Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It is observed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan, a season of intense worship. How can Muslims make the best use of those precious moments? What should they do and not do while fasting? And what are the benefits that can be gained out of this blessed month?

Watch this video to know the answers and more…

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Muslims’ Contribution to Agriculture

Muslims’ Contribution to Agriculture

By Salah Zaimeche

Muslims' Contribution to Agriculture 2History books in schools usually convey the notion that the agricultural revolution took place in recent times in the form of rotation of crops, advanced irrigation techniques, plant improvements, etc… some such changes only taking place in the last couple of centuries in Europe, and some even taking place nowadays.

It is explained that such revolutionary changes fed the increasing European population, released vast numbers from the land and allowed agriculture to produce a capital surplus, which was invested in industry, thus leading to the industrial revolution of the 18th-19th century.

This is the accepted wisdom until one comes across works on Muslim agriculture and discovers that such changes took place over ten centuries ago in the Muslim world, some such changes being the foundations of much of what we have today.

Watson, Glick and Bolens, in particular, indeed, show that the major breakthroughs were achieved by Muslim farmers on the land, and by Muslim scholars with their treatises on the subject.

Thus, as with other subjects, prejudice distorts history, Muslim achievements of ten centuries ago covered up; a point raised by the French scholar, Cherbonneau, who holds: ‘It is admitted with difficulty that a nation in majority of nomads could have had known any form of agricultural techniques other than sowing wheat and barley.

The misconceptions come from the rarity of works on the subject… If we took the bother to open up and consult the old manuscripts, so many views will be changed, so many prejudices will be destroyed.’

The Agricultural Revolution

As early as the ninth century, a modern agricultural system became central to economic life and organization in the Muslim land.

The great Islamic cities of the Near East, North Africa and Spain, Artz explains, were supported by an elaborate agricultural system that included extensive irrigation and an expert knowledge of the most advanced agricultural methods in the world.

The Muslims reared the finest horses and sheep and cultivated the best orchards and vegetable gardens. They knew how to fight insect pests, how to use fertilizers, and they were experts at grafting trees and crossing plants to produce new varieties.

Glick defines the Muslim agricultural revolution in the introduction of new crops, which, combined with extension and intensification of irrigation, created a complex and varied agricultural system, whereby a greater variety of soil types were put to efficient use; where fields that had been yielding one crop yearly at most prior to the Muslims were now capable of yielding three or more crops, in rotation; and where agricultural production responded to the demands of an increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan urban population by providing the towns with a variety of products unknown in Northern Europe.

Whilst for Scott, the agricultural system of the Spanish Muslims, in particular, was `the most complex, the most scientific, the most perfect, ever devised by the ingenuity of man.’

Such advancement of Muslim farming, according to Bolens, was owed to the adaptation of agrarian techniques to local needs, and to `a spectacular cultural union of scientific knowledge from the past and the present, from the Near East, the Maghreb, and Andalusia.

A culmination subtler than a simple accumulation of techniques, it has been an enduring ecological success, proven by the course of human history.’

Fertilizers, in their variety, were used according to a well-advanced methodology; whilst a maximum amount of moisture in the soil was preserved.

Soil rehabilitation was constantly cared for, and preserving the deep beds of cropped land from erosion was, according to Bolens, again, `the golden rule of ecology,’ and was `subject to laws of scrupulous careful ecology.’

For Scott, the success of Islamic farming also lay in hard enterprise. No natural obstacle was sufficiently formidable to check the enterprise and industry of the Muslim farmer. He tunneled through the mountains; his aqueducts went through deep ravines, and he leveled with infinite patience and labor the rocky slopes of the sierra (in Spain).

The rise of productivity of agricultural land and sometimes of agricultural labor owe to the introduction of higher yielding new crops and better varieties of old crops, through more specialized land use which often centered on the new crops, through more intensive rotations which the new crops allowed, through the concomitant extension and improvement of irrigation, through the spread of cultivation into new or abandoned areas, and through the development of more labor intensive techniques of farming.

These changes, themselves, were positively affected by changes in other sectors of the economy: growth of trade, enlargement of the money economy, increasing specialization of factors of production in all sectors, and with the growth of population and its increasing urbanization.

Irrigation, from Andalusia to the far East, from the Sudan to Afghanistan, remained central, `the basis of all agriculture and the source of all life.’

The ancient systems of irrigation the Muslims became heirs to were in an advanced state of decay, and ruins.’

The Muslims repaired them and constructed new ones; besides devising new techniques to catch, channel, store and lift the water, and making ingenious combinations of available devices.

All of the Kitab al-Filahat (book of agriculture), whether Maghribi, Andalusian; Egyptian, Iraqi; Persian or Yemenite, Bolens points out, insist meticulously on the deployment of equipment and on the control of water.

 

Water Management

Muslims' Contribution to Agriculture 1Water, so precious a commodity in a more Islamically aware age, was managed according to stringent rules, any waste of the resource banned, and the most severe economy enforced. Thus, in the Algerian Sahara various water management techniques were used to make the most effective use of the resource.

The Foggaras, a network of underground galleries, conducted water from one place to the other over very long distances so as to avoid evaporation. Although the system is still in use today, the tendency at present is for over-use and waste of water. Still in Algeria, in the Beni Abbes region, in the Sahara, south of Oran, farmers used a clepsydra to determine the duration of water use for every user in the area.

This clepsydra regulates with precision, and night and day, the amount going to each farmer, timed by the minute, throughout the year, and taking into account seasonal variations. Each farmer is informed of the timing of his turn, and summoned to undertake necessary action to ensure effective supply to his plot.

In Spain, the same strict management was in operation. The water conducted from one canal to the other was used more than once, the quantity supplied accurately graduated; distributing outlets were adapted to each soil variety, two hundred and twenty four of these, each with a specific name.

All disputes and violations of laws on water were dealt with by a court-whose judges were chosen by the farmers themselves, this court named The Tribunal of the Waters, which sat on Thursdays at the door of the principal mosque. Ten centuries later, the same tribunal still sits in Valencia, but at the door of the cathedral.

 

The Loss of Ecological Balance

`With a deep love for nature, and a relaxed way of life, classical Islamic society,’ Bolens concludes, `achieved ecological balance, a successful average economy of operation, based not on theory but on the acquired knowledge of many civilized traditions.’

It was colonialism, she recognizes, which subsequently and seriously upset the traditional agricultural balance in order to increase profitability for the colonizers.

