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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Some Commonly Quoted Fabricated Ahaadeeth

by Brother Abû Rumaysah


A Compilation of Fabricated Ahadeeth, declaring their weaknesses and providing some light on how some groups were mislead by following these ahadeeth.

Hadeeth 1 - '...I was a Hidden treasure...'

The hadeeth of the Messenger that he (SAW) said, "Allaah says, 'I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognised Me.'" As-Sakhaawee (d.902, the student of ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee) said, "ibn Taymiyyah said, 'this is not from the words of the Prophet (SAW), and there is no known isnaad for it be it saheeh or da'eef.' And az-Zarkashee and our Shaykh (ibn Hajr) followed him (in this verdict)." ['al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah' of as-Sakhaawee (no. 838)]As-Suyutee (d.911) said, "this has no basis (laa asla lahu)" ['Durural Muntathira' of as-Suyutee (no.330)]al-Ijloonee (d.1162) said, "this saying occurs often in the words of the sufis, who have relied on it, and built some of their principles on it." [ 'Kashf al-Khafaa' of al-Ijloonee (no.2016)]al-Albaanee (contemporary) says, "this hadeeth has no basis" ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/166)]

Hadeeth 2 - '...were it not for you, I would not have created the Universe...'

The hadeeth, "Allaah says, 'were it not for you (O Muhammad) I would not have created the universe.'" As-Saghaanee (d.650) said, "maudu (fabricated)" ['al-Ahaadeeth al-Mawdoo'aat' of as-Saghaanee (pg. 7)] and likewise al-Albaanee ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/450 no.282)] ash-Shaykh Mulla Alee Qaaree (d.1014) said, "maudu, but it's meaning is correct." ['al-Asraar al-Marfoo'ah' of Alee al-Qaaree (pp 67-68)], and quotes two narrations to prove this:

  • The hadeeth related by ibn Asaakir, 'were it not for you, the world would not have been created'. Ibn al-Jawzee (d.5**) related this and said, "maudu (fabricated)" ['al-Mawdoo'aat' of ibn al-Jawzee (1/288)] and likewise as-Suyutee. ['al-Laa'ee' of as-Suyutee (1/272)]

  • The hadeeth related by ad-Dailamee, "O Muhammad! Were it not for you, the Garden would not have been created, and were it not for you the Fire would not have been created." Al-Albaanee said, "it is not correct to certify the correctness of it's meaning without establishing the authenticity of the narration from ad-Dailamee, which is something I have not found any of the scholars to have addressed. Suffice to know that ad-Dailamee is alone in reporting it, then I became certain of it's weakness, rather it's flimsiness when I came across it in his 'Musnad' (1/41/2)." ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/451 no.282)]

  • Hadeeth 3 - '...I was a Prophet when there was no Adam and no clay...'

    The hadeeth related from the Messenger (SAW), "I was a Prophet while Adam was between clay and water" and the hadeeth, "I was a prophet when there was no Adam and no clay" ibn Taymiyyah said, "This has no basis. Neither from the point of view of transmission or intellect, for not a single scholar of hadeeth mentions it and it's meaning is invalid. For Adam was never in a state in which he was between clay and water, for clay consists of water and mud, rather he was in a state between the spirit and body.Then these misguided people think that the Prophet (SAW) was physically present at that time, and that his person was created before all persons, and they support this with ahaadeeth which are lies (against the Prophet), for example the hadeeth that he used to be Light surrounding the Throne" ['Radd alaa al-Bakree' of ibn Taymiyyah (pg. 9)]as-Suyutee said, "maudu" and endorsed the above words of ibn Taymiyyah. ['Dhail al-Mawdoo'aat' of as-Suyutee (pg. 203)]And he also says about the second hadeeth mentioned above, "this is something added by the general masses" [ 'ad-Durural Muntathiraa' (pg. 155 no. 331)]az-Zarkashee (d.794) said, "as-Suyutee made clear that these two ahaadeeth have no basis, and that the second was something added by the general masses. And ibn Taymiyyah preceded him in this, and ruled that the wordings were rejected and that they were lies, and as-Sakhaawee endorsed this in his 'Fataawaa'" 'Sharh al-Muwaahib' of az-Zarkaanee (1/33)]as-Sakhaawee said, "as for what is common on the tongues,'I was a Prophet while Adam was between clay and water '" then we have not found it with this wording not to speak of the addition, 'I was a Prophet when there was no Adam and no clay.'" [ 'al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah' (pg. 386 no. 837)]In the above words of ibn Taymiyyah, he refers to the following authentic hadeeth, "I was a prophet while Adam was between the spirit and body" narrated by at-Haakim and others [See 'Silisilah as-Saheehah' of al-Albaanee (no. 1756) for detailed documentation.]But this hadeeth is explained by the narration of at-Tirmidhee in which the Prophet (SAW) was asked, "when was the Prophethood made obligatory for you" to which he replied, "while Adam was between the spirit and the body" [At-Tirmidhee chpt. 'The virtues of the Prophet (SAW)' (vol. 10 of the commentary of al-Mubaarakfooree.)]Meaning when Adam was is the state in which the soul was about to enter the body. [ 'Tuhfatul Ahwadhee bi Sharh Jaami at-Tirmidhee' (vol. 10, chpt. 'The virtues of the Prophet (SAW)') of al-Mubaarakfooree (d.1311)]And by the hadeeth related in the Saheehs of al-Haakim and ibn Hibbaan, "I was written as a Prophet in the presence of Allaah while Adam was intertwined in his clay."As for the hadeeth, 'I was the first Prophet to be created and the last to be sent' narrated by Abu Nu'aym in 'ad-Dalaa'il' (pg. 6) and others then this is weak (da'eef) as declared by al-Munaawee and adh-Dhahabee (d.748) and al-Albaanee. ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (2/115 no.661) for detailed documentation.]

    Hadeeth 4 - '...the One who knows himself, knows his Lord...'

    The hadeeth, "the One who knows himself, knows his Lord" as-Sakhaawee said, "Abu al-Mudhaffar as-Sama'aanee said, 'this is not known as a hadeeth of the Messenger, rather it is only related as a saying of Yahya bin Mu'aadh ar-Raazee.' And likewise an-Nawawee said, 'it is not established'" ['al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah' (pg. 491 no.1149)] as-Suyutee said, "this hadeeth is not authentic" [ 'Haawee lil Fataawee' (2/351)]Alee al-Qaaree quoted from ibn Taymiyyah saying, "fabricated" ['al-Asraar al-Marfoo'ah' (pg. 83)]al-Allaamaa Fairozabaadee said, "this is not from the Prophetic ahaadeeth, despite the fact that the majority of people make it so, and it is not authentic at all. It is only related from the Jewish traditions as 'O mankind! Know yourself and you will know your Lord'" ['ar-Radd alaa al-Mu'tarideen' (2/37)]al-Albaanee says, "it has no basis" ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/165 no.66)]

    Hadeeth 5 - '...the heart of my believeing servant can contain Me...'

    The hadeeth, "Allaah says, 'neither My Heaven or My earth can contain Me, but the heart of My believing servant can contain Me.'" Al-Ghazaalee mentioned this in his 'Ihyaa Ulum ad-Deen' with the wording, "Neither My Heaven nor My earth can contain Me, but the soft humble heart of my believing servant can contain Me".Al-Haafidh al-Iraaqee (the Shaykh of ibn Hajr) said in his notes to 'al-Ihyaa', "I find no basis for it." And as-Suyutee agreed with him, following az-Zarkashee.Al-Iraaqee then said, "but in the hadeeth of Abu Utbah in at-Tabaraanee there occurs, 'the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of the righteous servants, and the most beloved to Him are the softest and most tender ones'"ibn Taymiyyah said, "it (the original hadeeth) is mentioned in the Israelite traditions, but there is no known isnaad from the Prophet (SAW) for it."as-Sakhaawee said, agreeing with as-Suyutee, "there is no known isnaad from the Prophet (SAW), and it's meaning is that his heart can contain belief in Me, love of Me and gnosis of Me. But as for the one who says that Allaah incarnates in the hearts of the people, then he is more of an infidel than the Christians who specified that to Christ alone."Az-Zarkashee said that one of the scholars said that it is a false hadeeth, fabricated by a renegade from the religion. He also said that at-Tabaraanee has related from Abu Utbah al-Khawlaanee from the Prophet (SAW) that, "Truly, Allaah has vessels from amongst the people of the earth, and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of his righteous slaves, and the Most beloved of them to Him are the softest and most tender ones" [ 'Kash al-Khafaa' (no.2256)]al-Albaanee declared the last mentioned hadeeth to be hasan (good) ['Silsilah as-Saheehah' (no.1691)]

    Hadeeth 6 - '...love of ones homeland is part of faith...'

    The hadeeth, "love of ones homeland is part of faith" as-Saghaanee declared it to be maudu (fabricated) [ 'al-Mawdoo'aat' (pg. 7)]as-Sakhaawee said,"I have not found it" [ 'Maqaasid al-Hasanah' (pg. 218 no. 386)]al-Albaanee declares it to be fabricated.['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/110 no.36)]The scholars have discussed it's meaning and differed to what extent the meaning is correct if at all, see the discussions in the above three references for detail.

    Hadeeth 7 - '...Seek knowledge even if it be to China...'

