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Monday, August 29, 2005

TALK IT OVER-From a Muslim whose heart aches

Today when I read the newspaper,
It should have shocked my heart.
But the fact is that,
It seems very dead;
Wanting some fun,
But for my brothers I don't care.
I sit and enjoy, relax,
Drink a sip of pepsi;
Sit and talk over about it all,
Over a cup of coffee;
About all that goes on
That they do to us.
I ponder over the facts,
They are not the first ones,
Killed.
They are my brethren,
But I don't care.
I just want to indulge,
In my own affairs.
My brothers are dying,
But I think I'll try
To talk out of it somehow.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Heroes of Islam

Imam Malik

Malik ibn Anas Al-assbahi, the founder of the Maliki school of thought, was born in Madinah in 93 A.H, corresponding to 712 A.D. His parents were Arabs of Yemeni descent. His tribe, Assbah, still lives in Yemen. His grandfather, who bore the same name, Malik, arrived in Madinah to complain to the Caliph against the governor, but decided to settle in Madinah, where he met a number of the Prophet's companion, and learnt from those who were known for their scholarly standing, such as Umar ibn Al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Aisha, Talha and many others. Thus, he became well known as a scholar. He taught the young grandson, Malik, with the best platform to pursue his natural inclination to study.

Malik first sought to memorise the Quran, which he soon did. He then suggested to his family that he should attend scholar's circles to write down the Hadith (sayings/doings of the Prophet Mohammed pbuh) and Fiqh (Islamic law).They welcomed that, particularly his mother, who took extra care of his appearance, helping him to dress in his best attire, and directing him to whom he should study from. She encouraged him to attend the circle of Rabi'ah ibn Abdurrahman who was renowned for excercising scholarly discretion. Malik learnt from him this highly commendable approach, particularly because it was restrained with commitment to hadith and the Quran.

Malik provided a great example of a student eager to improve his knowledge and achieve a standard of excellence in his scholarship. He would go to Nafi', one of his teachers, waiting for him until he came out of his house, he would wait outside in very hot temperatures, having no shade. When Nafi' came out, Malik would follow him, without accosting him at first, until he had walked some distance. He would then greet him and keep quiet. When he approached his destination he would ask him one or two question, learn the answers and memorise them.

Malik was very selective in his choice of teachers. He was keen to study under Az-Zuhri, the first specialised scholar of hadith who had studied under Saeed ibn Al-Mussayib and other celebrated scholars of the Tabi'een generation that succeeded the Prophet's (pbuh - peace be upon him) companions. Malik reports that on one Eid day he thought that Az-Zuhri would be free, so he went to his home and waited at his door. He heard him asking his maid to find out who was at the door. When she told him that it was Malik, he told her to let him in. He asked him:"I see that you have not gone home yet......Would you like to have something to eat?" Malik said:"No. I only would like you to teach me some hadith." Az-Zuhri told him to take out his sheets and dictated to him 40 hadiths. Malik requested more, but the teacher said:"That should be enough for you. If you learn these well, you are a great learner."

Rabi'ah ibn Abdurrahman was one of Malik's teachers, as we have already mentioned. He was nicknamed Rabi'ah Ar-rai, which means 'the-point-of-view'. This is a reference to the fact that he exercised scholarly discretion to a much greater extent than many scholars in Madinah would have liked. In Islamic scholarship there have always been two trends. The first limits all efforts to learning the texts of the Quran and hadith, understanding their meanings and stopping at that. The other trend tries to go deeper into the texts to understand their wider applicability and to reconcile what may appear to be a conflict between the two texts.

Malik's residence in Madinah afforded him the best possible grounding in Islamic scholarship, because Madinah was full of scholars. Moreover, it was the place of residence of the Prophet (pbu) and his companions. It was also frequented by Muslims from all over the world who visited the Prophet's (pbuh) Masjid (Mosque) when they traveled to offer the pilgrimage to Makkah. By Malik's time, there were a number if highly distinguished scholars who either learnt directly from the Prophet's (pbuh) companions or from their successors. Thus, Malik received knowledge that was both authentic and pure.

What is important to realise is that Malik acquired broad knowledge through his teachers. This knowledge was not limited to learning the Quran and the hadith, the rulings passed by the Prophet's (pbuh) companions and their successors. It also involved studying the thinking and the beliefs of the different schools and factions that started and flourished in different areas of the Muslim land at that time.

When Malik was sure of having attained a standard that qualified him to teach, he consulted people of good standing in scholarship and society in Madinah about starting a study circle. He says:"I did not teach until I have obtained an agreement of 70 scholars that I am fit to do so." But even then, he did not sit to teach until he fell into disagreement with his teacher Rabi'ah. Yet he continued to praise Rabi'ah long after his death, stating that "he was a man of much goodness, sound mind, clear virtues, profound understanding of Islam, true love and friendship to all people, particularly to his students. May God bless his soul, forgive him and reward him far better than his good deeds merit." Rabi'ah died When Malik was 43, which suggests that the scholarly disagreement between them occurred when Malik was a well established scholar.

When he started his teaching circle, Malik sat where Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to sit in the Prophet's Masjid, and he lived in the house that belonged to Abdullah ibn Massoud. Thus, he surrounded himself with the atmosphere of the Prophet's (pbuh) companions in his teachings and living quarters.

His circle was of two types: one for hadith and the other for fiqh (Islamic law) and rulings to questions posed. The latter he would do in whatever he was wearing, but when he taught the hadith, he would appear in his best attire, wearing perfume and taking a most serious and devoted attitude. He then divided his days between the two circles. Private questions would be put to him and he would write the answer down for the person concerned. His approach was the same even when the question was raised by the Governor of Madinah. Moreover, he would not give an answer to any hypothetical question. If a problematic question was put to him, he would ask whether it had taken place. If it had not, he would not consider it, even though it might have been probable. Moreover, he exercised extreme caution in answering questions. He would not venture to give an answer unless he was certain of it. Should he feel unsure of his answer, he would not give it. He would tell the questioner that he did not know the answer.

It is reported that someone put to him a question and said:"I have been sent to you with this question from my home-town in Morocco, undertaking o journey of 6 months to reach here." Malik listened to the question and reflected on it before saying to the man:"Tell the person who sent you that I have no knowledge of this matter." The man said:"Who knows it then?" Malik said:"A person who God has given knowledge of it." Another report speaks of another man from Morocco putting a question to him, and he said:"I do not know. We have not been exposed to a problem like this in our home-town. Nor have we heard any of our teachers speaking about it. If you come back tomorrow, I may have something for you." When the man came the following day, Malik told him that he reflected over the matter but he could not arrive at an answer. He did not know it. The man said:"People back home say that there is no one on the face of the Earth who is a better scholar than you." Malik said:"I do not have the competence to answer it." This humility tells us something about Malik in his time, and how he was taught by his teachers.

Malik was distinguished by a superb memory and a clear insight, with both qualities enabling him to achieve eminence amongst his peers.His teacher Az-Zuhri, describes him as a 'great vessel of knowledge', and his student, Al-Shafie, says:"When it is a question of hadith, then Malik would only mention a hadith when he felt that it would be useful to teach others."

Another important quality of Malik was his tireless pursuit of knowledge. He endured a lot of hardship in order to achieve his position of distinction. He is quoted as saying:"No one can achieve what he wants of scholarship until poverty has struck him, but he would endure it nevertheless." With this determination and power of endurance, he was able to stand up to rulers when it was necessary for him to confront them.

Moreover, Malik was sincere in all that he pursued. His pursuit of knowledge had no objective other than seeking God's pleasure. Hence, he approached all questions with the same seriousness, even when they were very simple. He would say:"There is nothing simple in this scholarship. It is all hard, particularly what we will have to account for on the Day of Judgment." It is this sincerity that motivated Malik to refrain from entering any debate or argument with other scholars. When Harun Al-Rasheed, the Caliph suggested that he should have a debate with Abu Yusuf, the second highest ranking Hanafi scholar, Malik refused saying:"This scholarship is not like stirring a fight between animals and roosters." He felt that debates and arguments caused hearts to be hardened and generated animosity between people.

"By God who is the only deity in the universe, I never ordered what was done to you, nor did I know of it. The people of the two sacred cities will remain well as long as you are alive amongst them. I feel that you are the security against suffering. I believe that, through you, God has lifted a great trial which would have befallen them, because they are always ready to cause trouble. By God, I have ordered that he (meaning the Governor) should be brought here in a state of humiliation and imprisonment in harsh conditions. I must inflict on him far more severe punishment than what he inflicted on you." - These were the words of the most powerful man on Earth, Al-Mansoor, the second Abbasi Caliph, apologizing to Imam Malik for the harsh treatment he received from the Governor of Madinah for being true to his convictions.

Malik was subjected to a harsh trial, which involved torture. That was in 164 A.H. Historians give different reasons for this hardship, one of them is that during Al-Mansoor's reign, a rebellion was led by a descendant of Ali, Known as Muhammed An-Nafs Az-Zakiyah, who claimed that the pledge of loyalty to Al-Mansoor was given as a result of coercion. Malik used to mention the hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) is quoted as saying:""No oath given under coercion is valid." The rebels used this hadith to encourage people to join them, asserting that their pledge of loyalty to Al-Mansoor was not binding. The Governor of Madinah told Malik not to mention this hadith, imparting to him that it was the order of the Caliph. Then the Governor himself sent someone to his circle to ask him about this hadith. Malik, the scholar who valued honesty in scholarship, repeated the hadith as authentic in front of all the people in his circle. His view was that a scholar could not conceal knowledge when asked about it. To do so is sinful.

The result was that the Governor felt that he encouraged the rebels. In consequence, Malik was flogged and his arm was dislocated. The people of Madinah were very angry, feeling that he was treated very harshly. Both the Governor and the Caliph regretted what happened. Hence, on his trip to pilgrimage, Al-Mansoor stopped in Madinah and called Malik to apologize to him.

When he received the Caliph's apology, Imam Malik gave the reply to be expected from one like him: generous, noble and forgiving: "May God bless the Caliph and give him His blessings. I have forgotten him because he is a descendant of the Prophet (pbuh) and because he is a relative of yours."

Needless to say that Malik's reply greatly enhanced his position with the Caliph, who asked him to write to him whatever he wished, to remove injustice or to promote people's interests. Also his position among the people was highly enhanced. He continued to enjoy people's love and respect until his death in 179 A.H. His scholarship continues to inspire scholars all over the world.

