Posted by: Dawud Israel | October 18, 2014

Unlocking the Honorific Titles in the Qur’an and Hadith

The following are some bookmarked notes and excerpts I’ve picked up while reading different tafsirs online that explain how we can earn these honorific titles. We have many hollow man-made titles and honorifics, but what do they compare to the honorifics of the Eternal Qur’an? Imagine: if we try and act on even one of these, maybe Allah will call us by that Qur’anic title on the Day of Judgment and in Jannah, insha-Allah.

The sources for this are Ma’ariful Qur’an, Tafsir al-Tustari, and Tafsir Ibn Kathir to combine the classical early mufassirun and the insights of the awliya.

Waf-fa

Meaning loyal, faithfully fulfilling his covenant, referring to Ibrahim alayhis-salam discussed in Surah Najm in Ma’ariful Qur’an:

Ibn Abi Hatim hadith via Muadh ibn Anas: “Do you know why Allah gave Ibrahim the title al-ladhi waffa? Then he said, Because he used to recite the following dhikr every morning and evening:

(fa subhanallahi hina tumsuni wa hina tusbihun…wa kadhalika tukhrajun) from Surah Rum, v.17-19

“He fulfilled the day’s work by starting it with the performance of 4 rak’at (salat-ul ishraq). (Hadith via Abu Umama)

Ahwa’an Haleem

Ahwa’an haleem – 9:114, Qurtubi says awwah, it means one who sighs a lot (saying “ah ah” as a dhikr), supplicates much or as Abdullah ibn Mas’ud says one who is given to mercy for servants of Allah.

Mustaghfirina bi’l as-haar

“And who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning” (3:17) refers to those who ask forgiveness before Fajr time during Suhur time. This time dua is accepted and beloved because it is the time of day Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was born.

Awwab and Hafiz 

Surah Qaf in Ma’ariful Qur’an:

Awwab, someone who turns to Allah in repentance, according to Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Sha’bi, Mujahid refers to someone who recalls his sins in loneliness, private and secret, and seeks forgiveness, Ubaid ibn Umair said Awwab is one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness of his sins in every sitting

(See Duas after every sitting: subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika la illaha illant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk and subhanallahi wa bihamdihi allahumma inni astaghfiruka mimma asabtu fi majlisi hadhi–for repentance for evil done in a sitting or a gathering)

[17:25] …If you are righteous, then truly He is Forgiving to those who keep turning [to Him] in repentance.

Ibn al-Musayyib said: ‘The one who turns again and again in penitence (awwāb) is the one who sins, then repents, then sins, then repents, and dies in a state of repentance’. Ḥasan al-Baṣrī said, ‘The awwāb is the penitent who repents without delay.7 Indeed he is ready (muhayyaʾ) for repentance at every instant and moment.’ It was related on the authority of Ḍamra b. Ḥabīb that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)  said: ‘He for whom a door to goodness has been opened should seize [the opportunity] as he does not know when it will close on him.’ This means that he should seriously consider his present moment (waqt) and not procrastinate. (Tafsir al-Tustari)

Hafiz according of Ibn Abbas is one who remembers his sins so returns to Allah and make amends, another report that he remembers his covenant with Allah and doesn’t betray it.

Whoever performs 4 rakat Ishraq early in the day is Awwab and Hafiz (Qurtubi via Abu Hurayra)

Qalbin Munib 

Wa jaha bi qalbin munib” — Abu Bakr Warraq says munib is he always maintains respect for Allah and humbles himself to Him and gives up his sensual and base desires

Abdun Munib

[50:8] As an insight and a reminder for every penitent servant.

He said:

This means: ⸢as a lesson and source of evidence, guiding them to believe in the oneness of their Lord and to show gratitude to Him;⸣2 penitent (munīb), that is, one who devotes his heart purely to God by turning his attention [wholly] to Him,3 and by maintaining God’s remembrance (dhikr) in the practice of his obligatory duties (wājibāt).

Sa’imun

«وَالصَّوْمُ زَكَاةُ الْبَدَن»

(Fasting is the Zakah of the body.) In other words, it purifies it and cleanses it of things that are bad in both physical and Shar`i terms. Sa`id bin Jubayr said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and three days of each month, is included in the Ayah,

“the men and the women who fast” (Qur’an, 33:35)

Dhakirina wa Dhakiraat

“and the men and the women who remember Allah much” in 33:35, Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah said:

«إِذَا أَيْقَظَ الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَصَلَّيَا رَكْعَتَيْنِ كُتِبَا تِلْكَ اللَّيْلَةَ مِنَ الذَّاكِرِينَ اللهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَات»

“If a man wakes his wife at night and they pray two Rak`ahs, they will recorded that night as being among the men and the women who remember Allah much.” (Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja)

Sayyidan Hasuran 

Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Qatadah and Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Allah’s statement about Yahya alayhi-salam

And “Sayyidan” means, a wise man. Ibn `Abbas, Ath-Thawri and Ad-Dahhak said that Sayyidan means, “The noble, wise and pious man.’‘ Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said that Sayyid is the scholar and Faqih. `Atiyah said that Sayyid is the man noble in behavior and piety. `Ikrimah said that it refers to a person who is not overcome by anger, while Ibn Zayd said that it refers to the noble man. Mujahid said that Sayyidan means, honored by Allah.

“And Hasuran” does not mean he refrains from sexual relations with women, but that he is immune from illegal sexual relations.

Sa’ihun

9:112 : saihunna, siyaha — for us it is fasting (Ibn Abbas), or journeying for knowledge (Ikrimah) or fighting (the monasticism of my ummah is fighting in way of God — (Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi) mentioned in Tafsir Ma’ariful Quran

Khashiyun

As mentioned in Surah al-Muminun as pertaining to in salah, khashiyun — Mujahid said: casting one’s eyes down, voice low. Ali said refrain from casting sideways glances obliquely. Ata’ said not toying with any part of the body. Abu Dharr hadith via Mazhari: “Allah keeps an eye over His servant during prayers so long as he concentrates his attention on Allah, but when he turns his attention elsewhere and glances obliquely sideways, Allah also turns away from him.” Hadith Reported to have told Anas to keep his eyes fixed at spot which he touched his forehead with when performing sajdah. “If he had khushu in his heart, his body and limbs would have remained calm.” (Hadith)

Siddiq/Siddiqa

My understanding of this is that Yusuf, Maryam and Abu Bakr are mentioned by sidq. The commonality among them is they spoke the truth when it was difficult. Yusuf alayhi-salam spoke of Allah when Zulayka tried to seduce him, Maryam was also accused of committing zina but she was truthful in pointing to her son Isa alayhi-salam, and Abu Bakr when interrogated about Isra wa’l Miraj said, “In-qala, If he said it, fa qad sadaqt, I believe it. I believe in something more miraculous than this that he received wahi from the heavens.”

ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. Zayd said:

Veracity (ṣidq) is being faithful (wafāʾ) to God in your act[s].

Sahl al-Tustari was asked about veracity and said:

Veracity is fear concerning [our] end (khātima), and patience (ṣabr) is the proof [lit. witness (shāhid)] of veracity. Truly, veracity is hard for the veracious (ṣiddīqūn), sincerity (ikhlāṣ) is hard for the sincere (mukhliṣūn), and repentance (tawba) is hard for the repentant (tāʾibūn), for these three require [extraordinary] exertion of the spirit (badhl al-rūḥ).

Aḥmad b. Mattā was asked about its meaning [ṣidq] and said:

It is that there no longer remains a share for a person’s lower self.

Sahl said:

No one will get a whiff of the fragrance of veracity as long as he panders to his lower self or to others. Rather, veracity is that a person feels in his innermost secret (sirr) that there is no one on the face of the earth from whom God has demanded servanthood besides him. Furthermore, his hope is his fear, and his fear is [of] his demise (intiqāl).  Then when God, Exalted is He, sees them [the veracious] in this state, He takes upon himself the care of their affairs (tawallā umūrahum) and suffices for them (kafāhum), and every hair on their bodies speaks [as one] with God (maʿa’Llāh) in gnosis (maʿrifa). Thereafter God, Exalted is He, says to them on the Day of Judgement, ‘For whom did you work, and what did you desire?’ They will reply, ‘We worked for You, and You alone did we desire.’ He will say to them, ‘You have spoken the truth.’ And by His Might, His words of testimony affirming their veracity are a greater source of joy to them than the bliss of Paradise.

Aḥmad b. Mattā was asked about the meaning of his [Sahl’s] saying, ‘that the hope of veracity is his fear, and that his fear is [of] his demise (intiqāl).’ He said:

It is because veracity (ṣidq) is their hope and what they seek, but they fear that they are not veracious in their quest (ṭalab), so that God will not accept it from them. He has said regarding this: and [those] who give what they give while their hearts tremble [with awe] [23:60], meaning that they are in trepidation while doing acts of obedience, for fear that they will suffer rejection. (Tafsir al-Tustari)

The above meaning fits well with 33:8: “That He may question the truthful about their truth. And He has prepared for the disbelievers a painful punishment.”

For more ideas on Sidq

May Allah grant us the reality of these righteous titles.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

ramadan 10 days

Ramadhan is the one time of year when you see the best spiritual performance of a Muslim. It is in this time that Muslims best deeds are often seen. Its kind of like an annual Olympics for the Mu’mineen. Considering the vastness of the Ummah and the various groups and communities amongst the believing Muslims — one inevitably sees diverse ways of pursuing good deeds. I would like to share some of the best practices I have taken note of amongst various Muslim ulema in Ramadhan.

1) Answered Dua:  The first is a piece of advice Muhammad AlShareef of AlMaghrib Institute once gave to his students. Make one specific dua asking Allah for that one thing throughout Ramadhan and you will see this dua answered guaranteed. I tried this a few years ago and found this approach to work but like anything, it does require sabr.

2) 100 Rakat Tarawih:  The second practice is one I imagine few can do, but worth trying if you can muster the courage and if time permits. The 100 rakat Tarawih performed in parts of Yemen is a known practice of the Habaib shuyukh. The masajid have tarawih and qiyaam prayers spread out at different hours of the night, making it possible for one to do 20 rakat tarawih at one masjid and then move to the next masjid and perform 20 rakat tarawih there and so on until 100 rakat is achieved by Suhur time.

3) DIY Iftar: One of the simplest and easiest but most beneficial practices advised by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari and Imam Tahir Anwar is doing your own iftar and dinner at home. Ramadhan is a time of ibadat (worship), but we unfortunately turn it into a time of socializing with many dinner parties and iftar invites. So turn down invites for iftar and dinner parties citing Ramadhan as your excuse. The benefit of doing this is you have greater control on the hours of the night, your energy level, limiting food intake and creating a stable Ramadhan routine. Though you may be seen as anti-social, you be safe from the sins of the tongue insha’Allah, at least for the month of Ramadhan.

4) Guaranteed Laylatul Qadr: Another practice I have heard Turkish trained teacher Shaykh Naeem Abdul-Wali advise is the marfu’ hadith, “He who prays Isha in the last 10 nights in jamaat in Ramadhan, he has indeed acquired the Night of Qadr.” The shaykh tells us the hadith is weak, but that there is still virtue in acting on exhortations as fada’il al-amaal (virtuous acts) and if one cannot get the whole, to try their best to get a part of it. It goes without saying that we should cover all our bases in striving for a reward as immense as Laylatul Qadr!

5) Finishing the Qur’an Daily: Some of us may have heard of how Imam Abu Hanifa would complete the Qur’an 60 times in Ramadhan — that is finishing the Qur’an twice daily! But how exactly one would go about even doing one khatam (completion) of Qur’an in a day with a busy schedule? Well, Shaykh al-Hadith Zakariyya al-Kandhlawi was known to start and finish the Qur’an daily. This is the schedule he would follow and how many parts (juz) of Qur’an he’d complete in different Ramadhans in his life:

ramadan sh hadith ramadan sh hadith1

Taken from: Source

May Allah bless the teachers of this ummah who have kept the noble spirit of Ramadhan alive to our time.

Closing Advice:

Don’t make Ramadhan about physical fitness, make it about spiritual fitness and you will find success with both.

Treat each day like a journey from the city into an empty desert, where each day you sever your heart from something it hungers for until you find yourself with almost no wants.

Ask Allah for the best Ramadhan for you and the Muslims around the world.

 

Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 13, 2014

Driving as a Muslim

Everytime I drive I contemplate lessons in driving and slowly its grown on me.

In Islam even shoes are considered a vehicle, so it doesn’t matter how impressive your car is – its all about its function as a conveyance. It may be the more features your car has, the more headache it causes you (ie. beeping if you don’t have your belt on, expensive repair costs) so I feel there is more baraka in humbler vehicles. I drive with hadith books in my car for protection and ease. Sometimes I have water bottles in the trunk for wudhu while commuting. I do dhikr while driving and in the midst of potential accidents its kept me safe, alhamdulillah. People often curse their car when in difficulty, but if I stay silent, make shukr when things go good, or say good things about my car, I find more khayr in it the next time I drive. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa alihi wa salam) named his camels and donkeys and cared for them – he didn’t beat and curse them. Those are ways in which I have found baraka in my ride. Often we find ourselves in situations of stress, being late or stuck in traffic or driving low on gas. These are situations of sabr and tawakkul.

Driving itself is not so much about you as it is about those around you. If you make the intention (niyyah) for benefiting those around you through driving, then it can be an act of worship. Driving is very different for a passenger than for someone who has their hands safely on the wheel to cushion themselves. Learning to drive in a way that keeps passengers comfortable is sometimes overlooked by independent minded people, but if you don’t learn it then no one will want to share a journey with you. I suppose thats how it is with many things in life like marriage and community. When you are on the highway and a car approaches in the opposite direction, you turn down your hi-beams so it doesn’t blind their vision. If another car is blinding your vision, you flicker your car’s headlights as a warning, for yourself but also the cars that will come behind you. Driving slow can annoy those driving behind you but it also helps them obey the rules of the road and save them from a speeding ticket. Overtaking cars or being flippant while driving long distances could end up being a problem later. In the night time, when the roads are rough and its dark, cars driving long distances often stick together on the highway, in case something happens to them, at least others are near to help. Sometimes on a highway, you slow down looking for opening in lane next to you, and the car in that lane does the same trying to get into your lane and you don’t realize it. This reminds me of how you never know other people’s intentions but can be blinded by your own.

Parking is another everyday example of thinking of others. Parking can be easy but harder if  you park so that adjacent cars can get in and out of their cars easily. Thinking of others in narrow constraints is where it can really count. Speed bumps force us to slow down like Islamic prohibitions do and as obstacles protect people walking by. At 4-way intersections, it is sometimes better to let others go first but often its better to not wait for others, but to just rush sometimes, in order to save everybody’s time. If you think of one person, thats good but you may be hurting 2 other people. So sometimes putting yourself first is the same as putting others first and that has to do with leadership and courage even. At other times, you can stop slower than usual at a four way stop so other cars are quick to go first. Its almost a way of being silent with your car. A way of leading by silence.

There are other good acts one can do in their car. Carrying granola bars in your car to give to homeless people as you walk by. Something Canadians do is buy Tim hortons coffee in the drive-thru for the car that is immediately behind them as a nice surprise. Keeping booster cables to help cars stuck on the road and shovels in your trunk to dig cars stuck in the snow out in the winter is also a must for a practicing believer. It requires you to go out of your way to help a complete stranger. Parking far from the masjid so others can park near is another khayr one can intend and gives one extra hasanat with each extra footstep.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | April 29, 2014

Meta-Eman – A Practical Theory of Dawah

Bismillah

Meta-eman is the psychological drifting of a non-Muslim person into Islam via small agreeable facts about Islam. Non-Muslims instantly agree with a fact about Islam that seems so natural, so logical, so true, humane, equitable, obvious and just.

I must emphasize these are facts – words, deeds, laws, and heroics that show high Muslim ideals. There is truth in these ideals because they actually happened and continue to be lived up to in everyday life.

These facts build a foundation, form and tone to a non-Muslim person’s understanding of Islam. As the number of these small facts accumulate in their learning, they gravitated towards Islam because of the stability and breadth of Islam’s viewpoint on everything in life. Islam touches everything in life in the best possible way, so it becomes hard to see a world without the beauty of Islam.

It is important that Islam’s viewpoint not merely meet their expectations, but also surpass their expectations. They are believing in the idyllic or equitable components of the deen because they are unlike those of other religions or philosophies. Like a fourth wall or inner conversation on belief, they are slowly negotiating their way into Islam.

Proto-Eman

Believing in one’s ability to believe in Islam comes after they look back on all the aspects of Islam they consciously support with their entire being. Once they are in this place, which I call Proto-Eman, they see Islam as a manifestation of upholding those ideals since it created those ideals in them. This is the recognition (anagnorisis) of how their belief in those ideals is connected to God and this is when they are ready to say the shahada. It may be they have been in this proto-eman state for a very long time, but never had that recognition of God occur.

 

in sha Allah

That is the basic part of my theory from my past dawah work. But in parallel to this, is shaytan’s misguidance. He may make them feel weak, proud, cling to sins or tell them lies about Islam. But over time, this feeling will shrink in comparison to reliance on Allah and the immense mercy of His Messenger ﷺ. As time goes on the strength of that eman will grow and be re-worked with tarbiya and learning about the deen.

I feel this is how most dawah works but not the only way it works.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 7, 2014

New Series!

Dawud Israel:

A new project I am contributing to. Check it out.

Originally posted on Healing Hearts:

Healing Hearts presents in collaboration with other blogging friends, a 7 day series from Monday 10 March 2014. 

Luminaries flyer PNG image

Follow #Luminaries on

 social media

Contributions by:

Mohamed Ghilan- Mohamed Ghilan

Kamran Haikal- Ahlul Bay

Sidra Mushtaq- Healing Hearts

Kamran Shaheen- The Conscious Muslim

Dawud Israel- Muslimology

Zara Nargis- Treasures for the Seeker

Tariq Yusufzai- Tariq the Pilgrim

May this special series be a source of inspiration, healing and learning. May we benefit from learning about some of the great luminaries that stepped on this earth. Amin!

Please keep the contributors and their loved ones in your excellent prayers!

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Posted by: Dawud Israel | March 2, 2014

Minimal and Maximum Meaning in Reading the Qur’an

In the West, we tend to approach the Qur’an with certain attitudes. We are looking to be impressed many a time, and if not impressed, we are searching for some astounding meaning or insight. This is the culture of scientific miracles of the Qur’an and all manner of twisted fascination with odd discoveries. In short, our hearts and minds aren’t reading the Qur’an, our boredom is reading the Qur’an. We want it to astound us but in a way that is completely predictable, and there is the problem. This is part of the maximum reading approach that seeks certain meanings in the Qur’an, perhaps as affirmations of one’s own ideas, or to satisfy some insecurity or inferiority complex or simply to rescue us from our own boredom with religion. If we don’t find that in reading the Qur’an it is as if we didn’t ready anything at all – it is an all or nothing approach. This approach speaks to an attitude that does not read the Qur’an as revelation but as an ultimatum with a time-limit on it. The false aim of this approach is that there is a maximum meaning in the Qur’an, that is difficult to reach, and that maximum meaning may even be easily translatable into materialistic terms.


The Messenger will say, “Lord, my people had abandoned this Quran.” (Qur’an 25:30) 

In the East, the approach to the Qur’an historically and perhaps even today, has been of finding the minimum meaning in the Qur’an. At the very minimum God’s word is great, so even if you find the least meaning you have found something immense. The attitude is to find the bare meaning, to find the meaning of every single word or pronounciation/recitation. This is the approach you find in Tafsir books and among early Sahabas discussing the Qur’an. We in the West dislike quarreling over semantics and may see this as being as such. But no, the fact is this is the revelation from God, and as such, even the smallest point can be of great importance, if not immediately, perhaps in some other far reaching corner of Islamic law and spirituality. Nothing is beyond valuing. In order to mine the Qur’an of meaning you must start at the bare minimum. This speaks to a contentment and harmonious well-being with the deen.

reading quran

The minimal approach to the Qur’an comes from the Sahabas world of zuhd, while the maximum approach of us Westerners comes from the world of abundance and materialism. We see knowledge materialistically in the West and as such approach it with haste, not patience and greed. The minimal approach finds more meaning in less, thus find more meaning in the least, and this is the baraka and secret of zuhd. This may also affect how many adhkar we do, we may do much but in reality we budget our dhikr, and put less and less of ourselves into each of those dhikrs until it is not our egoes but the dhikr that is effaced. To find more meaning in little, even if its a single verse, is a fruit of zuhd and allows the heart to be more positively affected.

The upshot of all this is it shows how precise our thinking is. A maximum approach is messy, illusory and easily confusing, while a minimal approach can be clear, exact, clearly differentiated, given definition, and built upon for deeper and greater understandings.

An example of this is when we read of the exploits of King Sulayman (Solomon) alayhis-salam. A maximum reading of the Qur’an will note his power over jinn, animals and the wind, while a minimal approach will note the small things. When Sayyidina Sulayman speaks to an ant, a creature of the minimal, and praises God for speaking to this ant, but when he speaks to the Queen of Sheba, a figure who is always maximizing wealth and power, he does so with much force and harshness. If we were in his position we may do the reverse – we would talk to the Queen with honorifics and crush the ant. The ant could be seen as the zahid and the queen as dunya obsessed.  Sulayman sees clearly the minimal meaning in the ant, the one clear fact: that this helpless creature is the least of his subjects and it is crossing his path and trying to protect its compatriots, so he acts mercifully. And because he sees clearly the minimal meaning in the queen, her kufr and obstinacy, he is not deluded by her power and wealth. He effaces everything but what is essential and what he needs to see and is not concerned with the extraneous and what he has no concern for as a believer.

The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, what translated means, ‘A sign of one’s excellence in his Islam, is ignoring what does not concern him.’ [Related by Ahmad, Malik & At-Tirmithi]

At the end of the day, we can only ever understand the least about God. The shahada of Islam is addressed at minimum requirements, no more is needed and the same is throughout Islam with the faraidh (obligations) and this tells us God understands our human nature far better than we do ourselves.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.  

Posted by: Dawud Israel | September 26, 2013

Qur’an and Salah Schedule

Bismillah.

I hope this is of benefit. This is the approach I used to become attached to the Qur’an and perform my prayers on time. Click to zoom.

Tawfiq.

quran schedule

 

Download the PDF

salah schedule1

 

Download the PDF

 

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la ilaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | June 2, 2013

Spring Cleaning the Nafs

Cross-posted at Muslimmatters.org

I believe we overestimate and underestimate mentally by about 50%. We underestimate time spent driving, like it’s a chase scene in a film. We overestimate how much we can eat. We underestimate how much we covet. We underestimate how one habit influences another habit. We overestimate the benefit of an easy fix and underestimate the benefits of a hard fix. We overestimate how strong our īmān is and underestimate our reliance upon Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

We will be asked by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) about everything we owned and possessed on the Day of Judgment. We will be asked about how we used it and those possessions and blessings will either be for us, or be a proof against us. So will what I possess come crashing down on me on that day? But am I zahid (ascetic) like Eesa (alaihis salaam), who supposedly possessed no more than a comb and a toothpick?

Cleaning My Emotions
So today, I cleaned away the easiest and most modern form of clutter: Information. I deleted 60% of my Twitter feeds. Was there any loss? No, since the number of activists who tweet about Palestine, Libya, Syria is pathetically ridiculous. The more they tweet, the more hopeless it seems. It reminds me of the āyah about habaa’un manth-thura — deeds like scattered dust blown into the wind. It’s really sad to see so many Muslims characterizing themselves in their Twitter description as “Arab” or “Hijabi” — isn’t there more to you? Why turn yourself into a caricature? At the same time, doesn’t Twitter and social media reduce people to icons to be clicked in an information society for only information? Ironically, what I found was social media is not used for information as much as it’s used for cynicism, venting anger and frustration. This can really hurt my relationship with Allāh. So what’s the real loss?

But digital cleaning is over-rated. There is no benefit in deleting emails. They aren’t biting you nor will you feel a change in your life by making them disappear. Cleaning your real life is much harder. Real cleaning is not about what is obvious, but it’s about the less obvious, the nooks and crannies and what that say about you. Cleaning the back of a cooking stove and seeing all manner of things you had lost, and finding filth in places you barely think about. I think that is what cleaning the nafs is really about.

Uncovering hidden Blessings
There is no art-form closer to the body than clothing, as a Shaykh once said. The Romans wore togas and couldn’t move around much in them, so all day long they stood around talking politics. What you wear affects the tone and attitude you have to life and your behavior. So yesterday, I cut my wardrobe down in half and got rid of more than half of my clothing. There is always much second guessing and doubting, but it feels so good to just say, “Get rid of it. Out!” It feels transformative to force yourself to wear new clothes or unworn clothing. What do I look like in this? How do I want people to see me? How do I want Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to see me? What about Islamic logos on my shirts — what do I do with that? If I give it to Salvation Army, then what about this story that people make money on textile recycling and perhaps sell them to the less fortunate abroad? Shouldn’t I give these clothes directly myself, since the best charity is that which is given by your own hand? So I made a gift pile of clothes, for different types of people I will gift them to, their clothing style, age, and body size.

To understand the baraka in this, consider finding clean socks for jumuah — it takes a far longer time when you have too many socks to sort through and then they don’t even match, but is much easier when you only have a few socks to go through. This is that elusive benefit of simplicity that Ulema of the past call tawseer – expansion. What is the loss if I never wore it anyway? Giving away clothing is far easier than giving away money. Maybe the only reason Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave me all these clothes was to make me accustomed to giving charity?

Cleaning Away my Delusions
We overestimate how many books we have read and understood. Umberto Eco said famously the real purpose of books is the anti-library – it’s there just in case and not for any immediate purpose. Those books will never do anything but sit there–to others it may seem a testament to my piety, but after a while it seems like a testament to my hypocrisy and weakness. Books make you feel like you have much intellectual pride but you realize you didn’t really experience this book as thoroughly as you thought you did. What happens is the most intense experience you had with a book, becomes the stereotypical experience of reading books, so you convince yourself you had that great experience with all your books — when you barely read some of them.

I treat clutter like prose, I hold on to it trying to search for some hidden value in it that maybe a situation will arise where it will be needed, but it never happens. That paperclip in your pocket won’t be used to lock-pick, because you can’t lock pick– nor will that book on gender studies intersectionality ever be read. Nor will that big hadith book be understood because you don’t have the commentary. So give it to someone else who will appreciate it and make more shukr for it than you do. Perhaps God reward you for your sacrifice and teach you in a better way.

