Friday, 31 March 2017

Birr Al-Wālidayn and the Rights of Children

The republishing of this translation




A Khuṭbah by Sheikh ʿAbdul Ḥamīd Kishk[1]

Translated by Mahdi Lock[2]



Praise be to Allah, Lord of all Creation…Praise be to Allah for the guidance that He has granted, and for making the purified Sunnah an example for us to emulate, The One Who has created and given life.



I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the King, The Clear Truth, The One and Unique, The Peerless and Eternal…Glory be to You, My Lord…Glory be to You.



I bear witness that our master, our beloved, our intimate friend and our ʿaẓīm is Muḥammad, may Allah’s prayers be upon him and all His Companions and Household.



To proceed; indeed there is a copious number of authentic aḥādīth that illustrate the manners that The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, was sent with, and here we are, the ones mentioning a portion of these aādīth in order to seek blessings by way of The Prophet’s statements, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, just as we seek blessings by way of the clear āyāt from the Book of Allah, Glorified and Exalted.



What did our Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, say about birr?



On the authority of Al-Nawās ibn Samʿān Al-Anārī, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: ‘I asked The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, about birr and ithm, and he responded: Birr is good manners, while ithm is what troubles your heart and you would hate for people to know about it.”[3]



Thus, ithm is what wavers in the heart and the heart is not at ease with it, and you would hate for people to see it. Birr is good manners, and the best thing that has been said regarding it is that: ‘It is to fulfil one’s obligations, refrain from what is forbidden and smile at people and be good towards them.’



Wābia ibn Maʿbad said: ‘I came to Allah’s Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and asked him about birr, so he said: “You have come to ask about birr?” I said: ‘Yes.’ He said: Birr is what puts the soul at ease and puts the heart at ease, while ithm is what troubles the soul and makes the heart waver, even if the people have repeatedly given a fatwa in favour of it.”[4]



What did our Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, say about birr al-wālidayn?



It is on the authority of Abū Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: ‘A man came to The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who amongst people is most worthy of my good company?’ He said: “Your mother.” The man said: ‘Then who?’ He said: “Your mother.” The man said: ‘Then who?’ He said: “Your mother.” The man said: ‘Then who?’ He said: “Your father.”[5]



Again on his authority a man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who amongst people is most worthy of good company?’ He said: “Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, and then those who are closest to you and so on.”[6]



He, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, mentioned the mother three times and then mentioned the father because of the magnitude of her right, which is due to her suffering through thirty months of pregnancy and suckling[7], her sleepless nights looking after the child and the burning of her heart for the sake of raising it.



And again on his authority, The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him said: “Let him be humbled into dust, then let him be humbled into dust and then let him be humbled into dust.” It was said to him: ‘Who, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: “Whoever sees one or both of his parents in old age and then doesn’t enter Paradise.”[8]



Asmāʾ, may Allah be pleased with her, said: ‘When the Quraysh made the treaty with The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, my mother, who was an idol-worshipper, came to see me, so I asked The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him: ‘My mother has come and she wants to see me. Should I keep relations with her?’ He said: “Yes, keep relations with her.”[9]



It is on the authority of Bahz Ibn akīm, from his father, from his grandfather, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: ‘I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who is most worthy of being shown birr?’ He said: “Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, and then your closest relatives and so on.[10] No man asks his master for a favour that he has and his master denies him except that this favour that he withheld is asked of him on the Day of Resurrection in the form of a snake.”[11]



 It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who is most worthy of being shown birr?’ He said: “Your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, and then your remaining relatives. It is an obligatory right and it is maintaining the ties of kinship.”[12]



It is on the authority of Ibn ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that a man from the Bedouins met him on the way to Makka. [Ibn ʿUmar] gave him the greetings of peace, let him travel on the donkey that he was riding on and gave him the ʿamāma that was on his head. Ibn Dīnār said: ‘May Allah rectify you. Indeed they are Bedouins and they are pleased with ease and simplicity.’ ʿAbdullah [Ibn ʿUmar] responded: ‘Indeed the father of this man was beloved to ʿUmar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb, and indeed I heard The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, saying: “The best form of birr for the son is to maintain ties with those whom his father loved.”[13]



A man came from the Banī Salama and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is there any way to show birr towards my parents after they have died? He said: “Yes, pray over them, seek forgiveness for them, fulfill their pledges after they have gone, maintain the ties of kinship that one has through them and be generous towards their friends.”[14]



It is on the authority of Abū Al-ufayl, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said: ‘I saw The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, dividing up some meat in Al-Jaʿrāna and at that time I was a boy carrying the bone of a slaughtered camel. Then a woman approached and came near to The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and he stood up for her, laid out his cloak for her and she sat on it. I said: ‘Who is she?’ They said: ‘That’s his mother who suckled him.’[15]



What is meant by ‘his mother who suckled him’ is alīma Al-Saʿdiyya.



