Delivered by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh al-Haq, excerpts from Lesson 172 Hadeeth 656-658
Delivered by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh al-Haq, excerpts from Lesson 172 Hadeeth 656-658
How often we frown at ourselves when we make mistakes in life, and indeed how often we become disheartened when we fall into error! But yet how little we realise that sometimes it’s these small mistakes that shape our lives and renew our focus. The Qadr of Allah is certainly amazing in that a failure on one day can become the cause of our triumph on another day…
When a single mistake leads you to become an Imam (leader) for the Ummah…
The Story of Sibawayh: The Imam of Grammarians
- Name: ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthman ibn Qinbar (Abu Bishr) originally from the lands of Persia
Sibawayh was a laqab (nickname) given to him by his mother, meaning: ‘the scent of apples.’
Sibawayh at the beginning of his youth sought knowledge in the field of hadith. He studied with the likes of Hammad, the famous muhaddith in Basra, and it was here with Shaykh Hammad that a particular incident took place which changed Sibawayh’s entire focus…
One day Hammad (rahimahullah) asked him to read out a hadith and Sibawayh began by saying: “ليس من أصحابي أحد إلا ولو شئت لأخذت عليه ليس أبا الدرداء…” – however, he read Aba as: Abu in a state of raf’ (nominative) thinking that it was the Ism of Laysa. Hammad al-Basri corrected him and said, أخطأتَ يا سيبويه إنما هو استثناء – ‘You’re mistaken O’ Sibawayh, it is in fact an Exception,’ (i.e. meaning: ‘… except for Abu al-Darda’). So Sibawayh said, لأطلبنّ علما لا يُنازعني فيه أحد – ‘I will certainly seek knowledge [grammar] such that none can dispute with me therein.’
So he traveled to the learned scholars and grammarians of his time in Basra and studied extensively with the famous al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi (who established ‘ilm al-’Aroodh) and other grammarians such as al-Akhfash. It was here that Sibawayh established the foundations of grammar for the people and wrote his huge scholarly work ‘al-Kitab.’ However, at the time, he did not release it to the people. It is stated that he would travel through towns and villages, sitting with the folks and recording their poetry as well as historical statements (handed down through tribes) in an attempt at gathering shawahid (linguistical evidences) for each point and argument that he mentioned in his book.
After his death, one of his students took it upon himself to make this book available to the public. Not only did his book benefit the people of Basra, but it thereafter became one of the greatest books on grammar to have ever been written in history, such that the people began to call it: Qur’an al-Nahw (the ‘Qur’an of Grammar’).
Sibawayh, rahimahullah died at the young age of 34, but despite that, the Ummah to this day has not stopped benefiting from his book and the knowledge which he left behind. جزاه الله عن الأمة خير الجزاء
… This really highlights out (particularly for the students amongst us) that sometimes you may wish for one thing but Allah has wished for something else – better than what you perceive. So be patient and ask your Lord for Tawfiq in all affairs and who knows, one day you may become a leader for the righteous in one thing or another!
“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.”
The African Caliphate
The Life, Works and Teaching of Shaykh Uthman dan Fodio (1754 – 1817)
by Ibrahim Sulaiman
This scholarly work focuses on the establishment in 1809, in what is today Northern Nigeria, of the celebrated Sokoto caliphate, which may well have been the last complete re-establishment, anywhere in the world, of Islam in its entirety, comprising all its many and varied dimensions. As well as giving the biography of the Shehu and a comprehensive account of the history of his movement, the book also provides an in-depth examination of his teaching and literary works. These factors are all inextricably interwoven since, in a way scarcely equalled by any other historical figure, the Shehu’s writings sprang directly out of the exigencies and requirements of his immediate situation and were what drove his movement forward and articulated its vision. As will be seen, his sole inspiration and source of guidance in every instance were the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger # to such a point that he even died at exactly the same age. It is also astonishing how relevant the Shehu’s teachings are, in spite of the clear difference in both time and environment, to the situation of so many Muslims in the world today and the solution to many of the problems currently besetting Islam are clearly indicated within its pages.