The same can be said about notes on Islamic talks. Either I memorize them or give to someone else. Imām an-Nawawi would take notes in the day from his teachers and memorize them all in the evening. I will probably end up putting many of my notes online for people to share, but what else can I do with them? My friend once criticized some brothers by saying, “All they do is just lie around and listen to Hamza Yusuf all day long. Why don’t they do something good for somebody?” So, what’s the benefit if I don’t put it in my words and actions? May be, it’s time to cash in on these investments before I go bankrupt on Qiyama.

3 take-away lessons: 
There is always more to clean — we keep blinking to keep our vision clean

If I get rid of this, what is the perceived loss and what is the actual loss? Can I as a human being do without it?

It takes time to become attached to things, but it takes effort to become detached from them.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 16, 2013

Islam and Existentialism

I find existentialism interesting for a few reasons. Not so much because of what it says, but what it attempts to say. To me it seems like a lens for spotting certain occurrences or scenarios in Islam. I won’t pretend to understand it completely, but I will try and explore its connection to Islam here.

Existentialism and North American Muslims

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “existence precedes essence” in Existentialism is a humanism but I will try and interpret it in my own way to make some connections to the Muslim worldview. I think ‘existence precedes essence’ is how we feel sometimes, where we are here, but aren’t sure as to who we are, our identity, what defines us, and what mould to fit into. “We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world — and defines himself afterwards.” We are here, as Canadian or American Muslims, and there is no essentialism to define us with regards to what we do. Precisely because we can’t figure out our identity as Muslims, all we have is existence and so essence remains a mystery, though the media may try and define our essence for us. For Muslims, we try and resemble the Prophetic actions and behaviors, but we don’t always fulfill that. What we do, how we organize our time, defines us: ‘I don’t know how to do anything else.’ We do things on auto-pilot and what matters, isn’t what we feel this says about God or Muslims, or even our personal life, because often those aren’t really on our mind, but that we actually do these things. Yes we did this, and no it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We do righteous actions, but after a while, the ‘righteous’ essence of those actions fades and it just becomes yet another thing we do and only its existence remains.

I think when it comes to things like extremism, people believe Muslims do things very consciously though in reality, it might just be the violent actions of a Muslim terrorist have no meaning or intent to them – its the mere existence of destruction that justifies it, not the essential meaning of that destruction and what its intended to symbolize. But then where does the responsibility lie? The existence of a Muslim committing a crime, and the rejection of its essential meaning means Muslims will really struggle to take responsibility for a violent act, individually and collectively. This is probably why Muslim extremism is so difficult to understand…

Another play where existentialism is relevant is when Muslims are tempted to cheat on final exams, so if they see someone’s exam sheet they decide to go against that cheating temptation and purposefully select another answer (a wrong answer presumably). Here, full responsibility is taken, but some could say here essence (right/wrong) precedes existence (a choice). For pious Muslims who have memorized the Qur’an, the fact they have memorized it is seen as having more merit, than the fact they understand it. The existence of the fact they have memorized the Qur’an is more important than them knowing the essence of the Qur’an.

Guiding people to Islam can be aided by better understanding existentialism. The person whom you are speaking to may see themselves as a sinner. This is there essence in their mind. Their existence and lifestyle has gone against whatever you may preaching to them. They don’t see themselves in that religious world. But mere existence precedes essence, so you can utilize the fact they exist to help them understand what their essence might be. I think this is where existentialism can explain how one can use their free-will to liberate themselves from what they may see as their sinful essence, and be empowered by a new existence that their free-will can lead them to.

Existentialism and the Prophets

Yet another example I can think of is in the Qur’an when the angels came to Abraham to tell him that they are there to destroy the nation of Lot (Sodom). What is important to recall is that Ibrahim argues with the angels to not destroy the sodomites. Here, is a Prophet of God going against the decree of God mentioned by God, and yet he is described as the Friend of God — and this is perhaps why he is described in the Qur’an as tender-hearted and forbearing. (Qur’an, 9:114). The existence of his mercy precedes the essence of its originating in God’s will.

Another example we can think of is when the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) consulted the Sahabas about going to war in Uhud (if I remember correctly that was the battle). He did not want to go to battle but some of the Sahabas persuaded him to. When they learned later that he was initially inclining to not go to battle, they came to him to revert to his decision. But by this time, the Prophet of God had already donned his battle armor and he said (paraphrased), “Once a Prophet wears his battle armor he doesn’t take it off until he has gone to battle.” Here, the existence of the Prophetic decision is more important than the essence of Prophetic decision – what that essence is, God knows best.

Miracles too play oddly into the dichotomy of existentialism/essentialism, since the existence of a miracle is unlikely but possible. What then is its essence if its existence is rare, if not impossible in the mind of an atheist? If it does exist, then the miracle existing has essence at the same time as it has existence. See below for an image of Japan’s first mosque standing tall even after bombings in World War II – something which many Muslims would say is a miracle.

kobe

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Bismillah.

Note: I worry a great deal about what I write and hesitated a great deal to publish this. This is one of those post I will continue to worry about and its potential misuse. Before one reads this post, readers should be familiar with Islamic eschatology and signs of the Day of Judgment and have read the previous post.

In my previous post, I suggested a few new avenues that open up when one studies and contemplates the history of Sayyid al-Awaleen wa’l Akhireen ﷺ. If one considers how the miracles at the time of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ and thereafter, were greater than the miracles prior to his arrival ﷺ, then one can infer two transhistorical realities:

1) If you know all the miracles Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ performed, then you can infer that most likely Prophets before him performed miracles very similar to these, only not at the same lofty magnitude; and
2) That possibly certain miracles are yet to occur. And is this latter possibility that opens a new door for us to wonder about…

No one can know when the Last Hour will be, and even Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ said he ﷺ did not any more than the one who asked him ﷺ. But we can speculate like the Jews and Christians, who were waiting in Arabia for the arrival of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. I will not be looking at all the hadith that are well-known, but I will be trying to look at those things that are implicit and hidden in these narrations. Again, Allah and His Rasul ﷺ know best, so I am not stating this post with absolute certainty (qati’) but rather this is a speculative (zanni) consideration, though certain things will rise to a greater level of certainty.

Here are some questions I pondered while looking over the hadith of the End Times: Why will world end in this particular way and not another way? What does that mean to the people of insight, ulu al-baab? What do ayat (signs) mean if we magnify them, and look at them through the lens of history and space? Do certain patterns emerge? Why do certain events stand-out in Islamic history?

[This is] the established way (sunnah) of Allah which has occurred before. And never will you find in the (sunnah) way of Allah any change. (Qur’an, 48:23)

These (ayat) signs of the End Times are like landmarks. In many of the hadith of the End Times, you see a reoccurring theme. The relics and reminders of the Prophets of old re-appear. The Ark of the Covenant is recovered by Imam Mahdi containing the relics of Musa and Harun, the Beast appears bearing the Ring of Sulayman and the Staff of Musa, Yajuj Majuj will break through, killing will occur to such an extent “if someone comes to kill any of you, then be like the better of the two sons of Adam.” It is the return of the Prophets. The forgotten legacy of the prophets and the asatirul-awaleen, tales of the ancients, are affirmed once and for all. They are no longer just tales but their presence is made known to the Ummah of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. It is as if the Prophets are gathering in attaching themselves to Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ and so there is no doubt as to previous messengers bearing the same message as Rasulullah ﷺ and that to him belong all their miracles. Whom Prophecy truly belongs to — Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ —  now and in every era, has been made clear and there is no room for dispute. No one will be able to say that Moses would’ve said such-and-such about the Muslims, because the staff of Moses and the Ark are in the hands of the Mahdi. No one will be able to say Jesus would’ve said such-and-such because he will be from amongst the Muslims. What, then can any Jew or Christian say?

But the question arises, are these all the manifestations of earlier Prophets that will arise in the Last Days in the Ummah of Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ? Here are some possible explanations regarding the Prophets: Ibrahim, Khidr, Jesus, Yusuf, Dawud, Musa, Harun and Nuh.

-Ibrahim was thrown into Nimrod’s fire and found it cool and this is analogous to when the believer will be shown Dajjal‘s heaven and hell, and the believer will walk into Dajjal’s false hellfire and it will turn into a cool garden.
-Some say Khidr will be the believer that Dajjal will split in half but Khidr will continue to argue against him.
-Another historical event maybe when the Dajjal is killed by the spear, which may have significance to the ‘Spear of Destiny’ which was the spear people believe killed (the false) Jesus on the Cross.   
-Dreams (cf. Yusuf) become more true near the end of time, perhaps suggesting a nearing of the alam al-mithal and the dunya?
-Will the Muslims get to make dhikr with the mountains as Dawud did once Isa has been successful?
-Mountains of Mecca have been blasted away similar to how the mountain was blasted away before Musa when he asked to see Allah
-A Safina (Ark), like that of Nuh may be constructed to shelter the last believers
-We know Jesus will be present, this  may mean other Prophets that are in occultation will also be appear

There is much to speculate but we know the trials in the Last Days will be more difficult than any trial any nation has ever faced so it is likely echoes of trials previous communities faced will re-appear, but in a more difficult form. This is yet another reason why we should adhere to the Qur’an and learn from the lessons Allah teaches us about previous nations. Those tested most are the closest to Allah, and this ummah’s test will be the greatest in history, and thus a sign of our rank and a metaphysical justification for our entering the Jannah first.

The Beast 

And when the word befalls them, We will bring forth for them a creature from the earth speaking to them, [saying] that the people were, of Our verses, not certain [in faith]. (Qur’an, 27:82) 

We know the Beast appears out of the Earth near the Hour bearing the ring of Sulayman and Staff of Musa and will speak to the people about the Qur’an. This is comparable to how many of the early disbelievers would ask, “Why isn’t an angel sent down?” and Allah responded “If We did send down an angel, the matter would be settled at once, and no respite would be granted them (Quran, 6:8)” meaning that a sign, in the form of an extraordinary creature is a conclusive and definitive trial. And so the Beast appearing at the End of Time is an appropriate connection to this ayat. Also note that whenever the disbelievers are quoted in the Qur’an as saying, “send down to us” it suggests pride, whereas the Beast emerges from the Earth, from below, not from above, suggesting a type of humility on the Muslims and the Last Day.

Salih’s she-camel emerged from the local mountain, as a sign and trial, while the Beast (Dabbah) emerges from the Earth, a sign indicating the dominion of the Last Prophet ﷺ and also a global trial for people, (though accepting Islam after the Beast appears will not be accepted). The Dabbah (Beast) speaking is comparable to Sulayman being able to speak to the animals, but is greater since it is an extra-ordinary creature. The metaphysical significance of the Beast has to do with it emerging directly out of the Earth and it emerging in the time of the Risalah of Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ speaking to the people about the Qur’an. This suggests that through the Beast, the Earth and the natural world are showing that Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ is their imam. The first half of the shahadah (La ilaha illAllah) is clear to all who study the Earth, but the Beast emerging and speaking about the Qur’an is the Earth’s affirmation of the last half of the shahadah (Muhammadur Rasulullah), and appropriately is the last sign (or second last as the sun rising in the West might be the last as well) at the End of Time just as Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ is the first sign of the End of Time. This miraculous creation will bear witness to the rank of the Best of Creation ﷺ. The miracle of the Beast is appropriate to our age because we have done great damage to the Earth and the natural world and become increasingly obsessed with science, nature and evolution viewing it in deterministic terms. So when this Beast emerges speaking the verses of Allah, what then can any atheist or scientist say?

Imam Mahdi and Ahlul Bayt

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Made by my dear brother Abdul Khafid

We must recognize that Ahlul Bayt have continually been displaced throughout Islamic history. The rise of Imam Mahdi is the return of the House of the Prophet ﷺ to their rightful place. Just as the Jews rejects Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ so shall some of the Muslims reject the Mahdi and it may be that Imam Mahdi will be rejected in much the same way that Imam Husayn was rejected by the Muslims. But eventually and ultimately the Muslims will understand the place of Ahlul Bayt in Islam and honor the Qur’anic injunction to honor the House of the Prophet ﷺ.

Whereas the Imam Husayn’s resolve was strong to lead, his followers were weak in their resolve, however we know from hadith that Imam Mahdi will flee from the mantle of leadership and khilafat, and his resolve to lead will be weak but his followers will be strong in their resolve to have him as their imam. We know that much like Imam Husayn’s struggle, Imam Mahdi’s reign will begin with an internal battle amongst the Muslims, where he will defeat the ‘Sufyani’ and this is parallel to Imam Husayn’s political struggle against Yazid who was Abu Sufyan’s grandson. This suggests that Imam Mahdi will pick up where Imam Husayn left off and finish his work by establishing order and justice amongst the Muslims and ridding them of tyranny. Lastly, it may be that like many great events in history, something will occur on the Day of Ashura, just as the martyrdom (shuhada) of Imam Husayn occurred on Ashura, or perhaps, Imam Mahdi will change the significance of the Day of Ashura, to a day of victory and raise the spirits of the Muslims.

Jesus and Imam Mahdi

The Qur’an mentions Isa as being “Mahdi” (Qur’an 3:46,5:110) and he was lifted at 33 years of age, so it may be both Imam Mahdi and Isa alayhi salam will be of the same or near equal age. Another crucial point as can be understood from the previous paragraph is that Islamic history will be mirrored: It began with the 1) Prophetic rule of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ, then struggles in establishing 2) the rule of Ahlul Bayt (Hasan & Husayn) and then 3) the rule of Tyrants was established; The Last days will be the reverse, 3) The rule of Tyrants then 2) the rule of Ahlul Bayt will be established (Imam Mahdi) then it will return to 1) Prophetic rule (Jesus). This is a similar pattern to the history of Bani Israel where tyranny, prophetic rule and kings dominated their political reality.

We know from hadith it will be Isa who will pray behind Imam Mahdi and Isa will be a member of this community. The intersections between Isa and Imam Mahdi are more than just coincidence: Isa had a cousin, Yahya, in the time of his prophecy, and in the Last Days he will be in the company of his more distant cousin, the Mahdi. Imam Mahdi will die before Isa dies, just as Yahya’s death preceded Isa’s (supposed) death. Both Yahya and Imam Husayn had similar deaths, beheadings as a result of rebelling against corrupt authority. Another commonality is that just as the Christians worshiped Jesus, so too did a group of deviants worship Imam Ali, claiming that he is God (astaghfirullah).

These commonalities underline one simple fact: It will be Isa who will do justice to the rank of Ahlul Bayt. It will be a Prophet known for his spirituality, the Ruhullah, and known for his blessed lineage, who will show this Ummah how to honour the descendants of Rasulullah ﷺ. After the descent of Isa, there may even be a marriage between the family of the Mahdi and Isa or his offspring and this makes sense metaphysically to occur, in the Last Days; the blood-line of Isaac and the line of Ishmael will finally be joined and reconciled physically, spiritually, theologically and metaphysically into one.

Jesus and the Ummah


And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path. (Qur’an, 43:61)

Isa is the one Prophet who made dua to join the Ummah of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ and his dua was granted to him; what does this say about the honour of this ummah through the blessing of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ? But Isa’s relation to this ummah is not only in the Later Days. There is a hadith that Isa was in Egypt and he came across Muqattam hills and said that the Sahabas will be buried at Muqattam hills, which came to pass. And we have another hadith that, ‘No ummah will be destroyed which has me at its beginning and Isa at its end’ (paraphrased from a Habib Kadhim talk). Our Ummah has been blessed with a description of the Masih (Messiah) from the hadith on Isra wa’l Miraj and also hadith on his descent to Earth, so that we won’t have a case of mistaken identity like that which the Jews and later Christians had, which ultimately lead them to misguidance. In this sense, the Muslims are favoured over the Jews and Christians. Unlike the Jews who were for the most part, opposed to Rasulullah ﷺ, the Christians were helpful to the early believers and this may be a sign of God’s favour towards the Christians that they will be guided aright when Isa returns, while many of the Jews will follow the Dajjal. With Isa’s descent the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has been under the guardianship of a Muslim family for centuries, will finally become a masjid and with it, most likely the Vatican in Rome will become a masjid. The Hadith also states that Isa will kill the pigs, break the cross, and abolish the jizya, which may be a synecdoche that he will liberate Christians from dhimmi status, by converting all the Christians into Muslims.

The Isaacites (the Jews) waited for the Ishmaelite Prophet ﷺ in Madina; in the Last Days it will be the Ishmaelites (the Muslims) that will await for the Isaacite Prophet (Isa alayhi salam) in Damascus. This is alluded to in the Qur’an “Praise to Allah , who has granted to me in old age Ishmael and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication.” Quran 14:36-39  The Khalifas of some of the previous Muslims dynasties had adab with the House of Dawud, honouring leaders from them (the position of the exilarch) and this reflects on the reality that Isa will look at how the Muslims honored his kinsmen because of their righteous and Prophetic ancestry.

Now we must understand the Masih belongs in this ummah because he is a manifestation of God’s will that this ummah is for all mankind, and he is a proof that this ummah honours the place of the Ajami, the non-Arab, in the ummah of Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ and considering the fact Isa is from a previous era, this is a proof that Rasulullah ﷺ is a Prophet for all times, past, present and future and for all peoples.

The minaret of the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus where Isa (Jesus) will descend

Jesus and Rasulullah ﷺ

We know in hadith that Isa descends to Earth at the time before Fajr and this is the time that Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ was born in and when dua is accepted. Thus Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ is the connection between us and Isa, temporally and in this blessed time when we will pray to Allah, Isa will descend. Angels came to Bani Israel carrying the Ark of the Covenant; similarly angels will come to our Ummah carrying the Son of Mary – this is yet another favour upon us. Isa is a fatherless son; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ is a father without a (surviving) son – for them to be buried side-by-side in Madina is a natural completion of God’s favour and divine sign on the importance of the bonds of faith over the bonds of blood. Prophets are buried where they die, and so this means Isa is buried where he dies, meaning that Isa dies near Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ and in the opinion of Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa, he dies giving salams to Rasulullah ﷺ. Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa has also said, that we are created from the soil of wherever we are buried at death, and Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ and Isa ibn Maryam will both be buried in Madina, meaning both were created from the soil of Madina. Isa will most likely continue to transmit hadiths from Jannah, not from himself, but from Imam al-Mursaleen ﷺ and the hadith books will insha-Allah continue to be written once again…

Jesus and Adam 

Just as at the start of time Adam descended to Earth after living in Heaven, so too must near the end of time, a Prophet descends to Earth from Heaven after dwelling there, and it is fitting that it is Isa as the Qur’an says, “Indeed the likeness of Isa (Jesus) before Allah is as the likeness of Adam.” (Qur’an, 3:59). Isa will establish ‘Heaven on earth,’ as a mirror to Heavenly garden of Adam and Hawwa. Isa is also in a sense, necessary at the end of time because ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ and how shall it be known who are these meek inheritors of the earth unless a Prophet is there to do bestow upon them that inheritance?

Jesus and the Qur’an

Comparative religion writers make the point that the Bible should not be compared to the Qur’an, but rather the Bible should be compared to hadith and the Qur’an should be compared to Isa, since both are the Word of God (see Qur’an 3:45). It may be that the Kalimatullah (Isa) will recite the Kalimatullah (Qur’an) and a Muslim will see the Messiah reciting the Qur’an and say, “Glory be to Allah who has preserved both of His Words!” There are more similarities between the two: Isa was a living miracle and he gave rise to many miracles, just as the Qur’an was a miracle and gave rise to many miracles. Isa will live on the Earth for 40 years; Revelation of the Qur’an began at 40 years – this is consonant to the idea that Jesus is the Word of God and so is the Qur’an. And of further significance is that Isa was lifted up to Heaven in his time, and the Qur’an will be lifted up from the hearts of Muslims near the End of Time. Wa akhiru dawa anil hamdulillahi rabbil alameen.

Isa also has a strong relation to the Qur’an not just as a figure in the past, but as a figure in the future the Muslims will encounter. Allah fulfills his 5 promises to Isa in Qur’an 3:54-55.  The Muslims will be the answer to Isa’s call in the Qur’an: “Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” and Isa will find among us men who will be greater than the Hawariyun (disciples) of the past. In the Qur’an, Isa will find what he is to say to Allah on Qiyama, Qur’an 5:110-120. This is a clear sign that Jesus too, is guided by the Qur’an and the Risala of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. In the Qur’an, the Muslims of the Latter days will once again apply the adab of honouring a Prophet, they will not to ask him to perform a miracle like that of al-Ma’idah in 5:110-120, and the women of this ummah who will become marry Isa, will appy the adab of being married to a Nabi, as mentioned in Surah Tahreem/Talaaq. In this way, the Qur’an is a very practical preparation for the Last Days.

The Qur’an tells us that when Allah will decide between Isa and the Christians, there will be no redemption for the Christians as they will be driven to Hell, and upon reciting this account in the Qur’an, Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ said, repeated the ayah “If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Qur’an 5:118) and said “Allahumma ummati” and asked Allah for the shafa’ah and was given it. This is significant because it is yet another unique favour given to this ummah because of the rank Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ, and through his wisdom and learning from previous Ambiya. It is even more significant because Isa ibn Maryam is also a member of this ummah and so he will receive from the shafa’ah Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ.

Conclusion

There is more I wanted to touch on but I will stop here. For us, believers nearing the End Times, we should learn the Qur’an and learn from the examples of previous Ambiya if we are to be successful in facing the trials of the Last Days. As one can see in this brief outline that the Last Days are saturated with a clarity and shining forth of the rays of the Muhammadan Light. Superficially, it appears to be a return to a simpler time, but if we look deeper it is a return to a purer time. An era which will illustrate the realities of the Qur’an as the Final Book and what the Risalah Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ meant, not just to us as Muslims, but to the Earth, to the Prophets, and to history itself. This is a time when it will seem as if Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ never died because signs of his importance will be manifest and made clear by another Prophet who also never died. In concluding anything, one must pay tribute to what came before, and the Last Days will be a tribute to Sayyidina Rasulullah ﷺ and an explanation of his rank ﷺ.

Allahu Alaam.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | January 24, 2013

Metaphysics of the Prophetic Miracles

Since it is the eve of the birth of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ I thought I would post this piece…

salawat gif

While reading the Sirah (Biography of the Prophet) and his miracles, I began to notice many patterns and began to wonder about them. After I read Bidayat as-sul fi Tafdil ar-Rasul (The Beginning of the Quest for the High Esteem of the Messenger) of Imam Izz ibn Abd al-salam, then I realized there was more to these patterns since one of the khasais (virtues) of our Prophet ﷺ is that his miracles are superior than those of previous Prophets. Imam Izz lists only a few examples, but I began to realize there are many, many more…so I began to list as many as I could.

