Sunday, November 28, 2010

Malcolm X

Malcolm X - (1925 - 1965)
http://www.salaam.co.uk/themeofthemonth/june02_index.php?l=33

"I am and always will be a Muslim. My religion is Islam." - Malcolm X

Early Life

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louis Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family's eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl's civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm's fourth birthday. Regardless of the Little's efforts to elude the Legion, in 1929 their Lansing, Michigan home was burned to the ground, and two years later Earl's mutilated body was found lying across the town's trolley tracks when Malcolm was only six. Louise had an emotional breakdown several years after the death of her husband and was committed to a mental institution. Her children were split up amongst various foster homes and orphanages.

Malcolm was a smart, focused student and graduated from junior high at the top of his class. However, when a favorite teacher told Malcolm his dream of becoming a lawyer was "no realistic goal for a nigger," Malcolm lost interest in school and eventually dropped out at the age of fifteen. Learning the ways of the streets, Malcolm became acquainted with hoodlums, thieves, dope peddlers, and pimps. Convicted of burglary at twenty, he remained in prison until the age of twenty-seven. During his prison stay he attempted to educate himself. In addition, during his period in prison he learned about and joined the Nation of Islam, studying the teachings of Elijah Muhammed fully. He was released, a changed man, in 1952.

The 'Nation of Islam'

Upon his release, Malcolm went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instruction by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm's personal commitment helped build the organization nation-wide, while making him an international figure. He was interviewed on major television programs and by magazines, and spoke across the country at various universities and other forums. His power was in his words, which so vividly described the plight of blacks and vehemently incriminated whites. When a white person referred to the fact that some Southern university had enrolled black freshmen without bayonets, Malcolm reacted with scorn:

When I "slipped," the program host would leap on the bait: "Ahhh! Indeed, Mr. Malcolm X -- you can't deny that's an advance for your race!"

I'd jerk the pole then. "I can't turn around without hearing about some 'civil rights advance'! White people seem to think the black man ought to be shouting 'hallelujah'! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man's back -- and now the white man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man's supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it's still going to leave a scar!

Although Malcolm's words often stung with the injustices against blacks in America, the equally racist views of the Nation of Islam kept him from accepting any whites as sincere or capable of helping the situation. For twelve years he preached that the white man was the devil and the "Honorable Elijah Muhammad" was God's messenger. Unfortunately, most images of Malcolm today focus on this period of his life, although the transformation he was about to undergo would give him a completely different, and more important, message for the American people.

The Change to True Islam

On March 12, 1964, impelled by internal jealousy within the Nation of Islam and revelations of Elijah Muhammad's sexual immorality, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam with the intention of starting his own organization:

I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else's control. I feel what I'm thinking and saying now is for myself. Before, it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.

Malcolm was thirty-eight years old when he left Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. Reflecting on reflects that occurred prior to leaving, he said:

At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying, or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering myself a Muslim -- and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called "true Islam," I would "understand it, and embrace it." Automatically, as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?

Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, "No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."

The Effect of the Pilgrimage

Malcolm further continues about the Hajj:

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is a religious obligation that every orthodox Muslim fulfills, if able, at least once in his or her lifetime.

The Holy Quran says it, "Pilgrimage to the House [of God built by the prophet Abraham] is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey." (3:97)

Allah said: "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine" (22:27).

Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out "Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!" (Here I come, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair -- all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other. . . .

That is when I first began to reappraise the "white man." It was when I first began to perceive that "white man," as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America, "white man" meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole outlook about "white" men.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white...America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white -- but the "white" attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespecitve of their color.

Malcolm's New Vision of America

Malcolm continues:

Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities -- he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth -- the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.
. . .

I believe that God now is giving the world's so-called 'Christian' white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world's non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those who he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

I will never forget the dinner at the Azzam home with Dr. Azzam. The more we talked, the more his vast reservoir of knowledge and its variety seemed unlimited. He spoke of the racial lineage of the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet, and he showed how they were both black and white. He also pointed out how color, and the problems of color which exist in the Muslim world, exist only where, and to the extent that, that area of the Muslim world has been influenced by the West. He said that if one encountered any differences based on attitude toward color, this directly reflected the degree of Western influence.

