Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 5, 2016

Bringing Practicing and Non-Practicing Muslims Together

For the longest time I believed practicing Muslims are very different from non-practicing Muslims, but I’ve realized I couldn’t be more wrong and I think its time we talk about this.

When Muslims appear in the media we encounter the same obstacles over and over again: Who speaks for Muslims? What language and vocabulary can be used to speak about Arabic terms? Who has the religious authority and knowledge of Islam and the English skills to convey it? What cultural similarity can we share with the non-Muslim listeners? How can we attract people to us without pandering or downplaying Islam, or reducing it to superficial border issues like brown skill and smells?

The answer to all these questions is we bridge the divide between non-practicing and practicing Muslims. We cannot expect realistically for the practicing Muslims to be experts in all things. And we cannot expect Islam to survive by cutting off Muslims who are not practicing. In fact, that is when Islam is most critical, at the point where it is weakest, that we have to make sure it thrives.

Just as non-Muslims have preconceptions and presumptions about Muslims, so too we Muslims have certain presumptions and preconceptions of our fellow Muslims, whether they are practicing or not-so-practicing. Lets remedy this with some realism.

Realism
The practicing Muslim is often weak on morality, is selfish (after all being religious is for your own personal benefit) and likes to think they could easily be wealthy and successful if they really wanted to. The non-practicing Muslim, often financially successful, is confused about life, negligent about God but likes to think they could easily go to the mosque regularly and intend to do great worship in their old age. Likely both are weak when it comes to halal income but easily conceal this shortcoming. We are all equally hypocritical, albeit, in our own unique ways.

Regardless of religiosity, everyone has their own wisdom and life experience. Both practicing and non-practicing are willing to stand by their community, even in hard times. Both are indebted to each other. There is so much khayr non-practicing Muslims have done for the Muslim community and are so dedicated to the community like no other. The non-practicing Muslim is eager to help Muslims out with money and resources whenever he can and the practicing Muslim always keep the whole community in their duas, even those they dislike. Non-practicing and practicing Muslims may not communicate very much or get along always, but at the end of the day, they try.

And in each family there are practicing Muslims and non-practicing Muslims, and that too there are phases in everybody’s life where they are more religious or less so, and in different ways, often due to life circumstances. We all have times when we are closer to Allah and at times when we aren’t. Its internal so we can’t know externally. We all have different types of personalities and our hearts are not equally soft or hard, no matter how we look.

And practicing Muslims have to accept the fact some Muslims will not become religious no matter how hard you preach. Its just how they are and you have to accept it and love them as Muslims regardless. And non-practicing Muslims have to accept the fact some Muslims will not succeed materially no matter how modernized they become and that not every practicing Muslim has a holier-than-thou attitude, they are just caring for you in their own unique way or too busy thinking about Allah and His Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam).

The grey area and pretexts
Religion can be a pretext. Some sisters wear hijab because it makes them look more attractive. Some Shias don’t know how they are different from Sunnis and their understanding of Islam is Sunni, even if they are Shia in name. There are Zaydi Shias, whom Sunnis think are Shia and Shia think are Sunni. Some preachers may be charlatans. I never assume anything about a community unless I have direct experience. Hearsay is not something the Prophet relied upon, but would say “I know nothing of them but good.”

And Allah will judge us all differently based on our circumstances, chances are the ulema have a harder judgement than the unknowing average Muslim. This is not to give excuses, but to point out the reality of the human condition.

Perspectives
Let us talk about perspective. From the standpoint of God, we are all human beings in His care. From the standpoint of Satan, we are all just human beings who should be debased, one way or another. From the standpoint of the community imam, you are just one in a flock whose salvation is important – the imam will do your aqiqa (birth ceremony), your janaza (funeral) and pray for you when you are sick. The imam is more religious than anyone but doesn’t look down. From the standpoint of the government and media, you are a citizen, with a family, health problems, jobs, community contributions or a potential criminal problem. The government is completely non-religious but does a great deal of good. From the standpoint of God, Satan, the imam and the government, we are a community and we either rise together or we fall together, there is no individual falling or individual success.

