Monthly Archives: June 2008

Amirate – Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Al-Hasan said about amirs, “They take charge of five of our affairs: the Jumu’ah and the congregational prayer [jama’ah], the ‘Id, the frontiers, and the hadd punishments. By Allah! the deen will only be straight and effective by them, even if they are tyrannical and wrongdoing. By Allah! that which Allah puts right by means of them is more than that which they corrupt, although, by Allah! obedience to them is tough, but separating oneself from them is kufr.”
Al-Khalal narrated in the “Kitab al-Imarah –Book of Amirate” from the hadith of Abu Umamah that he said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded his companions when they had prayed ‘Isha’, ‘Assemble, because I have need of you.’ When they finished the morning prayer, he asked, ‘Have you assembled as I told you?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ He said three times, ‘Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him! Have you grasped this?’ We answered, ‘Yes.’ He said three times, ‘Establish the prayer and produce the zakah! Have you grasped this?’ We answered, ‘Yes.’ He said three times, ‘Hear and obey!’ He said three times, ‘Have you grasped this?’” He said, “We had thought that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was going to give a long discourse, but then [we saw] that he had collected together the entire affair for us.”

(Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Jami’ al-’ulum wa’l-hikam translated by Abdassamad Clarke and published by Turath Publishing Ltd., as The Compendium (of knowledge and wisdom). In commentary of hadith no.28, p.707)

From: Abdassamad Clarke

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Musailama: The False Prophet

This is an excerpt from Lesson 186 of al Tajrid al Sarih (The Abridged Saheeh al Bukhari) by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq. Delivered on Friday 29th February 2008 at Al Kawthar Academy, Leicester.

AK Academy: www.akacademy.co.uk

Bukhari Lessons: www.islamicaudio.eu

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On the Validity of Backbiting in Hadith Criticism

Question:

When we talk about a specific narrator being adil (upright), isn’t it backbiting to label someone a liar or a sinner? How is this justified?

Answer:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The act of ghibah as it applies to speaking unfavorably of a person who is not present is without a doubt abhorrent, repugnant, and prohibited in the shari‘ah. Numerous verses of the Holy Qur’an as well as prophetic narrations clearly explicate the gravity of this sin, equating it even to consuming the flesh of a dead brother.

Similar to other rules in the shari‘ah, however, the general prohibition of backbiting is relaxed in specific cases. In fact, in certain situations, to openly mention the faults of a person in his absence is considered not only permissible but also obligatory (wajib), as explained by Imam Nawawi in his Riyad al-Salihin and Imam Ghazali in his Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din.

Imam ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Luknawi, in his al-Raf‘ wa ‘l-Takmil [pg. 52-56], mentions six specific cases in which the mention of a person’s faults, be he/she alive or dead, is not considered ghibah (backbiting) due to valid legal reason:

1. When the oppressed wishes to notify a capable authority, such as a judge or ruler, of the crimes of an oppressor. The condition in this case is that the authority in question should possess the capability to implement justice on the oppressed person’s behalf.

2. When a well-wisher intends to rectify the wrongdoing of an individual and expects that the rebuked, through the announcement of his sin, will heed the warning and further refrain from it.

For example, if a teacher rebukes a student in front of other students with the knowledge that only through public dissemination of his crime will the student realize the import of his sin and therefore repent accordingly, then mentioning his faults in the open, be it behind his back or in his presence, is permissible.

3. When an enquirer about a legal ruling (mustafti) seeks to understand the implications of an oppressor’s actions upon himself. In this case, he may state the crime of an individual to a qualified jurist (mufti) in order to discover its legal ramifications. If specific mention of the person’s name can be avoided, however, precaution must be taken in this regard.

4. When a person wishes to warn people about the true characteristics of an individual with the intention of aiding them in avoiding his evil.

For example, if one was to warn people of a particular trader’s deceptive practices, of a politician’s corruption, or of a witness’s tendency to lie so that they are not fooled by their business contracts, rulings, or testimony, then to reveal their deficiencies in such a manner that would suffice in conveying the message of caution to the people would be permissible. One must be careful, however, to avoid excessive discussion of a person’s faults, as only mention of that much that is necessary to avoid his evil is permissible in Islam.