If the whole episode speaks of Malik's courage, willingness to state the truth as he knew it, regardless of who may be offended, it also speaks of his sincerity and the value he attached to the position of a scholar in the Muslim community. Malik's sincerity aimed at arriving at the truth, regardless of who takes the credit for it. He would not give a ruling on any matter that had anything to do with judges and their verdicts. He would not criticise any verdict. Malik was sincere in avoiding anything that could cause trouble. He, however, would speak privately to judges, showing them any point of evidence that they might have overlooked.

In his appearance, Malik was awe-inspiring. Many reports agree that Malik had a spiritual influence on people that made everyone look at him with great respect, love and awe. Furthermore, he was also a man of great insight, not only in knowledge and scholarship, but in people's characters and qualities. Al-Shafie was still a young man when he went to Madinah. He reports:"When I arrived in Madinah and met Malik, he listened to me and then looked at me for a while. He was a man of insight. He then asked me my name and said, 'Muahmmed, maintain fear of Allah and avoid sin. You are certain to have a position of distinction'.

Malik lived in poverty for a long time during his pursuit of knowledge. His main income was from a business with small capital. When he was recognised as a scholar whose views were sought by rulers and Caliphs, he was in a much better situation.


Malik was an outstanding scholar of hadith. His book, known by the name 'Al-Muwatta', was the first written collection of hadith. He worked on it for a long time after Al-mansoor requested him to compile it. He finished it during the reign of Al-Mansoor's son, Al-Mahdi. In fact, Al-Rasheed, who ruled late, wanted to endorse it as the law of the state and to place a copy of it in the Ka'bah, but Malik refused, arguing that Islam was much more broader than that. To restrict people to such a book is to overburden them.

"What Life Is About"

Life isn't about keeping score.
It's not about how many friends you have or how accepted you are.
Not about if you have plans this weekend or if you're alone.
It isn't about whom you're dating, whom you used to date, how many people you've dated, or if you haven't been with anyone at all.
It isn't about whom you have kissed. It's not about sex.
It isn't about who your family is or how much money they have.
Or what kind of car you drive. Or where you are sent to school.
It's not about how beautiful or ugly you are.
Or what clothes you wear, what shoes you have on, or what kind of music you listen to.
It's not about if your hair is blonde, red, black, or brown or if your skin is too light or too dark.
Not about what grades you get, how smart you are, how smart everybody else thinks you are, or how smart standardized tests say you are.
It's not about what clubs you're in or how good you are at a sport. It's not about representing your whole being on a piece of paper and seeing who will accept you.
Life just isn't about that.

But, life is about who you love and who you hurt.
It's about who you make happy or unhappy purposefully.
It's about keeping or betraying trust.
It's about friendship, used as a sanctity or a weapon.
It's about what you say and mean, maybe hurtful, maybe heartening.
About starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip.
It's about what judgments you pass and why.
It's about whom you've ignored with full control and intention.
It's about jealousy, fear, ignorance, and revenge.
It's about carrying inner hate.
It's about having inner love, letting it grow, and spreading it.
But most of all, it's about using your life to touch or poison other people's hearts in such a way that could have never occurred without you.

Only you choose the way those hearts are affected, and those choices are what life's all about.

DUA - The Real Power

Dua is so powerful that Dua has the power to create and alter fate!!

The Dua can change our life , our outlook , and our fate . It is the most potent weapon of a believer.

Once Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) passed by a people who were suffering from some affliction. "Why don't they make Dua (pray ) to Allah for protection," he said. With all the suffering and disasters Muslims are facing in various parts of the world, the question can be directed to all of us today.

Allah (SWT) listens and already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to ask Him for what you want. The Prophet said: Allah is angry with those who do not ask Him for anything (Tirmidhi).

We feel relieved after describing our difficulties to our Creator. We sense His mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful.

A person engaged in Dua affirms his belief in Tawheed (monotheism) and shuns belief in all false gods. With each Dua his belief in Allah SWT) grows. Additionally, such a person can never become arrogant or proud, a logical result of true worship. During the battle of Badr, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) stood up all night in prayer seeking Allah's help in the battle between unequal armies that would follow the next day.

In the decisive battles against the crusaders, Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi was busy day and night. His days were devoted to Jihad. His nights were spent making Dua, crying, seeking Allah's help.

That is why we have been taught to ask Allah (SWT)when we need something as small as shoelaces. We should ask as a beggar, as a destitute person, for that is what we in reality are in relationship to Allah (SWT).

We should remember the Hadith: "There is nothing more dear to Allah than a servant making Dua to Him."

On the other hand, a prayer lacking concentration and conviction is no prayer at all.

We should make Dua at all times, not only during times of distress. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said: "Whosoever desires that Allah answers his Duas in unfavorable and difficult conditions, he should make plentiful Dua in days of ease and comfort."

Also he said:"The person who does not ask from Allah, Allah becomes angry with him."

We should make Dua not only for ourselves but also for our parents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children, relatives and friends, teachers and other benefactors, and destitute and struggling Muslims everywhere. We should pray for them for the good in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

A believer who makes Dua receives one of three things:

1. Either he will quickly have his Dua answered

2. or he will get in the Hereafter

3. or something bad will be prevented from him equal to the value of his Dua.

The Prophet (SWAS) said: "The Dua of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial Dua for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Aameen. And may you also be blessed with the same.'" (Sahih Muslim)

Praying for others connects you with them and helps you understand their suffering. This in itself has a healing component to it. The Prophet has said that praying for someone who is not present increases love. "When you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah" (Quran 3:159).

Character and reputation

Character is not only the face in the mirror, but the real person behind the
face. Character evolves from conscience; is sustained by conscience and is
developed; piece by piece, with every thought, with every choice, and
maintained with consistency and determination. The pursuance of piety begins
by making our reputation a reflection of our character. In many people,
reputation precedes character and there is a distinction to be made...

* Reputation is what you lead others to believe you are, character
is what you really are -

* Reputation may be reflected in the combination of your name and
your image, character is the essence of your being.

* Reputation is the wrapping, character the content -

* Reputation is the outer reflection, character the inner reality -

* Reputation is made in a moment, character is built in a life time
-

* Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your
tombstone, character is what angels report about you to Allah -

Changing bad habits

The renowned philosopher, Aristotle, once said; "You are what you repeatedly
do ". Habits are conditioned responses, formed through repetition, until the
actions or reactions become second nature; they end up as unconscious
behavior, automatic reactions in a particular situation; (e.g. the way you
sign your name, the reprehensible habit of cigarette smoking after a
meal...)

It was the English writer, Shakespeare, who said; " First we make our
habits, then our habits make us ". Thinking in a particular pattern creates
a mental path, the mental path affects our attitude and our behavior, and
these reflect our personality and character. In other words, our thoughts
affect our attitude which affects our actions which determine our habits
which reflects our character which could determines our destiny. The Roman
poet Naso Ovid rightly said, "habits eventually become character ".

Virtues and vices

According to Islam, habits are classified as virtues or vices, as repeated
actions that are in conformity with or contrary to the rules of morality.
Virtuous character emanates from good habits and good habits emanate from
resisting negative temptations. Good habits, unfortunately, seem so much
easier to give up than bad habits.

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed; easy to get into but difficult to get
out. The chain of bad habits is generally too light to be felt until they
are too strong to be broken. Remember though, that every habit; whether good
or bad, is acquired and can be developed or disowned. Habits decrease or
disappear by abstaining from exercising them and then replacing them. In the
words of Roman orator, Cicero, " consuetudo consuetudine vincitur = habit is
overcome/ conquered by habit.

Ramadan is an ideal training period for filtering out bad habits, developing
virtuous character and is thus referred to by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a
shield against evil and wrongfulness. We are obligated to nurture our noble
qualities; control our passions, our anger and emotions. We are instructed
to be considerate, generous and compassionate.

Moral improvement and spiritual rejuvenation

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) referred to Ramadan as a blessed month in which
Allah has made fasting obligatory on those who are able; whosoever denies
himself of the benefits of that month denies himself many virtues. As we
undertake the physical duty and spiritual responsibility of fasting in the
blessed month of Ramadan, we reflect on the words of our beloved Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) who said that the practice of faith will not be correct
unless actions are correct and actions will not be considered correct unless
the heart is correct.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

How Did You Accept Islam?

As enthralling as many present-day conversion stories may be, it is to the first converts to Islam, the Sahaba, that we should look for inspiration, writes American convert, Yahiya Emerick.

Many people have asked me lately how I came to Islam. It is not an unusual question for a convert to be asked. Every person who accepts Islam has a unique story and tale to tell. I remember getting one of the books filled with "convert stories" and being enthralled for days at the variety of experiences people have.

Many "born" Muslims, as they call themselves, take a great interest in such convert stories as well. It reaffirms their faith and strengthens their resolve. After all, if people are accepting Islam in droves today, even though Islam has been stigmatized in popular and secular culture all over the world, there must be a hidden value. Reading what others see in accepting the Islamic Way of Life reinforces our awareness of this value.

There is another valuable source of convert stories as well. A source which can have an even greater effect on your Eman and Taqwa than contemporary sources. I would recommend that people spend more time reading these stories than those of modern converts. This other source is the stories of the Sahaba (Companions of the Prophet).

Did you know that almost all of the Sahaba were converts to Islam? Every last one of them has a unique story and quite a few have suspense-filled adventures on their way to the truth. Sometimes when I read about one of them, I find parallels in my own journey to Islam. Other times I find myself amazed at the power of the human spirit to overcome even the most insurmountable obstacles.

My personal favorites among the Sahaba are Fatimah, Salman al Farsi, Abu Darda, Abu Dharr al Ghiffari, 'Umar, Mu'adh ibn Jabal and Umm Ammarah. (My wife holds the story of Julaybib close to her heart.) In my humble understanding, I feel every Muslim should make it a point to be familiar with the stories of at least ten of the Sahaba. Skim through a book of their biographies, pick a few that seem to interest you and then read in detail. Compare their examples. How did they interact with the Prophet and others? What lessons are there for our own lives today?

I sometimes find myself wishing that in study circles and Tarbiyya sessions that Muslims would move away from repeating the same worn-out old topics (lessons of the Hijrah, significance of Surah al 'Asr) and explore other, deeper themes that are more relevant. The struggles, achievements and trials of the Sahaba have a timeless relationship to what people face in every age.

Is it any wonder that the Blessed Prophet advised us to follow the example of his Sahaba and even Allah, Himself, praises the Sahaba in many places in the Qur'an. Today our children's heroes are basketball players, fashion models, singers and movie stars. People who do nothing important. All they are is entertainers. They teach nothing good in a real sense, they contribute nothing to society and all they do is present an example of a wild and wealthy lifestyle which makes our children want to duplicate it.