It is on the authority of ʿAbdullah Ibn ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “The pleasure of the Lord is found in the pleasure of the father, and the displeasure of the Lord is found in the displeasure of the father.”[16]



It is on the authority of Al-Barāʾ, may Allah be pleased with him, from The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him: “The maternal aunt has the rank of the mother.”[17]



A man came to The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I have committed a grave sin. What can I do to repent?’ He said: “Do you have a mother?” He said: ‘No.’ He said: “Do you have a maternal aunt?” He said: ‘Yes.’ He said: “Show her birr.”[18]



What did The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, say about children?



If The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, has clarified for us the rights of parents over their children, then indeed he has constantly accustomed us to establish a balance with justice so that the scales are not imbalanced. Thus, he clarified for us the rights of children over their parents, and Allah, Blessed and Exalted is He, addresses the believers by saying: “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones.” [Al-Tarīm 66:6]



Therefore, the responsibility of every human being towards his family is equal to his responsibility towards himself, and the proof is that Allah the Exalted connected the family to the self in this āya when He said: “Save yourselves and your families…” [Al-Tarīm 66:6] So, what did The Prophet of Mercy say in this regard?



It is on the authority of Abū Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, kissed Al-asan Ibn ʿAlī and he had Al-Aqraʿ Ibn ābis Al-Taymī sitting with him, and he said: ‘I have ten children and I’ve never kissed any of them.’ The Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, looked at him and then said: “Whoever doesn’t show mercy will not be shown mercy.”[19]



Usāma Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said: ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, used to take me and sit me on his thigh, and he would sit Al-asan on his other thigh and then put them together and say: “O Allah, show them mercy, for indeed I show them mercy.”[20]



The Messenger increases the rank of mercy towards children one mercy after another. It is on the authority of ʿĀʾisha, may Allah be pleased with her, who said: ‘A Bedouin came to The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, and said: ‘Do you kiss children? We don’t kiss them.’ The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “What can I do for you if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?”[21]



The Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and blessings be upon him, would make people desire pleasure with what God had decreed if He had provided them with daughters, and indeed the believer must be in a state of gratitude and patience and never despair or lose hope of God’s mercy.



It is on the authority of ʿĀʾisha, who said: ‘A woman came to me and begged me, and she had two girls with her. She found nothing with me except for one date, so I gave it to her and she split it between the two girls. Then she stood up and left. The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, came and I told him what had happened, and he said: “Whoever is tried with these girls and is good to them, they will be a barrier for that person from the Fire.”[22]



In Muslim and Al-Tirmidhī there is: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they have grown up will enter Paradise with me like these [two fingers].” The meaning is that whoever provides for them and takes care of them until they have grown up, i.e. become independent of him by way of earning or marriage, will enter Paradise with The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him.



The sphere of treating women goes beyond daughters and indeed includes sisters, so it’s the same whether there are two daughters or two sisters. On the authority of Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudrī, may Allah be pleased with him, The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever has three daughters, or two daughters, or two sisters, keeps good company with them and fears Allah regarding them, will have Paradise.”[23]



Indeed, Allah’s mercy and generous reward comprises those who are good to their daughters, even if they have only one. It is on the authority of Ibn ʿAbbās, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “If someone has a daughter and does not oppress her, does not demean her and does not prefer his sons over her, Allah will enter him into Paradise.”[24]



The meaning of ‘not oppress here’ (lam yaʾidha) means that he does not bury her alive, as was the disgusting custom of the Jāhilī Arabs. As for not preferring his sons over her, this means that he should be equally good to all the children in his life.



If this is the side of mercy towards children, then the side of disciplining has its own rank in Islam, just as it has its own positive effects. There isn’t the slightest doubt that there is no contradiction between mercy and discipline. Rather, discipline is a part of mercy, and you cannot separate one from the other. Just as The Messenger, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, urged mercy towards children, at the same time he also urged that they be disciplined.