    The hadeeth, "Seek knowledge even if it be to China" Related by ibn Adee (2/207)m Abu Nu'aym in 'Akhbaar Asbahaan' and others via many routes of narration, and all of them adding the words "for indeed seeking knowledge is an obligatory duty upon all Muslims."Ibn al-Jawzee mentions this and then quotes ibn Hibbaan saying, "invalid/rejected, it has no basis" 'al-Mawdoo'aat' (1/215)]adh-Dhahabee also endorsed the above words of ibn Hibbaan, ['Tarteeb al-Mawdoo'aat' of adh-Dhahabee (pg. 52 no. 111)] and likewise as-Sakhaawee ['Maqaasid al-Hasanah' (pg. 86 no. 125)]al-Albaanee declares this hadeeth to be maudu (fabricated) ['Da'eef al-Jaami as-Sagheer' (no's 1005-1006)]In summary, the above hadeeth is related by a group of trustworthy narrators without the words "even if it be to China" and a few narrators who are deemed weak/liars/abandoned by the scholars narrate this additional wording. So the hadeeth with the additional wording is fabricated, but without is hasan (good). [See 'Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (1/600 no. 416) for detail.]

    Hadeeth 8 - '...returned from the Lesser Jihaad, to the Greater Jihaad...'

    The hadeeth, "We have returned from the Lesser Jihaad, to the Greater Jihaad (i.e. the Jihaad against oneself)" Related by al-Bayhaqi with a da'eef isnaad according to al-Iraaqee. Ibn Hajr said that this was a saying of Ibraaheem bin Abee Ablah, a Taabi'ee, and not a hadeeth of the Messenger (SAW). ['Kashf al-Khafaa' (no.1362)]

    Hadeeth 9 - '...Abdaal (Substitutes)...'

    The ahaadeeth on the Abdaal (The Substitutes) as-Sakhaawee said, "it has a number of different routes from Anas (RA) from the Prophet (SAW), with contradictory wording, all of which are da'eef."a. the hadeeth related by al-Khalaal in 'Karaamaat al-Awliyaa', "the Abdaal are forty men and forty women, each time a man dies Allaah substitutes another in his place, and each time a woman dies Allaah substitutes another in her place" b. the hadeeth related by at-Tabaraanee, "there will always be on the earth forty people like al-Khaleel (Ibraaheem), alayhis salaam, and by them the people will given to drink (or have rain come down), and by them the people will be aided, not a single one of them dies except that Allaah substitutes another in his place."c. the hadeeth related by ibn Adee in 'Kaamil', "the Abdaal are forty, 22 from Shaam, and 18 from Iraaq, each time one of them dies Allaah substitutes another in his place. And when the Command comes then all of them will be taken (qubidoo) and at that time the Hour will be established." d. the hadeeth related by Ahmad, al-Khallaal and others from Ubaadah bin Saamit (RA) from the Messenger (SAW), "There will always be thirty people in this Ummah like Ibraaheem, each time one of them dies Allaah substitutes another in his place." e. at-Tabaraanee has the wording, "and by them the earth will be established, and by them it will rain, and by them they will be aided." f. the hadeeth of Abu Nu'aym in 'al-Hilya' from ibn Umar from the Messenger (SAW), "the chosen ones of this nation are 500, and the abdaal are 40 in every generation, and neither the 500 or the 40 will decrease, each time one of them dies Allaah substitutes another in his place." The Companions said, "tell us of their actions" He said, "they forgive those that do dhulm to them, and they behave well with those that behave badly to them" g. al-Khallaal has the wording, "There will always be forty people by whom the earth is preserved, each time one of them dies Allaah substitutes another in his place."h. the hadeeth in al-Hilya from ibn Mas'ud (RA), "there will always be 40 people from my Ummah whose hearts are like the heart of Ibraaheem, Allaah will drive away (evil from?) the people of the earth by them, they will be called the Abdaal. Indeed they will not attain it (the position of Abdaal) by (a great deal of) prayer or fasting or giving in charity." So they asked, "so how will they attain it O Messenger of Allaah?" He said, "through generosity, and by advising the Muslims."i. The hadeeth reported by at-Tabaraanee in 'al-Ajwaad' from Anas (RA) from the Messenger (SAW), "indeed the Abdaal of this ummah will not enter Paradise due to (a great deal) of prayer or fasting, but they will enter due to generosity and secure hearts and advising the Muslims."j. and the similar hadeeth of al-Kharaa'itee in 'al-Makaarim' related by Abu Sa'eed After mentioning these as-Sakhaawee goes on to say, "and some of them are more severely weak than others."['Maqaasid al-Hasanah' (pp 26-28 no.8)]There are other hadeeth as-Sakhaawee mentions after this but fails to give a clear verdict on them, some of these will be discussed below.al-Albaanee talking about hadeeth f) above says, Maudu (fabricated) related by Abu Nu'aym in 'al-Hilya' (1/8) from the route of at-Tabaraanee. And from him by ibn al-Jawzee in 'al-Mawdoo'aat' (3/151 his book on fabricated hadeeth).[biographical detail on narrators omitted]Adh-Dhahabee said in 'al-Meezaan' , 'it is not known, and the story to do with the manners of the Abdaal is a lie' talking about this hadeeth. And ibn Hajr endorsed this in 'al-Lisaan'." ['Silsilah ad-Da'eefah' (2/339 no.935)]As-Suyuti incorporated this hadeeth in his 'Jaami as-Sagheer' and declared it hasan. But al-Munaawee followed this up by pointing out the defects of the hadeeth, then after quoting the aforementioned words of adh-Dhahabee he said, "and ibn al-Jawzee ruled it to be fabricated, and the author (as-Suyutee) agreed with him in 'Mukhtasar al-Mawdoo'aat' and he endorsed ibn al-Jawzee's verdict and did not follow it up." Al-Albaanee concludes his discussion on the hadeeth by saying, "and know that there is no hadeeth to do with the Abdaal which is authentic, all of them are defective, and some of them are more severely weak than others. And I will mention a few of them for you, and unveil their defect, if Allaah the Exalted and Blessed Wills."[Ibid] He then discusses hadeeth d) and e) above and declares them to be munkar (rejected). [Silsilah ad-Da'eefah (2/339+ no.936) for a detailed discussion.] Al-Haafidh ibn al-Qayyim states in 'al-Manaar az-Muneef', "the ahaadeeth concerning the Abdaal, Aqtaab, Nuqabaa, Agwaath, Najabaa and Awtaad are all false (baatil)"Imaam Ahmad follows up hadeeth d) up by saying, "it is a munkar hadeeth". As for this same hadeeth al-Haythamee said, "reported by Ahmad, and it's narrators are that of the saheeh except for Waahid bin Qais who has been declared thiqah by al-Ijlee and Abu Zur'ah but weak by other than these two" (Mujma 10/62)Waahid bin Qais has been declared to be da'eef by a group of scholars amongst them ibn Ma'een (in one of two reports from him), Abu Haatim, and Saalih bin Muhammad al-Baghdaadee. Adh-Dhahabee points out that Waahid bin Qais only met some taabi'een so according to this the isnaad is also munqati as he reports directly from the Companion Ubaadah bin Saamit. As for hadeeth e) then ibn Hajr al-Haythamee declared this da'eef in his 'Mujma az-Zawaa'id' (10/63) due to it's isnaad containing two unknown narrators.Al-Albaanee then discusses another hadeeth not mentioned above to do with the Abdaal related from Shahr bin Hawshab from Awf bin Maalik (RA) and declares it to be severely weak, and likewise he declares a hadeeth related from Alee to be da'eef.Adh-Dhahabee quotes hadeeth, d) and one similar to e) and others and concludes by saying, "by Allaah there is no one in the Ummah of Muhammad like Abu Bakr, and the distance between him and Ibraaheem in excellence cannot be measured. But this is from the fabrication of Abdurrahmaan bin Marzooq at-Tarsoosee may Allaah not give him victory." Then he endorses ibn al-Jawzees verdict on hadeeth c) that it is fabricated. [Tarteeb al-Mawdoo'aat (pg.272 no.'s 974-977)

    Hadeeth 10 - '...Disagreement will occur at the death of a Khaleef...'

