Monthly Archives: October 2009

The language of the Torah

Question: Moses (peace be upon him) lived in Egypt, as did his father and grandfather before him. Certainly, he spoke the language of the Egyptian people. So Was the Torah revealed to him in the Egyptian language, or was it revealed in the language of his forefathers – in other words, the language of Jacob (peace be upon him)?

Answered by Sheikh Fawzî Sa`âtî
Moses (peace be upon him) was of Hebrew blood. He was a descendant of Abraham through Isaac. Moses was born in Egypt and spent his formative years at the court of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

The reason for this is that at the time of Moses’s birth, Pharaoh has ordered the death of all male children born to the Hebrew people. So, when Moses was born, his mother hid him away for three months. Then Allah commanded her to cast the baby floating upon the Nile river, from where he was later retrieved by Pharaoh’s daughter.

The baby refused to nurse at any woman’s breast until a certain Hebrew woman was brought to nurse him. This woman, unbeknown to Pharaoh’s household, was of course the child’s mother.

Allah says: ” And we ordained that he refused suck at first, until (His sister came up and) said: ‘Shall I point out to you the people of a house that will nourish and bring him up for you and be sincerely attached to him?” Thus did We restore him to his mother, that her eye might be comforted, that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true: but most of them do not understand.” [Sûrah al-Qasas: 12-13]

After he was weaned, his upbringing was taken over by Pharaoh’s court. Moses (peace be upon him) remained at Pharaoh’s court until he was 30 years old. Then, after being charged with murder, he fled to Midian, where he was to remain for the next ten years before returning to Egypt, and from whose people he was to marry. He was clearly able to converse with the people of Midian from the time he arrived there, and the language of Midian was very close to Hebrew. This means that Moses was clearly conversant in both the Coptic language of Egypt and the Hebrew language of his forefathers.

As for the term “Torah” is used to refer to the Five Books of Moses (or Pentateuch), namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It constitutes the first of the three parts of the Hebrew sacred book, the Tanakh, which includes 24 Books between its three sections. It is also recognized in Christianity as being the first five books of the Old Testament, which contains 39 books altogether.

These five books were originally in Hebrew. However, they were recorded later in various languages. Therefore the Torah was originally in Hebrew, but was later recorded in Greek and Latin.

And Allah knows best.


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Loving their mother

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

–Theodore Hesburgh

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Rigorous mathematics and Deductive Reasoning

by Abdassamad Clarke

Mathematics uses five main elements: definition, axiom, hypothesis,
proof and theorem.

Definitions are created to ensure that the terms and concepts being
used in the arguments are clear.

The axiom is a concept which is so obviously true one does not have
to prove it; it is ’self-evident’. Sometimes axioms are also called
postulates. Based on the axioms, mathematicians make hypotheses or propositions.

A hypothesis is an unproven idea, a jump in the dark. Having done
that, the mathematician tries to prove it.

If he furnishes a proof for it by deductive reasoning, it is called
a theorem. A theorem is not the same as the saying, “O, but it’s only
a theory,” by which is meant ‘a hypothesis’.

Using this method, European mathematicians set about making a logical
system out of the mathematics that already existed. They were doing
the same thing that Euclid had done with geometry. By the end of the
eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, they had built
a very impressive building of pure mathematics. The mathematics of the
preceding epochs was inextricably wed to physics and astronomy. Gradually
the discipline called Pure Mathematics, which had no apparent practical
uses, began to appear.

Remember that they had originally set out to know the mind of God.
It is like many human endeavours. Along the way they built a wonderful
house of rigorously proved mathematics and they forgot God. They forgot
the truth that Allah “created both you and what you do?.” (Surat as-Saffat:
95-96) They said, “We made this building.” Allah says, “If only you
had said when you entered your jannah (garden), ‘It is what Allah wills!
There is no strength but by Allah’.” Imam Malik said that this is a
dhikr to be said upon entering one’s house, because in Arabic a man’s
jannah is his house. This is the ayah about the man who owned a wonderful
garden, but who did not see the hand of Allah in his own work. Scientists
didn’t think of themselves as discovering the order that is in Allah’s
creation, but they thought they themselves had built an amazing science.

One day, the French mathematician Laplace presented his newest, most
extraordinary work, Celestial Mechanics, to the emperor Napoleon.
The emperor said, “Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you have written this
large book on the system of the universe and have never even mentioned
its Creator.” Laplace is said to have answered, “I have no need of this

It was almost precisely at this moment in the history of mathematics
that the cracks in the building began to show.