It is on the authority of Jābir Ibn Samra, may Allah be pleased with him, that The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “For a man to discipline his child is better than him giving a āʿ[25] in charity.”[26]



It is on the authority of Ayūb Ibn Mūsā, from his father, from his grandfather, may Allah be pleased with him, that The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “There is no gift that a father can give to his child that is greater than the gift of good manners.”[27]



The meaning of good manners is that he teaches him how to eat and how to drink, how to treat people, how to strive in order to make a living amongst them and improve their relations, his obligations towards his Lord and His creation, and then he also teaches him what is suited to the time and place with regards to the bounds that Allah has set, and tawfīq is in the Hand of Allah the Exalted; He grants it to whom He wills.



Second Khubah



Praise be to Allah, Lord of all creation…may the most generous gifts be for His Friends…may He bless them with His blessings…thus they shall have no fear, nor will they grieve.



O Allah, we ask You to keep us away from the places of the oppressors…and to make us from amongst those who are safe from the agony of death, the darkness of the grave and standing in order to be reckoned.



Dear brothers, how great is our need to raise our children according to the creed. How great is our need in a time in which values are lost, principles are not adhered to and there is very little sincerity.



Indeed I am saying this with great sorrow, regarding the loss of morals that has happened amongst us in these days, and we are the cause of it. If we fear that our children will deviate, then we must return to the morals of our Dīn and we must expel Shayān from amongst us.



O Lord, indeed I am asking you in this hour, which may be the hour of response, indeed I ask You to grant might to Islam and victory to the Muslims. O Allah, by Your grace, exalt the words of the Truth and the Dīn.



O Allah, give abundantly to your sincere slaves…cure those amongst us who are sick, have mercy on those of us who have deceased, destroy our enemies, unite our ranks, gather together those of us who are separated, take charge of our affair, beautify our deliverance and allow us to fulfill those hopes of ours that please You.



“Indeed Allah commands to justice and doing good, and giving to relatives. And He forbids indecency and doing wrong, and tyranny. He warns you so that hopefully you will pay heed.” [Al-Nal 16:90]






[1] (1933-1996) A renowned Shāfiʿī scholar and preacher from Egypt, Sheikh Kishk was a graduate of Al-Azhār University and a specialist in creed, ḥadīth and Sīrah. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, his khuṭbas in Cairo regularly drew crowds of about 10,000 people. He delivered more than 2000 khuṭbas over a forty-year period and it is reported that never once did he make a mistake in the Arabic language. At the age of 13, Sheikh Kishk lost the use of one of his eyes and became completely blind at the age of 17. As a result, Sheikh Kishk was known to often quote a line of poetry from Ibn ʿAbbās:

 إن يأخذِ الله من عينيّ نورهما
ففي فؤادي وعقلي عنهما نورُ

Allah has taken the light from each of my eyes
And thus, in their place, there is light in my heart and my mind

Due to his harsh criticism of the Egyptian regime, Sheikh Kishk was imprisoned twice, once in 1965, for two and a half years, and again in 1981. He was released the following year on the condition that he refrain from preaching, so from that time onwards he concentrated on writing a tafsīr. Amongst the many things he criticized was the assertion that Islam and socialism were compatible, as well as the modern bureaucratic state.

On the 26th of Rajab, 1417 (December 6th, 1996), the Sheikh returned to Allah while praying two nafl rakaʿāt before the Friday prayer. In the second rakaʿ he completed his first prostration, sat up, prostrated the second time, and never got up again. He was sixty-three. May Allah have mercy on him and all of us, amīn!

