Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Foreword: Actions Are Only By Intentions, Part 1 (Episode 4)

Commentary on the first hadith of Imam an-Nawawi's collection of Forty

Based on the book al-Waafi by Imams Mustafa al-Bugha and Muhyi ad-Deen Mistu

Related Posts:

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Warding Off an Aggressor

The scholars of the Revealed Law on what to do in a situation like this

An aggressor is warded off with the minimum amount of force required, if possible.[1] If it is possible to ward him off by shouting and crying for help, he is not warded off by using one's hands. If one cannot ward him off with one’s hands, one wards him off by using a stick. If one cannot ward him off using a stick, one wards him off using a weapon. If he cannot be warded off except by injuring a limb, one does so, and if he cannot be warded off except by killing, one wards him off by killing him. In other words, if it is possible to ward him off by talking and crying for help, it is unlawful to strike. If one can strike with a whip, it is unlawful to strike with a stick. If one can chop off a limb, it is unlawful to kill. If one can run away, then the position of the madhhab[2] is that it is obligatory to do so, and it is unlawful to fight.

[Translated from al-Fiqh ash-Shāfiʿī al-Muyassar by Imam Wahbah az-Zuḥaylī (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 2008) v.2, p.444]

[1] (tn): i.e. if one has to resort to more extreme measures, then one does so. As Imam Ahmad ibn Naqīb al-Maṣrī says in the same section in ʿUmdat as-Sālik, ‘If one is convinced that the aggressor cannot be warded off except by killing him, one kills him and one is not held accountable for doing so.’  [Tanwīr al-Masālik bi Sharḥ wa Adillat ʿUmdat as-Sālik wa ʿUddat an-Nāsik (Damascus: Dār al-Muṣṭafā, 1431/2010), v.2, p.961] Sheikh Muṣṭafā al-Bughā and his co-authors  also explain, ‘If the one being aggressed against becomes aware of the aggressor while he is carrying out a crime, such as committing al-fāḥishah [i.e. rape] or killing an innocent person, one can kill him directly without resorting to any preliminary measures. If one kills the aggressor in a situation like this, the aggressor’s life is not protected by law.’ [al-Fiqh al-Manhajī ʿalā Madhhab al-Imām ash-Shāfiʿī (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 1433/2012) v.3, p.454]
[2] (tn): i.e. the legal school of Imam Muḥammad ibn Idrīs ash-Shāfiʿī

Friday, 16 December 2016

Adorning Oneself for Prayer

How to dress when one stands before one's Lord

It is recommended for a man to wear his best and most perfect clothes when praying, and there is nothing more perfect than the clothes that he adorns himself with in the company of people, such as that which covers his body, and he wears an ʿamāmah[1] and upper garment. It has been mentioned from Ibn ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he saw his servant Nāfiʿ praying bareheaded, so he said to him, ‘If you were to go out into the presence of people, do you think you would go out like this?’ He replied, ‘No’. He said, ‘Then Allah is more deserving of being adorned for.’ This has been related by Abū Dāwūd and others.

It is recommended for a woman to pray in three garments: a khimār that covers her head and neck, a chemise (dirʿ) that covers her body and feet and thick milafah–and a milafah is a jilbāb–due to what has been related from ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with him, in which he said, ‘A woman prays in three garments: a chemise, a khimār and a lower garment (izār).’ It is also on the authority of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, who said, ‘A woman prays in a chemise, a khimār and a milafah.’ Imam ash-Shāfiʿī said, ‘People in general have agreed on the chemise and the khimār, and whatever is added to that is better and more concealing.’

[Translated from Ghāyat al-Munā by Sheikh Muammad Bā ʿAṭiyyah (Amman: Dār al-Fat, 1429/2008), p.271]

[1] (tn): an Islamic way of tying a turban


Saturday, 10 December 2016

Mawlid Khutbah: Mawlid and the Reality of this Ummah

A translation of this khutbah from Naseem al-Sham

The relationship between the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and the reality of the Ummah[1]

All praise is due to Allah, praise that complies with His blessings and compensates His abundance. Our Lord, for You is all praise as befits the majesty of Your countenance and the might of Your authority. O Allah, I cannot sufficiently enumerate praises upon You; You are as You have praised Yourself. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone and He has no partner, and I bear witness that Muḥammad is His slave and Messenger and His sincere and intimate friend, the best prophet that Allah sent to the entire world as a herald of glad tidings and admonition. O Allah, pray upon, give peace and give blessings upon our Sayyid Muḥammad and upon the family of our Sayyid[2] Muḥammad, prayers and peace that last inseparably until the Day of Judgement. I advise you and my sinning self to have fearful awareness of Allah the Exalted.