The decline of agriculture as the destruction of other aspects of Islamic civilization had, however, begun with the various invaders, from the Crusaders to the Mongols, from the Banu Hillal to the Normans and Spain’s conquistadors in the West. Such invasions caused the ruin of irrigation works, destroyed permanent crops, closed down trade routes, and caused farmers to take flight.

The Muslim farmers also became over taxed by their new masters in Christian Spain and Sicily, and were exterminated in those countries; their system perishing with them.

The later colonizers, the French, only finished off whatever was left. No better place to see that than in Algeria, where the French on arrival in 1830 found a much greener country than the one they left 130 years later, and a population living more or less in harmony with its environment. In their wars of devastation against Algerian resistance, the French destroyed the garden rings that surrounded towns and cities, cutting trees and orchards.

After that, they deforested whole regions to exploit timber, and took all fertile lands from their Muslim owners, forcing them to subside on arid lands, and in the vicinity of forests causing their degradation.

Later, during the war of independence 1954-62, the French set ablaze millions of acres of forest lands; and then departed, leaving a legacy of bareness and hostility to greenery from which the Algerians have not recovered yet.

 

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Courtesy www.muslimheritage.com with slight editorial modifications to the original article titled: Muslims’ Contribution to Agriculture.

FSTC stands for the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization. The Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) is a British not-for-profit, non-political, and non-religious organisation founded in 1999 by a group of philanthropic historians, scientists, engineers and social scientists. It is dedicated to researching and popularising the history of pre-Renaissance civilisations, especially the Muslim civilisation, that have had an impact upon the scientific, technological and cultural heritage of our modern world.

 

 

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The Impact of the Islamic Civilization (2/2)

The Impact of the Islamic Civilization (2/2)

By Dr. Mustafa As-Siba`i

The development of the European story was influenced by the storytelling arts of the Arabs in the Middle Ages

The development of the European story was influenced by the storytelling arts of the Arabs in the Middle Ages

Editor’s Note: As mentioned in Part I of this article that the lasting legacy of the Islamic civilization can be summed up under five main headings; we have dealt with two of these main headings in the last article and we will tackle the rest here:

3. The Field of Language and Literature

Westerners, especially the poets of Spain, were greatly influenced by Arabic literature. The literature of chivalry, knighthood, metaphor, and marvelous imaginary tales entered western literature through Arabic literature in Andalusia in particular. The famous Spanish writer Abaniz said, “Europe knew nothing of chivalry and its literature before the Arabs came to Andalusia and their knights and heroes spread throughout the regions of the south.”

The extent to which western writers were influenced by Arabic and its literature is proven to us by what Dozy quoted in his book on Islam of the words of the Spanish writer Algharo, who deeply regretted the neglect of Latin and Greek and the acceptance of the language of the Muslims. He said, “The intelligent and eloquent people are bewitched by the sound of Arabic and they look down on Latin. They have started to write in the language of those who defeated them.”

A contemporary of his, who was more influenced by nationalistic feelings, expressed his bitterness when he said, “My Christian brothers admire the poetry and stories of the Arabs, and they study the books written by the philosophies and scholars of the Muslims. They do not do that in order to refute them, but rather to learn the eloquent Arabic style. Where today – apart from the clergy – and those who read the religious commentaries on the Old and New Testaments? Where are those who read the Gospels and the words of the Prophets? Alas, the new generation of intelligent Christians do not know any literature and language well apart from Arabic literature and the Arabic language. They avidly read the books of the Arabs and amass huge libraries of these books at great expense; they look upon these Arabic treasures with great pride, at the time when they refrain from reading Christian books on the basis that they are not worth paying attention to. How unfortunate it is that the Christians have forgotten their language, and nowadays you cannot find among them one in a thousand who could write a letter to a friend in his own language. But with regard to the language of the Arabs, how many there are who express themselves fluently in it with the most eloquent style, and they write poetry of the Arabs themselves in its eloquence and correct usage.”

Among the brilliant writers of Europe in the fourteenth century and thereafter, there can be no doubt whatever concerning the influence of Arabic literature on their stories and writings. In 1349 Boccaccio wrote stories called The Decameron which is a copy of The Arabian Nights, and from which Shakespeare took the idea for his play All’s Well that Ends Well, and the German playwright Lessing took the idea for his play Nathan the Wise.

Chaucer was the foremost English poet and the one who took the most from Boccaccio in his own lifetime. He had met him in Italy, after which he wrote his famous stories known as The Canterbury Tales.

With regard to Dante, many critics affirm that in The Divine Comedy, in which he describes his journey to the other world, he was influenced by Risālat al-Ghufrān by al-Ma’arri and Wasf al-Jannah by ibn al-‘Arabi. That was because he lived in Sicily at the time of the emperor Frederick II, who was fond of Islamic culture and of studying it from its Arabic sources. There were debates between him and Dante concerning the views of Aristotle, some of which were only known through Arabic sources. Dante also knew a considerable amount about the biography of the Prophet, of which he had read the story of Isra’ and Mi’rāj, and the description of heaven.

Petrarch lived during the time of Arabic culture in Italy and France, and he studied at the universities of Montpellier and Paris, both of which based their syllabus on the books of the Arabs and their students in the universities of Andalusia.

The development of the European story was influenced by the storytelling arts of the Arabs in the Middle Ages, which were the maqāmāt (a genre of Arabic rhythmic prose) and tales of chivalry and knightly adventure for the sake of glory and love. After the Arabian Nights was translated into European languages in the twelfth century, it had a great impact in this field. From that time until the present it has been published in more than three hundred editions in all the languages of Europe. A number of European critics think that Swifts’ Gulliver’s Travels and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and indebted to the Arabian Nights and the letter of Hayy ibn Yaqdhān to the Arab philosopher ibn Ṭufayl.

No one can doubt that this huge number of editions of the Arabian Nights is indicative of westerners’ love for this book and therefore of its influence on them.

There is no need for us to mention the Arabic words, having to do with various aspects of life, that have entered different European languages but which still are pronounced much as in Arabic, such as cotton, damask silk, musk, syrup, jar, lemon, zero, and countless others.

It is sufficient for us here to note the words of Professors Mikhael, “Europe is indebted, in its storytelling literature, to the Arab lands and to the Arab peoples living in the Syrian plateau. It is indebted, for the greater part or primarily, to those active forces which made the Middle Ages in Europe different in spirit and imagination.”