    The hadeeth of Abu Dawood [Eng. Trans no.4273] from Umm Salamah that the Prophet (SAW) said, "disagreement will occur at the death of a Khaleef and a man of the people of Madeenah will come forth flying to Mecca. Some of the people of Mecca will come to him, bring him out against his will and swear allegiance to him between the corner and the maqaam. An expeditionary force will then be sent against them from Syria but will be swallowed up by the desert between Mecca and Madeenah, and when the people see that, the Abdaal of Syria and the best people of Iraaq will come to him and swear allegiance to him between the corner and the Maqaam." Al-Albaanee says in 'ad-Da'eefah' (no. 1965), "Da'eef." Reported by Ahmad (6/316), Abu Dawood (4286), and via their route ibn Asaakir (1/280) from the route of Hishaam from Qataadah from Abu Khaleel from a companion of his from Umm Salamah from the Messenger (SAW).I say: it's narrators are all thiqah except for the companion of Abu Khaleel for he is not named and is therefore majhool.Then Abu Dawood and at-Tabaraanee in 'al-Awsat' (9613) report it via the route of Abu al-Awaam from Qataadah from Abu Khaleel from Abdullaah bin al-Haarith from Umm Salamah from the Prophet (SAW).At-Tabaraanee said, "no one reports this hadeeth from Qataadah except Imraan.I say: the majhool narrator has been named as Abdullaah bin Haarith, and he is ibn Nawfal al-Madanee and he is thiqah being depended upon in the Two Saheehs. But in the route to him is Abu al-Awaam who is Imraan bin Dawood al-Qattaan and he has some weakness arising due to his memory.Al-Bukhaaree said, "truthful but makes mistakes." Ad-Daaruqutnee said, "he used to commonly be inconsistent and make mistakes."And al-Haafidh depended upon this saying of Bukhaaree in his 'Taqreeb' Therefore his adding a thiqah narrator (in the isnaad) is something that the soul does not find tranquillity in.Al-Haakim also reports this hadeeth via him (4/431) with the wording, "a man from my nation shall be sworn allegiance to between the Corner and the Station by a number of people like the number of the people of Badr, then the best of the people of Iraaq shall come to him and the Abdaal of Shaam. Then a expedition from Shaam will set out against him...."Al-Haakim did not give it a ruling but adh-Dhahabee said, "Abu al-Awaam Imraan has been declared da'eef by more than one, and he was a Khaarijee."Then I saw the hadeeth in 'Mawaarid al-Dham'aan' (1881) via the route of Abu Ya'la (4/1651) from Muhammad bin Yazeed bin Rifaa'a from Wahb bin Jareer from Hishaam bin Abu Abdullaah from Qataadah from Saalih Abu Khaleel from Mujaahid from Umm Salamah.The narrators of this isnaad are the narrators of the Two Saheehs except for ibn Rifaa'a, and he is Abu Hishaam ar-Rifaa'ee and he is da'eef. And he additionally mentioned Mujaahid in his isnaad but his addition is not counted. Then I found a follow-up to this hadeeth reported by at-Tabaraanee in 'al-Awsat' (1164) via the route of Ubaidullaah bin Umru from Mu'mar from Qataadah from Mujaahid and at-Tabraanee said, "Ubaidullaah bin Umru said: Then I narrated it to Layth and he said Mujaahid reported this to me."At-Tabaraanee said, "this hadeeth has not been reported from Mu'mar except by Ubaidullaah."I say: and he is thiqah like the rest of the narrators of this isnaad. But they have differed about it's isnaad to Qataadah in 4 ways:
    Qataadah from Abu Khaleel from a companion of his from Umm Salamah. This is the report of Hishaam ad-Dastawaa'ee from him.
    The same except the companion of his has been named as Abdullaah bin al-Haarith
    The same except that the companion of his has been named as Mujaahid
    The same except that Abu al-Khaleel has been omitted between Qataadah and Mujaahid.

    This is a severe difference which necessitates investigation and declaring which is the strongest isnaad. It is obvious that the first three options deserve credence due to their agreeing that between Qataadah and Umm Salamah there are two narrators whereas the fourth option mentions only one. So upon considering this the fourth option is to be left due to its opposing the group.Then we carefully studied the remaining three options. It is totally clear that the third option is to be left due to the weakness of ibn Rifaa'ah. Close to this is the second option due to the poor memory of Imraan as has preceded. Therefore the first option remains, and this is the weightiest out of the four. And when this (first isnaad) revolves around the companion of Abu Khaleel who is unnamed in a route that otherwise would be free of defect then he is the defect. And Allaah knows best.
    The hadeeth has a number of other routes from Umm Salamah and other than her summarised, not containing mention of the story of the pledge of allegiance and the Abdaal and it is investigated in 'as-Saheehah' (no.1924).

    [NB it should be noted that the term 'Abdaal' was a term known amongst the salaf and other early scholars as mentioned by as-Sakhaawee in 'Maqaasid'. Ibn Taymiyyah in 'al-wasatiyyah' and al-Albaanee. What is differed about is what it refers to - the strongest opinion is that it refers to the Ahlul Hadeeth as mentioned by a number of early scholars amongst them Khateeb al-Baghdaadee in his 'Sharf Ashaabul Hadeeth.]


    Prof. Abdur Rahman I. Doi Professor and Director, Center for Islamic Legal Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, Nigeria.

    Importance of Marriage in Islam

    Allah has created men and women as company for one another, and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquillity according to the commandments of Allah and the directions of His Messenger. The Qur'an says:

    And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)
    And Allah has made for you your mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best. (16:72)
    These verses of the Noble Qur'an clearly show that in contrast to other religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism etc. which consider celibacy or monasticism as a great virtue and a means of salvation, Islam considers marriage as one of the most virtuous and approved institutions. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) declared, "There is no monasticism in Islam." He further ordained,

    "O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty." (Al-Bukhari)
    Modesty was regarded as a great virtue by the Prophet. He said, "Modesty is part of faith." (Al-Bukhari)
    The importance of the institution or marriage receives its greatest emphasis from the following hadith of the Prophet,

    "Marriage is my sunna. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me."
    With these Qur'anic injunctions and the guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in mind, we shall examine the institution of marriage in the Shari'ah.
    The word zawaj is used in the Qur'an to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since the family is the nucleus of Islamic society, and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) insisted upon his followers entering into marriage The Shari'ah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security, and tranquillity. Marriage in Islam has aspects of both 'ibadah (worship) of Allah and mu'amalah (transactions between human beings).

    In its 'ibadah aspect, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah because it is in accordance with his commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other to make efforts to continue the human race and rear and nurse their children to become true servants of Allah.

    In its mu'amalah aspect, marriage being a lawful response to the basic biological instinct to have sexual intercourse and to procreate children, the Shari'ah has prescribed detailed rules for translating this response into a living human institution reinforced by a whole framework of legally enforceable rights and duties, not only of the spouses, but also of their offspring.

    These aspects are beautifully explained in a tradition of the Prophet. It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

    "When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half."
    The Prophet considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc., which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarreling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (peace be upon him) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by taqwa.

    Conditions of Marriage

    Careful consideration of the Qur'anic injunctions and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly show that marriage is compulsory (wajib) for a man who has the means to easily pay the mahr (dowry) and to support a wife and children, and is healthy, and fears that if does not marry, he may be tempted to commit fornication (zina). It is also compulsory for a woman who has no other means of maintaining herself and who fears that her sexual urge may push her into fornication. But even for a person who has a strong will to control his sexual desire, who has no wish to have children, and who feels that marriage will keep him away from his devotion to Allah, it is commendable (mandub).
    However, according to the Maliki school, under certain conditions it is obligatory (fard) for a Muslim to marry even if he is not in a position to earn his living:

    If he fears that by not marrying he will commit fornication (zina).
    If he is unable to fast to control his passions or his fasting does not help him to refrain from zina.
    Even if he is unable to find a slave girl or a destitute girl to marry.
    However some jurists suggest that if a man cannot procure a lawful livelihood, he must not marry because if he marries without any hope of getting lawful bread, he may commit theft, and in order to avoid one evil (his passions) he may become the victim of another (theft).
    The Hanafi school considers marriage as obligatory (fard) for a man:

    If he is sure that he will commit zina if he does not marry.
    If he cannot fast to control his passions or even if he can fast, his fast does not help him to control his passion.
    If he cannot get a slave-girl to marry.
    If he is able to pay the dowry (mahr) and to earn a lawful livelihood.
    Marriage is forbidden (haram) to a man, according to the Hanafi school, if he does not possess the means to maintain his wife and children or if he suffers from an illness, serious enough to affect his wife and progeny.
    It is not desirable (makruh) for a man who possesses no sexual desire at all or who has no love for children or who is sure to be slackened in his religious obligations as a result of marriage.

    In a beautiful tradition the Prophet (peace be upon him) has given the most important point that should weigh with every Muslim in selecting his bride:

    "Whoever marries a woman solely for her power and position, Allah will only increase him in humiliation. Whoever marries a woman solely for her wealth, Allah will only increase him in poverty. Whoever marries a woman because of her beauty, Allah will only increase him in ugliness. But whoever marries a woman in order that he may restrain his eyes, observe cautiousness, and treat his relations kindly, Allah puts a blessing in her for him and in him for her."
    In order that problems should not arise after marriage the Prophet (peace be upon him) recommended that, in the selection of his bride, a man should see her before betrothal lest blindness of choice or an error of judgment should defeat the very purpose of marriage. But this "seeing" is not to be taken as a substitute for the "courtship" of the West. The man should not gaze passionately at his bride-to-be, but only have a critical look at her face and hands to acquaint himself with her personality and beauty. However, if a man so desires, he may appoint a woman to go and interview the proposed bride, so that she may fully describe the type of girl she is.
    Since believing men and women are referred to in the Qur'an, a woman also has the right to look at her potential husband.

    The special permission for men and women to see each other with a view to matrimony does not contravene the code of conduct for believing men and women to lower their gaze and be modest which is laid down in the Holy Qur'an.

    Ijbar: A Safety Valve

    The consent of both the man and the women is an essential element of marriage, and the Qur'an gives women a substantial role in choosing their own life partners. It lays down:

    Do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree between themselves in a lawful manner. (2: 232)
    However, Imam Malik, one of the four great Imams of the Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, gives a slightly restrictive interpretation to this verse and makes the choice of partner by a Muslim girl subject to the over-ruling power or ijbar of her father or guardian in the interests of the girl herself.
    It may sometimes happen that in her immaturity or over-zealousness, a girl may want to marry a man about whom she has distorted information or who does not possess good character or who lacks proper means of livelihood. In such a case, it is better, or rather incumbent upon the girl's father or guardian, that, in the wider interests of the girl, he restrains her from marrying such a worthless man and finds a suitable person to be her husband. Generally speaking, such marriages arranged by fathers and guardians work better than a marriage brought about through western courtship.

    The case of Abu Juham bin Hudhaifah and Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan is relevant here. They proposed marriage to Fatimah bint Ghaith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised Fatimah not to marry either of them on the grounds that Mu'awiyah was then a pauper and Abu Juham was cruel and harsh. So she married Usamah.