Here is the month of Rabīʿ, which has come to us once again, carrying with it the fragrance of the anniversary, the anniversary of the birth of our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and are the Muslims all over the world preparing to celebrate this anniversary by give speeches and poems, wonderful words of influence and content, and the media, in its various forms, will be drafted in for this. However, I ask, O slaves of Allah, about the relationship between this repeated celebration that we enjoy every year and the reality of the Islamic Ummah, which has relinquished most of what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, brought, and is being tested with most of what the winds from the west and the east, from here and from there, are raising and scattering upon us. 

Do you think that this is drawing us closer to Allah, Mighty and Majestic, and His Messenger or is it bringing about the opposite in our lives? Indeed, I feel that these various and diverse oral celebrations, along with our reality, which I have described, are not drawing us closer to Allah, Mighty and Majestic. Rather, it is all necessitating shame before the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and it is making it necessary for us to be immersed in shyness and shame with regards to addressing the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon, with speech that is not supported by conduct.

Indeed you know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, placed before us a whole host of pieces of advice and principles, commands and prohibitions, and he stressed to us that if we adhere to these pieces of advice and commands, Allah, Mighty and Majestic, will never abandon us. Our worldly benefits will be realised and Allah will guarantee for us the benefits of the end (al-ʿuqbā), and bliss in the Hereafter as well.

However, after Al-Muṣṭafā, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, had departed, and then the first generation, followed by the second and then the third, the fourth came: “An evil generation succeeded them who neglected the prayer and followed their appetites.” [Maryam 19:59] as our Lord, Glorified and Exalted, has said. They forgot, or they pretended to forget, most of those pieces of advice. They forgot, or pretended to forget, most of those commands and prohibitions. You know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said in in a long, authentic ḥadīth:

‘Men will be driven away from my Ḥawḍ[3]i.e. men will be forced away from my Ḥawḍ ‘the way a stray camel is driven away, so I will say: “Indeed, come forward! Come forward!” But it will be said that you don’t know what they changed after you, and I will say: “Away with them, away with them, away with them!”’

Here you can see, O slaves of Allah, how we are applying ourselves assiduously to altering what Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has commanded us to preserve and maintain, what Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has commanded us to be constant guardians over. Here you can see the greedy ambitions that call us from the right and from the left to change and alter the commands that Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has entrusted us with.

Indeed you know that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said in an authentic narration: ‘Indeed you will find many different ways[4] after me, so be patient until you meet me at the Ḥawḍ.He said this as a part of a thoroughly effective piece of advice. We look at ourselves and we see that we have reversed this piece of advice as well.  We have exchanged altruism for selfishness and monopoly, instead of being patient with the tiresomeness and being patient with adhering to the principle that Allah, Mighty and Majestic, has commanded us to, the egos and passions have clamoured from within us and hastened us to embrace our passions and desires, which is the opposite of the advice that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, gave to us. It has been authentically narrated, O slaves of Allah, that Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, along with some of his companions, passed by a dead billy goat that had been tossed onto the road. He took it by the ear and said: ‘Who will buy this from me for a dirham?’ They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, indeed we have no desire for it whatsoever. What would we do with it?’ He, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: ‘Indeed Allah hates the life of this world more than your hatred of this.’ We have heard this statement of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and yet we place the life of this world, of which the Messenger of Allah said what he said, we place it in our hearts as the most beloved of all. 

Do you not see how we rush, morning and evening, to gather more, and we don’t distinguish between the means, are they ḥalāl or ḥarām? We look and we find that we are embodying the statement that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, made: ‘If the son of Ādam were to have one valley of wealth, he would desire a second. If he had two valleys, he would desire a third, and nothing will fill the throat of the son of Adam except dirt.’ Nothing will suffice him but death, and nothing will bar him from this love except the grave that awaits him.

This is our state, after the Messenger of Allah has told us about the life of this world and its worth, and he likened it to this dead billy goat.