Tolerating Sin 
We have to remember Abu Hanifa had an alcoholic neighbour who would play music loudly all night long. And Abu Hanifa did not rebuke this person because of the right of the neighbor and interceded before the judge when he was charged with a crime. Even earlier on, there was a time when Islam was not about practice. In Islam’s infancy, there was only the shahada and the prayer, not even the 5 daily prayers but the night prayer in the middle of the night. And that too only repeating the same few early surahs of the Qur’an, since most of the Qur’an hadn’t been revealed yet. You can imagine Hamzah, the uncle of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) drunk in the daytime, reciting a few verses in Surah Qaf in the night prayer. It was only later on alcohol was forbidden, 5 prayers prescribed and the Qur’an was completely revealed. In the early days, Islam was about strengthening belief and secrecy, not about external acts of worship and identity pride. Allah revealed the Qur’an slowly, because Allah wanted Muslims to become practicing in increments, bit-by-bit, year after year, whereas previous nations like the Children of Israel had to become practicing all at once. We should take solace in this and think if Allah cut us some slack from Day 1, then maybe we should cut each other some slack too?

Labels are Meaningless, Its all Relative
By the time you are 40 something and if you have listened to 1 sermon every week very closely, you have probably learned an equal amount about Islam as the 80 year-old practicing Muslim who only give the sermon half their attention. Most practicing Muslims don’t know much about the life of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and their is no kindergarten-level or high school-level of knowledge of Islam. In fact, many preachers of Islam make mistakes without realizing because of their limited knowledge and limited study of Islam. Knowledge of Islam is fragmentary in our time, not holistic; we all have pieces, but only a few have the whole picture.

Try your best
There is a reason why the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) taught an Islam that isn’t about maximal worship, but about optimal moderation. Because moderation is sustainable. And by moderation I don’t mean doing as little as possible, but doing as much as one honestly can do. Moderation means being able to honestly say, “Allah, I am trying my best.” One cannot be all things religious at all times. Its just not humanly possible. There are ups and downs. And there are times when you struggle and overcome, and then get weak and have to overcome again. But that is because it is worth it. The amount of struggle involved to just arrive at the Friday prayers on time, and then run back to work, can be a weekly test of faith for some people. The misbehaviour, the bad parking, the lengthy sermon and all that is a trial for the practicing and non-practicing Muslims. But they endure it because of Allah, because if they did it for the sake of a Muslim they like, they wouldn’t do it.

All or Nothing is False
We can’t think of ourselves in an all-or-nothing dichotomy, be immaculate or be filthy is the binary, as if we are robots. If we were to think like this, then shaytan would win overnight. But we have to keep trying, wherever we are, how many sins or good deeds we’ve done or what impression we cast on the people around us. But thats false, we have to try and do what we can and we slip and have weak points. We have to bring each other up and that should be the goal because we are in the same boat together.

And if this all doesn’t draw it all home, then just read about Jews during the Holocaust. In their last moments, as they were bussed to the concentration camps, young Jewish kids were fornicating next to Jews praying their kaddish prayer for the dead. At the end of the day, we are a community, for better or worse and those who hate us, hate us all equally.

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

Posted by: Dawud Israel | November 2, 2016

The Sadaqa Business Model

Alhamdulillah, I recently got married and have begun working full-time. This is a great blessing I am grateful for daily. Like any blessing it has its challenges, responsibilities and there is a learning experience in it along with its fruits. For the longest time, I have been a student and feel compelled to stay that way, but now I feel I have joined the rest of society in the pursuit of the dollar.

I don’t like being put in this position. So I have tried to bring my deen into my dunya – so my dunya is for my deen. My goal for working has been to give more sadaqa but there is a whole psychology behind sadaqa and the economics of shaytan’s waswasa that hides behind every paycheque. But alhamdulillah, in Islam, sadaqa can be given to one’s family. And yet, with money I always feel I am being too prudent or too extravagant in spending. I am guided by the Prophet’s ﷺ saying, “The best of sustenance is that which suffices.”  May Allah help me implement and understand this saying, ameen. If I get caught up in the trap of being distracted by the dunya, as Allah warns us in Surah al-Takhathur, then maybe I will lose the baraka of what I do earn. It may be there is more baraka in fewer earnings and there may be less baraka in more earnings.

