Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are you doing your bit?


One of my trusted friends once asked me, “Are you doing you bit?”

I replied, “Bit of what?”

“Your bit; are you doing your bit?”

“Bit of what?”

“Your bit for Islam.”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you spreading Islam?”

“I need to learn.”

“You don’t need knowledge to talk. Sometimes I ring up a radio show and talk to people clarify a few things.”

“I need to study.”

“Study and do your bit.”

In whatever capacity you are in you can spread Islam which does not mean forcing people into Islam or talking over them or demeaning them. It means doing what you are able to do within the situation that you are in. Trying to do the best you can to break down barriers in your communities, to help people, to spread knowledge; to basically do something positive. We can all do this and if we all do our bit then it’ll add to a lot.


So now I am asking you, “Are you doing your bit?”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi



Chess

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi (may Allah protect him) mentioned in a lecture delivered in Burton on Trent (2009, UK) about a philosopher who had made the game of chess. 

The king asked him what his reward should be. He said that he wanted one grain for the first square two grains for the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth and so on, doubling until square 64. 

When they tried to work it out they realised that there was not enough grain in the kingdom! 

In the book Science and Islam Ehsan Masood p.49 (not a book that I recommend) he states that the exact amount was reached by Al-Biruni as 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains or 18.5 million trillion grains!

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi (may Allah protect him) mentioned that this was like our rewards beginning small and ending in an unfathomable amount.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Religion is ease not extremism


Being born a Muslim does not always give you a better insight into being Muslim than outsiders think. Only if you are blessed with religious parents do you realise what a benefit it is to be a Muslim. Then again even being born Muslim into an irreligious family is an unfathomable blessing. How can you understand that Allah (the Exalted) wants you to enter paradise and thus he made you Muslim without any effort on your part?

Many or most people who become Muslim suffer for a period once they become Muslim. They can be affected by all the different groups bashing each other and look on in bemusement about the slogans people chant. It takes time to get the prayer right and it also takes time to get your head around things. In addition to that a person’s family also needs time to get used to it; some families may never be able to accept it all. Others will grow to accept that their child has chosen another religion. To be without the support of the family that supported all your life is not something easy.

When one of the companions led a prayer and made the recitation long. Some of the congregation complained to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) whose face was seen to go red. He admonished the companion who lead the prayer advising him that people have needs and he should make the prayer light.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it, for amongst them are the weak, the old, and the one who has business to attend to. And if anyone among you prays alone, he may then prolong it as much as he likes.” (Bukhari).

If the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) heard a child cry when he was leading the prayer, he would shorten the prayer so the child could be attended to. Religion is ease and with ease comes mercy because you can be as hard as like on yourself but you have to be easy with others. Yet at the same time you cannot be so hard on yourself that you take things to extremes. You should be balanced and be in tune to the society that are living amongst.

So when you need to pray during the day you do not get up from your workspace and proclaim the call to prayer then start. You ask for a quiet room, make your ablution without making a mess of the toilet area and pray (in the room!). You do not come back from Jummah walking like you have make a conquest of a country that nobody has heard of. You come in with humility letting people experience the difference in your being. You do not let your beard grow so long that you could trip over it, if you did not pay attention. Nor are you extremely slack that you do not pray or fast and let your days pass by without taking advantage of the blessings of time that you are given.

Imam At-Tahawi in the Tahawiyyan Doctrine point number 104 states, “Islam lies between going to excess and falling short.” These are two extremes, those who are extremely slack and those who are extremely uptight. Why? Because this is the nature of the Nafs/ego it is either very lazy or extremely active and both these are destructive. If you are lazy then you do not do anything that is obvious but being extremely active means that you'll wear yourself out. So by being balanced only then do you get what you want from the deen and dunya.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Religion is ease and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that manner. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the prayers in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hours of the nights.” (Bukhari 1/38)

We have people who look at Islam through cultural standpoints causing them to misunderstand Islam then transmit these misunderstandings to non-Muslims. Do we correct them? We do not, instead we defend issues of culture that allows others to attack our religion even though it is not a religious issue!

Islam is not about overburdening people it’s about giving them what they need and allowing them space to grow and make mistakes. It’s not about being harsh and breaking their hearts when they do not what you told them to. We assume that what we are doing is perfect and what everyone else is doing is flawed. One thing that I am learning that different methods need to be used with different people and no one method works with everyone. We realised the flawed method of our teaching when we saw how high the standard we set others and when the could not reach it we scolded them. This type of arrogance must be looked at in the cold light of day. Weren't you once a student and did you not make mistakes? We have learnt the hard way that people need encouragement not debasement, as it is only through encouragement do people grow. Know your audience.