    The Free Consent of the Parties

    The Qur'an (4:21) refers to marriage as a mithaq, i.e. a solemn covenant or agreement between husband and wife, and enjoins that it be put down in writing. Since no agreement can be reached between the parties unless they give their consent to it, marriage can be contracted only with the free consent of the two parties. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

    "The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until their order is obtained, and the virgin shall not be married until her consent is obtained." (AlBukhari)
    This aspect is greatly emphasized by Imam Bukhari. He, in fact, gave one of the chapters in his Sahih the significant title:

    "When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be annulled." Once a virgin girl came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said that her father had married her to a man against her wishes. The Prophet gave her the right to repudiate the marriage. (Abu Dawud).
    Divorced women are also given freedom to contract a second marriage. The Holy Qur'an says,

    And when you divorce women, and they have come to the end of their waiting period, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner. (2: 232)
    With regard to widows, the Qur'an says,

    And if any of you die and leave behind wives, they bequeath thereby to their widows (the right to) one year's maintenance without their being obliged to leave (their husband's home), but if they leave (the residence) of their own accord, there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves in a lawful manner. (2:234)

    Thus widows are also at liberty to re-marry, even within the period mentioned above; and if they do so they must forgo their claim to traditional maintenance during the remainder of the year. However, it must be remembered that the power of ijbar given to the a father or the guardian by the Maliki school over their selection of life- partner obtains in all the situations considered above, namely, whether the daughter or the ward is a virgin or divorcee or widow.

    Prohibited Marriage Partners

    Under the Shari'ah, marriages between men and women standing in a certain relationship to one another are prohibited. These prohibited degrees are either of a permanent nature or a temporary. The permanently prohibited degrees of marriage are laid down in the Holy Qur'an :

    And marry not those women whom your fathers married, except what has already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! it was ever lewdness and abomination, and an evil way. Forbidden unto you are your mothers and your daughters, and your sisters and your father's sisters and your mother's sisters, and your brother's daughters and your sister's daughters, and your foster-mothers and your foster-sisters, and your mothers-in-law and your step-daughters who are under your mother-in-law and your step-daughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom you have gone into -- but if you have not gone into them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) -- and the wives of your sons from your own loins, and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already happened (of that nature) in the past. Allah is ever-Forgiving, Merciful. (4:22 - 24)
    From the above verses, it is clear that a Muslim must never marry the following:

    His mother
    His step-mother (this practice continues in Yoruba land in Nigeria, where in some cases the eldest son inherits the youngest wife of his father)
    His grandmother (including father's and mother's mothers and all preceding mothers e.g. great grandmothers )
    His daughter (including granddaughters and beyond )
    His sister (whether full, consanguine or uterine)
    His father's sisters (including paternal grandfather's sisters)
    His mother's sisters (including maternal grandmother's sisters)
    His brother's daughters
    His foster mother
    His foster mother's sister
    His sister's daughter
    His foster sister
    His wife's mother
    His step-daughter (i.e. a daughter by a former husband of a woman he has married if the marriage has been consummated. However, if such a marriage was not consummated, there is no prohibition)
    His real son's wife
    A great wisdom lies behind these prohibitions on the grounds of consanguinity, affinity, and fosterage. No social cohesion can exist if people do not keep these prohibitions in their minds while contracting marriages.
    Temporary prohibitions are those which arise only on account of certain special circumstances in which the parties are placed. If the circumstances change, the prohibition also disappears. They are as follows:

    A man must not have two sisters as wives at the same time nor can he marry a girl and her aunt at the same time.
    A man must not marry a woman who is already married. However this impediment is removed immediately if the marriage is dissolved either by the death of her former husband, or by divorce followed by completion of the period of 'iddah (retreat).
    A man must not have more than four wives at one time. This impediment is, of course, removed as soon as one of the wives dies or is divorced.
    A man must not marry a woman during her 'iddah.
    Regarding this last prohibition, the Qur'an expects Muslims to act with the utmost propriety and righteousness. It lays down:

    ...but do not make a secret contract with them except in honourable terms, nor resolve on the tie of marriage till the term prescribed is fulfilled. (2:235)
    This means that a man must not make a specific proposal of marriage to a woman during the time of her 'iddah after the death of her husband or an irrevocable divorce. However, he can send a message saying, for instance, "I wish to find a woman of good character". But if a woman is in the 'iddah of a divorce which is revocable where raja' (return) is possible, a man must not send her even an implied invitation to marry him, because she is still considered as the lawful wife of the first husband. In fact, this restriction is most beneficial because it prevents a man from becoming an instrument of breaking up a family where there are still chances of reconciliation between the wife and husband even though they are moving away from each other.

    Two Suitors Seeking to Marry the Same Girl

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) disapproved of two persons competing with one another to secure marriage with the same girl. This is because such a situation is likely to develop bitter enmity between two Muslim brothers.
    The Prophet said, "A believer is a brother of a believer. Hence it is not lawful for him to bargain upon the bargain of a brother, nor propose for (the hand of a girl) after the marriage proposal of his brother, until the latter (voluntarily) withdraws the proposal."
    Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi'i, and Imam Malik, all hold the view that it is a sin to put a proposal of marriage against the proposal of another Muslim brother. However, if a marriage is contracted in this wrongful way it will be sufficient if the second suitor who was successful seeks the forgiveness of the first suitor and of Allah. But Imam Dhahiri considers such a marriage void. It is respectfully submitted that the former view is more rational and sound.

    11 tips for Muslim couples dealing with marital disputes in the West

    Marriages usually start off so nicely. Everyone cooperates-the couple, their parents, other relatives, friends. Things usually run smoothly.

    But somewhere along the way, marital disputes pop up. This is of course natural, but these can escalate to dangerous levels if not dealt with correctly.

    Sound Vision spoke to Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada (ISSA) about tips for couples dealing with marital disputes. She pinpointed some problems and provided tips on how to deal with them.

    1. Money

    Couples argue over many things but money is by far one of the most frequent and serious. The solution is to discuss issues openly and consult within the family.

    For instance, the issue of a wife working outside the home can become a contentious one. This should preferably be discussed before marriage. Also, if she does decide to work and the husband agrees, does she want to contribute a certain portion to household expenses or will she keep all of the money for herself (which is her right)?

    One of the ways to avoid arguments about money is to simply make an easy budget which tracks expenses, income, investments, and establishes a framework for taking care of regular family necessities (see a sample budget for a family).

    Also, learn how to make a budget and deal with debt. If you are a young student, keep in mind you have to pay off student loans. You should also know where to get interest-free loans and what assistance is available (for more information about Islamic money issues, check out Sound Vision's money page.

    2. In-laws

    In-laws are the focus of blame and reproach when there are marital disputes. But there are ways to maintain a good relationship with them. Here are some tips:

    a. Remember your spouse's parents have known them longer and loved them longer. Never make an issue about "me or them".

    b. Let respective parties settle their own disputes. If your mother-in-law has a problem with her husband, let them deal with it. Don't interfere

    c. Don't tell your spouse how to improve their relationship with their parents.

    d. Expect some adjustment time for parents after marriage to adjust to this new relationship.

    e. Remember that mothers are usually skeptical about daughter-in-laws and fathers about son-in-laws.

    e. Always treat your in-laws with compassion, respect and mercy.

    f. Maintain a balance between your needs and that of your in-laws.

    g. Never compare your wife to your mother or your husband to your dad.

    h. Do not go to your parents with your quarrels.

    i. If you are supporting your parents financially inform your spouse as a matter of courtesy and clarity.

    j. Do not forbid your spouse from seeing family unless you fear for their religion and safety.

    k.Do not divulge secrets.

    l. Make time to know your in-laws but stay out of their disputes.

    m. Maintain the Adab (etiquettes) of Islam with your sister- and brother-in-laws (i.e.no hugging or kissing).

    n. You are not obliged to spend every weekend with your in-laws.

    o. Give grandparents easy and reasonable access to their grandchildren.

    p. Be forgiving and keep your sense of humor.

    q. Remember that nobody can interfere or influence your marriage unless you allow them to.

    r. Invite in-laws at least once a month for a meal.

    s. Visit them when you can and encourage your spouse to visit their parents and regularly check on them.

    t. When parents become dependent on their children, a serious discussion with all parties present should take place. Expectations and requirements of such a living arrangement must be worked out.

    3. Parenting

    The tug of war that results from differing understandings of parenting are also a source of tension in marriage. One solution is to start learning about Islamic parenting before having children. If you already have kids, you can still learn. Check out Sound Vision's parenting page. Or contact organizations like ISSA for resources.

    4. Stress

    Stress is an almost constant factor in most people's lives in North America. Muslim couples are no exception. Stress from work, for example, is carried into the home.

    Couples and families need to work out a coping mechanism in the family. For instance, couples can take a walk to talk about the day or go to the Masjid for at least one prayer. They can read Quran individually or together. The methods can vary, but as long as they are Halal and work, they can be used.

    5. Domestic violence

    This is an extremely sad reality and unless it is dealt with promptly by victims, perpetrators and/or those concerned about the two, then the family will break. Seeking help is necessary and if domestic violence is not stopped, the destructive effects will not only be harmful to the husband and wife, but to their children as well.

    Family members, friends and Imams need to stop the abuse. They must intervene and work on getting help for the husband and the wife.

    6. Spiritual incompatibility

    This is a growing problem in North America, where Muslims from all around the world live and different understandings of Islam are present. There is a disturbing lack of tolerance amongst young Muslims, especially, who may get sucked into cult-like groups which preach a "we're right and everyone else is wrong" mentality, whether the issue is where you put your hands in prayer or whether you decide to wear Western clothes or traditional Eastern ones.