What of the Heroes of Islam? Time and time again I have seen Khatibs, lecturers and scholars mention the names of Sahaba and others to an audience which was filled with people who didn't know anything about those names. The speaker may feel flushed with pride mentioning those names, but his or her listeners don't know the deep implications and significance.

That's a whole other topic, of course: the gap between the scholars (who live in a dream world) and the masses of the Muslims (who are cut off from most Islamic knowledge). I'll save that for another column. Suffice it to say, by reading the stories of those who have accepted Islam, we ourselves can learn jewels of wisdom which can permeate our own experience and make us better Muslims.

Every parent, school and teacher must make certain that our children know at least ten Sahaba stories in a meaningful and relevant way. Then our children will look to the real giants of history as their heroes and born Muslims can get a sense of pride in their way of life that goes beyond, far beyond what stories those of us converts of today can tell.

Do I have any suggestions for you to begin? Of course, that's the whole reason I write this column month after month. I want improvement. Business as usual may be fine in a dilapidated Muslim country, but the Islamic movement is alive and kicking in America. I want to see it stabilize and become a permanent part of this nation's fabric.

As far as books to read for the stories of the Sahaba, there are three main sources I recommend: "The Beauty of the Righteous and Ranks of the Elite" (Akili) "The Companions of the Prophet" (Hamid) and "Hayatus Sahaba" (Kandhalvi). These three sources are available just about everywhere. If you don't know where to get them you can call a Muslim bookstore and they can send them to you. Here's a couple of phone numbers you can try: 1-800-337-4287 or 1-718-721-4246.

There you have it! The names of three great sources for learning and the numbers where to get them. It just doesn't get any better than this! After reading one or all of these books, choose ten Sahaba which you feel most drawn towards and then accept this further challenge. Sit down with some paper and a pen and write a short essay to yourself about what impresses you most about each Sahaba and what lessons you can draw for your own life.

Save those essays and read them again every few years or months as you need to. If you're feeling down or helpless or stressed you can center yourself by reading the examples of others who had even tougher struggles than us and who came through with flying colors. Let's not be like the people that Allah spoke about, the people who are like donkeys carrying piles of books. Let's apply our reading, make it meaningful for our lives and do something with it. Will you accept this challenge? I will.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Heroes of Islam

Imam Abu Haneefa

Once upon a time, a pious young man of Persian origin was sitting by the bank of the Tigris river in Iraq when he saw an apple floating on the water. Feeling rather hungry, he picked up the apple and ate it. Then soon afterwards he began to question himself on having eaten something that doe not belong to him, without permission by its owner. Therefore he decided to look for the owner. Had the young man been a scholar, he would have known that he could eat the apple without need of permission by anyone. However, he went upstream, looking at houses close to the river, until he saw a house with a garden and an apple tree, full of fruit and with some branches stretching over the water. It was a splendid house, with a large garden. He knocked on the door and asked to see the owner. He was ushered into the presence of an old man with a pleasant face, who seemed to be very decisive in his attitude.

On hearing the story , the house owner reflected a little before saying to the young man that he committed a gross error. He should have known better than seeking forgiveness after the misdeed is done. However, he was prepared to forgive the young man if he would meet his condition. The young man was full of hope, but when he heard the condition, his heart sank. The house owner said to him: I have a daughter, and I am worried about what would happen to her after my death. Looking at you, I feel that you could provide her with the care that she needs. If you are prepared to marry her, I will forgive you what you have done.

The young man thought hard, then decided that going through life with such a wife was much easier than having to go to hell for his misdeed. Therefore he accepted. Then on the wedding night he was surprised to find his wife to be a beautiful and well educated young woman.

It was into that marriage that Imam Abu Haneefah, Numan, was born in Kufah, southern Iraq in 80 A.H. corresponding to 700 a.d. He belonged to a business family trading in clothes. Abu Haneefah grew up as a very religious young man, and he memorised the Quran when he was very young. He also began to learn Hadith so that he would know how to conduct his life and business in accordance with Islam. He was clear in his mind that he would carry on with his family business, which brought affluence to his family.

His intelligence was evident at an early stage. In his youth, he was involved in debates with the adherents of various beliefs and philosophies, relying mainly on his natural instinct. This gave him a good training that was to stand him in good stead in his later pursuit of Islamic studies which he started at the advice of Amir Al-Shaabi, one of the most distinguished scholars of the generation following the Prophet (Pbuh) companions who said to him: "You should pursue knowledge and attend the circles of scholars. I can see in you a man with an alert mind and penetrative understanding."

Since debating was his main hobby, now he began to concentrate on beliefs, learning them in depths. He then traveled frequently to the other centre of learning, Basrah, where he was involved in numerous debates with different groups. But he then felt debating was largely a waste of time, and could not bring benefit to anyone. So he turned to the study of Fiqh (Islamic Law).

Kufah was a city where different trends of knowledge had converged. Abu Haneefah aimed to achieve full understanding of four trends of fiqh scholarship: 1, Umar's fiqh based on what benefits the people; 2, Ali's fiqh based on deduction and a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of Islamic law; 3, Abdullah ibn Massoud's fiqh based on analogy; 4, Ibn Abbas's thorough knowledge of the Quran.

He learnt from different scholars, but he had a teacher to whose company he committed himself. That was Hammad ibn Abu Sulaiman, a highly distinguished scholar0lar who had studied scholars of the second Islamic generation.

Abu Haneefah also learnt fiqh from other scholars, particularly during his pilgrimage trips. He did the pilgrimage almost every year, absenting himself only there was an unavoidable reason. On these trips he met numerous scholars and he learnt much through them.

When his teacher, Hammad ibn Sulaiman died in 120, Abu Haneefah, his most distinguished student, took his place and continued his circle. He was soon to acquire great fame for he added broad scholarship to superb intelligence and a exceptional ability in both analysis and debate. Moreover, he did not stop his business activity. In fact he continued his business, but he went into partnership with a friend who was responsible for carrying on with all his activities. Abu Haneefah, however, continued to exercise close supervision to ensure full compliance with Islamic law.

Abu Haneefah followed a meticulous method of learning. On the importance of combining the study of fiqh with the study of hadith he says:"Anyone who learns hadith without studying fiqh is like a pharmacist who has all the medicines but does not know for which condition they are used. He must wait until the doctor comes. A hadith must also wait for the scholar of fiqh."

As a teacher, Abu Haneefah followed a method similar to that of Socrates. He did not lecture. Rather, he would present a case to his students and outline the principles that apply to it. That opens the way for discussion or a debate. Each one of them was free to express his thoughts to the case. They may agree with him or object to his views. The discussion may even be a heated one. When everyone has had his say and defended his view as forcefully as he could, Abu Haneefah would sum up the discussion and outlined the conclusion giving the final verdict. Everyone would accept his final verdict without hesitation. Thus he was able to debate with his students as if he was one of them, and retain the position of the teacher who has the ultimate say. Hence, his students loved him dearly.

But perhaps he loved his students more than they loved him. He treated them as a father treats his children. He often gave them grants t cope with their needs. If a student wanted to get married and did not have the means to do so, Abu Haneefah would pay the expenses of his marriage. One of his contemporaries describes this relationship as follows:"He would keep his student in good means, supporting him and his dependants. When he has attained a good standard, he would say to him, 'Now you have attained what is more valuable than wealth; for now you know what is lawful and what is forbidden'.

Two personal qualities had a great influence on his scholarship. Te first was independent thinking. He would nat accept any verdict on any question unless he has considered it thoroughly, looking at all factors that could influence the final verdict on it. This gave him two highly important scholarly characteristics. The first is his patience and forbearance. He did not use hard words to anyone who attacked him. Once, someone accused him of being a heretic who invented matters that had no basis in Islam. Very calmly, Abu Haneefah said to the man:"May God forgive you, for He knows that I am unlike what you have said. Ever since I came to know of Him, I have not transgressed in my beliefs. There is nothing that I hope for more than forgiveness, and nothing that I fear more then His punishment." The man asked him earnestly to absolve him of what he said. Abu Haneefah said:"I forgive anyone who says something against me if he is ignorant. If he is a scholar, then the situation is more difficult. A slur by a scholar leaves its traces for long."

The second characteristic derived from his independent thinking was his courage. He would stat his views very cleary, not swerving from any of them for any reason. However, he admitted that he could be mistaken over any question. He frequently repeated to his students:"What we say is merely an expression of an opinion, which is the best we have determined.If anyone comes to us with something better, he is entitled to uphold the truth." All this gave him a highly respectable status among all who knew him. He added to that penetrative insight. He was indeed the top scholar of fiqh in his time.

Abu Haneefah never accepted any gift, in cash or the like, from any ruler or Governor. In this attitude, he was subsequently joined by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who lived much of his life in poverty.

As a businessman, Abu Haneefah had four characteristics that distinguished hi among his peers: 1, A clear sense of integrity, which steered him away from greed and doubtful gains; 2, Exemplary honesty; 3, Kindness in his dealings; and 4, a profound sense of religion that considered honest and fair trading an act of worship. This made him exceptional among people of business. He was likened to Abu Bakr in his trading, showing any defect in the merchandise he was selling without placing the good attractive items on top or in the front. He placed them with the rest of the goods in order not to let in any element of cheating.

His honesty was demonstrated in both buying and selling. A woman brought him a silk dress which she wanted to sell. She asked 100 for it, but Abu Haneefah would not take it for the asking price, because, as he informed the woman, it was worth more. So she increased the price, but he kept saying it was worth more. She eventually asked him to pay 400, but he again refused again and said that she has asked for too little. She looked at him suspiciously and said, 'Are you mocking me?' He suggested that she should get someone who was an expert in this line. When the expert came, he valued it at 500, and Abu Haneefah bought it at that price.

He was willing to forgo his profit if the case merited that. An old woman said to him once:"I am old and poor. Be honest with me and sell me this dress without charging too much for it." He said:"take it then, for 4 dirhams." Knowing that the dress was worth much more, she said with a touch of anger:"Are you mocking me when I am an elderly woman?" He said:"The fact is that I bought to dresses, and sold the first one for 4 dirhams short of what i paid for the two. So, if you take the dress for this price, I will have got my money back."

It is difficult to cover all aspects of such a rich personality in the space allowed for one article. Hence it is necessary to leave some important aspects to a second article, Inshallah.