Allah says, “The building they built will not cease to be a source
of doubt in their hearts unless their hearts are cut to shreds. Allah
is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” They thought they had built a house which
was truth, i.e. completely sure and certain knowledge. Then they discovered
geometries other than Euclid’s which are equally correct mathematically.
They cannot both describe reality, i.e. be true. That means mathematical
theorems can be mathematically correct but not necessarily true. This
was a tremendous blow to the emerging religion of mathematical science.
Worse was to come.

Mathematicians found that the simplest things were not really proved
clearly and without doubt. Euclid’s geometry was not as sure as they
had at first thought. Some of the basic axioms he used were not so clear,
and he used others without saying that he was doing so. Subsequent work
based on Euclid or on his methods was also not so sure.

This was a great catastrophe. Mathematicians had to go back to the
beginning and try to prove a lot of what they had done again. It was
as if, having built a really wonderful skyscraper, the builder discovered
that there were very serious flaws in the foundations. No one would
want to demolish the building and start again, and neither did the mathematicians.

Yet more serious mistakes were found. In the twentieth century, Bertrand
Russell and Alfred North Whitehead wrote a book called Principia
. Russell, a philosopher, logician and mathematician,
was trying to arrive “at a perfected mathematics which should leave
no room for doubts.” Sceptics said that there is no absolute truth.
Russell replied, “Of such scepticism mathematics is a perpetual reproof;
for its edifice of truths stands unshakable and inexpungable to all
the weapons of doubting cynicism.” This book is in three volumes and
even for a mathematician is an almost completely unreadable attempt
to prove all of mathematics logically from sure foundations.

Russell said later, “I wanted certainty in the kind of way in which
people want religious faith. I thought that certainty is more likely
to be found in mathematics than elsewhere… But as the work proceeded,
I was continually reminded of the fable about the elephant and the tortoise.
Having constructed an elephant upon which the mathematical world could
rest, I found the elephant tottering, and proceeded to construct a tortoise
to keep the elephant from falling. But the tortoise was no more secure
than the elephant, and after some twenty years of very arduous toil,
I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do
in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable.” The work had
failed. It was one of many blows to mathematics as a body of sure knowledge
beyond doubt.

You might ask why this should matter. Most people react to pure mathematics
with a commonsense, “Let’s get on with the real world.” However, science
is increasingly mathematical. If maths has holes, then science has holes
– big holes. However, the effect of mathematics is much further-reaching
than one would have imagined.

This axiomatic approach had already pervaded all of the sciences and
created new ones, although many of the new ones, such as economics,
were regarded as pseudo-sciences when they first appeared, as they are
in reality. An example of how far it has gone is the idea of constitutional
government one of whose foundation documents is the Declaration of Independence
of the United States.


The Declaration of Independence begins, “We hold these truths
to be self-evident…” i.e. these are the axioms. This approach
is mathematical without involving numbers or calculation. However, one
does need to scrutinise each ‘truth’ which, even though
it seems on the surface very wonderful and idealistic, contains a great
number of contradictions.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created
equal, …

Of course, they are largely equal in having two eyes each, two legs,
hearts, livers, love and hate, and in other matters, but are they equal
in wealth, intellect, talent, beauty, social standing, strength, wisdom
or any other thing? If the equality does consist in having two eyes
and other physical attributes does this mean that invalids, crippled
people and physically impaired people are less equal, an idea abhorrent
to modern people?

…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, …

How did their Creator endow them with these rights? Where is this
written? In what revelation? Has the Creator revealed that in Christianity,
Judaism, Islam or in any other historical revelation? Or is the writer
of this declaration a new prophet with a new revelation?

…that among these are Life,…

Life is a fact rather than a right. Disease, natural disaster and
accident may terminate it. People who haven’t read the Declaration
of Independence or who do not agree with it may put an end to it.

…Liberty, …

Where does liberty end? Am I at liberty to take my neighbour’s
life? Obviously not, because he has the “inalienable right”
to life. But am I at liberty to sleep with his wife or his daughter
if I so wish and if we all think that we are not going to hurt anybody?
Perhaps my neighbour even agrees to that. If I am not so at liberty,
why not?

…and the pursuit of Happiness.

