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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The Prophet’s Mercy towards the Elderly (P. 2/2)

The Prophet’s Mercy towards the Elderly (P. 2/2)

By Muhammad Mus`ad Yaqut

                       Member — The Afro-Asian Writers’ Association

Easy Rulings for the Elderly

Shari`ah always adopts leniency and ease with persons having excuses, such as the elderly. This can be noticed in expiations and obligations required from them.

The best evidence of easing expiations for the elderly is the story of Khawlah bint Tha`labah, which was mentioned at the beginning of Surat Al-Mujadilah. Her aged husband, Aws ibn As-Samit, who was also her cousin, pronounced zhihar (declaring her unlawful to him as a wife, while at the same time not divorcing her so she can remarry). Thereupon the general Islamic ruling concerning zhihar was revealed:

Those who put away their wives (by saying they are as their mothers) and afterward would go back on that which they have said, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch one another [that is, have intercourse]. Unto this you are exhorted; and Allah is Informed of what you do. And he who finds not (the wherewithal), let him fast for two successive months before they touch one another [that is, have intercourse]; and for him who is unable to do so (the penance is) the feeding of sixty needy ones. (Al-Mujadilah 58:3–4)

After this revelation the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke to Khawlah:

The Prophet said to Khawlah, “Let him free a slave.” She said, “O Messenger of Allah, he does not have the means to do that.” The Prophet said, “Then let him fast for two consecutive months.” She replied, “By Allah, he is an old man; he is not able to do that.” So the Prophet told her, “Then let him feed sixty poor people with a wasaq (a measure equal to approximately 132.6 kilograms) of dates.” She said, “O Messenger of Allah, he does not have that much.” The Prophet then promised to help him by giving him an amount of dates; after all this he did not forget to advise the lady, “Take care of your cousin properly.” (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, vol. 8)

Concerning obligations, Islam exempts the elderly who cannot bear fasting the month of Ramadan from observing this obligation, but requires them to feed a poor person for each day that they miss. Also, the elderly who cannot pray standing up are allowed to pray sitting down; if they cannot pray sitting down, they are allowed to pray lying on a side.

In addition, it is authentically reported that the Prophet once rebuked Mu`adh ibn Jabal when he led people in prayer and prolonged it:

The Prophet said to him, “O Mu`adh! Are you putting the people to trial? [Thrice] It would have been better if you had recited Sabbihisma Rabbika-l-a`la [Surah 87], Wash-shamsi wa duhaha [Surah 91], or Wal-layli idhayaghsha [Surah 92], for the old, the weak, and the needy pray behind you.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also, Islam allowed the elderly who cannot perform Hajj to delegate another person to perform it on their behalf. Al-Fadl narrated that a woman from the tribe of Khath`am came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “O Allah’s Prophet! The obligation of Hajj has become due on my father while he is old and weak, and he cannot sit firm on the mount; may I perform Hajj on his behalf?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Yes, (you may)” (Muslim).

Examples of the Prophet’s Mercy

Having discussed the Islamic code of treating the elderly, it is now appropriate to give some practical examples from the Prophet’s life. We will see him listening politely and respectfully to an elderly polytheist, seeking to release an elderly man captured by Quraish, and honoring an elderly person and ordering him to improve his appearance.

Listening to an elderly polytheist respectfully. Ibn Kathir, in his biography of the Prophet, narrated that `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah, one of the chiefs of Makkah’s polytheists, came to the Prophet trying to dissuade him from his call. He addressed the Prophet in a ridiculing manner, “Are you better than `Abdullah (the Prophet’s father)? Are you better than `Abdul-Muttalib (the Prophet’s grandfather)?” But the Prophet did not respond to those degrading remarks. `Utbah continued, “If you say that they are better than you, then they worshiped the gods you criticize; and if you claim that you are better than they, you can proclaim this loudly in order to be heard. You exposed us before the Arabs until it was spread among them that the Quraish has a magician or a monk. Do you want us to unsheathe the sword and engage in a bitter war until annihilation?”

When `Utbah noticed the politeness of the Prophet, he changed his offensive tone and continued, “Oh my nephew! If you desire money and wealth by preaching what you are preaching, we will collect enough for you from our own. We will make you the wealthiest of all of us. If it is chieftainship that you desire, we are ready to make you our paramount chief, so that we will never decide on a matter without you. If you desire rulership, we will make you our ruler. And if this condition that you call revelation is a jinn whose grip you cannot escape from, we are ready to call the most distinguished physicians of time to examine you, and we will spend generously till you are completely cured. For sometimes a jinn seizes hold of a victim totally till the former is exorcised.”