List of Miracles

In this list below, I compare and contrast the miracles of each Prophet with the miracles of the Imam of the Prophets ﷺ and contrast other similarities. I first mention the Nabi/Rusul and then I mention Rasulullah ﷺ. I haven’t listed the hadith or full references since they are common knowledge but only briefly mentioned the occurrence. A bigger picture shall emerge…

Isa
-Isa revived bodies; while Prophet ﷺ revived hearts
-Isa spoke as a baby to his mother; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ could speak to babies
-Isa walked on water; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ’s Companions rode their war horses on water – a miracle or a miracle in the path of Allah?
-Isa was raised to Heaven until End Times; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ ascended to Isra wa’l Miraj, passed Sidratul Muntaha and then returned to Earth – which is more astounding?
-Isa had 1 group Hawariyun; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had Ansar & Muhajirun – the Hawaris were a small group, while Ansar and Muhajirun were a brotherhood
-Isa breathed life into birds; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ’s Companions are martyrs living in paradise now in green birds – one was temporal, the other eternal
-Isa had a miraculous birth with angelic presence; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ’s Birth with Nur and Voice from Heaven – which is more majestic?
-Isa was slandered by enemies at birth; Palaces of future enemies of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ destroyed at his birth (i.e. Chosroes)
-Isa’s family: Hanna then Maryam then Isa; Ahlul Bayt: Prophet ﷺ then Fatima then Hassan and Husayn
-Isa visited by Shaytan almost 100x; Shaytan never came close to Rasulullah ﷺ, except as Najdi sheikh to mushrikeen – even shaytan had an awe of him
-Isa had no mark from the claw of shaytan; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had no mark from the claw of shaytan plus had Seal of Prophethood
-Isa cured blind; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ cured blind or promised them Paradise – which is loftier?
-Isa given al-Ma’idah (Table); Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ given Ramadan – one came from Paradise, one leads to Paradise

Ibrahim

-Ibrahim destroyed a few idols; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ destroyed 365 idols, without even actually touching them
-Ibrahim sacrificed son; Abdul Mutallib’s oath on sacrificing his son, Abdullah, the father of Rasulullah ﷺ so one of Rasulullah’s ﷺ names is ‘Ibn Abi Zhabihayn’ – son of 2 sacrifices
-Ibrahim’s wife Hajar found Zamzam; Zamzam re-discovered before Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ’s arrival by the dream of Abdul Muttalib – this makes us reflect to whom Zamzam was really given to
-Ibrahim built the Kaaba with his son; Muslims rebuilt the Kaaba a few times
-Ibrahim’s Dua for a Prophet to be sent; fulfillment of the dua in hadith: “I am the prayer of my father Ibrahim and the good news proclaimed by `Isa to his people…”
-Ibrahim had the fire made cool for him when tortured; The Sahaba Abu Muslim al-Khawlani had the same miracle in Yemen
-Ibrahim sacrificed his son; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ lost 3 sons at birth and many daughters
-Ibrahim said of a star ‘This is my Lord'; Jews of Madina saw the star of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ on the night of his birth
-Egyptian Firawn tried to rape Ibrahim’s wife Sarah; Sayyidatina Mariah al-Qibtiyya given to Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ by Egyptian king Muqawqas – one was a protection, and another was a gift
-Ibrahim made dua for his own descendants; Allah revealed Qur’anic verses for honouring Ahlul Bayt
-Scholars from Ahlul bayt are like Prophets of Bani Israel (mentioned in a Hadith)
-Tabernacle destroyed; Kaaba protected from Abraha by birds (Surah al-Fil)
-Ibrahim unsuccessfully argued with angels to save Lut’s sinful community from punishment; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ stopped angels of the mountains from destroying Ta’if

Musa
-Musa made water come from rocks; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had water issue forth from his blessed hands – this lets us reflect on tayammum and wudu
-Musa split the Red Sea; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ split the moon – the former was earthly, while the latter was heavenly
-Musa had endless food come to him descend from heaven (manna); Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had many occurrences where the baraka made the food almost endless – this is similar to al-Ma’idah
-Musa was raised by his future enemy Firawn; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ was raised by many uncles who would become both his enemies and his supporters
-Bani Israel only allowed to pray in Temple Mount; Muslims can pray on the whole earth – who
-Musa on Mount Sinai;  Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ connection to Jabal an-Nur, Jabal Thawr and Jabal Uhud
-Musa spoke to Allah through divine ‘Burning Bush'; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ made a tree into a tree of Paradise, also went past Sidratul Muntaha and spoke to Allah directly
-Musa defeated magic with miracles and his staff; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had Jibril protect him from magic
-Musa faced down Firawn and Hamman; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ faced many Mustahzi’un, and our Ummah will face many false prophets and dajjals – which community then has more resilience?
-Musa liberated Bani Israel from slavery; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ liberated slaves for all history and made former slaves into conquerors founding cities – and who will lead humanity in their liberation into Jannah?
-Musa was asked to take off his shoes in Valley of Tuwa; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ kept his sandal on while ascended on Isra wa’l Miraj – whose footsteps echo in eternity?
-Musa hit 1 man and killed him; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ had the strength of 10-100 men

Bani Israel

-Bani Israel given Tabuk (Ark of Covenant) on which Sakina (tranquility) descended; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ given Quran and Sakina descends on those who recite it – one is lost and the other will continue to remain on Earth until the End Times
-313 fought with Talut; 313 Sahabas on Badr plus Angelic army
-Bani Israel were not given an explicit name for their religion; Allah named our religion ‘Islam’
-Bani Israel told to enter Egypt, given Jerusalem; Muslims conquered Egypt, Jerusalem, Syria, Iraq, and lands of previous prophets
-Used Tabuk as a weapon of war; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ in Jihad had angelic support
-Bani Israel given many punishments for accepted repentance; Ummah Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ is saved from many punishments for our repentance
-Bani Israel: Forgiven for sins with corporal punishment; Muslims forgiven sins merely by shedding tears
-Bani Israel given Torah, Injil, Zabur; Certain Qur’anic surahs have the same rank as these previous scriptures, plus given more surahs
-Khidr has greenery grow from underneath his footsteps; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ has the gardens of the afterlife grow from underneath his footsteps – one is rarely seen and worldly, the other is in Masjid an-Nabawi and is eternal
-Mountain hovering over Bani Israel’s heads to fall on them; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ could destroy and crush Taif between mountains and refusing to punish us
-Dawud had mountains make dhikr with him; Hadith about Mount Uhud loving the believers
-Yusuf was a dream interpreter; Abu Bakr was known to be a dream interpreter
-Yusuf’s remarkable beauty; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ was more more beautiful than Yusuf
-Sulayman speaking to animals; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ speaking to camel, trees and birds speech, the Sahaba Safina speaking to lion and being guided when lost, and some narrations suggest Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ knew all human languages
-Dawud made iron into chain-mail; Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ turned wood instantly into the sword of Zulfiqar
-Yusuf as finance minister of Egypt; Sahaba became rulers of entire Egypt

And there are more…

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I began to notice it was not limited to miracles, it was related to occurrences and echoes of the past. Where the contrast is similar, I understand it to mean, that the Prophets of the past were beloved to Allah, because they resembled the Beloved of God to come and where the contrast is different, the honour of our Rasul is greater to show that Allah has favoured him above all. An example of the first is how shaytan did not make a mark on the Prophet with his claw when he was born, similar to Eesa alayhi salam and an example of the later is how the Muslims pray 5 times a day instead of 3 or the one or two prayers each Prophet was given.

In fact, this elevation is a proof of his position as Imam of the Prophets and to allude to us that the miracles of the previous Prophets and all miracles to ever occur are in reality miracles of the Prophet Muhammad. In this light, one can read the entire Sirah as a manifestation of all of Allah’s Names. You can literally check them off like a checklist.

So you can see another way of reading the Sirah is to piece it together backwards from the stories of the previous Prophets. The world before the Prophet is like a dream predicting or fore-telling the Risalah of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ to come and its fulfillment is even greater than what was ‘dreamed.’ (I gleaned this from a line in ch. 3 of Imam al-Busiri’s Qasida Burda) If we take this metaphysical understanding further then we can infer and predict the future and I will explore this in a future post since it is considerably more difficult to do…

Metaphysics of ‘Praise’

What does this all mean to us Muslims in terms of the metaphysical reality of who our Prophet is? His name means praiseworthy. His whole life was praiseworthy and his whole life was Allah’s praise of him, at every atomistic level, and it was this praised that raised mankind and believers in rank…so how can praise of him (salallahu alayhi wasalam) not raise us in rank? Thus he is the pattern by which we become praiseworthy. All these gifts our ummah was given was because of the honour of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ and a praise of him.

His very name means praised and to this day he is praised. But was he praised before Islam? We should remind ourselves that miracles are not just proofs of God’s omnipotence but gifts that honour and praise the one whom they are bestowed upon–and all miracles, throughout time, are in reality, miracles of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. We can see the miracles of the previous Prophets as a metaphysical praise of  Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ in the past, and the miracles of the Sahaba as a praise of him ﷺ at the time of his prophethood and the miracles of the Awliya and Ahlul Bayt are the praise of his rank ﷺ in the future. That is the temporal element of his reality, the Muhammadan presence in all time.

The spatial element is that Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ is praised in the heavens by angels and by Prophets on the miraculous Isra wa’l Miraj, he ﷺ was praised in the human realm in Madina both in his entering it and in the poetry recited in Masjid an-Nabawi, and he  ﷺ was praised on the earthly realm by miracles of stones prostrating to him and trees running to him and the like. That is element of the Muhammadan presence in all space.

Lastly, the Light of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ before time, being the first thing Allah created, and his ﷺ great intercession on Yawmul Qiyamah, in the Maqam Mahmud, is the manifestation of the Muhammadan presence in space-time. This may seem a little abstruse but what is important to underscore for all of us is the sense of historical and metaphysical continuity and how we must preserve this continuity by having a strong connection to  Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ as a means for our connection to Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | January 10, 2013

Bayaanomics: The Art of Delivering an Optimal Islamic Talk

Bayaanomics: The Art of Delivering an Optimal Islamic Talk
by Dawud Israel, the Cynic and Pedantic but also the Humanist :)

I wrote the following after listening to many Islamic talks online and in person. There is a world of difference between the two, but I wanted to share my reflections based on the delivery of these Islamic talks. I am no expert, these are just my 2 cents. :)

Before one reads this, one must keep in mind that their are a variety of types of Islamic speeches one gives. From a reminder, to an academic style talk, to a rant, to an open-ended interactive discussion. This is not intended to downplay the place and importance of those speeches, but to highlight some key strategies and patterns as well as provide perspective to speakers as to what audience members may be thinking.

There are pitfalls in this document…namely that the listener is suggesting things out of his own intellectual pride and fickle attitude, and may lead to listeners having a low tolerance to various speakers. This elitism can be a problem with those who listen to lofty, metaphysical, subtle and obscure spiritual topics. Content is not of primary concern in this document, rather thought process, presentation, and delivery are. It will become clear some of the criteria outlined are not realistic, especially for those whom lecture frequently, but nonetheless may prove useful.

Primary Observations for Speech improvement:

Focusing/Missing the Intention: Some speakers just would do better writing than speaking. But often the best speakers are those that write a great deal. They have given what they are saying a great deal of thought, will not run out of material and complete the points they are trying to convey. One of the key problems writers encounter in revising their draft copies is realizing they completely missed the key idea they wanted to get across. It is in the back of their mind while they write but it never is expressed. “Yeah I already mentioned that…oh wait now that I have re-read it, I forgot to mention it.” And its that proofreading scrupulousness that also applies to lectures, where the speaker is about to convey a key point and thinks they have, but actually had not and missed it completely or didn’t reach it when they were building up to it. Related to this is when you sense the speaker is

Amplifying the Content: The best 3 qualities in the content of a religious talk are:
1) completeness- that they explain things fully, with lots of context, which shows true ilm and proper presentation
2) coherence- like an essay that brings ideas and lessons together and all the ideas mentioned are proportional to each other and not out of place
3) insight- it all lead to a deeper insight or realization than one could find in any religious book
The best off-hand example of this is this talk by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzR9314Yz0Y

Avaaz: Voice is to the Khutba what the Buraq is to the Miraj.

Pace: The most effective speakers will modulate the pace of their talk allowing for adequate comprehension by the listeners. Much like driving a car, if one drives at the same speed, it is easy to doze off but modulating speed keeps one alert and moving. I don’t know if this is intentional but speakers will speed up, which makes the listener pay closer attention, and then they will slow down well below their normal pace so that the listeners listen closely. This can be connected to evoking the emotions of pity and fear, as Aristotle suggest in his Poetics but can build intimacy. If one rushes through a talk then it distances the audience, but if one is slower then it can make the listeners feel like they are having a special moment. Hamza Yusuf does this with great effect. Watching or listening to a talk at 1.5-2x the normal speed can show one where pace may need to improve pace.

Perfecting Clutch Ideas/References: The speaker often has “clutch” ideas/hadith or Quranic reference that they will repeat off-hand in most of their talks through sheer force of habit. These will form their ‘spiritual signature’ to the audience and tell them what their ethos is. What they may not realize is how they came to be expressing those clutch references with people. What one reads is not necessarily what one can easily cite off unless it was personal or you were very deeply attached to it.

Memorizing quotes: What one writes out by hand, memorizes actively and mentions in conversations with individuals is what one can easily mention off-hand in a bayaan. Mentioning a hadith for the first time in a bayaan is not as easy as mentioning it in a third or fourth or 20th talk. A good way to be successful at this is to keep a small “common-place book” one can carry easily, in which one records quotations, memorizes them in their spare time and use them in conversation. Often what is most personal is what manifests most clearly in public speeches.

Intimacy: When a speaker says, ‘I’ll share a personal story’ that brings a lot of closeness to the speaker and the topic they are discussing, it feels special and one to one. If the story is told in a slanted way, this can however, discredit the speaker to the listeners, though it some subjectivity is understandable and appreciable. What is key here is teaching Islam from a first-person perspective, first-hand and not from a third-person, externalized perspective divorced from real-world experience.

Flow: Interruptions and pauses can hiccup the digestion and absorption of a speech. The smoothness and clarity of a speech can make a great effect on comprehension. Again, watching or listening to a talk at 1.5-2x the normal speed can provide some perspective on this.

Secondary Observations:

Problematizing: A key pattern one notices in many speeches is the tendency of speakers to problematize and list problems like a laundry list at length. This makes one feel powerless and it dis-empowers one. It makes for great talking points, but it can be a waste when you realize the speaker has the solution to these problems, a very practical solution, and yet doesn’t get around to sharing it. Problematizing also has negative effects on the mental health of Muslims causing paranoia and feelings of helplessness, and I have seen mentally sick brothers whose speech mimics those of many ulema and one can tell how these issues have bore heavily on their minds until they cracked.

Internet and Memory: Reading on the Internet can stretch the mind too far. Most reading online is shallow, it is broad in its diversity but superficial it is not as deep as one would find in a book. One recalls they read something about this or that, but never the details. Our memory falters and the mind is stretched so far that we find it hard to remember things; it feels like everything is falling out. Not only that, but things we could easily recall before become harder to recall in the moment. This is a common experience and I think perhaps in the future someone will coin the term ‘cognitive metabolism’ to understand this. Learning about a topic deeply, rather than just on the Internet, will make a big difference in memory recall about that subject.

Tashaduq/Qatwil: Many of these patterns in speech-making have been noted before. Tashadduq is an overblown elocution where words are over-enunciated by the speaker. This is connected to a later point in over-simplifying speeches mentioned below. Qatwil is when speeches lack any substance and are full of fluff or mere rhetoric and empty speech. You may sense this when you feel like the speaker just wants to get to the end of the speech or is talking at length about the talk he is about to give, but ironically never gets to. We ask Allah to protect us from both of these, ameen.

Duas used: You can tell a great deal about the speaker/shaykh just by the duas they use in the start, like their tariqa or place of training for example, and its the sincerity and honour given to the duas in the start of the khutba that will reflect on the wisdom of that speaker and how practical they are.

Adab in the speech is also overlooked. Abdallah Adhami always mentions before citing a hadith, “We are honoured by His Grace subhana wa ta’ala to read in the Musnad of…” and this elevates whatever he is speaking about.

Simplicity and Over-simplifying: Simplicity is good for the average Muslim. Too much simplicity is however demeaning and patronizing. After a while, one feels like they are watching Sesame Street or Treehouse TV (a kids TV channel). Complexity and detail especially in discussing a contemporary issue will make a Muslim proud of their religion and provide them with a tool in dealing with our information-based society. This requires discretion: a general khutba can be simple, but with some details but when it comes to a class there should be no hesitation in giving details and complexity especially if students are putting in their time and effort to learn. Too much simplicity to students of knowledge can negatively affect their motivation.

Tangents: Too many tangents can get confusing and make you wonder why you are wasting your time listening to these weird tangents. Tangents can be good depending on the speaker. The more educated and learned the speaker, then their tangents will provide valuable context. But even then, if you have a great topic and instead spend it on tangents, that can really be annoying. There is an amana in giving a talk and if I buy an Islamic lecture and instead get a lecture full of jokes then that can be argued to be fraud.

Personal favorite topics: The best topics for a religious talk are seerah and contemporary issues and problems. Seerah contains fiqh, tafsir, biographies, history, hadith and wisdoms that listeners can quickly apply. Contemporary issues are the best because they are pertinent, will grab everyone’s attention.

Repetition: Repetition is a blessing but can be a trap. It is a blessing because you come to memorize a hadith, it is a blessing because then it become routine, but it may lose its effect if one doesn’t remain in contemplation. Repetition can be a trap because it can lead to a limiting of the discourse, a drawing of boundaries and limits that no one can pass.

Q&A: Question and Answers are the test of a real scholar. It requires a lot of courage to face questions on the spot. If scholars dodge questions or go around them, or simply aren’t ready to answer them on the spot, this is understandable since early Muslims would often simply say “I don’t know,” but it goes without saying that this can also negatively affect credibility. Nonetheless, sometimes a simple response is better than one that can confuse people. Often with questions, the speaker will introduce new material causing many questions to arise to help clarify or solidify an understanding; in this case, the answers precede the questions and merely require re-stating.

Teacher/Student Psychology: If a teacher rants on what they are angry about, then they tacitly teach students to rant on what they are annoyed about. This can lead to a complete intolerance of all Muslims and Islam and a picky and pretentious snobbery. This is complicated when the angry teachers become angry that their  students are angry…they get offended, like, “How dare you? Who are you to rant? Only I may rant!” This is what I suspect shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller speaks about teachers transmitting their haal (for better or worse) to their students and is why it is sometimes better to simply stick to simple talks.

Styles can vary largely, however in the West Muslims have taken a very cool-guy, almost fraternizing attitude towards Islamic speeches. This is a relaxed talk that helps listeners be comfortable with whom they are listening to. The downside can be it downplays the significance of lofty and precious lessons. The style of bayaan that is disappearing is the dramatic style that one finds in the writings of Imam al-Ghazali or the speeches of Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (rahimullah). These are full of exclamation points and points of dramatic emphasis, perhaps better suited to the Arabic language than the English language. These should not be confused with angry speeches. The benefit of these types of speeches are they are magnificent, raise the esteem of the speaker and the one listening and give izzah to the religion. The best modern day example of this is Habib Umar’s lectures and their usage of poetic meter and a hybrid of this dramatic style and the cool-guy style can be found in Ibrahim Osi-Efa’s speeches.

Closing considerations:

These points are not for ones cerebral intellectual stimulation. Reading the above points, one may prefer a secular speaker or a philosopher or a good book. But these are just patterns and tendencies that highlight some room for improvement. The goal is not to make one feel special for hearing a very sophisticated discourse, often I find many feel proud that they only listen to Abdal Hakim Murad which is sad since many other messages are worth listening too and absorbing.  The goal of Islamic speeches is for religious tarbiya, spiritual transformation and the alchemy of the soul.

For the teacher and the seeker: How is someone with knowledge? How is someone by knowledge? How is someone around knowledge? How does someone realize knowledge? How does someone use knowledge? Ma’iya with knowledge – is there awe around books, preparation, an exploring mindset, and how are they with knowledge, is there with-ness with knowledge to one’s experience? And is that with-ness lofty? How do they interact and experience knowledge and make others experience knowledge? Is there ilm and amal? 

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | January 8, 2013

INFOGRAPHIC: Closing the Gender Wage Gap

The good folks at LearnStuff.com (Kayla Evans) contacted me about this excellent Infographic they have produced about the gender wage gap. I blogged about this little known fact a while back: Not many are aware that despite feminism and women’s rights movements, women in the West are NOT paid the same as men for the same amount of work. Conversely, in many Muslim countries working women are paid the same amount as men for the same amount of work, since this is an Islamic right for the past 1400 years.

Enjoy the infographic!

Because the Qur’an is the Criterion (al-Furqan).

There are many more proofs one can use, but I found these to suffice especially since its Qur’anic Tafsir from the words of Sahabas. They are not so well-known so do share away!

quranic proofs3a

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 10, 2012

Islamic Architecture in Secular American Buildings

A few weeks ago Zaytuna College had a presentation they aired online by Phil Pasquini on his new book “Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.” This was a very fascinating talk but unfortunately, not many tuned in because of the American presidential debates. Well, I took some notes on that talk and am going to share some examples of Islamic architecture in America that Phil mentioned in his talk. Phil made the point he felt a book like this was needed in order to fight Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims and Arabs in America and to show Islam is woven into the fabric of America in ways most don’t even fathom.

Most of these buildings hail from a style of architecture called “Moorish revival architecture” influenced largely by architecture in Spain or what was once Andalusia. Many of these buildings are used by Shriners and other fraternities who would call them temples or mosques though their members were not Muslim. Keep in mind these are NOT Muslim buildings, but used for secular purposes from the very first day they were built.

I have put little descriptions about the buildings, so scroll down slowly. :)

Below are photos of Philadelphia Lulu Temple

Below is Angeles Abbey Memorial Park cemetery in Compton, California

Below is Helena Civic Center in Montana was formerly Algerian Shriner temple

Milwaukee Tripoli’s Temple below is supposed to resemble the Taj Mahal. Members play pool, inside and often Muslims come and ask to pray in here.

Madina Temple in Chicago below which is now a Bloomingdales Shopping Center

Alcazar Theatre below in San Francisco is now used as a parking garage.

Below is Alhambra Theatre in San Francisco

Lincoln Theatre in Los Angeles

New York Mecca Temple below

Below is Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” museum in Grand Prairie, Texas

Madina Wasal Army base where American troops train in a simulated Middle Eastern environment

Below is Almas Temple in Washington, DC. Inside is a picture of former American president J Edgar Hoover wearing a tarboush cap.

Tampa Bay Hotel below

Metaire Lake Lawn Cemetery Islamic architecture tomb in New Orleans, LA.

Metaire Lake Lawn Cemetery

Fabulous Fox theatre in Atlanta, Georgia

You would think you are in the Middle East, but nope, this is all contemporary United States of America. There are many more examples of this in the United States and even in some European countries. I have only shared a few. Below are some more links for those who wish to research this further.

More examples from Phil Pasquini’s new Book

Some Very Stunning High Quality Flickr Images of Moorish Revival Architecture

Moorish Movie theaters

Moorish Revival Architecture – Wikipedia

Masonic temples

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | September 20, 2012

Jumuah Checklist

Bismillah

I put this checklist together for myself but also for others. I find there are so many things to remember, so many variables in making the most of Jumuah that I forget them all. So I figured a checklist would be helpful.

I avoided citing daleel (proofs) but you can look these items up yourself or comment below about them. Its probably not likely for you to fulfill all of these, especially if you are busy with school/work, but try and complete at least 50-60% and slowly add more.

Special thanks to Sidi Suleiman alMusilm for his help.

Download here

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | August 21, 2012

Blessed Days come with Trials

The righteous have found various ways to determine when special blessed days in the Islamic calendar occur.* Often these methods are mathematical in nature probably owing to the numerological significance of the Arabic alphabet or astronomical in nature owing to astronomy’s importance in the Qur’an. I too have come across a method of my own which is that on these blessed days one will encounter new trials or difficulties that are more difficult than what you are used to.

The basis for my conclusion is a story of one of the awliya, where he was shown how in one year Allah rejected the Hajj of every pilgrim. But Allah accepted them by virtue of a man that gave up his life savings for making Hajj to a poor lady to care for her children. Though the man didn’t make Hajj, his Hajj was accepted and the wali was told to inform the man that Allah had accepted from him. Hajj is about sacrifice especially the sacrifice of Ibrahim alayhi salam, and so the man’s actions were perhaps closer to the spirit of Hajj than those of other pilgrims. From this I understood, the plain worship may not be what Allah wants from you, but He may send something different to try you upon special occasions, so be prepared.

This may or may not be completely true for everybody but in my experience it certainly was. The 15th of Shaban is a day one should fast upon, but I decided not to fast this day but ended up going hungry at a dinner party (only snacks were served) which tried my patience since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. On Laylatul Bara of Rajab, my grandfather passed away, may Allah show him mercy. On Laylatul Qadr last week (23rd of Ramadan for those who noticed how the sun rose the following morning without rays as indicated in hadith) I prayed only part of the night and fell asleep early due to the trial of praying near an exceptionally comfortable mattress (sleep on an uncomfortable bed as often as you can). On the night of Eid, a night wherein duas are answered and in which prayer is important, I again found myself too tired and exhausted though I usually have little trouble praying a portion of the night.

These may seem like small problems, but they are big in relation to how they distract one away from the meritorious rewards of these occasions. I can’t necessarily blame it on shaytan, but perhaps its my nafs pushing me away, that if I were to achieve the full success of these occasions, I would then as a result become harder on my nafs, or perhaps its simply a secret of Divine decree, that the reward is great because it is more difficult to worship at that time.

Allah knows best.

See also:

Midmonth Ajeebness

*As-Sufuri said (may Allah have mercy on him):

“I saw it written with my father’s hand from Shaykh Abul-Hasan Ash-Shadhili: “Since I reached puberty I never missed seeing Laylatul-Qadr. If the first day of Ramadan is a Sunday, it falls on the 29th; if it is a Monday, it falls on the 21st; if it is a Tuesday, it falls on the 27th; if it is a Wednesday, it falls on the 29th like Sunday; if it is a Thursday, it falls on the 25th; if it is a Friday, it falls on the 27th like Tuesday; if it is a Saturday, it falls on the 23rd, and Allah knows best.”

(Nuzhat Al-Majalis Wa Munkhatab An-Nafa’is” by Al-‘Allama Ash-Shaykh ‘Abdur Rahman As-Sufuri Ash-Shafi’i)

While working on my commentary of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s Contentions, I corresponded with the noble shaykh and he shared some of his own commentary on the more difficult ones that I struggled in commenting on or thought perhaps…there was more to their meaning than the obvious. It was surprising to learn that even he forgot what some of them meant…and also great to finally know what some of the more ambiguous contentions meant. I meant to post it earlier on, but alas, forgot.

Here is his commentary verbatim, reproduced by his permission.

82.       He did not say: ‘Guide us to the gay path.’ (happy/joy)

He said ‘Straight path’.

3.     Some drink deeply at the Fountain of Life; others merely gargle.

The Fountain of Life ‘ab-i hayat’ is dhikr, which saves us from spiritual death. Dhikr should be internalised and enter the heart, not simply played with inside the mouth.

86.       Rigour of Moses, Ahmad’s mercy,
Beauty of Jesus, heralds all.
In Adam’s heirs no controversy,
Call for change, don’t change the call!

This is clear, surely?

67.       The world’s texture is as rich as it is because of what you are called to be.

Humans can instantiate the divine names, which were taught to Adam. The perfect human being instantiates them perfectly. The cosmos represents a field of concatenation of the Names; and its richness, despite their only partial manifestation in the non-human realm, points towards the potential of man as ‘al-kawn al-jami’, when he is fully realised.

93. To attribute the maqam of da‘wa to one’s self is to be open to the Divine ruse.

Qur’an: ‘You do not guide whom you wish, but Allah guides whomsoever He will.’

94. Wonder is the first passion.

And the Qur’an offers creation as a field of signs.

53.       The alternative to interiority is inferiority; but the alternative to the internal is not the infernal.

We may remain only exoterists, which is inferior to full conformity to the Sunna; however God’s generosity ensures that even exoterists are candidates for salvation.

69.       Ours is the Bezm-i Rindan; our leader is al-Khidr!

The bezm-i rindan is the party of wild rioters and topers, made outrageous by their obedience to the Divine command, and their love of Creator and creation. al-Khidr is the leader of those who appear antinomian, but are in reality the fullest executors of the sacred Law.

39.    No meditation without mediation. No self without the Zulf.

‘Vision cannot attain Him’. We cannot ponder the imponderable. There must be an intermediate degree in which infinite and finite interact. In Islam that is primarily the Holy Qur’an. The zulf is the tresses of the divine Beloved. In Islamic poetry the tresses veil Her face, but cannot be condemned because they are of her. That is the nature of dunya. It veils God but is His creation and array of perfect signs. Without dunya, in which we exist, there can be no human selfhood, since human selfhood is neither part of matter, nor of the divine.

81.    The body exists that we might grow wings.

This is clear enough. A discarnate spirit would not possess faculties for engagement with the world, or a full sense of delineated self. It could not be moral. ‘It is through the physical that we know the spiritual’, according to the Baal Shem Tov.

28. Theodicy? In divinis, cause is not anterior to effect.

From the Divine perspective, the future is known; God is not subject to time. Hence to ask why He causes a particular misfortune is an ignorant anthropomorphism: ‘If I were God, I would not act thus!’ His decree is not analogous to human decrees; hence moral assessment of the divine is not conventionally coherent.

65.   The doctrine of ‘ ada demands the existence of a defensible secular explanation of nature. Such an explanation thus becomes a mercy. Without it, there is only anomie and alienation.