If my pursuit of happiness makes someone else miserable, then what?
What happens if I do not want to be happy? Perhaps I would like to be
miserable. For example, perhaps I want to accumulate a great deal of
money and be resented, feared and disliked by large numbers of people,
like the late Howard Hughes. Did Genghis Khan want happiness? Did he
want to be liked? Had he the inalienable right to do what he did and
to seek his fulfilment? Did he care whether he had or not?

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,

Here the passive verb “are instituted” cleverly avoids
confronting the question “who institutes them and how?”

…deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

How do the governed show their consent? This is not a small problem.
Is it the consent of all of the governed, or most of them. How do ‘most
of them’ get defined – we have not even broached the problematic
nature of statistics in this work. What questions do you ask them to
find their consent?

…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of
these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,

What defines its being “destructive of these ends” and
who is to decide that it is so? Who are the people? If I disagree with
the majority am I then not one of “the people”? If the majority
are ignorant and one person is knowledgeable, must he bow to their will?
If he knows that some activity is suicidal or destructive and the majority
do not care and indeed rather like it, must he be silent?

…and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall
seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

“Seem most likely” was what the Bolsheviks thought when
they formed the Soviet State, and that resulted in almost eighty to
a hundred million dead people in Russia, China, Cambodia, etc., and
an incalculable amount of human misery.

As you see, whatever seems axiomatic to one person is not always going
to be so to another. In fact the people who drew up the above document
were as aware of all of the above objections as we are, but they thought
that it was only a matter of filling in the details, e.g. by defining
the people as “the majority of the people” as shown in elections,
etc. This leads to the great complexity of detail involved in constitutional
government, to the plethora of paragraphs and sub-clauses, amendments,
plebiscites, referendums, etc.


Another example of the spread of this technique into other areas than
mathematics, and perhaps the most anti-scientific and dishonest example
of which we can think is the contentious subject of orientalism. We
use this term here to refer to western studies of Islam. Orientalism
too contends that it is a scientific discipline. It is clearly a weapon
of the enemies of Allah. However, the Muslims have largely failed in
dealing with it because they deal piece-meal with its multitudinous
propositions, whereas what should be dealt with is its dishonestly unstated
axiomatic base. Euclid and subsequent mathematicians stated all their
definitions of terms and their axioms; orientalists state none of these

For example, what is perhaps the bible of orientalism is the Leiden-published
Encyclopaedia of Islam. This is a distressing and ugly, but
apparently erudite, set of tomes. It is the clearest evidence of the
entirely unscientific axiomatic base of orientalism – we
seek refuge with Allah from the evil of it and His forgiveness for mentioning
it – that is that the Messenger of Allah was a perfectly ordinary
human being who did not receive revelation but compounded the entire
edifice of Islam from fragments of poorly comprehended jewish and christian
materials, and that where it disagrees with the Qur’an, the Biblical
literature is always decisive. They insist that subsequent Islamic thought
elaborated Islam on this basis, and added into it stolen pieces of Buddhism
and neo-Platonism, etc., etc. The proof that these axioms are false
is that they have never been clearly stated as being the axioms and
the premises of orientalism. An axiom, to be a correct basis for a scientific
study, must be so self-evidently true that it needs no proof. This ‘axiom’
is a mere prejudice, and at best a proposition which is impossible to
substantiate and which, if stated as a proposition, would be easily

If these were not the axioms of orientalism we should expect at least
an equal amount of literature examining propositions based on the opposite
axioms, i.e. that Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets and Messengers,
and that the Qur’an is the revealed Speech of Allah confirming that
which came before it of other revelations to other prophets and messengers
and clarifying the many distortions to be found in other scriptures.
However, sceptical orientalism regards this as merely a proposition
which has to be proved, whereas the other is self-evidently true and
needs no proof, only needing subsidiary propositions merely to fill
in the details in this prejudicial picture.

Thus, many naive Muslims strive mistakenly within the academic nexus
thinking that orientalism is a rather well-meaning judaeo-christian
affair which just needs to be guided aright. They combat bravely various
sub-theses of this monstrous lie, without ever confronting the central
thesis, the deceitfully unmentioned axioms.

Modernist Islam

Within Islam too, this mathematical approach has found a home. Muslims
who believe in deriving shari’ah from ‘Islamic principles’
are following the same method. The ‘principles’ are axioms,
and are not the same as the traditional usul – ‘roots’
or ‘sources’. These latter are the sources of the din –
among which are the Book, the Sunnah, and the consensus of the people
of knowledge, etc. By following ‘Islamic principles’ one
very often arrives directly at a result that contradicts the well-known
shari’ah of Islam.

