Archive for October, 2010

Khutbah – 10/22/2010 – Differences – Compassionate teaching

Sunday, October 24th, 2010


bismillahir rahmanir raheem

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Imam Malik one day entered the Masjid after Asr. Towards the front of Masjid An-Nabawee he drew closer and sat down. Rasul Allah had commanded that anyone who enters the Masjid should not sit until he first prays 2 rakas as a salutation of the Masjid. Imam Malik was of the opinion however that Rasul Allahs forbiddance of praying after Asr took precedence and so he would teach his students to not pray the tahiyyatul Masjid if they entered between the Asr and Maghrib time.

At that moment that Imam Malik sat down, a young boy had seen him sit without first praying the 2 raka’s of Tahiyyatul Masjid. The young boy scorned him, “Get up and pray 2 rakas!”

Imam Malik dutifully stood up once again and began praying the 2 rakas. The students sat stunned: What was going on? Had Imam Malik’s opinion changed?

After he had completed the salah, the students swarmed around and questioned his actions. Imam Malik said, “My opinion has not changed, nor have I gone back on what I taught you earlier. I merely feared that had I not prayed the 2 rakas as the young boy commanded, Allah may include me in the Ayah…

077.048 وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ ارْكَعُوا لا يَرْكَعُونَ

Wa-itha qeela lahumu irka’oo la yarka’oona

And when it is said to them, “Bow (in prayer)!” they do not bow.

Imam Ahmad held the opinion that eating camel meat nullifies ones Wudu, an opinion that the majority of scholars differed from. Some students asked him, “If you find an Imam eating camel meat in front of you and – without first making Wudu – then leads the Salah, would you pray behind him?” Imam Ahmad replied, “Do you think I would not pray behind the likes of Imam Malik and Sa’eed ibn Al-Musayyab?”

Allah created humans with differences. It is the law of creation. Different tongues, different colors, different cultures… all that on the outside. On the inside, humans were created with many degrees of knowledge, intellect, and comprehension of concepts. This is all a sign of Allah’s all encompassing power to do whatever He wills:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضِ

وَاخْتِلافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ إِنَّ

فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَاتٍ لِلْعَالِمِينَ030.022

Wa- min ‘aayaat -hi khalq as- samaawaat wa- al- ‘ard. wa-ikhtilaaf alsinah -kum wa- alwaan -kum ‘inna fe dhaalika la-‘aayaat li- al- ‘aalameen

“And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are signs for those who know.”

Humans shall differ, that is not the issue. The issue is: How as a Muslim should one confront these differences of opinions and what should be our relationship with someone of a different opinion.

Allah ta’ala commanded us to call and advise people in this Deen of Al-Islam. Many Muslims set off on this mission blindfolded, not realizing that the map was there in the Qur’an also. In fact, in the very same verse where Allah commanded us to call and advise people in this Deen, Allah taught us how to do it. Read the following verse carefully:

ادْعُ إِلَى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْ

عِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ

رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ ضَلَّ عَنْ

سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ016.125

Id’u ‘ilaa sabel rabbika bi- al- hikmah wa- al- maw’idhah al- hasanah wa- jaadil -hum bi- ‘allate hiya ahsan ‘inna rabb -ka huwa a’lam bi- man dalla ‘an sabel -hi wa- huwa a’lam bi- al- muh’taden

Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance. There is no need to philosophize. No need to talk in the flower gardens. It is right there, plain and simple for anyone who would take heed.

There in that Ayah are the three ingredients to apply when we disagree with someone. The same Allah that taught us to debate the truth, taught us how to do it:

With Hikmah (wisdom)

With good instruction, and to argue in a way that is best.

What does it mean to have Hikmah when differing with someone?

The nephews of Rasul Allah once set one the most beautiful examples of Hikmah in advising others. Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn – in their young age – once saw a senior man performing Wudu incorrectly. Together they arranged a plan to teach the man without insulting him, advising him in a manner befitting of his age.

Together they went to the senior and announced, “My brother and I have differed over who amongst us performs Wudu the best. Would you mind being the judge to determine which one of us indeed performs Wudu more correctly.”

The man watched intently as the two grandsons of Rasul Allah performed Wudu in an explicit manner. After they had completed, he thanked them and said, “By Allah, I did not know how to perform Wudu before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly.”

