Monthly Archives: March 2007

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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An Invitation To Endorse The Amman Message Online

salamu `alaykum

The Amman Message is a crucial step towards tolerance and moderation in our community, which has been plagued by division and unrest. It was formulated after consultation with numerous Islamic figures, including major scholars like Mufti Taqi `Uthmani, Shaykh Nuh, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh `Abd al Hakim Murad, Shaykh Faraz, Shaykh Habib `Ali, Shaykh Habib `Umar – all of whom have endorsed it. I would urge everyone to endorse this message by reading and following the guidelines mentioned below. (www.ammanmessage.com – top right corner, click on “Endorse”)

Remember that it is from the prophetic way to promote and establish positive relationships between people, especially Muslims. One can acknowledge differences with others without having to resort to intolerance. Rather, tolerance is only manifest when such differences arise…

 

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Dear Friend,

As-Salamu alaykum. We hope this message finds you well. In November 2004, King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan launched the Amman Message, a declaration aimed at clarifying the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam to the world. It is a message of devotion to God, love of the neighbor, goodwill, moderation and peace. Since then, the Amman Message has come to be epitomized in three major juridical and doctrinal points, each crucial to addressing the problems the Islamic world faces today.

  1. The great traditional schools of jurisprudence, theology, and spirituality are valid from the point of view of Islam, and the followers of these schools, which include both Sunni and Shi‘i denominations, are all Muslims. Islam has fundamental tenets but is also diverse.
  2. It is impermissible to declare any Muslim so defined as an unbeliever/apostate (a practice called takfir).
  3. Only those with the proper moral and intellectual qualifications, and the proper methodology, may issue fatwas (religious edicts).

Since they were first introduced, these three points have been recognized and ratified universally, through fatwas and official statements, in meetings of the highest and most recognized authorities and scholars in Islamic law, from all denominations and schools of thought all over the world. This is a unique historical event. The statements and signatures from these religious leaders can be see on www.ammanmessage.com.

These three points are vital for the future of the Islamic world. We suffer from disunity and discord, and must reaffirm our unity as an Islamic ummah. We suffer from wounds and ignorant prejudice which would take us into conflict with many of those who would live at peace with us. We must denounce the practice of takfir (accusing Muslims of apostasy for interpretations and opinions different from ours), which too often opens the door to terrible crimes against our own brothers and sisters. Moreover, all such atrocities committed in the name of Islam are traceable to the fatwa of men totally unqualified, morally and intellectually, to issue one. It is thus imperative that the ummah speak with one voice in reaffirming true Islam.

We invite you to add your voice to this unique and historic international Islamic consensus. Please visit www.ammanmessage.com, where you can read more about the Amman Message and find many useful documents and links. Under ENDORSE you can add your name to the list of Muslims worldwide who have endorsed and supported the three points. Your endorsement is important for all our futures.

Yours Sincerely,
The Amman Message Committee,

Wasalam

Salman

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A Gathering Of The Fuqara

salamu `alaykum

Gathering-Fuqara

This is a photo of some Tijani fuqara in the city of Meknes, Morocco. Taken in the year 1911 of the Gregorian calendar (1329 hijri). Very powerful…

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Imitating Non-Muslim Dress: Is It Always Impermissible?

salamu `alaykumHave you ever seen a brother walking around with a t-shirt on? Someone wearing a tie? Dress pants? A sister wearing jeans, modestly covered by a lengthy upper-garment? If you have, then you have also probably seen someone mentioning the impermissiblity of doing so due to it being an imitation of the non-Muslims, something the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) emphatically forbade.

It is narrated in the Sunan of Abu Dawud (#4032) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم

“He who imitates a nation is from them.”

He (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) also said, as narrated by Imam Tirmidhi in his Sunan :

“He is not from us who resembles other than us.”

Similarly, there are many other narrations from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that command the Muslims to avoid imitating specific groups. For the sake of brevity these narrations will not be mentioned.

From this, one may conclude that imitating the non-Muslims in any way, shape, or form is interdicted by the shari`ah. This, however, is not the case as the scholars of the religion make clear in their expositions.

The Linguistic Meaning of “Shabbaha”

The word is derived from the root sh-ba-ha and indicates “likeness, similitude, assimiliation, parable, resemblance”. For example, it is said:

شبہه به

“He made it to be like it”

It also comes in the meaning of مثله , as in Urdu we say “mithal ke tor pe“, to mean “comparison” or “likeness”. Thus, one states:

شبہت الشىء بالشىء

“I placed the thing [in place] of the other thing.”

