Tuesday, 3 March 2009
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Said the Beloved to the Lover: “So come back to Me when it is Time. Though the world thinks you crazy. With just one call, I Will Be there. For I have never left. And if you walk to me, I will run. And if you move nearer one step, I Move nearer seventy steps. I Always answered your call. Because I Know you. Even when you have no more faith in yourself. Your pain is My Pain, your joy is my Joy. Indeed I am the Friend.”
Said the Lover to the Beloved: “I will Return; my Light, my Sun, my Moon, my Eleven Planets. I will Return; my Reason, my Heart, my Desire. Return to me, my Glimpse of Paradise. Because the Garden is not the Abode. I seek only You. You are my Treasure in dunya and my Treasure in akhirah. My pain is Your Pain, My Joy is Your Joy. I do not exist in your Presence. There is only You. And I know now, We were never apart.”
As recorded in Swahih al-Buhkari, Swahih Muslim, Sunan at-Tirmidzi and Sunan ibn Majah, on the authority of Abu Hurayra (r.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Allah the Almighty Said, ‘I Am as My servant thinks I Am. I Am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make Mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make Mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I Draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I Go to him at speed.’”
Another possible rendering of the Arabic for the portion, ‘I Am as My servant thinks I Am’. is ‘I Am as My servant expects Me to be.’
Monday, 2 March 2009
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
People are most likely to change their religion in early adulthood. This would be from about eighteen to twenty-five. And such people are also very vulnerable to radicalisation. The young always want to change the world without realising that they have to change themselves first. And that is why it is very important for a new convert to have a support network ready to steer them away from these fancy ideas.
I knew this guy once who converted in his late teens. He had barely converted when he was caught up in this talk about re-establishing the Caliphate. This was the period when Imran Hosein was the flavour of the month in the Muslim talk circuit, the Americans were threatening to invade Afghanistan and some entity called al-Qaeda had allegedly committed mass murder in the name of Islam. The Muslim community was understandably restless. We had no idea what was going on.
At this point of time, he had barely learned to read the Qur’an, let alone understand it. A learned friend put him in his place: “Learn the Qur’an before you talk about jihad.” In this, he was rather fortunate in that he had someone to talk to him. He wanted so much to be a mujahid, fired up by romanticised stories of Khalid ibn Walid (r.a.) and Swalah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (r.a.). And he was not alone. This was fertile ground: zeal, youth and ignorance.
A short time later, he migrated to Australia to study. He met amongst the people of the Muslim community there, a real mujahid - an old man who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan before leaving to settle down in Australia. When they met, this old war horse was already a grandfather with a slight limp caused by an old bullet wound. I was fortunate to be with him when this old warrior told his stories.
He told this one story of a group of young men who answered the call of jihad to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation. They went to Afghanistan by way of Pakistan’s tribal region. There, they spent days learning nothing but the Qur’an and the ahadits. There was no weapons training, no tactics, nothing else. Some of them began to get restless and they left before they were actually allowed to join the fight.
On the way to the front, they were caught in a valley by Soviet Hind gunships whilst traveling in a truck carrying oranges. The truck cab was blown and they were trapped in a cold valley, in high altitude, surrounded by the enemy. They had nothing to eat but oranges. And these oranges had started to spoil. Some had more oranges than others. And there were tensions. Eventually, the tension became violence and they began to fight each other for food, or because of some perceived slight. That gunship only killed the two people in the cab. The Russian soldiers in the mountains never came. These young Muslims, who wanted to be mujahidin, killed each other for oranges. Only a few of them survived. From the way the story was told, I gathered that the story-teller was one of them.
The lesson was brutally learnt. We cannot fight the lesser jihad, if we fail to conquer the nafs of the greater jihad. They wanted to free a land but failed to free the self from the oppression of their desires. Their knowledge was incomplete. And this is how terrorists get young Muslims, including converts to commit terrible deeds in the name of Islam. These foolish young and not so young men have no knowledge, no spirituality and no relationship with the Divine. Which god are they fighting for?
Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) said that Hafizh al-Khathib al-Baghdadi (r.a.) related in his Tarikh on the authority of Jabir (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) came back from one of his campaigns saying, “You have come forth in the best way of coming forth: you have come from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.”
They asked, “And what is the greater jihad?”
He replied, “The striving of Allah's servants against their lower desires.”
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
It is related by ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) that he once stayed the night as a guest of Maymunah (r.a.), who was his aunt, and the Prophet (s.a.w.). They slept on their blanket lengthways, and he slept at the end, crossways. After they had all slept for a while, the Prophet (s.a.w.) rose in the middle of the night to pray tahajjud, and ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) joined him.
They both performed wudhu, and he prayed eleven rak’ah with the Prophet (s.a.w.). Then they both went back to sleep again until dawn. Bilal (r.a.) called the adzan and the Prophet (s.a.w.) did another two short rak’ah, before going into the mosque to lead swalah fajr.
ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said that one of the ud’iyyah that the Prophet (s.a.w.) made during this night was, “O Allah, Place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light behind me, light in front of me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me and light below me; place light in my sinew, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; Place light in my soul and Make light abundant for me; Make me light and Grant me light.”
This hadits was transmitted by Imam Muslim (r.a.) and others. The wording of Imam Muslim’s (r.a.) recording differs slightly from Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.), Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and Imam al-‘Asqalani (r.a.) with no change in meaning.
Allahummaj’al fii qalbii nuuran aw fii lisaanii nuuran wa aj’al fii sam’iyyi nuuran aj’al fii baswarii nuuran wa aj’al min tahtii nuuran wa aj’al min fawqii nuuran wa an yamiinii nuuran wa an yasaatii nuuran wa aj’al amaamii nuuran wa aj’al khalqii nuuran wa aj’al fii nafsii nuuran wa a’azhimlii nuuran.
Sunday, 1 March 2009
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is adapted from “What is a Wahhabi?” In simple terms, a Wahhabi is defined as one who follows the creed of methodology of its founder, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. This definition is not only accepted by most Muslims worldwide, but is also a documented fact in the many books of Western Academia. For example, the Encyclopaedia Britannica does well to inform us that, “Wahhabiyyah, the Muslim puritan movement founded by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century in Najd, central ‘Arabia…”
Simply put, a Wahhabi is anybody who follows the movement and life mission of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, by supporting his doctrine in any form or fashion. Wahhabis, however, object to being called Wahhabis under the pretext that al-Wahhab is one of many of Allah’s most beautiful Attributes and that such a beautiful term should not be used as a label. This argument proves to be fallacious due to the fact that there have been numerous sects named after their leaders who also possessed one of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Attributes as a name. For example, al-Karram is one of Allah’s (s.w.t.) beautiful Attributes, but then we have the Karramiyyah who were named after their leader Muhammad ibn Karram. Deviant groups were also named after something they may have denied from the creed. For example the Qadriyyah were named so because they denied al-Qadr, destiny and Divine Will. Yet its derivative al-Qadir is also one of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Attributes. Another example, the Jabbariyyah are a sect that denies that man has any free will and alleges that Allah (s.w.t.) forced His Creation to do actions. The Jabbariyyah have been mentioned by numerous scholars, even Wahhabi shuyukh such as ibn Jibrin, ibn al-‘Utsaymin and others in the ‘aqidah texts, yet, al-Jabbar is one of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Names.
Even the Wahhabi shaykh, ibn Baz used the term ‘Wahhabi’ to refer to his own group: “The Wahhabiyyah are not new in rejecting all such innovations. Their creed is to hold fast to the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His Messenger (s.a.w.), and to follow his footsteps, and those of his rightly guided successors.” He continued, “The Wahhabiyyah believe in them, the way they reported without any alteration. The creed of the Wahhabiyyah is based upon fulfillment of witnessing that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and completely abandoning all innovations. This is the foundation of the Sa’udi regime and this is the view held by the scholars of Sa’udi Arabia. The hard attitude shown by the Sa’udi government is directed only against the superstitions and innovations in contradiction with Islam.”
