving, out of their minds, through the heat of the fever.” The Prophet asked what they had said and was somewhat reassured when she repeated almost word for word the lines they had uttered and which made sense although she did not fully understand them then. This was a demonstration of the great retentive power of her memory which as the years went by were to preserve so many of the priceless sayings of the Prophet.

Of the Prophet’s wives in Madinah, it was clear that it was Aishah that he loved most. From time to time, one or the other of his companions would ask:

“O Messenger of God, whom do you love most in the world?” He did not always give the same answer to this question for he felt great love for many for his daughters and their children, for Abu Bakr, for Ali, for Zayd and his son Usamah. But of his wives the only one he named in this connection was Aishah. She too loved him greatly in return and often would seek reassurance from him that he loved her. Once she asked him: “How is your love for me?”

“Like the rope’s knot,” he replied meaning that it was strong and secure. And time after time thereafter, she would ask him: “How is the knot?” and he would reply: “Ala haaliha in the same condition.”

As she loved the Prophet so was her love a jealous love and she could not bear the thought that the Prophet’s attentions should be given to others more than seemed enough to her. She asked him:

“O Messenger of God, tell me of yourself. If you were between the two slopes of a valley, one of which had not been grazed whereas the other had been grazed, on which would you pasture your flocks?”

“On that which had not been grazed,” replied the Prophet. “Even so,” she said, “and I am not as any other of your wives. “Everyone of them had a husband before you, except myself.” The Prophet smiled and said nothing. Of her jealousy, Aishah would say in later years:

“I was not, jealous of any other wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, because of his constant mentioning of her and because God had commanded him to give her good tidings of a mansion in Paradise of precious stones. And whenever he sacrificed a sheep he would send a fair portion of it to those who had been her intimate friends. Many a time I said to him: “It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world except Khadijah.”

Once, when Aishah complained and asked why he spoke so highly of “an old Quraysh woman”, the Prophet was hurt and said: “She was the wife who believed in me when others rejected me. When people gave me the lie, she affirmed my truthfulness. When I stood forsaken, she spent her wealth to lighten the burden of my sorrow..”

Despite her feelings of jealousy which nonetheless were not of a destructive kind, Aishah was really a generous soul and a patient one. She bore with the rest of the Prophet’s household poverty and hunger which often lasted for long periods. For days on end no fire would be lit in the sparsely furnished house of the Prophet for cooking or baking bread and they would live merely on dates and water. Poverty did not cause her distress or humiliation; self-sufficiency when it did come did not corrupt her style of life.

Once the Prophet stayed away from his wives for a month because they had distressed him by asking of him that which he did not have. This was after the Khaybar expedition when an increase of riches whetted the appetite for presents. Returning from his self-imposed retreat, he went first to Aishah’s apartment. She was delighted to see him but he said he had received Revelation which required him to put two options before her. He then recited the verses:

“O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come and I will bestow its goods upon you, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then verily God has laid in store for you an immense reward for such as you who do good.”

Aishah’s reply was:

“Indeed I desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter,” and her response was followed by all the others.

She stuck to her choice both during the lifetime of the Prophet and afterwards. Later when the Muslims were favored with enormous riches, she was given a gift of one hundred thousand dirhams. She was fasting when she received the money and she distributed the entire amount to the poor and the needy even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after, a maidservant said to her: “Could you buy meat for a dirham with which to break your fast?”

“If I had remembered, I would have done so,” she said. The Prophet’s affection for Aishah remained to the last. During his final illness, it was to Aishah’s apartment that he went at the suggestion of his wives. For much of the time he lay there on a couch with his head resting on her breast or on her lap. She it was who took a toothstick from her brother, chewed upon it to soften it and gave it to the Prophet. Despite his weakness, he rubbed his teeth with it vigorously. Not long afterwards, he lost consciousness and Aishah thought it was the onset of death, but after an hour he opened his eyes.

Aishah it is who has preserved for us these dying moments of the most honored of God’s creation, His beloved Messenger may He shower His choicest blessings on him.

When he opened his eyes again, Aishah remembered Iris having said to her: “No Prophet is taken by death until he has been shown his place in Paradise and then offered the choice, to live or die.”

“He will not now choose us,” she said to herself. Then she heard him murmur: “With the supreme communion in Paradise, with those upon whom God has showered His favor, the Prophets, the martyrs and the righteous…” Again she heard him murmur: “O Lord, with the supreme communion,” and these were the last words she heard him speak. Gradually his head grew heavier upon her breast, until others in the room began to lament, and Aishah laid his head on a pillow and joined them in lamentation.

In the floor of Aishah’s room near the couch where he was lying, a grave was dug in which was buried the Seal of the Prophets amid much bewilderment and great sorrow.

Aishah lived on almost fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet. She had been his wife for a decade. Much of this time was spent in learning and acquiring knowledge of the two most important sources of God’s guidance, the Quran and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Aishah was one of three wives (the other two being Hafsah and Umm Salamah) who memorized the Revelation. Like Hafsah, she had her own script of the Quran written after the Prophet had died.

So far as the Ahadith or sayings of the Prophet is concerned, Aishah is one of four persons (the others being Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik) who transmitted more than two thousand sayings. Many of these pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behavior which only someone in Aishah’s position could have learnt. What is most important is that her knowledge of hadith was passed on in written form by at least three persons including her nephew Urwah who became one of the greatest scholars among the generation after the Companions.

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Her nephew Urwah asserts that she was proficient not only in fiqh but also in medicine (tibb) and poetry. Many of the senior companions of the Prophet came to her to ask for advice concerning questions of inheritance which required a highly skilled mathematical mind. Scholars regard her as one of the earliest fuqaha of Islam along with persons like Umar ibn al-Khattab, Ali and Abdullah ibn Abbas. The Prophet referring to her extensive knowledge of Islam is reported to have said: “Learn a portion of your religion (din) from this red colored lady.” “Humayra” meaning “Red-coloured” was an epithet given to Aishah by the Prophet.

Aishah not only possessed great knowledge but took an active part in education and social reform. As a teacher she had a clear and persuasive manner of speech and her power of oratory has been described in superlative terms by al-Ahnaf who said: “I have heard speeches of Abu Bakr and Umar, Uthman and Ali and the Khulafa up to this day, but I have not heard speech more persuasive and more beautiful from the mouth of any person than from the mouth of Aishah.”

Men and women came from far and wide to benefit from her knowledge. The number of women is said to have been greater than that of men. Besides answering enquiries, she took boys and girls, some of them orphans, into her custody and trained them under her care and guidance. This was in addition to her relatives who received instruction from her. Her house thus became a school and an academy.