What is signified by this is a common attribute shared by the two “things”. So, here it comes in the meaning of, for example, “The brightness is like this brightness” or “The hardness is like this hardness” or “`Ali is like a lion” and so forth. Another eample of this is:

ومنه : أشبه الولد أباه : إذا شاركه في صفة من صفاته

“The son resembled his father, when he shared in an attribute from his attributes.”

The Legal Definition & Conditions Of Impermissibility

The Mawsu`at al Fiqhiyya states that the scholars of law did not stray from this linguistic usage of “shabbaha”. This is because the linguistic meaning of a word is taken into consideration when formulating the legal meanings of expressions. Thus, for example, the reason why the Hanafi scholars consider intention to be an obligatory condition for the validity of one’s tayammum is because the word “tayammum” – in its linguistic sense – carries the meaning of “directing oneself” (qasd). This is mentioned by Imam Zayla`i in his Tabiyin al Haqa’iq:

التيمم في اللغة القصد قال الله تعالى { ولا تيمموا الخبيث } أي لا تقصدو

Defining “imitation”, Mufti Taqi `Usmani states in his Taqrire Tirmidhi (Vol 2, Pg: 331):

“‘Imitation’ (tashabbah) is (a word) used for one who directs himself (qasd), of his own accord, to a specific group in order to imitate them and be like them.”

It is important here to note the stipulation of “directing oneself” or “resolving” to imitate the disbelievers as a condition for impermissible “imitation”. This condition was also mentioned by Ibn `Abidin in his Radd al Muhtar and Imam Haskafi in his Durr al Mukhtar. Imam Haskafi stated:

وجوزه الشافعي بلا كراهة وهما بها للتشبه بأهل الكتاب : أي إن قصده ؛ فإن التشبه بهم لا يكره في كل شيء ، بل في المذموم وفيما يقصد به التشبه ، كما في البحر .

“(s: Regarding reading from the mushaf in salah) And it was permitted by Shafi`i, without dislike, and the two companions (s: of Abu Hanifa) considered it disliked because it was an imitation of the People of the Book i.e. with the intent/resolve to do so. Indeed, imitation of them is not disliked in all things, but (only) in (the imitation) of the unlawful and in imitation with the resolve to be like them.”

Ibn `Abidin states in his commentary:

قال هشام : رأيت على أبي يوسف نعلين مخصوفين بمسامير ، فقلت : أترى بهذا الحديد بأسا ؟ قال لا قلت : سفيان وثور بن يزيد كرها ذلك لأن فيه تشبها بالرهبان ؛ فقال { كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يلبس النعال التي لها شعر } وإنها من لباس الرهبان . فقد أشار إلى أن صورة المشابهة فيما تعلق به صلاح العباد لا يضر ، فإن الأرض مما لا يمكن قطع المسافة البعيدة فيها إلا بهذا النوع . ا هـ وفيه إشارة أيضا إلى أن المراد بالتشبه أصل الفعل : أي صورة المشابهة بلا قصد .

“Hisham said: ‘I saw on Abu Yusuf two sandals with crampons and said, ‘Do you wear this out of distress?’ He replied, ‘No’. I said, ‘Sufyan and Thawr ibn Yazid disliked it because it resembles the monks’. He stated, ‘The Prophet wore sandals which had hairs on it.” (Ibn `Abidin states) Indeed, it (such sandals) are from the dress of the monks. Verily this points to the fact that such appearance of imitation linked to the righteous servants was not harmful… and in it is also an indication regarding the basis of such imitative action – it was an appearance of imitation without resolve (s: to be like them).”

In the Mawsu`at it states:

والتشبه في غير المذموم وفيما لم يقصد به التشبه لا بأس به

“And imitation in other than the unlawful and in what one does not resolve to imitate (the non-Muslims in), then there is no harm in it.”

Mufti Taqi `Usmani further says:

“Imitation, without resolve or intent (s: to imitate the non-Muslims) is not prohibited even though one resembles the non-Muslims due to it.”

Another aspect that falls into impermissible “imitation” is something that is specifically a sign of the non-Muslims, such as wearing a cross, a yamaka, and its like – such that an onlooker would consider that person from among such people. This is prohibited.