"Had I known that people would not let him down, I would have joined him in his Jihad, because he is the right leader. However, I will help him financially." These were Abu Haneefah's reported words in reference to Imam Zaid ibn Ali who rebelled against the Umayyad rule in 122 A.H. He was true to his word and he sent a large donation to Zaid. Abu Haneefah lived most of his life under the Umayyad Caliphate, but he felt that the Umayyads had no right to be rulers and he was against the choice of the Caliph hereditary.

Later when the Umayyad Caliphate was facing its stiffest test, the Umayyad Governor in Kufah, Ibn Hubairah wanted to consolidate their position in Iraq by getting the support of scholars. He called in the best and most popular scholars and practically presurised them into accepting official positions with the Umayyad rulers. They accepted these, with the exception of Abu Haneefah, who refused all offers. Ibn Hubairah then offered him the seal, so that no government correspondence would be issued and no financial allocations could be made unless he would sign and seal it. But he refused. The Governor requested some scholars to try and persuade him, but Abu Haneefah spoke to them kindly. In repeating his refusal he said:"If he wanted me to agree to sign and seal a letter ordering that a man should be beheaded? I will never agree to do any work for him."

That brought matters to a head, and the Governor ordered his punishment. So he was imprisoned and beaten up. Then the Governor feared that such punishment could lead to his death, and that would place a lasting stigma on the Umayyad rule. So, he requested other scholars to persuade Abu Haneefah to allow the Governor to fulfill his oath. Abu Haneefah would not accept co-operation, not even by seeking a postponement of the appointment. The Governor had no choice but to release him. When freed, Abu Haneefah left Kufah with his family, and head straight for Makkah where he spent the next few years. That was i 130 A.H.

With the Abbassids, he was first on good terms, but relations with Al-Mansorr, the Caliph, were strained. Al-Mansoor called in several scholars, including Abu Haneefah, and told them that the people of Musel rebelled, while they had pledged loyalty, making it clear that they would be liable to be killed should they ever rebelled. The Caliph wanted to know if this case comes under the principle laid down by the Prophet:"Believers will always honour their pledges." That would mean that all those who rebelled were liable for capital punishment. One man present said to the Caliph:"You have all authority over them. Should you forgive them, it is only your noble character, and if you punish them, they have deserved punishment."

As people voiced their views, Abu Haneefah remained silent. Al-Mansoor asked him for his opinion, reminding him that rebellion threatened people who otherwise were enjoying security. Abu Haneefah did not hesitate to state the truth. He said to the Caliph:"They have pledged what is not theirs to offer, and you have imposed on them a condition that you have no right to impose. Capital punishment cannot be imposed on a Muslim except in one of three cases. That is the condition God has imposed, and His condition is the one you ae better advised to honour. If you impose a condition , you kill them without justification." On hearing this, Al-Mansoor dismissed his students, but retained Abu Haneefah. When he was alone with him, he said:"Yours is the correct view. You may go home, but do not issue rulings that detract from the Caliph, so that you do not encourage rebellion."

In the year 146 A.H, Abu Haneefah was sent to prison by Mansur, the leader at the time, after the Imam’s refusal to state that Al-Mansur was the rightful Caliph, as well as refusing the position of presidency of the supreme court in recompense. Whilst in prison Imam Abu Haneefah was thrashed with a stick. Al-Mansur repented and sent the Imam money, only to be refused again. By now Imam Abu Haneefah had become well known and thousands flocked to meet and seek his opinion wherever he went. His imprisonment far from reduced his popularity, and Al-Mansur realised that he would have to treat the Imam carefully, thus he allowed him to teach whilst still in prison. Al-Mansur finally decided to do away with the great Imam and had him poisoned. Abu Haneefah feeling the effects of the poison, bent down in prayer and died in the month on Rajab. News of the Imam’s death reached far and wide, and thousands gathered at the prison. The city Qadi (judge) washed his body, and kept repeating "by God you were the greatest faqih (scholar of Islamic law) and the most pious man of our time....".

By the time the bathing was finished so many people had assembled that the funeral prayer was performed attended by fifty thousand people.

Al Hafiz al-Kabir Abu Bakr Ahmad al- Harizmi wrote in his book (Musnad), ‘Saif al Aimma’ reports that when Imam Abu Haneefah derived a matter from the Qur’an and Hadith, he would not give the answer to the inquirer unless all of them (his students) confirmed it. One thousand of Abu Haneefah’s disciples attended all his classes when he taught in the mosque of Kufa city. Forty of them were mujtahids. When he would find an answer for a matter he would suggest to his students who would study it together, and when they reached an agreement of it being consistent with The Qur’an and Hadith, and with the words of the Sahabah, he would be delighted and say, "Al-hamdu li’llah wallahu Akbar (All praise is due to Allah, Allah is the greatest)", and all those who were present would repeat his words. Then he would tell them to write it down.

Ibn ‘Abd al- Barr relates in al-Intiqa’, ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad al-Dawraqi said: "Ibn Ma’inn was asked about Abu Haneefah as I was listening, so he said "He is trustworthy (thiqatun), I never heard that anyone had weakened him" No less than Shu’ba wrote to him (for narrations), and ordered him to narrate hadith’. Ibn Hajar said in Kharija ibn al Salt’s notice in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, Ibn Abi Khaythama said: "If al Shu’bi narrates from someone and names him, that man is trustworthy (thiqa) and his narration is used as proof (yuhtajju bi hadithihi)".

Many well known shuyukh (scholars) narrated from Imam Abu Haneefah, to name but a few: al Thawri, ibn al-Mubarak, Hammad ibn Zayd and ‘Abd al-Razzaq (one of Iman al-Bukhari’s shaykh) Al Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal names about one hundred names of those who narrated from Imam Abu Haneefah.

Imam as-Shafi (rh) is recorded to have stated: "All men of fiqh are Abu Haneefah’s children". "...I would not have acquired anything of knowledge had it not been for my teacher. All men of knowledge are children of the ulema (scholars) of Iraq, who were the disciples of the ulema of Kufa, and they were the disciples of Abu Haneefah".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Beloved Messenger of Allah(swt)

by Ayesha bint Mahmood

Although I never saw your face
So beautiful, bestowed with grace
My heart doth yearn to be like you
In thoughts and hopes anda actions too
You loved the children and the old
Amd gave your heart to every soul
You nursed the sick and served the poor
And fed the hungry at your door
You loved creatures - tame and wild
And comforted the orphan child
You bid men peace, cared for the youth
God's Messenger in truth

So with devotion I do read
Your life of which I try to lead
No deeds is mine except yours
My prayers upon you ever pour
The good-tidings you brought to me
And for mankind, we'll never be
In humble praise of our Good Lord
For bringing His great Message forth

Now to my Lord I turn and pray
'O Allah! Your last Messenger's way
Lit the earth whereso he went
This truthful, gentle soul You sent
O Allah! Your last Messenger's life
Was the perfect sacrifice
To bring Your people to Your Garden
In hope he prayed for our pardon
Guiding, steady and forbearing
Patient with us for not caring
O Allah! Our love for Him cannot sever
Peace and blessings on Muhammad for ever.'

Forgive Me

by Ayesha bint Mahmood

I can only break down and cry
I am drifting - true guidance is passing me by
Faith tackles my faithless heart
I climb life's ladder but it is slippery to cling to
My soul is empty, nothing to give to
A burning desire to change my ill state
I see a Straight Path but I hesitate
Recalling my life, a game in full play
I hope for longer than temporary stay!
How many sacrifices I will not make!
But then I am sealing the lid to my fate
A place is ready, with punishment - cruel
The sinner's dwelling is fire, man - fuel
This reality plays on my conscience
Yet my debliity conquers my good sense
But I search for the Truth in you
The sincere believer, blessed with virtue
Hopeful and humble, you are serving Him well
Focused and attentive, insecurity expelled
How lucky you seem, a picture of peace
Truth and direction for you, a release
Give me a piece of your sweetness I long
Show me the True way again I was wrong
To Him whom I pour out my heart faithfully
Surely hears and accepts my overdue plea
All the waste, all the weeping - to Islam I flee
The only path to salvation! May Allah forgive me!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Imam Al-Bukhari

By Sheikh Ghulam Rasul Sa`idi
March 30, 2005


After the honorable Companions, Imam Al-Bukhari ranks as one of the most eminent scholars who have conferred endless bliss upon the Ummah. The greatest evidence of this is the book of Hadith he compiled, commonly known as Sahih Al-Bukhari, which is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Qur'an.

His Early Years

Imam Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma`il Al-Bukhari was born on Shawwal 13, AH 194, in the famous city of Bukhara, present day Uzbekistan. The father of Al-Bukhari, Isma`il ibn Ibrahim ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Ja`fi, was a great scholar of Hadith and ascetics, from whom the son inherited the characteristics of literary zeal and excellence.

During Al-Bukhari's infancy, his father passed away and his mother took on the entire responsibility of bringing him up. Al-Bukhari became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time, but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshiper and a righteous woman. She cried out for help in the court of Allah the Almighty, for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight. At last, "the river of mercy flowed over her," and Almighty Allah accepted her invocation. One night, she saw Ibrahim (peace and blessings be upon him) in a dream and was told, "Allah has restored the sight of your son because of your invocations." In the morning, as Al-Bukhari got up from his bed, he saw glimmers of light.

Primary Education and Interest in Hadith

When Al-Bukhari was 10 years old and had acquired his elementary education, he became interested in the science of Hadith and obtained admission in the Hadith class of Bukhara. He studied vigorously. A year later, he had such good retention of the text and chains of transmission of hadiths, that sometimes teachers obtained their corrections from him. Al-Bukhari acquired religious education with competence and swiftness. At the tender age of 16, he had completely learned by heart the books of `Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak, Al-Waki`, and other learned companions of Imam Abu Hanifah.

Commencement of Hadith Compilation

At the age of 18, Al-Bukhari visited Makkah, accompanied by his mother and elder brother Ahmad ibn Isma`il. After performing the pilgrimage, his brother returned in the company of his mother, but Al-Bukhari stayed there for further education. Meanwhile, he wrote a book called Qadaya as-Sahabah wat-Tabi`in. After this, he went to Madinah to compile the famous book At-Tarikh al-Kabir.

Over a period of several years, Al-Bukhari traveled far and wide for the transmission of hadiths and gained immense knowledge. He stated, "To seek knowledge, I traveled to Egypt and Syria twice, Basra four times, spent six years at Hijaz, and left for Kufah and Baghdad on so many occasions accompanied by Hadith scholars."