4. The Field of Legislation

The contact of European students with Islamic schools in Andalusia and elsewhere had a great impact in transmitting a number of legislative and juristic rulings into their languages. At that time Europe had no proper system and no just laws until, during Napoleon’s time in Egypt, the most famous books of Māliki fiqh were translated into French. Foremost among these books was Kitāb Khalīl (The Book of Khalīl), which formed the core of French civil law, which to a large extent was familiar to the rulings of Māliki fiqh. The scholar Sideo said, “The Māliki School is the one which attracts our attention, especially because of its connection to the Arabs of Africa. The French government delegated Dr. Beron to translate into French the book al-Mukhtaṣar fil-Fiqh by al-Khalīl ibn Isḥāq ibn Ya‘qūb (d. 1422 CE).”

5. The Concept of the State and the Relationship between the People and the Government

In the ancient and medieval worlds, the people’s right to supervise the actions of their rulers was denied, and the relationship between the people and their ruler was that of slave and master. The ruler was the absolute master who did whatever he wanted with the people, and the kingdom was regarded as the personal property of the king, to be inherited from him like the rest of his wealth. Because of that, they regarded it as permissible to wage war against another state to demand a princess’ right to the throne or because of a dispute concerning a son-in-law’s inheritance.

As for the relationship between warring countries, it was usually one of violating the sanctity of everything owned by the defeated party, his wealth, honor, freedom, and dignity. This is how things remained until the emergence of the Islamic civilization which proclaimed as one of its basic principles that the people had the right to supervise the activities of their rulers, and that these rulers were no more than hired workers who were expected to work hard in taking care of the people’s interests with honesty and integrity. Hence, for the first time in history, an individual from among the people was able to call his ruler to account for what he was wearing and ask where he had gotten it from, and no one ruled that he should be executed or imprisoned or banished from the land, rather the ruler came and explained himself until that man and the people were convinced. And for the first time in history, one of the people said to the supreme ruler: “Peace be upon you, O hired worker,” and the ruler acknowledged that he was the hired worker of the people and that he shared the hired worker’s duties of sincere service and fulfilling the trust. This was one of the things that the Islamic civilization proclaimed and implemented. It was like a breeze of freedom and awareness blowing among the people neighboring the Islamic civilization. They began to complain, then to stir, then they revolted and liberated themselves. This is what happened in Europe, for the westerners came to the land of Syria during the Crusades and they had previously seen in the lands of the Andalusian caliphate that the people kept a watchful eye on their rulers, and that the rulers were not under the supervision of anyone except their own people. The kings of Europe compared the Arab and Muslim kings who were not subject to the influence of any particular class but rather the whole people, with their own submission to the authority in Rome and the ever-present threat of ex-communication unless they showed obedience to the religious king of Rome (i.e., the Pope). After their return to their own countries, they rebelled against them until they freed themselves. After that, the French Revolution did not take matters any further than the freedoms that our civilization had proclaimed twelve centuries earlier.

Among the principles that our civilization followed in its wars were: respecting treaties, respecting freedom of belief, leaving places of worship to their people, guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of people. This generated a spirit of pride and dignity in the conquered people, and awoke in them a sense of their own worth.

For the first time in history, a father among the conquered people complained to the supreme ruler of the state that the son of the governor had hit his son twice with a whip on the head for no reason. The supreme ruler of the state became angry and called the governor to account. He passed judgment that the injured party be given the right to retaliate, and he rebuked the governor saying, “When did you enslave the people who were born free?” This was a new spirit which was awoken by our civilization among individuals and people. Before our rule and our civilization, a father who complained about his son being hit had been humiliated and beaten, his wealth confiscated, and he would have been persecuted for his beliefs, so he could not have revolted or expressed his pain, or felt any sense of pride and dignity, until the sun of our civilization rose on him, and then he could raise his voice and say to the ruler of the believers: “I seek refuge in Allah and in you from oppression.” The oppression of which he was complaining was not the shedding of blood or the violation of honor; it was not religious persecution or the confiscation of land; rather it was to blows of one small child against another.

The westerners made contact with our civilization in the Middle Ages in Syria and in Andalusia, before that they had never known a king revolting against a pope, or the uprising of a people against a king. They never thought that they had the right to call a ruler to account or to support one who was oppressed. When one of them differed with another concerning some matter of doctrine or sect, they would slaughter one another like a butcher slaughter sheep. But when they made contact with us, their renaissance and revolution began, then they freed themselves. After this, can anyone deny the effect of our civilization in freeing the world and saving the people?

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Courtesy islammessage.com with slight editorial modifications.

Dr. Mustafa As-Siba`i is the late prominent Muslim scholar and writer.

 

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Those Who Have Binding Authority

Those Who Have Binding Authority

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

As for the qualities of ahl al-hal wal `aqd, they should enjoy knowledge, justice, righteousness, wisdom, discretion, power, and loyalty.

As for the qualities of ahl al-hal wal `aqd, they should enjoy knowledge, justice, righteousness, wisdom, discretion, power, and loyalty.

Editor’s Note:

This is one of the Islamic terms to be revisited on Truth-Seeker Website aiming at shedding light on some problematic Islamic terms through “deconstructing” and then “reconstructing” them in a way to clarify their meanings, denotations and connotations as far as Islam, Muslims, and the whole world are concerned.

The term ahl al-hal wal `aqd (Those Who Have Binding Authority) refers to those who have power and are influential in terms of decision-making in the Muslim state. They have the power and authority to elect the ruler and to depose him.

Ibn Taymiyah (d. AH 728) describes them as “the influential people who can motivate and direct the masses. They can be of two categories: (1) Those who have power and authority; (2) Those who have knowledge. Hence, ahl al-hal wal `aqd are either scholars or political and military leaders.”

Ibn Khaldun (d. AH 808), on the other hand, holds the opinion that ahl al-hal wal `aqd should enjoy the power of `asabiyah (i.e. partisanship), which would enable them to do whatever they deem right or like.

As for the qualities of ahl al-hal wal `aqd, they should enjoy knowledge, justice, righteousness, wisdom, discretion, power, and loyalty. In fact, the assembly of ahl al-hal wal `aqd is not in any way honorary or without valid functions. It has five major tasks to carry out:

  1. To appoint or elect the Muslim ruler
  2. To renew the pledge of allegiance to the appointed ruler
  3. To call for an absentee  who is entitled to rulership upon the current ruler’s demise
  4. To appoint a vice-ruler if the ruler is absent and does not have a deputy
  5. To depose the ruler

As for today, ahl al-hal wal `aqd can be seen as shouldering two main responsibilities:

  1. To perform legal reasoning, codify ­ Shari`ah-based rulings in a way that makes them suitable to the modern age, and ensure that these rulings are properly applied
  2. To represent the Ummah in its legislative and consultative bodies

Finally, the majority of jurists hold the view that the number of ahl al-hal wal `aqd should not be restricted or predetermined as long as the required qualifications can be found in the Ummah.