أن يكون التشبه في الوقت الذي يكون اللباس المعين شعارا للكفار ، وقد أورد ابن حجر حديث أنس رضي الله عنه أنه رأى قوما عليهم الطيالسة ، فقال : كأنهم يهود خيبر ثم قال ابن حجر : وإنما يصلح الاستدلال بقصة اليهود في الوقت الذي تكون الطيالسة من شعارهم ، وقد ارتفع ذلك فيما بعد ، فصار داخلا في عموم المباح ا

Therefore, it can be stated that “Prohibition of Imitation” of the non-Muslims comes into effect in one of two ways:

(1) Either through one’s directing oneself in imitating them, of his own accord, with the intention of being like them, or

(2) Through imitation of something religiously or otherwise unique to them, in a way that would allow an onlooker to consider one as “one of them”.

Interpreting the Narration “He who imitates a nation…”

From what has preceded, it can be seen that the narration prohibiting imitation can be interpreted in two ways:

(1) If “imitation” here is taken in its linguistic capacity to mean “general likeness” then the the general usage of the word “imitation” will be considered as an application of “the universal used in terms of the speicifc” (`aam makhsus). This is easily gleaned from the fact that specific aspects such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and so forth are precluded – by default – since imitation in them cannot be avoided. Imam Ibn `Abidin states in his work:

مطلب في التشبه بأهل الكتاب ( قوله لأن التشبه بهم لا يكره في كل شيء ) فإنا نأكل ونشرب كما يفعلون بحر عن شرح الجامع الصغير لقاضي خان

“(imitation of them is not disliked in all things) such as our eating and drinking…”

(2) If “imitation” is taken in its legal sense then the narration is specific from the very get go to mean what was mentioned earlier. Thus, what is meant is that imitation of the non-Muslims is only prohibited if one of the two conditions previously mentioned above are met.

The Role of Custom (`Urf) In Defining “Imitative” Aspects

Despite the fact that the conditions for prohibited imitation are fundamentally twofold, some people may still argue that these conditions are actually effectively met by wearing the clothes of the “westerners”.

The fallacy of such an argument is, firstly, that no Muslim in the west wakes up in the morning and intends to wear jeans to imitate the non-Muslims, or T-Shirts, or Calvin Klein dress shoes, or Nike. Even if specific people do, this is not a sufficient criteria for a general ruling or prohibition.

Secondly, the “west” as a “nation” includes both Muslims and non-Muslims and it can no longer be said that the western dress is an exclusively “non-Muslim” one. Thus, such clothing is *not* a distinct and unique sign of non-Muslims. The principle here is, as Maulana Ashraf `Ali Thanawi and others mention, that if something becomes customary and general in a land then the prohibition of imitation is lifted.

Maulana Thanawi states in his Tuhfat al `Ulema (Vol 2, Pg 130):

“If wearing coats and pants became customary here (in India)… then it will not be prohibited to wear.”

Similarly, he stated (Ibid, Pg: 131):

“It was asked whether it is permitted for women to wear cuffs on the sleeves of their upper-garments? The reply was that wherever it is considered an imitation of men it is forbidden and wherever it is not then it is permitted.”

(Note here that the same conditions apply for women imitating men and vice versa as stipulated previously)

He also said (Ibid, Pg: 130; Imdad al fatawa, Vol 3):

“A person inquired that if a Muslim is residing in London and dresses in a shirt and pants does this count as imitiation of the non-Muslims? It was replied that this is not considered imitation because there, in London, such dress is not thought of as something extrinsic to the land. Rather, everyone wears such clothing. If over here (the subcontinent) coats and pants become customary then it would not be forbidden here also.”

Mufti Taqi `Usmani On The Principles Of Dress

Mufti Muhammad Taqi `Usmani, one of the elading scholars of the Hanafi school in our times, said (Taqrir):

“The law has given much flexibility as it relates to the fiqh of dress, and has not made necessary on the ummah any specific form of dress whose opposing would be impermitted. Rather, Islam has laid down general principles related to dress and has made permissible for people to wear any type of clothing as long as it conforms to these guidelines. “

These principles are, in summary:

(1) The covering of the `awra, which for men is from just below the navel upto and including the knee and, for women, all of her body except her hands, face, and feet.

(2) The total avoidance of imitating the opposite sex.

(3) The total avoidance of imitating the non-Muslims.

(4) The total avoidance of wearing dress for the purpose of displaying arrogance and not being excessive.

(5) The total avoidance of wearing that which has been interdicted, such as silk (for men), dragging the garment out of pride (for men), and so forth.

An Answer On Women’s Clothing: Ustadha Shazia Ahmed

Q. Must a teenager wear a jilbaab once she reaches puberty? If her clothes are not tight fitting, does it not suffi

In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate.