From: Abdassamad Clarke
A man said to al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah): ‘The people sit around you so that they may find fault with you!’ So he said, ‘Indeed, I encouraged my soul to aspire for Paradise so it aspired for it. Then I encouraged it to aspire for salvation from Hellfire and so it aspired for it. Then I encouraged it to aspire for salvation from the people, but I didn’t find a way to that. Indeed the people were not pleased with their Creator although He provides for them, so how can they be pleased with another creation like themselves?’ 
Prophet Musa (’alayhisalam) said: ‘O my Lord, the people say things about me which are not (i.e. not true)! So Allah revealed to him: ‘O Musa, I did not make that (privilege) for Myself, so how can I make it the case for you?’ 
Malik ibn Dinar: ‘Since I have known (the reality of) people, I have not taken delight in their praise nor have I hated their criticism.’ It was said to him, ‘Why is that?’ He said, ‘The one who praises from amongst them is excessive and the critic from amongst them exaggerates!’ 
‘Aisha (radhiallahu `anha) wrote to Mu’awiya (radhiallahu `anhu): ‘Salamun ‘alayk. Amma ba’d, I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) say, ‘Whoever gains the Pleasure of Allah by the anger of the people (i.e. thereby gains their anger), Allah suffices him of the people’s troubles. And whoever gains the pleasure of the people by the Anger of Allah (i.e. in the process he gains His Anger), then Allah leaves him to the people.’ Wa-Salaamu ‘alayk.’ 
Imam al-Shafi’i: ‘There is nobody except that he has someone who loves him and someone who hates him. So if that’s the case, let a person be with the people who are obedient to Allah `azza wa jall!’ (- as they love and hate for the Sake of Allah and they are not unjust) 
 Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya (9/318 )
 Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah by Ibn Muflih (1/38 )
 Tarikh Dimishq (59/307)
 Reported by al-Tirmidhi in Kitab al-Zuhd (no. 2414), declared Sahih by al-Albani
 Hilyat al-Awliya (9/124)
ثني زهير بن حرب حدثنا يزيد بن هارون أخبرنا أبو مالك عن أبيه
أنه سمع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وأتاه رجل فقال يا رسول الله كيف أقول حين أسأل ربي قال قل اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَارْحَمْنِي وَعَافِنِي وَارْزُقْنِي ويجمع أصابعه إلا الإبهام فإن هؤلاء تجمع لك دنياك وآخرتك
Abu Malik reported on the authority Of his father that he heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying to the person who bad come to him and asked him as to how he should beg his Lord, that he should utter these words: “O Allah, grant me pardon, have mercy upon me, protect me, provide me sustenance,” and he collected his fingers together except his thumb and said: It is in these words (that there is supplication) which sums up for you (the good) of this world and that of the Hereafter.
Once there was a community of Muslims who were small in number yet large in belief and strong in action. So much so that, the non-believers could not defeat them in battle even though they had the Muslims out numbered.
One day a young man from the enemies pretended to enter into Islam and he went to the big teacher [learned man] in one part of the city and listened to his teaching of the Quran. The subject happened to be on the chapter of the Quran called Al Kahaf [The Cave, - #18].
When the teacher completed his talk he offered a chance for the brothers present to ask some questions. When it came the turn of the non-believer, he asked the teacher the question:
“Sir, in the story of the ‘sleepers’ in the cave, there is mention of a dog. And I was wondering if I might inquire as to what color the dog might have been? I hope you don’t mind my asking, especially if it is something that maybe you don’t know the answer to.”
Immediately the teacher says to the young man, “That’s no problem at all, everyone should know that the dog was YELLOW.”
The young man said, “Are you sure? I mean, could it have been another color?”
“No.” replied the old teacher, “It was definitely YELLOW.” Once again the young man thanked him and when on his way.
The next night the young enemy acting as though we was still seeking knowledge went to the other side of town and sat in another gathering of knowledge and they too were discussing different things about verses in the Quran.
So when it came time for the teacher to give each person attending, the opportunity to ask a question, the imposter posing as a Muslim raised his hand and then asked the question, “In the chapter about the “Cave”, the sleepers are mentioned in different numbers but each time there is a reference to their dog as being counted along with them. Now I was wondering whether or not anyone of knowledge has ever made any reference to what the color the dog might have been?”
The teacher immediately said, “Yes! The dog in this story in the Quran was BLACK.”
The young non-believer man was pleased and continued, “Sir, are you quite certain that the color of the dog mentioned in the story was BLACK?”