When `Utbah finished his impudent speech, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him politely, “Is that all, Abu Al-Walid?” “Yes,” he replied. “Then listen to me,” the Prophet said to him. “I will,” agreed `Utbah. Then the Prophet recited the beginning of Surat Fussilat (41).

Seeking to release an elderly captive. In his biography of the Prophet, Ibn Hisham reported that when the Muslims captured `Amr ibn Abi Sufyan ibn Harb in the Battle of Badr, it was said to Abu Sufyan, “Pay for the ransom of your son `Amr.” However, Abu Sufyan answered, “Must I lose twice! They have killed Handhalah and now I must pay for the ransom of `Amr! Let him stay with them, they can keep him as long as they wish.” Afterwards an old man called Sa`d ibn An-Nu`man of the tribe of Banu `Amr ibn `Awf departed for Makkah to perform `Umrah. In spite of the critical political conditions, especially after the Battle of Badr, Sa`d ibn An-Nu`man thought that he would not be captured in Makkah since the Quraish did not harm pilgrims. However, Abu Sufyan attacked him and held him hostage until the Muslims in Madinah released his son. Some people of the tribe of Banu `Amr ibn `Awf went to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and told him what had happened to their relative. They asked him to give them the son of Abu Sufyan to free Sa`d ibn An-Nu`man from captivity. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) released the son of Abu Sufyan without a ransom and then sent him to his father who, consequently, released the old man.

Treating the elderly gently. Ibn Kathir tells the following in his biography of the Prophet. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) entered Makkah in Ramadan AH 8 (January 630) and entered the Sacred Mosque, Abu Bakr brought his father, Abu Quhafah, to the Prophet to embrace Islam. When the Prophet saw him, he said to Abu Bakr, “Why didn’t you leave the old man at his house and I would’ve gone to him there?” Abu Bakr said, “You are more deserving of him coming to you than he is of you going to him.” The Prophet seated Abu Quhafah in front of him and honored him. Then he passed his hand on Abu Quhafah’s chest and asked him to embrace Islam and Abu Quhafah did. The Prophet, noticing that Abu Quhafah’s hair was white, directed that his hair be dyed.

These are just few examples of the Prophet’s gentleness, mercy, and respect towards the elderly. These examples, and many others, translate the sublime Islamic code of ethics for treating the elderly and provide Muslims, generation after generation, with a practical model that they should follow. Such care for the elderly is in line with the Islamic principle of the dignity of the human being and with the spirit of solidarity and mercy that pervades the Muslim society.

 

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.onislam.net.

Muhammad Mus`ad Yaqut is an Egyptian preacher and  researcher. He prepares and presents programs on the Egyptian TV and other Arab satellite channels. He is a member of the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association.

 

 

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Responding to Hostility with Good Manners

Responding to Hostility with Good Manners

By Sumayyah Meehan

good mannersEveryone is faced with hostility at some point or another. The reasons vary, whether it has to do with your identity as a Muslim or a secular shortcoming that others perceive.

As an American convert to Islam I have faced the worst kind of hostility at times, which was in regards to my choice of Islam as my religion.

I grew up in a family that was Christian, but I never really saw anyone practicing the religion.

My mother took me to church maybe once or twice that I can recall. And the only contact I had with the Bible was when I was doing chores. It was basically a religious “prop” and kept on the coffee table to gather dust.

You Are Going Straight to Hell!

So when I announced to my mother that I was embracing the Islamic faith almost 16 years ago, her reaction was shocking given that she had never been particularly religious my whole life. Her gaze of disbelief and anger were the worse. And her bitter declarations of: “You are going straight to Hell!”, “All Muslims are evil!” and “You better leave that religion before it is too late!” came in a close second. I have also faced similar reactions from other family members and even close friends.

Through it all, I have found that meeting hostility with good manners is the best means of discourse.

By definition, hostility is “Hostile behavior; unfriendliness or opposition.” Hostility is either verbal or physical. Someone who makes rude or incendiary remarks is engaging in verbal hostility. This type of hostility can easily spiral out of control if you respond with anger or similarly offensive remarks. Physical hostility is when someone invades your space and touches any part of your body, such as pushing your chest or grabbing your arm. Again, this type of hostility can easily morph into a dangerous altercation especially if your response is to also get physical.

When looking for ways to combat hostility, one has to look no further than the Sunnah of Muhammad, peace be upon him. By the grace of Allah, Exalted is He, Muslims have been given the perfect example of grace under fire. Allah Almighty says in Qur’an:

Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow.(Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Our beloved Prophet was tormented consistently when he declared his Prophethood to his community and for several years to come after that. His detractors called him a “mad man” and abused him whenever the opportunity presented itself. They put animal feces in his cooking pots, threw garbage on him, and even put the entrails of a camel on his head while he was prostrating during prayer. And who could forget the attack on our beloved Prophet in Taif when his shins were beaten so severely that his sandals filled up with blood?