[2] Translated from Ṣarkhāt fawq Al-Minbar: Khutab Al-Sheikh Kishk, fī Al-Jumuʿa wa Al-ʿĪdayn wa Jamīʿ Al-Munāsabāt (Cairo: Ar-Rawḍah li an-Nashr wa at-Tawzīʾ, 2010), p.25-31
[3] Related by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhī
[4] (tn): This ḥadīth has been related by Imam Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ, Imam Aḥmad in his Musnad and Imam Al-Dāramī in his Sunan. It is also the 27th ḥadīth in Al-Arbaʿīn Al-Nawawiyyah.
[5] Related by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
[6] Related by Muslim
[7] (tn): See Sūrat Luqmān 31:14: “
[8] Related by Muslim and Al-Tirmidhī
[9] Related by al-Bukhārī and Muslim
[10] (tn): Imam Al-Nawawī said that this ḥadīth is urging one to show birr to one’s relatives, and one’s mother is the most deserving of them. (Tuḥfa Al-Aḥwidhī  Sharḥ Jāmiʿ At-Tirmidhī (v.11, p.17) by Abū Al-Qāsim Al-Āmidī)
[11] Related by Abū Dāwūd and Al-Tirmidhī
[12] Related by Abū Dāwūd
[13] Related by Muslim, Abū Dāwūd and Al-Tirmidhī
[14] Related by Abū Dāwūd and Al-Bayhaqī
[15] Related by Abū Dāwūd
[16] Related by Al-Tirmidhī (tn): This ḥadīth is also in Imam Al-Bukhārī’s Adab Al-Mufrad, and other collections. In his commentary on the Sunan of Imam Al-Tirmidhī (Tuḥfa Al-Aḥwidhī  Sharḥ Jāmiʿ At-Tirmidhī (v.11, p.21)), Imam Al-Āmidī says: ‘Regarding his statement (the pleasure of the Lord is found in the pleasure of the father), the same applies to the mother, and indeed she takes priority. Al-Ṭabarānī relates [this ḥadīth] with the wording: “The pleasure of the Lord is found in the pleasure of the parents, and His displeasure is found in their displeasure.” (The displeasure of the Lord) i.e. sakha, is the opposite of pleasure (is found in the displeasure of the father) because He the Exalted has commanded that the father be obeyed and honoured, and whoever obeys him has obeyed Allah and whoever angers him has angered Allah, and this is a severe threat indicating that al-ʿuqūq [i.e. harming, disobeying and rebelling] is an enormity.’
[17] Related by Al-Tirmidhī
[18] Related by Al-Tirmidhī
[19] Related by Al-Bukhārī, Abū Dāwūd and Al-Tirmidhī
[20] Related by Al-Bukhārī
[21] Related by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
[22] Related by Al-Bukhārī, Muslim and Al-Tirmidhī
[23] Related by At-Tirmidhī and Abū Dāwūd
[24] Related by Abū Dāwūd
[25] (tn): The meaning of ṣāʿ, according to the Hans Wehr dictionary, is a cubic measure of varying magnitude, but in the fiqh of zakāt, it is 2.75 kilograms approximately. [at-Taqrīrāt as-Sadīdah: Qism al-ʿIbādāt (Tarīm, Dār al-Mīrāth an-Nabawiyyah, n.d,.) p.419]
[26] (tn): Related by Imams Abū Yaʿlā and Al-Tirmidhī.
[27] Related by Al-Tirmidhī



Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Russian Revolution...one hundred years later

What do we need to learn from the legacy of Karl Marx?


In the above video, Daniel Hannan gives a brief summary of Karl Marx's claim to be putting forth a scientific understanding of economics, but every single one of his predictions proved to be false.

That, however, isn't enough, because we also have to look at whether people practice what they preach. No sensible person buys diet books written by a fat guy. Karl Marx decried the exploitation and oppression of the workers, yet he never had a job, was constantly in debt and lived like a parasite off the credit and good will of others. He was hopelessly incompetent with finances. He never even visited a factory in order to see first hand what conditions people worked under, yet he regarded himself as more knowledgeable than the workers in terms of what their needs and interests were. The video below covers this in far more detail.



While watching the video, what constantly comes to mind is not just the virulent narcissism of Marx but how that narcissism is rooted in a deep sense of victimhood. Marx constantly blamed everyone else about his problems while never taking serious steps to sort out his own, self-perpetuating problems, especially those related to his personal finances and his health. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that to this very day, those who have a strong sense of victimhood and see the world around them with bitterness, envy and resentment are drawn towards Marx's ideas. As discussed before on this blog, this is probably the most disempowering way of thinking. If you truly want to empower yourself, you need to take responsibility for your health, your finances, your relationships and so forth.