His Remarkable Memory

Al-Bukhari was a man with a very strong memory: It seemed as if his body, from head to toe, stored information. His superb memory reminds us of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him). Sulaiman ibn Mujahid said, "One day, I was present in the company of Muhammad ibn Salam. He said, 'If you had come earlier, I would have shown you the child who has 70,000 hadiths in his memory.' Sulaiman stood up from his company and started looking for Al-Bukhari. Shortly he found him and asked, 'Are you the one who has committed 70,000 hadiths to memory?' Al-Bukhari replied, 'I have learned more hadiths than this by heart. I even know the place of birth, death, and residence of most of those Companions from whom the hadiths are narrated.'"

Also, Muhammad ibn Azhar As-Sajistani said, "I used to go to Sulaiman ibn Harb accompanied by Imam Al-Bukhari to listen to hadiths. I used to write the hadiths, but Imam Al-Bukhari wouldn't. Someone said to me, 'Why doesn't Imam Al-Bukhari note the hadiths down?' I told him, 'If you missed any Hadith in writing, you could obtain it from the memory of Imam Al-Bukhari.'"

Glimpses of His Private Life

Self-Sufficiency

The father of Al-Bukhari, Isma`il ibn Ibrahim, was enormously rich and Al-Bukhari inherited a huge share of his wealth. He used to invest his wealth on the basis of silent partnerships (whereby the profits are shared equally but only one partner does the work). Abu Sa`id Bakr ibn Munir stated, "Once Abu Hafs sent some goods to Imam Al-Bukhari, and when traders learned of this, they came and offered 5,000 dirhams. He told them, 'Come in the evening.' A second group of traders came and offered 10,000 dirhams, but he told them, 'I have already made an agreement with someone else. I do not want to change my intention for the sake of 10,000 dirhams.'"

Simplicity and Humbleness

Al-Bukhari was a simple and hard working person. He would carry out his affairs by himself. Despite having wealth and status, he always kept the minimum number of servants required and never indulged himself in this matter. Muhammad ibn Hatim Al-Warraq, who was one of his main disciples, said, "Imam Al-Bukhari was establishing an inn near the city of Bukhara and was placing the bricks with his own hands. I came forward and said, 'Leave the laying of the bricks for this building to me.' But he replied, 'On the day of judgment, this act will be of benefit to me.'"

Warraq went on to say, "When we accompanied Imam Al-Bukhari on a journey, he would gather us in one room and would stay by himself in a separate room. Once I saw Imam Al-Bukhari get up between fifteen and twenty times during the night, and every time, he lit the lamp with his own hands. He took some hadiths out, marked them, and then placed his head on his pillow and lay on his couch. I said to him, 'Why did you go through all this trouble during the night, when you could have woken me up [so that I could help you].' He replied, 'You are young and are in need of sound sleep and I did not want to disturb your sleep.'"

Generosity

Al-Bukhari set a good example in generosity. He would give 3,000 dirhams as a donation in one day. Al-Warraq said that Al-Bukhari's earnings were 500 dirhams per month, and he would spend all of it on his students.

Fear of Allah

Al-Bukhari was bestowed with a high level of piety and righteousness. He feared Allah very much both inwardly and outwardly. He prevented himself from backbiting and suspicion and always respected the rights of others. Bakr ibn Munir related that Al-Bukhari said, "I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never engaged in backbiting."

Al-Bukhari was so vigilant in his worship that he would perform many supererogatory Prayers and fasts. He would complete the recitation of the whole Qur'an daily in the month of Ramadan and recite ten juz' of the Qur'an deep into the night. He never became angry if mistreated by other persons, and he prayed for forgiveness for those who attributed evil to him. If he needed to correct any person, he would never embarrass him in public.

His Passing

He died on the night of `Eid Al-Fitr, the first night of Shawwal, in the year AH 256. In 12 more days he would have been 62 years old. On that night, the sun of great knowledge, virtue, and blessings set, one whose knowledge and actions had enlightened the hearts and minds of the great intellects and people of Samarqand, Bukhara, Baghdad, and Nishapur. May Allah accept his tireless effort and shower his soul with mercy.

Islam is here

Islam is peace, Islam is ease,
Islam's not danger or disease.
Islam is love and prosperity.
Islam's not hatred or adversity.

Islam is salvation through repentence.
Islam has love for all in abundance.
Islam means no harm or affliction.
Islam implores you with affection.

Islam is neither maze nor craze.
Islam is giving Allah all praise.
Islam is acing through the race.
Islam will be on everyone's face.

Islam is worshipping only the Creator.
Islam's not mere numbers on a calculator.
Islam gives you power when you surrender.
Islam's not a terrorist or for a pretender.

Islam is patience and perseverance.
Islam eases your vengeance through tolerance.
Islam is life for all eternity.
Islam gives you respect, moreover dignity.

Islam is winning hearts through honesty
Islam is giving openly in charity
Islam makes you wholesome and trustworthy
Islam is in wealth as well as in poverty.

Islam is your shield against all evil.
Islam is for your soul's retrieval.
Islam not fundamentalism or fanaticism.
Islam's not nationalism or racism.

Wake up, people, Islam is here.
Islam is here, so have no fear.

Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?(13:SuraRehman)

From: "Ebrahim Rashid"

EMOTIONAL & PHYSICAL ABUSE IN MARRIAGE

In Islam, the marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of Allah, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassion between the spouses.

The relationship between the spouses should be based on tranquility, love and mercy. These three summarize the ideals of Islamic marriage. It is the duty of the husband and wife to see that they are a source of comfort and tranquility for each other.

While the meaning of physical abuse is rather obvious, the meaning of emotional abuse might not be, and the abuse itself may be more insidious. Emotional abuse includes name calling, belittling, using threat of divorce as a weapon to manipulate the other, threatening with a real weapon (even with no intention to use it). There may be other elements such as not allowing the wife to visit or contact family or friends. Even frequent teasing, though it starts in fun, may become a type of abuse if it takes the form of sarcasm or demeaning remarks.

It is common for some people when they are angry to call others names or belittle them. If one gets angry quickly and easily with one's spouse, it could lead to emotional abuse. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to control our anger, not to call each other names, not to use vulgar language, and not to point a weapon at another person. This advice was general for all, but it should be taken even more seriously within a marriage.

These general guidelines are established by the Qur'an in the following verses: "O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride (ridicule) a folk who may be better than they (are), nor let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil doers. O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Ye abhor that (so abhor the other)! And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful." (Al-Hujurat: 11-12)

Moreover, Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam - may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “It is not lawful for a Muslim to scare his fellow Muslim.” (Reported by Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam) also said: “None of you should point his weapon at his brother, as Satan may provoke him (to hurt his brother) and as a result, he would fall into a pit of Fire.” (Reported by al-Bukhari) In another version: “He who (even) points at his brother with a piece of iron is cursed by the angels until he puts it down, even if the other was his blood brother.” (Reported by Muslim)

"Emotional abuse truly damages and hurts as much as physical abuse does. In Islam, there is a special consideration of the relationship between the spouses. Allah says, "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (Ar-Rum 21)

It is shown that the basis of the relationship between husband and wife is affection and mercy. In many Hadiths the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam) mentioned that if a husband looks at his wife with kindness and mercy, Allah Almighty looks at them with His mercy, and if they shake hands all their sins vanish. So, we have to study very well how the Prophet (peace SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam) dealt with his wives. In fact, he was very merciful, kind, and loveable, bearing in mind that there were some problems that they faced in their marital life but they dealt with these problems with extreme wisdom and kindness. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam) never abused his wives either physically or emotionally.

Therefore, neither of the spouses is allowed to abuse the other emotionally. This is prohibited in Islam. If either does so, Almighty Allah will hold him or her accountable for that, and they should repent to Allah for this. It is clear now that the best guide to us to live a very successful martial life is to follow the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi Wasallam)."

Jesus (peace be upon him)

The Christian belief about Jesus is that he is the only-begotten Son of God or God Himself, who died on the cross to save humans from Original Sin. Muslims hold that there is no such thing as Original Sin. So God had no reason to become a human and die on the cross. Even if there were something called Original Sin, Muslims do not see how God could be so helpless as to atone for that sin by dying on the cross. The Christians would answer:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Did God really love the world so much… so much that He decided to sacrifice even His son, His only begotten son, to save the world from Original Sin? Christians would say, Yes.

On the other hand, Muslims would insist in the first place, that God is One and One Only, and, therefore, He didn’t have a son. Second, as God is Just, He would not punish the innocent to save the sinners. Third, the so-called Original Sin cannot be such a problem for the Almighty God that He is compelled to sacrifice “His own Son.” He could very well cancel that sin or He could simply demand an atonement from the sinful or at least ask for sincere repentance from them. Indeed, there was no need for God to subject His Son to the "terrible torture" he is said to have undergone.

In fact, there were early Christians who did not believe in the crucifixion of Jesus. For instance, the Basilidians believed that someone else was crucified in his place. The names of Simon of Cyrene and even Judas Iscariot are heard in this context.

As for the Qur’an, it speaks of how Allah cleared Jesus of the disbelief of his people. It says what means:
*{[And remember] when Allah said: O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself, and cleanse you of those who disbelieve; and I will make those who follow [you] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to me you will [all] return, and I will judge between you as to that wherein you used to differ. And as for those who disbelieve I will punish them with severe torment in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have no helpers.}* (Aal `Imran 3:55-56)

Thus, Allah raised Jesus up to Heaven, and so he was saved from an accursed death on the cross, in contrast to what his enemies and even his self-styled “followers” alleged. It was the plan of the enemies of Jesus to crucify him, but Allah foiled their plan. So to believe in his death by crucifixion means to believe that those unbelievers were successful against God’s plan. But assuredly they could not crucify Jesus the Messenger of Allah. The Qur’an says what means:
*{And their saying [is] ‘we slew the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, Allah’s messenger’ – They slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them. And those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture. For of a surety they slew him not; but Allah took him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty [and] All-Wise. And there is none of the people of the Book [the Jews and Christians] but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:157-159)

We Muslims believe in all the prophets of God and honor and respect them alike; we do not make any distinction between one and another of them. Muslims believe Jesus Christ to be one of the great prophets of God and hold that all prophets are brothers and that their religion is the same, namely, Islam (or unconditional submission to Allah). Allah says in the Qur’an what means:
*{He [Allah] has ordained for you the same religion as that which He ordained to Noah, and that which We inspired in you [Muhammad], and that which We ordained to Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and make no divisions therein. To those who worship other things than Allah, dreadful is that to which you call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He will, and guides to Himself him who turns [in repentance to Him].}* (Az-Zukhruf 42:13)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Attitudes and Actions for Self-Development

If we are to change anything - our youth group, our community, our society -
we have to start with ourselves. Accepting our responsibility and developing
as individuals is the first step, but we have to take it seriously. Below
are a few ideas about Islamic behaviour and attitudes that we should strive
to inculcate. These, insha Allah, will aid us in our all round development.