“Young man,” he quickly replied, “I’ll stake my reputation on that as a fact.”
“Thank you, sir.” said the non-believer.
The next night the non-believer still posing as a Muslim went back to the first teacher and then when it came time for the questions and answers he raised his hand and asked, “Teacher, you have so much knowledge and I am only a small beginner, I was just wondering, could you maybe remind me about the answer to the question the other night about the color of the dog in the cave in Surah Al-Kahaf?” (Quran: Chapter 18).
The teacher said, “There is no doubt whatsoever amongst the great scholars of Islam on this question. The dog was YELLOW. And anyone who says other than this has no knowledge.”
With that the young man spoke up again and said, “Sir, what would you say if someone else said that he would stake his reputation of being a scholar in Islam on the fact that the dog is not yellow, but rather that the dog is most certainly BLACK?”
The teacher quickly replied, “Then his reputation is not that of a scholar but one of a fool.”
Now the next time the enemy went to the teacher who believed the dog was BLACK, he told the teacher that the teacher on the other side of town was calling him names and saying that he had no knowledge of Islam and that for sure that the dog was YELLOW.
The teacher became angry and shouted, “You tell him, that I said he is the one without knowledge. I am the one who graduated from the greatest of schools of Islam, while he is but a fool.”
The plan was working. Before long the community was divided into two groups. Each group was claiming that their teacher was the one with the correct answer. Fighting broke out in the streets and the Muslims began attacking each other all over the city. Everyone became involved to the extent that there was not a single person who was excluded from this terrible situation. Screaming, shouting, hitting and fighting were everywhere.
And then it happened. The kafr went back out to his people and told them, “Let us go to fight them now. You will now find them most easy to defeat.”
And that is exactly what they did.
May Allah save us from such fitnah [tribulations]. Ameen.
A plural in Arabic can belong to one of a number of categories. The most simplistic division would yield the following categories:
1. Standard Masculine Plurals جمع مذكر سالم such as مُسْلِمُوْنَ or عالِمِيْنَ.
2. Standard Feminine Plurals جمع مؤنث سالم such as تائِباتٌ or سائِحاتٍ.
3. Broken Plurals جمع تكسير such as عُلَمآءُ or سُيُوْفٌ
The vast majority of words in Arabic come with broken plurals. For those of you that haven’t done much studying in the realm of Arabic grammar, here’s an easy to understand comparison between ‘standard’ plurals vs. ‘broken’ plurals. In English, the easiest way to make something plural is by adding an ‘s‘ at the end. The plural of book is books, that of car is cars and that of house is houses. Is adding an ‘s’ at the end the only way of pluralizing a noun in English? What about mouse, tooth, goose and phenomenon? The plurals of such words are unpredictable and for any that are new to the English language, they represent a real challenge because they can’t be guessed using a straight forward formula like adding an ‘s’. The ‘s’ therefore represents the standard plural in English and the rest of the plurals, those that are unpredictable in nature would be considered broken plurals. In Arabic, there are at least four equivalents of adding an ‘s’. Those are oona & eena for masculine plurals and aatun & aatin for feminine plurals. Broken plurals represent one of the toughest areas of vocabulary building for Arabic students as they take the lion’s share of plurals in the language and are relatively unpredictable.
The introduction above was necessary for me to write to you about the actual topic. In some very interesting cases, the Arabic language offers multiple plurals for the same word. Here are some examples:
1. The wordنِعْمَةٌ is known to have two broken plural نِعَمٌ and أَنْعُمٌ .
2. The word سُنْبُلَةٌ is known to have the standard feminine plurals سُنْبُلاتٌ and سُنْبُلاتٍ but also the broken plural سَنابِلُ.
It is curious that the Qur’an uses both the plural renditions in each of the cases above. This necessarily leads to an inquiry into what differences there are between them. Is كُفّار the same as كافِرُوْنَ or نبِيُّوْنَ the same as أَنْبِيآءُ ? This article, based on the priceless work of Dr. Fadel Saleh Al-Samerai (priceless doesn’t even begin to capture what his work means to Qur’anic Arabic students), will explore some aspects of the differences in these plurals and their intricate usage in the Qur’an.