Misunderstanding belief


One of the ways that leads people to extremism in belief is when they take the Quran and Hadith literally which leads to countless misunderstandings. As the Quran uses metaphors and if you translate those literally then you actually leave the meaning of the text and misinterpret the text thus you betray the text you are tying to teach! If you translated the phrase the door is ajar literally is would mean that the door is a like glass jar! But it does not mean that, it means that the door is not closed and open.

So that is why we have passages that we do not take literally and this is a whole science of sound Islamic doctrine. As some have clear meanings other do not, some need to be explained, some need clarification, some are doubtful, some are specific to certain people and others are general. This is the science known as Usul Al-Fiqh and you cannot pluck out a verse and translate it without understanding it correctly. Go to the scholars of Islamic doctrine who say that we believe in all of the Quran and those verses that we do not know the meaning of then we submit the meaning to Allah and we do not interpret, that’s the middle way!

We should be concerned about calling people to Islam and not be concerned with fighting them. As this is the first time in history that people want to kill innocent people and not invite them to Islam. And just because they have had the message does not mean that they can be killed. This has never happened before except in extremist groups. Allah (the Exalted) has given them chance, after chance, after chance to become Muslim what about you? Can’t you give them just one chance?

People who live in the West realise the goodness that they receive from many people here. Yet are we grateful? Suicide is a desperate act and we are not people in desperation we know that the promise of Allah (the Exalted) is true.

Extremist is a term that denotes they are taking something that belongs to the religion to an unacceptable level. This is not true they are leaving the understand of the religious precepts that they are trying to convey.

Being religious is about taking a balanced middle course thus avoiding harshness to others or by making things difficult for others. We invite people to Islam with mercy and ease but we cannot force people into Islam. We encourage those brothers and sisters who are not praying to the beauty of practice by encouraging them even though they may often fall short we do not give up on them. Many religious people do not realise the harm they do to others with their "my way or the highway" Islam. Islam is Allah's way and he commanded us with mercy and compassion. Any other way is not the ethical standard that is Prophetic way and raising his banner means raising the banner of hope not the banner that my group is the saved sect and yours is not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Supplication of Jibril



Ibn Abu Dunya reports in Kitab Ad-Dhikr on the authority of Anas ibn Malik that Ubayy ibn Ka’ab entered the masjid to pray and praise Allah (the Exalted) praises that no one praised him by. When they prayed and sat to praise and exalt Allah they heard a loud voice behind them it said,

“O Allah to you belongs all praise; to you belongs all the dominion; you possess all good; to you all matters return; to you all matters return public and secret; truly you have power over all things. Forgive my sins that I have done; protect me from them for the rest of my life; give me pure actions that please you and accept my repentance.”

اللهم لك الحمد كله ولك الملك كله و بيدك الخير كله وإليك يرجع الأمر كله و إليك يرجع الأمر كله علانيته وسره لك الحمد إنك على كل شيء قدير اغفر لي ما مضى من ذنوبي و اعصمني فيما بقي من عمري و ارزقني أعمالا زاكية ترضى بها عني وتب علي

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) came and was told what occurred. He said, “That was Jibril (upon him peace).”

Al-Khasis Al-Kubra
Imam As-Suyuti p.158 Vol 2.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who made you a Qadi/Judge?


Who made you a Qadi/Judge?

We have a lot of sectarian problems at the moment and these are adding to the confusion of this time. Just imagine that you are an outsider and you see groups of Muslims attacking each other. It’s certainly not a pretty sight nor does it attract one to the religion.

I am criticised a lot for stepping back and not involving myself and sometimes not even voicing my opinion. I simply do not wish to be involved in fighting people or even refuting people unnecessarily. There are times when people need to be refuted because they are causing tribulation. But does that have to be done every time we speak? In every Khutba? Even during Ramadan when we need spiritual advice instead we a treated to a barrage of abuse aimed at particular groups.

I for one agree with the reliable opinion of the Hanafi school and the reliable opinions of the Maturdi and Ashari school of doctrine. (Most people are a mix of these schools of doctrine even thought they claim to be otherwise!) Yet within these schools sectarianism has occurred and I refute those who insult their Prophet whether intentional or not but I do not make it my lives work!