 

References

–  As-Salahat, Sami M.  Mu`jam Al-Mustalahat As-Siasiyyah fi Turath Al-Fuqahaa’ [Dictionary of Political Terms in the LegacyofFaqihs]. Cairo, Egypt: International Institute for Islamic Thought and Shorouk International Bookshop, 2006.

– Ibn Khaldun. Al-Muqadimah (The Introduction). Beirut: Dar Al-Fikr, 1979.

– Ibn Taymiyah. Al-Hisbah fil Islam [The Islamic Duty of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil]. Verified by Sayyed Abu Si`dah. Kuwait: Dar Al-Arqam, 1983.

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Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST); 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). You can reach him at alihalawani72@hotmail.com.  

 

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Philanthropy and Zakat

Philanthropy and Zakat

By Habib Alli

Main_Giving_Image

Islam considers rich people’s properties not absolutely theirs. Unless they pay the rights of the poor, zakat, they are considered transgressors.

Oliver Goldsmith, the Irish poet, once said: “Where wealth accumulates, men decay.” Philanthropy is more than just a monetary gift-love of mankind shown by practical kindness and helpfulness to humanity is its dictionary meaning.

Zakat is the third pillar of Islam; it is hard to translate the word or find its closest meaning in English. In Arabic, the word is derived from the root, “z-k-a.” The verb, zakka, “to purify,” also means, “to make something grow and develop.” Zakat is commonly known as “almsgiving.” This translation is not accurate if we consider the philosophy behind that pillar. There is a difference between almsgiving-Sadaqa-and Zakat. Sadaqa is a voluntary service of any kind that is given from one person to another.

The Blessed Prophet (on whom be peace) encourages everyone to give sadaqa, also known as khairat. A smile, words of sympathy, even giving half a date can be sadaqa. Whatever the words-differentiated for juristic reasons-the spirit is to alleviate humanity’s sufferings. Such was the example of Caliph ‘Umar, who sat watching children play after he had personally brought food to their poor family.

Yet how blessed and reminiscent is the Western Social Security system that there is a sense of monetary security, however lacking, for people akin to zakat recipients: the sickly, unemployed, invalid, divorcee, the disaster struck victim, etc. Aren’t they a breakdown of the Qur’anic miskeen and fuqara-the destitute and needy?

“Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to ad- minister the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge arid wisdom.” (At-Tawbah 9:60)

Everyone must receive from this spring

Have you thought how intertwined charity is in our life? E-mails begging for orphans of a disaster; money needed for a new councilor’s campaign; help wanted in building a new mosque or school; the fundraising walk for the homeless; chocolate sales for support of a school; remembering a poor relative back home and wanting our fitra and zakat counted in the Ramadan drive for the homeless locally. It goes like the swirling waterway of a deep brook. It touches different soils of need and embellishes various roots of humanity as it meanders into the wide ocean of Allah’s mercy harvested in the Hereafter.

“The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it grows seven ears and each ear Hath 100 grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleased: And Allah cares for all and He knows all things.” (Al-Baqarah 2:261)

Zakat is the right of the needy. By selfishly leaving it sitting in your account to grow, you would only cause self-ruin and malaise.

“And in their wealth and possessions (was remembered) the right of the (needy), him who asked, and him who (for some reason) was prevented (from asking).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:19)

Purifying our souls from greed and checking our humanity is what giving zakat every year does-calculated best by spending some of it throughout the year on appropriate projects. The tax deductibles are just a returned gift and do not rob us of our re- wards. If you wish to give that away too, such uninhibited generosity will smack of true Companion-style giving. They gave until it hurt. Yet they were unhurt.

“Let the man of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief.” (At-Talaq 65:7)

Consequence for not-paying zakat

The person who has some wealth and still does not take zakat from it is regarded as a great sinner in the sight of Allah and will be severely punished on the Day of Judgment. According to hadith, “The person who possesses gold and silver and does not give zakat for it, then on the Day of Judgment, slabs of fire will be made for him. These slabs will be heated in the fire of Hell and his sides, forehead and back will be branded with them. When these slabs become cool, they will be re-heated and the entire process will be repeated.” Also, “The person who has been given wealth by Allah and despite this does not give zakat for it, then on the Day of Judgment, this wealth of his will be turned into a huge poisonous snake that will encircle his neck. It will then tear the sides of his mouth apart and tell him: ‘I am your wealth and I am your treasures.’ ”

We seek refuge in Allah. Let us not fear man and ensure that our debts and taxes are never missed, nor do we ever forget God for His small kindnesses to His creatures!

Answer to the global economic injustice-zakat invested

I have seen foundations making zakat disbursement work for qualified organizations that are doing needed and successful community work. We have to not only give handouts but also ensure that there is a viable system to enhance our economics. The movements to end poverty may be overly ambitious, but their efforts are surely worth emulation. One such movement is at www.makepovertyhistory.ca.

The philosophy behind this has many dimensions. Islam considers rich people’s properties not absolutely theirs. Unless they pay the rights of the poor, zakat, they are considered transgressors. Zakat is also a yearly reminder that what we earn and what we have is not really ours. It is a gift from God.

The reward is such that an entire economic system rests on it-balancing the haves and have-nots with modest cognizance of one another’s rights and natures-not like the monsters that consume everything in the name of globalization or the selfish who relegate us to food stamps in the name of anti-capitalism.

“Allah has blighted usury and made almsgiving fruitful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

Sadaqa is for everyone. During Ramadan, for example, Muslims may send Ramadan hampers to local food banks. Hunger has no religion.

Zakat was originally a tax on possessions with the proceeds going mostly to aid the poor (though the money might also be spent for other purposes, such as ransoming captives of war). The word, however, now more commonly refers to almsgiving. Are we aware of our own local needs before we trolley off huge sums to favorite faraway spots?

According to the 2000 Canadian Census, there are 320,000 registered Muslims in Ontario, 100,000 of whom live under conditions considered to be below the poverty line. Assuming that 60,000 Muslims are in a position to pay zakat, there remain a marked number of needy individuals within the community who would qualify to receive zakat.

If zakat and its charitable obligation are unique to Islam, then we have to make it equally unique to today’s world.

United Way is, like many sister organizations, the apple of the eye when it comes to emptying our pockets on images of desperate faces-whether by corporate fundraising or media hype. The organization is indeed truly blessed in helping a variety of needs faced by this rich world. Then how come our collections are still struggling with paper clutter and moving red boxes? Think professional but be sincere, and Allah will make it happen.