Like a recurrent tumour, Marxist ideas fail to die, despite the horrific and appalling track record. One hundred million deaths and counting and yet there are still people who advocate them. Below is a discussion on how Marxist ideas are influencing the Anglosphere:


The main book that is referred to is The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, which is the best documented proof that Marxism always leads to unbelievable oppression and destruction (an audio recording is available here). What happened in the Soviet Union was not a deviation from Marxism but Marxism applied properly. If some fool tries to claim that what happened in the Soviet Union (or China under Mao, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Castro's Cuba etc.) was "not real communism", or that "real communism" has never been implemented, this is worth listening to:


Let us not be tempted by the ideas of this most wicked and bloody of ideologies. 

And with Allah alone is every success.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

We have objective standards for a reason

Commenting on fluff masquerading as intellect


http://www.picturequotes.com/confusion-quotes


The article in the link was forwarded to me by a dear brother and he asked for my thoughts and comments. Allah knows best, but I think the best way to approach such an article would be to pick it apart paragraph by paragraph or section by section, and with Him alone is every success:

A few weeks back I was in a mosque, decrying the scourge of sectarianism. (I’d been invited to speak, to be clear: I wasn’t just monologuing uninvited.) In too many places, I noted, Sunni and Shia Muslims are not just at odds with each other, they’re at war. To prevent similar conflicts from poisoning our own communities, American Sunnis and Shias would have to learn and work with each other.

This is the typical anecdotal introduction, which you can also see in this article/video. It starts with a feeling, and that feeling is usually some form of frustration regarding something that is an immutable part of human history or the human experience in general. Sectarianism, or the existence of cults and cultists, is part and parcel of Islamic history and will remain as such until the end of time. This is Prophecy. This is as normal as grass growing and cows eating it. It is nothing to decry or be upset about. Rather, you have to look at yourself, you as an individual, and make sure that you are on the right track. Research, study, work hard and try to be the best Muslim that you can be: theologically and spiritually. There is no benefit in stressing about how and why everyone else is messed up. Know what you believe and why you believe it, follow the authorities and help those who are ready and willing to be helped.

After the talk, an older woman approached me. Clutching her purse, looking equal parts nervous and disappointed, she sighed. “I am an Ahmadi Muslim,” she told me. “What about us?”

The plight of Ahmadis had actually already been on my mind for some time. But this woman’s question left me at a loss. She was right. Ahmadi Muslims are often marginalized, regularly (and legally) discriminated against, and even killed. This is, unlike many Sunni and Shia disputes, an entirely one-sided affair. Ahmadis are not warring with other Muslims. They are being aggressed against. There’s no Ahmadi Muslim nation that plays the role of Iran or Saudi Arabia, no Ahmadi faction like the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. Which makes it so much worse.


Why is she an Ahmadi? Has she studied the cult's theology and become convinced of it and thus she would definitely be an Ahmadi even if her family or community were not? Again, it is the duty of every Muslim to ask why he is a Muslim. You have to be convinced. Following your family or your culture or the society around you is not good enough. Islam is revelation, not a culture. People do not deserve sympathy for no other reason than the fact that they follow their culture or religion. If she were being maligned because of her skin colour, for example, that would obviously be abhorrent: a) skin colour is not a choice and b) it does not influence behaviour.

Will such conflicts prevent the West’s very diverse Muslim communities from working together in the face of rising Islamophobia? Is it possible to be true to our beliefs, respect our differences, and yet recognize that we share a common identity? I believe the way forward is to bring about a new definition of Islam that will coexist alongside the ones we already have.

The bogey man called "Islamophobia" rears his head again, and is referred to here in order to justify a step into complete and utter nonsense. How can you be "true to your beliefs" while creating "a new definition of Islam"? What does "alongside the ones we already have" mean? Why is the author using the plural? How many definitions are there? Clearly, this is another move away from objective standards and a plunge into the post-modernist, cultural Marxist world of feelings and emotions over facts and evidence. Just as gender is redefined to suit every mental illness, Islam should now be redefined to suit every blasphemy and heresy.

The majority of Muslims are Sunni, usually following one of four “schools.” Nowadays Wahhabis are counted as Sunnis, although (a) Wahhabism emerged in rebellion against Sunni Islam, and (b) for a long time a lot of Sunnis did not see Wahhabis as part of their tradition. A significant minority of Muslims are Shia, further distinguished by various branches within. Beyond the familiar Sunni and Shia divide, there are also Ibadi Muslims, mostly in Oman. Some Muslims are progressives, liberals, modernists, or Salafis, and may or may not identify with the previous categories. Nowadays I often meet people who call themselves “just” Muslim, “culturally” Muslim, or “secular” Muslim.