In Islam, any group whether praiseworthy or blameworthy are named after their founders, or their unique quality, or an action they do or have done, or even something from the creed they have denied. Therefore, it cannot be deemed a personal insult, derogatory statement, an ad-hominem to use the term Wahhabi for the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Furthermore, to hammer this point home, the very first people to use the term ‘Wahhabi’ were in fact that scholars that lived in his time and in the time of his son. They witnessed the Wahhabi invasions and atrocities. Thus, it is correct that we call the blind followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Wahhabis, after their true founder, and reviver of the end of times Khwarij.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
"You have no idea how hard I have looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What is the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean?
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It is no good giving my heart and my soul because You already have these.
So I have brought you a Mirror.
Look at Yourself and Remember me."
Mawlana Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.)
Where will we find the Divine but where it always was. And what can we give Him when even our amal is not ours. Even our ‘ibadah is His Gift. We call Him the Master but it is He Who Awaits us at the sajadah when it is time for our Rendezvous.
So we remember this the next time we come to Him, whether in du’a or swalah, that our Presence is by Invitation, that the Invitation is by Acceptance. He has Accepted us. He has Invited us. He has Cloaked us with His Love and Honoured us with His Presence. And every word from our lips is His. If He has Engineered our calling of Him, how can our du’a be rejected? So we ask of Him with humility and gratefulness. Some day, when the Veils are lifted, we will learn that what we ask was already Granted.
Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speak thy Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between." (al-Isra’:110)
Shaykh Ahmad ‘Arif once said that a polished mirror leaves no images lest it become a portrait. We are images in that mirror. An image does not see, it does not speak, it does not hear, it is not alive. It is nothing but a Reflection of Divine Attributes. Once it believes itself inherent, it ceases to be a Reflection and has become an image. The polished mirror of the heart is stained with self. So we must polish that mirror and bring Him the only Gift of worth, Himself.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
O people, you do not believe in dirt you cannot see,
And yet you claim to believe in God and His Decree?
The mirror of your heart is covered in dust,
So who is this god that you claim to see thus?
You say you only need to read the Qur'an,
By yourself, you claim will know Him then.
Do you not realise that all you have been Given is the key?
A tremendous Gift but of no use if you cannot see
The Palace whose door it unlocks to the Presence.
Or the gate to the Ocean where you will come to drown,
Losing yourself so your God can be Found.
So clean yourself of yourself so you can see
That you see Creation by Light but Light itself you cannot see.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is for all time. It is without error and irrefutable for those who have taqwa. If Allah (s.w.t.) has Stated the characteristics of the mu’minin, it is for all time. If Allah (s.w.t.) has Stated the characteristics of the mushrikin, it is for all time. Thus, if these are the characteristics of the Ahl al-Kitab, they are for all time. The Qur’an is not just for Muslims but for all mankind. It is thus addressing the Ahl al-Kitab now as well.
There have been some asatidzah who have said that the Christians in the Qur’an are not the same as the Christians now. Christianity as we know it was already settled in its doctrines, liturgy and the composition of the Bible by the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). The last of the Ecumenical Councils were over by the middle of the 3rd Century C.E. There is little doctrinal difference between Christianity then and Christianity now. By the advent of the last Prophet (s.a.w.), two of the three Christian denominations, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, had already been in existence for more than half a millennium. The Protestant movements would only appear after the Reformation.
The Qur’an implicitly Acknowledges this in its address to the Christians and the Jews:
He begetteth, not nor is He begotten; (Surah al-Ikhlasw:3)
If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the Revelation that was Sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil. (Surah al-Ma’idah:66)
O people of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He Bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: Glory be to Him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him Belongs all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of Affairs. (Surah an-Nisa’:171)
The Jews call ‘Uzayr a son of Allah and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s Curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were Commanded to worship but one Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and Glory to him: (far is He) from having the parents they associate (with him). (Surah at-Tawbah:30-31)
The Qur’an, therefore, addresses the Christians and the Jews for all time. There is no major difference in the creeds of both faiths from the time of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and now. Therefore, it is erroneous to say that the Christian and the Jews then are different from the Christian and the Jews now.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
A lot of people have opinions about the Ahl al-Kitab. I have even heard some asatidzah speak with authority about them and yet speak nonsense. Most people have no idea who or what they are. The Ahl al-Kitab refers to three main groups of people in the Qur’an: Sabeans, Christians and; Jews. It was the opinion of ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) that the Zoroastrians are included in this group and he dealt with them as such.