Charity is best when given voluntarily

Although in the past Islamic States would have organized their collection and disbursement, today, in the absence of such ideal situations (and allowing that some spurious organizations send their administrative overheads sky high, forgetting the real needy), we should revamp our efforts to see that zakat carries with it the true emblem of voluntary philanthropy.

“Say: “My Lord hath commanded justice; and that ye set your whole selves (to Him) at every time and place of prayer, and call upon Him, making your devotion sincere as in His sight: such as He created you in the beginning, so shall ye return.” (Al-A`raf 7:29)

It is nearly impossible for every individual, from the filthy rich to the common man, to pay zakat in the prescribed way and for it to reach the deserving people. Meanwhile, an increasing number of Muslims would be falling below the poverty line every day.

Economics professor Timur Kuran takes full advantage of our flip-flop approach toward Islam. He writes in his book Islam and Mammon: The Economic Predicaments of Islamism ” (2004): The system has 1 million beneficiaries, which represent about 10 percent of the Pakistanis situated below the country’s poverty line. An official report notes in this connection that in its eight years of operation, Pakistan’s state-administered zakat system has had little visible impact on inequality. There has been no noticeable decline, it says, in the number of beggars and no discernible alleviation of poverty. Under the circumstances, people are losing faith not only in the system, but also in the belief that Islam offers a better economic order.

Philanthropy of the pious is never discriminatory

The Caliph ‘Umar, on seeing an old Jew begging, brought him to his house. He gave him some cash and told the treasury officer that such people who could not earn their living should be granted stipends from the public treasury. Once, seeing some non-Muslim lepers on his way back from a journey, he issued orders that they should be provided maintenance from state funds.

In a letter addressed to Adi ibn Artah, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al- ‘Aziz wrote: “Be kind toward dhimmis (free non-Muslim subject of the Islamic State). If you find some of them old or help- less, give maintenance to them.”

“So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey; and spend in charity, that is better for your- selves. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, and then they are the successful ones.” (At-Taghabun 64:16)

Make both sides of your coin work for you and share this piece with someone. Author Julia Alvarez said, “The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.”

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.islamicity.com.

Habib Alli is author of nine books. The latest, published in Toronto, is Canadian Fiqh: Understanding Islam. Mr. Alli is educated in Islam with a Masters degree and originates from Guyana.

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Caliph Harun Al-Rashid Era

Caliph Harun Al-Rashid Era

By Nazeer Ahmed

The historical lesson of the age of Harun and Ma’mun is that a fresh effort must be made to incorporate philosophy and science within the framework of Islamic civilization based on Tawhid (monotheism).

The historical lesson of the age of Harun and Ma’mun is that a fresh effort must be made to incorporate philosophy and science within the framework of Islamic civilization based on Tawhid (monotheism).

It was a moment in history when the Islamic civilization opened its doors to new ideas from the East and from the West.

The confident Muslims took these ideas and remolded them in a uniquely Islamic mold.

Out of this caldron came Islamic art, architecture, astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy and ethics. Indeed the very process of Fiqh and its application to societal problems was profoundly influenced by the historical context of the times.

Harun Al-Rashid was the son of Al-Mansur and was the fourth in the Abbasid dynasty.

Ascending the throne as a young man of twenty-two in the year 786, he immediately faced internal revolts and external invasion.

Regional revolts in Africa were crushed, tribal revolts from the Qais and Quzha’a in Egypt were contained and sectarian revolts from the Alavis were controlled. The Byzantines were held at bay and forced to pay tribute.

A Golden Age of Islamic Civilization

For 23 years he ruled an empire that had welded together a broad arc of the earth extending from China, bordering India and Byzantium through the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean. Herein men, material and ideas could flow freely across continental divides. However, Harun is remembered not for his empire building, but for building the edifice of a brilliant civilization.

It was the golden age of Islam. It was not the fabulous wealth of the empire or the fairy tales of the Arabian nights that made it golden; it was the strength of its ideas and its contributions to human thought.

As the empire had grown, it had come into contact with ideas from classical Greek, Indian, Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Hindu civilizations. The process of translation and understanding of global ideas was well under way since the time of Al-Mansur. But it received a quantum boost from Harun and his son Ma’mun.

Harun established a school of translation Baitul Hikmah (The House of Wisdom) and surrounded himself with men of learning. His administration was in the hands of viziers (high-ranking political ministers) of exceptional capabilities, the Bermecides. His courtiers included great jurists, doctors, poets, musicians, logicians, mathematicians, writers, scientists, men of culture and scholars of Fiqh.

Jabir Ibn Hayyan, an alchemist and writer of the eighth century (815), who invented the science of chemistry, worked at the court of Harun. The scholars who were engaged in the work of translation included Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Hindus.

From Greece came the works of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Galen, Hippocratis, Archimedes, Euclid, Ptolemy, Demosthenes and Pythagoras. From India arrived a delegation with the Siddhanta of Brahmagupta (an Indian mathematician and astronomer), Indian numerals, the concept of zero and Ayurvedic medicine (a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine).

From China came the science of alchemy and the technologies of paper, silk and pottery. The Zoroastrians brought in the disciplines of administration, agriculture and irrigation. The Muslims learned from these sources and gave to the world algebra, chemistry, sociology and the concept of infinity.

What gave the Muslims the confidence to face other civilizations was their faith. With a confidence firmly rooted in revelation, the Muslims faced other civilizations, absorbing that which they found valid and transforming it in the image of their own belief. The Qur’an invites men and women to learn from nature, to reflect on the patterns therein, to mold and shape nature so that they may inculcate wisdom:

“We shall show them our Signs on the horizon and within their souls until it is manifest unto them that it is the Truth.” (Fussilat 41: 53)

It is during this period that we see the emergence of the archetype of classical Islamic civilization, namely the Hakim (meaning, a person of wisdom). In Islam, a scientist is not a specialist who looks at nature from the outside, but a man of wisdom who looks at nature from within and integrates his knowledge into an essential whole. The quest of the Hakim is not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge but the realization of the essential Unity that pervades creation and the interrelationships that demonstrate the wisdom of God.

Caliph Al-Ma’mun

What Harun started, his son Ma’mun sought to complete.

Ma’mun was a scholar in his own right, had studied medicine, Fiqh, logic and he memorized the Qur’an. He sent delegations to Constantinople and the courts of Indian and Chinese princes asking them to send classical books and scholars. He encouraged the translators and gave them handsome rewards.