The Oneness of Man Under One God

It was during his pilgrimage that he began to write some letters to his loyal assistants at the newly formed Muslim Mosque in Harlem. He asked that his letter be duplicated and distributed to the press:

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the House of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. .

You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the "white" Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the "white" from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their "differences" in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called "Christian" white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, "The brotherhood! The people of all races, color, from all over the world coming together as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God. . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God.

Malcolm returned from the pilgrimage as El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz. He was afire with new spiritual insight. For him, the struggle had evolved from the civil rights struggle of a nationalist to the human rights struggle of an internationalist and humanitarian.

After the Pilgrimage

White reporters and others were eager to learn about El-Hajj Malik's newly-formed opinions concerning themselves. They hardly believed that the man who had preached against them for so many years could suddenly turn around and call them brothers. To these people El-Hajj Malik had this to say:

You're asking me "Didn't you say that now you accept white men as brothers?" Well, my answer is that in the Muslim world, I saw, I felt, and I wrote home how my thinking was broadened! Just as I wrote, I shared true, brotherly love with many white-complexioned Muslims who never gave a single thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.

My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land, I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, -- blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans -- in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshipping as one! No segregationists -- no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words.

In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again -- as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.

To the blacks who increasingly looked to him as a leader, El-Hajj Malik preached a new message, quite the opposite of what he had been preaching as a minister in the Nation of Islam:

True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.

Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists -- some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!

I said to my Harlem street audiences that only when mankind would submit to the One God who created all -- only then would mankind even approach the "peace" of which so much talk could be heard...but toward which so little action was seen.

Too Dangerous to Last

El-Hajj Malik's new universalistic message was the U.S. establishment's worst nightmare. Not only was he appealing to the black masses, but to intellectuals of all races and colors. Now he was consistently demonized by the press as "advocating violence" and being "militant," although in actuality he and Dr. Martin Luther King were moving closer together in outlook:

The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody's guess which of the "extremes" in approach to the black man's problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first -- "non-violent" Dr. King, or so-called "violent" me."

El-Hajj Malik knew full well that he was a target of many groups. In spite of this, he was never afraid to say what he had to say when he had to say it. As a sort of epitaph at the end of his autobiography, he says:

I know that societies often have killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America -- then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Although El-Hajj Malik knew that he was a target for assassination, he accepted this fact without requesting police protection. On February 21, 1965, while preparing to give a speech at a New York hotel, he was shot by three black men. He was three months short of forty, the age of maturity according to the Qur'an. While it is clear that the Nation of Islam had something to do with the assassination, many people believe there was more than one organization involved. The FBI, known for its anti-black movement tendency, has been suggested as an accomplice. We may never know for sure who was behind El-Hajj Malik's murder, or, for that matter, the murder of other national leaders in the early 1960s.

Malcolm X's life has affected Americans in many important ways. His conversion must have had an influence on Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace Muhammad, who, after his father's death, led the Nation of Islam's followers into orthodox Islam. African-Americans' interest in their Islamic roots has flourished since El-Hajj Malik's death. Alex Haley, who wrote Malcolm's autobiography, later wrote the epic Roots about an African Muslim family's experience with slavery. More and more African-Americans are becoming Muslim, adopting Muslim names, or exploring African culture. Interest in Malcolm X has seen a surge recently due to Spike Lee's movie, X. El-Hajj Malik is a source of pride for African-Americans, Muslims, and Americans in general. His message is simple and clear:

I am not a racist in any form whatever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim..

(Sources: http://www.brothermalcolm.net; http://www.cmgww.com/historic/malcolm/bio.html; http://www.malcolm-x.org; http://islamicity.com/Mosque/MyJourney/Malcolm_X.htm;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Enter the Abode of Peace