Included in this category is the mention of a narrator’s deficiencies in relation to his:
1. Integrity, and
2. Precision, accuracy, and memory in relation to transmission of reports.

Due to the severity of the crime of false attribution to the Noble Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), the scholars of hadith always exercised extreme caution in accepting the reports of hadith narrators. In order to safeguard the body of hadith literature from false attributions and fabricated narrations, it became absolutely necessary to criticize the integrity and accuracy of each individual narrator. Such criticism necessitated that they mention all the defects in a narrator’s character that dealt with moral integrity and accuracy in transmission in their biographical collections.

Such mention was deemed permissible by the consensus of the Muslim ummah. In fact, in these cases, it was not only considered permissible but fundamentally obligatory (wajib).

Hasan ibn ‘Ali ibn al-Hasan al-Iskafi states that he once asked Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on them both) regarding the implications of ghibah. He stated, “[It is] when you do not intend to disgrace the man.”

Hasan replied, “[But sometimes] a man says: ‘So and so cannot hear properly’ or ‘So and so makes mistakes’.”

Imam Ahmad replied, “If people left this [practice], sound narrations would not be differentiated from others.” [Musawwadah Aal Taymiyyah fi Usul al-Fiqh, pg. 280. See al-Raf‘ wa ‘l-Takmil pg. 54]

‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad, the son of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, also narrates that Abu Turab al-Nakhshabi came to his father once (may Allah be pleased with him) when his father was saying: “so and so is weak” and “so and so is reliable”.

Abu Turab thereupon stated, “O Shaykh! Do not slander the scholars.”

Imam Ahmad turned towards him and said, “Woe unto you! This is counsel (nasihah), not slander (ghibah).” [Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, Qadi Ibn Abi Ya‘la. See al-Raf‘ wa ‘l-Takmil, pg. 54]

The great jurist and traditionist ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (may Allah have mercy on him) was once approached by certain Sufis who had heard him discrediting some narrators of hadith. They said, “O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman! Are you not backbiting? He replied, “Keep silent, for if we do not clarify [the narrators’ conditions], how would the truth be separated from falsehood?!” [Al-Raf‘ wa ‘l-Takmil, pg. 54-55]

Therefore, if a man of knowledge observes that the unaware are seeking guidance from innovators, open sinners, or the ignorant, he is obliged to advise the people and inform them of their condition so as to safeguard the truth and protect the religion. His statements, however, should not be the result of jealousy or malice but should be genuine advice and based on a sincere concern for the welfare of the people.

Moreover, he must not overstep the boundaries of necessity and mention the sins of an individual that have no pertinence to the situation or bearing on the topic. Only that much mention of a person’s faults is permissible that meets the objective of warning. Special care must be taken in this regard, as the fine line between what is necessary and what is not is ambiguous to most people, especially to those poorly-versed in the principles of religion.

5. When the one whose faults are being mentioned is an open sinner or innovator and does not himself seek to hide his defects. In this case, it is permissible to mention those sins which he commits openly and in public and not those sins that he himself keeps secret.

6. When one is required to mention a person with a title or name by which he is well-known so that he is properly recognized. For example, some narrators of hadith were known by nicknames that described their physical ailments and defects, such as Imams A‘mash (the bleary-eyed), A ‘raj (the lame), Asamm (the mute), Ahwal (the cross-eyed), and A‘war (the one-eyed). Since these individuals and their conditions as narrators were not recognized amongst hadith scholars except through these titles, it became necessary in order to ascertain their validity as transmitters of prophetic narrations to describe them as such.

In these six cases, therefore, backbiting is permissible, but only if three conditions are met:
1. Necessity
2. Not exceeding that which fulfills the necessity
3. Sincere intention

In other words, it is not permissible to mention a person’s faults in front of others simply on the suspicion or possibility of necessity; rather, the need must be clear and present. At the same time, when mentioning the faults of a person, one should not exceed the boundaries of necessity and mention those faults that bear no pertinence to the situation at hand. For example, if a person is consulted about an individual in regards to business dealings, it is not permissible to mention his defects that relate to his marriage or family life. Additionally, one’s intention should not be to insult or degrade the person being mentioned.