I prefer taking a step back from all this tribulation and refrain from comment. The average person is now repeating the mistakes of their Imams and purposely chasing those people who they think are wrong. It is almost relentless and the zeal in which these average people are chasing scholars for their ‘errors’ is something repugnant. They also attack people who know the scholars and their students. In the most Unislamic way imaginable with swearwords and speech full of hate. Where has their Islamic manners gone?

No one likes to be told that they are doing a bad job or that they do not know what to do. Yet groups of people who do not know their own Aqida correctly are attacking those who know their doctrine much better than them.

Some groups claim that some things are disbelief when they are clearly not and it is only their group who think it is! This is problematic because the Awwam (the average person) should not be doing anything but concentrating on their worship. This basic fact is something they have failed to do. Many do not know what breaks their ablution nor do they know what breaks their prayer but because they are Muslim they think this gives them a divine right to correct scholars.


Who made you a Qadi?

If someone pronounces a word of disbelief then the case is brought before a Qadi/Judge who asks the person if he realises the ramifications of his words. If he does not recant then he is imprisoned a scholar is brought to him to explain the issues and he is given time to reconsider. Only when he does not after a given period is the apostate killed. Just like if someone committed treachery to the Crown who that person be killed if convicted. Now that we do not have judges we have people who do their own vigilante style court in which they apostate who they hate and give excuses to those they love!

So when one of their own imams commits apostasy on the pulpit because he has tried to respect the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) by disrespecting the other Prophets. He is given an excuse but when others do the same, then that person is attacked and hounded. This happens in more instances than you can imagine.

We have misguided loyalties in that we think we are defending Islam but instead we are defending the politics of our group and not Islam at all. We also think that everyone is astray except our group and we claim to be Ahl-Sunna wa Jammah. Well, your group has only been around for a hundred or so years, how can it just be you that are right? So does that mean that there was no Ahl-Sunna until your group came? How can that be right? The Ahl-Sunna wa Jammah was not a specific group of people from a certain place. Rather is it the corpus of rulings and the followers of the scholars from the beginning of Islam until its end. Those that fit into the four schools of Fiqh and the Ashari and Maturdi schools of doctrine.

A popular singer once wrote love is blindness and it truly is when people are not willing to look at their own errors yet jump upon the errors of others like lions after their prey. Our love has made us blind and this misleading others.


What do we do then?

Overlook, like we used to and we refer case or situations to scholars who will correct scholars. When this is done then the scholar who corrected him should not make the discussions public. They should discuss the problem and come to a resolution then put the issue to bed. It is sinful for the average person to be debating about issues of Islamic doctrine, period.

Most of the time it is because the misunderstanding of Islam in the head of the average person and not because the scholar! When you do not know the issue do not speak but because our Naafs does not like to think we do not know anything about the religion that we were born with, we speak, we scream and we shout.

Your job as an ordinary person is to perfect your worship and try to implement Islam into your life as much as you can. Your job is not to post slander on internet sites about scholars. If we have to then speak to someone close to the scholar and do it with the appropriate Islamic manners.

Even if you look at the life of Sheikh Abdulqadir Jilani (may Allah show him mercy) a Christian woman misled him and he left everything. So what was the response of his devoted students? They did not attack him for anything. They could have attacked him for various things that was said to have occurred but instead they kept calling back and they kept supplicating.

Eventually, Sheikh Abdulqadir saw the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) in a dream who had interceded for him then advised him to return to his teachings. Which he did and the Christian woman, when she realised that he had left her, went after him and became Muslim. Note that his students did not attack him but rather they accepted the situation and tried to help him. (See secret of the secrets). This is a true murid but I wonder what people now would do? Would they attack him? Deliver speeches against him? Write books against him? The Awliya sometimes do things that we cannot understand and we should refrain from reacting until we know all the facts.

They said about Imam As-Shafi that he used to perfect his ablution and he was one of the great scholars of this nation, so do you think that you are better than him? Are you even present in your ablution? Are you even doing it right? Is it merely the movement of water over the skin?

If there are scholars who keep making the same ‘mistakes’ then leave them to it; that is better for you than attacking them. Some people are from the family of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) and they should be advised in the most polite manner possible, and if you cannot do this then refrain.

The disrespect that we have witnessed and experienced from those overzealous brothers is unimaginable, if I did not know better I would accuse those brothers of hating the Ahl Al-Bayt and this claim would be far from unfounded. We have many issues that are not dealt with because of this issue such as community problems.