    This intolerance is being transferred to marriages, where a couple may differ on minor points of faith. Married couples must understand the difference between an Islamically acceptable difference of opinion and one that is not. They must develop a tolerance, balance and respect for their differences on that basis.

    7. Sexual dysfunction

    This is one of the least talked about problems, but it is one that is wreaking havoc in a number of marriages. Many couples who are marrying are not learning the Islamic perspective on sex and marriage. As a result, when they are not satisfied with their spouse, a number of them may turn to others or seek easy divorce, instead of a solution.

    Couples have to understand that the marital relationship in this area, as in others, needs work and patience and cannot be the subject of whims and impatience. Knowledge, practice and if possible, the advice of a wise, compassionate scholar are two key elements in finding a solution to this problem.

    8. Interfaith marriages

    Islam forbids marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. There are a number of Muslim women who have taken this step and regretted it later. Such an action, in most Muslim families, results in the woman being isolated from her family with no support. As a result, when marital disputes do arise, parental support, which is there for many Muslim couples, is not there for these women. These Muslim women may also experience guilt for disobeying Allah and hurting their parents.

    In other cases, Muslim women ask non-Muslim men they want to marry to convert shortly before the marriage to appease their parents. Again this can lead to marital disputes. Two things usually happen. Either the man becomes a truly practicing Muslim and the couple is no longer compatible; or he's bombarded with Muslims from the community wanting to invite him to Islam and he gets upset and may hate Islam.

    In the case of Muslim men marrying Jewish and Christian women, the situation is different. While Islam does allow this, Muslim men marrying Jews and Christians need to remember that living in the West, if they end up divorcing, the children will almost automatically be given to the mother. Also, remember that the mother is the child's most important school. If you want your kids to grow up as practicing Muslims, you are better off marrying a practicing Muslim woman, especially in the West, where the unIslamic cultural influences outside the home are strong enough. Inside the home, it will become even harder to maintain Islamic influences if a mother is not a practicing Muslim herself.

    9. Intercultural marriages

    While Islam does not forbid intercultural marriages, they can become a source of tension when Muslims, primarily the couple, but also their families, make their culture more important than Islam. If parental support is there for an intercultural marriage, things are smoother for the couple. If there is not, and if there is even hostile opposition on the part of one or both sets of parents, it could be better to not marry the person in the long run.

    10. Lack of domestic skills

    While girls are being encouraged to become scientists, engineers and doctors, for instance, there is little to no emphasis being placed on gaining domestic skills. It should be remembered that in Islam, while women are not forbidden from working within Islamic guidelines, and men are encouraged to help with housework, women's primary duty is within the home as a home manager and mother. As a result of the lack of domestic skills, many married couples find themselves in messy homes, where meals lack proper nutrition and in general, there is frustration.

    If a married couple is working, husbands need to pitch in more in the home and remember that their wife is a not a machine, but a human being who also needs rest after a hard day of work.

    11. The modern Muslim woman meets the old-fashioned Muslim man

    While young Muslim women of the West are being encouraged to be strong and confident, boys are being raised in the same way and with the same cultural expectations as their fathers. As a result, young couples face a tug of war, when the old-fashioned, young Muslim boy won't lift a finger around the house (since he never saw his dad do this) and his young Muslim wife expects him to pitch in, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) did with his wives.

    As well, a number of young Muslim men expect their wives not to argue with them since they never saw their mother cross their father. This is once again cultural. But what is clear is that boys and girls are being raised very differently. Parents have to be more careful to give proper training to both children. As well, parents need to intervene in cases of dispute of this nature and be fair, not favor their own child.

    The Concept of Work in Islam

    Islam lays great emphasis on work. At many places in the Qur'aan it is made clear that time should not be wasted. In the Qur'aan, God draws attention to all the magnificent creations as an indication of the proper planning that leads to wonderful results for Muslims believe that He creates nothing haphazardly. God relates in the Qur'aan how the heavens and the earth were created in six days and describes that as a sign for humankind. Then the Qur'aan directs a message to humanity that it should contribute positively to the earth, that is, it should work to make use of what is created for its benefit:

    And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad). And h\that his deeds will be seen. Then he will be recompensed with a full and the best recompense. (An-Najm 53: 39 - 41)

    In Islam work is given special importance to the extent that it is considered as an act of worship in itself. Although some people believe that they are not obliged to work because they dedicate themselves to worshipping God, this is actually a wrong perception of the concept of worship.

    The Muslim scholar Imam Al-Ghazali mentioned in his book Ihyaa Ulum Ad-Deen (Revival of the Religious Sciences) that Jesus (Peace be upon him) once saw a man who had completely devoted himself to worship. When he asked him how he got his daily bread, the man replied that his brother, who worked, provided him with food. Jesus then told him: That brother of yours is more religious than you are (The Book of Provision, Chapter 1). Al-Ghazali also mentions the Prophet's (peace be upon him) Companion 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who used to stress this point further by telling people: Never should anyone of you think that Du'aa (Supplication) for sustenance without work will avail him, for heaven never rains gold nor silver (The Book of Provision, Chapter 1). (Imam Adh-Dhahabi, in his book Siyar A lam An-Nubula (Biographi of Prominent Scholars), attributed this saying to Hatem Al-Asam, also a famous scholar of Islam. But it is famously attributed to Imam Hasan Al-Basri in most scholastic

    Therefore, Islam is a religion of worshipping the Creator, with an essential part of that worship being working for survival. God tells us in the Qur'aan to traverse the universe and make use of all the abundant resources that have been created for us.

    Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) himself, who is considered a paragon of virtues in Islam, used to pray seeking God's refuge from laziness or idleness. Even before he was chosen as a Messenger of God, he was a hardworking person. This earned him the respect of his employer, Khadijah, who later proposed marriage to him because of all the merits and virtues she saw in him.

    In his instructions to Muslims on this aspect, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) strikes a balance between worship and work. So, as Muslims have to be constant in their acts of worship, they also have to work hard to make a living, as it is recorded n one of the famous sayings of scholars: Work hard (for making a living and survival) as if you are going to die (Al-Albani, Series of Weak and Fabricated Ahadith). Also, in exhorting Muslims on the importance of work, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) made it clear that earning one's sustenance from one's work is one of the praiseworthy acts of worship. It is recorded in his traditions how he turned a man who came to him begging into a productive member of the society by teaching him how to work and provide for himself.

    One of the scholars of Islam, Imam Hasan Al-Basri, was asked one day the secret behind his asceticism. The Imam mentioned four things in reply: One, I believe that my sustenance will never be hijacked by anybody (so I work to attain it). Two, I know that a work that is mine must be performed by me, so I do not slacken my efforts in performing it. Three, I believe that milord is Omnipresent (watching me), so I do not like Him seeing me committing sins. Four, I know that death is somewhere waiting for me, so I prepare for it (through good deeds).

    In this way, Islam lays down a practical framework for life by laying down these principles and guidelines. Islam strives to eradicate social ills, and vices that result from unemployment, idleness, and poverty, by instructing the youth to rise up to the challenge of shouldering responsibility at an early age, and also for the old not to give up their efforts n benefiting the society with their experience and working skills. Thus, the true message of Islam is not just for a Muslim to profess faith and do nothing for his or her society. Rather, Islam teaches that the true faith is what is demonstrated through sincere deeds that make a noticeable addition to the progress of society.

    IOL [Kamal Badr holds a Masters degree in international studies from Al-Azhar University. He is Editor in Chief of IslamOnline.net's English Website].

    Courtesy - Muslim Youth Magazine

    O Allah! Guide us, make our intentions sincere, accept our deeds, answer our prayers, and make us of those who are patient.


    And We have created everything in pairs, that perhaps you may remember.' (Quran, 51:49)

    So you are getting married? Congratulations, and may God bless you and bring you and your chosen partner to a long and happy life together! Leaving your childhood behind, and becoming man and wife together, is the most important step short of actually becoming Muslim that any human being can take in the interests of their own happiness and well being.

    `And among Allah's signs is this: that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, so that you might find rest in them; and He has set between you love and compassion. Truly there are signs in this for people who reflect.' (Quran, 20:21)

    `Our Lord, grant us the delight of our eyes from our wives and our offspring ... ` (Quran, 25:74)

    Marriage is such an important step that our blessed Prophet (s) spoke of marriage as being `half the religion': `Whoever has married has completed half of his religion; therefore let him fear Allah in the other half!' (Bayhaqi). You have only to use your eyes and your ears, and consider the marriages of those people you know in your own circle of family, friends and acquaintances, to know that this is so.

    If your marriage is happy and fulfilled, then no matter what troubles may beset you, no matter what hardships you are obliged to face as you pass along your road of life, no matter what sicknesses or distressing circumstances, you will always face them as if your back were against a protecting fortress, inside the walls of which you may set aside all the terrors and traumas for a while, and be loved.

    But marriage is also a most demanding training ground of faith. By claiming it to be `half the religion' the Blessed Prophet was not making an idle statement. When a human couple strives hard to get their marriage and family right in the eyes of God, they are indeed well on the road to Paradise.

    For it is love which makes a marriage - not a soppy, sentimental kind of romantic dream, but the sort of love which will roll up its sleeves and get stuck into the mess; the sort of love which will hang on to you when everyone else has turned against you and is speaking wrongly of you, while you have confidence that your partner (who knows you better than any person) will justify that confidence, and spring to your defense.