Some of her students were outstanding. We have already mentioned her nephew Urwah as a distinguished reporter of hadith. Among her women pupils is the name of Umrah bint Abdur Rahman. She is regarded by scholars as one of the trustworthy narrators of hadith and is said to have acted as Aishah’s secretary receiving and replying to letters addressed to her. The example of Aishah in promoting education and in particular the education of Muslim women in the laws and teachings of Islam is one which needs to be followed.

After Khadijah al-Kubra (the Great) and Fatimah az-Zahra (the Resplendent), Aishah as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth) is regarded as the best woman in Islam. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field in knowledge, in society, in politics and in war. She often regretted her involvement in war but lived long enough to regain position as the most respected woman of her time. She died in the year 58 AH in the month of Ramadan and as she instructed, was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi in the City of Light, beside other companions of the Prophet.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.islamicweb.com.

 

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Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

By Truth Seeker Staff

Staying Healthy

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise.

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

During Ramadan, practicing Muslims change their eating habits dramatically.

Questioned by Relaxnews, nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny provided her recommendations to religious fasters looking to make the most out of this festive time of year.

Pack in fibre and protein at Suhoor

Suhoor and Iftar, the two daily meals during Ramadan, are taken before dawn and after dusk, respectively. Suhoor is crucial, as it is the faster’s last meal before facing the day. So it is important to make sure this pre-dawn meal contains protein (found in eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, etc.) and fibre (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc.), both of which help stave off hunger over a long period.

Avoid overeating after sundown

After a day of deprivation, there is a strong temptation to overindulge at Iftar. To curb the pangs of hunger before reaching for calorie-rich foods, try having a bowl of cold soup or a healthy salad. The evening meal should also include protein, whole grains, and vegetables.

Especially during Ramadan, it is important to avoid empty calories and junk food, to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and to ensure that each meal includes healthy portions of protein and dairy products.

Eat almonds and dates instead of rich desserts

While Ramadan is a festive time of year, it has the potential to negatively impact one’s health. Eating at night rather than during the day affects the body’s metabolism, thus increasing the risk of weight gain. Fasting can also lead to cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat, which can also impact your waistline. Charlotte Debeugny recommends eating a few dates or almonds instead of the extremely calorie-rich pastries served during Ramadan, such as baklava or halva.

Avoid the sun and stay hydrated

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise. Eating fruit before sunrise is a good idea, as the water it contains helps to hydrate the body during the day. Be careful not to drink too much water at once. Coffee and tea are to be avoided, as they can actually lead to increased thirst and dehydration. For additional energy, try drinking smoothies or fruit juice diluted with water.

Adapt fasting to your physical condition

Before starting a fast, it is necessary to talk to a doctor, particularly for seniors, diabetics taking medication to control their insulin levels, pregnant women and pre-adolescent children. Those with compromised health who still wish to fast for Ramadan should consult their doctor to develop a fasting plan adapted to their condition. At the first symptom of failing health, it is important to stop fasting.

 

Note from the Editor:

Along with having healthy food while we are fasting during the month of Ramadan, we should not forget the core essence of the ritual of fasting in Islam, namely to obtain Taqwa (piety) and fear of Allah, the Creator of all and everything. Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means,

“O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God. [Fasting] during a certain number of days. But whoever of you is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days; and [in such cases] it is incumbent upon those who can afford it to make sacrifice by feeding a needy person. And whoever does more good than he is bound to do does good unto himself thereby; for to fast is to do good unto yourselves – if you but knew it. It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was [first] bestowed from on high as a guidance unto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard by which to discern the true from the false. Hence, whoever of you lives to see this month shall fast throughout it; but he that is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days. God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship; but [He desires] that you complete the number [of days required], and that you extol God for His having guided you aright, and that you render your thanks [unto Him].” (Al-Baqarah 2: 183-185)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from AFP Relaxnews: http://malaysiandigest.com

 

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Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

By Truth Seeker Staff

Fights Cancer

Fasting may help to combat cancer and boost the effectiveness of treatment

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. We recently posted an article about meditation, and how

neuroscience can now explain what happens to the brain when we meditate. Now, scientists have discovered the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. The study was published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the heatopoietic system. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ” – Valter Longo, corresponding author.

Again, because fasting significantly lowers white blood cell counts, this triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. More importantly, it reduces the PKA enzyme, which has been linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer.(1) It’s also noteworthy to mention that fasting protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial where patients fasted for 72 hours prior to chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.” Co-Author Tanya Dorff

Fasting is a tradition that’s been incorporated into many ancient cultures, from Vedic to Buddhist and more, fasting should not be confused with starvation. It’s the process of restraining and control from the sensorial experience of eating and at the same time making sure you are doing it correctly. When I fast, I usually do water fasts and I have been doing them for almost eight years now and I always feel great and full of energy after doing so.

More Research

1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease:

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have found evidence that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent the effects

Fights Cancer

Scientists found tumour cells responded differently to the stress of fasting compared to normal cells

of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Research also found that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days out of the seven can show clear beneficial effects for the brain.

2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes:

Regularly going a day without food reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that fasting releases a significant surge in human growth hormone, which is associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Shedding fat is known to cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.

3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells:

A study from the scientific journal of aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors. The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer. As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps, which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction

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Read More:

More Than 1 Billion People Stopped Eating and Drinking: Discover Why

An Atheist Finds Islam Through Fasting Ramadan

 

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Story of the Prisoners of the Battle of Badr

Story of the Prisoners of the Battle of Badr

By Safi Ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri

Battle of BadrStory of the Prisoners of the Battle of Badr

On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet (PBUH) divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken al-khums (one-fifth). When they reached as-Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were an-Nadr ibn al-Harith and ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, and harboured deep hatred towards Allah and His Messenger (PBUH).

In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, “Who will look after my children O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (PBUH) answered, “The Fire (of Hell).” Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of the Prophet (PBUH) while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Fatimah had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled the Prophet (PBUH) with his cloak if it had not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet (PBUH). The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.

The Prophet (PBUH) exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.

Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab as to what he should do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying: “They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allah could guide them to Islam.”

‘Umar advised killing them, saying, “They are the leaders of kufr (disbelief).” The Prophet (PBUH) preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Bakr to see them weeping. He showed extreme astonishment and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping.

“It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.” (Al-Anfal 8:67-68)

The previous Divine ordainment went as follows:

“Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom.” (Muhammad 47:4)

Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather arch-criminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.

The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 dirhams in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike the Madinese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free.

Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed on grounds of being hard up. Zaynab, the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference to the Prophet (PBUH) but on condition that Abul-‘As allow Zaynab to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did.

In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhayl ibn ‘Amr. ‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but the Prophet (PBUH) turned down his suggestion for fear Quraysh should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allah’s Wrath on the Day of Resurrection.