So one idea to bring deen and dunya together is to start a side-business but to make the spiritual intention (niyyah) that this business will be solely for sadaqa. The goal is to keep my intention clear – the profits go solely to sadaqa.

There is much baraka in this idea. First of all, its a side business and so if my nafs is lazy to work, then I don’t have major losses and any benefit is sadaqa. As a side business, I can do as much or as little as I can and if the business fails, its a learning experience and not a major loss since my livelihood doesn’t depend on it. A little khayr or a lot of khayr. Secondly, if I intend to do it for Allah, then perhaps Allah will put baraka in it and make this business take off. And lastly, its a spiritual exercise in becoming responsible with my mu’amalat (financial transactions) and becoming prudent without being stingy.

If I can succeed I can help the community and help my akhira. I can give back to my community (both Muslim and Canadian community) in the process of serving it. I don’t want to rely on the Muslim community for money – using Islam or my Muslim identity to make money for my nafs, but I feel we should do the reverse – to use our nafs to enrich the Muslim community. I hope one day I can implement this.

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

Posted by: Dawud Israel | June 4, 2016

Moonsighting the Akhira

Every year we see some moon-sighting squabbles for one reason or another. This post is not on moon-sighting fiqh – it is simple sensible considerations to community decision makers and average Muslims (i.e me) on moon-sighting attitudes. I hope this helps community leaders make the most reasonable decision for their community, whatever that decision may be. My only hope is we outgrow this and realize moon-sighting is simply a yearly test from Allah.

 

“You will know you can preach and open your mouth when you love the people before you.” ~Imam al-Haddad

  1. Advice to the Decision-makers: Understand the struggles of the common Muslim. The Muslims are hungry all day, tired late-night after tarawih, many are desperately praying for shifa and rahma so their grief is constantly on their mind. Naturally then Muslim patience is thin and prone to fight and anger. Do not give them a reason to be angered!
    1. For every decision no matter how small ask yourself: What would Nabi ﷺ do?
    2. Is your decision-making out of touch with the average non-masjid-going Muslim? Are you deciding on a pedestal or have you taken the pulse of the community of Muslims? Do Muslims share your same conviction in your method of deciding or are they apathetic? Is there a deep reservoir of religious sentiment mixed with resentment in your community? Is your decision a fragile one that will test the community’s iman? Imam al-Shaybani said Imam as-Shafi’i would spend a lot of time talking with dyers to get to know their society, their concerns and adat, which is poignant because dyers were a stinky occupation. Can we expect the same from imams and community leaders today?
    3. Non-Muslim: Can non-Muslims venues accommodate Eid on either day? If not, do they deserve our business? Are we by default, letting non-Muslims choose which day we celebrate Eid on?
    4. Time constraints: You only have one chance at moon-sighting and announcing, you cannot change it halfway through the night. Can you expect people to change the day of Eid minutes before they go to bed?
    5. Risk assessment: What is at risk? What community bonds, fundraising efforts and attracting Eid-only Muslims are on the line with your decision?
    6. Who is having rahma on whom? Is the imam having rahma on the Muslims with his decision? Or are the Muslims being patient and merciful with the imam?
  2. Community Politics: Is the moon-sighting one battle in a long line of battles with another Muslim group or party?
    1. Is it worth losing the ajr of a possible Laylatul Qadr night by fighting for the reward of getting the day of Eid correct? I don’t think so, one is smaller and one is greater.
    2. Are community leaders intoxicated by the microphone? Are you jealous and wish you could be on the microphone and limelight instead of them?
    3. Don’t make your decision contingent upon another party of Muslims loyalty. Don’t make your moon-sighting niyyah to up-end another Muslim party.
    4. Is it more probable than not, you will err in moon-sighting this year?
    5. Is it better to be quiet and leave it to another party to decide? Is it guaranteed you will pick the right day every single year?
    6. Is there any good deed in picking the right day but with bad adab? No, you will upset Muslims and ruin their celebration.
    7. Before arguing consider: How can you make dua for the Muslims izzah during the Eid dua if you have fractured the Muslims the night before?
    8. Remember the Qur’anic ayahs against sectarianism: So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. Adhere to it, turning in repentance to Him, and fear Him and establish prayer and do not be of those who associate others with Allah, or of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has. (Rum: 31-32) and the verses [Allah said], “O messengers, eat from the good foods and work righteousness. Indeed, I, of what you do, am Knowing. And indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so fear Me.” But the people divided their religion among them into sects – each faction, in what it has, rejoicing. (al-Muminun: 51-53) 
  3. Spirituality
    1. Have you made salat al-istikhara before announcing the moon-sighting decision?
    2. Have you recited the dua of the new moon?
    3. Is the moon not a symbol of Rasulullah ﷺ? The Madinans sang Tal’al Badru alayna when Nabi ﷺ emigrated to Madina. It was the Madinans who equated seeing Nabi ﷺ with seeing the full moon and it is Nabi ﷺ who told us we will see Allah SWT in the Next life just as if we see the full moon.
    4. Recall the hadith: “The best of my umma are those who observe prayer times by shadow on the ground & sight moon with their eyes.” (Tabarani) You do not need to be a community leader to do this.
  4. Advice to the Common Muslims
    1. Is there any sin on you if the imam picks the wrong day? No, there is no sin on you. The sin, if there is any sin, is on the imam and not the Muslims that follow the imam.
    2. Cheer up fellow Muslims on Eid. Hand out candy and treats to kids and balloons.
    3. Be patient and tolerant with Muslim community leaders, especially if they are elderly. For some of them, this is their only time to take a lead and change the direction the community is heading in, for better or worse.
    4. This is a time-limited trial – it lasts not more than 24 hours, so don’t prolong it by talking about it ad nauseam.
    5. Pray that these troubles are solved and Allah puts in their place much good.