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said to you: None of you will truly have faith until I am more beloved to him than his wealth, his children and all of humanity’ and in another authentic narration: ‘and his own self that is between his two sides.’ We look and we find that we have filled our hearts with love for everything except the love of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him. Yes, indeed there is imitational love whose place is the tongue that praises, whose place is the tongue that extols. As for the heart, the life of this world has taken control over it. Passions and desires have taken control over it.

Slaves of Allah: Indeed I ask, if I am invited to a speech on an occasion like this, which we will be honoured with you, would it be appropriate for me to speak or would it be appropriate for me to remain silent, silence that expresses shame, silence that expresses confirmation of where our state has arrived and the neglect that we have fallen deeply into with regards to the pieces of advice of Allah’s Messenger and his commands that he stressed to us? I believe that the priority for me is silence, and that is because if I spoke and talked about the love that I cannot find a substantiation for and talk about the yearning for the Messenger of Allah regarding which I find a wall between myself and the Messenger of Allah, a wall of passions, desires and the life of this world, which have taken control over my being, I would thus feel that I am lying. I would feel that I am placing a mask over my face that contradicts what has taken over my heart. I am talking about myself, O slaves of Allah. I am imagining that Al-Muṣṭafā, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, is calling us from afar, from his life in the barzakh: ‘I have told you and I am bidding farewell to the life of this world through you. I left you upon pure whiteness, its interior like its exterior, and no deviates from it except that he is ruined, so why have you deviated from what I left you upon? Why have you replaced it with that which makes your saliva flow such that everything before your eyes glitters, in both the east and west?

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, says to us: “If the Muslims knew what was in the first third of the night and al-fajr” i.e. if they knew what was in going out to pray ʿIshāʾ and Fajr in the masjid in congregation “they would go to them [i.e. ʿIshāʾ and Fajr] even if they had to crawl.” We look and we find ourselves, when evening is approaching, we go to various evening parties, we go to various canteens, we go to various places of amusement and entertainment and this continues until the last part of the night. Then we return and sleep has filled our eyes. Thus, when the time for Fajr has come and the masjids are open to receive those coming to the masjid, we find that most of these masjids are almost empty, except for a few youth whose hearts burn and have been taken over by the love of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, a few. As for the people of distinction, the upper class, as for the businessmen, or most of them, I say that they are engaged in something that is preoccupying them from what the Messenger of Allah said: “they would go to them [i.e. ʿIshāʾ and Fajr] even if they had to crawl.” Indeed I reflect on how the roads to the masjids were in the time of Allah’s Messenger? They were dark. They were full of mud, but despite that they would race to the masjids in order to pray ʿIshāʾ and Fajr. Today, the roads are smooth. The roads are wide and full of lights. The masjids are many and close by, but despite that the people of distinction, and indeed most people, are engaged in something that is preoccupying them from what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said.

O brothers: the difference between us today and the first generation is embodied in this example that you see in the person of ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb on the day he arrived in Shām to meet men from the Christian religion, and he insisted on wearing the rags that he preferred to wear, and nothing else. Abū ʿUbayda gently rebuked him, so ʿUmar said to him: ‘Abū ʿUbayda! If only someone else had said such a thing. We are a people whom Allah made mighty with Islām, so whenever we seek might with other than what Allah made us mighty with, Allah humiliates us.’

Have you reflected on the meaning of this speech? Have you reflected on the meaning that these words expound? Indeed he is saying: ‘This crown that shines above our heads, we have not weaved it with wealth from our dominion. We have not weaved[5] it with a civilisation that we have acquired. We have not weaved it with a power that we have mastered. Indeed, it is the Hand of Allah that has weaved it. The One Who has honoured us and placed it above our heads is Allah, when we pledged allegiance to Him to be sincere and truthful upon the Islām that he has honoured us with. Thus, if we become intoxicated with the crown and forget the Crowner, and if we become intoxicated with blessings, with civilization, with the wealth that we have been granted, and we forget the hand that provided it, then that is wickedness and it is the most evil kind of wickedness. No. Everyone will continue to know that the Arabs of the Peninsula did not climb the ladder of civilisation through effort. Rather, the decree of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, took them to the highest plateaus of civilisation when they adhered truthfully and sincerely to this Dīn.