Ada is God’s custom, sometimes known as Sunnat Allah. It refers to the normal sequence of ‘cause and effect’ –  a sword causes a wound. The reality is that God Alone is the efficient cause. Hence miracles are possible; and in a sense everything is equally a miracle, since He is not bound by ‘physical laws’. Still, His custom creates the impression that causality is real, rather as quantum mechanics denies natural causality, but produces a universe in which its appearance is solid. Without the ‘user-interface’ of an apparently real causality, our minds cannot operate. Hence it is a mercy.

62.           The monoculture’s son is Zahid; you are the Rind. But among the Zahids of Islam, where are the Rindan?

Zahid is he who focuses on forms and ignores Love. Rind is intoxicated by the Real, and is hence the object of conventional reprobation. Muslims are called to be the Rindan of this lawbound and dry age. But among religious Muslims, where is traditional rindi behaviour to be found these days?

32.           The medievals, seeing the colour of our clothes, would call us all atheists.

Religious cultures usually favour bright colours, since they are optimistic. Modernity likes grey and black, in architecture, transport, and clothes. It believes that death is the true reality and normality of the world.

Imamology is a theodicy because it assumes the categoric novelty of Islam.

‘You are not an innovator among the Messengers’. Revelation does not indicate that earlier Prophets were followed by infallible imams. Hence on the Shii view Islam is categorically novel. Hence on its view earlier dispensations were categorically inferior. But the Qur’an denies this.

25.           Twelvism: dhawban al-hasha li’ttila’ al-Molla.

‘The melting of the guts due to the Mullah’s scrutinity’, not ‘al-Mawla’s [the Lord’s] scrunity’, as in the Sufi adage. Imamology leads to hierarchy, and hierarchy leads to static exoteric control of believers.

56.            Modernity’s undoing: the person is only a mask. To this there are only two

replies.

Latin ‘persona’ = ‘mask’. Personality, in the religious view, masks the human essence. On the secular view, there is no essence; we are only our conscious minds.

2.         Maimonides made the Mishnah out of the Talmud; Sayyid Sabiq made a Talmud out of the Mishnah.

Maimonides codified Jewish law, following the example of the fiqh manuals.  Sayyid Sabiq’s book Fiqh al-Sunna rejects madhhab rulings and plunges the reader into a hevruta-type sea of questions.

48.  Optimism: the false Salafism is pollarding.

False Salafi reformers claim to lop off the branches to return to what is authentic, in the hope (‘optimism’) that like pollarding, this will reinforce the tree and allow a useful crop.

87.           In the restaurant of life, the false Salafi can do no more than eat the menu.

The fiqh and all outward religious discourse indicate, but do not constitute, Islam.

81.           The cross and the décolletage: in hoc signo vinces.

The West combines Christianity with sexual licence: a paradox which is nonetheless very effective in ruling the world.

75            Edom: In terms of the Parousia, there have been too many Years of Grace.

Why wait so long for the Second Coming? What is the point of a 2000 year interregnum? Paul thought Jesus was coming again in his lifetime. But in terms of salvation history, 2000 years is not enough: from the Prophetic perspective, all history is open to grace, BC as well as AD. A million years of human waiting was far too long.

64.  Mind the Bible with your P’s and Q’s.

P is the Priestly text of Genesis, identified by the higher criticism as a key to understanding the composition and purpose of the text. Q is Quelle, identified as the original gospel text which was the source of the synoptic gospels. In other words, this contention is about tahrif.

92 What has the Christian to do with his toes?

He has no relationship with them, since he has no fiqh. For him, body is not integrated into worship.

30. The Abrahamic wandering, for us, but not for Levinas, is to polis, toumm al-Qura. It was Islam, not Judaism, which united Abraham and Odysseus.

Levinas has Abraham as the imam of postmodernism, since he does not get anywhere, unlike Odysseus (the West) who returns home and hence brings closure. Islam has Abraham as culminating in the Mother of Cities. The Ka’ba is resolution; nomadism is eternal exile and indeterminacy.

62.           Ishmael is Bab-i Yar; Edom is Babi Yar. (‘Perhaps you may return.’)

Bab-i Yar – ‘Gate of the Friend’. Islam’s historic role as protector of the Jews. When they threw their lot in with Edom (Christendom; the West), they ended up at Babi Yar, notorious site of an SS massacre in the Ukraine. Have they realized that they have made a bad exchange?

48. Man ankara Ankara faqad ankara al-ankara.

‘Whoever dislikes Ankara has disliked what is most disliked’

27.           Kemalism: the rind-i genç became the röntgenci. (peeping tom?)

rind-i genç (bad Ottoman for young scandalous lover of God); now no longer a contemplator of divine beauty in the shahid, but a low voyeur.

22.           Which of our cities is still ‘alem-penah?

Alem-penah – ‘refuge of the world’, historic title of Istanbul, home to all asylum-seekers.

58.  Secularity: Islam has got the bends. Islam: we are suffering from oxygen deficiency.

Secularity: Islam is misbehaving because it is going up (‘progressing’) too quickly. Islam: the West is taking us up into the upper atmosphere where there is nothing to breathe. Progress or change seen from two perspectives.

61.           Leviticus, not Deuteronomy, makes the Land female, and truly welcoming. (The Eretz is polyandrous, or she is a desert.)

The Land is a bride, to both Ishmael and Isaac. If she picks only one, then she will be devastated by conflict.

41.  One turbe for both the duarum turbarum.

The Prophetic turbe in Madina is for both men and jinn (duarum turbarum = thaqalayn in Ethe’s Latin version of the Burda).

7.             The moon is always at its best. Miss Hayd is not worse than Dr Jekyll.

Hayd = menstruation. Women do not degenerate when under the monthly lunar influence; they simply change from mode to mode.

91.           Akhbaris and Usulis: has the Pharisee claimed al-Farisi, and the Sadducee al-Sadiq?

The 2 sects of 12er Shiism. One is ‘pharisaic’ – the ‘separated ones’, scripture-oriented, often supported by the poor (hence Salman al-Farisi); the other is ‘sadducee’ – more rationalistic, esoteric, genetically elitist, priestly, hence Ja’far al-Sadiq.

39.            Farsi literature : tashyi‘-i isharat tashyi‘-i janazat bud.

‘The Shi’itisation of poetic language was a funeral procession’. Because when Iran was converted to Shiism by the Safavids, great poetry stopped.

72.           Cumhuriyet is possible; cumözgürlük is not.

If hurriyet (the Arabic word for Freedom) is inside a republican idea, there can be some coherence to the idea of civic virtue; if özgürlük (the non-Islamic neo-Turkish word for freedom) is inside it, it will collapse due to the intellectual and moral poverty of ethnic nationalism.

43.           The Ma‘had’s muqarrar: Mere tamrin means moronisation.

Modern lower institutes of Islamic learning employ manuals which are neither traditional texts nor exercises in promoting understanding.

37.           A miss is as good as a smile.

Seeing a beautiful woman brings warmth to the heart.

68.  Gender: the equator is only equitable if we include the sea. (Ave maris stella!)

‘Hail Star of the Sea’ – Jerome happily got this wrong: it should be ‘Maris Stilla’ – Drop of the Sea. If the sea indicates the feminine (fluid, fertile, mobile, mysterious), while the male is land, then the equator only allows a proper balance between the genders if we take both hemispheres into account.

61. Islam is the religion of women because Madina had no place for Oedipus.

Quite right. Freud’s founding myths are absent from the Sira.

21.  Maidens! Mey’den meydanlar medeniyyet’tir!

‘Spiritual dhikr spaces derived from intoxication comprise civilisation’. Without this principle polis is androcentric.

23.   The gender gap is a minor third.

It can’t be bisected harmoniously. The harmonious balance between men and women only exists if in each area of life there is a preponderance in favour of one or the other.

98. New Men without the numen neglect the marital and the martial.

Modern men, lacking the sacred, are poor lovers and warriors.

Terms:

Liber Asian   ‘The Asian Book’ – the Qur’an – pun on ‘liberation’

Manu Mission  referring to the Laws of Manu, hence Hinduism, pun on ‘manumission’

Yawning Gulf ‘The Arabian Gulf’ – never filled with enough, but fatigued nonetheless.

Saga City  Madina, the city of the Sira. Pun on ‘sagacity’

Posted by: Dawud Israel | January 13, 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: Understanding Bid’a

Special thanks to Br. Shaik Abdul Khafid for the graphic work.

I’ve always found bid’a to be one of those misunderstood topics in Islam- if understood, its usually in a patchwork or piecemeal format, so I figured an infographic was needed to provide the big picture. Infographics is an underutilized idea in Islamic education but its very easy to do and inshallah I plan to make a few more of these infographics.

Bid’a is a discursive concept and even the Sahabas debated on certain bid’a. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad has said, “Islam is the only religion in the world that has the concept of bid’a,” (and its subcategories of praiseworthy bid’a and blameworthy bid’a), to regulate Islam and keep it healthy and strong, free of superstition and ignorance, while also allowing it to adapt reflexively and dynamically when a real need arises. Its as I’ve said before regarding bid’a: sometimes things must change in order to remain the same.

The source for this project was Sunna Notes by GF Haddad, from which I took select quotations. Its a very lengthy book full of quotations, and also deals with contemporary issues like feminism, Progressives and Quran-only Muslims. If you have read GF Haddad before, you know he is a fantastic writer, but his tone is very scathing (interestingly, in his videos he is extremely soft spoken) so I tried to avoid his harsh tone in this project.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Bid’a Venn diagram

Understanding Bid’a in Islam Flow chart

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 10, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Family and Gender

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

EDIT: This is the last post for Abdal Hakim Murad Week (or 2 weeks). I had a few more posts planned but ran short on time. I will hopefully be revisiting those in a few weeks from now, as well as addressing the 300 or so Contentions that remain unfinished. I hope it was enjoyable, I definitely gained a lot spiritually and intellectually from it.

Depending on who you ask this section is the most important or the second most important section after the Secular ideologies section in the commentary since they are vital to the future of Islam. I have tried to comment to the best of my ability here, but I am afraid that I have misinterpreted and made errors on this sensitive subject matter and I fear in the process have made the same errors Muslim patriarchal cultures have made in the past. Nonetheless, like many other sections in the commentary, I will be reviewing and adding more Contentions to this section.

I have tried to properly contextualize the place of women in Islam with minimal cultural influences and critiquing the portrayal of women and men in Western society. If we simply stick to platitudes rather than actually understanding the complicated inter-relationship between men, women, God and society then we risk endangering our families. Abdal Hakim Murad shows us how to extract lessons from Islamic history and tradition to understand the place of women and men in Islam. In this way he empowers Muslim men and women to take control over the direction of our communities and families so that we do not fall prey to the dictates of a secular liberalist discourse. But we can take as much or as little as we wish from the conversation depending on the intention (niyya) we bring to it.

Women of Islam

31. Hagar, that ‘root out of a dry ground’, the most fertile woman in history.
-AHM may be referring to Hagar who has spiritually mothered millions of Muslims or because she was the mother of Ishmael and Abraham chose her because of her fertility over Sarah

32. Hagar is the matriarch of liberation because, unlike Sarah, she fends for herself.
-She is not protected by Abraham, but fends for herself and beseeches God and in that way is exemplary for Muslim women

58. The Tawaf is about Abraham, the Sa‘y is about Hagar. Only in Islam is a woman the initiator of a form of worship.
-Going in between Mt. Safa and Marwah on Hajj is in commemoration of Hajar, and in other religions, all the acts of worship are prescribed or related to men

54. The Mothers of the Believers: the most believable women in History.
-We believe in them, their words and explanations as an article of our faith but also that nothing needed to be done to make the early Muslims believe in the Mothers of the Believers and they did not question them or put them down because of their being women

24. To whom are the Mothers of Believers entrusted, after his death? Not to John, but to themselves.
-The Mothers of the Believers are not entrusted to John like Mary in Christian tradition was, but they are independent and sanctified by their relationship to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam)

72. Misogynist? Hafsa held the future of the Book in her hands; A’isha held the Sunna.
-Hafsa, the daughter of Umar was reading the Qur’an from a text of it, while much of the Sunna was taken from Aisha and the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) legitimized taking one’s religion from ‘this fair lady’ (i.e. Aisha)

62. Women are native to Paradise: is this not the most underestimated disclosure of the Book?
-The houris are from Paradise and for some reason Muslims overlook this both in their spirituality and theology

60. Layla: the chador of God on earth.
-Layla is a metaphor for God that denotes the ‘feminine’, maternal, nurturing and merciful aspects of God that are veiled in the unknown and whose beauty dazzles the lover
-Layla means night which conceals us like a chador veils woman

Women/Islamic metaphysics
-AHM says in one of his essays, ‘Naming phenomena with the gender-specific Arabic of revelations is not convention but a matter of principle, not simple biology but metaphysics’

21. Woman is between khawf and raja.
-The state of a woman is always between fear and hope, or in modern terms, anxiety and joy

81 The verse of women: ‘And they prefer others to themselves, though theirs be the greater need.’ (59:9)
-This verse is to describe the Ansar, but also appropriately describes women in their selflessness, self-sacrifice and compassion

9. Are women ambiguous? It is the muhkamat which are the Mother of the Book.
-The muhkamat and the muhtashabihat, the clear and ambiguous verses are being compared and AHM is saying, that no, women are not ambiguous just as the commands are not ambiguous

5. Religion without eros is the anticipation of eternal death.
-Better explained by ‘98. Celibacy is an anticipation of hell, for there is no eros there.
-There is no will to live in hell and no sexuality’ and ‘11. Unless there is Paradise, eros is a trick.’ and also ‘71. No modesty, no sensuality. No sensuality, no knowledge of God.’
-This has not just to do with sexuality but with emotions and loneliness

54 Heaven/Earth cannot be a same-sex relationship.
-Heaven and Earth respectively reflect beauty and majesty, jamal and jalal, as the feminine represents jamal and the male represents jalal
-The majestic makes the beautiful fertile but if it were otherwise then there be only jamal or only jalal
-This is related to the Contention, ’76. Homosexualism insults women by equating sterility with fertility.’
-AHM says elsewhere that, ‘Homosexualism is against Darwin because it is natures technique of population control and eliminating hormone pollution’


Christian/Muslim women

59. The femininity of the crescent, the masculinity of the cross. (Max Ernst, Men shall know nothing of this.)
-AHM says in one of his essays, ‘One thinks here of Christian bridal mysticism, but in reverse. St Teresa of Avila appears to use sensual images to convey her union with Christ. But again, Christ, as God the Son, is male. In Islamic mysticism, the divine beloved is ‘female.’’

Marriage
-‘O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.’ (Qur’an, 63:9)
-‘It is not your wealth nor your sons, that will bring you nearer to Us in degree: but only those who believe and work righteousness – these are the ones for whom there is a multiplied Reward for their deeds, while secure they (reside) in the dwellings on high!’ (Qur’an 34:37)

99. Marriage: pay and display? Or the primacy of privacy?
-Is marriage about status anxiety and showing off beauty to others or to give privacy a priority

66. If Eve is not of Adam, marriage is mere cohabitation.
-If Eve is separate from Adam, not being made from the rib of Adam, then her living with him is arbitrary, it is not a coming together and there is no virtue in it over 2 men cohabiting

35. Careless talk costs wives.
-What men say can damage their marriages, and this has a great deal to do with the wisdom behind prohibitions of backbiting

5. Spouses are traditional in order to be saved by gratitude. Spouses are modern in order to be saved by themselves.
-Related to the Contention, ‘49. Each gender was created only that the other might give thanks.’
-The reference to being modern may refer to the high incidence of divorce and how people are prepared for divorce before they go into marriage and have an individualistic attitude where they put their own personal fulfillment and rights before the rights of the family
-AHM describes the origin of many of the family problems in the West, as ‘bowing at the idol of personal freedom we all shout for our rights and chafe under our duties’
-A relevant word is autolatry which is the worship of the self

97. True marriage happens when there is true perception of beauty. True perception of beauty happens when there is true religion.
-Beauty in terms of spiritual beauty, that is, the beauty of ihsan, ‘doing the beautiful acts’

29. Marriage is not to give you what you want, it is to make you what you know you should be.
-Marriage is an assistance in the spiritual journey and as the hadith says, ‘Half the religion’ so it is not supposed to be a comforting only, but also a means by which we are spiritually elevated and uplifted

64. A man who would marry a feminist is not worth obeying.
-He has very little self-respect, that even she would not respect him

82. Maidens! If he obeys his ego, you should be a feminist.
-If a man is following his ego and pride, then she should be a feminist and humble him

60. The wife’s vulnerability is not the husband’s strength.
-Better explained in the Contention, ‘18. His strength is worldly; hers is unworldly; thus in the world he thinks that he prevails.’

23. Love your beloved better to love the Beloved. Love the Beloved and you will better love your beloved.
-Loving your spouse will help you come closer to God, but loving God will help you love your spouse

25. Do not be proud if she fears you, for she may also fear a rat.
-But if she loves you, it will be more than the love of anyone or anything else, in a way that is unique to him

Family life
-AHM refers to the line between private desires and public spaces and that both husband and wife must put the rights of the family over the rights of the individual

22. Her home is her zawiya; but khidma must be only the first of her degrees.
-There are a Number of acts of worship in a zawiya, such as recitation of Qur’an, dhikr and teaching which are more important than service and this applies to women in the home, where their are many better acts of worship for her besides maintenance of the home

2. Women are either refuges or refugees.
-’Wives of the state’ is a phrase AHM uses in one of his essays

53. Putting religion before family is impossible.
-‘kana fi mehnati ahlihi – The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was always helping in his home doing all sorts of menial jobs like brooming

46. Nestmaking is to be a mutual flattery.
-Creating warmth in the home requires love from both men and women, complimenting and praising each other and making the other feel special
-AHM may be referring to praising your spouse’s choice of taste in how the home is decorated and adorned

39. ‘Prayer was instituted to satisfy woman’s desire for asking.’ (British Muslim proverb.)
-For those who won’t understand it, this one is a joke

Lifetime/Family
23. Life is vocation, not vacation.
-Its a calling, not necessarily something you enjoy all the time but something with a vision that is greater than the immediate issues we may face

49. Your career should be like prayer in congregation: if a space opens before you, step into it.
-We take it as a gift from God that arrives unannounced surprising us

1. Engage only in such leisure pursuits as may be offered to God
-As the Qur’an says, only in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest and so AHM may be referring to the ‘leisure’ and relaxation one gets from dhikr

8. Adulthood is the choice of finitude before the Infinite.
-We choose to act on the finite inlight of the Infinite
-Compare this to how AHM says in another Contention that, the Christian idea of Incarnation is the finite containing the Infinite

12. Taklif is the only ennoblement.
-The age of discernment or puberty in Islamic fiqh texts when a child becomes legally responsible for prayer and observance of the Shariah
-In most cultures for most of history teenage years never existed, transition was swiftly from childhood to adulthood and this gave youth honour and dignity, since they were respected as adults earlier on

59. If you would be young in eternity, emulate maturity while you are still young.
-Youth is a time of immense temptation and trials but if a youth is mature then Allah will grant Him a special mercy and shade him/her on the Day when there will be no shade but his

32. The young must learn to be forgiving; the old must relearn zeal.
-Muslim youth resent the apathy and complacency with the status quo

11. Childhood has been electrocuted.
-From television, video games, cell phones, MP3 players and computers childhood is now entrenched in technology and powered by electricity

46. Ask your grandparents of their grandparents, lest you become ‘forgotten and forgetting.’
-Learning about your ancestors as a family tradition will connect you to your past and in the future your children will also remember you and preserve Islam in the family

91. Be the heart of your family by having your family in your heart.
-The family member that is always thinking of their family is at the heart of family warmth

Maternity
-AHM says that ‘houses become dormitories rather than homes when women work,’ so there is a lack of house warmth so children have little attachment to parents and home

82. ‘If European education is the death of maternity / Then death is its fruit for the human race.’ (Iqbal)
-The death of maternity is the death of the future

58. Women! If children are not your highest priority, then do not have children at all.
-AHM also says that an ‘increased income and work pleasure means an increase in fatigue and disputes, and often women suffer most because of overlapping function’

80. Do not juggle with babies.
-Women often say that they have to ‘juggle’ their careers and home life but this is insulting to the immense significance and meaning of bringing a child into the world

Polygamy
84. Only the very bad or the very good are polygamists.
-Some of the Prophets practiced polygamy and dealt justly with each wife but also there is an element of greed in the pre-Islamic practice of ‘collecting’ wives, so Islam limited it to 4, and the Qur’an mentions your families are a test for you

47. He shows the virtue of every virtuous marriage.
-The Prophets many marriage validated many different types of marriages and demonatrated how to deal with a whole gamet of marital issues and scenarios: with an older wife, with a younger wife, with spousal jealousy and with domestic arguments
-Compare this to Jesus’ bachelorhood and how Christians then came to only see virtue in celibacy

65. Marry them both – but only if you wish God to judge you for your fairness.
-All our decisions will be evaluated and judged by Allah and polygamy is no light decision and a man should understand God will judge him based on how hetreats his wives and their children and relatives
-In that sense it is a gamble unless one is exceptionally just and loving and righteous, and even then the temperments of the women and their idiosyncrasies must be accounted for

53. We prefer bigamy to duplicity.
-Islam doesn’t leave the problem of multiple spouses neglected but makes an allowance for the possibility and says that multiple wives is better than deception or having children out of wedlock, since in polygamy there is the weight of responsibility

49. An unfortunate pir of Lahore
Had four different mothers-in-law.
They talked in rotation
In English and Asian
Until he ran out of the door.

Male/Female
27. Women are not difficult; but they are difficult to understand.
-Women are not stubborn, but they require careful study to understand, where ‘no’ means ‘know’ or a host of other double meanings
-Some people actually note down these things in a chart that they use to keep track of her or his personal idiosyncrasies and moods, for example, if she is sad take her for ice-cream or give her a massage. See here for an example

28. Men are not easy; but they are easy to understand.
-Men are clear in what they say but they can be very stubborn

55. Veils without turbans? Coronets without crowns?
-There is an apparent disconnect between the genders in regards to dress; if she is veiling herself as if prized and valued as royalty while the men are dressed as average people attending to a queen so AHM is suggesting men need to be at the same level as women and revive the turban

10. The wine is masculine, the milk is feminine.
-AHM makes this dichotomy elsewhere but most likely here he is referring to rivers of milk and wine in Jannah or he may be referring to milk as baraka or the nourishing qualities of women (i.e. breastmilk) and wine may refer to marifa or knowledge of God as in Sufi poems,
-otherwise wine may refer to the gradualism in its prohibition, that men require time in the spiritual journey while it is natural to women as natural as breast milk is

55. Islam is horizontally patriarchal and vertically matriarchal.
-culturally patriarchal but spiritually matriarchal since women are respected as paradisal beings under whose feet and also that women in the form of houris are already in paradise

22. Man is ‘ibara; woman is ishara.
-Man is a statement; woman is a sign and by this AHM may be referring to men being verbal and straight-forward while women convey themselves through hints and non-verbal communication

Appearances

-AHM mentions that dressing as a Muslim doesn’t mean you dress up as a Nejdi bedouin or a Hyderabadi peasant since Muslims in the past dressed beautifully yet Islamically

76. Do not use your beard to open people’s ears.
-On Qiyama the soul will be audience to the body, ‘That Day, We will seal over their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will testify about what they used to earn.’ (Qur’an)

86. Pogonophilia without fitraphilia is a Jahilia.
-Love of beards without love of fitra is ignorance meaning there is nothing sacred about the beard without recalling Allah

85. Many wear the turban to prevent Allah from reading their minds.
-Wearing the turban to hide from Allah behind one’s pride and ego

75. He has not believed who has not felt the weight of the turban.
-To feel the weight of Islam upon one’s head and carry it willingly is a manifestation of one’s belief and pride in it

96. Sacred dress undresses the spirit.
-That is, it frees the spirit from the worldliness that saturates clothing and fashion trends

15. Choose your tie for its utility in cleaning your spectacles.
-We chose our clothing for its utility and not in deluding us, or using us
-AHM may also be referring to a belief among Muslims that the tie is a Christan symbol, so if we change our niyyah (intention) to use the tie to clean one’s eyeglasses then that makes one safe from the accusation of imitating the Christians, though the tie is not a Christian piece of clothing but worn by many and many religious scholars don’t see it as imitating the disbelievers but as a cultural item

Hijab

-’Women’s modesty generally increases with their beauty.’ (Nietzsche)

46. The hijab: ‘a display of modesty’!
-The paradox of showing off modesty, which defeats the purpose of the hijab when we speak about it this way since modesty and humility go together

17. Hijab is not self-respect: it is Self-respect.
-It is not about her pride but it is about her respecting the tendencies of the nafs and controlling and nurturing them

8. In the fight against the Monoculture, the main sign is the hijab, and the main act is the Prayer.
-It may not be enough nor the best way to fight the monoculture so we could strengthen it with the turban and zuhd

35 Ikhlas: She should be mutahajjiba, not muhajjaba, and her opposite mubarraja,not mutabarrija.
-mutahajjiba means she took it upon herself, to cover herself up, muhajjaba is a woman that wears hijab or something that is covered up, mubarraja means exposed, and mutabarrija is a showy seductive woman.
-It is her choice to cover up, and she should not be covered up, that is she is not an object but a subject and covering herself up is not limited to her body but also to her actions
-The opposite of a woman who dons hijab from her own choice is someone who is exposed while the opposite of a woman who is treated like an object and covered up (as if by someone else) is a showy seductive woman who is also treated as an object by society

59. Female modesty is no excuse for sloth.
-Wearing the hijab doesn’t mean one has license to be lazy, or forget about how one looks, how clean her clothing is or how it smells or overall the manner with which she presents oneself, there still must be dignity and honour in it

66. Veiling the unavailable: noli me tangere.
-Noli me tangere are the words said to be uttered by Jesus to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection meaning ‘don’t touch, cling or hold onto me’
-The veil is a message to Christians and people of other faiths that she is a commited Muslim and to other men that she is not as ‘easy’ as the modernized, sexually ‘liberated’ woman
-This may have more to do with Christian ideas of clinging to Christ’s memory as a God though he has gone

71. The niqab exists to indicate the strength of the theophany.
-Like most gender-related topics the greater and more profound interpretation is that of the divine and spirituality, since God is veiled and this is related to the Contention, ‘60. Layla: the chador of God on earth.’
-Spiritual openings or theophanies are concealed much like the niqab is to conceal and this has to do with their sacred transformative power

43. Islam, by veiling her, reveals her; Edom, by unveiling her, erases her face.
-The veil reveals the honour of women in society, that is beyond beauty, while in Christianity by showing her makes her forgettable and reduces her to an item of beauty
-We often forget that the Kaaba is veiled as well and remains a mystery to us, and is only truly seen by the knowers of God, while the Vatican is on display for everybody as little more than materialism and decadence

97. Before your veil avails prevail.
-AHM may be suggesting that before the repulsive power of the veil alienates non-Muslims, she should make her attempt at daw’a or accomplish whatever she may intend

38. Miss Aisha Featherstone-Pugh
Has problems performing wudu.
When splashing with water,
I’m sure that she oughter,
Take off her veil and her gloves too.

