Monday, 27 October 2014

Seeking Istighatsa', Help, from the Prophet (s.a.w.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following are examples of istighatsa’, using intermediaries and intercessors, by means of the Prophet (s.a.w.) during his life.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “My life is a great good for you; you will relate about me and it will be related to you.  And my death is a great good for you; your actions will be presented to me,” meaning that it will be presented him in his grave, “and if I see goodness, I will praise Allah, and if see other than that, I will ask Forgiveness of him.”

This hadits is cited by Qadhi ‘Iyadh (r.a.) in his ash-Shifa’.  Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) wrote in his Manahil asw-Swafa fi Takhrij Ahadits ash-Shifa’, “ibn Abi ‘Usamah cites it in his Musnad from the hadits of Bakr ibn ‘Abdullah al-Mazni, and al-Bazzar from the hadits of ibn Mas`ud with a swahih chain.”

Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) recorded in his Shifa’ Sharif, ‘Utsman ibn Haniff (r.a.) said that a blind man came to the court of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and said, “O Messenger of Allah!  Pray for me that I may regain my sight.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Go and perform ablution and then two raka’at of swalah an-nawafil, then recite this du’a: ‘O Allah, I ask you and turn to You with Your prophet, Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy; O Muhammad, I turn with you to my Lord regarding my present need with your intercession concerning the return of my sight.’”

In another hadits, it is recorded that one night, the Prophet (s.a.w.) was taking his wudhu’ to perform his tahajjud at the home of Maymunah (r.a.).  He was heard to proclaim “Labbayk,” meaning, “Here I am,” and “Nuswirtu,” also three times, meaning “I helped you.”  Maymunah (r.a.) asked the Prophet (s.a.w.) whom he had been talking to since there was no one present.  He replied, “I was talking to a person called Rajiz from the tribe of Bani Ka’b.  He asked for help from me against the Quraysh.”

Maymunah (r.a.) said that when she finished swalah al-fajr, the next morning, she heard Rajiz (r.a.) calling out in the streets of Madina, “Ya Rasulullah!  Help us and call the servants of Allah to help us.”

Shaykh Yusuf an-Nabhani (q.s.) cited two ahadits in this respect with their full wording in the chapter of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) ‘ilm al-ghayb in his encyclopedia of the Prophetic miracles, Hujjatullah ‘ala al-‘Alamin bi Mu’jizat Sayyid al-Mursalin.

Rajiz (r.a.) was the poetry champion of Banu Ka’b, one of the sub-tribes of the Khuza’ah.  The Quraysh had helped the Banu Bakr against them.  The latter had allied themselves with the Quraysh on the day of the truce of Hudaybiyyah the Khuza’ah had allied themselves with the Prophet (s.a.w.) and he had become duty-bound to defend them.  The support of the Quraysh for the Banu Bakr against the Khuza’ah was therefore a violation of their truce with the Prophet (s.a.w.).  This incident was the catalyst for the conquest of Makkah.

Shaykh ibn Ishaq (r.a.) said, as found in Imam ibn Hisham’s (r.a.) Sirah, that when the Banu Bakr and the Quraysh defeated the Khuza’ah and looted them, violating the terms of the solemn pact to which they had agreed with the Prophet (s.a.w.), by warring with the Khuza’ah, his formal allies, ‘Amr ibn Salim al-Khuza’i (r.a.), one of the Banu Ka’b there, rode out until he came to see the Prophet (s.a.w.) in Madina.  His coming gave the impetus for the conquest of Makkah.  He stood before the Prophet (s.a.w.) as the latter sat in the mosque, in full sight of the people, and declaimed the following:

“Lord!  I am appealing to Muhammad,
By the time-honored pact of both our fathers.
You were a father and we, a son;
Then we entered Islam and remained loyal.
Help us, and may Allah Help you always!
Summon His servants, they shall come in arms,
Among them, the Prophet, mobilized
If he is wronged, his face glowers.
In his legion he marches, a sea, foaming.
Quraysh broke its treaty with you!
They violated the truce they pledged you,
Made me as good as dead and buried!
They claimed I could not call on anyone,
Although they are meaner and less by far!
They snared us at Wathir during our vigils,
And slew us as we bowed and prostrated.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “In your defense, ‘Amr ibn Salim!”  Then, the Prophet (s.a.w.) glimpsed a cloud in the sky and said, “Truly, this cloud is initiating the victory of the Banu Ka’b.”  Then he geared himself for the conquest of Makkah and conquered it.

Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.) recorded, in his al-Iswabah, slightly different wording for this hadits, stating, “yastarh imuni”, “invoking my mercy.”  This hadits is narrated from Umm al-Mu’minin, Maymunah (r.a.) by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) in his Mu’jam al-Kabir and Mu’jam as-Saghir, and Imam at-Taymi in his Dala’il.  However, both of them with a slightly weak chain because of Shaykh Yahya ibn Sulayman al-Madini (r.a.), as expounded by Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.).  Imam ibn ‘Adi in his al-Kamil wrote, “He narrated reports from Malik and the Madinans, most of which are valid.”  It was also narrated by Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.).

These ahadits demonstrate that the Prophet (s.a.w.) is observing his ummah; that it is permissible to call upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) for help; that Prophet (s.a.w.) can hear the call of his ummah; and Prophet (s.a.w.) can help those in distress regardless of distance.