    Sounds too good to be true? Those of you who have grown up in unhappy circumstances, in families shaken by frustrations and depressions, where the adults were bitter and cynical, and over authoritarian, may well wonder if it is possible to have such a loving relationship with another human being.

    By the grace of God, it is possible, and it is what Allah intended for you, by the practice of Islam, which is submission to His compassionate, will. But a happy marriage is not simply `made in Heaven'. It does not just happen by accident.

    You could go into a most beautiful garden and be amazed at the profusion and lushness of the flowers, the neatness of the borders and grasses, the absence of marauding insects and pests - and you would never for a moment think that this had come about by accident. You would know, straight away, that the garden had been created by a person or team of people who loved gardening, and no matter what the setbacks and problems were determined to produce a thing of great beauty and joy. A marriage is cultivated in exactly the same way.

    You have to be able to see in your mind's eye the sort of garden/ marriage you would like to have when it is finished, and aim towards it. If events turn out slightly different to what you expected, it does not matter all that much, because your master plan will be there to keep you heading in the right direction, and all unexpected events will simply be incorporated into moving towards this plan.

    Carrying on with the garden imagery, you have to be able to recognize the seeds that you are planting, and weed out the plants you don't want before they cause trouble. Some seeds develop into beautiful flowers, while others are troublesome weeds - like bindweed, which climbs over everything else and chokes it, until the garden is buried and destroyed.

    You have to be on the alert for invasions of malicious pests, which although they are themselves claiming a right to live, are nevertheless gaining their living at the expense of yours, and are ruining the things you have planted.

    You have to keep an eye on the weather, and when there is not enough rainfall, you must do the long chore of going round the garden yourself carrying water, making sure everything is all right. In a long, dry spell, this might mean a great deal of drudgery - but you know that without it your garden will fail and die. It is up to you to keep everything going.

    All devout Muslims, men and women, should remember this fact, in case they think that in marriage God has granted them something in which they can just lounge about and `watch the flowers grow'. God never grants human beings this privilege. Whatever they have that gives them pleasure, they have to work for it - they really have to earn the right to be its steward.

    Everything in life is a gift, and does not belong as of right to any person. Even your body is a gift, enjoyed (or not enjoyed!) by your soul for the duration of its sojourn on earth. It is not there as a permanent feature of the universe; in fact, there are no permanent features of the universe - not even the rocks from which the great mountains are formed!

    God has made us stewards, the khulafa; the guardians of this wondrous planet and its life forms. And the most important life form that we will ever have to cherish is our own partner, our husband or wife. From that person, we are intended to produce in love the Muslims of the next generation, and set them on their own ways with our examples and encouragement. With that person, we are supposed to build up our own lives, free from fears and resentments and uncertainties, so that we can concentrate on filling our `space' with love and the service of God.
    This is why marriage is `half the religion'. Islam is intended to cover every aspect of a believer's life, twenty-four hours per day. Our relationship with our life partner and family certainly accounts for at least half of this time, and for some women, it occupies one hundred percent of their time.

    We neglect this most vital charge laid upon us at our peril. No human being was intended to live in isolation - either splendid isolation, thinking himself or herself `better' than the common herd in any way, or in grief-stricken isolation, deprived of life's comforts and the satisfying of natural appetites and needs. God created Man and Woman from a single soul, and He intended them to live and work together.

    `0 humanity; fear your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it created its spouse, and from the two of them did spread forth a multitude of men and women.' (4:1)

    `We created you from a single pair of male and female'. (49:13; see a 35:11)

    In this is a sure sign. Each is necessary to the other. People may live and work and have faith on their own, but it is only a `half-life'. As any single person, or widow living alone, or abandoned half of a couple will tell you, it is possible to survive and live by yourself, and even to wring some enjoyment out of this life - for you are free to be selfish and do the things you want to do without much consideration of the needs and wants of others. But there is a terrible price for this solitary existence.

    It is like a blind person developing extra sensitive hearing in order to compensate and cope with lack of sight; or a paralyzed person in a wheelchair developing extra large arm muscles to make up for the lack of legs. It can be done - but it is a miserable and long process.

    Married life brings its pressures, but it can also provide the kind of relaxation that human beings naturally need. Imam al-Ghazali observes that:

    `One of the benefits of marriage is the enjoyment of the company and the sight of one's spouse, and by shared amusement, whereby the heart is refreshed and strengthened for worship; for the soul is prone to boredom and is inclined to shun duty as something unnatural to it. If forced to persevere in something it dislikes, it shies and backs away, whereas if it is revived from time to time by pleasures it acquires new strength and vigour.' (Ihya Ulum al-Din)

    The sign and the design that God intended is that it is best for men and women to come together as a team.

    People work together as all sorts of teams - they cooperate for the sake of games and sport; they unite to do a task too great for an individual, like building a house; they sort themselves out into managers and workers in order to create businesses and earn a living. But the most fundamental team of all, and the one which is the most important, is that of a man and woman deciding to live together in one space as husband and wife.

    Why European women are turning to Islam

    By Peter Ford, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
    Tue Dec 27, 3:00 AM ET

    Mary Fallot looks as unlike a terrorist suspect as one could possibly imagine: a petite and demure white Frenchwoman chatting with friends on a cell-phone, indistinguishable from any other young woman in the café where she sits sipping coffee.

    And that is exactly why
    European antiterrorist authorities have their eyes on thousands like her across the continent.

    Ms. Fallot is a recent convert to Islam. In the eyes of the police, that makes her potentially dangerous.

    The death of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert who blew herself up in a suicide attack on US troops in Iraq last month, has drawn fresh attention to the rising number of Islamic converts in Europe, most of them women.

    "The phenomenon is booming, and it worries us," the head of the French domestic intelligence agency, Pascal Mailhos, told the Paris-based newspaper Le Monde in a recent interview. "But we must absolutely avoid lumping everyone together."

    The difficulty, security experts explain, is that while the police may be alert to possible threats from young men of Middle Eastern origin, they are more relaxed about white European women. Terrorists can use converts who "have added operational benefits in very tight security situations"
    where they might not attract attention, says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

    Ms. Fallot, who converted to Islam three years ago after asking herself spiritual questions to which she found no answers in her childhood Catholicism, says she finds the suspicion her new religion attracts "wounding." "For me," she adds, "Islam is a message of love, of tolerance and peace."

    It is a message that appeals to more and more Europeans as curiosity about Islam has grown since 9/11, say both Muslim and non-Muslim researchers. Although there are no precise figures, observers who monitor Europe's Muslim population estimate that several thousand men and women convert each year.

    Only a fraction of converts are attracted to radical strands of Islam, they point out, and even fewer are drawn into violence. A handful have been convicted of terrorist offenses, such as Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" and American
    John Walker Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan.

    Admittedly patchy research suggests that more women than men convert, experts say, but that - contrary to popular perception - only a minority do so in order to marry Muslim men.

    "That used to be the most common way, but recently more [women] are coming out of conviction," says Haifa Jawad, who teaches at Birmingham University in Britain. Though non-Muslim men must convert in order to marry a Muslim woman, she points out, the opposite is not true.

    Fallot laughs when she is asked whether her love life had anything to do with her decision. "When I told my colleagues at work that I had converted, their first reaction was to ask whether I had a Muslim boyfriend," she recalls. "They couldn't believe I had done it of my own free will."

    In fact, she explains, she liked the way "Islam demands a closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it's easier because it is explicit. I was
    looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points."

    Those reasons reflect many female converts' thinking, say experts who have studied the phenomenon. "A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society," says Dr. Jawad. "They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers."

    Others are attracted by "a certain idea of womanhood and manhood that Islam offers," suggests Karin van Nieuwkerk, who has studied Dutch women converts. "There is more space for family and motherhood in Islam, and women are not sex objects."

    At the same time, argues Sarah Joseph, an English convert who founded "Emel," a Muslim lifestyle magazine, "the idea that all women converts are looking for a nice cocooned lifestyle away from the excesses of Western feminism is not exactly accurate."

    Some converts give their decision a political meaning, says
    Stefano Allievi, a professor at Padua University in Italy. "Islam offers a spiritualization of politics, the idea of a sacred order," he says. "But that is a very masculine way to understand the world" and rarely appeals to women, he adds.

    After making their decision, some converts take things slowly, adopting Muslim customs bit by bit: Fallot, for example, does not yet feel ready to wear a head scarf, though she is wearing longer and looser clothes than she used to.
    Others jump right in, eager for the exoticism of a new religion, and become much more pious than fellow mosque-goers who were born into Islam. Such converts, taking an absolutist approach, appear to be the ones most easily led into extremism.
    The early stages of a convert's discovery of Islam "can be quite a sensitive time," says Batool al-Toma, who runs the "New Muslims" program at the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, England.
    "You are not confident of your knowledge, you are a
    newcomer, and you could be prey to a lot of different people either acting individually or as members of an organization," Ms. Al-Toma explains. A few converts feel "such a huge desire to fit in and be accepted that they are ready to do just about anything," she says.
    "New converts feel they have to prove themselves," adds Dr. Ranstorp. "Those who seek more extreme ways of proving themselves can become extraordinarily easy prey to manipulation."
    At the same time, says al-Toma, converts seeking respite in Islam from a troubled past - such as Degauque, who had reportedly drifted in and out of drugs and jobs before converting to Islam - might be persuaded that such an "ultimate action" as a suicide bomb attack offered an opportunity for salvation and forgiveness.
    "The saddest conclusion" al-Toma draws from Degauque's death in Iraq is that "a woman who set out on the road to inner peace became a victim of people who set out to use and abuse her."