Maybe this will not benefit anybody but somebody has to say these things. Ramadhan mubarak.

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

 

Posted by: Dawud Israel | May 18, 2016

The Mathematics of Fasting in Islam

Last year I had taken to fasting more often. As time went by I thought more and more about rewards for optional sunnah fasting and its benefits. The hadith on it are well known and we hear them every few months in Shaban, Dhul Hijjah, Ramadhan and Shawwal (for those unfamiliar see the links). But the more time passed, the more a pattern appeared to me.

  • Fasting the day of Ashura (10th of Muharram) + 9th or 11th of Muharram expiates for sins in the previous year (Sahih Muslim). That is 360 days.
  • Fasting Ramadhan and 6 days of Shawwal gives the reward for 1 year as well, as 30 days in Ramadhan + 6 days Shawwal are given 10 times the reward in Ibn Abbas’ ijtihad so 360.
  • Fasting Ayam al-Bid (the luminous nights) which are, 3 days every Islamic month, including Ramadhan by default, typically 13-15th (see here for a possible wisdom behind that) or the 1st Monday and next 2 Thursdays, that is 12 months is 36 days as well. Multipy 10 times the reward gives 360 again.
  • Fasting 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, significant as the 12th month of the year, specifically fasting the Day of Arafah forgives sins in the previous year and the year to come. Again 360 x 2 = 720.
  • Fasting the fast of Sayyidina Dawud (alayhi salam) is every other day that is 180 days a year. The same hadith also mentions fasting every 2nd or 3rd day, so we have 120 and 90, factors of 360.
  • Fasting the first 15 days of Shaban, that is the 8th Islamic month is also significant where 15 x 8 = 120, a factor of 360. 

All these fasts are optional except Ramadhan. Now, if you total the actual days of optional fasting that comes to 2 days for Ashura, 6 for Shawwal, 12 for Ayam al-Bid, 10 for Dhul Hijjah. That is a total of 30 days of actual fasting, so really just an extra month of fasting which is 2/12 months or 1/6th of the year.  This doesn’t even include Shaban which is not as emphasized in Muslim communities as the other sunnah fasts. And the reward you would get for those extra 30 days? 360 days for Ashura, 360 days with Shawwal, 360 days with Ayam al-Bid, 720 days with Dhul Hijjah, which is a total of 1800 or 5 years worth of reward for fasting 30 extra days! So you only fast 30 extra days besides Ramadhan and get the reward of 5 years! SubhanaAllah, pretty mind boggling stuff!