Each and every time, regardless of the harm inflicted, the Prophet responded to the hostility with good manners and even made du`a’ for his abusers. The Prophet Muhammad once said:

“I have only been sent to perfect good manners.” (Al-Bukhari)

And in another hadith we find that he was so keen to have good manners that he prayed for them:

“O Allah, You have made my outward form beautiful so make my attitude good too.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibban)

When faced with hostility there are several ways to not only rise above the situation but also to calm it to avoid a physical altercation that will assuredly cause more harm than good.

Control Your Anger

When someone is hostile towards you, anger is a natural response. However, just because you have been provoked gives you no excuse to react in a hostile manner. There is great wisdom in controlling anger, as succumbing to it can lead to a host of negative scenarios that are difficult to extricate yourself from. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“The strong man is not the one who can wrestle (fight); the strong man is the one who controls himself at the time of anger.” (Al-Bukhari)

Our Prophet even gave us the advice to either sit or lay down as a means of controlling anger. And while you may not always be in a position to sit or lay down when angry, you can create a mental image of yourself in such a position to help alleviate anger.

Be Mindful of Body Language

You may not be uttering a word, but your body is doing all the talking. When faced with hostility, you might cross your arms as a defensive mechanism to somewhat close yourself off from the situation. This sends the message to the antagonist that you don’t care about what he is saying, which may infuriate him even more. Rolling your eyes or making faces must also be avoided as it can further escalate the anger. Instead, put on a neutral facial expression and keep your arms comfortably at your side.

Make Sound Arguments

Whether the source of the hostility is a misunderstanding in the work place or is solely based on the fact that you are a Muslim, make sound arguments filled with facts to defend yourself from the negative onslaught. When speaking, use a neutral tone of voice devoid of emotion. Shouting or screaming will not allow your voice to be heard and will ignite the hostility further.

For example, if you find that the hostility is due to a stereotype about Islam use your Islamic knowledge to not only dispel the label but to also bring knowledge to your adversary. An added bonus is that anyone in the vicinity will also pick up a bit of Islamic knowledge in the process.

Simply Walk Away

When all else fails, one of the most noble and smart things you can do is to simply walk away. There is no point in arguing with someone who is behaving irrationally and has the potential of inflicting harm either verbally or physically. Walking away removes your physical self from the situation. In an ideal situation this would be enough to bring an end to the hostility.

However, in reality, the aggressor may follow you as you try to make an exit or even physically assault you. In this event, you have an absolute right to protect yourself from harm. The Prophet said:

“Whoever is killed defending his property is a shaheed (martyr), whoever is killed defending himself is a shaheed, whoever is killed defending his religion is a shaheed, and whoever is killed defending his family is a shaheed.”

Seek Council Through Prayer

As with all matters in life, we must turn to Allah, exalted is He, in sincere prayer and supplication, or du`a’, to relieve the distress and bring comfort by His leave. The Islamic prayer brings a sense of peace during even the most difficult of times. Seek the council of Allah Almighty and open your heart to release troubles or worries. Remain steadfast with your prayers and du`a’s in the hopes of relief and reward in this life as well as the Hereafter. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors. (Al-A’raf 7:55)

Never doubt the power of the Islamic prayer and sincere du`a’s in alleviating even the most stressful situations.

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Sumayyah Meehan reverted to Islam almost 16 years ago. She is a Waynesburg College graduate with a BA in Criminal Justice. Sumayyah is currently working on two Islamic book projects. She is a regular contributor to Al Jumuah Magazine and The Muslim Observer Newspaper. Sumayyah resides in Kuwait with her husband and four children.

 

 

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Position of Women in Islam – Social Aspect

Position of Women in Islam – Social Aspect

By Dr. Jamal Badawi

– Chairman, Islamic Information Foundation – Canada

It is incorrect to say that the Islamic dress code restricts women to wearing one particular type of clothing while for men there is no restriction whatsoever.

It is incorrect to say that the Islamic dress code restricts women to wearing one particular type of clothing while for men there is no restriction whatsoever.

Prior to the advent of Islam, female infanticide was practiced by the Arabs.

Islam not only succeeded in uprooting this evil practice by declaring it to be murder, but also ended the prevalent notion that the birth of a girl was not as auspicious as the birth of a boy. Islam teaches that the birth of any child is a great blessing.

Islam does not prohibit women seeking work; indeed, in the ideal Islamic society it is necessary that women should fill certain posts. It follows therefore that women need to have the education and the training necessary to take up such important professions as teaching, medicine, and nursing.