Here are two general rules:
a. If a word has both a standard plural and a broken plural, the standard plural is less in number than the broken plural. The standard plural in such cases is called the minimal plural جمع قلة while the broken plural is called the plentiful plural جمع كثرة .
b. The broken plural is known to have 47 templates or patterns. Of these templates, only four are considered minimal plurals or جمع قلة . These are :
أَفْعُل أَفْعال فِعْلَة أَفْعِل
The remaining 43 patterns are plentiful plurals جمع كثرة . If a word has two broken plurals, chances are one of the two belongs to the جمع قلة templates.
Now let us look at two cases of varying plurals used in the Qur’an:
1. نِعَمٌ and أَنْعُمٌ : Two Plurals for Blessings / Favors
Allah celebrates the great character of Ibrahim عليه السلام in 16:112 and of his noteworthy characteristics is the phrase
شاكِراً لِأَنْعُمِهِ . The plural أَنْعُم matches the pattern of the minimal plural جمع قلة that is أَفْعُل. We know that Allah’s favors cannot be counted. Countless favors of Allah are visible and countless more are in the realm of the unseen. This truth is even attested to in the divine word with the phrase: (16:18 & 14:34)
وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا
If you are to try and count Allah’s blessings, you won’t be able to account for them. (rough translation)
We are being taught that even though Ibrahim عليه السلام is remarkably grateful to Allah, his gratitude doesn’t extend to all of Allah’s blessings because that is impossible. For how can anyone be grateful for what they can’t even count!
There is another instance of the minimal plural أَنْعُمْ in the Qur’an. Allah gives us the example of a town that had remained in peace & whose provision was freely flowing into it from every direction. Before going on, take into consideration that the two universal requirements for a functional society are peace (law & order, security, protection of life & property) and prosperity (economic opportunity). The absence of any one of these two basic societal needs lead to chaos. If peoples businesses, lives and homes aren’t safe, the society will collapse. On the other hand, even if they are safe but can’t find any means to provide for themselves and their families, the society can’t be sustained. Allah mentions both of these favors in brief and then remarks about their ingratitude:
فَكَفَرَتْ بِأَنْعُمِ اللهِ
Then it (the town) was ungrateful/ was in denial of the blessings of Allah.
Of the countless favors of Allah, these two big favors; peace and prosperity; have been highlighted in the ayah and so the ‘blessings’ are mentioned in their minimal plural form.
On the other hand, when Allah mentions His blessings not in the context of human gratitude or ingratitude but rather as His gift upon us, He, rightfully so, uses the plentiful, maximal plural نِعَم in 31:20
وَأَسْبَغَ عَليْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظاهِرَةً وباطِنَةً
He has completely unleashed his favors upon you; both manifest and unseen.
The use of ظاهرة وباطنة (manifest and unseen) makes the use of نِعَم (the plentiful plural of blessing) even more appropriate in this context.
2. Two Plurals of سُنْبُلَة : سُنْبُلاتٌ and سَنابِلُ
In 2:261, Allah gives an example in regards to those who spend in His path. A grain yields seven ears (سَنابِلَ سَبْعَ) and each ear yields a hundred grains. The word for ear (like an ear of corn) is the plentiful plural. The king in the story of Yusuf عليه السلام sees a dream of seven ears but, his dream is mentioned in the Qur’an using the minimal plural (سَبْعَ سُنْبُلاتٍ ) in 12:43. Why mention the plentiful plural and then the minimal plural for the same number of ears? Conventional expectation would be to use the minimal plural in both cases but since the first case is one of Allah multiplying the spending of the believer many fold, every component of the text illustrates the power of that multiplication & magnification. The context calls for the use of the more powerful of the two plurals, سنابِل. The subtle use of the word سنابِل also tells us that though He promises 7 ears coming out of one grain, those seven are mysteriously more than what we are accustomed to seeing in this world.
كان ابن القيم -رحمه الله- يقول: في النفس كِبر إبليس، وحسد قابيل، وعتوّ عاد، وطغيان ثمود، وجرأة النمرود، واستطالة فرعون، وبغْي قارون، وهوى بلعام، وفيها من أخلاق البهائم: شَرَه الكلاب، ورعونة الطاووس، وعقوق الضبّ، وحقْد الجمل، وصولة الأسد، وفسق الفأرة، غير أن الرياضة والمجاهدة تُذهب ذلك كله