    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    The Islamic Personality


    by Ayub A. Hamid


    This is the first and foremost quality a believer must have. Being trustworthy implies being honest, fair in dealings and punctual (both in terms of regularity and timeliness) as well as honouring trusts and keeping promises and commitments. In other words,
    trustworthiness is the quality of honouring and fulfilling at any cost all commitments a person makes whether made formally or informally, verbally or in writing, and whether they are expressed or implied.

    Also, they cover all sorts of material, moral, social, political, religious and legal obligations and commitments a person needs to observe and fulfill. When talking about trusts, it includes all forms of trusts entrusted to a person ranging from physical assets or possessions to confidential matters of others, to providing expert input on the important issues of the society. Similarly, promises include all serious commitment and covenants as well as any impression of agreement given by a person tacitly, implicitly, through quietness or by implication to a family member, subordinate, friend or colleague.

    Being known for trustworthiness is such an important personality trait for a Muslim that it cannot be overemphasized. Before our Prophet (saw - may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) was even appointed as a messenger by Allaah, he was well known for these qualities. It had become one of his distinguishing characteristics/qualities so much so that he was called Al-Ameen (trustworthy) -- mentioning ‘the trustworthy’ was enough to identify our Prophet (saw). Thus, this quality was so important that Allaah chose it to be the outstanding feature of His Last Messenger (saw).

    Allaah commands (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Verily, Allaah does command you to render back your Trusts to whom they are due.” (An-Nisaa 4:58)

    This verse is not only obligating us to honour, pay back and fulfill our trust, but also to ensure that they are given to whom they rightfully belong.

    This quality is so important to Allaah that when listing in the Holy Qur-aan the qualities of the people who succeed in the eyes of Allaah and the people who are steadfast worshippers of Allaah, they have been mentioned as those:

    “Who faithfully observe their trusts and covenants.” (Al-Mo’minoon 23:8 and Al-Ma’arij 70:32)

    Similarly, one of the indications of people having Taqwa (piety)is that:

    “They fulfill the promises they make.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

    On fulfilling the promises and fairness in business, the Holy Qur-aan further instructs:

    “Fulfill promises, because you will be held accountable for promises. Measure fully when you measure and weigh with a right balance (accurately). That is the most fitting and the best in the end.” (Banee-Israaeel 17:34-35)

    For those who are not fair in their business practices, the Holy Qur-aan states:

    “Cursed are the people who cheat in their business dealings – those who when receiving from others ensure full measure and weight, but when measuring or weighing to give, they cheat. Do not they realize they will be raised on a Big Day – the day the people will stand (to give their account) to the Lord of the universe?” (Al-Mutaffifeen 86:1-6)

    In fact, prophet Shu’ayb (as - peace be upon him) was sent to reform a people who had adopted unfair business practices as their defacto way of operation. When they did not listen to Shu’ayb (as) and refused to mend their ways, they were destroyed by Allaah.

    The criticality of a believer (Muslim) being trustworthy is well underscored by the report that there was hardly any address by the Messenger of Allaah, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam that did not include the following admonition:

    “The person who is not trustworthy is devoid of Eemaan (Islamic faith) and the one who does not keep promises is devoid of Deen (Islamic lifestyle).” (Reported by Baihiqi in Shu’abul-eeman)

    In fact, as indicated by the following Ahaadeeth, he described the person who breaks promises and betrays trusts as a hypocrite:

    “There are four traits which whoever possesses is a pure hypocrite; and whoever has any one of them has a trait of hypocrisy, until he gets rid of it: When entrusted, he embezzles (cheats); when he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he reneges (breaks them); and, when he quarrels, he abuses (uses foul language).” (Abdullaah Ibn Umar in Bukhaaree and Muslim)

    “A hypocrite is known by three traits: When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he reneges; when he is entrusted, he cheats (embezzles).” Reported from Aboo Hurairah in Bukhaaree. The same hadeeth in Muslims mentions that he will be considered hypocrite: “even if he prays and fasts.” (Reported from Aboo Hurairah in Muslim)

    From this you can see that a person cannot claim to be a Muslim without being trustworthy. The strong language suggesting that not honouring trusts and covenants is totally unacceptable to and completely at odds with Islamic faith continues in the following words of the Prophet Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam:

    “There can be no faith without Amaanah (trustworthiness, honesty), no Salaah (Islamic prayer) without Tahaarah (ritual purity, cleanliness and wudhoo), and no Deen without Salaah. Salaah (prayer) has the same significance in Deen (religion) as head in human physique.” (Reported from Ibn Umar in Targheeb with reference to At-Tabaraani)

    “A believer (Muslim) might have, being subject to the frailty of human nature, other bad traits but not dishonesty or lying.” (Reported by Ahmad and Baihiqi from Aboo Umaamah)

    On the other hand, the believers who sincerely practice their faith, are given the good news like the following:

    “If loving Allaah and His Messenger (saw) or being loved by Allaah and His Messenger (saw) pleases a person, then he must tell the truth whenever he speaks, give back the trust when entrusted, and behave superbly to his neighbours.” (Reported by Baihiqi in Shu’abul-eeman from Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn Abee Quraad)

    “You guarantee me consistent practice of six actions, I will guarantee you Jannah (Paradise): Be truthful when you speak, fulfill promises when you commit, pay up when you are entrusted, protect your private parts, lower your gaze (turn away from inappropriate sights), withhold your hands (from doing improper things).” (Reported by Baihiqi in Shu’abul-eeman from ‘Ubaadah Ibn Saamit)

    “A truthful and honest businessman will be in the company of prophets, their sincerest companions and martyrs.” (Aboo Saeed in At-Tirmidzee, Ad-Daramee, and Ad-Daru-qutnee)

    For the person who is given confidential information for seeking advice, the Messenger of Allaah, Sall Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

    “A consultant is a trustee”. (Aboo Hurairah in At-Tirmidzee)

    “If someone tells you something, looking all around while talking, it is a trust.” (Reported by At-Tirmidzee and Aboo Dawood from Jaabir Ibn Abdullah)

    “Proceedings of meetings are trusts unless the discussion is about illegal killing, illegal sex, or misappropriation of someone’s assets.” (Reported by Aboo Dawood from Jaabir Ibn Abdullah)

    Hence, confidentiality must be maintained for whatever you are taken into confidence, unless the subject matter is a criminal or unislamic activity.

    Similarly, promises must be fulfilled as if settling a debt:

    “Promise is a debt.” (Reported by At-Tabaraani from ‘Ali and ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood)

    As Islam regards it critical for Muslims to keep their express as well as implied promises, so much so that a person who is not careful in this regard may jeopardize his faith, Allaah does not want practising Muslims to be put in unnecessary strait
    either. Hence, Islam requires that people only have to go to a reasonable extent in fulfilling their promise:

    “If a person promised to meet the other at a certain place and time, and one of them arrived but the other did not show up until the time of Salaah, the person who has been waiting can go to pray Salaah without incurring any sin.” (Reported by Razeen from Zaid Ibn Arqam, as quoted in Ma’ariful Hadeeth by Manzoor nu’maani)

    Similarly, if a person has a sincere intention of fulfilling a promise but an emergency beyond one’s control precludes the person from doing so, the person will not be held accountable for such a promise. For example, a Muslim gives an indication to another to meet him but is so sick at the appointed time that he is not in a position to fulfill his obligation or gets into an accident that stops him from reaching their meeting place.

    To provide for the situations that are completely out of a person’s control, Muslims have been suggested to append Inshaa Allaah when they make a promise. This is for three reasons: Firstly to underscore that our circumstances are not totally in our control but in Allaah’s control; secondly, to reassure each of the parties that each intends sincerely to fulfill the promise except for the possibility of something unforeseen happening beyond each party’s control because of Allaah’s will; and thirdly, it is an implied duaa requesting Allaah to help the parties by not letting anything happen that will hamper the fulfillment of their promise.

    Unfortunately, like many other bad things that have happened to Muslims, people have been misusing ‘Inshaa Allaah’ for cheating. They say it when they have no intention of fulfilling the promise. That is outright cheating which is being carried out by invoking Allaah’s Name to give a false pretence of promising. These people will be in deep trouble when Allaah holds them accountable for two crimes: cheating and breaking promises.

    May Allaah help us become trustworthy, par excellence.

    Next - Part 2: Truthfulness

    Would you like to fly in Paradise?

    Ibn Awn (ra - may Allah be pleased with him) said: "A man visited Muhammad Ibn Sireen (ra) and found him with his mother. The man asked: 'What is wrong with Muhammad Ibn Sireen, does he suffer from anything?' The guests said: 'No, but he is always like that when he sits with his mother.'

    Some of Muhammad Ibn Sireen's relatives said: 'I have never seen Muhammad Ibn Sireen (ra) tlaking to his mother, but with humility towards her.'

    Abu Yazid al-Bastami, may Allah have mercy on him, said: 'I was twenty years of age when my mother called me one night to look after her, because she was ill. I obeyed her; I put one of my hands under her head and with the other one I passed it over her body reciting surat al-Ikhlaas, Say: "He is Allah, the one....". My hand, which was under her head, became numb. I, then said to myself: 'The hand of mine but my mother's right is for Allah's Pleasure. So I endured that pain until dawn, and ever since then I was never able to move my hand again (it became paralyzed).' When Abu Yazid al-Bastami died, one of his companions saw him in his dream flying in Paradise and Glorifying Allah, the Most Merciful. He asked him: ' How did you obtain mercy?' Abu Yazid al-Bastami replied: 'Kindness to my mother and endurance of hardships.'