“Which one of the Favours of your Lord will you deny?”

Why 360?

Why is there a mathematical pattern relating to 360 and its factors apparent in relation to fasting? Allah knows best. One explanation I did came across was that Ethiopian Orthodox Christians are required to fast 180 days a year! Apparently, this is because Maryam the mother of Isa (Jesus alayhi salam) fasted 6 months every year. We Muslims fast at least 1 month or 2 months. So the possible wisdom is Muslims fast much fewer days than the Christians, but are given double the rewards the Christians gets, that is up to 360. This is the generosity, blessing and favour Allah has shown to the Muslim ummah over the Christian ummah! I believe this is because of Allah’s love of Sayyidina Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wasalam). Alhamdulillah, we have many easy options for fasting but are given great rewards for them

For those of you who are keen, you know there is also a sunnah fast on Mondays and Thursdays of each week. This is significant because the same Ethiopian Orthodox Christians also fast every Wednesday and Friday, so Muslims fasting Mondays and Thursdays is a way of making us distinct from that previous religious community. It is also worth noting fasting in Islam is in commemoration of blessed and joyous occasions, like completing Ramadhan or Abraham’s sacrifice but if you look at fasting in the Jewish communities, it is as marked by sadness and sorrow. Islam is therefore more spiritually optimistic than those nations of the past.

More Hijri Mathematical Patterns?

The mathematical patterns made me wonder if there are other patterns in the Islamic calendar. Here are some possible findings:

  • The 4 sacred months are also recommended for worship which is approximately 120 days.
  • Rabi al-Awwal is interesting too because it is the 3rd month and the Mawlid an-Nabi (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is on the 12th day, so 3 x 12 is 36.
  • The last 10 days of Ramadhan, the 9th month, is significant. The 9th month is the last 3rd of the year. The last 10 days of Ramadhan, from the 20th to the 30th, are the last 3rd of the 9th month. And during that time, in the last 3rd of the night we recite the Qur’an and by then our taraweeh has reach the last 3rd of the Qur’an. (Read that again if it didn’t make sense) There are 4 chronological levels of 3rds here, that is again 12, a factor of 360. Or we could say there is 4 dimensions to these last 10 days, like a kernel within a kernel aligning in this period, so the last 10 days are really like 40 days in magnitude.   

These are only a few things I found and I have looked mainly at months. One could similarly explore mathematical patterns in Islamic hours in the day (hour of jumuah, night before jumuah, hour before fajr, the Final Hour, etc) or even decades of Islamic history for patterns (the first years of Nubuwwah, the first 3 generations etc). Or similarly, exploring the effect of seasons and spiritual practices in Islam like fasting in winter when days are short and praying the night in summer when the nights are short, thereby making it easier for us.

Conclusion

I don’t believe in numerology or anything like that but I do believe Allah has a Sunnah (a pattern) in creation and its good to find that pattern as a sign of His Knowledge and Majesty. I have pointed out only a few of these patterns. In Muslim communities, we emphasis 40 and 786 as being spiritually significant. For the reasons mentioned above, I think 36 and its factors are also significant. Surah YaSin is described as the ‘heart of the Qur’an’ and is the 36th chapter of the Qur’an. The middle of the entire Qur’an is in the 18th chapter of the Qur’an (surah Kahf) and comes right after the 18th verse, again factors of 36. And when we consider the fasting hadith mentioned above, 36 or 360 becomes a symbol of Allah’s All-Encompassing Generosity to us Muslims. This exercise was interesting for me in an attempt to quantify how much Allah’s Mercy to Muslims is greater than Allah’s Mercy to the People of the Book.

For me it is important not to get bogged down in the details or this number or that number being special, but to see all numbers point to the One, al-Wahid, al-Ahad. If we can see all numbers as a sign of Allah, then just mentioning any number besides 1, will remind us of Allah.