This is because Sunnis are the orthodox majority. What they follow is what Allah revealed in His Book and on the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Everything else is man-made fluff masquerading as Islam. It is completely irrelevant that cults and cultists refer to themselves as "Islam" and "Muslims"; labels do not change facts. Referring to a pile of sawdust as oatmeal does not mean that you can have it for breakfast.

"Secular Muslim" is an oxymoron. Just like a married bachelor or a four-sided triangle, there is no such thing. Merely identifying as a Muslim does not make you one.

In other words, while contemporary Islam is often portrayed as a monolith, we are anything but.

Nevertheless, there has historically been a kind of lowest common denominator definition of Islam, which may go something like this: A Muslim is any person who believes God is One, the Qur’an is the literal and unchanged word of God revealed to Muhammad, and Muhammad is the last Prophet. Muslims also believe Jesus was the Messiah, who shall eventually return to the world and fill it with justice and harmony.


Sunni Islam is not a monolith. We have four schools of fiqh and three schools of theology. Again, everything else is artificial fluff masquerading as Islam.

Orthodox Muslims believe that Allah is One, Pre-Eternal, Everlasting, Self-Sustaining and that He bears no resemblance whatsoever to His creation.

In contrast, Ahmadis believe in the prophetic status of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a late-19th century religious reformer from the Indian subcontinent. Ahmad also told followers that Jesus had lived out his life in Kashmir, and therefore wasn’t going to literally come back—the Messiah was present as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad himself.

And that's why Ahmadis are wrong: artificial fluff masquerading as Islam. What they believe is not what Allah revealed in His Book or on the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. To put it differently, we could say that their beliefs do not meet the objective standards.

This is not the first time a community has been torn apart by Jesus, of course. A similar division caused Christianity to separate out of Judaism. And just as most Jews’ refusal to accept Jesus’ divinity eventually led to their persecution, so too are Ahmadi beliefs met with discrimination and even violence.

In some circumstances, Ahmadi mosques cannot even be called mosques. This is not the case in the United States, but even here many Muslim groups overlook Ahmadi Muslims (for all kinds of reasons). That simply can’t hold going forward, which means Western Muslims will have to ask themselves: How do we deal with significant, even incompatible, disputes?

Violence is not the answer to theological disputes. Presenting evidence and facts is the way forward.

Ahmadi beliefs contradict our beliefs, which means that they can't both be true. If Ahmadis have to be accepted as part of the Muslim community then anyone who calls himself a Muslim has to be accepted, regardless of their beliefs. This is the demolition of objective standards, and the author alluded to this above when he mentioned "secular" and "cultural" Muslims. Why doesn't the author save himself the time and effort and just join Muslims for Progressive Values? Their first principle is: "We accept as Muslim anyone who identifies as such."

Once you've reached that point, what is the benefit of being a Muslim? What does Islam even mean?

By my estimation, American Muslim communities have made great progress in opening their institutions to diversity of thought and representation. We’re not nearly as far along as we should be, but we’re also not where we were five years ago.

"Diversity of thought" means the destructive of objective standards.

But Ahmadi Muslims remain something of a blind spot. As a Sunni Muslim, for example, I don’t recognize Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s claims to prophethood, or that Jesus is gone forever. The first of these is more challenging: I have been taught that belief in the conclusion of prophecy with Muhammad is fundamental to my faith. Certain core Ahmadi beliefs stand at odds with my own, and yet they consider themselves part of the same tradition. (It’s worth pointing out, of course, that this runs in both directions.)

What do you make of people who claim to be in your community, even as their theology appears at odds with your own? American Muslims are going to have to figure out an answer.

That's easy. You disregard and refute their claims. What would you do if a man who appears to be your age, whom you've never met and looks nothing like you walks up to you and claims to be your son? Would you take him seriously or would you dismiss him because the facts clearly prove that he's a liar? Remember, facts are useful.

A recent and exciting development in American Muslim life is the creation of college chaplaincy. Chaplains are religious authority figures who serve campus Muslim life in all its diversity. A chaplain, which can be male or female, has to be comfortable with Islamic customs and practices, but doesn’t get to pick and choose who is ministered to. If someone calls herself Muslim, she’s part of the constituency.