Punctuality


Punctuality in Islamic life and work is as important as the fulfillment of
religious and moral duties. This cannot be over emphasized to Muslims the
world over, who are notorious in their neglect of this prime Islamic virtue.
If we are in the habit of arriving late, we should advance our watches
enough to counter our habit. There is no excuse from our having to break
this unworthy habit. Whatever the activity, Muslims must be bound to its
precise time. Life is purposeful and man is responsible for every moment of
time. So, whether the time calls for food or Salah, we should be there not
only on time, but before time. Failure to start our duty on time is failure
in our Islamicity, in our very iman or faith.

Generosity


Readiness to give aid is an Islamic virtue par excellence. The Muslim is
always ready to come to the assistance of others in need. He does not wait
to be asked to extend assistance. He is always on the lookout for the
situation where he can actualise his benevolence. As far as doing good (al
mar'uf) is concerned, or stopping or prohibiting an evil (al munkar), the
Muslim must even be aggressive at times. This readiness to jump into any
situation in order to be of service to fellow humans is the highest, the
noblest __expression of iman.

Doing Good

A person's iman is rightly measured by his active ihsaan, his doing of good
on all occasions. If he enters a meeting room and finds a table dirty, he
wipes it clean. In the bathroom, the gym, the dining room, the athletic
field, the mosque, walkways, everywhere, the Muslim is the first one to set
right that which is not right. If a service calls for volunteers, he is the
first to offer his service. The Muslim thus makes himself worthy of his
Prophet who said: 'And the beginning of ihsaan is removing refuse from the
public highway'. (Bayhaqi)

Amiability

Amiability is a pre-requisite of falah or success. The Muslim struggles as
hard as he can to make himself amiable, loveable, befriend able, and
trustworthy. The smile ever present on his face is the index of a tenderness
of a heart towards other Muslims. When they talk, he listens; when they cry,
he cries with them, when they are in a good mood, he joins in their
joyfulness. He is generous, good, and permanently concerned with their
welfare.

Optimism

Optimism is the highest principle of Islamic ethics. Islam implies the
conviction that Allah is Beneficent and Merciful, Just and willing our
welfare. He committed Himself to have mercy on us (6:12,54) to give the
Mu'mineen or believers victory over their enemies (22:40) and generally to
harm no one (4:39, 10:44). This world cannot be evil; nor can its outcome be
evil. Certainly, it is an arena for action, for testing our piety and
morality. But it is a world in which the good always comes out as
victorious. That is because Allah is indeed Allah, and there is none else
beside Him.

Courtesy: Zira Ishak
Compiled, edited and adapted by Khalid Latif, e-tabligue


Friday, August 19, 2005

Q & A on Tasawwuf - Shaykh Mufti Ebrahim Desai (DB)

1. What is Tasawwuf?
1. The purpose of Tasawwuf is to reform oneself to the extent of being compliant to Shari’ah in every aspect of life and gaining closeness to Allah. This injunction is replete in the Qur’aan and Ahaadith. If one is able to reform him/herself, then the purpose is achieved. If one is not able to reform him/herself, then it is advisable to seek the assistance from a pious and upright person. It is preferable that such a person be an Aalim as well as it is possible that a non-Aalim may offer advices not consistent with the Shari’ah.

2. What is the purpose of Bayat?
2.The concept of Bai'at is expressly mentioned in the Quran and Hadith. There are different categories of Bai'at. One is to express submission to the leader of the Muslims, Ameerul Mo'mineen. This category of Bai'at is compulsory. The other category of Bai'at is for Islaah (reformation). This category of Bai'at is not compulsory. If a person is able to reform himself independently without the assistance of a spiritual guide, then he may do so. In such an instance, there is no need for Bai'at. However, generally, a person experiences difficulties in reforming himself and he requires the assistance of an expert to assist him in the reformation process. In order to achieve that, he takes Bai'at as an expression of determination and submission to obey. His spiritual guide then takes it upon himself to guide his Mureed and the Mureed undertakes to obey. Therefore the purpose of Bai' at is at most an administrative matter to achieve maximum benefit and results. It is not Shirk. However, we advise, you should exercise caution in choosing your Peer. Apart from him excelling in Taqwa, piety and having the expertise to reform, you too must be comfortable with him and his procedure. You must be able to relate to him and be able to benefit. For that we propose you first keep Islaahi relationship and qualify that with Bai'at later only after you are satisfied.

3. Is it necessary to give Bayat (allegiance) to a Shaykh/Murshid in Tasawwuf?
3. If it is possible for any individual to reform himself, he should do so. However, it is generally noticed that individuals experience difficulties in reforming themselves and seek assistance of a spiritual guide who is pious and adhere to Shari'ah in reforming themselves. The practise of taking allegiance (Bay'at) and following the guidance of one's spiritual mentor is called Tasawwuf.

4. How does one give Bayat to a person who is far away?
4. If one wishes to take Bay'at to someone overseas, he may write up to the person and request Bay'at. The person may accept the written request.

5. How many Tariqahs are there in Tasawwuf?
5. There are four famous schools in Sufism - Chistiyya, Naqshabandi, Saharwardiyya, Qaadriyya. Each school has prescribed its own way of reformation. However, the ultimate purpose is Ma' rifat (recognition) of Allah Ta'ala and Ittiba-e-Sunnah (following the Sunnah).

6. How did Sufism get a start?
6. Tasawwuf is based on the Quran and hadith. The essence of Tasawwuf is consciousness of the presence of Allah and accountability in the court of Allah. The title "tasawwuf" only began to gain popularity after the year 200 A.H. Those who excelled in abstinence, Ibadah and Ittiba' of sunnah named their way " tasawwwuf" and those who followed this way were called sufi's. (Al Risalah Al- Qushairiyyah)

7. How does one select a Shaykh/Murshid (spiritual mentor?
7. Once you come across a Shaykh who is steadfast on the Sunnah and you have some inclination towards him, you may choose him as your spiritual mentor.

8. How does one obtain a pure heart?
8. To obtain a pure heart, adhere to the following advise of Hadhrat Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu): At first to the rememberance of Allah Ta’ala, because it is a cure; and abstain from speaking about people (backbiting, slandering, etc.) because it is a sickness. It has been narrated from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) that the heart get rusted as iron gets rust. The Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) asked, ‘What could cleanse the heart, then?’ Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied, ‘Frequent recitation of the Qur’aan and Dhikr (rememberance) of Allah.

9. Is it permissible to recite Dhikr aloud & in congregation?
9. With regards to saying Dhikr aloud and in congregation, there are many verses of the Qur'aan and Ahaadith to establish its permissibility. Suffice to mention just a few, Allah Ta'ala says, 'O you who believe! Remember Allah Ta'ala abundantly.' (Surah Ahzaab). 'Remember me and I will remember you.' (Baqarah). 'Certainly, the rememberance of Allah Ta'ala is the greatest.' (Ankaboot)

As far as Ahaadith are concerned, Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said, 'Allah Ta'ala says, O my servant, you remember alone, I will remember you alone. And if you remember me in a gathering, I remember you in a gathering more better.' (Tirmidhi).

10. If someone is involved in Tasawwuf, is it ok if he does not do the effort of Dawah & Tabligh?
10. All these efforts are needed and have to be done simultaneously in order to create a better individual and a more religious society. One who is concentrating on Tasawwuf should not neglect the effort of Da’awah and Tabligh but should try and create a balance in his life. For example, weekly, if a person attends the halaqah of a certain Buzurg on a Thursday, then he should participate in the Ghusht and Jawla programmes on Monday and Wednesday. In other words, we need to make some type of adjustments to our daily lives and routines in order to facilitate all these efforts of Deen which are Haqq. We should refrain from becoming totally one sided, biased and neglecting some of these efforts and dotingly only some.

11. Nowadays people have stopped going to khanqahs and also many don't have knowledge of Tasawwuf, please prescribe some methods so that this interest can be brought in to the ummah?
11. The fundamental cause of this decline is that the Ummah has become weakened in their faith and conviction on Allah. We have to again remind ourselves who we are and where we belong to. It is unfair that we who know about Tasawwuf and the other tenets of Deen, sit complacent and just debate or share views on why the Ummah is like this or like that. It is our responsibility to take this blessed Deen to others as well.

12. What are the positive and negative feelings that a Saalik experiences?
12. In Sulook (walking the path of Sufism), a Saalik (person walking the path of Sufism) experiences two feelings: a) Bast, b) Qabz

Bast is an Arabic word literally meaning 'expansion'. In the terminology of Sufism, it refers to the positive feeling in the heart to perform abundant Ibaadat, Tilaawaat, Dhikr, etc.

Qabz is also an Arabic word literally meaning 'contraction'. In the terminology of Sufism, it refers to the negative feeling in the heart to perform any or abundant Ibaadat, Tilaawat, Dhikr, etc.

Bast is desired as it assists in attaining the purpose of Ibaadat. However, it is not purposeful itself as the positive feeling is not the object of worship. Regarding the desired feeling as purposeful can be detrimental especially when one loses or decreases the condition of Bast. Regarding the Bast as only a means of abundant worship, upon the feeling being decreased or even suppressed, one will place the purpose ahead of his/herself and continue with the Ibaadat, Tilaawat, etc. albeit without positive feelings.

Qabz is not desired as one feels negative and empty within the heart. However, it is not Mazmoom (bad) either. Since we do not worship feelings, we should concentrate on accomplishing what is purposeful, Ibaadat, Tilaawaat, etc. According to the Mutasawwifeen (Sufis), since the condition of Qabz requires one to make more sacrifice in accomplishing his/her responsibility, the rewards are greater. Furthermore, in Bast there is a possibility of Iejaab (ostentatiousness) which is condemned. In Qabz, due to the humility and humbleness one attains close proximity to Allah which is the ultimate aim and objective.

The above is a very brief explanation of an extremely extensive subject which can be understood easily by undertaking the journey of Sulook.