For example, Abu’l-A’la Maududi, founder of the Jama’at al-Islamiya
in India and Pakistan is a classic case of someone who follows this
method. We take a few examples at random from only one of his books,
The Islamic Way of Life, to illustrate this approach.

In Chapter one, The Islamic Concept of Life, Maududi says,
“There are certain postulates which should be understood and appreciated
at the very outset.” Postulate is another term for axiom, so here
Maududi has clearly set out his intention to create a new type of Islam
based on this mathematical approach, rather than on the traditional

Under Basic Postulates Abu’l-A’la includes in number one, “Man
has also been invested with freedom of will and choice and the power
to use the resources of the world in any manner he likes. In short,
man has been given a sort of autonomy while being appointed God’s vicegerent
on the earth.” First, although the author invokes the mathematical
approach with the use of the term postulate, this postulate which he
uses has none of the rigour, tight definition and exactness of mathematical
postulates. There are so many elements in this one statement that it
is meaningless to call it a postulate.

Without entering the fruitless and forbidden debate between advocates
of free-will and advocates of predestination, Maududi has clearly and
immediately given very strong indications that he is ideologically a
member of the group who used to be known as the Qadariyyah – the
proponents of free-will and those who deny the decree of Allah. The
second part of that assertion is more evident by emphasis and omission
than by any declaration. When the angel Jibril, peace be upon him, asked
the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to describe Iman
– belief – he enumerated its elements as, “That you
believe in Allah, His Messengers, His Books, His angels, the Decree
– the good of it and the bad of it, and the Last Day.” The
last two terms deal with the great paradox of human existence that everything
is decreed by Allah, exalted is He, from before the creation of the
cosmos, and that the human being must face a reckoning for his deeds.

Imam Malik said, “The people who believe in the doctrine of
free-will (al-Qadariyyah) are the worst of mankind. I see them
as fickle people of shallow intelligence and innovations because of
many ayat which there are against them, of which there is the words
of Allah, mighty is He and majestic, ‘The building they have built
will not cease to be a bone of contention in their hearts’ (Surat
at-Tawbah, 111), and of which there is ‘And He revealed to Nuh,
“No one of your people will believe except for he who has already
believed”,’ (Surah Hud, ayah 36) and He said, ‘And
they will not give birth to any but wicked disbelievers,’ (Surah
Nuh, 27), ‘You will entice no one to them except for him who is to roast
in the Blazing Fire,’ (Surat as-Saffat, 163) and He said, ‘but Allah
was averse to their setting out so He held them back” (Surat at-Tawbah,
46) and in many other ayat.’”

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is reported
to have said a number of things about the proponents of free-will, including
that they are the worst of mankind. Imam an-Nawawi narrated, “It
is established as an authentic statement that he said, may Allah bless
with him and grant him peace, ‘The Qadariyyah are the Magians (i.e.
dualists) of this community’”. It is not our purpose here to refute
them or to enter into a polemic on the matter. Rather we want to show
how much a modernist like Abu’l-A’la al-Maududi has imbibed the mathematical
approach as shown by his language of postulates. His first postulate
contains by omission and by emphasis something, which is further repeated
and elaborated throughout his book, entirely against the Sunnah.

Again in Chapter three, Essential Features of Islamic Political System,
Maududi begins, “The political system of Islam has been based on
three principles, viz., Tawheed (Unity of God), Risalat (Prophethood)
and Khilafat (Caliphate).” Here postulates are exchanged for principles,
but the thinking is the same. We only note that the equation here fails
in the first term “political system of Islam” because it introduces
two terms which would not be recognised classically: “political”
and “system”, and introducing matters into Islam is called
classically bid’ah. Maudud was enamoured of all things western so much
that he wanted to remake Islam entirely in its image. Yet, he did not
have enough knowledge of western society to know of the immense literatures
in criticism of ‘politics’ and ’systems’.