 

Footnote:

*Its also interesting to note that mathematically the first Muslims were not always precise, the lunar Hijri calendar has about 354 days, or 11-12 days shorter than solar year, and Muslims like to approximate (ie 40 Hadith Nawawi is actually 42 hadith).  Our days are also reversed because the day for Muslims begins at sunset, not sunrise and there is no certainty with moonsighting. This is to say spirituality in Islam, is not supposed to be exact, it is approximate, and that is more in line with trusting in Allah.

*Post-script: This hadith is also interestingThe Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Friday is twelve hours in which there is no Muslim slave who asks Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for something but He will give it to him, so seek it in the last hour after ‘Asr.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i].

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

Posted by: Dawud Israel | October 25, 2015

Prophetic Clothing and Ahlul Bayt

Bismillah

The following are some reflections on the clothing of Rasulullah ﷺ and Ahlul Bayt. I write this because it is Ashura and Muharram is a good time for (Sunni) Muslims to contemplate their connection and love of Ahlul Bayt with adab and in a way that is fresh, original and within the confines of Qur’an and Sunnah.

ayat_e_mawaddat

Clothing in Islam

In Islam clothing is seen as important to modesty but also has other significance. We wear a ihram to Hajj, and to our grave, we are forbidden from tearing our clothes in times of calamity, the Qur’an tells us our spouses are a clothing for us, if we are lucky we are clothed in libaas at-taqwa or garments of light in Jannah or if we are unlucky, clothed in garments of fire and tar in Jahannam. There are many hadith in which clothing – cloaks, shawls, veils – are mentioned. Allah SWT has veils of light and some say Rasulullah ﷺ did too.

There are instances in hadith where clothing in relation to Rasulullah ﷺ becomes a special means of blessing and honour: the famous hadith of Abu Hurayrah’s memory, Su’wad telling Rasulullah ﷺ to take off his battle armour so he can hug him skin to skin before his final moments in battle, Rasulullah ﷺ giving a cloak that was gifted to him ﷺ to Umm Khalid bin Sa’id bin al-‘As.

Prophetic Clothing of Ahlul Bayt

The desire in the above examples is closeness to Rasulullah ﷺ. Though all these are blessed, if you look closely at them, these are moments not actually conferred by Rasulullah ﷺ’s hand directly. In fact, most ahadith that mention the unique honour of Rasulullah ﷺ actually conferring or clothing someone directly are directed to the Ahlul Bayt. Outside of Ahlul Bayt, their are few exceptions to this unique honour, like Ka’b ibn Zuhayr (who composed the original Burda), and leaders who accepted Islam (like Waail ibn Hujar who left his kingdom for Islam, and Jarir bin Abdullah al-Bajali for whom he ﷺ placed his shawl on the ground to walk on, but Jarir picked up the shawl and placed it on his head).

Raqibu Muhammadan fi aali Baytihi 

“Be mindful of Muhammad ﷺ in his Family.”

~Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (via Faraz Rabbani)

The only other major hadith that is similar to Hadith of the Burda is the Hadith of Ahl al-Kisa. But there are more events just like Ahl al-Kisa involving Ahlul Bayt which suggests a deep connection between the blessed garments of Rasulullah ﷺ and Ahlul Bayt : 1) During the Hijra, when Sayyidina Ali hid in Rasulullah’s ﷺ bed, covered by his blessed mantle, 2) when Rasulullah ﷺ left his House behind an invisible hijab, unseen by his would-be assassins, 3) the story where one of Rasulullah’s ﷺ daughter comes to defend Rasulullah ﷺ from the mustahzi’een (arch-enemies of Islam) at the Kaaba and she became uncovered in her haste and Rasulullah ﷺ covered her (note: I am still trying to find the source for this) 4) when Rasulullah ﷺ spread out his shawl for his foster-sister Shayma, the daughter of Halima Sadiya, 5) the story of Sayyidah Khadija  “zamilooni zamilooni” and Surah Muzzamil, 6) Rasulullahﷺ dreaming of Jibril carrying Aisha in a shawl telling him she will become his wife, 7) Surah Ahzab and the ayahs of hijab for Ummahat al-Mumineen.