Finding Real Peace

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from a swuhbah from Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.), on the 01st January 1997.

When is a person going to find peace within himself?  That is the question.  Rivers run until they reach the ocean, struggling all the way; and then, it is over, finished.  Whoever seeks peace within himself must also reach an ocean, but everyone is moving and struggling.  Everyone is running here and there every day; they are struggling and running to and fro, from morning to night and from night to morning.

There are two ways in which a person may find rest.  One of them is through natural death.  Until death, a person struggles.  When he dies, his arms and legs are spread out and he is laid to rest and there is no more struggling.  According to his station, he has reached peace.  Yet, his peace by natural death may only be for his physical body.  He may still have not reached real peace spiritually.  Therefore, we seek peace for both sides, for our physical bodies and our spiritual selves.  Our physical bodies will get peace by death, natural death.  Then, there is no more movement, no more struggling.  But we must also look after our soul, whether it has peace or not, whether the souls is struggling or not.

For this reason, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said, “Die before you die.”  This is what makes a person to reach spiritual peace and satisfaction, true peace.  Our physical body may die, but as yet, we have not attained our spiritual peace.  Therefore, the one who asks for real peace within himself must try the ways of those who have attained real peace spiritually, and the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) advice to his ummah, to ourselves, is to die before natural death comes upon us.

Only a few are equally at peace body and soul.  Most people destroy their spiritual peace by running after the physical body’s peace.  It is impossible for a person, without spiritual peace, to reach bodily peace until natural death comes.  But even at the time of death, there may be no benefit at that time, because even if we find peace in our physical body, our spiritual side may still struggling and suffering.  Then, from the day of one’s death up to the Day of Resurrection, in your hayat al-barzakh, the intermediate life between eternal life and this world’s life, those troubles and struggles may still continue.  Perhaps it may continue even on the Day of Resurrection, and it may be more than this also.  One may be in Hell, struggling and suffering for a period until he reaches to the Ocean that he was Given in pre-eternity.

Therefore, the most important thing that we must know concerns our absolute peace and when and how is it going to be.  Until we reach that Ocean which Allah Almighty Gave us in pre-eternity, we will struggle and suffer, and we may be in hell during this life and in the grave and on the Day of Resurrection, and then finally in Hell itself also, because it is impossible to find peace without reaching our rest in that Ocean.

We give sufferings to ourselves because we use the wrong methods to acquire peace.  For example, sometimes, engineers prepare a rocket to go up but it turns and falls back.  It is like this; so many people are now using the wrong methods, so that instead of going up, they come down, a crash landing.  Sometimes, it is only some small fault, even a simple error that may do that.  Therefore we must be very careful, when we use a spiritual method.

We are trying to give a perfect method to everyone who is seeking real peace because reaching this peace and satisfaction is the destination of everybody.  You may take a train from London up to Edinburgh and on your way, there may be one hundred stations and at each station some people get out because everyone knows his destination.  If you get out before Edinburgh, you will not be satisfied.  This is not your destination.  If you get struck and remain in that station, you are going to suffer forever because you have reached a wrong destination.  Therefore, you must know your destination, and then you must take a ticket to that station, not to a station before it nor after it.  A person must do everything to save himself from arriving at the wrong station.  It is dangerous for a person not to look for his destination.  He must look out for his destination and must use the right method to reach his destination otherwise he will not attain peace.

In our time, people are using so many wrong methods.  They do not understand, or they do not even know, where is the beginning and what is the end; just like a blind person does not understand where he is or to where he is going.  Therefore, guidance is necessary and the most important thing for a person throughout his life is to find a true guide.  A true guide can be known when our soul is in peace and satisfaction with him.  That is the sign, the real sign: to feel peace and satisfaction with him in our heart.  If we are still in doubt or hesitant, it means that something is wrong with that person and we must look for some other guide.  If our heart is not at peace with his method, we must not follow it.  There are so many ways.  We must try to find another guide until we attain peace in our heart with that person.  Then it should be all right for us.  This is the way to attain peace, to die before dying.  When we find a guide, we must be with him.  We must not carry about a different personality from his but must agree to be one with him, one unit.  We cannot carry about another personality from our guide’s; we must melt our personality into his personality and we must appear as him.  Then, you will be all right.

Once a person came to a Grand Shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) and knocked at his door.  Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) asked, “Who is there?”

“Ibrahim,” the man said.  “It is I.”

“‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’; always saying ‘I’”, said Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.).  Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) answered, “My place is only for one, not for two.  Go away.”

So that person went away.  After one year, he tried again.  He came and knocked at the door.  “Who is there?” Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.) asked.

“You,” he answered this time.

“You may now come in.” replied Shaykh ‘Abdillah ad-Daghistani (q.s.).

The first condition for a person who is seeking real peace is that he must give himself, all that he is carrying, to put it into his guide.  His guide can take it and carry it.  When we consider an airplane, it may hold one hundred or two hundred or even three hundred passengers, but when it flies, we see only one jet plane.  We do not see the three hundred persons inside it; we see only that it is a plane flying.  The plane takes all those people into itself, finished.  Therefore, when we take a guide to our destination, we give ourselves up to him.  Our selfhood must be given up.  We must consider ourselves as a drop and when it reaches the Ocean, there is no more drop – finished.  We leave being that drop and we become the Ocean.