Sa’d ibn an-Nu’man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.

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Adopted with editorial adjustments from Ar-Rahiq al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar).

 

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The Companions’ Sense of Humor

The Companions’ Sense of Humor

By Truth Seeker Staff

humorThe Companions’ Sense of Humor

Qarrah said: That he asked the Ibn Sirin if the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) played jokes on one another. At this, he said, “They too were human beings and nothing else.” [Al-Haythami vol. VIII, p. 89]

Awf ibn Malik Ashjai said that at the time of the battle of Tabuk he went to see the Prophet (PBUH). At that time, the Prophet was sitting in a small round shaped tent of leather. Awf saluted the Prophet and he returned the salutation. He further asked him to come into the tent. At this Awf said, “Should I come in, the whole of me?” The Prophet said, “Yes, come in the whole of you.” Then he entered the tent. [Abu Dawud, Al-Bidayah vol. VI, p. 46]

[Walid ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abu’l-Aliyah says that Awf had said this because of the smallness of the tent (op cit)]

Abu Malikah said that once ‘A’ishah uttered some humorous words before the Prophet (PBUH). At this, ‘A’ishah’s mother said to the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah! Some of the pleasantries of this tribe trace their origin in the tribe of Kinanah.” At this, the Prophet said, “This tribe itself depends on our humour.” [Al-Bukhari, Chapter of Adab (Manners) p. 41]

Bakr ibn ‘Abdullah related that the Companions m of the Prophet (PBUH) used to throw melons on one another by way of a joke. But they became valiant when faced with the realities of life or its hardships. [Al-Bukhari, Chapter of Adab p. 41]

Rabiah ibn ‘Uthman said that a certain Bedouin came to the Prophet (PBUH). He seated his she-camel outside the Holy Mosque and himself went inside to meet the Holy Prophet. Some of the companions of the Prophet said to Nuyman ibn ‘Amr al-Ansari, “If you slaughter this she-camel and satisfy your hunger, the holy Prophet will pay its penalty.”

The narrator says that very soon Nuyman slaughtered the she-camel. When the Bedouin came out of the Mosque and saw all this, he began crying out, “O Muhammad! Someone has slaughtered her.” The Holy Prophet came out and asked the people who had done that.

The people told him that Nuyman had done that. Now the Prophet went out in search of him. He found Nuyman in the house of Dabah daughter of Zubayr ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib. He had hidden himself in a cell and had put branches and dry barks and leaves of the date tree over his body.

Someone cried out that he had not seen him. But this very man pointed to the place where Nuyman was hiding. The Prophet took him out from there and his face was covered with dust and leaves of the date tree. The Prophet asked him who had asked him to do that. He said, “O Messenger of Allah! These very men who had told you about my whereabouts had asked me to do that.”

The Holy Prophet began removing the leaves and barks from his head and face and remained laughing. The narrator says that later on, the Prophet paid the price of the she-camel to that Bedouin. [Al-Istiab, vol. III, p. 575 and Al-Isabah vol. III, p. 570]

Umm Salamah said that Abu Bakr went to the city of Busra on a trade mission. With him were Nuyman and Suwaybit ibn Harmalah, and both were the two who had fought in the battle of Badr. Suwaybit was in charge of the provisions of the caravan. Nuyman asked him to give him food. At this Suwaybit said, “Wait a little and let Abu Bakr come.” Nuyman was a witty and humorous fellow. He went to a group of men who had brought beasts of burden. He said to them, “Will any of you purchase a slave?” They replied in the affirmative.

Nuyman said, “That Arab slave is a plausible fellow and it is just possible that he might say that he is not a slave. If you leave him because of his words then blame me not, and break not the deal.” Those traders agreed to this. These men purchased him for ten she-camels. Nuyman brought the she-camels and pointing towards Suwaybit, he told them that that was the slave. The traders said, “We already know that you will say this,” (i.e. that he was not a slave). Now the traders tied Suwaybit by his neck and wanted to take him to their place.

In the meantime, Abu Bakr came there, and he was informed about all of this. Abu Bakr and his companions went to those merchants and returned them to their she-camels. Thus they bought back Suwaybit. Later on when the Prophet was informed about this incident, he laughed. The Prophet and his Companions continued laughing over this incident for the whole year. [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tayalsi, Al-Isabah, vol. II, p. 98, Al-Istiab, vol. II, p. 126 and vol. III, p. 576]

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Adopted with editorial adjustments from Hayatus-Sahabah (The Lives of the Companions).

 

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Writing System for the Blind: Al-Amidi vs. Braille

Writing System for the Blind: Al-Amidi vs. Braille

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

Writing System for the Blind: Al-Amidi vs. Braille

Amazingly, like Braille, Al-Amidi too was blind from childhood. It is a well known fact that, “the tactile receptors of blind peoples’ fingers are exceptionally well developed and Al-Amidi was also gifted in this ‘super-sense’.”

The history of Muslims is abundant in numerous, if not countless, prime examples of scientists, scholars, thinkers, philosophers, reformers, inventors, etc. The remarkable achievements of such pioneering prominent figures are beyond counting. However, many of these achievements are not recognized nowadays as have been carried out by Muslims. This can be attributed to the fact that many Arabic names of the original owners of such magnificent contributions were “naturalized” from Arabic and morphologically changed in a way to make them look like ancient Greek names. Therefore, the Arabic reader should not mistake them for English names, e.g.: Avempace (Ibn Bajah),[1] Avenzoar (Ibn Zuhr),[2] Averroes (Ibn Rushd),[3] Avicenna (Ibn Sina),[4] Saladin (Salah Ad-Din),[5] etc.

More interestingly, I was reading something about the Mamluke era in Egypt and the Levant recently. I came to know that that particular era is conceived to be void of any significant contribution by some Orientalists and others. They claim that the only achievement of that era was one book by one scholar; namely, “Al-Muqadimmah” by Ibn Khaldun.[6] In fact, these claims were proved groundless as the Mamluke era witnessed many scientific and scholarly achievements as well as a huge cultural boom that can be compared to the renaissance enjoyed by the whole Muslim world for centuries. This is very true despite long-term wars, revolutions, afflictions and turmoil that were then prevalent. Interestingly enough, the cultural and knowledge-based aspects of society were not affected in the same manner. Hundreds of manuscripts and books attest to the then existence of a galaxy of scholars and scientists who crowned that era with their amazing achievements. Many of these books and manuscripts survived and thus can nowadays be found in famous world libraries in Dublin, London, Leiden, Istanbul, Cairo, and many others.[7]

One of the main reasons that led to that civilizational boom and cultural boost was the fact that many Muslim scholars and scientists fled to Egypt when the Tatars invaded the Muslim world and demolished Baghdad in (1258 A.C.). Egypt was then a safe-haven for so many; a matter which enabled them to achieve whatever scientific and scholarly contributions they opted for.