By the process of these three principles Maududi further arrives at
‘the State’ and ‘Islamic democracy’. The State was no part of early
Islamic thinking and is clearly another innovation. If we examine the
Arabic term dawlah, which is often translated as ’state’, it means a
‘turn of fortune in battle’. The word does not occur in the Qur’an but
another word from the same root does, doolah and it means a ‘turn of
fortune in terms of wealth’. The former is ‘political’ and the latter
‘economic’. However, our term ’state’ is related to ’static’ which is
precisely the direct opposite of the Arabic term. The obsessive drive
to create a state is a desperate fear of the dynamic nature of history
and of the turning this way and that way of fortune, i.e. Allah’s eternal
decree of the winners and losers. The state in western thinking is also
something which legislates, i.e. creates laws. The dawlah for the Muslims
may never create laws, but it can only implement Allah’s revealed law.

With respect to Islamic democracy, another innovation, Maududi says,
“Every person in an Islamic society enjoys the rights and powers
of the caliphate of God and in this respect all individuals are equal.”
Here we see the ‘equality’ of the French Revolution raising its not
so unexpected head. These words hark back to a group called the Khawarij
– literally ’seceders’ – who also affirmed a kind of
radical understanding of equality, which led them to murder Sayyiduna
‘Ali, may Allah honour him, murder being the ultimate weapon of egalitarians.

Again later in the same chapter, Abu’l-A’la introduces the concept
of Fundamental Human Rights for all mankind. This is clearly another
innovatory introduction of something foreign into Islam.

In Chapter IV Islamic Social Order, he begins, “The foundations
of the social system of Islam rest on the belief that all human beings
are equal and constitute one single fraternity.” We have already
questioned the concept of equality. It is doubly questionable here because
Allah, exalted is He, specifically refutes it in many ayat in the Qur’an,
e.g. where He says, “Say: ‘Are the blind and sighted equal? Or
are darkness and light the same?’” (Surat ar-Ra’d: 17) And, “Do
you make the giving of water to the pilgrims and looking after the Sacred
Mosque the same as believing in Allah and the Last Day and doing jihad
in the Way of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah. Allah
does not guide the people of the wrongdoers. Those who believe and emigrate
and do jihad in the way of Allah with their wealth and themselves have
a higher rank with Allah. They are the triumphant.” (Surat at-Tawbah:
19-20) In this latter ayat, Allah differentiates the people who struggle
in the way of Allah from other believers. The ayat which differentiate
Muslims from jews, christians and other unbelievers are too numerous
and too well-known to mention. It is complete nonsense to say that humans
are all equal and one great brotherhood. But of course ‘brotherhood’
is the last term from the slogan of the French Revolution. That brotherhood
was to be achieved, as Marat proposed, by the removal of, “Two
hundred and sixty thousand aristocrat heads.”

Al-Maududi continues in the same chapter to say, “The foremost
and fundamental institution of human society is the unit of the family,”
but the family is not the unit of the society, but a unit possibly of
a clan or a tribe or a race. Islamic society begins when people pledge
allegiance to their leader, not because of any familial relationship
or tribal culture.

Most significantly in Chapter V, Economic Principles of Islam, Maududi,
says, “Islam has laid down some principles and prescribed certain
limits for the economic activity of man…” Note here that
Islam rather than being ’submission’ and ’surrender’ has now become
an active entity laying down principles. This leads on to something
quite crucial, “Islam does not concern itself with time-bound methods
and techniques of economic production or with the details of the organisational
pattern and mechanisms.” The statement is ambiguous. It can lead
easily to the interpretation that the economic patterns of the right-acting
first generations are not a source for our shari’ah. That cuts us off
from a clear model of a non-usurious economy and leaves us adrift in
the sea of ‘Islamic Principles’. That was what actually and quite conveniently
led many of Maududi’s followers into directorships of Islamic banks
and other similar usurious institutions.

Perhaps, this is sufficient to show the penetration of this type of
mathematical approach into the thinking of just one of the exponents
of now out-dated modernist Islam. However, please note that any mathematician,
philosopher or person trained in that type of thinking would faint at
the weakness of thought displayed here, the falsity of its logic, and
the emptiness of its conclusions.

We put these examples here, to illustrate how widespread is the basic
idea which is at the core of the mathematisation of science, and how
much damage it can do.

From: Abdassamad Clarke

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Setting an Example of Piety

One day, close to noontime, while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sitting and conferring with his Companions, a group of desert dwellers approached. Their purpose was none other than to represent their people to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and declare their faith in Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) regarded them. It was obvious from their appearance that they were from a log way off and that their journey had been a hard one. They had no shoes on their feet. Their clothes were scant and threadbare, and amounted to nothing more than scraps of bound cloth. They had no possessions with them and were starving.

