The End…

In His Name, Most High

salamu `alaykum

After alot of thought and contemplation I have decided to close this blog permanently due to personal reasons and decisions I have made within the past month.

If you have benefited from the posts and entries made by this worthless one, please – i implore you – to remember me in your prayers. If I have offended anyone, hurt anyone or shown any sort of negativeness then forgive me and overlook my faults.

Wasalam

Salman

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Women Leaders…

Note: I have edited my needless conclusion, which is merely a personal opinion undeserving of being written or read, and not in line with the propriety of a beginner student of knowledge. Conclusions are for the fuqaha to make. Thus, I will only leave the actual translation of Maulana Thanawi’s verdict here, wa billahi tawfiq – Salman

———-

salamu `alaykum

I remember, one day in college, some of us brothers were discussing who the next MSA president would be. A few were quite fearful, for whatever reason, that a sister would emerge into that role. I remember remarking to these brothers, “What’s the problem with that?” to which they replied that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

‏لن يفلح قوم ولوا أمرهم امرأة

“Never will a nation be successful that is ruled by a woman.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi. Also narrated in Kitab al Fitan by Bukhari and Tirmidhi, the latter from Muhammad ibn Muthana, and Nasa’i in Fadha’il)

Of course, they were mistaken in applying this narration generally across the board and thus forbidding female-leadership unconditionally. Yet, the fact of the matter is that such a narration is quite specific in its application, in the type of governance and leadership it refers to, and is not a universal negation of women holding any sort of leadership position.

Our Master, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah be well-pleased with him) clarified this at length in his Imdad al Fatawa when asked regarding current day female leaders. He replied:

“Government can be of the three types:

Firstly, one that is autocratic (tamam) and generally encompassing (`aam). By ‘autocratic’ what is meant is the leader having sole authority, such that his/her governing is individual (shakhsi) without any need or approval from any other governor upon whom his/her decisions rest (mawquf). By ‘generally encompassing’ what is meant is that his/her subjects not be an exceedingly minute (qalil) group.

Secondly, one that is autocratic but not generally encompassing.

Thirdly, one that is generally encompassing but not autocratic.

An example of the first type is a woman being given sole sultanate or presidency, with the conditions mentioned previously.

An example of the second type is a woman receiving complete administrative duties over a small group, at the exclusion of all others.

An example of the third type is a woman being a democratic leader, yet, such that her guardianship is only an apparent (suri) one and not real (haqiqi). Rather, an integral part [of such a system of government] is seeking counsel (mashwera), and real leadership (wali haqiqi) therefore belongs to the parliament.

Analyzing the wording of the narration in question carefully brings to light the fact that it is in reference to the first group. Thus, the reason behind the [prophetic] statement, which was due to the Persians making Kisra [s: the name given to the leader] the monarch, unconditionally and completely as pointed to by the word usage, and connecting such leadership over a nation (qawm) – all of this contextualizes the narration.”

He continues a few lines down by stating:

“This is in opposition to the second type, which although has complete guardianship is not consigned over a nation [s: a "generally encompassing" body, as outlined before].

It is in opposition to the third type, which although is connected to a nation, does not constitute absolute and complete guardianship due to the presence of a counsel. Even though such counsel is given preference over individual counsels, it does not constitute complete and absolute guardianship…

Such contextualization is clear from the words of the hadith.”

Maulana Thanawi then continues by giving proof from the texts proving the validity and legitimacy of female leadership in certain cases – such as those of type two and three.

For type two, he brings forth the narration:

“A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

This proves that the leadership and guardianship of a woman, even if completely, over a minute constituency is valid.

As for type three, he gives the example of Queen Bilqis, who is referred to in the Qur’an, as being a “democratic leader” and the absence of any texts that imply her being removed from such a post even after her accepting the religion of Allah.

Since the basis was the establishment of her rulership and nothing specifies her removal from such a position, Maulana Thanawi brings forth the well known principle (qa’ida) that “Any matter passed upon by Allah and His Messenger without condemnation is a proof upon us.” Thus, it is established from the Qur’an that such a leadership is permitted for a woman since the reality of such governance is based on counsel and the woman only serves as the guardian of the counsel – not the ultimate authority.