Furthermore, in Islam, learning is not simply a right of everyone; it is a duty and responsibility. Prophet Muhammad said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory on a Muslim male and female” (Ibn Majah). This saying of the Prophet is confirmed by the Qur’an, which says that Allah endows a higher status on those who are knowledgeable.

There is no provision in Islamic law that specifies areas of education permitted to women or areas prohibited.

Areas of knowledge that are mandatory for both men and women to study include fundamental Islamic beliefs, acts of worship, and moral teachings. There are certain fields that are particularly recommended for women to study so that they can equip themselves better for the role for which Allah has created them, and these are medicine, nursing, home management, health care, and child psychology.

Also other fields as arts, humanities, and sciences are permitted areas of study for both men and women, so long as they are beneficial. Prohibited areas are few, and include sorcery and magic for instance.

Showing Kindness to Mothers

Marriage is viewed as a partnership in Islam. The Qur’an does not describe marriage as an inevitable evil, but as a blessing that God endows on people: it is a source of tranquility, peace, mutual love, and affection.

Marriage in Islam requires the consent of both parties before the validity of the union is recognized. With regard to the treatment of women in general and wives in particular, Prophet Muhammad stressed on the notion of equity toward women.

The Qur’an ranks compassion and kindness to parents, especially the mother, next to injunctions to worship Allah alone. Prophet Muhammad said, “Paradise is at the feet of the mother” (An-Nasa’i).

God says in the Qur’an what means,

“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve any but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.” (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.” (Luqman 31:34)

It is reported that a man came to Prophet Muhammad and asked, “Who amongst all people is most worthy of my good company?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Who’s next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Who’s next?” Again the Prophet said, “Your mother.” Then, in reply to the same question he said, “Your father” (Al-Bukhari).

So this shows the great role of the mother in one’s life, and that it is a duty on a Muslim to show goodness to both parents, especially the mother.

Dress Code

The compliance of a Muslim woman with the Islamic standards of dress and behavior should not result from pressure brought to bear by male relatives, her husband or the social norms of society, but from a genuine and sincere desire to obey Allah and please Him. In fact, many Muslim women wear the Islamic dress code in spite of opposition from husbands.

Furthermore, it is incorrect to say that the Islamic dress code restricts women to wearing one particular type of clothing while for men there is no restriction whatsoever. Both men and women are required to cover, in an appropriate way, certain specified parts of their bodies, and no directions are given as to exactly what clothing is worn to achieve that level of concealment. The choice in this regard is left to the individual.

The idea that Muslim women are confined to their homes is quite wrong. It is even incorrect to say that Islam prefers women to stay indoors all the time. On the contrary, it is mandatory for a woman to learn, and permissible for her to go out to work.

Misunderstandings on this point have arisen from incorrect understanding of a verse in the Qur’an that says what means,

“Stay in your homes and do not bedeck yourselves as in the days of ignorance.” (Al-Ahzab 33:33)

This verse, addressed to the wives of the Prophet in particular and to all other pious women, simply advises women to stay at home if there is no good reason to go out. It suggests that it is better to stay indoors and concentrate on making a warm and happy household than to go out for no particular purpose.

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Adapted from a lecture in Dr. Jamal Badawi’s Islamic Teachings series.

Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, where he currently teaches in the areas of management and religious studies. He is the author of several works on various aspects of Islam.

 

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Islam Encourages Social Justice

Islam Encourages Social Justice

By By Ajmal Masroor

Social justice is about my struggle against inequality. In today’s world I must fight against poverty.

Social justice is about my struggle against inequality. In today’s world I must fight against poverty.

 

Some believe praying five times a day and fasting in the month of Ramadan are all that you need to do to be a good Muslim. While these are fundamental features of the faith, in order of closeness to God, they are rated less.

Standing firm for justice is considered closest to Godliness. In other words my religious and social responsibility is to work for just causes. In my faith I am required to stand witness to justice, fairness and equality not just in words but in practice. In Qur’an God says “be just, that it closest to Godliness“.

My faith demands that I do not lead a passive life. I am reminded in the Qur’an that I have to stand for justice at all cost, even if it means I have go against myself, my family or friends. I must serve justice even against my bitter enemies. For God does not favor the unjust.

In a trouble filled world my faith has become synonymous with violence and hate. It is often associated with terrorist activities and suicide bombing. Unfortunately this is most unfair, for my faith teaches me to spread peace on earth. In fact unless I submit to peace, i.e. peace inside myself and at peace with everything around me, I am not considered a good Muslim. No wonder the blessed Prophet used to make this prayer on a regular basis –

“Oh God,

You are peace.