Perhaps the story of this period is best told by the great men of the era. The first philosopher of Islam, Al-Kindi (c. 801–873 CE) worked at that time in Iraq.

The celebrated mathematician Al-Khwarizmi (c. 780 d. 850) worked at the court of Al-Ma’mun. Al-Khwarizmi is best known for the recurring method of solving mathematical problems, which is used even today and is called algorithms. He studied for a while in Baghdad and is also reported to have traveled to India.

Al-Khwarizmi invented the word algebra (from the Arabic word j-b-r, meaning to force, beat or multiply), introduced the Indian numeral system to the Muslim world (from where it traveled to Europe and became the “Arabic” numeral system), institutionalized the use of the decimal in mathematics and invented the empirical method (knowledge based on measurement) in astronomy.

He wrote several books on geography and astronomy and cooperated in the measurement of the distance of an arc across the globe. The world celebrates the name of Al-Khwarizmi to this day by using “algorithms” in every discipline of science and engineering.

It was the intellectual explosion created at the time of Harun Al-Rashid and his son Al-Ma’mun that propelled science into the forefront of knowledge and made Islamic civilization the beacon of learning for five hundred years. The work done by the translation schools of Baghdad made possible the later works of the physician Al-Razi (d. 925), historian Al-Masudi (d. 956), the physician Abu Ali Sina (d. 1037), the physicist Al-Hazen (d.1039), the historian Al-Baruni (d. 1051), the mathematician Omar Khayyam (d.1132) and the philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (d.1198).

The age of Harun and Ma’mun was also an age of contradictions. Indeed, no other period in Islamic history illustrates with such clarity the schizophrenic attitude of Muslims towards their own history, as does the age of Harun and Ma’mun.

On the one hand, Muslims take pride in its accomplishments. On the other, they reject the values on which those achievements were based. Muslims exude great pride in the scientists and philosophers of the era, especially in their dialectic with the West. But they reject the intellectual foundation on which these scientists and philosophers based their work.

The Age of Reason

The age of Harun and Ma’mun was the age of reason. Ma’mun, in particular, took the rationalists in full embrace. The Mu’tazilites were the rational arm of Islam. Ma’mun made Mu’tazilite doctrines the official court dogma. However, the Mu’tazilites were not cognizant of the limits of the rational method and overextended their reach. They even applied their methodology to the Divine Word and came up with the doctrine of “createdness” of the Qur’an.

In simplified terms, this is the error one falls into when a hierarchy of knowledge is built wherein reason is placed above revelation. The Mu’tazilites applied their rational tools to revelation without sufficient understanding of the phenomenon of time or its relevance to the nature of physics.

In the process, they fell flat on their face. Instead of owning up to their errors and correcting them, they became defensive and became increasingly oppressive in forcing their views on others.

Ma’mun’s successors applied the whip with increasing fervor to enforce conformity with the official dogma. But the scholars would not buy the theory that the Qur’an was created. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh, fought a lifelong battle with Ma’mun on this issue and was jailed for over twenty years.

Any idea that compromised the transcendence of the Qur’an was unacceptable to Imam Hanbal. Faced with determined opposition, the Mu’tazilite doctrine was repudiated by Caliph Mutawakkil (d. 861). Thereafter, the rationalists were tortured and killed and their properties confiscated. Abu al-Hasan Al-Ashari (d. 936) and his disciples tried to reconcile the rational and transcendental approaches by suggesting a “theory of occasionalism”.

The Asharite ideas got accepted and were absorbed into the Islamic body politic and have continued to influence Muslim thinking to this day. The intellectual approach of the rationalists, philosophers and scientists was forsaken and sent packing to the Latin West where it was embraced with open arms and was used to lay the foundation of the modern global civilization.

Thus it was that the Muslim world came upon rational ideas, adopted them, experimented with them and finally threw them out. The historical lesson of the age of Harun and Ma’mun is that a fresh effort must be made to incorporate philosophy and science within the framework of Islamic civilization based on Tawhid (monotheism).

The issue is one of constructing a hierarchy of knowledge wherein the transcendence of revelation is preserved in accordance with Tawhid, but wherein reason and the free will of man are accorded honor and respect.

The Mu’tazilites were right in claiming that man was the architect of his own fortunes but they erred in asserting that human reason has a larger reach than the Divine Word. Humankind is not autonomous. The outcome of human effort is a moment of Divine Grace.

No person can predict with certainty the outcome of an action. The Asharites were right in postulating that at each moment of time Divine Grace intervenes to dispose of all affairs. But they were not correct in limiting the power of human free will. Human reason and human free will are endowed with the possibility of infinity, but this infinity collapses before the infinity of Divine transcendence.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.historyofislam.com.

Dr. Nazeer Ahmed is currently Director of the American Institute of Islamic History and Culture and a director of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education. Dr. Ahmed holds several degrees, and is a former legislator to the Legislative Assembly in Bangalore.

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A Glimpse of Islam

A Glimpse of Islam

Sheikh Yusuf Estes sheds light on the religion of Islam and its pillars. He also explains the meaning of the testimony of faith. Among other things, this lecture also touches upon the story of Adam and Eve and how Satan caused them to be drived out of Paradise. Watch this video to learn more…

 

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The Freedom Fighter: Alija Izetbegovic

The Freedom Fighter: Alija Izetbegovic

By Truth Seeker Staff

With the collapse of the federal system in Yugoslavia in 1990, Izetbegovic was released subsequently to find himself and his people caught in the implosion of a genocidal war.

With the collapse of the federal system in Yugoslavia in 1990, Izetbegovic was released subsequently to find himself and his people caught in the implosion of a genocidal war.

Alija Izetbegovic was born in 1925 in northwest Bosnia – a corner of Europe with a predominately Muslim population but a regime that censured the practice of Islam. As a founding member of the Mladi Muslimani (Young Muslims) at the Sarajevo Gymnasium and then as a law student at Sarajevo University, Izetbegovic took up the rights of Muslims to practice their faith. He became fluent in foreign languages (German, French and English) in order to understand more about the history and struggle of Muslims throughout the world.

In 1945, the communist dictatorship of Josip Tito abolished all non-communist groups and arrested their leaders. Izetbegovic spent ten years in prison, when he was released he practiced commercial law, but found an outlet for his activism through writing. He was arrested again in 1983 for allegedly seeking to revive the Mladi Muslimani and, after a farcical trial, sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. During this time his manuscript, Islam Between East and West, was smuggled out of prison. Written in the most trying of conditions, it nevertheless told of the need to reactivate intellectual confidence amongst Muslims.