Rather, Maulana stipulates that even if the woman has complete and sole leadership yet she, out of her own accord, chooses not to opinionate solely on her individual views and opinions, even this type of leadership does not enter into the forbidden leadership that the narration alludes to.

All of this is proof for the validity of the third type of government.

To conclude, he states:

“When the evidence establishes that the guardianship and leadership being referred to is that of type one then it becomes clear that the leadership of women in our times does not enter into this narration. This is because if we consider those that she rules over to be a small minority then it is of the second type [which is not interdicted]. If we do not consider her leadership to be over a very small group, which is what is clear today, even then such governance is democratic [and thus not interdicted]. This is whether such a system is manifestly apparent, such as in the case of the presence of a clearly viewable parliament, or non-apparent, such as the absence of a parliament yet the necessity of having laws passed through the consent of a representative or penitent of the leader. This enters into the third type.”

(Imdad al Fatawa, Vol 5 Pg: 91)

And Allah Knows Best

Wasalam

Salman

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Seeing The Souls Of The Prophets & The Awliya’

salamu `alaykum

It is narrated in the Sahih of Imam Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) met numerous other Prophets such as Musa, `Isa, Ibrahim, and so forth (Allah bless them all) during his lifetime. Rather, it is established that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) witnessed them performing prayers and even led them himself. Abu Hurayra narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

فحانت الصلاة فأممتهم

“When the time of prayer came I led them.”

(Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman: Bab dhikr al masih ibn maryam wal masih al dajjal)

Similarly, it is narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

‏حين ‏ ‏أسري ‏ ‏بي ‏ ‏لقيت ‏ ‏موسى

“When I was taken for the night journey I met Musa (Allah bless him).”

(Ibid, Bab al Isra’ bi rasul Allah)

Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah sanctify his secret) states in regards to this:

“Together, these two narrations establish that despite the fact that Musa (Allah bless him) was present in his grave (s: in body) he was able to, along with the other prophets, meet the Messenger of Allah. There is no doubt that all these prophets were truly outside their graves (s: in spirit) and this shows the possibility of seeing the souls of the righteous gathered. However, remember that this is not a ever-continuous occurrence nor within one’s capacity.”

(al Takashaf, Pg: 397)

Mufti Lajpuri states in his Fatawa al Rahimiyya, in regards to the souls visiting the living, that:

“The soul can and does come. Events and observations bear witness to this fact. In the Kitab al Ruh of Ibn Qayyim it states, ‘It is the statement of this speaker that, no doubt, the souls of the believers residing in the barzakh go wherever they like. This has been reported by Salman al Farisi (May Allah be well pleased with him).”

(Vol 2, Pg: 252-253)

This is also confirmed by Ibn Hajar Haytami and Imam Suyuti – among many others. The former states in his Fatawa Hadithiyya (Pg: 393):

“Imam Yafi`i said: ‘… And they [s: the awliya] saw the Prophets (Allah bless them all) … which was like the vision of our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) towards the congregation of Prophets in the heavens – and he heard and spoke to them. Verily, whatever is permitted for the Prophets as a miracle is permitted for the Saints as a miracle also.’

Ibn Mulaqin said: ‘There have been numerous visions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) , both in a state of wakefulness and sleep.’

The narrations in connection to this regarding [the vision of] the Friends of Allah are extremely plentiful and none denies them except one who is stubborn and dead.”

Ibn Hajar goes on to discuss the modality of such a vision, the permission of the souls of the Prophets to leave their graves, the fact that the vision of numerous people of a given prophet at a given moment is possible (he contrasts it to the sun), and how this does not make one a companion.

This is the position of those spiritually realized… They have removed the veils from their eyes within this world such that their “vision is piercing” (Quran) and therefore witness and see what many of us cannot.