8. The veil covers the man’s eyes, not the woman’s.
-She is not to be a blind follower but he is to be blinded
-Related to the Contention, ‘36. Censor the senses, but be not censorious of the sensory.’

64. Cranial nudity. Adverte oculos! The hijab is indeed an amulet, which wards off the evil eye.
-Adverte oculos means avert your eyes from the open nakedness of the head
-AHM is making hijab a taw’eez, not containing a literal or physical power but a spiritual metaphysical power

99. Hijab is to force him to wear bifocals.
-He sees not just what is immediate and close-up but also what is distant, so AHM may be suggesting that we see the akhira as well as the dunya in male interaction with the female gender

Gaze

65. Stay home during the peek season.
-There are hadith that speak of the virtues of sticking to one’s home as the best place for one to be after the mosque so that one may not be tempted to look around

22. Marriage should be the retrieval of the first glance.
-We are permitted no more than the first glance, and it is a common human experience that the person of the opposite gender is the most beautiful in the first glance
-Abdal Hakim Murad is suggesting that love at first sight is really about the power of the first glance and the comprehension of the gaze, the beauty and mystery of the face
-Related to the Contention, ‘21. Woman is in the first glance, not the second.’

30. We have become too weak even to close our eyes.
-The image is suggestive of experiments in mind-control where the eye-lids are forcibly held open and made to watch traumatizing videos and images at length
-Possibly related to the Contention that speaks, ‘71. Do not trust those who readily close their eyes.’ where we direct our gaze in the wrong areas, we ignore modernity and the problems of the Muslim community but do not lower our gaze around the opposite gender

37. It is impossible to love a woman without loving womankind.
-It is difficult to ignore the sign of God, of beauty, birth and compassion, in the creation of woman

38. Sexual fidelity is not only to one’s spouse.
-It is to God since ultimately we answer to him

31. Only the saint should take women at face value.
-Again the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, where spirituality is really the true story, that only the awliya have firasa to see

6. The materialist argument against women: public performance equals fulfilment.
-She is made an object and must show society that she is fulfilling her personal rights and potential in the way that liberalism recognizes, the displaying of her beauty

49. Maidens! Choose him that uses his ears more than his eyes.
-Listening skills are crucial to proper communication, but a man who uses his eyes more will have his gaze wonder, while the ‘gaze’ of his ears is always on her

84 ‘Sexual display is pure conformism.’ (Germaine Greer.)
-There is nothing else which conforms more to the desires of men than sexual display

55. She that uses her body to exploit is a suicide bomber.
-It is as much an exploitation of her body as a suicide bomber exploits his/her own body
-Its an implosion and explosion of her ego and pride in the same way a suicide bombers actions is an explosion of his/her ego and anger

Masculinity

89. Futuwwa: the knight must be freed from the daze.
-The daze may refer to men having difficulty in lowering the gaze

69. There is no secular masculinity.
-Masculinity disconnected with religion has no chivalry and the honouring of women, and it is the ‘sexual revolution’ which has made men capitalize on the sexual freedom of women, eliminating motivation for earning the respect of women
-This is related to the next Contention, ‘15. Tyler Durden: without functional women, no functional men.’

7. She is the gift to him that precedes the Fall.
-Woman is a gift God gave to Adam before he and her sinned, and in that sense she is a reminder of Jannah

Gender

92. Foucault: the West’s frustration is that its discourse on sex does not lead to a conclusion.
-Sexuality will always be changing in the West, unlike traditional cultures that established traditions such as marriage to mothers or polygamy, the Wests Sexuality will always be changing
-Related to the Contention, ‘The American for erotic is erratic.’

49. Each gender was created only that the other might give thanks.
-The other gender is there for us to make shukr and to assist us in our worship

98. Men are from Ash‘ar, women are from Maturid.
-The Ashari belief that God creates the individual’s power (qudra), will, and the actual act, while the Maturidis view that God was the creator of man’s acts, although man possessed his own capacity and will to act”
-AHM is making a humorous jab at the nature of men and women, that men feel in control while women don’t, or perhaps that women see God more clearly than men do, or that

61. How to rebridge the sexes? To reach the point of reconciliation? Only the logos can achieve this, and a logos that is ungendered.
-Only an ungendered God, can bring men and women together
-Related to the Contention, ‘71. ‘Gender is not destiny.’ (Simone de Beauvoir) ‘God is destiny.’ (Hadith)’

2. Feminism has one virtue: it shows that the West is still capable of certainty.
-Feminism is the one aspect of the West that is certain though notions of sexuality continue to change

13. Feminism? First empower femininity.
-Liberalism, the monoculture and secularism are unsure as to what it means to be a woman and the value of the feminine, except for what Christianity taught about the inherent sinful nature of woman

Equity
78. Not every male superiority is female inferiority.
-Sometimes women allow men to feel they are dominant out of compassion which it self is a strength
-Related to the next Contention

31. Male and female cannot be equal, for they are mutually superior.
-Their strengths are different and in those respects are better than each other

29. Only in the din al-fitra are women adequately acknowledged.
-In the religion that recognizes that people are born with a primordial disposition to believe in God does it give women the same recognition as men in their spiritual, and therefore total, potential

48. Maidens! Where is the hierarchy when the turab produces the tara’ib, which produce the atrab?
-What is the hierarchy in the dust producing the backbone of a person from which actions which produces houris result

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 9, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Christianity

Christ

99 Jesus was humanly perfect; Christ was inhumanly so.
-How can The Christian relate to a divine Christ but they can relate to the Prophets and their very human encounter with the divine

55 Christ is the Hodegetria.
-The iconic artpiece of Mary holding Jesus as a baby and pointing to him alayhi salam, which is basically what the Quranic verse is, ‘So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child? [Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”‘ (Qur’an, 19:29-33)

12. Jesus said ‘Allah’, not ‘Deus.’ (‘Say: Allah! and leave them plunging in their confusion.’)
-A kernel of Quranic wisdom to ponder: could it be this verse was revealed to show how Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Latin- was a brown-skinned Semite, not a Roman god, deus being used for many separate deities.

101. The Incarnation is God’s alienation from humanity.
-Much of 18th century “deism” was a reaction against the vulnerability which Hume imagined to inhere in the Christian idea of a “personal” God. A God who can be so like us as to be incarnated, must be answerable to our human charges that he has authored a world full of suffering. The “deist” God, is certainly not “human” in this sense, thanks to a radical idea of divine transcendence (what Muslims call tanzih), yet where his attributes have names analogous to the virtues we recognize among humans, he can still be the object of prayer, like the God of Ashar’ism.
-’They say: “Why is not an angel sent down to him?” If we did send down an angel, the matter would be settled at once, and no respite would be granted them.’ (Qur’an)

76. The God of Jesus was not the Jesus-God.
-Jesus when on Earth did not worship himself

53. Did Paul’s Jesus have hormones? Ecce homo …
-Behold the man, that suggests the humanness of Jesus who would have had to undergo hormonal changes in puberty, since in Islam Jesus lived to about 30 years old

Gospels

28. If Christendom had heeded the Gospels, it would now not exist.
-The was not supposed to be a Christendom but it was connected to the Jewish community and not intended for Gentiles, but formalizing it and opening it up to non-Gentiles makes for leadership and positions of power

52. The Gospels are like Bilal: however hard you torture them, they will only say: ‘One! One!’
-AHM speaks elsewhere in the Contentions about torturing a religious text, and in this case he is saying that the Gospels will still preach monotheism like Bilal being tortured to recant tawhid and to worship the pagan gods, so there is a rejectionism of paganism that cannot be denied

Doctrine

34. Clerisy? Original Sin is to push Eve away.
-In Islam Adam and Eve share the penalty of the original sin but the patriarchy of the medieval clerics treated females as inherently evil, an attitude that was prevalent among the ancient civilisations that Muslim scholars also picked up

34. The real Original Sin was the Christian myth of the Fall.
-The interpretation of the Original sin was the original sin of Christianity, which lead to all the other deviated ideas about Christ, the economy of salvation and the Trinity

43. Our God is too generous to require an ‘economy of salvation’.
-Related to the next Contention

60. There is no unconditional love in an economy of salvation.
-AHM says in one of his talks, ‘If God has prescribed mercy on himself than that has historical reprecussions on how we look at the world; a God who lacks compassion is one who stuffs all of salvation into a single moment, so to say that only in the last 2000 years, makes nonsense of the Divine love, thats arbitrary dictate
-AHM says in one of his talks, ‘We are “indebted” to God and so there has to be a infinite sacrificial victim; Allah doesn’t require debt being repayed (legalism) or have someone else pays for him or Allah gives it away for free (sadaqa) which is Allah’s nature and this is most morally sound, Allah is the fountainhead of morality and this is the beauty of true monotheism, Allah is the author of the system of salvation and certainly has it in His power to forgive’

31. Incarnation: the finite can contain the Infinite.
-This is the reverse of the religious teachings of monotheism and goes against the metaphysics of the sacred, that the Infinite cannot be contained and that is precisely why it is Infinite and to be honoured

36. The ‘universal’ religion is not merely the religion that claims to be for all; it is the religion that claims that God has always been for all. There can be no Muslim ‘scandal of particularity’.
-God is not temporarily been for one but always been for one, and in this respect Islam has always been for all since Allah has revealed Himself to every community and nation

62. The Vicarious Atonement proves that torture can be a good thing.
-That Christs death and torture was ‘legal’ in God’s justice to eliminate the penalty of sin, and this is an implicit approval of torture
-This has parallels to the death of Osama bin Laden, another Semite whose death was ‘legal’ and justifies and makes Americans and other overlook the sins of the America

38. Annunciation vs. enunciation: the word is best made word.
-In Christianity the Word was made flesh in the form of Christ and he is the word of God, while in Islam the equivalent is the Qur’an
-This is a distinction many have made that the Qur’an is to Islam what Christ is to Christianity, while the Hadith is to Islam what the Bible is to Christianity
-AHM is saying it would have been better for the word to remain the word in Christian theology with the original Gospel (Injeel)

Trinity
48. Islam: the real Jesus was unitarian. Christianity: the real Moses was trinitarian.
-AHM says in one of his essays, ‘The Trinitarian model, an obstacle to worship, should be reinterpreted to signify the three modes by which a non-Triune God operates. ‘We need no mediator’, Geoffrey Lampe went on to say: God is, by definition, enough; there is nothing in the ‘Son’ that is not also fully present and powerful in the ‘Father’.’

87. The Liberal Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Zeitgeist.
-The Zeitgeist is the spirit of the age, and is always changing with the times, so that the Spirit is the prevailing norms snd practices at the time, now its liberalism, at one time it was Roman rule, at another the Crusades and at another the Inquisition

54. The Trinity: three alter egos.
-If they are the same then there is no difference but if they are different then their must be a substantial difference in who they are, their peronalities and manifestations; this is a schizophrenic god
-AHM describes the Trinity, ‘To have love the 3 need some distinctiveness, center of consciousness, and interact with each other; that is imputing ‘plurality’ with the Divine Nature, we have 99 Names but they aren’t centers of consciousness that love each other, they are Name. And Allah’s center is Wahid.
-AHM also says in one of his talks, ‘It’s very hard to have a relationship with this kind of triangular, algebraic problem; three that are also one, what kind of person is that…if its 3 consciousnesses in one consciousnesses and theological polemic over how you define that?’

74. Arius says: Follow the muhkamat!
already firmly established things
-Arius disagreed on the Trinity at the First council of Nicea, stating that the son of God is secondary to the Father, and that the Son of God came from nothing. His religious attitude was to side with the firmly established things.

Edom
-Edom was a nation that rivalled the ancient Israel, were related to Jacob and his descendants, but were destroyed and never came back; some call Edom as Romans or Jews that were converted to Judaism
-AHM refers to Edom in many places, and it seems from other Contentions Edom seems to refer to modern Christians

85. Edom has no notion of wafat.
-They have no conceived of or understood what death means, either in the religious sense of being disconnected from the religious tradition as atheism has grown

29. Two names unpronounceable in Edom: Hagar and Muhammad.
-It is too hard for Christians to mention Hagar and Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam)

93. Edom’s absurd theanthropism has desacralised the world.
-To assume that Christ is divine has stripped nature of its sacred power, while the Qur’an has sacralized nature as a means to coming closer to God

21. Edom: God can fully save the world only in one way.
-The idea that God has no choice but to save the world only through the sacrifice of Christ

68. Edom: Rabbinism is nothing but a phantom pregnancy.
-Christian attitude towards the rabbinical tradition is that it bears all the signs of fertility but it is barren, or more literally, the rabbinical tradition is awaiting and in preparation of the birth of the Messiah even though they missed him already

51. Edom, then Ishmael: the superfetation of Juda-yi Ism.
-The Jews separated from the Christian world and now they are separating themselves from the Muslim world

74. The paradox of Edom: the felix culpa of Judas.
-It was the betrayal of Judas that redeemed the world of sin, and if Christ’s death is the basis of Christianity then it is a paradox that Judas is responsible and should be thanked

Imperial Christianity

63. The Christ of the Apocalypse: No More Mr Nice Guy.
-AHM describes this second reappearance in graphic terms, ‘Jesus with his eyes of fire, feet of brass and rod of iron smiting this unbelievers, the Ishmaelites’
-violent image of his reappearance in Book of Genesis
-The Christ of the End Times is essentially a Rambo on a killingspree as described by Christian scriptures, which goes against theteaching of Christ inthe chuech

36. Third World Christianity: worship a white man, and be saved from your past!
-The convenient marriage of colonialist interests and Christian evangelism
-Most scientists and even a few hadith indicate that Jesus is not white-skinned but dark-skinned

37. Jesus did not oppose Rome, and so Rome chose him for its god.
-Jesus tolerated and lived peacefully under Roman rule and perhaps AHM is saying had he rebelled and fought against Roman rule they would not have accepted him
-AHM is suggesting the Meccan example of living peacefully under persecution for Muslims, though not to make us gods but as a dawa of Islam

Jews and Christians

51. The Christian Messiah is false because he brings calamity to the Jews. The Muslim Messiah is true because he brings their liberation.
-The blame of Christ’s death on the Jews has brought them suffering and persecution for centuries, while the return of Jesus in Islam will bring the liberation and ease for the Jews who recognize him as who he truly is

68. Christianity is responsible for the suffering of the Jews, because it was Christianity that veiled Jesus from them.
-Jews continued to reject Christ because of Christianity’s claiming that he was the son of God which is against Judaic teachings
-Church’s historic halitosis as shouted towards jews and we are breathing something of the same fetted atmosphere

48. Christology: where is his Torah-observance?
-AHM questions how exemplary the portrayal of Jesus in Christianity is to Judaism in one of his essays, ‘Certainly, my own migration towards Islam was facilitated, if not entirely supplied, by those questers for the historical Jesus who doubt that he would have accepted the abstruse metaphysical conundrums of the Athanasian Creed. How would the charismatic wandering rabbi of Galilee have voted, had he found himself at the Council of Chalcedon?’

12. Crucifiction?
Juda-yi Ism exonerates Rome.
Ishmael exonerates the Jews.
Edom: Heaven cannot exonerate.
-The Jews did not blame the Romans for acting on their laws in attempting to murder Christ, while the Muslims as the Ishmaelites tried to guide the Jews and do not blame them for what happened to Christ and the trials they faced in the past where some went astray, and lastly Christianity says that God has no power or compassion to pardon the sins of mankind, except through the sacrificial lamb of Christ

Islam and Christianity Compared
-AHM has said elsewhere, ‘Islam is, in a sense, the formalizing of Ebionite Christianity.’
-AHM mentions elsewhere about the Muslim past, ‘No Christian state allowed the presence of a mosque; but that the Ottoman Empire was filled with churches”

45. Your bumper sticker is a fish eating a fish; for your Shari‘a fate in the West is to eat fish.
-The Jesus fish is a sign for Muslims to only eat seafood since the meat of Westerners is not slaughtered according to Christian or Jewish meat, or even if it is you csnnever be certain and should be careful, an opinion that AHM adheres to and makes explicit in one of his talks

1. Augustine: man’s deformity. Ishmael: his deiformity. (Defy, don’t deify.)
-Augustine is known for developing the concept of original sin, and thereby imputing upon man a deformity he cannot free himself from, nor one that man committed. Jesus as a man can only be raised to the stature of God, when man is given an ontological defect. The Ishmaelite Islam looks for the positive, pushes man to take upon godliness, that is, takhalaq bi akhlaqillah, to take on the character and moral traits of God

49. The Crucifixion and the Conquest of Mecca: which is higher: to forgive from a position of powerlessness, or of power?
-The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) forgave the mushrikeen of Mecca when he entered it as a conqueror while Christ in Christianity forgave while in a position of powerlessness on the Cross, though the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) did so as well while in Ta’if
-In weakness on is innecessity while in power one has the ability to exact revenge andthis requires more self control and compassion

39. Christianity was providential as preparatio evangelica.
-Paganism carried some truths that helped pave way for the success of the Gospel, but in reality, Christianity prepared the world for Islam.

69. A Messiah is monochrome, but a book is a prism. (‘I am sent to all mankind.’)
-The Word of God made flesh (Christ) compared to the Word made word (Qur’an), one provides a black and white vision of the world for its followers while the other sees the various shades of light

70 Unlike the Christians we see Heaven even when we look down. (‘He created heavens and earth bi’l-Haqq.’)
-The Qur’anic verse is that, ‘He created Heaven and Earth in Truth’
-We reflect on Paradise and the Afterlife when we look at the Earth and contemplate on Allah

39. Christianity was providential as preparatio evangelica.
-Paganism carried some truths that helped pave way for the success of the Gospel, but in reality, Christianity prepared the world for Islam.

97. The Church is the bride of Christ’. But he was too generous to be a monogamist.
-Meaning Jesus is also part of Islamic tradition, and is said to have made a prayer to belong to the Umma of sayyidina Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam)
-Upon his return he will marry and live a normal life

44. Have Christianity and Islam exchanged views of each other?
-A good example of this is the word ‘infidel’ which is a Christian word that used to refer to Muslims

40. The Paraclete was indeed the Comforter. We were in a state of ascetical panic about ourselves.
-the Paraclete is identified by Muslims to be Sayyidina Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam, and the comfort he brought was that he lightned the asceticism of the previous Christian communities of monks and made monasticism moot, though drawing comparisons to it with monasticism fasting and jihad, and yet making those actions worth a great deal of reward
-The panic suggests the previous communities were in a panic as to their inadequacies before God
-AHM is probably thinking of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari who had ascetic tendencies and prayed even before the advent of Islam

63. Why did it take so long for Christendom to turn its view of nature into reality?
-There is little reference to nature in Christian scripture though some do speak of the Book of Nature as a revelation, while the Qur’an refers repeatedly to Nature and the signs around one

45. Judaism: inscription.
Christianity: incarnation.
Islam: inlibration.
-The Jewish community historically have been the literati and learned community especially since the revelation of the Torah and Commandments given to Moses, the Christian community is about the incarnation of God as Christ while the Muslim community has been about incarnation of the Word of God in book

34. Christianity chooses the wine, Islam chooses the milk.
-In Catholic Christianity wine is said to transubstantiate into the blood of Christ as it is drank which is the practice of theophagy, or god-eating and in Islam the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) chose milk on the Isra wa’l Miraj Night journey over wine and Jibreel said, had he chosen wine, the Muslims would have gone astray

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 8, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Judaism

This section is quite difficult but I have tried my best here. I will most definitely have to review it and add more to this. And for the Jewish people that may come across this, this isn’t anti-semitic or politicized, its merely a discussion on the relationship between Islam and Judaism, hopefully it will be beneficial and lead to greater peace and understanding.

Judaism

-Abdal Hakim Murad says in one of his papers, ‘What matters about Islam is that it did not produce the modern world. If modernity ends in a technologically-induced holocaust, then survivors will probably hail the religion’s wisdom in not authoring something similar. If, however, it survives, and continues to produce a global monoculture where the past is forgotten, and where international laws and customs are increasingly restrictive of cultural difference, then Islam is likely to remain the world’s great heresy. In that case, Kepnes’ description of Islam’s historic status as the rejected Ishmaelite, ha-ger, may not prove so unhelpful as he suggests. What if Ishmael actually wishes to be rejected, since the one who is doing the rejecting has ended up creating a world without God? Grounded in our stubbornly immobile liturgy and doctrine, we Ishmaelites should serve the invaluable, though deeply resented, function of a culture which would like to be an Other, even if that is no longer quite possible.’

42. Juda-yi Ism: the absolutizing of a people.
Edom: the absolutizing of a person.
Islam: the absolutizing of God.
-Judaism made the Jewish people sacred above all else, and Christianity made Christ sacred above all else but Islam looked past these and made God sacred above all else

71. Judaism: the deferral of decisiveness. (George Steiner)
-AHM may be commenting on how Judaism never really decided definitively on the Prophethood of Jesus and Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) or he may be referring to the fact that now the Jewish people are decisive about Israel, but never were that decisive in the past

15. Judaism was not displaced by Christianity or Islam so much as it was displaced by Zionism.
-Before Zionism one could argue that Christianity/Islam displaced Judaism but they didn’t alter Judaism internally as much as Zionism has

33. ‘Judaism is dead; but we are going to give it a magnificent funeral’. (Rabbi Zunz, fount of liberal Judaism.) Is Islam the reverse? And if so, what are the grounds for dialogue?
-‘Let’s do the Janaza prayer over the nation of Islam’ Muhammad al-Zahawiri, the shaykh of Al-Azhar grandfather of Ayman al-Zahawiri, response at the inability to elect a caliph in 1924 when the Ottoman Caliphate collapsed
-AHM has translated Imam Ghazali’s “Book of Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife” so this reference probably has significance in relation to that book. Are we like the martyrs who as the Qur’an says are not dead but living, though the Caliphate is dead? Is what goes on now post-Khilafat reminiscent of the life from beyond the grave, a ziyarat, where the life of the awliya or the prophets are still present?
-Is Islam a magnificent death but a forgotten funeral in the form of the occupation of Palestine and the demolition of Prophetic historical sites? Or is Islam alive and always having a magnificent birth?
-AHM is using grounds as a pun in relation to death, and the answer may be clear, that we cannot have a dialogue, except in grieving together with the Jewish community for the death and destruction

34. Judaism and Islam have resisted Christianity through eros and thanatos. Hence the magnitude of their victory.
-Islam and Judaism have preserve their religious tradition for generations through living their religions and dying for their religions, whereas Christianity

67. Only the Caliph can help them keep the Sabbath.
-Islam preserves the dignity of the Jewish and Christian communities in allowing them to preserve their practices, and though it may appear to be thecase in Israel that they should be able to worship freely, but a secular society can make this difficult and put pressure on religious communities.
-Muslim observances are similar to that of Jews and therefore Muslim observance of Islamic tradition would make Jewish observances easier (burqa/frumka, halal/kosher, etc)

97. Halakhah without halaqah is a vulnerable linearity.
-Jewish law with Islamic circles nearby, as in the time of Maimonides was beneficial to the development and strengthening of Judaism

48. The Sephardi and the Mizrahi mean something. But what does the Ashkenazy mean?
-The Ashkenazy is a European Jew, whereas the Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews are those that historically lived under Muslim rule
-What AHM is suggesting is that the attitude of the Sephardi and Mizrahi are more friendly to Muslims and have had their religious tradition preserved since Muslims respected their religious tradition, but the Ashkenazy having undergone a massive history of pogroms and persecution and then playing a leading role in Europe’s intellectual scene in the 19th-20th century its unclear what attitudes they bring: is it fear and paranoia or an atheism?