When that drop falls into the Ocean, can we take it out, can we find it?  Finished; it is all Ocean.  That is peace.  Therefore, peace is not to be found without leaving our drop in that Ocean.  And our guide may be a lake or he may be a sea, but they all run into Oceans, also.  That is important.  When we say, “Die before you die,” this is how can one die before his natural death.

Can he who was dead to whom We Gave life, and a light whereby he can walk amongst men, be like him who is in the depths of darkness, from which he can never come out?  Thus to those without faith, their own deeds seem pleasing. (Surah al-An’am:122)

We give our personality to your guide.  When we look at our guide, you see ourselves in him and when he looks at us, he looks at himself; we have reached our spiritual peace.  We may find it during our short lifetime.  But if we do not use true, correct methods, we go wrong, we will find ourselves far away from peace.  Instead of running toward the Ocean, we find ourselves running towards the desert.  Anyone who thinks about satisfaction, pleasure and endless enjoyment must look after his spiritual life’s peace, and this is impossible for a person if he does not find an Ocean and run into it.  Doing this is so difficult because our egos are too proud to surrender.  This is the most difficult proposition that can be made to our nafs; the most difficult thing for the nafs is to put its personality aside and agree to be with another’s.  It holds onto its personality very strongly and it never likes to lose it.

Thus, between our souls and our egos, a fight is taking place.  Our souls want to reach that Ocean and our egos rebel.  It is like a bottle containing water, which is thrown into the ocean.  The water wants to reach the ocean but the bottle prevents it.  Our nafs is just like that bottle, not agreeing to be broken in order to be nothing, and not wanting to let that water go to the ocean.  This is the fight that goes on between our soul and our nafs.  The one, who is successful in defeating his ego and making it agree to take the same personality of his guide, is the happy one and has reached real peace.  We take enjoyment from our existence.  The greatest Grant of our Lord to us is existence.  But true existence may be gained only when we give up our false existence or being.  If we give up our fani’, transitory existence, we acquire permanent existence.

To the extent that we hold onto this temporary existence, true existence leaves us.  Then natural death takes that temporary existence from us.  But it may still be a long way for us to travel, a way of suffering, to reach eternal existence, through the grave and the Day of Resurrection or in Hell so that we may reach the ultimate existence.  But if we agree here, during this life, to use true methods that come from our Lord to His servants, it is the easiest and simplest way to reach real peace.  We are living during a time in which there are hundreds and thousands, maybe tens of thousands of ways, but they are wrong ways, the ways of suffering.  These are ways that take people to the wrong destination.  The one who seriously seeks his destination must be serious concerning his guide and his guidance, or his life is going to be full of sufferings.  And those sufferings will continue after he leaves his physical body because such sufferings belong to our souls and the soul is going to suffer because it has not reached to its Ocean.  Until one reaches it, he must pass through so many wrong channels.

Finally, this is so important for anyone who is not drunk.  People in our time are mostly drunk, not only by drinking liquor, but most of them are drunk on this world’s life.  Problems of livelihood particularly make people preoccupied with heavy conditions, and then they are like drunk people, with no time to look after themselves because they are struggling, they are fighting; no time to ask for a guide.  Thus, up to the end, their troubles continue, and when they die, their bodily struggle is finished, their physical bodies are in peace, but not yet their souls.  Their souls cannot reach their peace and happiness. Their troubles and sufferings continue after death, until they reach to their true destinations in the Divine Presence.  We ask from our Lord sincerely for this peace.  When we ask sincerely, He Send us to one of His beloved servants to take us to our destination.

No Basis for Tawhid ar-Rububiyyah & Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah in the Qur'an & Sunnah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from “Refutations of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah’s (r.a.) Two Doctrines of Tawhid” by Ustadz Abu Hamid ibn Marzuq.

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.), the imam of the supposed madzhab if Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), never said that tawhid consisted in two parts: tawhid ar-rububiyyah and tawhid al-uluhiyyah.  Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) also never said, “Whoever does not know tawhid al-uluhiyyah, then his knowledge of tawhid ar-rububiyyah is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge.”  This is not part of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s (r.a.) doctrine of ‘aqidah, and is not found in the compilations of his followers such as Imam ibn al-Jawzi’s (r.a.) Manaqib Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and other books.

This innovated doctrine of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) is not found in the works and teachings of any of the Salaf: the swahabah, the tab’in, and the taba’ tabi’in.  And none of them made any sort of definition of tawhid close to the statement: “Whoever does not know tawhid al-uluhiyyah, then his knowledge of tawhid ar-rububiyyah is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge.”  And neither does this doctrine have any basis in the Qur’an and the sunnah.

The da’wah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) to the people was in order that they witness that there is no god except Allah (s.w.t.) Alone and that Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and in order that they repudiate idol-worship.  One of the most famous illustrations of this is the swahih narration of Mu’adz ibn Jabal (r.a.) when the Prophet (s.a.w.) sent him to govern Yemen.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said to him, “Invite them to the witnessing that [there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of God].  If they obey this, at that time tell them that they are obligated to pray five prayers daily...”

The following hadits is recorded in five of the Kutub Swahih as-Sittah, and Imam ibn Hibban (r.a.) declared it sound.  A Bedouin Arab reported the sighting of the new moon to the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the latter ordered the people to fast without asking this man other than to confirm the two witnessings.  According to the innovated doctrine of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), it would have been necessary for the Prophet (s.a.w.) to call all people to tawhid al-uluhiyyah of which they were ignorant, as opposed to tawhid ar-rububiyyah, they already knew.