We must understand that there are two dimensions to Hikmah. Firstly, there is the Hikmah of knowledge – Hikmah Ilmiyyah. And secondly, there is the Hikmah of Action – Hikmah Amaliyyah.

Some people may have Hikmah of knowledge. But we see that when they try correcting others, advising them, they lack the Hikmah of Action. This causes many a common folk to reject the Hikmah of knowledge.

To illustrate this hikmah of knowledge without Hikmah of action, a brother once completed the Salah in a local Masjid and then proceeded to shake hands with the people on his right and left. The brother to his immediate right slapped his hand and snapped, “That is not part of the Sunnah!” The man replied most correctly, “Oh, is disrespect and insult part of the Sunnah?”

To show Hikmah when we differ requires the following:

Sincerity

One: If we differ, our intentions should be that we are differing in the sincere hope of coming away with the truth. Our intentions should be sincere to Allah.

We should not differ just to release some hate or envy in our heart. We should not differ to embarrass someone like we may have been embarrassed.

Rasul Allah said, “Whoever learns knowledge – knowledge from that which should be sought for the sake of Allah – only to receive a commodity of the material world, he shall not find the fragrance of jannah on the day of resurrection.”

An authentic hadith narrated by Abu Dawood in Kitab Al- Ilm.

Kindness and Gentleness

Two: To have Hikmah when differing means we should rarely depart from an atmosphere of kindness and gentleness, we should seldom allow ourselves to become angry and raise our voices.

Pharoh was one of the evilest people that lived. Musa was one of the noblest. Look at how Allah told Musa to advise Pharoh…

[Go, both of you, to Pharoh. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech, perhaps he may remember or fear (Allah).]

Take Your Time and Clarify

Three: To have Hikmah when dealing with others is to be patient and clarify things before snapping to conclusions.

Speak Kindly

Fourthly, never trade in kind words for harshness, especially when dealing with other Muslims.

Look at the power of a sincere and polite word:

Mus’ab ibn Umayr was the first of ambassador of Rasul Allah in Madinah. Before Rasul Allah had arrived in Madinah, Mus’ab taught ahl al-Madinah about Islam and they began to enter the Deen.

This enraged Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah, one of the chieftains of Madinah. He sheathed his sword and set off for the head of Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr. When he confronted Mus’ab he threatened, “Stop this nonsense you speak or you shall find yourself dead!”

Mus’ab replied in the way that should be a lesson for us all. This man before him did not stop at rudeness and ignorance, he wanted to slit his throat.

Mus’ab said, “Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If you agree with what I say then take it, and if not, we shall desist from this talk.” Sa’d sat down.

Mus’ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa’d ibn Ubaadah’s face shone like a full moon and he said, “What should a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?” After Mus’ab had told him he said, “There is a man, if he accepts this Deen, there shall be no home in Madinah that will not become Muslim. Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh.”

When Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh heard what was happening, he was infuriated. He left his home to go and kill this man called Mus’ab ibn Umayr for the dissention he had caused. He entered upon Mus’ab and announced, “You shall desist of this religion you speak of or you shall find yourself dead!”

Mus’ab replied, “Shall you not sit and listen for a few moments. If you agree with what I say then take it, and if not, I shall desist from this talk.” Sa’d sat.

Mus’ab spoke about Allah and His messenger until the face of Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh’s face shone like a full moon and he said, “What should a person do who wishes to enter into this Deen?”

Look at what a kind word did. Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh went home to his Madinan tribe that night and announced to them all, “Everything of yours is Haram upon me until you all enter into Islam.”

That night, every home in Madinah went to bed with Laa ilaaha illa Allah … all because of a kind word.

Part II: Who wins?

Islam showes us how to differ with one another. Some people think that we should never differ at all and all disagreements should be avoided. Nay, this is an incorrect assumption, for the Qur’an and Sunnah show clearly that when a mistake is made it should be corrected. Indeed helping others do what is right is a requirement of the Deen, sincere Naseeha. However, the method of correction is what needs our attention.

Whenever Muslims argue, it is as if each party carries a banner of: ‘I must win and you must lose!’ Careful study of the Sunnah however shows us that this is not always the case with the way Rasul Allah acted. Consider the following examples:

“I lose and you win!”