72. Juda-yi Ism : Ishmael is the rodef . Ishmael: Juda-yi Ism is the radif .
-Rodef: a Hebrew halakha term relating to self-defense or protecting against endangering, though its become controversial in Israel since its been interpreted differently and radif: something that is similar to something else
-Juda-yi Ism is AHM’s name for the Jewish community today, playing off the Farsi phrase juda-yi which means separation, perhaps in reference to how separate they are from the Judaism of the past or from the fact
-So Israel will say that it has a right to defend itself against the Muslim world while the Muslim world will counter back that this Jewish community is simply similar to the Jews of the past, they are not authentically Jews perhaps in relation to the Khazar Jews
-Juan Cole has written that the Palestinians are the descendants of the original Jews that lived in the Holy Land in the past, that they converted to Islam or Christianity and most of the Jews in Israel now are converts

Zionism

27. Zionism: God’s sword unsheathed against Jerusalem.
-In the way the Jews were punished in ancient times by being conquered and subjugated, the Muslims are facing a similar situation and punishment from God in the occupation of the Holy Land

66. Zion is the abuse of Maimonidean Mu‘tazilism.
-AHM may be referring to the Three Oaths found in the Talmud pertaining to the nation of Israel and the relation of the Jews to the rest of the world, that Zionists and anti-Zionists reinterpret in light of the fact the state of Israel today is seemingly in violation of these ancient Jewish oaths

54. Zionism has the smell of Islamism: it fears non-belonging, and takes its fear out on others.
-Islamists fear Islam will never have a place in society, and rather than living Islam, they lash out

26. If Zionism is not a xenotransplant, why are there so many antibodies?
-Zionism is a foreign manifestation of nationalism which though has some resonance with the Promised Land, is not 100% a Jewish idea but has secular European roots
-When there is a transplant of living cells some of the cells will react adversely and may attack the other cells as an infection

29. Halakhah: Israel is the handmaiden of Judaism. Herzl: Judaism is the handmaiden of Israel.
-The difference between Jewish Law where Israel was helpful and subordinate to the spiritual life Judaism taught, but Herzl made Judaism subservient to Israel

8. The Arabs deceived the Turks. Lawrence deceived the Arabs. The British deceived Lawrence. Herzl deceived the British. God deceived Herzl.
-In a nutshell Israel and the modern Middle East are an example of how people think they are incontrol but ultimately God is in control
-The hadith, ‘War is deception’ has relevance in the interpretation that war is all about God deceiving men, as many battles in the Prophetic history are full of surprises and only God knew the outcomes

Israel
79. Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is not Israel.
-A play of the Mosaic commandment to worship of the One true God alone

1. We are against Israel to the extent that she endangers Jewish safety.
-Israel is not as much a threat to Muslims as it is the Jewish people, but what occurs in Israel will try the patience of Muslims and should Israel collapse there will be animosity and hatred for centuries to come though historically Muslims were protectors of Jews
-Israel was founded as a safe homeland for Jews and yet, the life of a Jew in Israel is unsafe and being surrounded by Muslims who it continually provokes and angers is a far worse situation for Judaism than living as a diaspora in Europe

83. Israel will forever be the country of the future.
-Judith Butler among others has talked about Zionism was only about the establishment of Israel, and yet it is alive today still which suggests a hiccup that Israel willremain a dream even when a Jew will live their whole life there, they will wonder what could have been or what God had promised them had their ancestors honoured His covenant
-In a sad way Palestinians will always make the dream of the Jews a nightmare, at worst through violent outbursts of frustration and at best as guilt or something unsettling in their conscience

28 The principal task of the Jewish people today is to befriend Islam.
-When it comes to surviving in the Middle East other faith communities have been sheltered by Muslims and have survived up until this day

53. ‘I never think back. Since I cannot change the past, why should I deal with it?’ (Shimon Perez.)
-Israeli politicians have no accountability, have plenty of ego and pride, but also this quote may be indicative of the breaking off of Israel from its history, even though its foundation in the land of Palestine has to do with this history

11. Schneerson: Israel is a goyische Staat.
-Israel is not a Jewish state

12. Israel is ‘Nebuchadnezzar, My servant’
-Israel is to the Muslim world today, what Nebuchadnezzar was to the disobedient Israelites of old, who destroyed their civilisation and put them into bondage

61. ‘Deus hoc vult.’ (Pope Benedict XV, speaking of Zionism.)
-’God wills it’ which was the rallying cry of the First Crusade

26. The Semitic is both emic and etic.
-Emic refers to the subjective/insider account of a culture, while the etic refers to the objective/outsider account of a culture.
-AHM is playing with words here to refer to the Semite as both etic and emic, whe the Arab Semite is the etic account observed from a distance supposedly objectively by an outsider but rarely from the inside, while the Jewish Semite is the emic account where Jewish experience is narrated to us from the inside only, rarely from that of the outsider who may point out the injustices in Israel/Palestine

Abraham/Jerusalem
76. Only those that reject the life to come can build the False Temple.
-Only the Jews who will no longer wait for the Messiah will attempt to build a temple in Jerusalem

84. God is only just if Ishmael and Isaac are equal.
-AHM says elsewhere, ‘The second sacrifice is one of the fertile enigmas of the book of Genesis . Hagar and Ishmael are guiltless, yet they are punished by an exile. In this they resemble their father more than Isaac does. (Abraham’s zuhd is to sacrifice his sons)’

53. Either Abraham is an adulterer, or he is the father of us all.
-If the Jews claim Hajar was not a legitimate wife it is an accusation on Abraham of sinfulness; or Abraham is the spiritual father of all of us

10. The Great Symmetry: Yad Vashem / Ghazzat Hashem.
-There is symmetry in the fact the Holocaust Museum is in Jerusalem and the tomb of Hashim, the great-grandfather of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is in Gaza, in that it indicates that the two communities meet even in the death of their spiritual and biological ancestors and not just the relation between Isaac and Ishmael
-It suggests a continuity that this is the last chapter of Jewish history and the beginning of Islamic history

29 ‘Dialogue’ comes easily to us, since Islam is the best of Judaism and the best of Christianity.
-We already know the best of what they have to offer and can appreciate their values and history, so when it comes to religious discussions often Muslims know more than the Christian or Jew they are speaking too

16. ‘If we are not for ourselves, other Jews say to me, who will be for us? And I answer, but if we are for ourselves alone, what are we?’ (Daniel Boyarin)
-If Jews are for themselves this only makes sense, as a community, but if they are for themselves alone then it suggests they are not in fact the Chosen people
-This makes one recall AHM’s other Contention of the Shi’a being either/or while the Sunnis are both/and

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 6, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Geopolitics

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

This next section has to do with the Muslim world on the world stage. AHM deals with the life of Muslims in the West, as well as the relationship between East and West, and how Islam circumscribes politics. He does deal with certain regions of the world by name (Europe, Turkey, India, etc.) but I will be adding those sections here shortly.

Spirituality and Politics
20. Remember: the history of Islam is the history of the Muslim ego.
-Most of the Muslim conquest were done for glory or prestige and this is the case again today

54. If you put down your tasbih you will not pick up a rifle safely.
-The importance of spirituality (inward mujadaha) in tandem with physical outward jihad or else we will have a bad beginning in our battles

45 Sufism is the belief that we should not act against the political interests of Islam.
-Perhaps he is referring to the fact Sufis are seen as an apolitical, pacifist Muslim alternative by the West when they are very much involved in politics and war

4. The Dajjal will only be king when only the blind are left in the valley.
-‘In the valley of the blind the one-eyed man is king’ (Erasmus)

83. Hijra today means the move from the cenobitic to the idiorhythmic.
-Cenobitic, is the community of righteous monks as opposed to the idiorhythmic monk who lives alone so hijra today is moving away from a corrupt community in other words, and fleeing to the hills alone.

65. The ethical is only possible where there is a sense of place. (‘We have ennobled the sons of Adam, and carried them upon land and sea’.)
-The doing of good deeds is part and parcel with considerations and understanding of a place, but also this may refer to having an understanding of the culture (‘urf) and praiseworthy aspect of certain cultures

1. Activism will only succeed when it remembers that history is in good hands.
-History is in God’s hands as the Qur’an says, the night and the days are between His hands and the hadith says the hearts of His servants are between the fingers of ar-Rahman

65. The purpose of society is to produce saints.
-It is not the maximizing of freedoms or of pleasure seeking but of creating exemplary individuals, both internally and externally and not just superficially like in Western societies

4. Do not play politics with sacred politics.
-If you play politics with God it is similar to Adam’s disobedience and how it led to his fall and has consequences for the faith of people to come

13. His name in our age is al-Sabur.
-Allah is more patient with us now than He probably has ever been in our history

19. We have not grown out of the Shari‘a, we have shrunk out of it.
-When we say we have grown out of the Shari’a we are being proud and arrogant and that is a sign of our having shrunk out of the Shari’a

63 The function of the Caliph is to defend people’s lives, not to interfere with them.
-The purpose of the Caliphate is to help Muslims worship and make things easy for them, not to push them around like a bully

24. Politics is one cell within the body of Islam. If it grows unduly, it is a cancer.
-Politics has its place but it is not everything, and if it grows it becomes a tumor that impairs the body of Islam, hurting spirituality, justice and reason in Islam

20. The Mahdi will be appointed by Theos, not Demos. The blood of warrior-patricians will run in his veins.
-Imam Mahdi will be appointed by God, not the masses

70. Civil society is the deodorant of kufr.
-Being civil and acting polite is just to hide the stench of disbelief
-This doesn’t apply to our society as much but it can apply to Islamophobes. It applies best to the mushrikeen who would be civil though they were hateful since they wanted to preserve what dignity they felt they had

33. There is justice, and there is just-us.
-‘Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.’”(Quran 4:135)

18. Everything is political, but politics is not everything.
-You can politicize just about anything, and that is because there is a tendency for that to happen with any social interaction, but that does not mean politics is our complete potential

40. Those that sell Tornadoes shall reap the whirlwind.
-“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7
-Comment on politics and Islam but also on those who ‘swerve’ in their speech and actions

Umma
-AHM mentions the hadith, ‘This umma is an umma that has mercy on it, its punishment is not in the next life but in this world, through fitan (trials/tribulations), earthquakes and killing.’

3. This sin of the Muslim world: menefregismo.
-Meaning we Muslims couldn’t care less and we are in a state of deep apathy or that we are in apathy about our state of apathy

9. The Umma without its Law is like a man without his Prayer.
-The connection with the salah has been disconnected with the disconnection from the Sharia

25. The Law upholds the Umma better than the Umma upholds the Law.
-The Sharia is keeping the Muslims functional moreso than the Muslims efforts to uphold the law, which may be a reference to extremism or shoddy religious scholarship

38. Muslim solidarity can never force us to lower our standards.
-Were we to agree to the lowest common denominator, it would not be a useful solidarity and wold probably impair the growth of Islam

40 Ummatolatry: from Islam to Izlam.
-Ummatolatry is a portmanteau of umma/idolatry, the idolizing of the ‘umma’ is a manifestation of nationalism, and Izlam is a reference to the arrows that were cast before the idol Hubbal mentioned in the Qur’an. Are we then casting arrows to this idol of Islam?

20 If your morale is built on the Umma, beware. If it is built on God, rejoice.
-AHM says elsewhere the umma provides us with fear while Allah provides us with fear
-If our morale were a sole consequence of what happened with us and we were in the Prophetic era we would collapse and give up on God since the Prophet was surrounded by trials and yet he remained firm with reliance in God, so we should follow the Prophetic example

28. Our condition is ignorance of our condition.
-We don’t know that we don’t know

21. ‘One lives so badly because one always arrives in the present unfinished, incapable, distracted’. (Rilke)
-We are not whole, our attention is distracted and lack the courage to do anything about it
-The salah and Qur’an are helpful because they connects and brings harmony between body and spirit and thereby dignify us so that we want to strive for a more nobler life

43. We claim the whole of the truth for ourselves, but not to have monopolised it.
-Their are other ummas alongside us in the past and in the present day who have access to the truth

Us and God inside the Religion
15. We are punished because we don’t know that we deserve to be punished.
-Our punishment is to make us cognizant of our shortcomings and to alert us of our faults

94. Only when distant from God do we crave what is distant from God.
-We see what is around us and find that what is distant from God is closer to us, when in reality it is distant from our spiritual nature

61 Ethics is the treatment for our exile from God.
-Through ethics or akhlaq we can near the Prophetic example and be remitted to the Divine mercy

65 We are too busy being right to have time for God.
-This is one of the virtues of being wrong that we turn to God, but its not about being wrong or right, but about thinking you are always right

Identity
-In one of his papers AHM says: “…In particular, it has failed to see that identity movements, by their nature, cannot defend authenticity, because they remake it in the act of defining it as authentic. In particular, it has failed to see that identity movements, by their nature, cannot defend authenticity, because they remake it in the act of defining it as authentic.
-Our debate has become the voicing of despair from turbulence of identity

79. We are Muslims because we practice Islam, not vice versa.
-We are not practicing Islam because we are Muslim, we subscribe to belief in Allah and not belief in our identity

73. The identity-merchant says ‘Un-Islamic’; the Godfearing says: ‘Makruh’ or ‘Haram.’
-It is not about us, but about God

31. Islam is not about ‘being yourself’; it is about improving yourself.

68. Beware the denial of identity that is not a denial of the self.
-If you deny your identity in anger and pride then you haven’t truly denied your self

8. Identity religion: be proud of your prison!
-An identity is a confinement since the body is simply a vessel and to be proud of it is to be proud of essentially a prison

60. How do I know who you say that you are?
-Is there an ideal or abstract idea of a Muslim or any other race or culture or grouping? How can we confirm this is what you are? The idea AHM is hinting at is the fluidity of identity and how it changes over time so that realistically speaking it is quite a meaningless identification

83. Religious practice is important only as a means of serving God
-It is not important as a form of show or belonging but only important insofar as it is beloved to God

Muslims in the West

-AHM says in one of his papers, ‘The sign of Islam’s enactment of this primordial covenant on earth is Abrahamic, and more particularly Ishmaelite, since the universalizing implications of Ishmael’s exile mean that the whole world, Hebrew and Gentile, forms part of an umma, which is, at the very least, ummat al-da’wa, the umma-in-waiting, the community of those equipped to under- stand. According to a hadith the Muslims are told: ‘Show piety in dealing with the protected peoples, those of the settled lands, the black, the crinkly-haired, for they have a noble ancestor and marriage ties [with us]’. In his SÏra, Ibn Hisham adds: ‘by “ancestry” the Prophet referred to the fact that the prophet Ishmael’s mother came from them.’7 In the Ishmaelite vision, it seems that even the Kushites, elsewhere despised, are capable of a full and equal understanding.’

73. Islam in the West: there is isolation, or assimilation, or success.
-In a way we are like Ishmael and Hajar in Mecca isolated at first but then later joined by others who come to Islam, but then assimilation occurs and then there may be success that comes later on as in the Prophethood of Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam)

94. If you are threatened by a materialist civilisation, make yourself economically
indispensable.
-This is the strategy of many communities who have realized they are protected insofar as they are needed for economic survival and its a model Muslims are adopting

94. Ishmael finds a Bab El even in Babel.
-A Muslim finds a door to God even in the West

37 Preferring rida to riba is the choosing of the milk over the wine.
-If we choose usury over contentment it will intoxicate us and lead us astray in the way Christians were led astray into the state today of unchecked capitalism
-The milk and wine allegory is an explicit hint to the Isra wa’l Miraj where the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was offered milk or wine by Jibreel and he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) chose milk, and was told if he chose wine then his (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s umma would have gone astray
-There is a dua in the sunna for milk and its baraka to be expanded and among the ulema, milk is considered a food and not a drink while wine in Islam is only good when it is non-intoxicating as in the descriptions of Jannah

35. Dar al-Islam? Rome is where you will be most proud to be a Muslim.
-You won’t be proud to be Muslim around millions of Muslims, no, but you find pride in upholding Islam when you are surrounded by non-Muslims

52. Secular decadence is less ugly than religious decadence because only organic matter can really decompose.
-The secular has always been dead and inanimate like plastic, while Islam is like the gardens one finds in the mosque complexes of the Muslim world, they decay only because they once had life

14. A faith that is only a social consequence will mainly be concerned with its own social consequences.
-If Islam for you is just a consequence of heritage and geographical history, then you will see Islam only in the problems it has in society
-If Islam for you is divine decree then you will try to search for the designs of destiny in your society

12. Be a good Muslim and you won’t want to lie. Be a very good Muslim and you won’t need to lie.
-AHM may be hinting not just to speaking the truth but also to silence

82. Today’s believer is a disbeliever in most of what the disbeliever is a disbeliever in.
-We share common ground with liberals and Christians who have caught up with our beliefs about rights and dignity and that is a good starting point of discussion

39. Being heretics to the Monoculture requires both courage and style. But we should have room for those who have neither courage nor style.
-We should accomodate for Muslims who aren’t going to have any courage or style in resisting the monoculture; those who will neither wear the dresses nor show our Islam
-AHM has suggested Muslims create an ‘indigenous’ style or culture of Islam in America to go against the monoculture, and that is difficult and requires courage because it means not imitating modernity. In regards to mosque architecture he mentions the imperial design of Ottoman mosques, nor the Baroque styles of churches, but suggested looking into some of the ideas of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, though not imitating him completely

25. It is better to be tolerant than to be terminated.
-The Prophetic example in Mecca is to tolerate hardship rather than fight for what will ultimately futile to the cause of Islam

67. If you can’t beat them, be joined by them.
-The history of Islam is replete with examples of foreign enemies joining the Muslim ranks. The question then is how can we make them come to join us?

88. Da‘wa should start at the point of harmony, not the point of dissonance.
-We should start our dialogue with non-Muslims on common ground as the Qur’an suggests, rather than on a point of difference

East and West

-AHM says elsewhere, ‘Medieval Islam and Judaism imported freely from Athens; but they seem to have instinctively excluded those dimensions which obstructed diversity: poetics, drama, architecture.’

59. The West treats other civilisations like stroke victims.
-That they are paralyzed and need help doing everything, and Muslim leaders take this as a luxury when really its a service at a cost

12. Islam was the sharpest of all medieval Western problems of theodicy. The West is the sharpest of all problems for modern Muslim theodicy.
-The medieval wrestled over the problem of evil and why God would create evil (i.e. Islam) but
-We were the evil who were a problem, now the West is the evil that is our problem

14 Islam cannot be a way of being modern; but it can be a way of being Western.
-We Muslims cannot totally embrace modernity, but we are a part of the Western monotheistic tradition and are, in fact, the culmination of that tradition

32. Islam is the only way of being pro-Western.
-Islam will be the sole inheritor of the Western monotheistic tradition

56 Fear of death marks the difference between modern and Islamic art.
-Islamic artwork embraces death as paradisaical while modern art sees death in jaded, psychologically distraught as if drowning spiritually

47 Islam’s heart is ethical; the West’s skin is ethical.
-The West is superficially ethical while Islam is intensely spiritual
-Skin wears out with time, but the heart heals much quicker and holds something that is eternal

71. Traditional architecture: materials praising their Maker. Modern architecture: materials praising Man. Postmodern architecture: materials mocking man.
-Architecture is like music made solid, and like music it affects our behaviour, our minds and souls. As architecture has ‘progressed’ it begins to talk back and comment on our desires and the nature of our society. It does little to nourish us spiritually as traditional architecture of various traditions used to, but now instead only offers back to us our own attitude for endless critique

89. To be with Islam is to live in the valid diversity of signs. To be with the Monoculture is death.
-The monoculture has an invalid diversity of signs, that is, signs of distraction with which we don’t live as much as we drown in

72. Tradition: a low expectation of this world; high hopes for the next. Result: happiness. Modernity: high hopes for this world, low hopes for the next. Result: misery.
-‘He who has hope has everything’ (Arab proverb)
-The vast majority of human experience is not in ends but in the journey to things or in beginnings and often what we deem and end is just another beginning

62. Uncle Same is lord of the Monoculture. Allah is Lord of the Worlds.
-America is the head of the monoculture movement but Allah is the Lord of every seen and unseen world.

43. Tradition: we are on Religion’s leash. Modernity: religion is on our leash.
-Caesaropapism is the idea of combining religion with secular power or making secular power greater than religious power, while Weber defines it as ‘the complete subordination of priests to secular power.’

23. Religion desires to change the age. The age desires to change religion .
-The vehicle of historical change is religion so if religion is altered, then it will steer the ages to come in certain directions

96. Islam: there is a basis for cumulation. The West: there is only cumulation.
-There is a basis in Islam for accumulating wealth and worldly goods, since it can be used for good, as the example of the wealthy Companion Abdur-Rahman bin Awf demonstrates, but for the West there is no end to accumulating worldly goods
-Imam al-Qurtubi sees wealth as rain water, that if it is hoarded and remains stagnant then it will spoil, so it has to remain flowing with generosity and proper use

10. The East is content without form; the West is form without content.
-To borrow a famous Sufi saying one is a ‘Name without reality’ and the other’ a reality without a name’

19. Will our dialogue be clearer if we have lost our teeth?
-Malcolm X has put this succinctly that no one resents a religion (with punishments and the will to fight) except a wolf that intends to make you his meal

Muslim governments
27 Never before has praise from a sultan been so insulting.
-For the ulema to be praised by a Muslim ruler, in an era where Muslim political leaders have abandoned the religion more than ever, is a gross insult and there is no honour in it

77. The kings were ruled by adyan; now they are by duyun.
-The kings used to be ruled by religions and to answer to religious authority and this was how they were kept in check, but now they must answer to ideologies

55. Which Muslim state is not a bad parody of a Western model?
-The dress, the ceremonies, the terminology, the way the government buildings are modeled on European or American models
-The Ottomans built palaces like the Dolmabahçe Palace which imitates the Baroque and other European building styles something which is clearly superficial and unnecessary, a clear sign of love of the West

67. But for God’s mercy, we would have the governments we deserve.
-If we had the governments we deserved in relation to our sins and heedlessness, then the Muslim governments would be punishing us day in and day out, similarly the non-Muslim governments also

9 Today’s Umma deserves the Law as imposed by those who do not deserve it.
-Related to the previous Contention due to our sinfulness we deserve the distorted ‘Sharia punishments’ carried out by those self-appointed religious authorities who don’t understand the Sharia

87. Our name among the nations matters only when da‘wa is important.
-When we speak to people about Muslim countries as examples we find it hard to point to a good example to strengthen our da’wa

4. You no longer have the privilege of the Umma’s protection. (‘And upon God … ’)
-Now we are in a time where we have no umma or caliphate to protect us and God is the Caliph and upon Him alone we rely

84. The world will not rejoice until we deserve success.
-We are the last surviving robust religious community and the anger of atheists has to do with religious people not upholding the moral standards they claim to believe in, so when we uphold that

60. It is better that the injustices of others should stand than that our own injustices should stand.
-Even if an injustice may yield a temporary victory, it will haunt us and so its better we be wronged than to wrong others
-Our pride may ache but that pain cannot compare to the heart ache of the soul
-Europe’s example of the Holocaust is pertinent here, where they are haunted by a collective guilt, ashamed before the Jewish community and therefore always appeasing it

3. Real Islam is successful. If it is not successful, it is not real Islam.
-Success is God signature and we Muslims have always succeeded when we adhered truly to Islam

64. In a democracy there should be no private beliefs.
-Anonymity is a sin and there has to be maximum transparency where the line between private and public has changed in the technological age
-The same can be said about so-called democracies in the Muslim world where one can’t speak their mind even in their own homes

Arab World

77. The caliphs’ prayers ended with Hamidun Majid.
-It did not end with praise of oneself as the King or dictator or father of the nation but with praise of Allah as is mentioned in the prayers of the sunna
-AHM may be hinting to the names of the last Ottoman caliphs: Mahmud II and Abdul Majid II as a sign of God

49. Arab humiliation is usually the result of Arab pride.
-To fail gloriously or to be dramatic in listing one’s grief, as if to take a pride in one’s grief as a badge to show how invulnerable one is
-Arab dignity is the result of Islam as Umar has said in a famous saying, ‘We were a people who lived in humiliation and then Allah gave us honour through Islam. Accordingly, if we were to seek honour through anything other than Islam, Allah would humiliate us once again.’

84. Do not accuse the Arabs of stupidity.
-You don’t accuse people of stupidity, you insult them. And the Arab situation is one of being smart in feigning stupidity under brutal dictatorships that are only recently collapsing and just making the best of it

11. Arabdom is not congenital.
-Being an Arab is not by birth but it is by the spirit of Islam
-When pan-Arabism was beginning many Christian Arabs were adamant that Islam is a crucial part of Arab history and that there is no separating the leadership of Sayyidina Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) from Arab history

5. Aid for ‘moderate’ Middle Eastern regimes is meals on wheels, because it does not expect to rejuvenate.
-It will not bring about the ‘moderate’ stable leadership of the Ottomans but its only meant to keep these regimes alive bit by bit, on life-support or as if on a leash

60. Palestine: the burnt offering that atones for Paul’s original sin.
-In Christianity, Christ’s death atones for the original sin of Adam and Eve
-What AHM is suggesting that Palestine will pay the price for Paul’s sins, which is referring to the prophecies of the Apocalypse and the rise of Jerusalem before the return of Christ and fundamentalist American Christianity is trying to speed up his return by aiding Israel

61. It is better to be exterminated entirely than to give away the Holy Land.
-For what use is a body and the soul when the heart has been taken out of the body?
-This is most likely an allusion to the words of the last Ottoman Caliph Abdul-Majid who said to the Zionists that he would rather have a spear go through him than to surrender the land of Jerusalem to anyone

23 Do not wonder at the Arab’s love of emotion. Has not everything else been taken away from him?
-Has Islam been taken away from him? In many cases, it has and that may explain the boiling over of emotions in the Arab world.
-AHM does mention how the pre-Islamic Arabs would resort to suicide as a protest and it was these suicidal protests that ignited the Arab Spring protests in the Arab world

95. Arabs! Bright lights at Fajr, and loud loudspeakers, are errors that belie the Faith.
-AHM may be referring to dance clubs that party till sunrise in Arab countries, that their should be a shame in not honouring the Fajr time, a time of baraka, recitation of the Qur’an and spiritual theophanies

America
-Uncle Same is AHM’s play on words for the American monoculture
-Condelezza Rice has referred to the Muslim world as “the roadkill of history”
-’If they merely took pleasure in affirming their imagined superiority, the illusion would only do harm to themselves; but their most terrible offense is their proselytising fury: in them the spirit of conquest goes under the disguise of “moralist” pretexts, and it is in the name of “liberty” that they would force the world to imitate them.’ (Guenon)

46. ‘It’s kind of bad we destroyed everything, but at least we gave them a chance for a new start’ (Uncle Same’s warrior, after Fallujah).
-An example of the greediness in generosity and false comforting oneself being of more important than actually helping someone

35. Uncle Same: choice should be both legal and improbable.
-The legal system deals with non-issues and moral dilemmas that make people feel important, as if they are creating a law that is as momentous as revelation

91. Uncle Same twists us into different figures, but it is always the same twisting.
-Its the same strategy and technique but in different topics and areas

38. An empire must be an umpire.
-The ruling American hegemony is the one that makes the laws and calls the fouls, whether or not they have occurred, and that is what counts
-An umpire can never kicked out of the game

87. The American for erotic is erratic.
-America is always changing its ideas regarding sexuality

30. ‘Terrorism and precipitate responses to it almost always produce the opposite of what is intended.’ (Robert W. Funk)
-America’s actions abroad and the terrorism that has come in response to their action and the American counter-response just make things worse for Americans and those whom they attempt to ‘liberate’

96. America is Rome. Europe is Athens. Islam is Jerusalem.
-We are like the Jews living under Roman rule, elsewhere AHM also says that we are the true inheritors of Athens

Peace
80. Loyalty is simple: it is to the oppressed.
-When the question of loyalty to our countries or to Islam applies, then this is the response we should give

90. The fight against suffering in this world that takes no account of the next world can only yield a suffering that is greater still.
-We will not find any relief or any sense for suffering if we do not have God’s justice, punishment and reward in mind
-One conversion to Islam was of a woman who felt it was impossible for justice to not reach

96. Peace at any price? Not at any price.
-Certain prices for peace will just create frustration that will renew hostilities and this is better elaborated by the Contention, ‘2. Peace without justice is not peace at all.’