With regards to the first hadits, if we follow the idea of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) should have said to Mu’adz (r.a.), “Invite them to tawhid al-uluhiyyah”; and he should have asked the Bedouin who had sighted the new moon of Ramadhan, “Do you know tawhid al-uluhiyyah?”

It is not mentioned anywhere in the Qur’an that tawhid al-uluhiyyah is a measure of faith and fidelity to Islam.  Rather, Allah (s.w.t.) Commanded the utterance of kalimat al-tawhid, for He said as He addressed His Prophet (s.a.w.):

Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah ... (Surah Muhammad:19)

And He Spoke similarly in all of the verses of tawhid that are Mentioned in the Qur’an, including Surah al-Ikhlasw, which is equivalent to a third of the Qur’an in its Message.

If this doctrine of Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) were correct, Allah (s.w.t.) servants would all know about tawhid ar-rububiyyah and tawhid al-uluhiyyah.  Allah (s.w.t.) would have made it explicitly clear to them and will not punish them for their ignorance of ‘half’ of tawhid.  Instead, He Said to them:

… This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me.  This day have I Perfected your religion for you, Completed My Favour upon you, and have Chosen for you Islam as your religion ... (Surah al-Ma’idah:3)

And we seek Refuge in Allah (s.w.t.) from the treacheries of the tongue and the corruption of folly.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Beloved

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.  Here, he speaks about his shaykh, Habib Mashhur al-Haddad (q.s.).

“In Jeddah, he met his disciples and visitors in a small anteroom off the entrance to the large family home his eldest son, ‘Ali built in the early 1980s in the Bani Malek district.  The room was lined with books and furnished unpretentiously with Belgian carpets and plush floor cushions and bolsters.

He would descend from his living quarters in the morning and sit with visitors until the noon prayers, after which he would share the noonday meal, ghada’, with whoever was present and retire for an afternoon rest, qaylulah.  He would return for the afternoon prayer and sit with visitors through the sunset and night prayers and the evening meal, ‘asha’, after which he would retire.  He kept to this taxing schedule into his late 80s, until his health drastically weakened.

Visitors from around the world would come to call.  Day after day he would minister to a parade of ordinary and extraordinary people, hearing their problems, patiently giving good counsel and always remembering God.  Conversation in his presence flowed from the mundane to the divine.  Every gathering was organic and natural yet infused with Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) transcendent presence.

I remember sitting beside him as one of his disciples went over in excruciating detail his problem of finding another flat in Jeddah.  Habib al-Haddad (q.s.) listened to him patiently, giving him sincere advice on where to go and what to do.  I kept thinking to myself, ‘What a waste of this great saint’s time!’  How little I understood.  On another occasion, toward the end of an evening after the night prayer, one of Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) Hadhrami disciples turned up suddenly and Habib (q.s.) upbraided him sharply.  ‘What’s the matter with you?  It’s late.  You shouldn’t come here so late.’  I looked on in reproachful silence.  The next day, I saw the same man sitting before Habib (q.s.), who was holding his head between his hands speaking to him with great love and compassion.

One day, I was sitting in Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) house with Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.).  We were in a room adjacent to Habib al-Haddad’s (q.s.) anteroom where he was meeting one of his disciples.  I thought how exhausting it must be for him to have to interact with the usual assortment of self-involved, worldly people like me and feeling more than a little guilty for taking up his time.  I said to Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.), “I don’t understand how someone like Habib can stand being around someone like me.’

Sayyid ‘Umar (q.s.) turned to me and said, ‘Someone like Habib only wants to be alive because of someone like you.’  He was silent for a moment.  ‘Otherwise, he would rather be with his Lord.’  This reminded me of a Sufi saying that the Friend of God, wali’ullah, is ‘the one who lives for his neighbour.’”

Dogs in the Islamic Tradition & Nature

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Dogs in the Islamic Tradition & Nature by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl.

Islamic discourses on the nature, and function of dogs are representative of a range of tensions regarding the roles of history, mythology, rationality, and modernity in Islam.  In fact, the debates surrounding the avowed impurity of dogs, and the lawfulness of possessing or living with these animals were one of the main issues symbolising the challenging dynamic between the Revealed religious law, and the state of Creation or nature.  In addition, certain aspects of these debates pertained to the power dynamics of patriarchy, and more generally, the construction of social attitudes towards marginal elements in society.

In a fashion similar to European medieval folklore, black dogs, in particular, were viewed ominously in the Islamic tradition. According to one tradition attributed to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form.  This is mentioned in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.).  Although this report did reflect a part of pre-Islamic Arab mythology, it had a limited impact upon Islamic law.  The vast majority of Muslim jurists considered this particular tradition to be falsely attributed to the Prophet (s.a.w.), and therefore, apocryphal.

Nevertheless, much of the Islamic discourse focused on a Prophetic report instructing that if a dog, regardless of the colour, licks a container, the container must be washed seven times, with the sprinkling of dust in one of the washings.  Different versions of the same report specify that the container be washed once, three, or five times, or omit the reference to the sprinkling of dust.  This is explained in Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim; Imam Ahmad ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani’s (r.a.), Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Swahih al-Bukhari; by Shaykh Muhib ad-Din al-Khathib (r.a.); and by Imam Shams ad-Din as-Sarakhsi (r.a.) in his Kitab al-Mabsuth.