Today we look at the crown that makes our history radiant – the history of this Ummah – we have become intoxicated with the crown, indeed, but we have forgotten the Crowner. Slaves of Allah; is this allowed? We talk about the history of the Islamic Ummah. We talk about the Arab civilisation that dominated all other civilisations and western scholars still consider it a mystery that defies explanation and understanding. We are proud of this history. We are proud of this crown, but we have turned away from the Crowner. We have turned away from the One Who honoured us with this crown. Our eyes have wandered far astray. Our eyes have wandered towards repugnant traditions. Our eyes have wandered towards passions and desires, and soon they will bid farewell to us and we will bid farewell to them. Soon we will depart and each one of us will find his grave in a constricted hole that barely fits him. Then we will be brought back to life in order to stand before the Lord of all Creation. What will you say?

I say this statement of mine and I seek forgiveness from Allah the Most Great.

[This translation is also available from the English Naseem al-Sham site]

[1] This khuṭbah was given by Imam Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him, on 11/02/2011.
[2] This term means ‘master’ and only applies to human beings.
[3] The Ḥawḍ is one of the meeting places for the believers on the way to the Paradise and it is the source of the Kawthar’s sweet waters. It is sometimes translated as ‘pond’, ‘pool’ or ‘basin’, but none of these terms carry the necessary grandeur and majesty that is required.
[4] This refers to all the various religions, ideologies, cults and other false notions. Literally, the word atharah means selfishness.
[5] Translator’s note: This may be because the ʿamāma is the crown of the Arabs, which is from a statement made by Imam ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, the fourth Khalīfa, as mentioned by Imam Hishām in his Sīrah. Please see this article for further details.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Imam al-Ghazali on Communism, plus the true story of Thanksgiving

An early warning against central planning, and where Thanksgiving comes from


Please watch this video and learn how Thanksgiving was the result of settlers discovering property rights and the free market. For the first several years, they starved to death in droves because their leaders implemented a collectivist policy: each according to his ability, each according to his need. Inevitably, the needy greatly outnumbered the able and man-made famine was the inexorable result. Socialism, communism, collectivism, whatever you wish to call it, causes death and destruction on a massive scale. What was unique about the settlers in Virginia in the early 1600s CE was that there was no previously accumulated wealth that they could fall back on, and thus starvation and famine were the immediate consequence. When collectivist/leftist/Marxist ideas are implemented in a more developed economy, it takes a bit longer for those same results to come to fruition because the economy can keep going a bit longer based on whatever wealth it has accumulated. The European Union and United States are clear examples of this, but the result will be the same if there is no drastic change of course.

The point about need immediately reminded me of Imam al-Ghazali's words in his The Book of the Lawful and the Unlawful. What we have below is a brilliant and scathing critique of Marxism avant la lettre, or before its time, by about 800 years. The important part is in the last two paragraphs and the emphases added in italics are mine:

'I say: If the unlawful in this world were so widespread such that it was known with certainty that nothing lawful remained in the world, I would say that we start again, laying down stipulations from our time and pardoning what has preceded us. We also say that what goes beyond its limit is turned back into its opposite,[1] such that when everything is unlawful everything is lawful. The proof is that if this were to happen, the possibilities would be five:
The first: It is said that people abandon eating until the last of them has died.
The second: That they restrict themselves according to the minimum amount they need to keep body and soul together, struggling for as long as they can until death.
The third: It is said that they consume according to their need however they want; theft, wrongful seizure, or mutual consent without distinguishing between different kinds of wealth and different sources of wealth.
The fourth: That they follow the stipulations of the Revealed Law and they resume applying its principles without any restriction according to need.
The fifth: That they restrict themselves, along with the stipulations of the Revealed Law, according to need.
As for the first, its falsehood is obvious.
As for the second, it is decisively false, because if people were to be restricted to keeping themselves alive, struggling all the time in weakness, plague would spread amongst them. All work and industry would come to an end and the world would be completely ruined, and the ruin of the world would mean the ruin of the Religion, because it is the plantation of the Hereafter. The rulings of the caliphate,[2] the judiciary, the administration and indeed most of the rulings of jurisprudence, have the objective of preserving the interests of this world, so that through them the interests of the Religion can be fulfilled.
As for the third, which is restriction according to need and not going beyond it while all forms of wealth regarded as equal, regardless of whether they are acquired by way of wrongful seizure, theft, mutual consent, or however an agreement is made, this is removing the barrier of the Revealed Law between those who sow corruption and the various kinds of corruption, for hands will reach out to wrongfully seize, steal and commit other kinds of oppression, and it will not be possible to prevent them from doing so. Hence, the owner of something is not distinguished from the rest of us by being deserving of it, for indeed it is unlawful for him and unlawful for us. The owner can only have the amount that he needs. If he is in need then we are also in need. If what I take as my right is surplus to what I need, then I have stolen what was surplus to his need for that day. If the needs of each day and each year are not taken into consideration, then what do we take into consideration and how do we regulate? This would lead to the administration of the Revealed Law being nullified[3] and the temptation of the people of corruption to commit corruption.
Thus, nothing remains but the fourth possibility, which is to say that every owner owns what he has, and he has priority over it. It is not permissible for it to be taken from him by way of theft or wrongful seizure. Rather, it is taken with his consent, and mutual consent is the way of the Revealed Law. If it is only permissible with mutual consent then mutual consent also has a method in the Revealed Law, and interests are attached to it. If it is not taken into consideration, then the foundation of mutual consent is not specified and its details are suspended.
 As for the fifth possibility, which is restriction according to need along with earning in the way of the Revealed Law for those who have ownership, it is the one that we view as befitting of carefulness for the one who wants to travel the path of the Hereafter. However, there is no way[4] to make it obligatory for everyone, or to include it within a fatwā for the masses. This is because the hands of oppressive rulers extend beyond the amount they need and into the hands[5] of people. The same goes for the hands of thieves, everyone who robs and plunders and everyone who steals when they have the opportunity. He says that he has no right except the amount that he needs, and I too am needy. Nothing remains except it being obligatory for the ruler to extract everything that is surplus to need from the hands of owners and use it to accommodate the people of need and cause the wealth to flow amongst everyone day after day, year after year. This contains excessive burden and a squandering of wealth. As for the excessive burden, it is that the ruler cannot carry this out with such a large creation. Indeed, this cannot be imagined at all.
As for the squandering, it is that what is surplus to need, in terms of fruits, meats and grains, should be thrown into the sea, or left until it decomposes. Indeed, the fruits and grains that Allah creates are surplus to what would allow the creation to live in comfort and luxury, so how can it be according to their need? Then it would lead to the breakdown of the Pilgrimage, zakāt and financial expiations for sins, and every other act of worship that is conditional on being independent of people, if people come to own nothing except according to their need, and this is extremely repulsive. Indeed, I say that if a prophet were found in this age it would be obligatory upon him to resume the affair[6] and set down in detail the means of acquiring property through mutual consent, and all other ways, and he would do what he would do even if all wealth were lawful without any difference. What I mean by saying that it would be obligatory upon him is that if he were a prophet who had been sent for the benefit of creation in terms of their Religion and their worldly affairs. Hence, propriety[7] is not achieved by pushing everyone back to what they need and what is absolutely necessary. If he were not sent for the sake of propriety this wouldn’t be obligatory. We say that it is possible for Allah to decree a cause through which the creation destroys each other, and thus their worldly affairs are relinquished and they become misguided in their religion, for indeed He misguides whom He wills and He guides whom He wills. He causes to die whom He wills and He causes to live whom He wills. However, we evaluate the matter according to the standard practice of Allah the Exalted in sending Prophets for the propriety of the Religion and worldly affairs.'[8]

May Allah reward Imam al-Ghazali for his insight and may He cause us all to benefit from his knowledge and widsom, ameen. For Muslims in the Anglosphere, and especially the United States, it helps to know where holidays and special occasions come from. Secondly, it helps to recognise and acknowledge that the lessons to be learnt were taught by our own scholars, several centuries prior, and with Allah alone is every success.

[1] (tn): and this is similar to the maxim that whenever a matter is constricted, it is expanded, i.e. the unlawful becomes lawful in dire circumstances. (Zabīdī p.53)
[2] Ar. al-khilāfah
[3] (tn): i.e. completely (Zabīdī)
[4] (tn): Ar. wajh, which also means cause, or reason.
[5] (tn): or pockets
[6] (tn): i.e. of Islam
[7] (tn): Ar. ṣalāḥ
[8] (tn): These last two paragraphs are a refutation of communism. Not to go beyond one’s needs is praiseworthy, but it cannot be forced upon an entire society without causing destruction on a massive scale.