Many of the books and manuscripts that survived the Mamluke era contain valuable information and details of the discoveries and contributions that first appeared at that time. This encompasses innovations in the fields of education, linguistics and lexicons, medicine, mathematics, geography, astrology, social and religious studies, etc. One of the most outstanding discoveries of that era was the invention of a writing system for visually impaired or sightless people. Such a system is basically needed to help the blind read and play an active role in the cultural life of the community as well as the whole human race.

Ironically, when this last issue is often raised, the name Braille is solely mentioned as the first to invent such a system. Before getting any further, let us learn something about Braille.

Braille, Louis (1809-1852), French teacher of the blind. Born in Coupvray, France, he was blind from age three. In 1829, while teaching at the National Institute for the Young Blind in Paris, Braille conceived the idea of modifying the so-called point writing system, used for coded army messages, to enable the blind to read.[8]

The Alphabet he devised, called the “Braille Alphabet”, consists of 63 characters made up of a series of six dots raised on paper so that they can be read by passing fingers lightly over the manuscript. The dots are conventionally numbered 1, 2, and 3 from the top of the left column and 4, 5, and 6 from the top of the right column. The presence or absence of dots gives the coding for the symbol.[9] Remarkably, a universal Braille code for the English speaking world was adopted in London in 1932. Braille is now used throughout the English-speaking world and has been adapted to most other languages including Arabic.

However, historical records attest to the fact that it was Al-Amidi (d. 1314 A.C.), who was the first to invent such a writing system 600 years before Braille. Ali Ibn Ahmed Ibn Yusuf Al-Amidi, a Syrian Muslim, was considered an expert in using such a system. Amazingly, like Braille, Al-Amidi too was blind from childhood. It is a well known fact that, “the tactile receptors of blind peoples’ fingers are exceptionally well developed and Al-Amidi was also gifted in this ‘super-sense’.”[10] This enabled him not only to locate books on shelves using the sense of touch, but also to recognize each book’s number of pages. He could also determine the value of the books by the spacing of the lines. Whenever he went to purchase a book he would always take with him a piece of paper. He would roll the paper into the shape of a letter of the alphabet. He would then stick that piece of paper onto the front cover of the book in a way that would enable him afterwards to identify the book’s title, author, price, number of pages, etc., just by touching the letter-shaped piece of paper as it was part of a code that he himself had developed to classify books.

This, in fact, was the real beginning of a writing system especially designed for the visually impaired almost 600 years before the birth of Louis Braille. Ironically, this fact is hardly recorded or not mentioned at all in the books of history.


[1] Avempace (in Arabic, Ibn Bajah) (1095?-1138), Muslim philosopher and exponent of Neo-platonic intellectual mysticism who was born in Andalusia (now Spain). His famous book, On the Union of the Intellect, is a very important contribution to the field of mysticism and Muslim intellectualism.

[2] Avenzoar (in Arabic, Ibn Zuhr) (1090-1162), Muslim physician and writer who was born in Andalusia (now Spain). Ibn Zuhr’s Practical Manual of Treatments and Diet showed an advanced understanding of the human body based on science rather than speculation.

[3] Averroes (in Arabic, Abu al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Rushd) (1126-1198), Muslim philosopher, jurist, and physician, born in Cordoba, Andalusia (now Spain).

[4] Avicenna (in Arabic, Ibn Sina) (980-1037), Muslim Iranian philosopher and physician, regarded as one of the greatest through history. Born near Bukhoro (in what is now Uzbekistan), he served as court physician to the Samanid ruler of Bukhoro and as scientific adviser and physician to the ruler of Esfahan.

[5] Saladin (in Arabic, Salah Ad-Din) (1137-1193), Muslim ruler of Egypt and Syria who liberated Palestine, restored Muslim sovereignty over the sacred city of Jerusalem (in Arabic, Al-Quds), and defended it during the Third Crusade (1189-1192).

[6] Ibn Khaldun, full name Abu Zayd Abd-Ar-Rahman Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), medieval Islamic historian. He was born in Tunis (now in Tunisia). In the 14th century he completed his monumental work Muqaddamah, the introductory volume to his Universal History, which is a valuable guide to the history of Muslim North Africa and the Berbers. In the Muqaddamah Ibn Khaldun outlined a philosophy of history and a theory of society that are unprecedented in ancient and medieval writing. Societies, he believed, are held together by the power of social cohesiveness, which can be augmented by the unifying force of religion. (The Encarta Desk Encyclopedia (1998). Microsoft Corporation. Electronic version).

[7] I have visited some of these libraries in the last 10 years or so.

[8] The Encarta Desk Encyclopedia (1998). Microsoft Corporation. Electronic version.

[9] The Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization (www.muslimheritage.com).

[10] Ibid.


*** First published on: Sep 8, 2016.

Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah Interanational Univerity, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). He is a published writer, translator and researcher. You can reach him at alihalawani72@hotmail.com.

 

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9 Muslim Teen Leaders

9 Muslim Teen Leaders

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

9 Muslim Teen Leaders9 Muslim Teen Leaders

A few days ago, while waiting for a bus to take me downtown, I met an elderly Canadian lady. She wore a red poppy as a sign to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty during the past world wars.

Spontaneously, I said, “This is a great thing about you, Canadians!”

Enthusiastically she asked, “What is it? What do you mean?”

I said, “You, unlike many other people, never forget your heroes; those who have sacrificed themselves for the sake of their country! That is why, when your soldiers go to battle, they do their best as they know they would always be remembered!”

While on the bus, I thought of the many heroes who have been exceptional examples in terms of bravery and self-sacrifice throughout our Islamic history. But almost no one remembers them or cares about commemorating them in any way.

I decided I would write a brief account of some of the heroes who were young but influential.

Let me introduce you to 9 of the youngest leaders in Islamic history, many of whom are unknown to many.

Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam (16 years old)

Though very young, Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam turned his home into the Prophet’s headquarters for 13 consecutive years.

In doing so, he helped raise the first Muslim generation who protected the Prophet, defended the faith, and spread the Word of Allah across the globe.

Talha ibn Ubaid Allah (16 years old)

He embraced Islam in his teenage years and was one of the very first to believe in the new faith. Talha was also one of the most generous people amongst the early Muslims.

In the battle of Uhud, he made a pledge to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would die in the cause of Allah and, thus, protect the Prophet from the disbelievers.