The essential point conveyed in these reports is that dogs are impure animals, or, at least, that their saliva is a contaminant that voids a Muslim’s ritual purity.  Hostility to dogs, not just as a source of physical but moral impurity, are further expressed in Prophetic reports claiming that angels, as God’s agents of mercy and absolution, will not enter a home that has a dog, as mentioned in Imam Muhammad ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Mubarakafuri’s (r.a.), Tuhfat al-Ahwadzi bi Sharh Jami’ at-Tirmidzi; or that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds as mentioned in Imam Malik ibn Anas’ (r.a.) al-Muwaththa’.  Cultural biases against dogs as a source of moral danger reach an extreme point in reports that claim that Prophet (s.a.w.) commanded Muslims not trade or deal in dogs, and even to slaughter all dogs, except for those used in herding, farming, or hunting.  The former is mentioned in Imam Ahmad ibn Shu’ayb an-Nisa’i’s (r.a.) Sunan; and Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani’s Fath al-Bari.  The latter is found in Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim; Imam Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-‘Arabi’s (r.a.) Ahkam al-Qur’an; Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ash-Shawkani’s (r.a.), Nayl al-Awthar Sharh Muntaqa’ al-Akhbar; Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad al-Qurthubi’s (r.a.) al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an; Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Jaswswas’ (r.a.) Ahkam al-Qur’an; and Imam Muhammad ibn Jarir ath-Thabari’s (r.a.) Tafsir ath-Thabari min Kitabihi Jami’ al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil ‘Ayat al-Qur’an.

These various anti-dogs reports expressed culturally engrained social anxieties about aspects of nature that were seen as threatening or unpredictable.  In addition, discourses on dogs played a symbolic role in the attempts of pre-modern societies to explore the boundaries that differentiated human beings from animals.  In that sense, the debates about dogs acted as a forum for negotiating not just the nature of dogs but also the nature of human beings.  This is most apparent in traditions that create a symbolic nexus between marginalised elements in society, such as non-Muslims or women, and dogs.  In some such traditions, it is claimed that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said that dogs, donkeys, women, and in some versions non-Muslims, if they pass in front of men in prayer, they will void or nullify that prayer.  This is mentioned in Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim; Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s (r.a.) Musnad; and Imam Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi’s (r.a.) ‘Aridhat al-Ahwadzi bi Sharh Swahih at-Tirmidzi.  Interestingly, early Muslim authorities, such as the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) wife, ‘Aishah (r.a.), strongly protested this symbolic association between dogs and women because of its demeaning implications for women.  As a result, most Muslim jurists ruled that this tradition is not authentic, and that the crossing of women in front of men does not negate their prayers.

Despite the attribution to the Prophet (s.a.w.) of a large number of traditions hostile to dogs, for a variety of reasons, many pre-modern Muslim scholars challenged this orientation.  The Qur’an, the Divine Book of Islam, does not condemn dogs as impure or evil.  In addition, a large number of early reports, probably reflecting historical practice, contradicted the dog-hostile traditions.  For instance, several reports indicated that the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) young cousins, and some of the companions owned puppies.  This is especially mentioned in Imam al-Mubarakafuri’s (r.a.) Tuhfat al-Ahwadzi; and Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim.  Other reports indicated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed while a dog played in the vicinity, as recorded in Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim.  In addition, there is considerable historical evidence that dogs roamed freely in Madina and even entered the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) mosque, as recorded in Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani’s (r.a.) Fath al-Bari.  A particularly interesting tradition attributed to the Prophet (s.a.w.) asserted that a prostitute, and in some versions, a sinning man, secured their places in Heaven by saving the life of a dog dying of thirst in the desert.  This is also explained in Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani’s (r.a.) Fath al-Bari.

Most jurists rejected the traditions mandating the killing of dogs as fabrications because, they reasoned, such behaviour would be wasteful of life.  These jurists argued that there is a presumption prohibiting the destruction of nature, and mandating the honouring of all Creation.  Any part of creation or nature cannot be needlessly destroyed, and no life can be taken without compelling cause.  These rulings are recorded in Imam ibn al-‘Arabi’s (r.a.), ‘Aridhat al-Ahwadzi; Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim; Imam al-Qurthubi’s (r.a.) al-Jami’; and Imam ash-Shawkani’s (r.a.) Nayl al-Awthar.  For the vast majority of jurists, since the consumption of dogs was strictly prohibited in Islam, there was no reason to slaughter dogs.  Aside from the issue of killing dogs, Muslim jurists disagreed on the permissibility of owning dogs.  A large number of jurists allowed the ownership of dogs for the purpose of serving human needs, such as herding, farming, hunting, or protection.  They also prohibited the ownership of dogs for frivolous reasons, such as enjoying their appearance or out a desire to show off, such as mentioned in Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim.  Some scholars rationalised this determination by arguing that dogs endanger the safety of neighbours and travelers, again mentioned in Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) Sharh Swahih Muslim.  For the majority of jurists, however, the pertinent issue was not whether it was lawful to own dogs, but the avowed impurity of dogs.  The majority contended that the pivotal issue is whether the bodies and saliva of dogs are pure or not.  If dogs are, in fact, impure then they cannot be owned unless there is a serious need for doing so.  This was a contention discussed in Imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd II’s (r.a.) Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtaswid; and Shaykh Taqi’ ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah’s (r.a.) Majmu’ al-Fatawa.