From you comes peace

To you returns peace

Revive us with a salutation of peace

And lead us to your abode of peace”

For me social justice starts at home. I must care for my parents as my responsibility especially when they reach old age. Qur’an reminds me that after being loyal to God I must be good to my parents. Once a man came to the blessed Prophet and said “O prophet I have performed Hajj – pilgrimage, carrying my elderly mother on my shoulder, have I paid her back for everything?” The prophet replied, “Not even for one contraction”.

One of my regular prayers to God is “O God please be merciful to my parents just like they were merciful to me when I was little”.

To lock up my parents in a care home when they are old, frail and most vulnerable is simply cruel and unjust. Thus in Islam social justice starts from home. I must be just to my wife and my children as I will be asked about my duties and responsibilities on the Day of Judgment.

I must do everything possible to sustain a good relationship with my relatives. I am reminded by the prophet who said “One who cuts relations with relatives; God will cut relations with him or her”.

Social justice in Islam extends to even to those who are not related to me such as the neighbors, orphans and the needy. I am not considered a Muslim if I go to sleep with my stomach full while my neighbor sleeps hungry. I must help the orphans and the needy by sharing with them part of my wealth through paying Zakat (a proportion of my surplus wealth which must be given on a yearly basis to poor and the needy) and voluntary charity. The blessed Prophet once said “He is not a Muslim who sleeps with his stomach full while his neighbor stays hungry”.

Social justice is about my struggle against inequality. In today’s world I must fight against poverty. We have excessive amount of wealth that is often wasted in the developed world while millions of people in the developing world die of hunger. Islam stands firmly against such inequality and encourages me to be involved with initiatives that would eradicate poverty and challenge the root causes of inequality. Everyday many people from Africa and Asia risk their lives to cross to the West simply looking for a better life. Most do not make it this far and perish on the way. Islam teaches me to be prepared to share what I have with those who do not have it.

I am concerned about the abuse of our environment and exploitation of our natural resources. My faith says that I am a “custodian” of this earth and its surrounding. As a custodian I do not have the right to either abuse it or stand by watch it get destroyed. I have to take active steps to ensure its healthy longevity. This too is my struggle for justice.

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Courtesy http://www.newstatesman.com/ with slight editorial modifications.

Ajmal Masroor is regularly invited to speak on issues on integration and Islam in the modern world. He leads Friday prayers in several Mosques across London.

 

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The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam

The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam

By Imam Mohamed Baianonie

Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas.

Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas.

What is the position of the human mind in relation to Islam? Does Islam ask the human mind to accept everything without any thinking? Does Islam allow the human mind to think as it wishes without any restraint?

To answer these questions we say that Islam allowed, and in fact, asked the human beings to use their minds in thinking about all things in this life, with some limitations. The human being is a created being and he cannot know everything.

The human beings’ mind cannot reach information about the unseen world, like the attributes of Allah, angels, and the events of the Day of Judgment without a revelation. Therefore, the mind is not supposed to think about it, unless it’s told about them.

The human beings’ mind cannot know the wisdom behind a lot of Islamic worship activities and Islamic fiqh rules (Islamic jurisprudence.)

Therefore what are the fields that Islam asked the human mind to think about. There are many of them. Some of which are:

1. To think about two great facts:

A. The existence and unity of Allah.

B. The verification of revelation, prophethood and the message of Allah.

As for the first fact in which Islam asked the human mind to think about the existence and unity of Allah. Here are some proofs from Qur’an.

Allah Almighty says what may mean,

“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.” (Aal `Imran 3:190)

Allah asked and He knows the answer as in,

“Or were they created out of naught? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they are sure of nothing!” (At-Tur ….. :35-36)

Allah Almighty also said,

“If there were in the heavens and the earth other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both but glory to God, the Lord of Throne, above what they attribute to Him) to (or have they taken for worship other Gods besides Him? Say, ‘Bring your convincing proof.’” (Al-Anbiya’ …:22-24)

In another place, Allah says,

“No son did Allah beget, Nor is there any god along with him, if there were many gods, behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have Lorded it over others.” (Al-Mu’minun …:91)

Let’s now look at the second great fact that Islam asked the human mind to think about and that is the verification of the revelation, prophethood, and the messages from Allah. In this case the judge is the human mind. There is no ground here to get proofs from Qur’an and Sunnah. Because if the human mind thinks and accepts the 1st fact, that is, the existence and unity of Allah, then that same human mind should know that Allah will never leave His servants in darkness and ignorance without some type of revelation through some type of messengers.