Those who believe (in the Qur'an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness, shall have their Reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Surah al-Baqarah:62)
We know who are the Christians and Jews but who are the Sabeans? Some scholars actually believe that Sabeans refer to the descendents of the followers of John the Baptist or Yahya (a.s.). Twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus (a.s.), there were still disciples of John the Baptist (a.s.) in Alexandria (Acts 18:24-25) and Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6).
24Now a certain Jew, named Apollo, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus, one mighty in the scriptures. 25This man was instructed in the way of the Lord: and being fervent in spirit, spoke and taught diligently the things that are of Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John.
They believed in God as Creator, but they did not view themselves as disciples of Jesus (a.s.), and they had no experience of the Holy Spirit. There is to this day a community of 80,000 Mandean Sabaeans in Iraq.
1And it came to pass, while Apollo was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus and found certain disciples. 2And he said to them: Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? But they said to him: We have not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. 3And he said: In what then were you baptised? Who said: In John's baptism. 4Then Paul said: John baptised the people with the baptism of penance saying: That they should believe in him, who was to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus. 5Having heard these things, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had imposed his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came upon them: and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
They look back to the teachings of John the Baptist, and others they view as prophets such as Seth (a.s.) and Abraham (a.s.) as recorded in their holy book, the Kanza Rama, Aramaic for ‘Great Treasure’. As in the case of the followers of John the Baptist (a.s.), they practice baptism, but they do not view themselves as disciples of Jesus (a.s.), nor do they speak of the Holy Spirit. Washing with water is part of their weekly ritual, but not the bread and wine of communion. The Sabaean temple in Baghdad has a cross that is always covered with baptismal linen to indicate it is not a Christian cross. Their explanatory model is therefore Unitarian rather than Trinitarian, and they hardly distinguish themselves from the Muslims among whom they live. Their numbers, less than 100,000 worldwide, are dwindling because nobody can be converted into their community. One has to be born into the Sabaean faith.
There are also people who believe that Zoroastrians and the Yazidis are Ahl al-Kitab. The Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (Reigned 1556~1605) controversially ruled that the Hindus are Ahl al-Kitab to allow his marriage to a Hindu Princes from Rajput.
As was the opinion of the ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) and many classical scholars of Islam thereafter familiar with the Persians, Zoroastrians are considered Ahl al-Kitab. After the conquest of Sassanid Persia, they were treated as such. However, since they are not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an as with regards the permissibility of marriage to them, Muslim are not allowed to marry them without conversion of the non-Muslim. The ayat identifying the Ahl al-Kitab did not mention Zoroastrians.
This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time - when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues. If anyone rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (Surah al-Ma’idah:5)
The teachings of Zoroaster include belief in one Creator - Ahura Mazda. They believe in angels and a Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgement, the assembled have to cross a bridge called ‘Swirath’. The bridge is as wide as your deeds. Those who fail will fall into a place of fire called ’Jahanamae’. The faithful will be Rewarded with a heavenly abode called ‘Paradisae’. This is the origin of the English word ‘Paradise’.
Interesting fact, Mithra or Mithras was one of the avesta, the archangels of Ahura Mazda, who eventually was worshipped as a god in his own right in the Near East. This eventually spread t the Roman Empire and the religion of Mithras challenged the nascent Christian sect of Judaism before being absorbed by it. The vicarious sacrifice, death and resurrection of Mithras after three days and the celebration of his birth, 25th December, by giving presents wrapped in coloured cloth was thought to be the origin of the Christian celebrations of Lent, culminating in Easter, and Advent, culminating in Christmas. But this is uncertain and it could be Christianity that influenced the former.