As to the issue of purity, the main point of contention was as to whether there is a rational basis for the command to wash a container if touched or licked by a dog.  The majority of jurists held that there is no rational basis for this command, and that dogs, like pigs, must be considered impure simply as a matter of deference to the religious text.  This contention is found in Imam Sahnun ibn Sa’id’s (r.a.) al-Mudawwanah al-Kubra’; Imam ibn Rushd II’s (r.a.) Bidayat; and Imam Abu Bakr ibn Mas’ud al-Kasani’s (r.a.) Bada’i’ as-Sana’i‘ fi Tartib ash-Shara’i’.  A sizeable number of jurists, however, disagreed with this position.  Jurists, particularly from the Maliki school of thought, argued that everything found in nature is presumed to be pure unless proven otherwise, either through experience or text.  This position is found in Imam Ahmad ibn Muhammad ad-Dardir’s (r.a.) ash-Sharh as-Saghir ‘ala Aqrab al-Masalik.  Ruling that the traditions mentioned above are not of sufficient reliability or authenticity so as to overcome the presumption of purity, they argued that dogs are pure animals.  Accordingly, they maintained that dogs do not void a Muslim’s prayer or ritual purity.  This ruling may be found in Imam Khayr ad-Din al-Munif’s (r.a.) al-Fatawa al-Khayriyyah li Naf’ al-Bariyyah; Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah’s (r.a.) al-Mughni; Imam ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Hazm’s (r.a.) al-Muhalla bi al-Atsar; Imam Shihab ad-Din ibn Idris al-Qarafi’s (r.a.) adz-Dzakhirah; and Imam Zayn ad-Din ibn Muhammad ibn Nujaym’s (r.a.) al-Bahr ar-Ra’iq Sharh Kanz ad-Daqa’iq.  Other jurists argued that the command mandating that a vessel be washed a number of times was intended as a precautionary health measure.  These jurists argued that the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) tradition on this issue was intended to apply only to dogs at risk of being infected by the rabies virus.  Hence, if a dog is not a possible carrier of rabies, it is presumed to be pure.  This ruling is found in Imam Abu Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd I’s (r.a.) al-Muqaddimat al-Mumahhidat.  A small number of jurists carried this logic further in arguing that rural dogs are pure, while urban dogs are impure because urban dogs often consume human garbage.  Those who agreed with include Imam ibn al-‘Arabi (r.a.) in his ‘Aridhat; and Imam ibn Rushd II (r.a.) in his Bidayat.  Another group of jurists argued that the purity of dogs turns on their domesticity — domestic dogs are considered pure because human beings feed and clean them, while dogs that live in the wild or on the streets of a city could be carriers of disease, and therefore, they are considered impure.  This is found in Imam ibn Rushd I’s (r.a.) al-Muqaddimat and Imam ibn Rushd II’s (r.a.) Bidayat.  It is clear from the evolution of these discourses that as nature became more susceptible to rational understanding, complex and potentially dangerous creatures, such as dogs, became less threatening for Muslim jurists.

Aside from the legal discourses, dogs occupied an elusive position in Muslim culture.  On the one hand, in Arabic literature dogs were often portrayed as a symbol of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty.  For example, Imam ibn al-Marzuban (r.a.) wrote a fascinating treatise titled, The Book of the Superiority of Dogs over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes, which contrasts the loyalty and faithfulness of dogs to the treachery and fickleness of human beings.  Dogs were also widely used for protection, sheep herding, and hunting.  On the other hand, dogs were often portrayed as an oppressive instrument in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers.  Similar to the medieval European practice, in the pre-modern Middle East region, as an expression of contempt or deprecation, at times dogs were hung or buried with the corpses of dissidents or rebels.  Furthermore, in popular culture, unlike cats, dogs were considered filthy or impure animals that ought not share the living space of the pious or religiously observant.  This cultural anti-dog prejudice survived into modern times, and as a result, the ownership of dogs continues to be socially frowned upon.  In the contemporary Muslim world, dog ownership is common only among Bedouins, law enforcement, and the Westernised higher classes.  As a matter of fact, it is rather striking that, to a very large extent, modern Muslims are unaware of the pre-modern juristic determinations that vindicated the purity of dogs.  Nevertheless, this in itself is a measure of the ambiguous fortunes of the dynamics between Islamic law and nature in modernity.  In the pre-modern age, Islamic law evolved in near proportion to the advances achieved in the human knowledge of nature.  But as the institutions of Islamic law were deconstructed by European Colonialism, and with the rise of puritanical movements in contemporary Islam, Islamic jurisprudence has ceased to be a forum for creative thinking or dynamic interactions with the vastness of nature.

Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from an article by Brother Khalid Ajmain.

Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) was one of the scholars who always came to Singapore.  He travelled around the world promoting Islam, peace and love of humanity.  He also built one of the mosques Singapore, Masjid Abdul Aleem Siddique, at Lorong K, Telok Kurau.  Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiqi (q.s.) was born in the Blessed month of Ramadhan, on the 03rd April, 1892; 15th Ramadhan 1310; in Meerut, India.  He was raised in a family that was pious.  He was a direct descendant of Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.), the first caliph of Islam.