    Abdullah Ibn Awn set two slaves free because once, when his mother called him, he raised his voice over hers.

    Abu Burda' Ibn Abu Musa' al-Ash'ari said: "Ibn Omar saw a Yemeni man circumambulating the Ka'bah, carrying his mother. The man said to him, "I am like a tame camel for her, I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn Omar?" He replied, "No, not even for one contraction!".


    GOD made a wonderful mother,
    A mother who never grows old;
    He made her smile of the sunshine,
    And He molded her heart of pure gold;
    In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,
    In her cheeks, fair roses you see;
    God made a wonderful mother,
    And He gave that dear mother to me.

    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Chase Those Cares Away!

    By Anthea Davis Oct 23, 2005

    Problems! Problems! Problems! There is no end to them. If it seems
    that I have no problems, do not worry, just wait a little while and one
    will surely come. It is either something bothering me, a family member,
    a friend, or the world at large. Can I ever be free of them? Or at
    least can I solve them instead of ignoring them, grumbling about them, or
    making them?
    Allah the Almighty tells us that with every problem comes the answer
    to that problem: [But lo! with hardship goeth ease. Lo! with hardship
    goeth ease] (Al-Inshirah 94:5–6) Just as with every disease there is a
    cure. It is simply a matter of finding the cure; hence the importance of
    gaining knowledge.
    The next question is, what should we do once we find the cure? I know
    lots of people who have a certain problem and grumble about it and
    actually find a kind of joy in the attention they get from complaining. So
    in this way it is not so important to them that the problem is solved
    because they get happiness from complaining! I also know people who try
    to solve their problems without the help and guidance of Allah the
    Almighty and so actually end up making more problems. It is like a man who
    wants to renovate his home but he does not have the knowledge and
    expertise to do this. So he fumbles along, happily thinking he is doing a
    fine job only to discover in the end that he has destroyed more than he
    has fixed! Such a person may even blame his failure on his tools, the
    materials, other people, and a mountain of other flimsy excuses instead
    of admitting that he was acting without knowledge.
    Allah the Almighty gave us the knowledge to live our lives in the
    right way, to have sources to refer to in order to solve problems—instead
    of trying to fix them ourselves using our limited knowledge and
    experience and allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desires.

    When we find ourselves in a problem, we should turn to the Book of
    Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace be upon him) because in these
    we will find the solution to every problem we might face in life. For
    example, many problems in life are found in marriage where the couple
    juggle what they think is each other's rights and obligations. They can
    argue about their opinions all their lives without coming to a workable
    solution. However, if they only referred to the sources of Islam, they
    would find everything clearly mapped out for them in the spirit of
    tolerance, generosity, and forgiveness. It's as simple as that. The
    problem, then, is not knowing what the solution is, but actually putting the
    solution into practice. The challenge is actually aligning our lives
    with the teachings and principles of Islam.
    As another example we can look at how many problems and strife come
    from squabbles over inheritance. Again, so many people try to grasp as
    much wealth as they can without thinking or caring about the others.
    Such situations can destroy the relations between people—just because of
    some wealth! If only the people involved referred to the sources of
    Islam, all their troubles would disappear. If they did so, the inheritance
    would be shared out fairly and everyone would be content knowing they
    were following Allah's way and would have barakah.
    But then, in order to know what Allah the Almighty has guided us to
    do, first we have to learn and gain knowledge. We have to do some
    research, ask a scholar for a fatwa, ask a good Muslim for advice, or read
    the works of scholars who have already done the effort of researching.
    The knowledge is there for the taking, but first of all we have to
    acknowledge that whenever man tries to solve his problems using his
    limited mind and insatiable desires, things usually get worse. Look at the
    world today and all the problems, turmoil, and strife that have come
    about because of man's waywardness, greed, and manipulation.
    Allah the Almighty tells us to establish peace and justice, to speak
    the truth, to help the poor, to be kind to our neighbors, to take care
    of our families, and to generally be a source of love and goodness
    wherever we are and whomever we are with. Follow these guidelines and see
    how good, kind, happy, and peaceful the world will be!
    But all this means putting Islam into practice—not just arguing and
    debating over its principles and reading it in theory. It means really
    doing what it says because Islam is the cure of all the ills that man
    suffers from. It is the way to guide us through the problems and
    difficulties of life. It shows us the way to be close to the Creator and how to
    earn His pleasure and reward. It guides us to fulfill our potential as
    individual human beings and to come to the stage that when we leave
    this earth, we will leave a trail of goodness and positive action behind
    So no doubt, life is full of problems and troubles. But what makes me
    wonder is that there are so many Muslims in the world today and yet
    there is still so much trouble and strife. Surely, if all the Muslims were
    standing up for peace, equality, and justice, and spreading piety
    wherever they are, the world would calm down and be more stable and happy!
    So what has happened?

    We have the cure (the Qur'an and the Sunnah) and Muslims all over the
    world recite the Qur'an in Arabic and even hold competitions for
    recitation. So what is missing? I think it is something like this:
    What do you think of a person who is ill and goes to the doctor, then
    the doctor writes out a prescription for the medicine that will cure
    the illness. After that the person, instead of going to the pharmacy and
    getting the medicine and using it, puts the written prescription around
    his neck and reads it every day. After some time he still complains
    that he is not well yet! He may even grumble about the medicine and
    question the doctor! What advice would you give such a person in order to
    chase those troubles away?

    No Thanks to Thanksgiving

    Instead, we should atone for the genocide that was incited -- and condoned -- by the very men we idolize as our 'heroic' founding fathers.

    by Robert Jensen

    November 23, 2005

    One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

    In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

    Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

    That the world's great powers achieved "greatness" through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable.

    But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful.

    One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims first winter.

    Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders. The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

    Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

    The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."

    Thomas Jefferson -- president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages" -- was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "[W]e shall destroy all of them."

    As the genocide was winding down in the early 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt (president #26) defended the expansion of whites across the continent as an inevitable process "due solely to the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into the red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway."

    Roosevelt also once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

    How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis? Here's how "respectable" politicians, pundits, and professors play the game: When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history.

    In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who "settled" the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things.

    But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, "Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?"

    This is the mark of a well-disciplined intellectual class -- one that can extol the importance of knowing history for contemporary citizenship and, at the same time, argue that we shouldn't spend too much time thinking about history.

    This off-and-on engagement with history isn't of mere academic interest; as the dominant imperial power of the moment, U.S. elites have a clear stake in the contemporary propaganda value of that history. Obscuring bitter truths about historical crimes helps perpetuate the fantasy of American benevolence, which makes it easier to sell contemporary imperial adventures -- such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq -- as another benevolent action.

    Any attempt to complicate this story guarantees hostility from mainstream culture. After raising the barbarism of America's much-revered founding fathers in a lecture, I was once accused of trying to "humble our proud nation" and "undermine young people's faith in our country."

    Yes, of course -- that is exactly what I would hope to achieve. We should practice the virtue of humility and avoid the excessive pride that can, when combined with great power, lead to great abuses of power.

    History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact.

    Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony. History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won't set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom.

    As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects of the day's mythology on our minds.

    I need help!!!

    Remembering Our beloved Prophet (Salallahu alahi wa sallam)

    When becoming humiliated, remember the Prophet (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) in Ta'if.

    When being starved, remember the Prophet (Salallahu alahi wa sallam)
    tying two stones to his stomach in the battle of Khandaq.

    When becoming angry, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) control of anger on the martyrdom of his beloved Uncle Hamza (RA -
    may Allah be pleased with him).

    When losing a tooth, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) tooth in the battle of Uhud.

    When bleeding from any part of the body, remember the Prophet's
    (Salallahu alahi wa sallam) body covered in blood on his return from Ta'if.

    When feeling lonely, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) seclusion in Mount Hira .

    When feeling tired in Salaat (prayer), remember the Prophet's
    (Salallahu alahi wa sallam) blessed feet in Tahajjud (night prayer).

    When being prickled with thorns, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu
    alahi wa sallam) pain from Abu Lahab's wife, who scattered thorns in his
    path so that she may cause him pain.

    When being troubled by neighbours, remember the old woman who would
    empty rubbish on the Prophet (Salallahu alahi wa sallam) .

    When losing a child, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) son, Ibrahim.

    When beginning a long journey, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu
    alahi wa sallam) long journey to Madinah.

    When going against a Sunnah (sayings/doings of the Prophet Mohammed
    peace be upon him), remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa sallam)
    intercession, (Ummati, Ummati, Ummati) (My Nation).

    When sacrificing an animal, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi
    wa sallam) sacrifice of 63 animals for his Ummah.

    Before shaving your beard, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) face rejecting the two beardless Iranians.

    When falling into an argument with your wife, remember the Prophet's
    (Salallahu alahi wa sallam) encounter with Aisha and Hafsa.

    When experiencing less food in the house, remember the Prophet's
    (Salallahu alahi wa sallam) days of poverty.

    When experiencing poverty, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) advice to Ashaab-e-Suffa (People of Suffa).

    When losing a family member, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi
    wa sallam) departure from this world.

    When becoming an orphan, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) age at six.

    When sponsoring an orphan, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) sponsor for Zaid ibn Haritha.

    When fearing an enemy, remember the Prophet's (Salallahu alahi wa
    sallam) saying to Abu Bakr (Razi Allahu Taala anhu) in Mount Thour.

    Whatever situation you may find yourself in, remember your role
    model, the best of creation: Prophet Muhammad (Salallahu alahi wa sallam).


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