A Bedouin came to Rasul Allah and told him, “Give me from what Allah gave you, not from the wealth of your mother nor from the wealth of your father.” The Sahaabah were furious at the man and step forward to discipline him for what he said. Rasul Allah commanded everyone to leave him.

Then by the hand, Rasul Allah took him home, opened his door and said, “Take what you wish and leave what you wish.” The man did so and after he completed, Rasul Allah asked him, “Have I honored you?” “Yes, by Allah,” said the Bedouin. “Ash hadu an laa ilaaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah.”

When the Sahabah heard of how the man changed, Rasul Allah taught them. “Verily the example of myself, you and this Bedouin is that of a man who had his camel run away. The townspeople tried capturing the camel for him by running and shouting after the camel, only driving it further away. The man would shout, ‘Leave me and my camel, I know my camel better.’ Then he took some grass in his hand, ruffled it in front of the camel, until it came willingly.

‘By Allah, had I left you to this Bedouin, you would have hit him, hurt him, he would have left without Islam and eventually have entered hellfire.”

“I win and you win!”

I shall end with this shining example of how to act with other Muslims from our role model, Abu Bakr:

Abu Bakr once disputed with another companion about a tree. During the dispute Abu Bakr said something that he rather would not have said. He did not curse, he did not attack someone’s honor, he did not poke a fault in anyone, all he said was something that may have hurt the other companion’s feelings.

Immediately, Abu Bakr – understanding the mistake – ordered him, “Say it back to me!” The companion said, “I shall not say it back.” “Say it back to me,” said Abu Bakr, “Or I shall complain to the Messenger of Allah.” The companion refused to say it back and went on his way.

Abu Bakr went to Rasul Allah and related what had happened and what he said. Rasul Allah called that companion and asked him, “Did Abu Bakr say so and so to you?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “What did you reply.” He said, “I did not reply it back to him.” Rasul Allah said, “Good, do not reply it back to him (do not hurt Abu Bakr). Rather say, ‘May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!’”

The Companion turned to Abu Bakr and said, “May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you O Abu Bakr!” Abu Bakr turned and cried as he walked away.

Let us leave today with a resolve to revive this air Rasul Allah and his companions breathed, an air of mercy and love and brotherhood.

And Allah knows best.



 

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Pakistan’s ‘Martyrs of Love’ Under Attack | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Data Gaj Baksh Dargha - Lahore, Pakistan

This article expresses many of the same feelings that I had in several cases. I had a very strong reaction to the bombing of the Data Ganj Baksh dargha in Lahore in July. I had been there a few years before and remembered the throngs of people there, the feeling of being in the presence of the saint, of visiting the memorial to Moinuddin Chishti and feeling his great presence as well. The importance of the place is, as Faruqi points to, that here the spiritual heritage that has passed down survives. Even in the midst of practices we may not approve of there are those that understand and celebrate the real spiritual underpinnings of our great deen.

Unfortunately the superficial misunderstanding of those with extremist agendas incites a kind of action that forces others to pay the price – from the article…

“The real object of their animosity, sadly enough, is love. And insofar as the great awliya’, the saints of the subcontinent, as martyrs of love (to steal Carl Ernst and Bruce Lawrence’s expression), stand in the way of this campaign to replace love of Allah with fear and paranoia, it makes perfect sense that they’ve become its latest victims. Which is especially sad because, as too many Pakistanis seem to have forgotten, love is in fact at the heart of the spiritual ethos upon which the country was founded. Per the words of the poet-philosopher Allama Iqbal, in Masjid-e-Qurtaba: ‘Love is the holy prophet, love is the word of God.'”

There is more to the article and many other points that I can understand and totally agree with. I encourage you to read and to comment where you feel appropriate.

[more…]


 

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Afghan love poetry – Pakistan Observer

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

The Sufi's Garland

Title: The Sufi’s Garland
Author: MS Maasoom
Publisher: Roman Books, Kabul (This book is scheduled to be available on Amazon.com at the end of March. This blog will notify readers at that time.)

Sufi poetry has always emphasized a connection with God portrayed as the beloved. Metaphors abound in many of the poetic traditions and vary according the poet’s style and point of view. Here, contemporary Sufi poetry from one of the most war-wracked regions on Earth proclaims that this spirit is still alive, that love and longing for spiritual freedom about in the hearts of even the most oppressed.