We have women leaving their Muslim husbands to live with non-Muslim males because he treats her better. We have couples who have problems with their marriages and there are very little support systems available to them, apart from government organisations. The illegal use of alcohol and drugs is rampant amongst our youth, yet who is doing anything about it? We have men abusing their wives and people are absolutely silent. Is it any wonder that people are not flooding into Islam when they see people like us?

I would dearly love to see the conditions of Muslims improve in this country because we have so much potential. We have so many opportunities that we have clearly wasted. Why don’t we have big open event about love for the Prophet and invite non-Muslims to it?

We have a responsibility to call to Islam, whether they accept is another matter but we should be calling. So the average person should be busy calling to Islam and not calling scholars names. We are not judges we are just ordinary people and just by being a Muslim does not make you an authority on Islam, no one can claim that.


If you think it is permissible to call someone a Kafir then read the following
http://sheikhynotes.blogspot.com/2010/01/calling-someone-disbelieverkafir.html

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Wisdom of the red light



Why are you sad that you have been stopped at a red light?

Are you the only the person who this has occurred to?

Have you ever travelled as a passenger in a car?

You have?

Well have you noticed that when you are travelling anywhere you have parts of the journey that you can go fast and other parts when you have to stop. Sometimes the traffic is bad and you have stop. But sooner or later things clear up and you can continue.

When you come to a red light do you become despondent?

No, you don’t, you wait for the green light and then you continue. There is no journey that you’ll take using the car, bus, train even plane without having to stop at a red light. What should your reaction be?

Be patient and keep going your journey is not over.

You might be stuck at the red light now but you won’t be stuck forever.

Keep going.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Follow the Sunna the Imam shouts...



At the top of his voice to a crowd of the faithful. They look on as the abstract concept is left in the air without being clarified or explained, it is not the simple case of shouting out a term, it needs to be elucidated upon.

Only then can it be understood and practiced.


What is the Sunna?

The Sunnah is confirmation of every praiseworthy attribute or characteristic and negation of every blameworthy characteristic. Got that? Then lets begin...


Characteristics

Two of the known characteristics of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) before Islam was that he was truthful and trustworthy. As-Sadiq Al-Amin. Sadiq comes from the word truth and Amin comes from the word be faithful or honest which itself comes from a root word to mean secure. If you know a person you can trust then you can feel secure with them and you can give them anything secure in the knowledge that they will return it. Imana is something that you give to someone for safekeeping. Iman means faith.

So these two characteristics are what indicated to what he was going to be given. The last book of Allah and the manifestation of monotheism.

Now if we claim to be one of the followers of his nation then it behoves us that we be truthful and we become trustworthy. Yet if we take a look at believers many do not warrant being given a trust. Many people who you give something to borrow will then lend it to someone else who will then lend it to someone else who will then lose it. So when you ask for that item back the long winded response is that it has been lost. Where is the trust?

When we are asked to tell people the truth we do not; instead we twist things and finish off our sentences with a pack of lies. Where is the truth?

We have lost two the characteristics that our Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) was known for. Then how can we claim to follow him if we do not do what he did? It’s like me claiming to a fan of Manchester United but you never see me in their stadium but you see in me in Manchester city’s stadium. Would you think that I am a City fan or a United fan? The answer is obvious!

This is your starting point be truthful and be trustworthy, both characteristics are linked. If you are truthful then you will become trustworthy. Please if someone lends you something bring it back to them. One of my friends lost something that I lent him and then he brought a replacement, this is being trustworthy.


Does it make perfect?

Well not quite but can attain a level of proficiency by repetition. We can never perfect but we can die trying. Always measure your characteristics against the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) and this will mean you will always keep trying.

Look at the Prophet’s (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) characteristic and try to force yourself to have the same characteristic. Look at his truthfulness and ask yourself are you truthful? Look at his trustworthiness and ask yourself are your trustworthy? Look at his patience and look at yourself and ask are you patient? Or is it all just a farce or charade so the people think you are very good but really you are not good at all. Listen to hadith and pick out the characteristics and then apply it to yourself. Religion is about correcting yourself and not just about correcting others because you cannot always correct others but you can always correct yourself.

The changes that you make inside the heart can make such a drastic effect on you and your environment.

One of the most interesting statements that I read in the Tao Te ching was, “Everyone knows but no one practices.” That says it all,doesn’t it? We all know what we need to do but is anyone doing it? Only the few are and how few they are!