Abu Ja'far heard Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Hassan recite this Quranic passage, “Allah beckons you to the abode of peace; and he guides whoever he wills to the straight path.” (Yunis 10:25)
Then he narrated from Jabir ibn Abdullah said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) came to us one day and said, “I saw a dream, it was if Jibreal (upon him peace) was near my head and Mikaeal was at my feet. One said to the other, “Give him a similitude.” He said, “Listen," He listened and heard with an understanding heart. "You and your nation are like a people who the king has given land to; then built a house upon it; then placed cattle upon it; then sent a messenger to call the people to food; some responded to the messenger and others did not. Allah is the King; the land is Islam; the house is paradise and you O’ Muhammad are the Messenger; whoever responds to you enters Islam; whoever enters Islam enters Paradise and whoever enters paradise partakes in it.”
Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadark 2:338-339 who said this chain is authentic. Imam Ad-Dhahabi said, “It is authentic.”
Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s Dalail An-Nabuwwah / Proofs of Prophethood
V1 P.370

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Intention / Niyyah


Intention/ Niyyah

A few months ago a friend of mine was talking about the importance of intention. He quoted Imam As-Shafi’i statement on intention that it enters into seventy chapters of jurisprudence. I said yes that is in the Shafi’i school and not in the Hanafi School because there are actions that can be done without intention that are valid.


He disagreed with my point and decided to convince me of his point. You see in the Hanafi School there are actions that can be done without intention that are valid because intention is not part of the action.
A famous example is when a person jumps into a river and all the parts of his body are wet, his ablution is valid in the Hanafi school but not in the Shafi’i school. Also if a man makes three pronouncements of the word Talaq/Divorce to his wife; the divorce occurs without intention. Alas he did not accept my point but I wanted to write something about intention because it is a subject which many of us neglect! Note it is my intention to write something useful about intention and not my intention to insult!


The Opening
Many books start with the prophetic narration of intention. The narration is as follows:
Umar narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Actions are commensurate to their intentions.” (Bukhari 1/1 and Muslim 3/1907)

This is the first narration that Imam Bukhari begins his Authentic/Sahih collection with; the first narration that the Miskat Al-Masabih begins with, Imam Nawawi begins his forty Hadith collection with this narration as he does the Garden of the Righteous. This is something that many scholars see as the starting place of an action, the intention. So if we get the intention right then whatever comes after will be sound as well.
In terms of the narration it is singular and authentic but later it was mass transmitted by Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) in a sermon. The Hanafi School understand this narration as a sole/Ahad transmission.
Going back to the hadith we see that the sources of actions are the intentions. And intentions are the beginning of the action.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Actions are commensurate by intentions, to every intender is his intention. Whoever's emigration is for Allah and his Messenger then his emigration is to Allah and his Messenger. And whoever's emigration is for any worldly gain or for a woman he is to wed, then his migration is for what he migrated.” (Source as above)
There was a man who wished to marry Umm Qais who migrated so he could marry her as other companions migrated for the sake of Allah. The companions’ intentions were that they migrated for the sake of Allah and the other man’s intention was so he could marry a woman. He did become Muslim and he became known as Muhajir Umm Qais, the emigrate of the mother of Qais. This hadith clearly explains that the action depends on the intention. Or the actions are founded on the intention and this clarifies the reason that an action occurred.
The following hadith explains this further:
Abdullah ibn Umair (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Whoever makes an intention for the sake of the world; Allah, the exalted, brings poverty before him and leaves it desiring it. Whoever makes the afterlife his intention; Allah, the exalted, makes his heart rich and gathers him with what he lost then he leaves with more abstinence from it.” (Ibn Majah)


Definitions of Intention

In Jurisprudence/Fiqh
According to Jurisprudence intention can be defined as determination in the heart to do or not to do something. Or when someone asks you then you reply that you are about to do such and such.


In other actions
Mulla Ali Al-Qari (may Allah be pleased with him) states in his commentary of Miskat Al-Masabih on the prophetic narration of “Actions are commensurate to their intentions.” That intention is, “Islamically, it is directing the heart to action for the sake of Allah.” (Miqat Ul-Mafatiah Vol 1 P.94)
Imam Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Know that intention, wish and aim are various expression of one meaning; it is the condition and state of the heart; which include two issues; knowledge and action.” (Ihya Ulum Ud-Din Vol 4 p.485)

The last quote is something that we are going to explain. The Imam mentions knowledge which is something that is vital for sound action. If there is no knowledge then there is a chance that an action is not valid.