From the Pakistani Obeserver:

“Pakistanis were first introduced to contemporary Afghan literature during the Afghan war emanating from soviet occupation of the country. Like all wars it uprooted millions of Afghan forcing them to seek refuge in Pakistan. This scribe whose journalistic involvement with Afghan political leaders and court writers was deep and lasting was amazed to find men with long flowing beards writing fantastic love poetry.”

[…more…].


 

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Seeking knowledge – 10/15/2010 Khutbah

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Dua

Khutbah from October 15, 2010.

In a hadith related by Dawood and narrated by Abu Darda:

Kathir ibn Qays said: I was sitting with AbudDarda’ in the mosque of Damascus. A man came to him and said: AbudDarda, I have come to you from the town of the Apostle of Allah (saw) for a tradition that I have heard you relate from the Apostle of Allah (saw). I have come for no other purpose. He said: I heard the Apostle of Allah (saw) say: If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither dinar nor dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.

Our inheritance is what the prophets leave us, the abundance of their knowledge, not their worldly possessions.

And from Abu Hurayra:

The Apostle of Allah (saw) used to say: “O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from four things: Knowledge which does not profit, a heart which is not submissive, a soul which has an insatiable appetite, and a supplication which is not heard.”

Knowledge is what we strive for. It is incumbent on every Muslim to gain knowledge of our deen. This is one of the fundamental teachings.

Allah (SWT) says in Quran Sharif:

019.076 وَيَزِيدُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا هُدًى

Wayazeedu Allahu allatheena ihtadaw hudan

And Allah increases in guidance those who seek guidance

And

047.017 وَالَّذِينَ اهْتَدَوْا زَادَهُمْ هُدًى وَآتَاهُمْ تَقْوَاهُمْ

Waallatheena ihtadaw zadahum hudan waatahum taqwahum

And for those who are willing to be guided, he increases their ability to follow His guidance and causes them to grow in taqwa.

Those who search for knowledge desiring to be rightly guided, Allah (SWT) increases them in guidance and beneficial knowledge. This type of knowledge leads to righteous deeds and to knowledge that is needed in the hereafter to cross Sirat.

Knowledge is the Essence of Guidance. Knowledge leads us to the easy and straight path. Allah says in Quran Sharif:

005.015 قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُبِينٌ

qad jaakum mina Allahi noorun wakitabun mubeenun

There has come to you from Allah a (new) light and a clear Book, –

005.016 يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُمْ مِنَ

الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

Yahdee bihi Allahu mani ittaba’aa ridwanahu subula alssalami wayukhrijuhum mina al{thth}ulumati ila alnnoori bi-ithnihi wayahdeehim ila siratin mustaqeemin

With which Allah guides all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leads them out of darkness, by His will, unto the light,- guides them to a path that is straight.

Allah (swt) wants us to succeed. The possessors of knowledge are like the stars that guide us through the night. If these stars go out, then we go astray.

Part 2

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr bin Al As

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.”

Knowledge of the Tounge vs. Knowledge of the Heart

The tongue is the proof of Allah against the son of Adam

Rasul Allah (SAW) said “The Quran is the proof of Allah for you or against you” This means that when the inner knowledge departs only the outer knowledge (that of the tongue) remains. The knowledge has left the scholars and all that remains of the religion is its name and all that remains of the quran is its script.

The knowledge of the heart is beneficial knowledge. It bestows on the heart humility, sublimity, experiential knowledge.

The prophet (SAW) used to say; I seek refuge in Allah from knowledge which is of no benefit and from a heart which is not humble.

This indicates that knowledge which fosters no humility is of no benefit. The prophet (SAW) also used to say

“Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge, and seek refuge in Him against knowledge which is of no benefit.”

Seek knowledge of the heart. We can do it.

Wa allahu alim.


 

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Image – opinion

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Just Mine

I am very disappointed at the behavior of many of the Muslims that I meet in the course of my teachings, and travels in the US. I am going to pick out one specific incident that happened to me recently but please be aware that what I am speaking about points out a general tendency among many of us. And this is only one example, there are other examples I could tell you, covering different topics but they all point toward one thing. Back to that after I tell you some of what happened.

I had been invited to speak to a group of young Muslims recently. The group was very mixed demographically. There were young people in their 20’s or 30’s, students, working people and a few older people. Some of the young people had brought their parents. Ethnically, the group was mixed as well. There were African Americans, whites and Asians. From many geographic areas as well – North America, Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and others.