Allamah Murtada al-Zabidi narrates in his voluminous commentary on Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din an incident that took place between the great Imam Taj al-Din ibn al-Subki and his father Imam Taqi al-Din al-Subki.

Taj al-Din al-Subki states: “I was once sitting in the anteroom of our home when a dog came upon us. I said to it, ‘Beat it, dog and son of a dog!’ Upon hearing this, my father reprimanded me from inside the home. I said, ‘Is it not a dog and the son of a dog?’ He replied, ‘The condition for the permissibility [of mentioning somethings’ defects] is the absence of intending insult.’ I said, ‘This is a useful lesson.’” [al-Raf‘, pg. 56]

And Allah knows best.

Bilal Ali Ansari

From: at-Talib

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Ascribing power and ability

You should know that the most comprehensive and inclusive formula for expressing the repudiation of one’s own claim to power and ability is La hawla wa-la quwwata illa bi’Llah ( ‘there is neither power nor ability save by God’).

(Gifts for the Seeker, Imam `Abdallah ibn `Alawi al-Haddad)

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The Letters that Begin the Chapters of the Qur’an

Prepared by the Research Committee of IslamToday.net under the supervision of Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî

 

Initial, disjoined letters introduce 29 chapters of the Qur’ân. Different chapters begin with different letters: Alîf Lâm MîmKâf Hâ Yâ `Ayn SâdTâ Sîn Mîm… among other combinations. People often wonder about their meaning. In truth, we cannot ascribe any particular meaning to these letters. Any particular meaning that these letters might have is known only to Allah. Ibn Kathîr, in his Tafsîr, informs us that Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali and Ibn Mas`ud all said that “the disjoined letters in the beginning of some chapters are among those things about which Allah has reserved knowledge to Himself.”

However, this does not imply that these letters are meaningless or that they do not serve a clear and discernable function for those who read and listen to the Qur’ân. There is a general meaning that can be understood from all of the letters. These letters serve to highlight the literary nature of the Qur’ân.

Ibn Jarîr al-Tabarî, in his Tafsîr, gives us a survey of what early scholars of the Arabic language have explained about this stylistic device.

Some language scholars state that these are letters of the alphabet and that Allah suffices with them for the entire alphabet of twenty-eight letters…

Others say that the chapters begin this way in order to draw the attention of the polytheists – who had called each other to ignore the Qur’ân – so that when their attention was gotten, they would listen to what was understandable.

Others say these letters are a means of introducing the chapters. Allah begins his discourse by using them.

If one were to argue that this implies that the Qur’ân contains meaningless words, they explain that this is not the case. The meaning here is that the discourse is starting, so it is known that a new chapter is beginning and the previous one has ended. It serves to distinguish between speech acts. This is something known in the speech of the Arabs.

Introducing a speech with disjoined letters as a stylistic means for beginning an eloquent discourse was not strange to the people at the time that the Qur’ân was revealed. This is why the unbelievers in Mecca never made an issue out of these letters, though they would go to great pains to find whatever they could to criticize Islam.

The mention of disjoined alphabet letters introduces to the listeners the idea that what follows is constructed from mere letters and words. This literary device is used to precede a discourse of literary eloquence. The one who introduces his discourse in this way is emphasizing that he is going to bring forth a feat of great eloquence from such simple materials.

We find that the Qur’ân often uses this stylistic device when it begins chapters in which it refers to itself. “Alîf Lâm Mîm… This is the Book in which there is no doubt.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 1-2]

Alîf Lâm Mîm… Allah! There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 1-3]

Alîf Lâm Mîm Sâd… A Book revealed unto thee,- So let thy heart be oppressed no more by any difficulty on that account,- that with it thou might warn (the erring) and teach the believers. [Sûrah al-A`râf: 1-2]

Alîf Lâm Râ… These are the verses of the Book of Wisdom.” [Sûrah Yûnus: 1]