Dictionary definition
The definition according to the English dictionary by Geddes and Grosset is, “Determination to act in a certain way.” (p.269)


Quotes on Intention
“When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice.” Otto von Bismarck (1815 - 1898)
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” [1855 H. G. Bohn Hand-Book of Proverbs 514]
I do have an issue with the last quotation because this is not true. If you look at the Hadith then we have to change the saying to, “The road to paradise is paved with good intentions.” As even a good intention is rewarded for. Please read on.


Good intentions are rewarded
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) narrates that Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, Said, “Allah records good and bad deeds." Then he explained, “Whoever is about to do a good deed and does not perform it then Allah records one complete good deed for him. If he is going to do and performs it; Allah records ten to seven hundred good deeds for him or even more. And whoever is about to perform an evil act and does not perform it; Allah records one good deed for him but if he is about to do it and performs it then Allah record one evil deed for him.”(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This is something that the Muslim nation is blessed with. It is blessed because with this narration which states that if we intend a good action then it is recorded as if we have done it and if we intend to do a wrong action then it is recorded as a good action as long as we do not do it. How merciful Allah is to the Muslim nation that he has blessed us in such way. This also gives us the ability to understand this hadith.
Sohal Ibn Sa’ad narrates that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “The intention of a believer is better his action.” (Tabarani and Al-Daylami 3/286)
I remember one speaker talking about this hadith and was encouraging the audience to make as many good intentions as they could, in hope for more reward. The following narration is also something that illustrates this point further.
Narrated from the Jewish folklore is a story of man who passed by a sand dune during a famine. He said to himself, “If only this sand was food I would’ve distributed it amongst the people.” Then Allah, the exalted, sent revelation to their Prophet to say to him that Allah, the Exalted, has accepted his truthfulness, his good intention and has given him the reward as if it had been food that was distributed as charity. (Ihya Ulum Ud-Din Vol 4 p.483)
Abu Laith As-Samaqandi (may Allah be pleased with him) states in Tanbih Al-Ghafileen (informing the heedless p.276-7) “Many sleepers attain the reward of a person praying and how many a prayers awake is recorded as a sleeper. This is when a man has a habit of getting up in the night, making ablution and then praying until Fajr comes in. He sleeps with that intention and sleep overcomes him until dawn comes then awakes. He is saddened by this (not being able to pray during the night); he is recorded as person praying and attains the reward of a person awake because of his intention. As for the man who does not get up in the night to pray and thinks that dawn has come then gets up, make ablution and goes to the masjid; then he realises it is not dawn and waits for it saying to himself, “If I knew it was not dawn then I would not have left my bed.” And this is how someone is recorded as a sleeper though he is awake.”


Warning
Something that needs careful consideration is the following hadith.
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Every servant will be resurrected upon their intentions.” (Muslim)
We do not want to be resurrected with bad intentions in our hearts nor do we want to be taken by the angel of death when we are doing something evil or about to do something evil, do we? O’Allah, please take our souls whilst we are performing actions of goodness. Ameen.


Final points
We are affirming that intention is important and a good intention can raise someone’s actions to a higher level thus assisting them in increasing their reward. If intentions are good then the outcome almost does not matter. Bad intentions are only recorded as such if they are followed up with evil actions.
Your intention is something that is secret that only if you divulge it will people find out. Sometimes we have seen people do bad things but the resulting action was something good. We must always know that Allah (Mighty and Majestic) wants good for us and correcting the intention is the first step to sincerity. We pray this has been useful in clarifying some points and that it has helped people and may Allah make our intentions solely for him.
So please note that there is a difference between a man who goes to work because he has to and a man who goes to work with the intention of earning halal wealth for his family. There is a difference between a woman who cooks for her family and a woman who makes the intention that she is cooking for the sake of Allah. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi's grandmother used read salawat upon the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) when cooking. Then it became known that her food was a cure because of this.So the difference, in all these cases, is the intention with the intention for the sake of Allah (Mighty and Exalted) an action can reach heights that was not possible. You might be sat next to a person doing the same job but because of your intention, your action is much greater but to an onlooker it would appear the same yet one with Allah (Mighty and Exalted) has a lofty station.May the praise of Allah (mighty and Majestic) ring out from every corner of creation and may salutations and peace be bestowed onto our master Muhammad (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him).