He shielded the Prophet from flying daggers and arrows with his own body until one of his fingers was paralyzed. However, he managed to save the Prophet’s life. He was also one of the six people Umar Ibn Al-Khattab nominated to decide who’ll be the next Caliph.

Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas (17 years old)

At the age of 17, Sa`d was one of the very first people to believe in the Prophet and accept Islam.

He was also the first to shoot an arrow for the defense of Islam. He was one of the ten people who received the glad tidings from the Prophet as to enter Paradise.

Also, he was one of the six nominated by Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab to choose amongst themselves as his successor after his death.

One day, the Prophet (peace be upon him) referred to him as saying, “This is my maternal uncle Sa`d. Is there anyone who has an uncle like him?”

Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam (15 years old)

Az-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam was the first Muslim to unsheathe his sword in the cause of Allah.

He was one of the close disciples of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Besides that, he was among the six people that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab nominated to succeed him as Caliph.

Osama ibn Zayd (18 years old)

Although he was only 18, he was qualified enough to be appointed by the Prophet as the leader of the last army he dispatched before he passed away.

The army was comprised of prominent Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) such as Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and Umar ibn Al-Khattab and many others.

The army was to confront the Roman army, one of the mightiest armies on earth at that time.

Zayd ibn Thabit (13 years old)

Zayd was one of the scribes of the Divine Revelation. He reportedly learned Syriac and Hebrew in 17 days and became the Prophet’s interpreter.

Practicing until he perfected it, Zayd committed the Noble Qur’an to his heart.

He contributed to the compilation of the Sacred Word of Allah during Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq’s Caliphate.

Mu`adh ibn Amr ibn Al-Jamuh (13 years old) and Mu`awwadh ibn Afraa’ (14 years old)

In modern-day terms, these two were only kids! However, more than 1400 years ago, they managed to put an end to the life of one of the biggest enemies of Islam, who spared no effort to harass the Prophet companions. They killed Abu Jahl (Amr ibn Hisham) in the battle of Badr while he was commander of the polytheists.

Muhammad ibn Qasim Al-Thaqafi (17 years old)

Muhammad ibn Qasim Al-Thaqafi was a prominent leader. During the Umayyad era, he brought Islam to the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River, which is now a part of Pakistan.

He was one of the greatest military leaders of his time. Bin Qasim Town in Karachi is named after Muhammad ibn Qasim.

A final word

How are our youth today? What sort of role models do they have to cherish? What do they aspire to do or achieve?

I have heard some of the youth today speak of a few of these prominent figures with admiration, but sadly, many others have never even heard of them.

Our heroes can be a wonderful source of inspiration; let us read about them and learn from their courage and sacrifice!

———

Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies. He is an author, translator, and writer based in Canada. To date, Al-Halawani authored over 400 original articles on Islam and Muslims, most of which can be accessed on www.truth-seeker.info and other famous websites. He has recently started to self-publish his articles and new books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle. You can reach him at alihalawani72@hotmail.com.

 

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Thirty Prophetic Hadiths on Mercy

Thirty Prophetic Hadiths on Mercy

By Truth Seeker Staff

MercyThirty Hadiths on Mercy

Despair not of the Mercy of God, for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)

One aspect of the Mercy of Allah of His slaves is that He sent the Messengers and revealed the Books and laws to organize their lives according to the ways of wisdom, far removed from hardship and difficulty. Allah says:

And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:107)

It is by the Mercy of Allah that He will admin His believing slaves to Paradise on the Day of Resurrection. No-one will ever enter Paradise because of his deeds along as the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “No-one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise.” They said, “Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “No, not even me, unless Allah showers me with His Mercy. So try to be near to perfection. An no-one should wish for death; he is either doing good so he will do more of that, or he is doing wrong so he may repent.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

We hope and pray that this booklet will bring the reader closer to Allah by inspiring you to reflect on the meaning of these ahadith and to increase you in acts of mercy in the blessed month [of Ramadan] and beyond.

“Ramadan has come to you – a month of blessing in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds) and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived herein of the Mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” (At-Tabarani)

“Where there comes the month of Ramadan, the gates of mercy are opened and the gates of Hell are locked and the devils are chained.” (Muslim)

“Allah has made mercy into one hundred parts. He kept with Himself ninety-nine parts and sent down one part to the Earth so because of that part the creation is merciful such that a horse raises a hoof over its child for fear of hurting it.” (Al-Bukhari)

“When Allah decreed the creation He wrote in His Book which is with Him on His Throne: My Mercy prevails over My Wrath.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, was asked, “O Messenger of Allah pray against the idolators!” So the Prophet said, “Verily, I was not sent to invoke curses but rather I was only sent as a mercy.” (Muslim)

“I am the Prophet of repentance and I am the Prophet of mercy.” (Muslim)

“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

“Be merciful to other you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you.” (Ahmad)

A man saw the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, kiss his grandson Hasan. The man said, “I have ten children and I do not kiss any of them.” The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said, “Verily whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (At-Tirmidhi)

“He who does not show mercy to our little ones or recognize the rights of our elders if not one of us.” (Ahmad)

———-

Adapted with editorial adjustments from a booklet that was published by the valuable charity HHUGS.

 

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Mi`raj: Reviving the Spirit of Hope

Mi`raj: Reviving the Spirit of Hope

By Sadullah Khan

Mi`rajMi`raj: Reviving the Spirit of Hope

The Israa’ and Mi`raj is a momentous occasion that occurred at a very crucial stage in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This uplifting (mi’raj = ascend) experience took place in the year the Prophet lost two of his valuable pillars of support; his uncle Abu Talib (whose political authority and care for the Prophet prevented the Makkans from harming the Prophet) and Khadijah (Prophet’s beloved wife, confidante, partner and financier of the nascent Islamic movement). It was after the Mi`raj that the Prophet had to leave Makkah, yet that departure marked a turning point for the nascent Muslim community and changed the course of history. There are many practical and spiritual lessons we derive from the Mi`raj; but we focus here primarily on the attitude of hope that it inspires through the life-lessons from the example of the Prophet (pbuh).

Ideal Attitude towards the Future

Our attitude towards the future influences our mind-set towards the rest of our life. Being positive about life ahead is among life’s greatest motivators. Hope is the best attitude towards the future; this realistic expectation that something good or better could/will happen if only we continue doing the best we can. The human potential for hope is an essential antidote to despair and to harboring a positive attitude towards the future.

Hope is … anticipation, belief, confidence, aspiration, expectancy, optimism. Hope is the motivational desire that you keep inside of you while waiting for the results or outcome of an event. It is the thoughts that you keep in your mind that anticipate an outcome (positive, good, pleasant, rewarding, relieving, happy outcome) that you want. Hope is obtained with optimism, looking for solutions where others see only problems. Hope is our desire to excel and to achieve, despite the odds.