And Allah Knows Best

Wasalam

Salman

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The Wisdom Behind Being Sent To This World

salamu `alaykum

One of the questions posed to those who were complete and actualized in their knowledge of Allah, and by this I mean the righteous Sufis who understand the deep inner realities of this religion, was the reasoning behind our being sent down to this world from the “world of the souls” (`alam al arwah). Since the latter realm was closer in proximity to Allah Most High – and by proximity I do not mean “distance” since Allah Most High is far above being confined within time and space – how is our being sent down to this lowly and earthly realm understood, especially in light of reattaining this proximity (qurb), and can such proximity ever be achieved in this world at all?

It is established in the Qur’an that before the creation of bodies (ajsam) all of creation existed in the form of spirits. This is where the first covenant took place between Allah and creation. Allah Most High states in the Qur’an:

And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! we bear witness.” (7:172)

Ibn `Ajiba states in his Tafsir al Bahr:

“This points to the fact that Allah Most High’s covenant with the spirits regarding the knowledge of His oneness occurred twice. The first was before the manifestation of the universe. The second was after it.

The first was regarding the knowledge of His Lordship. The second was a reminder of this coupled with the proprieties of slavehood.”

[s: Ibn `Ajiba actually goes on to establish three occurrences of such a covenant, the details of which can be found in his commentary and others. The commentaries on this verse are highly interesting and anyone who has a chance to read them should.]

This shows that:

[1] That in the realm of the spirits creation was not in bodily form and the universe was still in a non-manifest state,

[2] The covenant made with the spirits was regarding Allah’s Lordship and Oneness,

[3] The covenant of slavehood – which relates to practice and deeds – was a covenant made after the manifestation of the universe and the creation of bodily forms. It can be said that this covenant is what comes with the prophets.

From the above it can be seen that the level of proximity we had attained within the realm of the spirits was akin to an initial stage. Although at first sight one may perceive that our presence in such a realm was closer in proximity to Allah, this is not the case at all. Understanding this subtle reality clarifies the immense blessing and wisdom behind our being sent down to the earthly plain.

Such an understanding is only achievable by the muhaqiq – the verifier – and not necessarily by the overwhelmed lover. The overwhelmed lover will, of course, wish that he had remained in the realm of the spirits due to the calmness and proximity experienced therein. This is why he says:

“What calmness I was in without any care,

The rumbling of manifestation has woken me up and trapped me in affliction!”

 

Yet, he does not understand that the proximity he had achieved was only the first level of the endless levels of qurb that awaits him. It is an established fact that the levels of proximity are endless, with no boundaries. This is why even the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), whose proximity to Allah is unimaginable and unattainable by creation, was commanded to supplicate with “Oh Allah, increase my knowledge”. The connection between knowledge and proximity to the one being known is clear in that the former increases the latter. Yet, since knowledge is infinite, so is proximity and thus reaching a “finish line” is impossible.

Thus, it s not denied that the realm of the spirits consisted of a level of proximity and closeness. However, it as undeniable reality that this level was stagnant – neither increasing nor decreasing. The underlying reason behind this relates to the issue of “relationship” – between creation and creator. It is mentioned in an authentic hadith al qudsi that Allah Most High said:

إذا تقرب إلي العبد شبرا تقربت إليه ذراعا وإذا تقرب إلي ذراعا تقربت منه باعا وإذا أتى إلي مشيا أتيته هرولة

When the servant drawns close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And when he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I will draw near to him a fathom’s length. And when he comes to Me walking, I will go to him running.”

(Bukhari from Abu Hurayra and Anas. Also narrated by Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

This shows that the basis of attaining closeness and proximity to Allah is through seeking (talab) Him, and this seeking is manifested in the form of practice and actions that allows one’s level of closeness and nisba to increase, which was something absent in the realm of the spirits. By sending us down to this worldly realm and making us in our bodily forms, Allah placed within us a capacity to perform actions through which the doors of the levels of proximity were fully opened.

To detail this further, actions can be divided into two types:

[1] Those related to the heart, and

[2] Those related to the limbs.

The former can be further divided into (a) those that are earned and (b) those that arise without any effort. The latter is merely figuratively considered as “action” and relates to our natural emotive feelings and intrinsic being. The former relates to the actions linked to the sciences of the heart, which help to increase and build on these emotive feelings, such as dhikr, muraqaba, and so forth.