As for the Yazidis, they are a mysterious religion from the Northern half of the Fertile Crescent. Their Holy Site is Lalish near Mosul, in Iraq. Ultimately, we are unsure of the origins of the religion, where it actually started, when it began and so forth. The principal reason is because the primary adherents of the faith, the Kurds, are an insular people. Thus information about the faith is difficult to come by. Furthermore, the language of their religious texts, the Mishefa Res and the Kiteba Cilwe, is Kurmanji, a Northern Kurdish dialect.
Yazidism has many similarities with Christianity and Islam but there are principal differences. The origin of the term 'Yazidi' itself is uncertain. The Yazidis themselves believe that their name is derived from the word ‘Yezdan’ or ‘Ezid,’ which means God in their language. Some scholars have derived the name Yazidi from Old Iranic yazata, divine being, while others say it is a derivation from accursed Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah, said to have been revered by the Yazidis as an incarnation of the divine figure Sultan Ezi. This derivation of the name is no longer accepted. As to whether they revere Yazid I as avatar of the Divine Sultan is not established but religions norms such as these hardly change.
The Yazidis believe that God created the world with the help of a heptad of archangels also known as Heft Sirr, the Seven Mysteries. The ruler of these archangels, who are analogous to the Christian and Muslim archangels, is Melek Taus. He is also known as Shaythan. The story of Iblis and Adam (a.s.) in the Mishefa Res is almost the same as in the Qur’an. But whereas in the Qur’an, Iblis was accursed for refusing to bow before Adam (a.s.), the Yazidis revere him for it since they believe the source of evil is the heart of Man himself.
God first created Tawuse Melek from his own illumination, Rohani, and the other six archangels were created later. God ordered Tawuse Melek not to bow to other beings. Then God created the other archangels and ordered them to bring him dust, ax, from the Earth, erd, and build the body of Adam (a.s.). Then God gave life to Adam (a.s.) from his own breath and instructed all archangels to bow to Adam. The archangels obeyed except for Tawuse Melek. In answer to God, Malek Taus replied, “How can I submit to another being! I am from your illumination while Adam is made of dust.’ Then God praised him and made him the leader of all angels and his deputy on the Earth.
Yazidis also believe that the Heptad are periodically reincarnated in human form, avatars, called ‘koasasa’. There is also a belief in the reincarnation of lesser Yazidi souls. It is the Yazidi belief that Satan is the ruler of the world and their veneration of Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah as an avatar in a predominantly Muslim, principally Shi’a area, that has led to massive discrimination and periodic persecution.
Yazid ibn Mu’awiyah the Accursed killed Hasan (r.a.) at Karbala. Had his head cut off and paraded throughout the Empire. He made fun of the head of Hasan (r.a.) in his court. Many of those present cried at the desecration of the head of the grandson of Rasulullah (s.a.w.). Some of them left and never returned to Damascus. He attacked Makkah, killed many of the swahabah and their families, set fire to the Ka’bah and persecuted the Ahl al-Bayt, the Family of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). He stabled animals in Masjid Nabawi. His soldiers raped the womenfolk of Makkah. He was known to have led the fajr swalah in a state of intoxication. When admonished by the ‘ulama, he said that if they did not like it, he could lead them in another two raka’at. He was a known pedophile and fornicator and he liked young boys. When he was killed, his body was cut to pieces and fed to his dogs. There was nothing left to bury.
For the most part, despite the contention of many scholars, when we talk about the Ahl al-Kitab, we generally mean the Christians and the Jews. The Sabeans are for the most part extinct. The term, Ahl al-Kitab, is a term of honour. The People of the Book are accepted as the believers in the same Allah (s.w.t.) and the Keepers of the previous Covenants, the Noachide, Abrahamic and Mosaic Laws. They are acknowledged in the Qur’an as the nearest to us in belief.
…and nearest among them in love to the Believers wilt thou find those who say: "We are Christians:" because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. (Surah al-Ma’idah:82)