The Prophet’s face became strained with sorrow and concern. He looked at them with compassion. Then he stood up, turned and went into his house. After a while, he returned and instructed Bilâl to call the people to prayer. Then the Prophet led the Muslims in the Noon Prayer.

Afterwards, he stood at the pulpit and recited verses of the Qur’ân which exhort to goodwill and charity. Then he said: “A man should donate some of his gold or silver, or a container of flour, or a container of dates…” until he finally appealed “…or even if but half a date.” In this way, he encouraged all the Muslims to give what they could.

He then took his seat and waited for his Companions to help out their brothers who had come to them in such straitened circumstances. No one acted immediately. The minutes of inaction seemed long and heavy. The Prophet’s displeasure with such a response could be seen on his face.

Then a man from the natives of Madinah came forward with a large purse full of silver so big he was barely able to carry it in both his hands. He said: “Messenger of Allah! This is for the sake of Allah.”

By taking the initiative, he broke the heavy spell of silence and inactivity, for right then, Abû Bakr stood up and made a donation. Then `Umar came forward with charity. Then everyone came forward with what they could give of food, clothing, and money. The Prophet’s face shone with joy as looked at the pile of food and clothing that had been placed before him.

However, his attention was drawn more strongly to that man who had been the first to give and in doing so broke the impasse of hesitation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said: “Whoever sets a good precedent in Islam will have the blessing for doing so as well as the blessing for everyone who acts upon it thereafter, without their blessings being diminished in the least. And whoever sets an evil precedent in Islam will have the sin for doing so as well as the sin of everyone who acts upon it thereafter, without their sis being diminished in the least.” [Sahîh Muslim: (1017)]

From this event, we can draw valuable lessons regarding the importance, in Islamic work, of taking initiative and of setting practical and conspicuous examples.

We can see the effect the native of Madinah had on everyone else by his taking the initiative and bringing that bag of silver to the Prophet (peace be upon him). The people had been hesitating. However, after the people saw someone make a conspicuous donation, they all rushed to follow suit. It may be true that some of them may have given substantially more than he did, but it was his setting the precedent that got them to do so. This is the reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) informed him that those who set a good precedent receive the blessings of all those who follow suit. He was, in effect, congratulating that man for taking the initiative.

We also learn from the story that we do not have to be famous celebrities or prominent people for our initiative to count. We do not even know the name of the man who brought the first bag of silver. All we know is that he was a native of Madinah. Nevertheless, he set a precedent that was immediately followed by the two most eminent citizens of the Muslim community – Abû Bakr and `Umar.

Therefore, we should never feel that we are too unimportant or insignificant to set a public example. That unnamed man did not get intimidated by the presence of those community leaders. He was not shy to be the first person to do something good. By being bold, he received the blessings of Abû Bakr, `Umar, and all the other important – and sometimes extremely wealthy – people who gave their donations after him.

In fact, taking the initiative is often what makes people successful. If we look at the lives of great leaders, people of influence, and reformers, we find that those lives are a series of positive initiatives. This is how they became so influential, and this is why they were able to have an enduring legacy.

Doing a good deed in public to set a good precedent is not the same as doing it for personal fame. It is something we do purely for Allah’s sake. It is not showing off to do a good deed conspicuously with the sincere intention of teaching people what is right, or for setting a good example, or for publicizing a public welfare program to make it a success. It is, in fact, a good way of calling people to Allah.

Sometimes, the worst thing we can do is fail to do a good deed out of shyness or fear of being seen by others. Al-Fudayl b. `Iyâd said: “Abandoning good deeds because of the people is showing off.”


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Do what you love

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you truly believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to do what you love.

–Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement

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Shaykh `Abdalhaqq Bewley: Legalised Deviation of Tassawuf Imposed Inside Muslim Tariqahs


From The 12th International Fiqh Conference via the Muslims of Norwich Community Website

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‘Fear Allah & be just with your children’ – Does Justice Mean Equality?

Does Justice Mean Equality
‘Fear Allah & be just with your children’ – Does Justice mean Equality?. Image credit: fingtoys.

Al-Nu`mân b. Bashîr once addressed the people from the pulpit and told them about what took place between the Prophet and his father, saying:

My father gave him a gift. Then my mother, `Amrah bint Rawâhah, said: “I will not be satisfied until Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon it) is a witness to it.”