With the collapse of the federal system in Yugoslavia in 1990, Izetbegovic was released subsequently to find himself and his people caught in the implosion of a genocidal war. As leader of the Democratic Action Party, Alija Izetbegovic was elected President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, heading a three-member presidency until his resignation in October 2000. Throughout his life, in word and in deed, Alija Izetbegovic has demonstrated outstanding courage and remarkable compassion to secure the rights of Muslims to lead meaningful and peaceful lives.

Mr. Izetbegovic showed unblinking courage during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, running affairs of state from sandbagged offices in a capital under siege, surviving kidnapping and countless artillery barrages.

To the end he remained a giant figure on the country’s political stage. For most Bosnian Muslims and a few ethnic Serbs and Croats who support Bosnian independence, his death will be an occasion for mourning.

Mr. Izetbegovic founded the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in 1990 as a vehicle for views he honed as a dissident intellectual under Yugoslav communist rule. His SDA became a powerhouse during the war, when it became known internationally as the leading party of Bosnian “Muslim nationalists”. Mr. Izetbegovic defied the epithet, accepting the term “Islamist” but calling the “nationalist” label inappropriate.

“Pan-Islamism always came from the very heart of the Muslim peoples; nationalism was always imported stuff,” he wrote in a 1973 book on Islamic politics.

His party’s power declined after NATO troops occupied Bosnia in 1996 and the international community installed an office overseeing affairs of state. Yet in general elections last year, bolstered by rare public appearances by Mr. Izetbegovic, the SDA scored surprise victories, reclaiming a seat in Bosnia’s tripartite presidency.

But the former president’s politics turned bitter toward the end of his life, as he saw only part of his plans for Bosnia realized.

He was disappointed during the Dayton peace talks at the war’s end, when international mediators forced him to negotiate on equal footing with Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Tudjman, whose military forces he viewed as Bosnia’s invaders.

Under Dayton’s terms, the country of 4m people remains divided along ethnic lines, with two administrative zones: one largely controlled by Muslims and ethnic Croats, the other dominated by ethnic Serbs. Partition was the price of peace. Mr. Izetbegovic called it “a bitter but useful pill”.

Alija Izetbegovic will be best known as the President who single-mindedly struggled for a just end to the conflict which ravaged his country. In the face of betrayal by Europe, which had lapsed on its fifty year old promise of ‘never again’ as concentration camps once more sprang up in its midst, he tirelessly campaigned for justice at home and abroad. He was a man who sought to live his life by the highest of principles. As a prisoner of conscience in the 1980s he once wrote, ‘When I lose the reasons to live, I shall die.’

It was his principles, for which he resigned his position as President in 2000, announcing that the international community was pushing things forward in a manner with which he could not live.

Alija Izetbegovic, hero of Bosnian Muslim resistance during the siege of Sarajevo who led his country to independence from the genocidal campaign of Yugoslavia, died in Sarajevo on Sunday, October 19, 2003 at the age of 78.

Alija Izetbegovic was one of those rare individuals who managed to both inspire and lead a whole nation in its pursuit of freedom, winning the admiration of people the world over. He leaves behind a legacy spanning two centuries, which includes his esteemed career as a lawyer, activist, politician, freedom fighter and scholar.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.islamicity.org.

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Arabic Calligraphy: The Essential Islamic Art (P. 2/2)

Arabic Calligraphy: The Essential Islamic Art (P. 2/2)

By Ahmed Ebeed

arabic-calligraphy-the-essential-islamic-art-p-2In Part 1 we tackled the origin of Arabic Calligraphy and its development from Nomadic to an art. The Tumar script which was used by the caliphs in signatures and in writing to sultans was expounded. And, the kufi script which is characterized by its flexibility and accuracy was also elaborated. Here, in the final part of this series, we will tackle other different types or styles of Arabic Calligraphy such as Naskh, Farsi, Riq`a, and Diwani scripts.

THE NASKH SCRIPT: THE SERVANT OF THE QUR’AN

Some arguably ascribe the Naskh script to `Abdullah Al-Hassan ibn Muqla, the brother of the calligrapher `Ali ibn Muqla, while others perceive that the Naskh is much older than Ibn Muqla.

Ibn Muqla actually developed the handwriting to its current form, distinguishing it from other handwritings. It was named Naskh (meaning “copy”) because writers used it in the copying of the Qur’an, the Hadith, and other books. It was also used in writing on metal, wood, marble, and plaster. Ibn Muqla named this script Al-Badei` (radiant or exquisite) due to its aesthetic nature. Naskh is close to Thuluth in its beauty, glamour, and accuracy. It is decorated, but to a lesser extent than Thuluth. The tashkil (diacritical signs) add to its beauty and elegance.

Naskh script is considered as an element of decoration and gained much attention in Iraq in the Abbasid era. It was developed in the Atabiki age, which started around AH 545, and was known as the Atabiki Naskh. It was used in the writing of the Qur’an in the Islamic middle ages and it replaced the Kufi script for copying the Qur’an and decorating the walls of the mosques. Both Naskh and Thuluth became the most prevalent scripts. Naskh can be differentiated from Thuluth by the small size of its letters. The size and sequence mean the writer can use the pen more swiftly than when writing the Thuluth, but still retain harmony and beauty.

THE PERSIAN OR FARSI SCRIPT

The Persians used to use the Fahlawi script, which originated in the city of Fehla, which lies between Hamdan, Asfahan, and Azerbaijan.

When Persia was conquered, Persians were introduced to Arabic letters and Arabic became their official handwriting. The Arabic letters replaced the Fahlawi script and it then became known as Ta`liq (cursive) due to its cursive style and horizontal forms.

At the beginning of the third century after the Hijrah, after consolidating their position in both Persia and Iraq, the Abbasid Dynasty showed deep interest in Arabic calligraphy. They tended to write in Naskh and they decorated the letters with excessive decoration, to an extent that gave their script a particular character. The Persian script was used in the writing of literature and poetry books; whereas books of Hadith were written in Naskh.

The Persians excelled in the cursive scripts. They added ornaments and decorations that made the script unique with its beautiful inclined letters. Letters changed in length and thickness according to the taste of the artist and the thickness of the pen. Letters were unique for their accuracy and extension and they bore no formations. Persian script was used to write the titles of books and letters, and is widely used in Iran, India, and Afghanistan.

