Radiant Reality

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Regd. No.: JKENG/2000/4174
Published From  Srinagar.

Editor, Printer & Publisher: Mawlana Hamidullah Lone.

March 2006.  VOL.7, No: 3.


1. Editorial - Cartoon Contorversy
2. Questions & Answers

3. Sisters Desk
4. Lesson from Al-Quran

5. Lesson from Bukhari Sharief

6. Islamic beliefs

7. Mans origin and status

8. Islamic finance

9. Latino Catholics in US embracing Islam

10. Advice of Hadhrat Sheikh

11. Be Careful with Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
12. Hellfire--Its People and Its Terror
13. Saviours of Islamic Spirit

14. News Around the World


1. EDITORIAL
Cartoon Controversy

             The cartoons controversy is not about freedom of expression. It is about how a segment of European society views religion in general and Islam in particular.
             Western 'liberals' who have chosen to defend the vilification of the Prophet Muhammad in caricatures that first appeared in a Danish newspaper,
Jyllands-Posten, in September 2005 and which were subsequently reproduced in various dailies in a number of other countries, argue that their media are free to publish anything and do not impose restrictions upon themselves. This is not true at all. Elite and corporate interests, the dominant worldview prevalent in society, certain notions of the well-being of the majority and specific circumstances have always conditioned the freedom of the media.

 Double Standards

Isn't it because of elite interests that in a democracy like Italy where the majority of the people were opposed to the invasion of Iraq very few anti-war intellectuals were interviewed in the mainstream print and electronic media? Isn't it because of a worldview that is skeptical of Islam that almost every newspaper editorial in France --- the nation that gave birth to the 'Rights of Man' --- bemoaned the electoral victory of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria in 1992 and endorsed obliquely the usurpation of power by the military junta? Isn't it because of a specific circumstance a deep seated collective guilt arising from the holocaust --- that the European media hounds and harasses anyone who dares to raise even the slightest doubt about that terrible tragedy?

What this shows is that there are issues that the Western media deliberately suppress --- in spite of their professed commitment to freedom of expression --- because they do not dovetail with the media's worldview or their interests.

 Secularism in the West

It so happens that religion is one of those subjects that is at odds with the worldview of a lot of Western media practitioners. Often vehemently secular in outlook, sometimes contemptuous of matters of faith, they have no qualms about deriding the Sacred and the Transcendent. It is not surprising therefore that Christianity has been lambasted at some time or other in almost every major European newspaper and, on numerous occasions, Jesus Christ has been lampooned in films, cartoons and articles. This has caused grievous hurt to practicing Christians in the world.

It is partly because of this attitude towards religion in general on the part of the media that Islam has also been targeted. But the vilification of Islam is also a consequence of other factors. With the dramatic growth of Muslim minorities in almost every European country in the last 20 years, the majority community has become more and more negative towards their presence, reflected in the rise of the phenomenon known as Islamophobia. While a degree of Muslim exclusivity has contributed towards this, it is the utter inability of the European to accord respect and equality to 'the other' in the socio-psychological sense which is the main problem. In an earlier period Jews had also been the victims of Europe's discrimination and demonization.

 Stereotyping of Islam & Muslims

There is perhaps a more important reason for the demonization of the religion. It is the baneful impact of 9/11 and the war on terror upon Muslims and their subtle stereotyping in the media as a people prone to violence. Though most Western political leaders are careful to distinguish the Muslim fringe that resorts to violence in pursuit of its political objectives from the rest of the community, television images and media commentaries have often reinforced the erroneous equation of the religion with terror. It explains why some of the offensive cartoons of the Prophet published in the Jyllands-Posten made that link.

Equating Islam and Muslims with violence and terror is not new. It has been going on for a thousand years. It began with distorted and perverted biographies of the Prophet in Latin in France and Germany in the tenth and eleventh centuries and has continued into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through the writings of men like Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes.

 Historical Anger

In the past, Islam was equated with violence partly because of the anger and antagonism generated by both the Muslim conquest of large parts of Europe and the defeat of Christendom at the hands of Muslim defenders of Jerusalem at the end of the crusades. The power and glory of Islamic civilization between the eighth and fourteenth centuries --- especially its pioneering role as the founder of modern science --- when much of Europe was shrouded in the darkness of the middle ages also caused a great deal of envy and resentment which European folk literature expressed through negative stereotyping of Islam and Muslims. This stereotyping with the emphasis upon 'Islamic violence' reached its zenith during the colonial epoch when Western powers ruled the roost.

 Bridge-Building

It is encouraging that there have always been non-Muslim writers in the past as in the present, from Wolfgang Goethe to Karen Armstrong, who have attempted to provide an honest picture of Islam to the public. It is bridge-builders of their kind who are crucial for inter-civilizational harmony between Islam and the West.

Unfortunately, most Muslims are not aware of the work of these bridge-builders. What they have been witnessing especially in the last few years are the stark consequences of global hegemony reflected in the slaughter of innocent Muslims in Palestine and Iraq; in the humiliation of occupation and subjugation; in the treachery of double standards; in the machinations of exclusion and marginalization. It explains to a great extent the explosion of violent fury in different parts of the Muslim world over the abusive caricaturing of the Prophet. It is anger that is driven by more than their boundless love for Muhammad.