To make statements such as follow the Sunna can be problematic as someone who is new to the subject cannot understand this. It might make sense to those who had read the Sirah but not to those who haven’t; which makes it very difficult to understand. Reading hadith can help, read the forty hadith of Imam Nawawi and the Riyadh As-Saliheen by the same complier.

Most of all you need to see it practiced before you and that can only be done by witnessing someone who follows the Sunna. The way of the scholars is a way that explains the Sunna to us, in ways that books cannot begin to understand. Some scholars are books personified and this can be humbling to see.

Try to find a teacher or a scholar who embodies such characteristics and then try to pick up as much as you can from him. Also note that you may also find secrets with practicing Arabs who understand the way better than many non-Arabs. If you see them act in a way that pleases you then try to pick it up and practice it. When one of my friends meets a two people and he is going to shake their hands, he shakes the hand of the person on the right side with his right hand and hold the left arm of the other person, before shaking his hand. This is something he does so the person who he shook hands with secondly does not feel left out. This is very subtle and it needs to be seen as my explanation may not prove my point.


Entertainment

In this time religion is like the movies. We attend lectures where people do not learn anything they are amused by stories that are illogical but seem interested. The speaker gets excited and attacks every group on the planet, because they are the saved group. How did you not know this? They
are the saved group!!? There is more an emphasis on upholding the culture than the religion and as a result we have folkloric Islam that is a mishmash of Hindu culture and Islam. Confusing so many people and further distancing those who want to see a type of Islam that is attractive.

This is one reason why people become Wahabi’s because they reject the nature of culture of some Sunni’s and see Wahabism as a pure form of Islam. Even though the Wahabi’s have a point, their way is against the majority in many cases, so even thought that way seems attractive it’s ending is not bright. This really affects women because many Sunni’s bar women from learning the religion as classes (if there are any!) are held in masjids are just for men. So what else is she to do except become a Wahabi because they hold the doors wipe open for them. Sometimes I think that some people consider religiousness is just for men and not women. This is another negative manifestation of the culture that needs to be erased. There are so many negative aspects of the culture that go against Islam but nobody seems to realise.

We need to rid ourselves of the negative aspects of the cultural Islam and move to a purer form of practice that excludes those negative aspects and highlights the positives. Speakers must attempt to understand the culture that they are in. Coming off a plane and speaking at a conference without knowing the problems and challenges people face is foolish.

Also those speakers living in the UK or US must learn English. Allah sent every Prophet with the ability to speak the language of the people. Zaid ibn Thabit was ordered by the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) to learn Hebrew. So can learning English to spread Islam be something that is shunned on by so many of those who come from the Indo-pak countires. It is a real shame that only a few speakers can speak English despite spending decades in the West.

We really should not be able to speak Urdu in our Masjids because the majority of people should be Muslims of European and not Asian stock. Dawah is another thing that we have failed to and anyone who is interested on reading more then please see our article on this subject.


Failure of Dawah

One of the core reasons why Dawah has failed is because people see religious people as the exact opposite of what they should be. This distances them from Islam. We hear of horror stories of poor defensive less women who are treated like slaves and when their use has expired then they are stabbed or burnt alive. This is against all the teachings of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) all of them, he never spoke to a woman harshly never mind strike her!

Women will have their revenge on those who did this to them on the day of judgement. Our treatment of women needs to be addressed but who will risk their job by speaking about it? Some have been removed from their positions. So do we blame the English press for our own bad press when we set the fires burning in many cases? Then they see other Asians dealing drugs, how do these two facts make the Muslims be seen by the public?

This adds to the demonization of Islam and Muslim in the media. We are adding to this by our own heedless actions, may Allah forgive the muslims.

True followers of the Prophetic way put their feelings down and lowly; and then raise the flag of the standard of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) high. Where are those people? Where have they gone? Have they all died out? Well you can be one of them, if you want,
start by telling the truth and then take it from there. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) called the Prophets (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) character the Quran.

He never lied, cheated, stole, beat people, mocked people, backbited, gossiped or harmed people.

What about you? Most of us do all these things and call ourselves followers. How can we be true?


Keeping the practice alive

Keeping the practice alive keeps the religion alive. Practicing the Sunna means that you have something more valuable than the relics of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) you have his action. Copying anyone shows them respect and to show them respect is to honour them. Keeping the practices alive means that you can pass them on to preceding generations and by not performing them we are letting the Sunna die out.

The main method of keeping the Sunna alive is by supporting teachers and scholars, as they are people who have an understanding the religion.

Do we really care about the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) if we let his Sunna die out? Then what is the point of the screaming Iman?