From a young age, his father, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hakim (r.a.) and his mother were his inspiration and source of guidance and education in the teachings of Islam.  He was an exceptionally intelligent child and possessed an intellectual capacity beyond his years.  He committed the Holy Qur’an to memory when he was only 4 years old.  He also had remarkable oratory skill and at the age of 9, he delivered his first public speech at the Jamma Mosque of Meerut, mesmerising the audience with his eloquence.

He had a remarkable love and thirst for knowledge. At the age of 16, he graduated with a degree and distinction in Islamic Theology.  He then pursued non-theological studies in modern sciences and law.  He also acquired advanced knowledge in Qur’anic sciences, ahadits, taswawwuf and Islamic jurisprudence of the four main madzahib.  His teachers included Shaykh Ahmad ash-Shams (r.a.) of Morocco, Shaykh as-Sannuwsi (q.s.) of Libya, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Bari (r.a.) of Faranghi Mahal and Mawlana Ahmad Mukhtar asw-Swiddiq (r.a.), his brother.  He achieved great Islamic theological and spiritual development under the guidance of Mawlana Ahmad Ridha Khan (q.s.), a revered Islamic scholar and a great Sufi master.

Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) travelled continuously for 40 years to all parts of the globe until his labours of love for the spiritual reform and enlightenment of humanity covered a major part of the world.  The countries he visited include the Hejaz, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Ceylon, China, Japan, Philippines, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Belgium, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, France, England, West Indies, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, the United States of America and Canada.

He was a great writer, poet, orator and scholar of Islam and modern sciences, and was renowned the world over for his spiritual guidance and promulgation of the message of hope and peace.  His contribution to literary and academic discourses was also astounding.  In 1935, in Mombassa, Kenya, Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) met with the famous European intellectual, Sir George Bernard Shaw, and they enjoyed a wonderful exchange of thoughts in which Sir George Bernard Shaw called Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.), a “learned sage”.  He delivered hundreds of lectures and also found time to write several Islamic books and poetry in Urdu and English.

He came to Singapore in 1930 to spread the message and beauty of Islam.  He laboured intensively in the cause of Islam and delivered numerous lectures in Singapore and attracted many people to Islam.  He pioneered the establishment of the All Malaya Muslim Missionary Society, now known as Jamiyah, in 1932.  He also pioneered the establishment of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) to foster greater understanding between the faiths and to promote the spirit and message of peace amongst the people of Singapore.

In the IRO’s inauguration ceremony, on the 18th March, 1949 at Victoria Memorial Hall, Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) gave an inspiring speech, in which he said, “As far as the common evils and accepted moral principles were concerned, no religion could have any difference, and in the spirit of tolerance and sympathy and the desire to establish peace, all of them were as one.  The task of the religious leaders was to let the followers of each and every religion know the teachings of other religions, so that a spirit of fellowship could work together to spread the accepted moral principles and to fight the common evils.”

Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) worked with single-minded devotion for the cause of Islam and humanity.  Hundreds of thousands of people belonging to diverse races and nationalities in Asia, Africa, Europe and America received spiritual blessings through his dynamic and refulgent personality.  Numerous mosques, Islamic missionary societies, schools, hospitals, libraries, infirmaries, orphanages and Islamic periodicals sprang up in the wake of his immortal missionary work.

Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.) was an extraordinary exponent who personify in a distinguished manner the causes he cherish and uphold, and his labours for the cause form a landmark in human history.  His noble soul soared beyond the limitations of territory and race.  The most distinctive aspect of his personality was the spiritual magnetism that he radiated which captivated the minds and hearts of all who crossed his path.

On the 22nd August, 1954; 22nd Dzu al-Hijjah, at the age of 63, after a last visit to the grave of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.)passed away.  His body rests at Jannat al-Baqi’ in Madinah.  May Allah (s.w.t.) Bless him and be Well Pleased with His servant, Mawlana ‘Abd al-‘Alim asw-Swiddiq (q.s.).

Contentment with the Decree of Destiny

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s (q.s.), “Pearls of the Heart, Second Discourse.”

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani’s (q.s.) said, “O my young brother, traveller on the path of the Truth!  Once you have leaned on the cushion of patience, girded yourself with the sword of contentment, and waited with complete conviction for the moments that give happiness and joy, you must go to sleep without any hesitation, with the understanding of a worshipful servant, beneath the gutter of destiny!

If you succeed in attaining to this degree, then, from His Abundant Generosity and His Gracious Favour, Allah (s.w.t.), the One Who Predestines everything and absolutely never errs in His Predestination, will Pour Down upon you, things you could not have asked for and could not even have desired.

O my brother, candidate for everlasting bliss!  When a sickness befalls you and comes to pay you a visit, you must greet it with the respectful hospitality of patience.  Until the remedy for it is found, you must stay calm and hopeful.  Then, when the cure is found, you must greet it with the hand of thankfulness.  You must not forget for an instant that Allah (s.w.t.) is the One Who really Gives Healing.  Once you have climbed to the level of being in this spiritual state, you will have attained to the right way of dealing with a transitory life.

Yes indeed, O my brother!  In relation to things that are Foreordained by the Lord of Truth, there must be surrender to Him Alone.  Then, you must stand up together with Him [in the sense that your movements must be Designed to earn His Good Pleasure].  Everything needs a foundation, then an organisation and a construction.  You must understand this wisdom well, and persist in this by night and by day, at almost every moment.