2. In addition to the previous two facts, Islam encouraged the human mind to think about laws of Islam and try to deduce laws for things that has no clear evidence of course taking into account the Islamic legislative basics like bringing benefits, eliminating bad doings and narrowness and confinement as well as considering necessities and rating the circumstances of place and time. That is why we see all of these scholars dedicating and concluding laws that will fit our world of today, making use of the great flexibility of Islam.

3. Also notice that there is a continuous confusion between many matters of ethics and fiqh. Imam Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The permissible things are clear and the forbidden things are clear and between the two, there are things that cause confusion that not too many people know and whoever avoids those doubtful things will purify and clarify his religion and his honor and dignity.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Also the Prophet, peace be upon him, said in another hadith reported by Imam Ahmed and Addarami “Just ask your heart about it.’ Virtue is a thing which satisfies yourself and eases the heart; and sin is a thing which disturbs the self and worries the heart; although some persons may declare it lawful and may solicit your opinion on such matters.

Therefore, it is really your mind, which has to clear the confusion between all these matters.

4. Islam has never asked you to stop thinking, but asked you to use your mind in looking at this universe.

Allah says,

“Say: Behold all that is in the havens and on the earth.” (Yunus …:101)

“On the earth are signs for those of assured faith, as also in your own selves: will you not then see.” (Adh-Dhariyat …:21)

5. Islam has asked you to discover the secrets of this universe and make use of them for our benefits.

“And he has subjected to you, as from him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect.” (Al-Jathiyah …:13)

6. And when Allah talked in the Qur’an about other nations whom He destroyed as a result of their unbelief; He asks us to make use of their experience so that we will not be destroyed as they were destroyed for example, He said: what can be translated as,

“Take warning, then, you with eyes.” (Al-Hashr …:2)

And,

“Do not they travel through the land so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind but their hearts which are in their breasts.” (Al-Hajj …:46)

The Conclusion is that Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas. On the other hand, Islam gives and encourages our minds to think in some other areas that were mentioned before.

Let’s use our minds and think deeply in the areas the Qur’an encourages us to do so. Furthermore, let’s stop thinking about the areas that the mind cannot reach like unseen worlds, worship acts, and divine rules. The source of all of these is the revelation from Allah.

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Adapted from a Friday Speech by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on April 2, 1987. The Sermon is titled: The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam.

 

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How Can We Attain Social Justice? (Tell us!)

How Can We Attain Social Justice? (Tell us!)

By Truth Seeker Staff

tell-us-what-you-thinkGod does not favor the unjust. He ordained that all His creatures must establish justice among themselves and with all other creatures. Philosophers of the past were seeking ways to establish social justice among human beings. They failed. However, God sent us the Messenger of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to establish that long awaited justice among all people including one’s beloved, family, neighbors, workmates, and even enemies and foes.

Do you think there are ways to carry out this mission on earth nowadays and to endeavor spread social justice among all people without any sort of discrimination.

If so, join us and share with us your thoughts in this regard.

If not, join us to see what others have to share and tell us about social justice and how to get it done and enjoyed by all people.

How can we attain social justice? (Tell us!)

 

 

 

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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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Hisbah (Islamic Duty of Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil)

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

– Writer and Researcher

Muslim jurists have also spoken at length on the conditions and valid application of Hisbah.

Muslim jurists have also spoken at length on the conditions and valid application of Hisbah.

Shari`ah-oriented political scientists define Hisbah as the duty of enjoining good when it is neglected and forbidding evil when it is prevalent in society.

Ibn Khaldun (d. AH 808) considers Hisbah as a religious post. That is why jurists differentiate between the Muhtasib (one who practices Hisbah), who is appointed by the head of state to look after the state’s subjects, and the Mutatawi` (volunteer), who practices Hisbah without being assigned by the political authority.

Historically, Hisbah as a system was founded in the political life of Muslims during the era of Caliph `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. However, the term itself was known only in the era of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi. According to Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Hisbah started in a simple form in the early days of Islam, but acquired various features and ramifications over time. In fact, some contemporary government ministries and departments — such as those of health, social affairs, municipalities, transport, and police — are now assuming duties that used to be entrusted to the Muhtasib.

Hisbah, as defined earlier, is the duty of promoting what is good and preventing what is evil. It is a collective duty or obligation of the Muslim community. Hence, a considerable number of individuals should assume this responsibility, take an affirmative stand toward it, and put it into practice whenever there is a need for it.

Hisbah is a broad Qur’anic principle that encompasses both the government’s responsibilities as well as any effort exerted by the individual to resolve a conflict or misunderstanding between two individuals, groups, friends, families, or strangers. Hisbah thus encourages the individual to participate and get involved in society as an active agent who is mindful of the problems and concerns of the community where he or she lives.