Once a woman reaches the age of puberty (and a little before it, too), she must in front of marriageable men:

a) cover her body with clothing that is

1) loose; tight-fitting clothes are unlawful

2) thick enough such that the color of the skin does not show through

3) and long enough to cover the body;

She should also try not to wear clothing that attracts attention according to the culture of the area where she lives. For example, bright colors are perfectly normal in some parts of Africa, whereas they would turn heads in some parts of Canada.

As long as she fulfills these conditions, she is not obliged to wear the Arab style jilbab or abaya.

More importantly though, is modesty in her character. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said that modesty is a branch of faith and in another hadith, he said that it only brings good. Modesty is lacking in today’s times, so whoever is blessed with this characteristic, has indeed been given a beautiful quality.

And Allah knows best.

Link

Further, for men, somewhat tight clothing that does not clearly define their `awra is slightly disliked. Tight clothing that fully defines the shape and form of the `awra would be prohibitively disliked and sinful.

Conclusion

This was a general summary of the issue. Simply, wearing the everyday clothes most of us wear is perfectly fine. One should, though, try to avoid modern day fashion brands that are signs of the corrupt – as wearing such clothes does have spiritually negative effects regardless of whether we “feel” it or not.

However, one should equally strive to emulate the prophetic sunna. It is highly recommended to follow the sunnas of dress, which are general principles one should follow not limited to any specific type of clothing. The prophetic message was for all mankind and not merely a specific group. Thus, we see in the sunna these general principles that are applicable everywhere.

Among the sunna actions of dress are:

(a) Keeping the pants above the ankles,

(b) For women to keep their garments lengthy, such that one’s `awra does not become uncovered when doing everyday actions,

(c) Being moderate i.e. neither too lavish nor too tattered. Imam Sarkhasi said that the way of moderation in dress is sometimes wearing ones best clothes (even when alone to test one’s intention for Allah, not only doing so in front of people), usually wearing moderate clothes, and sometimes wearing old and worn-out clothes. The latter is for the purpose of realizing one’s blessings and being thankful.

(d) Wearing white (sign of purity) and black (sign of majesty) are both from the sunna,

(e) For men to cover their heads,

(f) Being generally modest, and

(g) Not causing undue attention, and striking a balance between following the sunna and this.

Further, one should also avoid pride, arrogance, and forgetting the Divine favors bestowed upon one. One should be wary of ulterior motives.

Like food and drink, clothing is a blessing from Allah. It is like a gift and the least that is expected of one is to not use such a gift in disobeying or doing anything against the giver of the gift. This is the lowest level of thankfulness (shukr).

It is pertinent to note here that the blessings bestowed upon us by Allah are aspects which we have done nothing to earn. Rather, it is out of Allah’s generous nature that we are able to attain these blessings. These blessings should become indicators pointing to the greatest blessings bestowed upon us, which are that of life and faith. Take these small things as aspects reminding you of Allah. This is the state of the “knower” for he sees the signs of God in everything for “Verily in these are signs for people of understanding.” (20:128)

Be thankful to Allah, since thankfulness is the key to increase of one’s love, faith, and general good, turn to Him in true submission and humble yourself.

Wasalam

Salman

 

 

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What Is Beneficial Knowledge?

salamu `alaykum

Ibn Ata’illah, the knower of Allah, stated in his Hikam:

“Beneifical knowledge is that which expands the breast with its rays, and by it the veils of the heart are lifted.”

Ibn `Abbad states in his commentary on the Hikam, entitled Ghayth al Mawahib al `Aliyyati:

“Beneficial knowledge is the knowledge of Allah, His attributes, His names, and the knowledge by which one knows how to submit to Him and act properly in regards to His favors. This is the knowledge whose rays pervade the breast… lifting from the heart its veils and dispelling all doubts and misgivings.

From the wisdom of Dawud (Allah’s blessing upon him and all our prophets) is his saying, ‘The knowledge in the breast is like the lantern in the house.’

Abu Muhammad `Abd al `Aziz al Mahdawi (Allah be well-pleased with him) said, ‘Beneficial knowledge is knowledge of the moment (`ilm al waqt), the clarity of the heart, ascetism (zuhd) from the world, (the knowledge) of what brings one closer to paradise and further from the fire, fear of Allah and returning (raja’) to Him due to such fear, and the pestilence (aafaat) of the heart and its purification. It is a specifically designated light (nur) that Allah places in the heart of whomever He pleases, not knowledge of the tongue that is transmitted and apprehensible by the mind.’