64. It is better to keep the enemy hull-down on the horizon than to fight him at close quarters.
-Its better to keep Islamophobes afraid of us slightly and remain safe than to go after them in an aggressive way that may worsen the situation

Pacifism

64. Pacifism? Better armed than armless.
-In non-violence guilt is an arm and weapon used against an oppressor, if there is a conscience there, but conscience isn’t it

96. If you believe in peace, you will not believe in pacifism.
-Pacifism can easily become an ostrich escapism, hiding until the problem goes away

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 5, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Islamic Ideologies and Isms

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

I strongly avoid sectarian discussions on this blog, however this is a part of the Contentions and there is no really getting around this. It is a crucial aspect of AHM’s work and it would not be dignified of me to shy away from highlighting these ideas. They are overall good ideas, they are not angry ideas, but they are theological ideas and have little to do with the ordinary Muslims but with scholarship.

I would NEVER use these points in a conversation with someone who considers themselves a salafi or shia or whatever, because they are a simple Muslims like me and are just trying their best. Most of these issues and most of what people call ‘heresiology’ has to do with issues between scholars, not between lay people. I feel we really have screwed up here since there are few practicing Muslims, and amongst them there is an obsession with refutations as if this is what Islam is all about. This is not how the Sahabas lived Islam and its not how they became great. When a group of new Muslims began to adhere to a problematic creed, Ibn Abbas went and explained to them in a few minutes and brought them back into orthodoxy. These issues are really not as big as we make them out to be. Imam al-Bayhaqi has said polemics are a bid’ah hasana, but polemic have clearly become a blameworthy bid’a. So AHM has also included a number of Contentions that deal with proper adab with difference and navigating the many intellectual errors present in the diverse community of Islam, and I have been careful to elaborate on those ideas and those are points which I feel are of utmost important for the ordinary Muslim to read thoroughly, namely: ‘Spreading mercy not fear’, ‘Emotional Islam’ and ‘Try this…’

So its important to approach this section in realizing the mistakes made are not that severe, but they should be noted should history repeat itself and many of these points are useful in refuting insipid extremist rhetoric. Many of the intellectual mistakes Muslims have made are mistakes the Jews made or secularists have made as you will see below. But it could be history will reoccur, when Imam Mahdi comes and then dies, you could see a new brand of Shi’ism emerge or when Eesa alayhi salam dies you could see many other cults and sects emerge. AHM says little about the Sh’ia is harshest with ideology, extremism and the Salafi movement since he sees this age as the ‘golden age of the Khawarij’ which I found startling. Proceed with caution.


False religion

-This section applies to the comparison of Islam to other religions, but also to problematic tendencies present among Muslims

11. True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.
-Self-satisfaction is a false chimaera, since we can always become better people and always journey ever-closer to God

85. A canon of self-scrutiny: false religion feels more like a wound than a bandage.
-Their is self-scrutiny which is like a surgery and healing and then there is self-scrutiny which is like firing a cannonball at yourself

3. False religion finds it easier to make holes than to fill them.
-Problematizing is easy and a lazy job, while finding or creating answers is a hard job requiring real sustained effort

51. The false scholar: a muezzin whose fingers are stuck.
-Can’t or won’t listen to others, just keeps shouting

4. In senescence, religions have two possibilities: Alzheimers (the amnesiac option of the secular elites) and manic-depressive (the false Salafism).
-Like senior citizen, when religions are in decline they follow two routes, that of Alzheimers which is essentially forgetting their history (secularism) or Bipolar disorder where their are high points of manic religiosity and low points of depression which seems to be the route Islam in Saudi Arabia
-The geriatric metaphor is suitable because we should treat people who may go astray in these ways with compassion and caring we would treat someone who is unwell or terminally ill, even if these fellow Muslims will not change they are still a test for us before Allah

37. Some religions out-narrate others.
-out-narrate is a Milbankian term and suggests how the story of Islam is continuing while the stories of other religions is concluding

Spreading mercy not fear

-AHM mentions, ‘One hadith tells the Prophet’s (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s companions, who lived in the “Age of Felicity” (‘asr al-sa’ada): “You are living in a time when someone who renounces a tenth of what is enjoined upon him will be destroyed; but a time will come when someone who performs a tenth of what is enjoined upon him will be saved.” (Tirmidhi, Fitan, 79) Traditional Sunnism took this to mean that the law should be applied more gently as time went on. For instance, even one of the most rigorous of Ottoman jurists, al-Birgivi (1523-1573) thought that his age was so distant from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s time that it was forbidden for the jurist to apply any but the most easy and gentle interpretations of the Sharia.

56. Those who wish Islam to be feared and not loved cannot claim the prophetic kerygma in mission.
-They who treat Islam like a tribe have not inherited the teaching of Islam, which is to make Islam loved and spread it in a humane way that is realistic to people’s capabilities

78. If you put the Sunna before mercy, you have lost both.
-The sunna is mercy and he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is the mercy to the worlds

38 Remember, today, everyone is weak.
-Be merciful and soft with the Muslim and be realistic as to what you can expect of them

40. People will not come closer to you if you hit them.
-Few people will want to come back to revisit the mosque if we hurt them

93. Without meaning there is only meanness.
-An Islam devoid of spiritual meaning and intentions of spiritual transformation will be full of anger and attitude and this can also applies to modernity’s absence of meaning which leads to such gross harassments as racism and

13. Which came first: intolerant preaching or its subject-matter?
-Did intolerant preaching come because of political and theological problems or did already intolerant preachers simply find new spicy material to use in their sermons

64. Religion begins where empathy tends.
-Religion starts whereever one finds empathy, with the poor, oppressed and the confused

77. You may show a man a thousand miracles, but if you show him no compassion, he will not believe.
-Mercy is the greater miracle or an aid to witnessing miracles

31. Being hard is the soft option.
-Being harsh with people is the easy option while being soft is the hard thing to do

73 Once we cried out hawqalas, now we cry out ‘How callous!’
-We have become used to criticizing people and the problems we see rather than fleeing to Allah and using it as a moment to declare that God is greater and more powerful than these instances

91. Justice may never be the consequence of wrath; but it may be its right assuaging.
-Justice for us is not simply a mechanical reaction from anger, but it may heal anger and pain

55. Allat, Manat and al-Uzza cannot compete with your potential for harm.
-There is no allure to idolatry so it cannot distract us from Islam, but rudeness and being harsh with one another will hurt the cause of Islam and pushes people away from the religion

Ideology

89. Ideology must not be self-critical; religion must be.
-When ideology is self-critical it may mean killing people, but religion has to be self-critical since that is a sign of its life
-Elsewhere AHM says ‘umma semper reformanda- the ummah is always reforming’ referring to 1400+ years of Islamic history

81. Kerygma becomes paranoia when orthodoxy becomes ideology.
-Preaching becomes all about paranoia, anxiety and insecurity when they see religion as an ideology

20. The Caliph’s first task will be to flog those who call Islam an ideology.
-Islam is not an ideology, since an ideology is static and done, whereas a religion is dynamic and always growing, to use a metaphor ideology is a small house, while religion is a mansion that the more you walk in it, the more it grows, the more room and facilities it develops
-You have to work to belong to a religion, because not everything is laid out for you, whereas everything is laid out for you in an ideology and requires just a little knowledge
-I have used the word ideology since there aren’t many words that near it in meaning and usage but

91. An movement is Islamic to the extent that it truly succeeds.
-Allah has promised success to the believers, so if they are not suceeding it has to do with them, how attached to Islamic practice and how much they imbibe the religion

68. Dogma: less is more.
-Dogmatic thinking is strengthen by slogans and weakened by lengthy, nuanced literature and discussions

70. Islam is mainly threatened by those who mainly say that Islam is threatened.
-Many of the people crying wolf have an agenda, and alarmism is how they can gain in popularity, whereas they actually end up hurting Islam in the long run

37. The worst ideology is that which courts failure as a guarantor of martyrdom.
-Why? Because it will continue on and on and never see any reason to stop since its failures are beloved to it

Utopianism

-AHM mentions the problem with, Utopianism is that ‘it leads to a chronic obsession with purity rather than an ethic of compassion and concern and that makes us incapable of being an example to non-Muslims’

92. Utopianism was the Jahiliyya of the 20th century.
-It is a naive mentality that falls into a childish fantasy that denies the nature of decay in the world

67. The hope for radical success is normally a sign of Westernisation.
-When Muslim fantasize about creating a utopia this has less to do with Islam and more to do with imitating the West since even the success of the Prophets was gradual

22. Fantasy is death.
-It is as good as death since it paralyzes people, mortifies them and if acted upon can lead to death

69. Utopia? The devil tempts you to attempt heaven on earth, as he tempts you with zina.
-We cannot create heaven on earth which will only happen when God decrees it
-Better explained by the next Contention

83. The Messianic exists to indicate what we should not attempt.
-Only Eesa (Jesus) alayhi salam will bring forth the closest thing to heaven on earth as propheisied in the hadith

47. They are not the solution; God is the solution.
-We aren’t ready to make mention of Allah when we detail the laundry list of our societal and political problems, and if we don’t turn to Allah then how is some angry brother at the mosque going to solve our problems?
-This hints to the real problem which is the problem of ego and hurt pride when ‘Umar said that ‘Our honour is Islam, if we abandon Islam then God will debase us’

89. The front line has grown too long.
-Too many Muslims feel they need to be defending Islam and rather than concentrate in one area of the line, they spread out, work alone, have little support behind them because they have detached themselves from the Muslim community and this makes it easy for the ‘enemy’ to penetrate the line

67. Utopians are un-Realistic.
-They are disconnected from God and are acting out more out of a distance from Him, seeing the debasement of Muslims as a sign of His abandonment when in reality the Propethic example is one of tolerating strife and alienation
-Utopianism always will fail because it is out of touch with reality and will create dystopia

Islamism

1. ‘Islam is not Islamism – never forget this – but the latter operates in the name of the former, and this is the grave question of the name.’ (Derrida)
-Islamism could justify money laundering, scams, bank robberies, prostitution, drug trade and a host of other haram activities to fund what it sees as a battle for Islam
-The key idea here is Islamism, is unofficial repudiated Islam, does not represent nor assist Islam, except that it thinks it does, it is like someone who starts a fan club or dedicates fan fiction to a celebrity even though

69. Islamism replaces religion with the idea of it.
-Islamism advocates Islam, it likes and romanticizes the idea of it as glorious rather than actually living it as a life story, because it sees it as dead when it continues to live

71. Islamism: untie your camel, and trust in God.
-Islamism has no trust or reliance in Allah, it only has reliance upon itself and sees itself as the vanguard and sole force to protect Islam when Allah has promised to preserve this religion

92. Islamism is Orientalist.
-It takes on the caricatures that Orientalists have popularized about Islam, the marauding blood-hungry warriors, senseless and blind to reason and in this way Muslims Orientalize themselves

4. Islamism is the West’s only victory.
-AHM says elsewhere, ‘Even modern Islamism, which claims to be the Third World’s great revolt against the imposition of the West’s monoculture, typically defines itself in solidly Western terms as “vanguard” (tali’a), “movement” (haraka), or when finally ensconced in the palace of a fallen tyrant as an “Islamic Republic.” Hence John Gray’s diagnosis: “The idealogues of political Islam are western voices, no less than Marx or Hayek. The struggle with radical Islam is yet another western family quarrel.” Islamism is far from the liberal entailments of the Enlightenment, but it is closely allied to the more totalitarian possibilities which the Enlightenment unleashed.’

48. Islamism: the Holy Prophet marching.
-It is the only image of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) that Islamists think of or know of

14. Islamism’s fire will leave only ashes.
-The fire will not spread but will die out and leave only ashes of the Muslims

32 Islamism is the Frankenstein of Frankistan.
-Islamism is a zombie resurrected from the dead and defunct ideologies of the West’s past; the Orientalist blood-thirsty caricatures, the utopianism of the Communists, and often somehow ending up serving the political interests of the West in some way, shape or form by making Muslims look bad

86. Do not fear any extremist; fear the consequences of his acts.
-An extremist often is not to be feared since they are merely angry and frustrated but what they may do is what would cause harm to themselves and to Muslim lives and the future of Muslims

41 Islam thinks dyadically; Islamism thinks dialectically.
-Islam thinks about both the Muslim and the non-Muslim, whether they be enemies at the time or not, how to bring about harmony between them as Allah healed the hearts of the mushrikeen to accept Islam, while Islamism because of its distance from true Islam assumes no such thing can ever happen and thinks in terms of an forever us vs. them tribalistic mentality

27. The zealot is wrong, even when he is right.
-Because ultimately he will be wrong in the end

Extremism

-AHM says in one of his papers: ‘the other extremism is to give way to the lower desires, revenge, anger, venting one‟s sense of outraged pride, which is a reversion to the days of the jāhiliyya. Remember the old suicide warfare of the pagan Arabs, the ittifād, one of the phenomona of the furious rage, the h’amiyya, of the people of the jāhiliyya, who couldn‟t stand it when their honor and their pride was challenged by others, was a ritual suicide on the battlefield and to show them that these people were not afraid of death. One of the jahili practices that were abolished by Islam. Unfortunately this practice has come back in some contexts, but it is alien to our tradition. Think of earlier ages of the occupation of Palestine for instance, however much we stretch our imagination, can we imagine somebody in the Palestine occupied by King Baldwin in the time of the crusaders, walking into the now substantially Christianized market place in Jerusalem and engaging in act of suicidal terrorism against the men, women and children there? Before explosives, how would one have done it? Blindfolding oneself perhaps and lashing out with a sword at whoever happened to be near. History of course, because our history is a history of futuwa, of honorable warrior-hood, records no such thing.
That rage, that desire to self annihilation, to lash out and the men, women and children, whoever in the vicinity, is now becoming a global epidemic. And the „ulama who opened the little door now see these legions rushing through it in every place don‟t know what to do about it. That door has to be closed. Islam is too good for such practices, for such baseness, for such wild expression of futility and despair and vindictiveness.
This arbitrary brutality that has now come to the streets of this city and has caused such despair and confusion and division and battlement amongst Muslims and such joy and celebration amongst those who really wish we weren‟t here at all. This has to stop. And we should have a policy of zero tolerance of those who try to fudge the issues, and say, well in some places it‟s all right, but here it isn‟t, because this is a moral absolute. The practices is qabeeh, it is ugly, and Allah is Jamīl yahibbu al- Jimāl. He is beautiful and He loves beauty.”’

-AHM says in one of his speeches: “Bin-Ladenism, with its fury against global imbalance, is unveiled as simply another manner of being Western, as John Gray has calculated. If world trade is currently iniquitous, attacking the World Trade Center is no less iniquitous, like growing a rank weed in the same fetid soil of greed, envy, and lack of compassion.”

65. The suicide bomber is not afraid of death, because already, there is nothing left in him to die.
-AHM was once asked by a journalist if suicide bombing is mentioned in the Qur’an and used to say no, but then started to respond, “Uh huh, yes there is one verse: ‘It [Hell] almost bursts with rage.’ (Surah Mulk, v. 9)”

29. Extremism should preoccupy us only when it becomes the cause as well as the consequence of failure.
-It is neither the cause nor the consequence of our failures, it is a failure but the cause that needs fixing is our spiritual problems

53. No pure purism pushes people into impurity.
-Extremist rhetoric cannot be pure if it pushes people into sins

15. Extremism is tolerable because it is always transient.
-It is short-term and dies out quickly

92. Faith cannot yield despair; despair cannot yield martyrdom.
-The Qur’an states none despair the mercy of God but the disbelievers, but true faith remains strong when faced with adversity and there is no martyrdom when despair is the true reason, since it is an escape
-It requires more courage to live for Islam now, than it does to die for it and in a way those who embody Islam today are ‘living martyrs’ in the exoteric sense though the Qur’an states the martyrs are not dead but living in the unseen
-There are hadith that state the reward of the righteous near the endtimes will be like that of 40 Sahabas

93. Fundamentalism imitates the future, not the past.
-It imitates the dystopia that comes from utopianism and ignores the example of the Sahabas
-How the Companions behaved in Mecca, Madina and in Abyssinia is how we should behave under various societal situations

2. Fundamentalism is the belief that revelation forces us to be stupid.
-That we are not to use our intellect when the Qur’an clearly encourages us to in several places

15. The definition of extremism: any act that leads to extreme misfortune.
-Better explained by the next Contention

49. Suicide bombing is an extreme way of shooting oneself in the foot.
-If it flops, which it often does, the bomber ends up in jail and injured and if it succeeds innocent people die and it destroys the images of Islam

9. Ghuluww is not an excess of piety, it is a lack of it.
-’Halaka al-mutanata’oon, destroyed are those who go in extremes.’ (Hadith)

58. Extremism has no enemy save those it claims to defend.
-Often the greatest casualty are the extremists claim to protect and this is the same for American extremism as well
-Often there is a hatred of the people it claims to defend

30. Extremism: just say know.
-Islamic knowledge and learning is the answer to the ideas and problems posed by Muslims with extremist tendencies

40. Suicide bombing: al-fana’ fi’l-shaytan.
-Absorption and annihilation into shaytan since it is the triumph of despair and Allah says in the Qur’an none despairs in Allah except the disbeliever, while saying about the Awliya that they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve
-Better explained by this Contention, ‘9. The devil, not God, heareth the zealot’s prayer.’

7. Terrorism is to jihad what adultery is to marriage.
-It is the form of the act that is what makes the difference

50. Don’t get even. (‘God is witr , and He loves the witr .’)
-Do not take revenge
-AHM is particularly brilliant at combining Islamic and English language and vernacular to show that perhaps God has left signs and moral guidance hidden in those language

22. Islam provides hope; the umma provides fear. ‘Whoever unites both wings shall fly.’
-Islam promises us transformation and Muslims scare us about our future, and in a way this is good since we get our share of fear and hope

62. Do not let a false radicalism diminish your desire for a radicalism that is true.
-Better explained by this Contention, ‘58. ‘Moderate Islam’? Do not be an extreme Muslim; be extremely Muslim.’

False salafism
-A manifestation of scientism and skepticism inside the Muslim world
-change the edifice and foundation of building and make it collapse on them
-It carries with it a spirit of independence and autonomy reminiscent of feminism

67. “Back to the Sources!’ Pulling up the bucket is not helped by cutting the rope.
-The constant cry of the Saudi-trained scholars that never seems to progress much further
-If we want to get to the sources we have to follow the chain and historical Islamic scholarly tradition, but we can’t because the Salafi scholarship has detached itself from that tradition

7. The false Salafism should recall that some creatures can only survive in deep water.
-The superficial reading of Islam may work and be enough for the simpleton Nejdi Muslim but that doesn’t mean it is enough for every Muslim
-Some Muslims require more spiritual and intellectual depth and Islam has been quite capable of providing that throughout the ages

18. Wahhabism: the war on polychromy. (Vermeer: the perfect Protestant.)
-The rejection of the diversity of Islam and the multiplicity of religious opinions in favour of the ‘correct opinion’ which when asked on what basis or criteria it is considered ‘correct’ little explanation is given
-In a self this tendency might have its roots in the Monoculture though it is true many Muslim groups have proselytized their interpretations of Islam

50. History for the false Salafis is what the Holocaust is for the Jews.
-It is a revisionist paranoia that only sees the ugly moments in Muslim history and says ‘never again’ but like the Jewish state today it precipitates and brings about what it claims to combat

60. The false Salafism: veiling the Prophet with the Sunna.
-Hiding the Seerah via selective quoting of hadith, and thereby giving not giving each hadith its place, since context is absence

4 The false Salafism: an unsuccessful flight from complexity.
-Though it seeks simplicity it only ends up making things needlessly complicated by forcing people into making Islam a do-it-yourself project

25 The false Salafism: to make progress, we need to start at the beginning every day.
-The slogan is always to return to the basics of tawhid, those things every Muslim knows and has known since childhood

3. The false Salafism: an optimism about the present which justifies a pessimism about the past.
-In this sense it is an heir to European triumphalism of liberalism, secularity, modernity and the Enlightenment which looks back at history negatively and because of that is satisfied with itself and this is precisely why it is deaf

39. The false Salafi is Pharoah in the robe of Moses.
-The age-old Muslim problem of personality cults among religious students

88. The false Salafism: the revolt of the ego against the Caliph.
-This may refer to the revolt of would-be Saudi leadership against the Ottomans for selfish purposes of conquest, rule and the fervor of nationalism

41. The false Salafism: only the Arab has a salaf.
-In other words, the Arab Islam is the most authentic which forgets Bilal, Suhayb and Abdullah bin Salam, who were not Arab; rather many of the Sahabas and the Salaf were non-Arab in ancestry and region

80. The false Salafism: it is better to lose angrily than to win calmly.
-Related to the Contention, ‘54. Beware him that would fail violently rather than succeed peacefully.’

33 The false Salafi should disbelieve in angels.
-The absence of the spiritual is crucial since tasawwuf has to do intimately with the study of angels

43 The pleasure of false Salafism: the exegete stands above, not below, the ulema.
-The man who simply says this hadith is sahih or daef or rejected has a greater status than the ulema who will explain that hadith, contextualize it, compare it with related hadith, criticize it and derive lessons and rulings from it

36. The false Salafi is enraged because Sufism has been taken away from him.
-There is a dearth of spirituality, and a great disconnect between the ascetics, pious men, al-baka’un weeping saints among the Salaf and the early Sufs and the scholars of Saudi Arabia today

Literalism
80. Only Karaite Muslims demand adherence to a detailed creed.
-Karaite Judaism rejects Jewish rabbinical tradition, demanding strict adherence only to the Torah, detached from the rabbinical scholarship tradition, and the comparison is that Ahl al-hadith and other literalist movements are characterized by what they are not, as opposed to what they are

49. Literalism is the laziness that masquerades as courage.
-Critical thinking requires courage and a boldness to go dig deeper, and the literal reading is the easiest and least demanding reading for the scholar

65. Literalism is a playpen.
-A pun since it plays with words, childishly

90. Literalism is literally a type of tahrif .
-It is a literal distortion of an Islamic text since it hides the metaphorical or other layers of meaning

35. Literalism: have you seen him that worships God on a harf?
-Worshipping God on the tip of a word and being ready to change if someone says that word has changed, has no adherence to the spirit and spiritual power of Islam; it has little regard for context and moral depth

18. Literalism is defensible on all levels save the sacred.
-There are verses in the Qur’an that are clearly non-literal such as ‘And whoever is blind in this (world) he will be blind in the Hereafter…’ which are clear indications to the spiritual which is the hallmark of the sacred

11. The idolator is he who takes symbols literally.
-The Khawarij would not recite Surah Yusuf in prayer because they thought it was just a story

36. Without the batin, the zahir is an idol.
-It is for itself and to itself and does not have any spiritual connection to God
-This may have connection to the Mu’tazilite doctrines involving the corporeal nature of God

24. Be patient with literalists; but absolutely impatient with their extremists.
-Literalism is a simple matter, since in Islam there are literal readings which are valid and invalid so its a matter of simply showing and explaining
-But one cannot be patient with literalist extremists since they are perhaps the most dangerous of any extremist, who will act and kill on a typo
-This clip of Hamza Yusuf is highly relevant to this discussion

Ahl al-Hadith
-The recent Indian movement that advocated the usage of hadith alone and dispensing with 1400 years of Islamic scholarly tradition which has taken root in Saudi Arabia

100. The ahl al-hadith have only four madhhabs.
-The limit on opinions that can be derived are those in the four fiqh madhabs?

37. Takhrij is no substitute for exegesis.
-Simply sourcing a hadith and saying whether you think its authentic or not doesn’t actually derive any wisdom or lessons for the hadith

Formalism
-Formalism is another part of the Khawarij tendencies focus on the form, rather than the spiritual content, the focus on religious observance of rites and practices rather than the meaning
-a static, ossified, tradition, which you either are or are not inside this form- the strict adherence or observance of the deen, but in a way that ends up destroying the spirit of Islam and this formalism, differs starkly from the organic nature of the Sunnah, which is about always developing, always coming closer to Allah, always learning, always improving, and therefore, never seeing yourself as pious or knowledgeable because it is an infinite journey.

76. Formalism is just another variety of materialism.
-It is a superficial focus on worship as little more than a commodity rather than as a healing or spiritual journey
-The immediate, perfunctory rituals have more virtue because they are material, they can be seen as substantial, and easy to show, “This is what Islam looks like!” where as education and tazkiya are in solitude

91. Formalists prefer the political to the spiritual because their political failures are less extreme.
-A spiritual failure is harder to confront than a political problem to which one can resort to slogans and sound-bites to attempt to solve
-Spiritual transformations are what true political change is about

21. Tradition: the signs of tawakkul are an authorisation. Formalism: the signs of anger are an authorisation.
-Acting based on anger like the Hulk rather than acting on trust and reliance upon God like the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam)

73. Formalism: to esteem his fingers over his soul.
-AHM may be referring to the finger raising in prayer or he may be referring to pointing fingers rather than acting from the soul and healing the soul

49. The formalist is the corpse of an angel.
-The material nature of formalism sees what is material as real, but angels are made of light and to have a corpse of an angel is a metaphor to the death of spirituality

Shi’a
80. Shi‘ism is a schism, lacking the sea of Mercy.
-This is related to the Contentions, ‘78. Mu‘tazilism: unity and justice. Ash‘arism: unity and justice and mercy.’

33. Shi‘ism: He was infallible, except in his choice of wives.
-If the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is infallible it applies to all his choices, yet the Shi’a find fault in Aisha (radiallahu anha)

74. He is the Alid who does not accuse him of lacking rida.
-A true supporter of Imam Ali is someone who doesn’t accuse another personof lacking rida (satisfaction and acceptance of divine decree)

77. We are the Shi‘at Ali.
-Perhaps AHM is referring to Sunni Islam being the true partisans of Imam Ali

99. Rafidism: the first Muslim conspiracy theory.
-Rafidi Shi’ism where all sorts of ideas of a divine mistake being made where the Prophethood should’ve gone to Ali
-Like all conspiracy theories it has more to do with the love of scandal than of any truth

3. Sunnism is built on manaqib ; Shi‘ism on mathalib.
-Sunnism, instead of requesting of others, is built upon far sightedness, planning and doing
while Shi’ism is built upon requesting of others to do things

36. ‘Whoever has me as his Mullah, then Ali is his Mullah.’
-A reference to a hadith that connects the Risala of the Prophet with the honour of Imam Ali who is the ‘gate of knowledge’ and at the head of the Sufi orders
-AHM mentions that one of the books chanted by the Shi’a regarding Ahlul Bayt is written by Abu Wa’iz al-Kashifi, a Naqshbandi Sunni Sufi

23. The Sunna: both/and. The Shi‘a: either/or.
-Better explained by the next Contention
59. The Siddiq and the (Ali) Murtada are like Isaac and Ishmael: we do not say either-or, but both-and.