Alîf Lâm Râ… (This is) a Book, whose verses are made decisive, then are they made plain, from the Wise, All-aware.” [Sûrah Hûd: 1]

Alîf Lâm Râ… These are the verses of the Book that makes (things) manifest.” [Sûrah Yûsuf: 1]

Alîf Lâm Mîm Râ… These are the verses of the Book; and that which is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, but most people do not believe.” [Sûrah al-Ra`d: 1]

Alîf Lâm Râ… A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that you might lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light – by the leave of their Lord – to the Way of (Him) the Exalted in power, worthy of all praise!” [Sûrah Ibrâhîm: 1]

Alîf Lâm Râ… These are the verses of the Book and (of) a Quran that makes (things) clear.” [Sûrah al-Hijr: 1]

Kâf Hâ Yâ `Ayn Sâd… (This is) a recital of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zachariah.” [Sûrah Maryam 1-2]

Tâ Hâ…We have not sent down the Qur’an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, but only as an admonition to those who fear (Allah) – a revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.” [Sûrah Tâ Hâ: 1-4]

Tâ Sîn Mîm… These are verses of the Book that makes (things) clear.” [Sûrah al-Shu`arâ’: 1-2]

Tâ Sîn Mîm… These are Verses of the Book that makes (things) clear. [Sûrah al-Qasas: 1-2]

This should give us a feeling of how this stylistic device is used. The Qur’ân also uses this device on occasion to introduce chapters where it does not directly refer to itself, but goes straight into making its exposition. Even in these cases, however, the use of these letters is a reference to the nature of the Qur’ân as a literary entity. The device essentially foregrounds the linguistic nature of the message being imparted.

Some Muslims began speculating as to why certain letters are used to introduce certain chapters and other letters to introduce others. This is needless speculation, since it does not bear upon the fundamental purpose or meaning of the literary device itself. We should leave to Allah the knowledge of why He chooses certain letters over others in various chapters.

A problem arose in the Muslim world when some people began reading cryptic meanings into the letters. This led scholars of those generations to re-emphasize the fact that we do not know the “meaning” of these letters and must not try to concoct baseless interpretations. Such statements should never be understood to mean that these letters are meaningless and serve no function. The statements of those scholars merely warns against supplying specific interpretations to the letters, when we have no basis or authority for doing so

Of course, there may be aspects to the wisdom behind these opening letters other than the one we have mentioned here. However, aside from their clear and apparent literary function, we need to be cautions about speculating on what these letters mean.

Ibn Kathîr gives us good advice when he says:

If we find an authentic narration leading to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that explains these letters, we will embrace the Prophet’s statement. Otherwise, we will stop where we were made to stop and will proclaim:

“We believe in it. All of it is from our Lord.” [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 7]

The scholars did not concur on a single opinion or explanation on this topic. Therefore, whoever thinks that one scholar’s opinion is correct, he can follow it; otherwise it is better to refrain from making any judgment on this matter.

And Allah knows best.

 

[Islam Today]

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من عامل خلقه بصفة عامله الله تعالى بتلك الصفة بعينها في الدنيا والآخرة