Types of Persian Script

1. The Ordinary Persian: Known in our time in foreign countries as Al-Ta`liq.

2. The Shikista script: This is small and very difficult to read or to write. This kind of handwriting does not follow the ordinary rules of handwriting, but has its own rules. Shiksta means “broken” in Persian and in Turkish it means “the cursive formula.” This kind of handwriting is rather an enigma, a complicated riddle. It is even hard for Arabs to decipher writings in that script; whereas in Persia, only those who have mastered it can understand it.

3. Shikista Emir: This is a combination of the two types, the Ordinary and the Shikista. It is less enigmatic than the other kind. Manuscripts, texts of legislative documents, and books of literature and poetry were written in Shikista Emir and ornamented with golden decorations.

RIQ’A STYLE OF HANDWRITING: A QUICK RYTHM

The Riq`a style of handwriting is one of the “modern” types of handwriting. It was said to have been invented by Mr. Mumtaz Bek Mustafa Effendi, the counselor, who set its rules in AH 1280, in the reign of Sultan `Abd Al-Majdi Khan, although some believe that the Riq`a goes back to the time of Sultan Muhammad Al-Fateh.

This style of handwriting is known for its clipped letters. It was probably derived from the Thuluth and Naskh styles. Riq`a is a beautiful script known for its straight lines. It does not entail any formation. It is clear and readable and is the easiest of all kinds for daily handwriting. In the beginning, it was the most common for daily use, especially for women. It is used in the titles of books and magazines and in commercial advertisements, thanks to its simplicity and clearness. The simplicity of the Riq`a is attributed to the simple geometric formation of its letters, which are reliant on easily formed straight lines and circles.

THE DIWANI SCRIPT: THE SCRIPT OF ELOQUENCE

This style of handwriting goes back to the Ottoman period. It was labeled the Diwani script because it was used in the Ottoman dawaween (bureaus) and was one of the secrets of the palaces of the sultan. The rules of this script were not known to everyone, but confined to its masters and a few bright students. It was used in the writing of all royal decrees, endowments, and resolutions.

The Diwani style spread enormously in modern times due to the efforts of the Royal Arabic Calligraphy School in Egypt. It was simplified and developed by the Egyptian calligrapher Mustafa Ghazlan; hence it was called the Ghazlani handwriting.

The Diwani script is divided into two types.

1. The Riq`a Diwani style, which is void of any decorations and whose lines are straight, except for the lower parts of the letters.

2. The Jali or clear style. This kind of handwriting is distinguished by the intertwining of its letters and its straight lines from top to bottom. It is punctuated and decorated to appear as one piece. The Diwani handwriting is known for the intertwining of its letters, which makes it very difficult to read or write—and difficult to forge!

Diwani is marked by beauty and harmony. Accurate small samples are usually more beautiful than big ones. This kind of handwriting is still used in the correspondence of kings, princes, presidents, and in ceremonies and greeting cards. It has a high artistic value.

 

REFERENCES

– `Afif Bahnasi. Al-Khat Al-`Arabi: Usuluh, Nahdatuh, Intisharuh (Arabic Calligraphy: Principles, Development, Spread). 1984. Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr.

– Basim Zanoun. Al-Khat Al-`Arabi: Rihlat Al-Tahsien wa Al-Tajwid (Arab Calligraphy: Journey of Improvement & Embellishment). 1998. Egypt: Dar Al-Kitab.

– Yehya Wahin Al-Jaboury. Al-Khat wa Al-Kitabh fi Al-Hadarah Al-`Arabiah (Calligraphy and Handwriting in the Arab Civilization). 1994. Morroco: Dar Al-Gharb Al-Islami.

– `Abdul `Aziz Al-Dali. Al-Khataath: Al-Kitab Al-`Arabih (Calligraphy: Arabic Handwriting). 1992. Egypt: Al-Kahnjy.

 

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Courtesy www.nur-ar-ramadan.tripod.com with slight editorial modifications.

Ahmed Ebeed was the head of Information Unit in IslamOnline.net (IOL). He has a deep interest in Arabic calligraphy.

 

 

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Honoring One’s Family Ties

Honoring One’s Family Ties

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

The one who severs his ties of kinship will be blocked and prevented from entering Heaven or enjoying its limitless blessings and bounties

Islam has ordained that one’s ties, relatives and kinship must be maintained and looked after as they are the nearest of all to one’s parents. Allah the Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Qur’an what may mean,

“Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” (Al-Nisa’ 4: 36)

Allah the Almighty also says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what may mean,

“And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs.” (Al-Nisa’ 4: 1), and

“And those who join that which Allah has ordered to be joined and fear their Lord and are afraid of the evil of [their] account,” (Al-Ra`d 13: 21)

In a similar vein, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) considered maintaining one’s ties and looking after them as one of the pillars of faith and belief in Allah as can be seen in the following Prophetic hadith.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain good relation with kins; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Similarly, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Allah created all the creatures and when He finished the task of His creation, Ar-Rahm (ties of relationship) said: ‘(O Allah) at this place I seek refuge with You against severing my ties.’ Allah said: ‘That I treat with kindness those who treat you with kindness and sever ties with those who sever ties with you.’ It said: ‘I am satisfied.’ Allah said: ‘Then this is yours”. Then Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Recite this Ayah if you like: ‘Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship? Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.” (Muhammad 47: 22-23). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Maintaining good relations with one’s kins is regarded as a way or means for the increase in blessings in one’s lifetime and the prolongation of one’s life span. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He who desires ample provisions and his life be prolonged, should maintain good ties with his blood relations.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Remarkably, the one who severs his ties of kinship will be blocked and prevented from entering Heaven or enjoying its limitless blessings and bounties. Abu Muhammad Jubair ibn Mut’im (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Jannah [Paradise or Heaven].” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Imam Ali, the Prophet’s (Peace and blessings be upon him) cousin said: You should honor your relatives and kins as they are but the wing with which you fly and the origin to which you return.

Remarkably, Islam did not enjoin upon Muslims that they should take care of their kins and care about their close relatives without giving them (Muslims) any cues as how this should be carried out and observed. Islam has enjoined so many ways that may fulfill this obligation and make it come true in this present life. Such cues and means include among many others:

– The solidarity and joint liability system that obliges the affluent to spend on his poor or insolvent relatives whenever needed;

– The Inheritance system that gives each and every relative a share of the deceased property in accordance with their degree of relationship;

– The blood relatives male system which enjoins that one’s kins and family should assist in terms of the payment of the blood money deserved from any individual thereof.

All the above shows that Islam is keen on maintaining the spirit of love and responsibility among all members of the community, especially those who have a mutual blood relationship or family ties.

 

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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 International University, 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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