So my father went to Allah’s Messenger and said: “I gave a gift to my son from `Amrah bint Rawâhah, and she told me to have you be a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: “Did you give your other children something similar?” He replied that he had not. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fear Allah, and be just between your children.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2587) and Sahîh Muslim (1623)]

Islam teaches us the principle of treating our children with justice, and treating children justly usually means treating them equally. We see this clearly in the hadîth cited above. The Prophet (peace be upon him) declared the father to be unjust, because he gave one child a gift without giving an equal gift to the others. In this case, treating the children unequally was the same as treating them unjustly.

But does justice always mean equality? This is an important question, since it is essential for us as Muslim parents to understand what justice between our children entails. We know the matter of justice is serious in our religion, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) told the father to “Fear Allah”. This is a strong rebuke to the father on account of his conduct. Such a strong rebuke shows us that being unjust in our dealings with our children is a serious sin.

Consider the consequences when we favor some of our children over others. It creates hatred and resentment between siblings where love should be. It makes them envious. It ca also make the child who is treated less favorably to suffer from self-doubt and low confidence.

The Pious Predecessors exercised great care and vigilance to be fair to their children. They tried to be equal in how often they paid attention to each child, how often the played with them, spoke with them, even how often they smiled or looked at them. They only made exception when they had to show anger or disapproval to a child for some wrongdoing, and then they did this with fairness in order to correct that child for that particular misdeed, and that with the intention to develop the child’s character.

The Qur’ân gives us a good example, in the story of Joseph, of a family where some children felt that one brother was more loved and more favored by their father. They went so far as to plot to kill him. In the end, they tossed him into a well in the chance that a passing caravan would take him away.

Therefore, as fathers and mothers, we should always show equal love for our children. Being equal in material things, like clothing, gifts and treats is certainly very important part of it, but it is not the whole story. It is also crucial to make sure not to show favoritism in the time and attention that we give to any one of them. We should make sure that our children feel that they are equally loved and esteemed.

An important part of this, however, is to recognize that each of our children is a unique individual, with his or her own particular set of needs, talents, and interests. Therefore, when we should show our love equally to each of our sons and daughters, we should do so in a manner that responds to the unique needs of each. What is best for a small child may not be appropriate for an older child. Likewise, what will interest, please, or benefit one child will not be the same for another.

This is where justice and equality do not mean exactly the same thing. There are times and ways in which we will have to treat our children differently. There are three factors that need to be taken into careful consideration:

1. Children have different emotional constitutions. Some children have a greater need for affection, while others have a greater need for praise or reassurance. There are children who must be taught things with more care and thoroughness and others who want to be included in decisions. True justice entails giving each child what he or she is in need of.

If a parent gives the same exact gift or treatment to each, some children will be favored by it while others will be disfavored. The parent may believe he or she is being just through such dogmatic equality, but he or she is really favoring the child who actually wants the gift or actually benefits by the particular kind of attention being given. The other children lose out. The unwitting parent might be bewildered to see that most of the children are resentful and spiteful, in spite of the parent’s best efforts to be equal and fair.

2. Since each child is a unique individual, each will behave differently towards his or her parents. It is unavoidable for parents to feel differently about their children on account of how their children treat them. Sometimes, a child’s behavior warrants special treatment. A child who shows extra respect and good behavior to his parents will be acknowledged and rewarded for doing so in the way that child’s parents respond to the good behavior. This may actually be an unwitting response of the part of the parents, but it is a natural one.

3. Sometimes, a child’s circumstances demand some form of special treatment. Obviously, a small child needs more direct care and attention than an older one. Also, a child who excels in his or her studies needs to be shown special regard for doing so. A child who is religious and morally upright should be shown respect for it. A child who has a disability should be shown the extra care, affection, ad support that dealing with the disability requires. With grown children, one who is poor or facing unfortunate circumstances can be given the help that he or she needs.

In all cases, however, the essence of justice must always be upheld. Though our hearts have a tendency to love one child more than another and to favor some of our children at times over others, we should do what is in our power to be just between them.

Though this is certainly complicated by the fact that just treatment is not always the same as equal treatment, we must to the best of our abilities and knowledge strive to be fair and to show equal love. And May Allah forgive us for whatever unwitting mistakes we might make.


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Filed under Fiqh, Hadith, Islam, Religion