Prophetic Model of Hope

The entire life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a living example of the quality of hope in action – he patiently persevered, despite insurmountable odds and hardships, in the face of enemies numerically larger and stronger, yet despite all of this, he never gave up hope of establishing the Religion of Islam; and never failed to inspire those around him.

Inspiring others

FIRST INVITATION: When Allah instructed the Prophet [Q 26:214] to invite his relatives to Islam, no one believed except a young 11 year-old boy named ‘Ali. He was mocked for having only a little boy supporting him. Yet, history documents the greatness of both the Prophet’s success and the little boy’s unwavering dedication.

Not to despair in self

Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet, was sent by the Quraysh to negotiate with the Prophet in an attempt to have his influence minimized and the Prophet had the positive attitude and confidence to say; O my uncle! Even if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, I will not deviate from my mission; either I succeed in my task or I perish in the process. This, at a time when the nascent Muslim community were few in number and about to be under political and economic siege.

Not to despair in the situation

KHANDAQ: Surrounded by a confederation of armies, under siege, The Prophet participates with his companions in digging a trench around the city of Madinah; he hits the rock with his pick and sparks fly. Salman al-Farsi (who gave the idea of the Trench) asks … O Prophet! What is the bright sparks I saw the three times you struck the rock with the pick? The Prophet replied: As for the first strike, I saw in the spark the palaces of Shaam, which Allah opened to us. As for the second, I saw the palaces of Persia and it’s bright cities, which Allah opened to us, As for the third; Allah presented us with the keys of Yemen and saw the doors of San’aa.

He was saying this to a group of people who were surrounded by enemies, not sure whether they would live to see the next day; yet he inspired them with his confidence and hopeful attitude with hope of a glorious future, a glory that his people eventually realized.

HIJRAH: The Prophet was avoiding the Quraysh trackers who were bent on killing him, and he and his companion (Abu Bakr) hid in a cave on Mount Thawr outside Makkah. His friend was fearful and the Prophet motivated him by saying (as the Qur’an documents 9:40) do not be aggrieved, Allah is with us.

Not to despair in the person

Prophet Muhammad’s attitude towards a severely handicapped companion, Julaybib, reflects a practical way he raised other people above their hopelessness. Julaybib was described as very short in stature, deformed in the face; in other words, he was severely challenged, physically speaking. He had the unfortunate distinction of being both socially and physically handicapped. The Prophet always paid special attention to Julaybib, and since he was use to being marginalized and did not always express himself too well. Julaybib once asked the Prophet.

Am I worthless, O Prophet of Allah? The Prophet responded; You are not worthless in the estimation of Allah.

Julaybib was so frustrated by being ostracized that he once mentioned that he wanted to ask the Prophet permission to fornicate. Those who were present reacted in different ways. Some scoffed at the young man, others pulled him by the skirt of his robe, and still, others made as if to strike him. But the compassionate Prophet, upon him, be peace and blessings, drew him nearer to himself, and reasoned with him (would you like it for your mother/sister…) till Julaybib forsook his wrongful desire and The Prophet (pbuh) concluded the ‘spiritual operation’ with a supplication.

He put his hand on the chest of the young man and prayed: O God, forgive him, purify his heart and maintain his chastity!

After one of the military expeditions, there was a severe armed retaliation against the Muslims and some Muslims were killed. The Prophet inquired about those who were killed and asked: Have you lost anyone? After most people were accounted for, the Prophet said; but I have lost Julaybib! Julaybib was martyred. The Prophet was personally involved in digging Julaybib’s grave, picked him up and carried him in his arms and descending with his body into the grave, with his eyes tearing profusely, saying to this person who had no last name, no relatives, no apparent status, no connections, no real name … You are from me and I am from you.

Not to despair in the community

TAIF was the First town outside Makkah where the Prophet went to preach Islam, he was stoned and insulted; and while wiping off blood from his body the angel asks the Prophet, to pray that Allah may turn the hills upon these people, The Prophet replied: Perhaps Allah will someday turn them towards saying LA ILAHA ILLA ALLAH.

Taif was the first town outside Makkah that the Prophet went to preach Islam and Taif was the last to accept Islam in his lifetime.

TUFAYL was a well-known poet, member of the well-respected tribe of Daws, he was the chief of that tribe. He embraced Islam and went to convey the message of Islam. Not only did his tribe of Daws not accept Islam, but they also increased their indulgence in impropriety.

Tufayl came to the Prophet and lodged the complaint… The people of Daws are overcome by their indulgence in licentiousness and usury; Invoke Allah to destroy them. Tufayl was amazed when he heard what the Prophet say as he lifted his hand skyward to pray… O, Allah! Help the people of Daws and guide them to Islam. The Prophet advised Tufayl, …Return to your people, invite them to the truth and be nice to them.

Tufayl did exactly as the Prophet instructed. Two years before the passing of the Prophet; (after the Battle of Khaybar) the Prophet was in Madinah and Tufayl brought with him 80 families of the Daws Tribe; men women and children …all had embraced Islam. The Prophet had prayed for corrupt people and they eventually came to the right path. When he prayed for the people of Daws at the time of Tufayl’s complaint, he did not see them merely as bad as they were, he saw the potential of how good they could be.

It was the Prophet’s single-minded devotion, his focus on hope and his trust in Allah that brought success to his mission. It was his positive attitude, his inspirational approach and his merciful character that raised people to live according to their highest light.

Be positive even if others are not

PRAYER of JESUS: Prophet ‘Isa /Jesus (pbuh) was responding with loving words to a group of people who were abusive in speech towards him. An observer inquired as to why he was responding to hate with love. Jesus (pbuh) replied: “They give what they have in their heart and I give what I have.” The lesson we learn from this is never to let even the negativity of others prevent the possibility of something positive from ourselves.

Stop being stuck at judging people on where they are in life, but rather help them to be the best they could be. The Caliph Abu Bakr said, Four are the signs of goodness: rejoicing at a person’s repentance, praying for the guidance of one who has turned his back to the right path, seeking forgiveness for the sinner and helping the doer of good. This implies, be happy that people have turned to the right path, (try to guide and) pray for those who are misguided, seek forgiveness (while advising) those who are on the wrong track, and aid (morally, financially and physically) those who are involved in beneficial acts.

In a world so highly critical of everyone, at a time when cynicism abounds us, we need (more than ever) to give ourselves the benefit of hope and give other people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of looking down upon (ourselves and) others and burying people in hopelessness, inspire them to look up to Allah and elevate themselves.

May the commemoration of the Israa’ and Mi’raj inspire us with the spirit of trust in Allah and revive in us the attitude of hope.