O pauper, I am speaking to you!  To long for wealth that will make you conceited and forgetful of the Lord of Truth, that can become the cause of your perdition.  You too, O my sick brother!  You must not wish for a fruitless wellbeing, and you must never forget that Allah (s.w.t.) is the One Who Provides the real well-being, for you will otherwise suffer ruination.  [If well-being is devoid of any spiritual values, it is the riding beast of the lower self and carnal lust, so do not mount such a beast and ride on your desire!]

Make good use of your intelligence!  You must take proper care of the fruits of faith, so that your conduct may be worthy of praise.  You must experience contentment with the quantity Given to you from the stores of sustenance, by the Gracious Favour of the Lord of Truth.  In full awareness of where it comes from, you must not wish for more, since anything that the Lord of Truth (s.w.t.) has Given or will Give to you, if it is Given because of a host of unconscious wishes, can result in sorrow and grief.  Yes indeed, I have experienced this very many times.  Before he makes a wish, the servant should wait for Permission to make it with his heart; that is to say, he must receive a spiritual Signal to this effect.  When such a Signal and Command occurs, only then is the servant worthy of Blessing in the things he seeks, and sorrows are banished from him.

Let us hope that most of your requests are worthy and beneficial, and that your wish may always be acceptable in this world and the Hereafter.  You must be content with this and let it suffice you.  Do not relate to Allah (s.w.t.) like a spoiled child in the rude state of confused uncertainty [left free to choose one of two things].  A bullying attitude toward Allah (s.w.t.) will eventually destroy you.  You must not adopt a forceful attitude toward Allah (s.w.t.) and His creatures, by wielding your youth, your strength, your wealth and your property, because He is the One Who Grips you, Twists you and Turns you with Mighty Power.

As you must not forget, if you adopt such an attitude toward Him, His Treatment of you will be very painful and severe.  Beware, beware!  Do not quarrel with anyone over things that should be appreciated, because these things are made available to you at one time, but at another time they leave your hand and go away.  When that time comes, you will be devastated by the sadness of losing your Blessing.  You will fall head over heels from the level you have reached, and be left in a state of shame and disgrace.  How can your quarreling, brawling and squabbling be any substitute for the feeling preferred by the Lord of Truth (s.w.t.)?  This is quite impossible.  Where the Provision of Sustenance is concerned, whatever the Knowledge and Foreordainment of the Lord of Truth (s.w.t.) may be, that is how it has been Decreed in Sempiternity.  This being so, if you quarrel about the Sempiternal Knowledge of Allah (s.w.t.), with regard to yourself or someone else, you will fall from the sight of His Mercy, and you will sink into lower and lower degradation.  Your knowledge will have given you no benefit in the end, because it had given you no benefit at the beginning.  Allah (s.w.t.) refers to this in His Saying:

And some faces, that Day, will be sad and dismal, in the thought that some back-breaking calamity was about to be Inflicted on them. (Surah al-Qiyamah:24-25)

When your knowledge has not given you any benefit, you must repent to Allah (s.w.t.) at once.  The boat of the heart must be moved in the tears of the eye, so that it may be firmly moored.  Intelligent is he who finds the way to escape from quarreling.  He is content with the feeling Preferred by Allah (s.w.t.), and he does not reach out toward the feeling of any other.

You must wait with patience for the affliction He has Sent Down upon you to be Removed.  Beware of losing all hope!  In the wake of every distress, there is delight.  Allah (s.w.t.) is every day about some awesome business.  To one set of people after another, He Presents different situations.  In this alteration you must be together with Him, never abandon your patience, and always be content with His Predestination.  That is because you cannot know what to expect, and you may suddenly notice that Allah (s.w.t.) is Bringing a brand-new situation into view.

In keeping with your patient endurance, He will Remove the affliction from you and Replace it, Providing you, instead, with something you will dearly love.  You will thus begin to love Him, and He will begin to Love you.  However, if you complain about the affliction when it comes, and if you turn your face away from the Lord of Truth (s.w.t.), the affliction will weigh upon you with increasing heaviness, and your Punishment will, thereby, be Increased.  Because of your turning your face away from Allah (s.w.t.), and because of your quarreling with Him, you become submissive to many of the unlawful desires of your lower self, comply with that lower self, pursue your personal interests, love this world and greedily seek to amass what it has to offer.

O my young brother!  You must give up wishing for things, whether or not they are Allotted by destiny.  That is because your wishing for something that has been Allotted yields nothing but an unnecessary weariness.  As for your wishing for something that has not been allotted, that yields nothing but anger and disappointment.  This is why the Prophet (s.a.w.) once said, ‘Among the punishments Inflicted by Allah (s.w.t.) upon His servant, one is the search for what has not been allotted to him by destiny.’

O my brother, wishing to learn the Truth!  You must not complain to those Created by the Creator.  You must address your complaint to the Master Who has Power over everything, not to any other.  Among the inexhaustible treasures of real goodness and beauty, one is concealment of secrets, misfortunes, sickness and charitable giving.  While making a charitable gift with your right hand, you must be very careful not to let your left hand know about this.

One day, in my dream, a man asked me, ‘What conduct brings the human being near to Allah?’

To this I replied, ‘There is a beginning to this, and there is also an end,  As for its beginning, it is being virtuous and guarding against things that are unlawful and dubious. As for its end, it is contentment, surrender and absolute trust.’”