The Blessings of the Prophetic Clothing

Those probably aren’t even all the examples pertaining to this topic, but its quite obvious the emphasis on veils, shawls, mantles, and other Prophetic clothing in relation to Ahlul Bayt, suggests a greater holiness and sanctity for the Family of Rasulullah ﷺ. This is above and beyond what is reserved for the Sahabas, because as it has been made clear, there are many more instances of it occurring. We can’t fully understand it but consider, if the Kaaba is covered by a Kiswa (or Ghilaf), then so are the Family of Rasulullah ﷺ. If the sufi khirqa is such an honor, then how much more of an honor is it to be covered and surrounded by the garments of Rasulullah ﷺ especially when it is done by his very own blessed hand  ﷺ ?

Ever since the story of Ka’b bin Zuhayr and Ahl al-Kisa Muslims have held the garments of the Rasulullah ﷺ to be of sacred import. We don’t fully understand it but we can speculate what the reality of these Prophetic garments may be. One hadith mentions when Rasulullah’s ﷺ reality is ‘unveiled’ in Jannah people will go into sajda out of wonder (only to be told not to make sajda because this is not Allah). Uways al-Qarni was given the cloak Rasulullah ﷺ wore on Isra wa’l Miraj by Sayyidina Umar and is reported to have said about Rasulullah ﷺ, “All you have seen of him is his shadow.” Allah veiled Rasulullah’s ﷺreality to us in this world but since the Ahlul Bayt were clothed with Rasulullah’s ﷺ clothing, one possibility may be they are privy to the inner reality of Rasulullah ﷺ – if not in this world, then in the life of barzakh.

O you who covers himself with a garment…And your clothing purify, And uncleanliness avoid…

Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity of sin, O people of the Prophet’s household, and to purify you with extensive purification.

As the ayat above suggest, Rasulullah’s ﷺ clothing is pure and the Ahlul Bayt too are purified and this is why they are often called Ahlul Bayt at-Taha. So the Prophetic clothing are a divine sign of spiritual purity and the connection with Ahlul Bayt only strengthens the claim of Ahlul Bayt’s spiritual purity.

The Qur’an tells us that shaytan surrounds us (“I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left”) but a garment comes between a human and shaytan so the clothing of Rasulullah ﷺ may be a shield for these blessed people from shaytan. The clothing of Prophets appears in the Qur’an with the curing powers of the shirt of Yusuf and sakina descending on Bani Israel when they carry the Ark containing the clothing of Musa and Har’un. So it would be safe to say Rasulullah’s ﷺ clothing gives protection from shaytan, sanctity, tranquility and healing – at the very least.

We can maybe try to speculate as to what Ahlul Bayt experienced from these blessed garments. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal wore the qamis of Rasulullah ﷺ. Imam Ahmad is said to have dreamt of Allah SWT more than 100 times. Many find this report strange but it makes sense if we consider the ayah, “It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil” – here the veil from Rasulullah’sﷺ shirt. Imam Ahmad was not from Ahlul Bayt and yet he experienced this from 1 item of Prophetic clothing, so what did the Ahlul Bayt experience with multiple items of clothing?

Conclusion

Just like there is continuum of the Salaf (Sahaba, Tabieen and Taba Tabi’in as most righteous generation) based on who physically saw Rasulullah ﷺ, I propose there is a similar continuum of uns (closeness) to Rasulullah ﷺ that these garments signify – at the centre are the Ahlul Bayt then Sahabas, Tabi’een, etc and at the very far end are the disbelievers – whose hearts Allah Himself has covered with a hijab, (unlike Rasulullah ﷺ himself covering the bodies of the righteous), and disbelief is enough to cut off family relations in the sight of Allah (like the story of Nuh’s son).

These are my reflections on pondering over the special importance of Ahlul Bayt in the Qur’an and Sunnah. I don’t know if what I have written is complete and I don’t imagine everybody will agree with it, but studying the Prophetic Clothing is a starting point to seeing a whole new dimension of Ahlul Bayt’s prominence in Sunni Islam. Because if Rasulullah ﷺ’s Clothing and His Familyﷺ, those things that are the physically closest to Rasulullahﷺ, are not important to us – than what is?

Allahu alam.

 

May Allah give us understanding of these ahadith and the rank of Ahlul Bayt and all of those beloved to Rasulullah ﷺ.