The talk went well and after I spoke on the topic of “The Inner Meanings of the Five Pillars” we had a brisk sohbet. The topics there were wide ranging but many of the questions dealt with how Muslims are perceived in American society, and some on how Sufis are perceived by other “mainstream” Muslims. All in all I think the presentation went well and I must say I enjoyed the people there very much.

But what happened afterward is what is bothering me now. A few days after I got a call from one of the attendees who had taken my business card. He wanted to know if I would help him find a wife. This is something I have felt it is important for me to do. In my travels and communications I have had several people come to me to ask if I can help them find a spouse. All I can usually do is pray for them and promise that I will keep them in mind if I hear of anyone who is also looking and might be compatible.

I also treat this as a trust, that I am in a position to act as a trustee (Wakeel) for such individuals and it is a great responsibility. So I ask questions before I can agree to help them. The questions include the obvious subjects like jobs, education, age, interests, sect, etc. But I also ask immigrants about their immigration status. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that in my position of trustee I feel it is my duty to protect people from those who would just use a marriage as a way of staying in the US. My advice to people who are not here legally is to clear up that status because it is a big red flag and I cannot recommend them until they are legally here. Please understand that this is not a judgment on them, they may have a perfectly legitimate reason for being here and they may be wonderful people with lots to offer a prospective spouse, but this is so important that I feel I cannot recommend them if this is the case.

In the case of the person who called me the answer was that this person was in the US on a student Visa but was not in school and was working in a grocery store. The visa was about to expire. I asked him why he was not in school and the answer was vague. I said that this was not acceptable for me to find a spouse. That the immigration status needed to be cleared up before I could find someone. The person said “But how can I stay in the US if I am not married to someone in the US?” End of story for me. It became obvious through some further conversation that this person was not looking for marriage except to stay in the US.

So here is my disappointment. We as Muslims are now under a microscope. Our behavior is being examined constantly from all sides. One one hand there are those who want to discredit us entirely. Some even go so far as to say that Islam is not even a religion deserving of the protections under the US Constitution. On the other hand our great religion is being reduced, in the most heinous ways, to a collection of stark, rigid rules and regulations applied in unjust and inhumane ways against those that are perceived as threats to the political aspirations of a few misguided individuals. Yet a third group, for reasons of their own, (and, in my opinion, misguided in all ways), present a distorted, violent and self serving Islam that has 1- nothing to do with the fundamentals of this great religion and 2 – discredits Islam and Muslims in the eyes of most of the world. The result of all this is that the true meaning of Islam and the message that Rasul Allah (saw) brought is lost. (I could go on and on about this but that is not the purpose of this post – maybe another time)

In a time like this, when both Islam and immigration are under attack it is most important for those of us who have knowledge and care about Islam to be aware of our behavior and how it is perceived by others. If we expect respect then we must act in a way that is deserving of respect. The type of behavior exhibited by the person in the incident I described is just no longer acceptable and should not be tolerated by the rest of us at all. By acting in the way he acted he contributes to the general image of Muslims who are not to be trusted. But the rest of us contribute to this as well if we enable the behavior. If we do nothing then we are part of the problem as well. At the very least people should make themselves aware of situations like this around them and be willing to speak strongly to people who are acting in this way. We should be willing to discourage this type of thing strongly and with moral and ethical fortitude. Not doing so is weakening our image and making us complicit.

There are positive things we can do to bolster the example of what it truly means to be a Muslim. In addition to all our religious obligations it is up to each and every one of us to behave in a way that honors our great deen and exemplar, Rasul Allah (saw). There is no better dawa than our own individual behavior in the public eye. It is wonderful when people come to us and ask “Why did you do that? It was so kind of you (substitute your own compliment here).” and we can answer “Because I am a Muslim.” Or when people see us working hard at our jobs, making a contribution to society, raising children who are bright and have good manners, helping the needy or the sick or elderly, participating in community affairs and on and on – when they see us in that light and know we are Muslims then their fear begins to diminish and their interest begins to grow. There are as many doors into Islam as there are people.

This is an opinion piece and as such you may feel differently or want to comment further. I invite you please to do so by replying to the post.

Wa allahu alim!