قال ابن القيم رحمه الله:إن الله كريم يحب الكريم من عباده وعالم يحب العلماء وقادر يحب الشجعان وجميل يحب الجمال ، وهو سبحانه وتعالى رحيم يحب الرحماء وإنما يرحم من عباده الرحماء وهو ستير يحب من يستر على عباده وعفو يحب من يعفو عنهم وغفور يحب من يغفر لهم ولطيف يحب اللطيف من عباده ويبغض الفظ الغليظ القاسي الجعظري الجواظ ورفيق يحب الرفق وحليم يحب البر وأهله وعدل يحب العدل وقابل المعاذير يحب من يقبل معاذير عباده ، ويجازي عبده بحسب هذه الصفات فيه وجودا وعدما فمن عفا عفا عنه ومن غفر غفر الله له ومن سامح سامحه ومن حاقق حاققه ومن رفق بعباده رفق به ومن رحم خلقه رحمه ومن أحسن إليهم أحسن إليه ومن جاد عليهم جاد عليه ومن نفعهم نفعه ومن سترهم ستره ومن صفح عنهم صفح عنه ومن تتبع عورته تتبع عورته ومن هتكهم هتكه وفضحه ومن منعهم خيره منعه خيره ومن شاق الله شاق الله تعالى به ومن مكر مكر الله به ومن خادع خادعه ومن عامل خلقه بصفة عامله الله تعالى بتلك الصفة بعينها في الدنيا والآخرة ، فالله تعالى لعبده على حسب ما يكون العبد لخلقه فكما تدين تدان وكن كيف شئت فإن الله تعالى لك كما تكون أنت له ولعباده فاحرص –وفقك الله- على نفع عباد الله امتثالا لقول رسول الله :”من استطاع منكم أن ينفع أخاه فليفعل”(مسلم) وأحسن إليهم ، إن الله يحب المحسنين
-كن هينا لهم لينا ، سهلا فقد قال عليه الصلاة والسلام :”حرم على النار كل هيّن ليّن سهل قريب من الناس” (أحمد)
-اعف عنهم ، واصفح ، وسامح واغفر عسى الله أن يعفو عنك ويغفر لك إن الله لا يضيع أجر من أحسن عملا

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On Regular Devotions

You must fill up your time with acts of worship so that no period of time elapses, whether by night or by day, without being used in some act of goodness. This is how baraka within time is made manifest, the purpose of life fulfilled, and the approach to God the Exalted made constant.

You should allocate specific periods of time for your habitual activities such as eating, drinking, and working for a livelihood.

Know that no state can be sound in the presence of neglect, and no wealth useful in the presence of heedlessness.

The Proof of Islam, may God spread his benefit, said: ‘You should structure your time , arrange your regular devotions [awrad], and assign to each function a set period of time during which it is given first priority but which it does not overstep. For if you abandon yourself to neglect and purposelessness, as the cattle do, and just do anything that may occur to you at any time it happens to occur to you, most of your time will be wasted. Your time is your life, and your life is your capital; it is the basis of your transaction [with God], and the means to attain to everlasting felicity, in the proximity of God the Exalted. Each of your breaths is a priceless (because irreplaceable) jewel, and when it passes it never returns.’

You should not occupy all your time with one wird, even if it be the best, for you would miss the baraka of multiplying and varying your awrad. Each wird has a particular effect on the heart, a light, a flow of assistance [madad], and a effect on the heart, and a rank with God. Furthermore, when you move from one wird to another you escape becoming bored, indolent, impatient, or weary. Ibn `Ata’iLlah al-Shadhili, may God have mercy on him, has said: ‘Because the Real knew of the presence of boredom in you, He created a variety of acts of obedience.’

Know that awrad have a great effect in illuminating the heart and controlling the senses, but these only appear and become established with perseverance and repetition, and their performance at specifically allocated times.

If you are not of those who fill all their night and daytime hours with devotional activities, then assign to yourself some awrad to persevere with at specific times that you make up for if missed, so that your soul becomes accustomed to keeping them; when your soul despairs of your abandoning of them altogether when you miss them, it will hasten to perform them in time. My master, shaykh `Abd al-Rahman al-Saqqaf, may God be pleased with him, has said: ‘Whoever has no wird is a qird [monkey]!’ Another gnostic has said: ‘ The arrival of blessings depends on the awrad; therefore, the man who outwardly has no wird has no inward aspect [of any consequence].

Be moderate and keep to the middle way in everything. Choose those acts which you are capable of persevering in. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, has said: ‘The acts most pleasing to God are the most constant, even if few.’ And : ‘Choose the acts which you are capable, for God will never grow weary before you.’

It is Satan’s way to entice the seeker [murid] at the beginning of his quest to be excessive in his devotional activities, the purpose being to make him retreat, either by giving up acts of goodness altogether, or performing them incorrectly, and the accursed one does not care with which of these two he afflicts man.

Award usually take the form of supererogatory prayers, Qur’an recitations, the acquisition of knowledge, invocation [dhikr] or reflection [fikr] (…)

(The Book of Assistance, Imam `Abdallah Ibn `Alawi al-Haddad)

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