———-

Adapted with editorial adjustments from www.islamicity.org.

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The Islamic Roots of the Modern Hospital

The Islamic Roots of the Modern Hospital

By David W. Tschanz

hospitalThe Islamic Roots of the Modern Hospital

“The hospital shall keep all patients, men and women, until they are completely recovered. All costs are to be borne by the hospital whether the people come from afar or near, whether they are residents or foreigners, strong or weak, low or high, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, blind or signed, physically or mentally ill, learned or illiterate. There are no conditions of consideration and payment; none is objected to or even indirectly hinted at for non-payment. The entire service is through the magnificence of God, the generous one.”

Policy statement of the bimaristan of Al-Mansur Qalawun in Cairo, c. 1284CE

The modern West’s approach to health and medicine owes countless debts to the ancient past: Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome and India, to name a few. The hospital is an invention that was both medical and social, and today it is an institution we take for granted, hoping rarely to need it but grateful for it when we do. Almost anywhere in the world now, we expect a hospital to be a place where we can receive ease from pain and help for healing in times of illness or accidents.

We can do that because of the systematic approach — both scientifically and socially —to health care that developed in medieval Islamic societies. A long line of caliphs, sultans, scholars and medical practitioners took ancient knowledge and time-honored practices from diverse traditions and melded them with their original research to feed centuries of intellectual achievement and drive a continual quest for improvement. Their bimaristan, or asylum of the sick, was not only the true forerunner of the modern hospital, but also virtually indistinguishable from the modern multi-service healthcare and medical education center.

The bimaristan served variously as a center of treatment, a convalescent home for those recovering from illness or accident, a psychological asylum and a retirement home that gave basic maintenance to the aged and infirm who lacked a family to care for them.

Asylum of the Sick

The bimaristan was but one important result of the great deal of energy and thought medieval Islamic civilizations put into developing the medical arts. Attached to the larger hospitals — then as now — were medical schools and libraries where senior physicians taught students how to apply their growing knowledge directly with patients. Hospitals set examinations for the students and issued diplomas. The institutional bimaristans were devoted to the promotion of health, the curing of diseases and the expansion and dissemination of medical knowledge.

The First Hospitals

Although places for ill persons have existed since antiquity, most were simple, without more than a rudimentary organization and care structure. Incremental improvements continued through the Hellenistic period, but these facilities would barely be recognizable as little more than holding locations for the sick. In early medieval Europe, the dominant philosophical belief held that the origin of illness was supernatural and thus uncontrollable by human intervention: As a result, hospitals were little more than hospices where patients were tended by monks who strove to assure the salvation of the soul without much effort to cure the body.

Muslim physicians took a completely different approach. Guided by sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (hadith) like “God never inflicts a disease unless He makes a cure for it,” collected by Bukhari, and “God has sent down the disease and the cure, and He has appointed a cure for every disease, so treat yourselves medically,” collected by Abu’d-Darda, they took as their goal the restoration of health by rational, empirical means.

Hospital design reflected this difference in approach. In the West, beds and spaces for the sick were laid out so that the patients could view the daily sacrament of the Mass. Plainly (if at all) decorated, they were often dim and, owing to both climate and architecture, often damp as well. In the Islamic cities, which largely benefited from drier, warmer climates, hospitals were set up to encourage the movement of light and air. This supported treatment according to humoralism, a system of medicine concerned with corporal rather than spiritual balance.

Mobile Dispensaries

The first known Islamic care center was set up in a tent by Rufaydah al-Aslamiyah during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. Famously, during the Ghazwah Khandaq (Battle of the Ditch), she treated the wounded in a separate tent erected for them.

Later rulers developed these forerunners of “mash” units into true traveling dispensaries, complete with medicines, food, drink, clothes, doctor and pharmacists. Their mission was to meet the needs of outlying communities that were far from the major cities and permanent medical facilities.

They also provided the rulers themselves with mobile care. By the early 12th-century reign of Seljuq Sultan Muhammad Saljuqi, the mobile hospital had become so extensive that it needed 40 camels to transport it.

Permanent Hospitals

The first Muslim hospital was only a leprosarium — an asylum for lepers — constructed in the early eighth century in Damascus under Umayyad Caliph Walid ibn ‘Abdul-Malik. Physicians appointed to it were compensated with large properties and munificent salaries. Patients were confined (leprosy was well known to be contagious), but like the blind, they were granted stipends that helped care for their families.

The earliest documented general hospital was built in 805 in Baghdad.

The earliest documented general hospital was built about a century later, in 805, in Baghdad, by the vizier to the caliph Harun ar-Rashid. Few details are known, but the prominence as court physicians of members of the Bakhtishu’ family, former heads of the Persian medical academy at Jundishapur, suggests they played important roles in its development.

Over the following decades, 34 more hospitals sprang up throughout the Islamic world, and the number continued to grow each year. In Kairouan, in present-day Tunisia, a hospital was built in the ninth century, and others were established at Makkah and Madinah. Persia had several: One in the city of Rayy was headed for a time by its Baghdad-educated native son, Muhammad ibn Zakariyyah ar-Razi.

In the 10th century five more hospitals were built in Baghdad. The earliest was established in the late ninth century by Al-Mu’tadid, who asked Ar-Razi to oversee its construction and operations. To start, Ar-Razi wanted to determine the most salubrious place in the city: He had pieces of fresh meat placed in various neighborhoods, and some time later, he checked to determine which had rotted the least and sited the hospital there. When it opened, it had 25 doctors, including oculists, surgeons and bonesetters. The numbers and specialties grew until 1258, when the Mongols destroyed Baghdad.

The vizier ‘Ali ibn Isa ibn Jarah ibn Thabit wrote in the early 10th century to the chief medical officer of Baghdad about another group:

I am very much worried about the prisoners. Their large numbers and the condition of prisons make it certain that there must be many ailing persons among them. Therefore, I am of the opinion that they must have their own doctors who should examine them every day and give them, where necessary, medicines and decoctions. Such doctors should visit all prisons and treat the sick prisoners there.

Shortly afterward a separate hospital was built for convicts, fully staffed and supplied.

In Egypt, the first hospital was built in 872 in the southwestern quarter of Fustat, now part of Old Cairo, by the ‘Abbasid governor of Egypt, Ahmad ibn Tulun. It is the first documented facility that provided care also for mental as well as general illnesses. In the 12th century, Saladin founded in Cairo the Nasiri hospital, which later was surpassed in size and importance by the Mansuri, completed in 1284. It remained the primary medical center in Cairo through the 15th century, and today, renamed Qalawun Hospital, it is used for ophthalmology.

In Damascus the Nuri hospital was the leading one from the time of its foundation in the mid-12th century well into the 15th century, by which time the city contained five additional hospitals.