There are several verses in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an on Hisbah, which is also one of the major themes of the Prophetic Sunnah. Muslim jurists have also spoken at length on the conditions and valid application of Hisbah, which need not be reviewed here. However, one deems it mandatory to mention that Ibn Taymiyah (d. AH 728) specified certain conditions for one to be eligible to be a Muhtasib such as knowledge, leniency, and patience.

Pillars of Hisbah

1. The Muhtasib, who must be a capable, discerning Muslim adult. This person serves as the eye of the law on both state and society. In other words, this person supervises the application of the law in society, especially in the marketplace, to protect it against treachery, mishandling, monopoly, usury, exaggerated profits, and the like.

2. A flagrant evil that exists. It should be so clear to the Muhtasib, in such a way that requires no effort exerted for noticing it.

3. The process of Hisbah itself, which refers to the regulation or censorship of public morals as described above.

 

Sources

  • Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. Madkhal li-Dirasat Al-Shari`ah Al-Islamiyyah [Introduction to the Study of Islamic Shari`ah]. Cairo: Maktabat Wahbah, 1991.
  • As-Salahat, Sami M. Mu`jam Al-Mustalahat As-Siasiyyah fi Turath Al-Fuqahaa’ [Dictionary of Political Terms in the Legacy of Faqihs]. Herndon, Virginia: International Institute for Islamic Thought; Cairo, Egypt: Shorouk International Bookshop, 2006.
  • Hashmi, Sohail H., ed. Islamic Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.
  • 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.
  • Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. Freedom, Equality and Justice in Islam. Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 2002.

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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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Umm Habibah Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan (Part 1/2)

By Truth Seeker Staff

When all the refugee Muslims were assembled in the court, he announced the news of Umm Habibah's marriage.

When all the refugee Muslims were assembled in the court, he announced the news of Umm Habibah’s marriage.

Waraqah bin Nawfal, ‘Uthman bin Huwayrith bin Asad, Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nafil and ‘Ubaydullah bin Jahash were four friends who were disheartened by idol worship in Arabia. They used to get together and discuss this. One night they came to a decision to search the pure religion of Ibrahim which was the straight path of righteousness. After meeting they moved in different directions to find the pure religion of the Prophet Ibrahim.

Waraqah bin Nawfal gave up idol worship, stopped eating flesh of animals sacrificed in idols’ names and knew Torah and Injil by heart.

His cousin Khadijah had taken Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to him on the occasion of the first revelation in the cave of Hira. Waraqah told her that it was the same Angel in the cave who delivered Messages from Allah to earlier Prophets, and that Muhammad must be the chosen Last Messenger, whose coming was foretold in both the Torah and the Injil. He would soon be elevated to that great position, and the whole nation would turn against him and he would be forced to flee his motherland. He passed away before Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) openly declared himself the Last Prophet of Allah.

‘Uthman bin Huwayrith bin Asad, traveled to Syria, and worked as a missionary for Christianity. He became a close friend of the Roman Emperor Caesar and was elevated to the papal position.

Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nafil stopped worshipping idols. He gave up eating dead animals and drinking their blood. He hated eating the flesh of the animals sacrificed and often talked of the pure religion of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him). He too died before the proclamation of Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah.

‘Ubaydullah bin Jahash fell into doubts between truth and falsehood. He married the beautiful, intelligent and well-educated daughter of the Qurayshi chieftain, Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb.

It was around this time that Makkah was shaken by the news that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was rejecting all the idols. He invited people to worship Allah and proclaimed he was His Last Prophet and Messenger. The wise daughter of Abu Sufyan, Ramlah, accepted Islam and so did her husband. His two brothers ‘Abdullah bin Jahash and Abu Ahmad bin Jahash had also become Muslims. Her sisters, Zaynab bint Jahash and Hamnah bin Jahash too entered Islam. The former had joined the select group of the Mother of the Believers. The whole family was fortunate to have obeyed the call to Islam, but while in Abyssinia ‘Ubaydullah had the misfortune to reject Islam after having accepted it.

Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb was a chieftain of the Quraysh, who led the disbelievers in many of their wars against the Muslims. Besides his daughter Ramlah, he had two sons, Yazid and Mu’awiyah. Ramlah accepted Islam when the Muslims were facing a lot of opposition and were being cruelly persecuted. Abu Sufyan was a very powerful man, but he was helpless in the matter of his daughter Ramlah. She was a helpless frail girl, but he could not stop her from accepting Islam, when she openly declared herself a Muslim.

Meanwhile, after surveying the situation the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) decided that the staunch supporters of Islam had taken enough of the oppression from the Quraysh. They would have to migrate, and he ordered them to leave for Abyssinia, where the ruler was known for his kindness and hospitality to refugees from tyrannical rule.

Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan and her husband were among the second group of migrants who left for Abyssinia. There Ramlah gave birth to a girl, Habibah so Ramlah was now known as Umm Habibah. The days passed swiftly for her as she kept busy seeing to the upbringing of her little daughter; and any free time was spent in prayer and meditation.

One night she dreamt that her husband’s face was mutilated. She woke up panic stricken, but was too nervous to talk about her dream to her husband. A few days later he told her that he originally had been a Christian and then converted to Islam. But since coming to Abyssinia he had given a great deal of careful consideration and concluded that Christianity offered the best system of beliefs for leading a successful life. Hence he was recanting and going back to the fold of Christianity. He advised her to do the same and become a Christian.

Immediately it struck Ramlah that this was what her dream meant. The metamorphosis of her husband’s face from a superior to a lower form and its mutilation, meant that he had lost his identity as a Muslim. Then she told him about her dream, hoping that this at least would instill the fear of Allah in his heart. But he was too far gone on the downward road; not only his face but his heart had been mutilated. He started drinking and was so addicted that he was drunk for most of the time. Umm Habibah was now growing desperate, worrying about the future of her daughter and herself. She prayed to Allah to give her the strength to remain steadfast in her faith.

After some time ‘Ubaydullah died due to heavy drinking. Umm Habibah was relieved, of course, but what was she to do now, how was she to survive? Only two activities kept her occupied – the upbringing of her daughter and her prayers. She would sometimes get together with the other Muslim ladies in Abyssinia to talk of the latest developments. Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Asma’ bint ‘Umays and Laylah bint Abi Hashmah were the great ladies with whom she would spend her free time. But these ladies too soon returned home. Still, there were other ladies with whom she was friendly and she would remain patient.

Years passed and the map of the Islamic world changed and battles continued to be fought. The Treaty of Hudaybiyah was signed. One night while she was fast asleep she dreamt someone called out to her, “Mother of the Believers”. When she woke up she felt a great sense of not just happiness, but ecstasy. During the time, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had migrated to Al-Madinah, and the first Islamic State had been established. Someone, while talking to him about the state of affairs in Abyssinia, mentioned that Umm Habibah, the daughter of a wealthy and noble family was living from hand to mouth. After the husband had recanted and died, and she was living under tragic circumstances. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) heard this, he sent ‘Amr bin Umayyah to Najashi with the message that if Umm Habibah liked she could marry him.

When Najashi got the message he sent his slave girl Abraha to Umm Habibah. Umm Habibah was overjoyed when she heard of the proposal, she was so happy that she rewarded Abraha with all the silver jewellery she was wearing – bangles, anklets and rings. Abraha also told her she should appoint someone as her representative for the ceremony. Umm Habibah nominated her relative from the tribe of Quraysh, Khalid bin Sa’id bin ‘Aas.

That very evening Najashi sent a message to Ja’far bin Abi Talib asking him to bring all his Muslim friends to his palace. When all the refugee Muslims were assembled in the court, he announced the news of Umm Habibah’s marriage. After praising Almighty Allah he said he had received a request from His Messenger to arrange for his marriage with Umm Habibah, and he was giving her a dowry of four hundred Dinars.

Then Umm Habibah’s representative, Khalid bin Sa’id bin ‘Aas, read the marriage vows and said,

‘All Praise is for Allah, and I praise Him, seek His help and ask His forgiveness. I bear witness that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger, to whom He has sent with true Religion and a guidance to the Right Path to overpower His Religion over all the false religions though the polytheists will not like it. I have accepted the proposal of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and married Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan to him. May Allah bless this marriage and make it fruitful for Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Najashi then gave four hundred Dinars to Khalid bin Sa’id. When all the guests rose to leave, Najashi asked them to stay on for a dinner he arranged in celebration of the marriage.

Umm Habibah was so grateful to Allah for the honor bestowed on her by making her one of the Mothers of the Believers that she sent for Abraha and gave her a sum of fifty Dinars. She said by the Grace of Allah she now had plenty, and apologized for not having rewarded her earlier in a suitable manner, as she had that time nothing but the little pieces of jewelry she had given her. She asked Abraha to make clothes and jewelry for herself. Abraha respectfully presented her with a little bag. It contained some very expensive perfumes which Najashi had asked his wives to send for Umm Habibah. And Abraha presented her with the same jewelry she had received earlier from her, apologizing for her lack of resources. She also sent a message for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), saying she had embraced Islam, but had kept it a secret. She said when Umm Habibah met the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), beloved of all Muslims, she should convey her greetings without fail and this would be the greatest favor she could do for a poor woman.

To be continued…

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Taken with slight editorial modification from “Great Women of Islam” – by Dar-us-Salam Publications.

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