13. Are there any ahadith which mention the various classes of saints such Abdaals, Qutub, etc?
13. There are various Ahaadith with regards to the existence of such saints. However, the number of these differ according to various narrations. Some of these narrations are as follows:

Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said, 'Abdaals will be found in Shaam. They will be forty in number. Whenever one of them passes away, he will be replaced by another. It is through them that Allah Ta'ala will cause it to rain and also grant the Muslims victory over their enemy and remove a possible punishment.' (Musnad Ahmad)

Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said, 'The Abdaals of my Ummah shall be forty, of which twenty will be in Shaam and eighteen in Iraq. Every time one passes away, another replaces him. When Qiyaamat, occurs, all will pass away.' (Ibid)

Other narrations say that they are thirty in number. Some narrations say that there are five hundred such saints of which forty are Abdaals. The Ahaadith only speak about Abdaals. Some Ahaadith make mention of Qutub, some are correct and some are fabricated.

14. Is it permissible to condemn innovations such as dancing which devious people have tried to introduce into Tasawwuf?
14. It is permissible to condemn every action and group that goes contrary to the Shari’ah. A great Sufi, Imaam Abu Abdillah ibn al-Toobi al-Saqaly (rah) has said, ‘Sufism is not wearing patched clothing and not by crying when singers sing and not by screaming and not by dancing. In fact, Sufism is that you follow the Haqq and Qur’aan. You must have fear for Allah, full of remorse for you sins at all times.’

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sex and Our Muslim Youth(For Parents)

By Dr. Ahmed Adam**

Introduction

The topic of sex has universal appeal. Sex is portrayed daily in various forms-directly or indirectly-in newspapers, magazines, cinemas, and in conversations between people. The topic of sex conjures images of sexuality, promiscuity, lewdness, adultery, fornication, pornography, rape, teenage pregnancies, pedophilia, gays, sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives, abortions, and HIV/AIDS.

Yet somehow, despite the fact that "everyone" is influenced by this topic, it seems that most parents find this topic somewhat "delicate" to discuss with their children. Children of today seem to be maturing at a faster rate than a generation ago and often ask intelligent questions of their parents. Some parents do their level best to satisfy their children's natural curiosity. Other parents simply don't know how to handle their fast-growing kids and often assume that the less said about the subject of sex, the better. In some homes the word "sex" is taboo, and children are often reprimanded for asking innocent questions. Parents assume that children will grow up and "they will learn," or that the school or friends are "responsible" for sharing this knowledge. The reality is that parents who have this view are overlooking a major and significant source of correct information regarding this topic-themselves! Our children have the right to be given an unbiased view of sex, based on the
Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Western media is very powerful, and often the main driver is money rather than values based on sound moral principles and with their roots in religion. This essay deals with this topic in an objective manner to throw some light on this issue and thereby, perhaps, give some confused teenagers a clearer perspective of the choices that they can make. I am not a moralist or a mawlana. I do not intend to be judgmental of any individual, group, or society, but simply give my opinion on this topic from an Islamic point of view. Any errors are my own and I seek the forgiveness of Allah Most High for any errors contained in this article.

Sex Education

The Islamic View of These Problems

Sex and Hygiene

Prostitution

Willpower and Discipline

Prevalence of Illegal Sex

Role of Parents

Conclusion

Sex Education

Studies have shown that the average teenager and preteen receive their sex education from the following sources in order of priority:

1. Friends, who may then share pornographic magazines, books, and Internet

2. TV and movies, which then lead to magazines and newspapers, or school (video or discussions of video), parents (through discussion of TV and movies)

Parents fail to realize that everyone is teaching their children about sex except them. Everyone is telling your children about sex, so how sure are you that this information is based on the guidelines laid down in Islam?

Sex is a fashionable industry that changes like the flavor of the month. Sex is a topic that advertisers and marketers use very effectively to sell their products. Unfortunately, the sources of information available to the preteen are often biased. Illusions are created that everyone is having sex . in these modern times, anything goes . you only live once, so make the most of it, and it is "cool" to chew a particular brand of chewing gum or smoke a particular brand of cigarette because that will make you rich and successful and ensure that you can attract the perfect partner. In fact, the reality is far removed from the illusion that is fed to the senses of our unsuspecting youth.

With aggressive and sustained marketing, society comes to accept abnormal activities as normal. Ten years ago, what was considered abnormal, unthinkable, abhorrent, immoral, and shameful, is today considered fashionable, normal, and modern. A typical example is that after watching a few episodes of any prime-time soap opera on TV, one gets the impression that adultery is acceptable and normal; premarital sex fashionable, and that deceit, trickery, lying, and manipulation are essential to get your man or woman, no matter what the cost or the hurt that others suffer in the process. Furthermore, the printed and visual media create the impression that marriage is old fashioned, live-in relationships and cohabitation are in vogue, and being gay is fashionable. Homosexuality, bestiality, and escort clubs (prostitution) are all normal. We have reached a stage (through effective marketing) where certain individuals in society justify everything by their right to freedom of _expression. If
this is really freedom, then why do we see so many examples of the following scenarios:

1. Young adults are being infected with the HIV virus at an alarming rate. South Africa has one of the fastest growing number of infected people in the world; HIV/AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in this country. The age group that is mainly targeted is teenagers and young adults.

2. A devout mother, loyal to her husband, suddenly develops a sexually transmitted disease (such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, or even HIV/AIDS); how did this happen? STDs have reached epidemic proportions in America, where 40 million people are infected with some form of STD.

3. Teenage pregnancy is on the increase; girls as young as 11 are getting pregnant-a child is pregnant with a child. Many teenagers are having abortions, which leads to emotional, physical, and mental side effects.

4. Girls as young as 10-12 are having unprotected sex, with devastating consequences. When questioned, these young children say, "No one told me that it is wrong."

5. Wonderful homes break up and end in divorce because the husband (or wife) was having an adulterous relationship; the main victims in this scenario are the children.

6. Females as young as 2 and as old as 80 are being raped.

7. Homosexuality is on the increase; acts of sodomy that were once considered an abomination against humanity, are now considered normal to the extent that gay marriages are being allowed in some parts of the world.

8. More and more relationships end up in hurt, depression, unhappiness, conflict, and regret.

The above examples show that the issue of sexual liberation has in fact enslaved the very people that it attempts to free. The sexual liberators are being enslaved in the chains of disease, depression, divorce, dissatisfaction, double standards, deceit, and discontent. Individuals, organizations, and governments are actively searching for solutions to halt this tide of immorality and its associated truckload of problems.

Recent research has shown that two-thirds of the schools in America are now promoting the idea of "no sex before marriage" and that "safe sex" is not the use of condoms, but safe sex is "no sex before marriage," and only one sex partner for life (no adultery). Furthermore, many states in the US are promoting the idea of having pride in remaining a virgin until marriage, and many students are signing certificates vowing their commitment to this new "fashion" of abstinence.

How long will this last? Will we once again undergo a new sexual revolution? The answer to this dilemma and to all dilemmas facing any society where the fabric of society is under threat from immorality, alcoholism, drugs, gambling, crime, dishonesty, and materialism can be found in the Qur'an, which has been sent for all humanity. Its principles have a universal application for all times. It was the task of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to give a practical implementation of the universal message of the Qur'an so that anyone who follows the perfect example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) will be on the straight path.

The Islamic View of These Problems

Adultery

Adultery means to have sex with a person who is not your legally married partner; there are two types of adultery:

1. A married person who has sex with an unmarried person

2. A married person who has sex with another married person

Would you like adultery for your mother, wife, sister, or daughter? If not, then why perpetuate it or condone it? There are several verses in the Qur'an and many authentic hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), which give clear guidance on the choices that we can make.

[Say: the things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds, whether open or secret;..] (Al-A`raf 7:33)

[Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).] (Al-Israa' 17:32)

1. Marriage is a sacred relationship between a husband and wife. When either spouse has a sexual relationship outside this relationship, this is usually done secretly; thus there is breakdown of trust in the relationship.

2. The guilty party may contract a sexually transmitted disease, which can then be transmitted to the innocent victim.

3. The victim is usually the female. She has two options, either stay and ignore what the father of her children is doing, or ask for a divorce. If the woman does not have a source of income, she either has to return to her parents and thus be a burden on them, or eke out a living and thus raise her children in poverty.

4. Children are the innocent victims in divorce. They bear the brunt of the constant fights between their parents and grow up with emotional and psychological scars.

Fornication

Fornication (zina) means to have sex with anyone while not yet married; there are two types of fornication:

1. An unmarried person who has sex with another unmarried person

2. An unmarried person who has sex with a married person; in this case, it is fornication for the unmarried person but adultery for the married person

[Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as God has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication; and any that does this (not only) meets punishment (but) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy.] (Al-Furqan 25:68-69)

In this verse, the sin of fornication is given its seriousness by being ranked as follows:

The first major sin is associating partners with Allah Most High

The second major sin is murder

The third major sin is fornication

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "When a man commits fornication, faith departs from him and there is something like a canvas roof over his head; and when he quits that action, faith returns to him" (Abu Dawud #4673).

The Prophet said, "The one who commits illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse, and a thief is not a believer at the time of committing theft, and a drinker of alcoholic drink is not a believer at the time of drinking. Yet, (the gate of) repentance is open thereafter" (Al-Bukhari 8, 801).

Furthermore, the punishment is described in the following verse: [The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication-flog each of them with a hundred stripes: let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day] (An-Nur 24:2).

Furthermore, if the girl becomes pregnant as a consequence of this premarital or extramarital act, then the child is not considered a legal heir according to the following hadith:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If a man commits fornication with a free woman or a slave woman, the child is the product of fornication, and neither does he inherit nor may anyone inherit from him" (At-Tirmidhi #3054).

Marriage

Marriage is the public proclamation that gives legal, physical, and spiritual license to have sex with your partner.

[Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste until Allah gives them means out of His Grace.] (An-Nur 24:33)

[For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's Praise-for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward.] (Al-Ahzab 33:35)

Muslim males and females are enjoined to marry. There are various guidelines pertaining to selecting a suitable partner in life. This choice cannot be left to chance. However, if anyone does not have the means to marry, this dilemma does not entitle anyone to fornicate; rather he or she is enjoined to remain chaste and to patiently persevere and seek help from Allah Most High. To guard your chastity is a test from Allah Most High and requires a lot of discipline and willpower. However, those individuals who succeed in avoiding fornication and adultery, [for them has Allah Most High prepared forgiveness and a great reward.] Furthermore, according to the following verses, there are clear instructions for those people who commit fornication and then decide to marry:

[Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry any but a woman similarly guilty, or an unbeliever: nor let any but such a man or an unbeliever marry such a woman: to the believers such a thing is forbidden.] (An-Nur 24:3)

[(Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues.] (Al-Ma'idah 5:5)

These verses emphasize the need and pursuit of sexual purity both before marriage and within marriage, and give guidelines as to the selection of a partner. Sex counselors and psychologists now confirm the wisdom behind these verses. A person who has multiple partners is always comparing the spouse's performance to that of other partners. If an "experienced" boy marries a virgin wife, he may be unhappy with her inexperience and may expect (and sometimes demand) more. This can lead to a very fragile relationship, which is bound to flounder. Unfortunately, some men have a double standard wherein they feel free to have sex with multiple partners before marriage, but insist that their wife must be a virgin.

Sex and Hygiene

Islam places a very high emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness. This requirement, together with sexual purity both before marriage and during marriage, tremendously minimizes the risks of diseases associated with the sexual organs. The need and emphasis on cleanliness is highlighted in the following:

[O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer wash your faces and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body.] (Al-Ma'idah 5:6)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "When anyone sits between the four parts of her body and exerts himself (has intercourse), bathing becomes obligatory (for both)." (Muslim)

Sa`id ibn Al-Musayab (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (may Allah be pleased with him) said to 'A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), "I would like to ask you something, but I am embarrassed." She said, "Ask and don't be shy, for I am your mother." He asked about a man who had intercourse but did not ejaculate. She said, on the authority of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), "If the two circumcised parts encountered each other, ghusl is obligatory" (Ahmad and Malik).

Prostitution

Prostitution is forbidden in Islam as indicated in the following hadith:

A slave girl of some Ansari came and said, "My master forces me to commit fornication." Thereupon, the following verse was revealed: [But force not your maids to prostitution (when they desire chastity)] (Abu Dawud #2304).

It is a very sad reflection on our society that some people are forced into prostitution due to circumstances that may be beyond their control. The most wicked and severe form of prostitution is that of child prostitution, enforced either by their parents (very rarely, but most abhorrently), caregivers, or swindlers. Furthermore, studies have shown that there is a very high correlation between prostitution and drugs. Drug dealers usually prey on unsuspecting teenagers at shopping malls, cinemas, and schools, by offering them free drugs. The unsuspecting teenagers become addicted and involuntarily become "customers for life" to these drug dealers. The teenagers then resort to begging, stealing, and prostituting to service this habit. Teenagers should be on the alert for pimps and drug dealers-nothing in life comes for free, there is always a catch. Be alert. Furthermore, be very alert to the dangers presented by pedophiles who derive a perverted sense of pleasure in abusing young children.

Willpower and Discipline

Adultery and fornication do not happen automatically. The mind plays an important role in the whole scenario. Everyone is constantly bombarded with visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli that are processed in the mind. These messages can either be controlled or uncontrolled. If teenagers have low self-esteem and want to be accepted, they will give in to temptation. On the other hand, teenagers who are firm in their faith in Allah Most High and who have positive self-esteem, use their willpower to control temptation and channel it into another form of energy.

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Allah Most High has written for the son of Adam his inevitable share of adultery, whether he is aware of it or not: The adultery of the eye is looking (at something which is sinful to look at), and the adultery of the tongue is to utter (what it is unlawful to utter), and the inner-self wishes and longs for (adultery) and the private parts turn that into reality or refrain from submitting to the temptation" (Al-Bukhari 8, 609).

Prevalence of Illegal Sex

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "From among the portents of the hour is that (open) illegal sexual intercourse will prevail, and men will decrease in number while women will increase" (Al-Bukhari 8, 800A).

This hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) very accurately describes our current state of affairs. San Francisco and Sydney are famous for their "gay liberation" celebrations. Nudist colonies, escort agencies, pornography, teenage pregnancies, and adultery are so common that people seem to be fighting a losing battle against this tidal wave of immorality and have come to accept all of these activities as the "modern generation."

Furthermore, with each generation, the level and availability of lewdness is increasing; for example, pornography is available in our homes on TV and the Internet, thus affecting the mindset of our children from an early age. Homosexuality is gaining support throughout many parts of the world. Some advocates of the gay movement are claiming that they are born gay. This is a ruse to cover their shameful behavior. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Allah Most High created everything in pairs, male and female. Anyone who goes against this plan will be answerable to Allah Most High.

The above verses from the Qur'an and various hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) clearly indicate that both fornication and adultery are forbidden in Islam; furthermore, the long-term harm of these acts far outweigh and short-term momentary gratification.

In simple terms, the Islamic requirement is as follows:

1. Boys and girls should not have sex before they are married

2. Sex is only permissible between legally married partners

3. Within the arena of the marriage contract, sex is a sacred, private, and personal act between the married couple only; this means that the husband and wife should guard their "bedroom secrets" from all prying ears and eyes.

4. Neither of the partners is allowed to have sex with anyone else. This means that neither the husband nor the wife can indulge in the un-Islamic practices of wife swapping parties, visiting prostitutes, or having sex with another married or single person.

5. If the husband is legally married to more than one wife (up to a maximum of four) then he is legally allowed to have sex with all four wives provided that he treats all of them equally.

6. When in doubt about anything, use the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to give clarity on any matter.

Role of Parents

Our children are faced daily with images from TV, movies, videos, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, and friends about the "sexual revolution." Their young minds are being brainwashed with ideas that morals, modesty, and values are old-fashioned. If we do not tell our children about the facts of life and what is acceptable moral behavior from a cultural, and, more importantly, from an Islamic viewpoint, then we should share the blame with our children if they become ensnared in the vices of sex, drugs, teenage pregnancy, prostitution, alcohol, and gambling. The methodology should be as follows:

Advice to a Preteen Daughter

Your body is now undergoing various changes that will prepare you to be a woman. With these changes comes the responsibility that you will one day be a mother. Your body will undergo various changes in the size of your breasts, face, height, weight, as well as the onset of a flow of menstrual blood on a regular basis every month-this is nothing to be scared of, it is Allah Most High's miracle, where your womb is made ready every month to receive an egg for fertilization.

These changes are coming much earlier in this generation compared to a few decades ago. Children are maturing much faster than we can ever imagine. In previous generations, young girls started menstruating from the age of 13 years; today, girls as young as 9 years are beginning to menstruate. This means that if you have sex at this age, you can become pregnant. If you become pregnant at this age, your life will be shattered and the whole course of your life will be changed. Your dreams, goals, and wishes to pursue a career may have to be postponed or abandoned forever.

You must be happy with your own body. Your body will undergo various hormonal changes, which will lead to emotional changes and mood fluctuations as well as pimples. This is a time for conflict with everyone, and parents have to restrain themselves and discuss issues with love and understanding. The main word of caution for you is to avoid peer pressure from your friends, who will encourage you to start experimenting with kissing and sex. Some teenagers can make very hurtful remarks and may make you feel very isolated if you do not participate. Don't listen to them. You must have enough confidence in yourself that you are following the commands laid down by Allah Most High and you should simply say "No, I am not interested." It will be a decision that you will never regret. Particularly avoid the older boys and men. They will shower you with gifts, flowers, and false proclamations of love, but they are simply throwing out a net to get you into bed so that you lose your virginity.
They will then dump you and go to the next unsuspecting girl. You will have lost various personal things in the process:

You will have lost your virginity.

You will have contravened the Qur'anic injunction not to commit fornication (zina).

You may well have gained an unwanted pregnancy (many girls still have the mistaken myth that they cannot fall pregnant after their first sexual encounter.)

You may have gained a sexually transmitted disease (including HIV/AIDS). There are no cures for some sexual diseases: herpes and genital warts, for example. Some diseases, if not properly treated, can lead to infertility and you will not be able to have children. Or they lead to an increased incidence of cancer of the cervix (entrance to the womb).

Advice to a Preteen Son

Your body is undergoing various changes that will prepare you to enter adulthood so that one day you can be a father. You will notice changes in your voice; you may develop acne and hair on various parts of your body. Nocturnal emission is common at this age, as well as mood swings. Your natural body odors will increase, so it is important for you to bathe regularly and pay special attention to personal hygiene. Your body will be growing rapidly and you will need to eat a lot, exercise a lot, and sleep a lot to allow your body to gain maximum physical benefits.

You will be encouraged or ridiculed by some of your friends to have sex with a girl. You should be confident in your abilities as a freethinking individual to make your own choices based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). You should treat all girls and women with respect, kindness, and courtesy-not as a commodity that can be used, abused, and thrown aside. You will see advertisements on TV and in newspapers and magazines that in order to avoid HIV/AIDS, you should use a condom. Remember that this is not what Islam teaches us. Islam says safe sex is "no sex before marriage." Indulge in all activities that will develop your mind, body, and spirit within the framework of Islam. These are wonderful years that you are going through, free of responsibility (except the homework!). Try to be the best "you" you can be.

Conclusion

Allah Most High has given mankind free will. We all have to make choices in life. However, life offers us a whole banquet of choices and delicacies that sometimes lead to a state of utter confusion or paralysis. What is the right decision?

Whom should I please?

What is fashionable?

Will my decision open me to ridicule?

An undecided person is always a victim of circumstance, a pawn in the hands of the fashion trendsetters. The ones at peace are those individuals who use the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the compass to set the right course and to differentiate right from wrong.

There is much good in this wonderful world; however, there are many temptations. Temptations are present as a test for all of us. Ultimately, we are the decision-makers. We can only make informed decisions based on knowledge. Many governments are now firmly advocating the policies of virginity, no sex before mariage, no adultery, and so on, in a desperate attempt to re-kindle the value systems of prior generations.

The beauty of Islam is that the instructions and guidelines contained in the Qur'an are valid forever and are immune to the vicissitudes of the latest trend. Allah Most High created us. It therefore follows that He knows what is best for us. I do hope that this brief discussion has thrown some light on this very vast topic. I also hope that the current generation of teens and preteens who are often faced with difficult choices will have a clearer foundation on which to base their decisions.

Finally, a new generation of preteens is developing. It is our collective responsibility, as a community and a nation, to give clear guidelines to our youth. Our youth is our future and our destiny. May Allah Most High, Most Gracious, worthy of all praise, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, guide us, and our youth to a path that is straight.


** Ahmed Adam is a medical doctor working at a private hospital in South Africa, a human rights activist, writer, speaker, student of Islam. He is passionate about showing people how to unlock the potential within themselves. You can contact him at aadam@icon.co.za.

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