In the Iberian Peninsula, Cordóba alone had 50 major hospitals. Some were exclusively for the military, and the doctors there supplemented the specialists who attended to the caliphs, military commanders and nobles.

Organization

In a fashion that would still be recognizable today, the typical Islamic hospital was subdivided into departments such as systemic diseases, surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics and mental diseases. The department of systemic diseases was roughly equivalent to today’s department of internal medicine, and it was usually further subdivided into sections dealing with fevers, digestive troubles, infections and more. Larger hospitals had more departments and diverse subspecialties, and every department had an officer-in-charge and a presiding officer in addition to a supervising specialist.

Hospitals were staffed also with a sanitary inspector who was responsible for assuring cleanliness and hygienic practices. In addition, there were accountants and other administrative staff to assure that hospital conditions—financial and otherwise—met standards. There was a superintendent, called a sa’ur, who was responsible for overseeing the management of the entire institution.

Physicians worked fixed hours, during which they saw the patients who came to their departments. Every hospital had its own staff of licensed pharmacists (saydalani) and nurses. Medical staff salaries were fixed by law, and compensation was distributed at a rate generous enough to attract the talented.

Funding for the Islamic hospitals came from the revenues of pious bequests called waqfs. Wealthy men and rulers donated property to existing or newly built bimaristans as endowments, and the revenues from the bequests paid for building and maintenance. To help make it pay, such revenues could come from any mix on the property of shops, mills, caravanserais or even entire villages. The income from an endowment would sometimes also cover a small stipend to the patient upon dismissal. Part of the state budget also went toward the maintenance of hospitals. To patients, the services of the hospital were free, though individual physicians occasionally charged fees.

Patient Care

Bimaristans were open to everyone on a 24-hour basis. Some only saw men while others, staffed by women physicians, saw only women; still others cared for both in separate wings with duplicate facilities and resources. To treat less serious cases, physicians staffed outpatient clinics and prescribed medicines to be taken at home.

Special measures were taken to prevent infection. Inpatients were issued hospital wear from a central supply area while their own clothes were kept in the hospital store. When taken to the hospital ward, patients would find beds with clean sheets and special stuffed mattresses ready. The hospital rooms and wards were neat and tidy with abundant running water and sunlight.

Inspectors evaluated the cleanliness of the hospital and the rooms on a daily basis. It was not unusual for local rulers to make personal visits to make sure patients were getting the best care.

The course of treatment prescribed by doctors began immediately upon arrival. Patients were placed on a fixed diet, depending on condition and disease. The food was of high quality and included chicken and other poultry, beef and lamb, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The major criterion of recovery was that patients be able to ingest, at one time, an amount of bread normal to a healthy person, along with the roasted meat of a whole bird. If patients could easily digest it, they were considered recovered and subsequently released. Patients who were cured but too weak to discharge were transferred to the convalescent ward until they were strong enough to leave. Needy patients were given new clothes, along with a small sum to aid them in re-establishing their livelihood.

The 13th-century doctor and traveler ‘Abdul-Latif al-Baghdadi, who also taught at Damascus, narrated an amusing story of a clever Persian youth who was so tempted by the excellent food and service of the Nuri hospital that he feigned illness. The doctor who examined him figured out what the young man was up to and admitted him nevertheless, providing the youth with fine food for three days. On the fourth day, the doctor went to his patient and said with a rueful smile, “Traditional Arab hospitality lasts for three days: Please go home now!”

The quality of care was subject to review and even arbitration, as related by Ibn Al-Ukhuwa in his book Ma’alem al-Qurba fi Talab al-Hisba (The Features of Relations in Al-Hisba):

If the patient is cured, the physician is paid. If the patient dies, his parents go to the chief doctor; they present the prescriptions written by the physician. If the chief doctor judges that the physician has performed his job perfectly without negligence, he tells the parents that death was natural; if he judges otherwise, he tells them: Take the blood money of your relative from the physician; he killed him by his bad performance and negligence. In this honorable way, they were sure that medicine is practiced by experienced, well-trained persons.

In addition to the permanent hospitals, cities and major towns also had first aid and acute care centers. These were typically located at busy public places such as large mosques. Maqrizi described one in Cairo:

Ibn Tulun, when he built his world-famous mosque in Egypt, at one end of it there was a place for ablutions and a dispensary also as annexes. The dispensary was well equipped with medicines and attendants. On Fridays there used to be a doctor on duty there so that he might attend immediately to any casualties on the occasion of this mammoth gathering.

Medical Schools & Libraries

Because one of the major roles of the hospitals was the training of physicians, each hospital had a large lecture theater where students, along with senior physicians and medical officers, would meet and discuss medical problems in seminar style. As training progressed, medical students would accompany senior physicians to the wards and participate in patient care — much like a modern residency program.

Surviving texts, such as those in Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah’s ‘Uyun al-anba’ fi tabaqat al-atibb’(Sources of Information on Classes of Physicians), as well as student notes, reveal details of these early clinical rounds. There are instructions on diets and recipes for common treatments, including skin diseases, tumors and fevers. During rounds, students were told to examine the patients’ actions, excreta, and the nature and location of swelling and pain. Students were also instructed to note the color and feel of the skin, whether hot, cool, moist, dry or loose.

Training culminated in an examination for a license to practice medicine. Candidates had to appear before the region’s government-appointed chief medical officer. The first step required was to write a treatise on the subject in which the candidate wanted to obtain a certificate. The treatise could be an original piece of research or a commentary on existing texts, such as those of Hippocrates, Galen and, after the 11th century, Ibn Sina, and more.

Candidates were encouraged not only to study these earlier works, but also to scrutinize them for possible errors. This emphasis on empiricism and observation rather than slavish adherence to authorities was one of the key engines of the medieval Islamic intellectual ferment. Upon completion of the treatise, candidates were interviewed at length by the chief medical officer, who asked them questions relevant to problems of the prospective specialties. Satisfactory answers led to licensed practices.

Another key aspect to the hospital, and of critical importance to both students and teachers, was the presence of extensive medical libraries. By the 14th century, Egypt’s Ibn Tulun Hospital had a library comprising 100,000 books on various branches of medical science. This was at a time when Europe’s largest library, at the University of Paris, held 400 volumes.

Cradle of Islamic medicine and prototype for today’s hospitals, bimaristans count among numerous scientific and intellectual achievements of the medieval Islamic world. But of them all, when ill health or injury strikes, there is no legacy more meaningful.

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The author has advanced degrees in history and epidemiology. After 23 years in Saudi Arabia as an epidemiologist with Saudi Aramco, he lives in Florida.

AramcoWorld, March/April 2017, pp.22-27

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