There are simply not enough resources to build separate Sunni, Shi’a or Ahmadi institutions—nor is it clear that we should. After all, no university would allow a chaplain to simply dismiss a group of people who want to be part of her congregation.


Just a side note: why the feminine pronouns?

Why worry about chaplaincies? Is such a worry connected to the greater worry about being accepted and liked in Anglosphere culture and society? Why can't Muslims have their own organisations that cater to their own people? Jews and Christians and others that "don't identify as Muslim" don't care about what defines a Muslim and thus they would expect the "Muslim chaplain" at their university to cater to anyone who says they're a Muslim. However, how is that an argument that Muslims themselves should stop caring about what defines a Muslim?

Most Muslim communities are still relatively small, struggling against Islamophobia, and just beginning to institutionalize. In this context, forced cooperation between diverse sects might be a good thing. We can’t and shouldn’t deny our differences. But we don’t have to let them consume us. When you hitch your politics to your theology, you don’t just go backwards. You end up in some very bad places.

One option is for American Muslims to acknowledge a second definition of Islam, which might be called Cartesian: “I think I’m Muslim, therefore I am.” Call yourself a Muslim, and you are. I might not agree with how you define Islam, but I can acknowledge your right to define yourself as Muslim, not least because the wider world treats you the same way. When Ben Carson says Muslims are “schizophrenic,” he’s branding Muslims generally.


This is just more of the same. "We accept as Muslim anyone who identifies as such." Muslims for Progressive Values have beaten the author to it, by several years. His bold, new definition of Islam is nothing bold or new at all.

And here's a question: who, exactly, would force this cooperation?

As for politics and theology, they are linked because theology affects behaviour. This is not something that should be difficult to understand.

If Ben Carson is talking about Muslims in the US, he's spot on again.

But I also know what happens when we allow our disagreements to interrupt our cooperation. After all, many Sunnis believe Shi’a Muslims aren’t Muslim, and though I strongly disagree, I know what happens when we begin to concede to these kinds of perspectives. That doesn’t mean all Muslims have to subsume their differences, or share their institutions. But we must also cooperate across differences.

How else are organizations that represent Muslims politically, or fight back against hate crimes, going to function? Are we going to hold inquisitions over whether or not the mosque attacked for being a mosque has any right to call itself a mosque?


You don't have to cooperate with the complete stranger who claims to be your son. Just because he says he says he's your son, it does not mean you have to feed him, clothe him and pay for his university tuition fees.

Even if that argument doesn’t move many Muslims, the moral calling of this moment should. We are calling for solidarity. Should we not show some?

US president Barack Obama recently stood under an unmistakable “Allah” medallion at the Islamic Society of Baltimore and defended Muslim rights with eloquence and passion. Meanwhile, outraged by presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Islamophobia, Michael Moore stood outside Trump tower, declaring himself Muslim, too. He’s not Muslim by theology, of course, or even by self-definition. But he was rhetorically—to make a point. That’s another kind of identity. Professor Larycia Hawkins donned a hijab in solidarity with Muslim women, and nearly got fired for claiming Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Incidentally, she’s not Muslim either.


What moral calling? How can you have solidarity if it's not based on anything objective?

Barack Obama is not the president anymore, and does his eloquence and passion in defense of Islam match his relentless bombing of Muslim countries?

The author has saved the best bit for last. How is that Michael Moore is not a Muslim by theology or even by self-definition? Here we are at the end of the article, in which the author has repeatedly stated that Muslims should accept anyone who identifies as Muslim as part of their community and that theology should be put to the side, and the author is saying that Michael Moore, after calling himself a Muslim, is not actually a Muslim because of his theology and therefore his self-definition should not be taken seriously.

So are there objective standards for defining a Muslim or are there not?

All of which is to say that when Muslims ask me whether Ahmadis are part of our community, I am increasingly compelled to answer in the affirmative. At a time when people are being persecuted for these same beliefs, the right answer isn’t to look for reasons to exclude them–but to go out of our way to insist on their inclusion.

In other words, the author is saying that you should disregard objective standards and take people's claims seriously. If a complete stranger claims to be your son, go out of your way and do everything you can to make him a part of your family.

And Allah knows best.

Related Post:
The Importance of Objective Standards