Actions related to type [2] were completely absent from the the realm of the spirits mainly because the instruments for carrying them out i.e the bodily organs, were not available to us. As for type [1], then those acts related to the heart that are earned were also absent. Only those granted without effort were present and actualized within creation.

Rather, the highest level of knowledge attained in the realm of the spirits regarding Allah’s Lordship and Oneness is the simplest and most basic level of knowledge that all human being are born with, namely the fitra or the natural disposition. This is the “unearned” action that is being spoken about and is common to all.

So, the wisdom behind humans being sent down to this earthly realm is clear, and the level of proximity attainable here is infinite and much higher – if one strives to achieve it. This realm is not devoid of Allah, of His manifestation and Being. It is the loci of manifestation of His attributes and the intermediary realm designated to allow us to reach the highest of stations imaginable by normal man. This is why Ibn Ata’illah said in his Hikam:

الكون كله ظلمة وإنما أناره ظهور الحق فيه

“The universe, all of it, was darkness and it was lit up only due to the manifestation of the Truth [s: Allah] in it.”

And this is how our master Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (Allah be well pleased with him) answered the question posed… and all of it can return to the point made by Ibn `Ajiba that the realm of the spirits only granted us knowledge of Lordship, whereas the earthly realm granted us both knowledge of Allah and knowledge of how to serve Him properly. Both coupled together formulate the lit path leading to Allah. Walk on it while you still can, and remember that death is ever ready to snatch you.

Wasalam

Salman

 

 

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What Is Superior: Knowledge Or Reason?

salamu `alaykum

Shaykh al Islam Ibn Hajar Haytami stated:

“There is difference [of opinion] among the scholars regarding this. The preferred opinion according to many of them is the superiority of knowledge (`ilm) because Allah Most High is categorized [fundamentally] by pre-eternal knowledge and not by reason (`aql). The actual attribute and qualifier is superior to what is from the genus [of that attribute].

Further, another proof for the superiority of knowledge is that it is connected to that which is more virtuous, and its merits have come in the narrations. No narrations have come on the superior merit of reason and verily all of them that have been narrated are fabricated and lies.

Some of the verifying scholars said: Knowledge is superior in relation to it being closer to the vastness of the knowledge (ma`arifa) of Allah and His attributes. Reason is superior in relation to it being the building block of knowledge and its basis.

The conclusion is that knowledge is superior in its essence while the superiority of reason is in its being a means to [attaining] knowledge.

(Fatawa Hadithiyya, Pg: 240 Dar Ihya al Turath Ed.)

[s: `Aql is a prerequisite to attaining `ilm. This is why the `ulum `aqliyya are so important in the shari`ah, as our master Ashraf `Ali Thanawi (May Allah be well-pleased with him) stresses often in his works. Further, one of the conditions for being morally responsible is being `aqil, which can be translated in this context as "sane".

It is interesting to note here, in light of Ibn Hajar's words (who was an Ash`ari), the Maturidi position on reason and intellect being sufficient in establishing and "knowing" the existence and oneness of God based on the various Qur'anic verses that command us to "reflect" on the creation in order to see the "purposeful design" behind it. Thus, one wonders, if reason is sufficient to establish this fundamental aspect of tawhid - the fountainhead of all knowledge - then how does this play into its superiority in contrast to `ilm?

Of course, there are alot of nuances involved in this discussion and details that need to be spelled out even before addressing such a question.]

Wasalam

Salman

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Additional Wording Of The Hadith: “If You Knew What I Knew”

salamu `alaykum

A brother asked:

[...] if my memory serves me somewhat well, shaykh adhami might have said that when the Prophet (sal’allahu ‘alayhi wa sallaam) said this (“verily, if you knew what I know you would laugh less and weep more.”) to his companions, angel gabriel later came to him and said something to the effect of, “but they dont know what you know so…” i dont want to complete the paraphrased quote because i dont want to make any unsubstantiated insinuations, but it was something like “be easy with them” or something else in the same spirit.

my two minutes of research has shown that all the accounts of this hadith that i read online end at the same place this one does. finally, id like to emphasize the content of my disclaimer; if my post isnt confirmed, ignore my comments.