Emotional Islam
44. We are offering to the world a chalice for the soul, filled with our emotions.
-The Prophetic example is not to preach his grief and anger along with tawhid though he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was more tried than any of us

70. Pessimism is part of the impiety of the periphery.
-Being pessimistic damages the man of Muslims who live in the West: it can make Muslims in the East feel even more hopeless and it can make us Muslims self-defeating and powerless

45. Only movers are shakirs.
-Only people who achieve change are grateful, people who are always complaining and ungrateful usually will never attempt anything

50. Religion is only worth doing when it is better than opera
-If religion is just more theatrics and drama being added to our life then it is of no avail and of no use

95. Decadence is to protest more than to invite.
-Again, AHM visits the idea of decadence and how we Muslims protest more than welcome or do dawah
-When was the last thing Muslims held a rally for dawah for non-Muslims?

16. Have we become like the Incredible Hulk, ineffectual until provoked?
-An apt metaphor about Muslims who are on auto-pilot angry 24/7 when it comes to doing anything
-There is a Twitter account that plays off of this idea: MuslimHulk

97. Those who curse do not transform; those who do not curse transform.
-The difference between the spiritual state and its effects

64 We have replaced contrition with shame.
-We feel shame and our inferiority complex in the way that we should be feeling remorse and repentance to God for our sins

13. Know when to feel ashamed of feeling ashamed.
-Prolonged self-pity and mourning over oneself and the state of the Muslims is much more pathetic and embarrassing than actually being embarrassed by Muslims, its shaytan rubbing salt in the wound

100. Despair of self is the door into religion; despair of God is the door out of it.
-When we are overcome by the difficulties of life we turn to Allah for solace and ease, but when we imagine despair of God’s assistance we abandon religion
-The Prophets are the most tried amongst humanity and they did not fear sins as much as they feared disbelief

78 It is time to rise from the emotion-bath, and recall where we left the libas al-taqwa.
-We should stop bathing our mind, body and soul in emotions and anger, and instead put on the garment of piety and God-consciousness

54. Beware him that would fail violently rather than succeed peacefully.
-When someone decides that violence is the nobler route or carries with it more success simply because of what they have seen in films its a sign of stupidity and as AHM says elsewhere in his Contentions, ‘an extreme way of shooting oneself in the foot.’

3. Today we grow up quickly, but into something childish.
-Brings new meaning to the saying, ‘The child is the father of man’
-The idea of the ‘kidult’ and the fact so many divorces occur
-Elsewhere AHM talks about the modern day Muslim as a child in the robes of an elder sultan

31. See things coolly. You will not think more clearly by worrying that you worry.
-In biology, the part of the brain that worries is the ‘reptilian brain’ since it has similarities to the animal world where it initiates a flight or fight response, and this impairs any cognition with the upper parts of the brain

52. We can curse, or we can be discursive.
-We can keep cursing and getting angry or we can start using our reason and find ways to mitigate the reasons for our anger

71. Do not trust those who readily close their eyes.
-We put people in the driving seat who aren’t ready to open their eyes and we all crash and get hurt

100. ‘The conspiracy theory of society comes from abandoning God and then asking: “Who is in his place”?’ (Karl Popper)
-Even the philosophers understand why conspiracy theories have grown, that its a symptom of our distance from God

Try this…

96. If their defences are strong, it is because you have not used the weapon of mercy.
-’I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends’ (Lincoln)
-People know how to react with anger and hostility, but they become confused and don’t know how to react when their enemy uses compassion against them and eventually they cave

84. Expect only a little. If you impose everything on everyone, you will drive everyone away from everything.
-Taddaruj or gradualism is the way Islam grew and it is the convention even in the Qur’anic revelation

10. Use silence to suffocate falsehood, not truth.
-When we speak to someone idiotic we lower ourselves and acknowledge that they are to be listened to

43. Use words in your preaching only if absolutely necessary.
-Often the Muslim who remains silent and talks little people note his/her character and actions much more closely and it is in there that only the good stands out clearly

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 4, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Secular Ideologies and Isms

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

This section is arguably the most important section of AHM’s Contentions. Here he touches on a number of issues ranging from the scientific, philosophical and political in the Western framework. This section may be a little abstruse but its crucial for Muslims to start discussing some of these more challenging topics.

Part of this section (modernity, monoculture and liberalism) are relevant to the next sections of Islamic Ideologies and Isms/Geopoltics since those are in response and often connected to these ideas.

Science
-‘Science looks for where it lost the ring under the streetlight because that’s the only place that it has any light.’ (Nuh Ha Mim Keller)

93. Those that are wedded to the science of this generation may be orphaned in the next.
-Science will most likely abandon us, treating humanity as little more than guinea pigs, so we have no support in the future and perhaps turn to religion instead
-The problem with science nowadays is the lack of values and ethics that stablise it, if the line between does and don’ts is always shifting sooner or later it will be the science that gets hurt
-AHM may be hinting to the fact science may so radically alter us in our psychology and biology that we will be unable to approach science in the same way

35. Science is the revelation of order. Faith is the revelation of liberation.
-What does order reveal and what does liberation reveal?
-AHM has mentioned that philosophy has debated and wrestled over the idea of ‘being’ which here may correspond to liberation, and the ‘order of being’ which corresponds to ‘order’ or perhaps ‘order of being’ corresponds to liberation in the sense that faith orders our existence

80. Scientists show us only dead matter. (‘God calls you to what gives you life’.)
-Science is materialism and engages in a type of necrophilia because it has its limits (i.e. this Earth) and its rigor often sounds like its beating a dead horse
-Often science has more to do with disproving and often trying to be a kill-joy to the more mysterious aspects of life,
-’When a scientist says something is possible he is almost always right, but when a scientists says something is impossible, he is almost always wrong’

76 The frontier between seen and unseen moves in time, so why not in space?
-As time has gone on we can now see with microscopes, ultrasound, x-ray or telescopes what we once could not see, so if that is the case, and our understanding of reality is that time and space are interconnected and intimately related, so then we have a basis for the possibility that we can ‘move’ spatially into those unseen worlds
-He is suggesting our moving from this world to the Next via what we know of time-space

Atheism

58. We are designed to fall to our knees.
-AHM I believe is commenting on the intelligent design argument for the existence of God, like the watch-maker explanation for God, and building upon it by saying we are designed not just to prove God’s existence but to also for prayer, and therefore designed for His worship
-There is a design to the world in that we do become overcome by grief and do collapse and look up in prayer

22. Taskhir is usufruct, not a title deed.
-The argument of intelligent design is on loan, that is, perhaps Muslims are just borrowing it from Christians and its not really a ‘Muslim’ argument in that we own it
-Or that we are allowed to use the world around us, but it is on loan from God and therefore not truly ours

32. The existence of God is proven by existence. The existence of existence is proven by the one for whom it exists.
-I don’t think it could be said any clearer than that so I won’t comment on this

85. Man is the proof of God. The man of God is the proof of religion.
-Man proves God which proves the man of God which proves religion
-The sight of the Awliya and the Prophets is often enough to change an atheist into a believer

70. Atheism: all faith is idolatry.
-Muslim definition of idolatry applied to any belief in a god
-Atheism is a purism, but from what?

60. Nietszche: God has died because of those who believe that God died.
-A clarification of Nietszche’s ‘God is dead’ which really refers to the appreciation and fear of God which has vanished
-’I am in the opinion of My servant’ (Hadith)
-People ‘believe’ God is gone, meaning they still have potential to ‘believe’ in something, but why has it been reduced to a belief in an absence?

37. Ex nihilismus nihil fit.
-From the nihilist nothing is done
-Nothing is meaningful for the nihilist who surrenders to a fatalism
-Julian Benda echoes an Islamic idea that one should do good not because of its results, since it may achieve little but because it is good, similar to the hadith, if one is planting a seed and the end of the world arrives, you should finish planting the seed

65. Atheism: the belief that water originates in the well.
-AHM mentions in one of his talks, to use aql for an end, and only to an end, leads to atheism and a believer that has aql is more true to aql
-The problems of philosophy are about being and order in being, so why is there water and why is the well ordered neatly, why isn’t a big gooey mess?

42. Atheism: I live, and I will die. Theism: I live, and I will live. Tariqa: I am dead, and I will live. Haqiqa: Allah is Alive, and does not die.
-A continuum of beliefs and progressions on the spiritual journey
-This is a very close definition to belief and how it can radically alter our world moving from a mere idea to a lived reality

Will
84. Free will secularises by authenticating the alterities.
-Free will alone suggests we are the other in our choices and that we can be coequal to God in the scale of our decisions when in reality God has destiny operating as well
-A commitment to free will validates the idea that there are other non-religious ways of being, that can be just as good as Islam, which for Muslims it makes Islam feel like its not as sacred or any more special than any other religion or ideology

98. Is it willpower that frees us from our wilfulness?
-Will power as a battery and willfulness is intention or the action that uses willpower to power it
-Having the ability to choose satisfies us so we don’t do anything very meaningful volitionally
-What actions do we do that are truly wilful?

Un/certainty
-AHM talks about this elsewhere, ‘You won’t find certainty through any amount of equations that you write up on a chalkboard. You won’t find certainty by looking through a microscope because that’s all dunya and it’s all self-referential. It’s the hall of mirrors. Certainty is a gift. Allah (SWT) is the one who bestows it…’

9. Relative existence has no reality of itself. See it only as signs made of shadows.
-Signs made of shadows which is similar to mirror made of reflections, where we relate our existence to others and find mutual hollowness
-A sign made of shadows vanishes when Light is near and so God can efface our reality when guidance and the proper spiritual openings come

86. The only thing that is inherently uncertain is the claim that everything is inherently uncertain.
-If everything is inherently uncertain then this statement too would be inherently uncertain and false too

26. Uncertainty is only superficial.
-See the previous and next Contention

39. If you are sceptical about coincidences, God will help you.
-Hamza Yusuf in one speech mentioned the word coincidence is made up co-incidences meaning that the cause-effect relationship is not being followed clearly and there is something not quite normal going on
-God will help us in that He will manifest coincidences in our lives so as to show us His omnipotence and that He truly is in control and that miracles are not as far-fetched as we imagine them to be

83. Determinism does not exclude providence, it excludes everything else.
-Determinism out rules the possibility of something different occurring, that cause-effect relationship, is binding and God may have let that come about because of His Sunna but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to occur
-The fact it excludes everything else, for example, means that it out rules the paranormal, and other possible explanations and therefore also out rules and cannot any further than cause-effect and appreciate the mysteries of life
-The miracles that occurred in Prophetic history have spiritual effects but just because God causes a miracle doesn’t mean people will believe, some won’t since deterministic understanding of cause-effect makes them still doubt it
-The uni-drectional linear flow of time creates a very limited world of experience

Secularism/Secularity
-AHM says elsewhere, ‘secularity must be the public certainty; all other certainties must be contemplated in private.’
-Syed Naquib al-Attas dedicates a portion of his writing to differentiating secularism and its related processes, where secularism is the crystallization of the process of secularization and secularity is the state of being secular and apart from religion so the crux of the issue is the ‘progress’ of secularism and whether it can succeed

82. Nothing is more counter-intuitive than secularity.
-It goes against our intuition to compartmentalize and divide our experience of the world and thereby diminish it

85. The secular are just like everyone else, only less so.
-Secularism is defined by reaction and subtraction
-Religion carries with it glorious expressions of human history, our emotions, poetry, art and our maximum potential but the secular in separating from this make themselves voluntarily lesser than past society and currently existing religious societies
-The scope of human experience is severely limited and there is a great deal of depression and confusion

99. Can one belong to the West and not subscribe to the illusion of a secular ethic?
-Our participation in society has to do with the secular ethic of keeping religion private, and its implicit in our society, but it is an illusion since we have freedom of speech, so if we were to go and speak about religion publicly would this shatter the illusion or make us ‘lesser’ members of the West or somehow nullify our membership as citizens?

6. Nothing is more risky than the thought that the world has been ‘secularised’.
-Secularization of the world cannot ever be fully achieved since something will always make it under or over the fence, so when Muslims start believing in secularisation happening then they begin to denigrate Islam

99. Secular morality: modernity’s saving fiction.
-Its undefinable and whatever aspect of morality is there has more to do with Judeo-Christian morality than with a secular morality, since a secular morality is little more than biological determinism and a cynicism and critique of altruistic behaviour

96. Secularity excludes universals
-In secularity, everything is specific, isolated, fragmented, and disconnected
-There is little internal coherence in secularity

Humanism
-“Humanism in the conventional sense of the term de facto exalts fallen man and not man as such. The humanism of the moderns is practically a utilitarianism aimed at fragmentary man; it is the will to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible.” (Frithjof Schuon)
-AHM remarks in one of his essays, ‘…theme of “becoming oneself” that ironic modern quest which, as Robert Pippin has noted, has replaced the ancient and Enlightenment dream of “knowing oneself” so that instead of learning what it is to be human, the novelist avoids any generalization from his own self-awareness to the nature of humanity as such or the quality of reality. “Self-becoming” takes place through relationality, once the experiment with isolation has failed; and relationality’s summit is not romantic love, but sexuality. Hence, as with Proust, Houellebecq’s narrator is only able to reflect upon his own growth to self-becoming in connection with the body.’

21. True humanism: the Real is known only through mu‘amala.
-God is only known through meaningful interactions with each other and Him? Uncertain if AHM is trying to say something else.

32. True humanism: there is no account of God without a knowledge of human potential.
-’He who knows himself, knows his Lord’ (Imam Ali)
-One must be realistic in matters of religion with respect to people’s ability which means, not simply looking at our individual choices but what we as human beings are capable of otherwise its ‘personism’; not selling humanity short

Liberalism

58. Comfort and freedom are unnatural bedfellows.
-‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’ (Thomas Jefferson)

15. Tolerance is no substitute for holiness.
-Being tolerant is not the core of religious teaching, though it is important, holiness and a sense of something greater than ourselves and the world around us is far more important

16. The solution is liberality, not liberalism, for liberalism takes more than it gives.
-Being more generous is the solution since liberalism only seems to be taking things away from people
-“If they merely took pleasure in affirming their imagined superiority, the illusion would only do harm to themselves; but their most terrible offense is their proselytising fury: in them the spirit of conquest goes under the disguise of “moralist” pretexts, and it is in the name of “liberty” that they would force the world to imitate them.” (Guenon)

44. Liberals make mercy colder than justice.
-A passage from Chesterton who AHM has referred to elsewhere: ‘He takes us into the schools of inhumanist learning, where there are neither books nor flowers, nor wine nor wisdom, but only deformities in glass bottles, and where the rule is taught from the exceptions. Macaulay said that the Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. Of such substance also was this Puritan who had lost his God. A Puritan of this type is worse than the Puritan who hates pleasure because there is evil in it.’

10. Exoterism offers only literalism or liberalism.
-If there is nothing sacred or spiritual then everything has to do with maximizing pleasure and the morality is nothing more than world-play and manipulation

28. There is no liberation in the world that is not also a liberation from the world.
-There is no spiritual satisfaction in the dunya unless it has to do with the Akhira and Allah

81. Not all autonomy is dignity; but all dignity is autonomy.
-Being dignified carries with it autonomy but simply being autonomous doesn’t win you dignity

77. The hardest choices are those between justice and equality.
-The problem of ‘redistributive justice’ where to be compassionate or give rights to one person may take away from another person, especially if there is a limit on resources, which is related to Marxism
-How can we say this is fair or just in relation to another? On what scale are our values set?

Progress
-AHM says elsewhere, “What Westerners call progress is for Moslems nothing but change and instability; and the need for change, so characteristic of modern times, is in their eyes a mark of manifest inferiority: he who has reached a state of equilibrium no longer feels this need.”

89. ‘Progress and catastrophe are two sides of the same coin’. (Hannah Arendt)
-The use of the word ‘coin’ indicates gambling as the true nature of what society is doing, in gambling with ideas and the emotional and intellectual lives of millions

94. ‘If somebody scratches where it itches, does that count as progress?’ (Wittgenstein)
-The mechanistic reactionism of progress indicates the banality of it, its short-sightedness, and how it actually produces nothing but is little more than small desires

4. Nothing is more pessimistic than a naïve belief in progress.
-There is no control in that since one is putting faith into a ghost or a mystery whose values and decisions cannot be predicted and change rapidly

59. Liberation is always mutual.
-If I am liberated at the expense of another its not really a liberation because my conscience will imprison my soul, therefore both must be liberated for my soul to also be liberated

Monoculture
-This is something AHM has identified and make Muslims understand about the Western society; the monoculture with its uniformity is compared against the beautiful multiculturalism of Islam where religion is internalized regardless of race or culture
-AHM says in one of his talks, ‘Islam is the only religion that emerges against its society; Jesus is part of that society, Buddhism has India’s reincarnation ideas- and this is so God wanted us to recognize the greatness of Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam’
-AHM remarks in one of his essays, ‘For him, self-becoming requires separation from bourgeois false consciousness, and only two such separations are currently available: Islam and idealistic hedonism. His option is for the latters, but only because the former is alien to him. But perhaps in that very alienness lies an authentic Otherness, an option which would enhance our free separation from the monoculture.’

17. Islam is muwahhid; the monoculture is muwahhad.
-muhwahhid means monotheist, while muwahhad is the object form of the word and the monoculture treats people as objects, not people

78. If you seek to keep up with the Monoculture, you will always be out of breath. If you seek to excel it, you will be at peace.
-The monoculture always runs around in circles, consider how long it took for modernity to catch up with women’s rights, protection of minorities and abolishing slavery which Islam afforded a long time ago

66. The Monoculture annihilates difference for fear that the Other might show it what it truly is.
-Like a killer it needs to eliminate witnesses who have seen its violence
-AHM says in one of his papers, ‘For Davutoglu, the Enlightenment’s liquidation of non-Western cultures traps us forever in the monoculture, since the option of borrowing and syncretism open at earlier times of civilisational crisis has now been confiscated.’

64. The Monoculture is opaque to itself.
-Can’t see through itself or demands everybody else be transparent so it can judge other cultures yet no one can evaluate it
-This may change as there is now a new sociological discipline called ‘White Studies’ that has just begun

59. The Monoculture: an easy way of making life difficult.
Zahir: a difficult way of making life easy.
Batin: al-din yusr.
-Ease and tranquility have more to do with the cognitive frames one uses than with life itself

89 The Enlightenment’s falsest promise was the development of strong autonomous personalities.
-Better elaborated by the contention ‘87. False culture opposes consciousness.’
-How conscious are we? How self-conscious are we?

77. Happiness is more important than conforming to the Monoculture.
-There is a difference between the Monoculture and happiness, since the idea of happiness in the monoculture is material while happiness in Islam is about spiritual sakina

6. It is better to engage fully with the Monoculture from a position of dislike than to engage partly with it from a position of admiration.
-In terms of negotiation strategy, it is better for us to voice our beliefs about what we dislike about the monoculture and engage in it that way than to engage with it in a position of admiration where it may simply walk all over us

76. The Monoculture: everyone toes the line, saying: ‘I am in a different place!’
-To think freely is often to think alike, rather than differently
-Often the same people who demand freedom of speech aren’t very good at freedom of thought

4. The Monoculture has no principle save the absence of metaphysics. (Without the One, there is no Many.)
-’The first rule of fight club? Don’t talk about fight club!’

94. The monoculture is as relaxing as its trousers.
-Something about society is reflected in the sorts of pants it produces: baggy jeans that are half way down your legs, tight pants, yoga pants, torn jeans, or corduroys
-The pants are meant to stifle us and make us self-conscious and anxious about our appearance and adherence to the monoculture and latest fashions; there is no contentment

40. ‘I should’ now only means ‘I should not obstruct my neighbour’s “I want”.’
-Going along to get along
-Our morality is basically little more than getting out of the way

34. Detachment from the need to conform is perfect only when it yields perfect conformity.
-If we Muslims abandon conformity to societal norms then it is only perfect when we conform to the sunnah, or else if we do not conform to the sunna than what we do in the name of Islam often imitates the monoculture (ex: Islamic fashion shows or game shows)

72. The élites want everybody to be nobody.
-When an army invades, especially a Western superpower, the first people to die are those who are distinguished as leaders or learned people so that the masses can be more easily manipulated and not rise up
-AHM may be hinting to the state of modernity as alienation from what one is capable of

Modernity
-AHM says elsewhere, ‘Muslims, in their wisdom, developed science and technology only to a point where divine agency and human frailty were still undeniable; and were providentially protected from further “progress”’
-AHM says in one of his papers, “If late modernity tends to strip us of true agency, then must we conclude that the core Enlightenment ideal can only be found in religion?”

7. The modern West shows that without a Shari‘a there can only be scattered hunafa’.
-There are only a few people remaining who believe in monotheism, that is among non-Muslims without the Shari’a

50. Modernity: ‘a world full of Christian ideas gone mad.’ (Chesterton.)
-Capitalism, Liberalism and the Monoculture have basis in the history of Europe

64. Modernity deprives us of the most basic right of all: the right to be traditional.
-It forces us to re-invent ourselves or always be changing
-To be traditional is to be like those who came before us and simply follow the culture of the geographical region without any unnecessary pressure from elsewhere

10. Modernity: a way of drowning in nothingness.
-Modernity advocates nothing and spreads this vaccuum which leads to depression

64. Modernity offers more and more ways of being the same sort of thing.
-In the spirit of things it is more of the same, though superficially it may appear differently
-This Contention is especially relevant to the next section which shows how Islamism and extremism are manifestations more of the West than they are manifestations of Islam especially in how they are related to utopianism of Communism and democracy

96. Which is the bigger prison: Islam in the eyes of modernity, or modernity in the eyes of Islam?
-Islam in the eyes of modernity looks exoterically a prison, but is esoterically open while modernity in the eyes of Islam is exoterically open but esoterically very constricting

26. What can modernity tell those who dislike shopping?
-When Christian Lauder, (who wrote ‘Stuff White People Like’) was praised for representing ‘white culture’ he replied, ‘This isn’t a culture, its a shopping list!’

11. Modernity, at best, is a nostalgia for desire.
-All modernity reminds us of are our biological and material desires over and over again

42. Modernity has only footnotes; faith has text as well.
-While Islam has the Qur’an and its own commentary, modernity has cut itself of from the flow of history, perhaps seeing itself as the ‘end of history’ it has concluded and started writing footnotes
-Often it is the footnotes which frame a text leading or misleading the reader

95. Modernity: such a huge arena for so little activity
-Spreading modernity around the world to absolutely no purpose, except perhaps economic benefit
-Loneliness has become epidemic with modernity

27. Modernity is confined to Westernness; Islam is not.
-The monoculture vs. the multicultural; the melting pot vs. the mosaic

100. Modernity finds it hard to distinguish between rest and idleness.
-Productivity and vacation, that after a while we become used to constantly working and find pleasure in it

35. Modernity offers us everything except pleasure and leisure.
-Today most people work 5 days a week and take 2 days off in a week, and retire late when they are aging, whereas in the Muslim world in the past, people would work 6 months and make sufficient money and for the next 6 months not work and spend their time in in leisure, worship and learning knowledge

13 Modernity has not healed our pain, it has only dried our tears.
-It is merely the flow of time and a comforting tough it has no healing for our pain
-In this sense it is purely exoteric and blind to what is esoteric
-An apt analogy might be having someone from a different religion comforting you at the funeral of a loved one

100. Modernity is the teaching of perfect misunderstanding.
-‘And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.’ (Qur’an 7:179)

27. Modernity: the nuclear winter of the Reformation.
-The Protestant reformation is likened to a nuclear war in which everybody has suffered modernity in a winter brought on by the blotting out of the sun by the theological fallout
-Its an example as to how internecine religious disputation when it goes on for too long can destroy the religion both sides seek to improve

9. Modernity: an accelerating attempt to shovel matter into the growing hole where religion used to be.
-’The blank in the modern heart is a God-shaped blank’
-’A religion small enough for our understanding would not be large enough for our needs.’
-Note the sharp disparity between matter/modernity inadequately replacing spirituality/religion

70. Against Modernism: between signs and science there is neither rhyme nor reason.
-There is no order nor inherent sense in the relationship between physical sciences and philosophy (signs/signifiers)

87. The cause of modern panic is non-referentiality.
-There is no tradition and therefore no security or ‘home’ to go to when things get bad
-No one to look up to for guidance or support, but having a constant societal pressure to invent and innovate

Postmodernism
-Postmodernism is the idea that everything is subject to open interpretation, a decadence that means everything is meaningless and banal

6. Postmodernism is Jahiliyya. Each tribe has its own story.
29. Postmodernity: a galaxy of dogmatisms.

22. ‘I particularly like the idea that my paintings may say nothing.’ (Magritte)
-A decadence that becomes too lazy to intend anything
-If people believe life has no purpose that comes to be reflected in the artwork

Intellectuals/Academics

71. Heuristics: the ideal ear is the idea without the Id.
-‘Reason is the slave of passion.’ (David Hume)

9. The task of the intellectual is to atone for his complexity.
-There is a hadith, ‘Yassiru wa la tu’assir, Make things easy, not difficult, Basshiru wa la Tunaffiru, Spread good news, not bad.’

1. It is better to be a naïve believer than an intellectual bereft of intuition.
-An intellectual can become deluded with pride in his knowledge and intellect and may reject Islam, but a naive believer remains humble with the vicissitudes of life and preserve their Islam
-AHM often mentions a hadith, that most of the people of Jannah are simple-minded (or foolish) people

44. Academic Islamic Studies is as foolish as it is because we are as foolish as we are.
-Its hard to make Muslims noble by studying their strange idiosyncrasies

17. Most people would benefit greatly from learning a first language.
-AHM’s writing and is a clear example of why you should master your first language
-When Islam becames an integral part of a country Islam becomes a part of the language, but first Muslims must make Islam understandable to the general masses with a better use of language

76. The saint says a few simple things, and changes the world. The academic philosophises, but does not change even himself.
-We can become slaves even to our ideas and they can control us, but the saint strives and changes the only thing he can change, himself and Allah

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

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