تلك امة قد خلت لها ما كسبت ولكم ما كسبتم ولا تسالون عما كانوا يعملون

That was a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.

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

 

More links:

Ahlul Bayt: Litmus Test of Rightly Guided Ulema – Yahya Rhodus

The Prophet’s Compassion for Children

The Rights of the Sahaba and Ahlul Bayt – Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah 

Ahlul Bayt Part 1 and Part 2 – Dr. Shadee Elmasry

Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 28, 2014

In Response to the Deconstruction of Convert Islamic Identity

Bismillah

The blogosphere and American speakers have tried to discuss the problems of being a convert, but it has by and large been a very superficial discussion. Alhamdulillah Sh Esa Alexander of the UK has written a more substantive nuanced discussion on the sensitive topic. Take a read of it if you can. I began writing a comment in response to Shaykh Esa but it became too long and I will blog it here and go into more detail inshaAllah.

Convert Stages

I liked that you focused not on the convert/revert victim card, but on the phases of convert life – good and bad and how it progresses and regresses. It would be great if we broke this down further into something similar to the Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grieving model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression acceptance, etc) which is used for death, losing your job, divorce, substance abuse and other major life changes. Seeing exactly what happens to convert identity more closely might help counsel them through the trials and tribulations of new Muslim life.

Precipice of Identity

I find converts struggle with entering the masjid and born Muslim struggle with exiting the masjid; integration with uncles vs. integration with non-Muslim peers. Most of the identity problems materialize at the precipice of the houses of Allah.

When you enter and exit the masjid you inevitably wonder if xyz is righteous or if you are more righteous and use outward markers of piety (ie dress) to judge that. This is our state day in and day out whether we like it or not and it is where we confront Islamic identity. Itikaaf is distinguished from this because one of its blessings is you do not think about Islamic identity for 10 days. During those 10 days you see everybody in the masjid as religious because the prayer carpet is as normal as breakfast, pajamas and bedsheets. Paltry conversation is discouraged in itikaaf and isolation is encouraged, so you will not be bothered by others. The psychological shift during it is something I found personally very beneficial and so my suggestion is for converts to have an itikaaf or khalwa in the masjid a few months after converting to ‘take a break’ from their constant identity re-negotiation and to preserve and strengthen their relationship with Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

muslim cultures

Cultural Buffer Zone

Part of the deconstruction of identity is swinging the pendulum from orientalizing yourself with thobes to becoming a vegan zen-loving hipster pseudo-sufi who looks down on the uncles and pretends to know to have a more enlightened understanding of Islam, which is probably just their bigotry re-organized to put it in rough term. In many places the converts imitate born Muslims, but increasingly the born Muslims imitate the converts. So their is give and take both ways and one convert’s schizo tendencies feed off a born Muslim’s schizo tendencies and they mirror each other’s confused identities. So its not as clear cut as you have spoken of.

The central issue is not about identity or culture but about community. If your only Muslim community is Arab, then you will become Arabicized to some degree. We all have some cosmopolitan cultural buffer zone in us. We like to dabble with other cultures and feel cosmopolitan and refined, but we don’t want to commit to other cultures totally and forever. But we may think, if we don’t commit a little, then maybe we lose community. Human beings like to change and evolve but they also go through tough times when returning to their cultural roots – be they British, Greek, Arab or Pakistani – is necessary for them. If they don’t return to that, then they may take out their frustration on the ethnicity of the dominant Muslim community they have tried to connect with.

Understanding that we all have this cultural buffer zone – an emotional limit or a time limit where we can only become encultured to a different identity so much before it begins to hurt us or we begin to hurt our fellow Muslims – and that we need to know when we hit that limit before we hurt others and hurt our deen. We should respect converts have this culture buffer zone that should not be exhausted, but utilized selectively.

Treating Converts like Babies?

I don’t agree with the last part of your article. Converts don’t need to be treated like babies – this is the West where people are independent and will not welcome that. But there should be a ‘partnership approach’ like the Ansar and Muhajirun. I think every masajid should institute a monthly meeting for converts with the imam, social worker and even a psychologist to talk about their problems in an open non-judgmental environment.

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

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!

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

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

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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 of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ  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.

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