Malik ibn Anas said (Allah be well-pleased with him) said, ‘Knowledge is not the abundance of narrations. It is only a light that Allah Most High places in the hearts.’

Imam Junayd (Allah be well-pleased with him) said, ‘Knowledge is that by which you know your Lord…’

This statement (of Ibn Ata’illah) is a clear summarization that gathers within it the objectives of the knowledge of the Sufis, which is knowing (ma`arifa) Allah and acting in the best of ways with regards to His favors. This is the knowledge which is recommended for a person to submerge himself in – without one masking himself from it, slightly or abundantly.”

(Ghayth al Mawahib, Pg: 211 Ed: Dar al Khayr, 2003)

With prayers

Wasalam

Salman

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“If You Knew What I Know…”

salamu `alaykum

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:

‏لو تعلمون ما أعلم لضحكتم قليلا ولبكيتم كثيرا

“Verily, if you knew what I know you would laugh less and weep more.”

(Bukhari, Kitab al Riqaq #6004)

Ibn Hajar `Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Fath al Bari:

والمراد بالعلم هنا ما يتعلق بعظمة الله وانتقامه ممن يعصيه والأهوال التي تقع عند النزع والموت وفي القبر ويوم القيامة , ومناسبة كثرة البكاء وقلة الضحك في هذا المقام واضحة , والمراد به التخويف . وقد جاء لهذا الحديث سبب أخرجه سنيد في تفسيره بسند واه والطبراني عن ابن عمر ” خرج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى المسجد فإذا بقوم يتحدثون ويضحكون , فقال : والذي نفسي بيده ” فذكر هذا الحديث . وعن الحسن البصري ” من علم أن الموت مورده , والقيامة موعده , والوقوف بين يدي الله تعالى مشهده , فحقه أن يطول في الدنيا حزنه “

“What is meant by “knowledge” here is what is related to the greatness of Allah and His vengeance against he who disobeys Him, the states that arise with extirpation, death, in the grave, and the Day of Judgment. The appropriateness of weeping much and laughing little within this context is clear, and what is indicated by it is fear.

It is narrated from Hasan al Basri (Allah have mercy on him) that, ‘He who knew about death and its furnishing, the Day of Judigement and its appointed time, and the spectacle of standing between the two hands of Allah (s: a reference to Allah’s mercy and wrath), then it is proper and right that his sadness and anxiety (due to his knowledge of these events) arise in this world.'”

And Allah Knows Best

Wasalam

Salman

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Dear Amir…

I remember walking into the union for my first jumu`ah prayer on campus. I saw this guyanese kid with a thin line-beard, dressed quite ghettoish, staring at the khatib, and I thought to myself, “Wow, he’s pretty dark.” Yes, that is a true story.

Either way, that was the first time we “met”. Not much of a meeting since we didnt utter a single word to each other, but soon after we became a freshmen duo – rather a trio, with Naveed. With your active nature and connections (with everyone in the whole world), my supposed passion for fiqh, and Naveed’s crude humor there is no doubt in my mind why the Stony Brook Muslim Students Association is such a success. After all, we were in line to take charge and we did – in a way.

Some good memories during these past 3-4 years. Sitting at the EOB with Mujeeb trying to figure out his name and major. Watching you cry on the balcony like a little girl. Yes! I have witnessed Amir, the MujahideenRyder, cry! All those Chicken Guy runs. Spending nights playing cards. Going to MSA East Zone in Virginia and Maryland, and doing all the crazy stuff we did there. Watching you strive and overcome all barriers to get engaged. Going to Toronto and the border incident (lol). Singing nasheeds with you every week. The list is endless.

So, with that I say Happy Birthday my dear friend. It is really shocking that youre a month and fifteen days older than me. Yet, Insha’Allah, you will live a long, prosperous, and beneficial life. This is our last year together in University, and our last year seeing each other for the next couple of years since I’ll be leaving soon. You’ve been a great friend though and thank you for that.

Ever need anything dont hesitate to give a shout out. You can be certain that I’ll reply and be there in whatever way I can. My friends and loved ones mean the world to me and I would do anything for them.

 

Your true friend is the one who remains with you
And will even hurt himself to benefit you

 

And if the trials of life ever challenge you He’ll risk his very self to protect you.

(Imam Ghazali in his Ihya)

I leave, with deep love for you and prayers for your success.

Salman

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