This additional wording is found as:

لو تعلمون ما أعلم لضحكتم قليلا ولبكيتم كثيرا ولخرجتم إلى الصعدات تلدمون صدروكم وتجارون إلى ربكم فهبط جبريل عليه السلام فقال إن ربك يقول لك لم تقنط عبادي فخرج عليهم ورجاهم وشوقهم

“‘Verily, if you knew what I know you would laugh less and weep more, and you would go out to the hills hitting your chests and making petition to your Lord.’ [Then] Gibril (Allah bless him) descended and said, ‘Indeed, your Lord says to you (oh Messenger), ‘Why do you give rise to despair in my servants, so that their hope and longing will rebel against them?'”

Narrated by Imam Ghazali in his Ihya `Ulum al Din, Kitab al Khawf wal Raja’ [Book of Fear & Hope].

Imam al `Iraqi states in his takhrij that this hadith – mentioning Gibril (Allah bless him) – was narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih from Abu Hurayra. Imam Ibn Hajar `Asqalani also states this in his Fath al Bari (bab al qasd wal mudawamat `ala `amal). However, note that the narration in Ibn Hibban’s Sahih only comes in the following wording:

فأتاه جبريل ، فقال : إن الله يقول لك : لم تقنط عبادي ؟ قال : فرجع إليهم ، فقال :سددوا وقاربوا وأبشروا

“‘Indeed, if you knew what I know you would laugh less and weep more.’ Gibril came to him and said, ‘Indeed, God says to you, ‘Why do you induce despair in my servants?’ He (s: the narrator) said, ‘And he (s: the Prophet) returned to them and said, ‘Direct yourself (to what is right), seek closeness, and rejoice.'”

(Kitab al `ilm. Ibn Hibban narrates it in Kitab al Birr without the phrase “qaaribu”)

[s: the word سدد comes in the meaning of 'making right' or 'directing to what is right' - among many other meanings. Ibn Hibban actually quotes Abu Hatim stating that what is meant by this phrase is directing towards what is right by following the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his way]

Imam Ahmad narrates this same narration in his Musnad (#9692) but without the mention of Gibril (Allah bless him) coming down. Rather, his narration simply states, “If you knew what I know you would laugh less and weep more, but direct yourself to what is right, seek closeness, and rejoice.”

Further, the wording “you would go out to the hills” is not narrated by Ibn Hibban, but by Al Hakim in his Mustadrak, who narrates a number of variant and additional wordings none of which are with the mention of the coming of Gibril (Allah bless him) though – all of which Al Hakim declares sahih. Note that Al Hakim’s grading in his al Mustadrak does not carry much weight unless corroborated by others. Imam Ahmad also narrates similar versions, none of them mentioning this descent of Gibril.

Thus, it seems that Imam Ghazali combined these two narrations together to formulate one. Imam `Iraqi implicitly points this out when he states:

“And the narration ‘Gibril came to him’ comes from Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, narrated by Abu Hurayrah. Its beginning (i.e. the wording ‘If you knew what I know… weep more) is agreed upon. The additional wording of ‘you will go out to the hills’ comes in Hakim and Ahmad.”

To Conclude:

[1] The narration mentioning the descent of Gibril (Allah bless him) is narrated only by Ibn Hibban. Ibn Hajar mentions this additional wording and does not comment further, which would imply that the narration is at least hasan in his eyes.

[2] There are many other variants that mention ‘going to the hills’ (which is merely one) and so forth, in other sources though none of them mention this coming of Gibril (Allah bless him).

[3] Imam Ghazali combined both narrations together, a practice which is not uncommon amongst the scholars.

And Allah Knows Best

Wasalam

Salman

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A New Website

salamu `alaykum

Excellent new website by some friends up at:

http://www.marifah.net

It deals with a number of “hot” issues. Even though, due to my manhaj, I dont encourage or agree with certain aspects the articles are all from reliable Sunni scholars.

Wasalam

Salman

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