 Violent protest is not the way

However, what the cartoon protesters do not realize is that by resorting to violence they have unwittingly reinforced the worst prejudices of those detractors of Islam who are only too willing to link the religion to terror. Peaceful protest would have served the cause of Islam better. Such protest calls for a certain degree of restraint. It is true that in some of the protests Muslims have shown remarkable control over their emotions. But it should have been the norm.

After all, when the Prophet was hurled with abuse and taunted with insults --- even when he was physically attacked --- he displayed tremendous restraint. Surely, the least that those who are protesting in his name can do is to try to emulate his example.

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2. Question and Answer

Question

             It was narrated that Asmaa bint Abu Bakrs husband used to tie her together with his other wife and beat them. How could one of the companions of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) do something like this?

             The Quran says that Prophet Moses killed a man in Egypt and he escaped when he knew that they were looking for him, arent prophets supposed to be sinless?

I hope you have time to answer my questions because Im very curious, thank you very much.

 Answer

You say: It was narrated that Asmaa bint Abu Bakrs husband used to tie her together with his other wife and beat them. How could one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad do something like this?

There is no narration of any sort in any of the Hadith sources that describes the story the way you did. Az-Zubayr, Asmaas husband, was a Companion who was married to more than one wife, but it was not narrated in the known collections that he tied them together and beat them up. However, there is a narration in At-Tabaranis Al-Mu`jam Al-Kabeer that states that Az-Zubayr once hit Asmaa, and their son `Abdullah intervened and prevented Az-Zubayr from hitting her any further.

You just need to realize that companions of prophets are not protected from sins as prophets are. The companions are excellent human beings, but they also have their weaknesses and might make mistakes, small or big. In the Islamic Law, the authority of a companions opinions or actions depends on how much they agree with the Islamic principles and moral behavior.

Regarding the story in At-Tabaranis collection, it is sad that these stories are mentioned in the Prophetic Hadith books without appropriate comments from the narrator. However, it was narrated in another hadith that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) heard that some of his Companions beat their wives (which might have been the case with Asmaa). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was very disturbed by what he heard and he instructed, Do not hit the maids of God. It is clear from this hadith, as well as from the general principles of Islam, that such an act is forbidden.

The only person who is an example in every aspect of life is the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah Almighty said in the Quran what means:

(Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much) (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

And his example in this matter is what Anas (his servant) narrated: I served the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for ten years. He never said a bad word to me. He never blamed me for something that I did or did not do. He never hit a woman or a servant, ever.

Regarding the verse in Surat An-Nisaa (4:34) that talks about a man beating his wife, it is in the context of the wife being involved in immoral actions or ill-conduct, as Yusuf Ali translated it. Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained that this is something that could be best described as metaphorical because he said that this beating should not be with anything but the mans siwak (toothbrush).

 Question

Will Allah forgive us for shirk? Can we repent from shirk? How do we repent. Is there any special prayers we must offer (any duas)?.


Answer

Praise be to Allaah.  

Shirk is the greatest of sins, because Allaah has told us that He will not forgive the one who does not repent to Him from it, but in the case of lesser sins the matter is subject to His will: if He wills, He will forgive the one who meets Him with that sin unrepented for, and if He wills, He will punish him. This means that we should fear shirk greatly, as it is so serious before Allaah.  Fath al-Majeed, p. 58. 

Hence we must repent from all kinds of shirk, whether it is major shirk or minor shirk. If a person repents sincerely then Allaah will accept his repentance and forgive him his sins. 

After mentioning shirk in the verse in which He says (interpretation of the meaning): 

And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with Allaah (25:68])

and stating that its people will abide forever in Hell, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds; for those, Allaah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (25:68-70)

Repentance from shirk means giving it up and submitting to Allaah alone, regretting one's neglect of Allaahs rights and resolving never to go back to it. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from disbelief), their past will be forgiven [8:38] 

If they cease means, give up their kufr, by submitting to Allaah alone with no partner or associate. Tafseer al-Sadi

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: Islam destroys that which came before it i.e., of sins. Narrated by Muslim 121. 

The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that the gate of repentance remains open so long at the death rattle has not reached a persons throat. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: Allaah will accept His slaves repentance so long as the death rattle has not yet reached his throat. (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3537; see also Saheeh al-Jaami, 1425. 

Whoever commits major shirk that puts a person beyond the pale of Islam must repent sincerely from that, put his actions straight and correct his intention. It is also prescribed for him to do ghusl after repenting, because the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) commanded Qays ibn Aasim to do that when he became Muslim. (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaai; classed as saheeh by Ibn al-Sakan.  Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daaimah, 5/317 

With regard to minor shirk, the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) warned us against it, fearing that his ummah might fall into it. He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: The thing I fear most for you is minor shirk. (Narrated by Ahmad, 23119. al-Albaani said in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (951): its isnaad is jayyid). And he said: Shirk among you is more subtle than the sound of the footsteps of an ant on a rock. Shall I not tell you of something which, if you do it, it will take that away from you, both minor and major forms of it. Say: Allaahumma inni aoodhu bika an ushrika bika wa ana alam wastaghfiruka lima laa alam (O Allaah, I seek refuge with You from associating anything with You knowingly, and I seek Your forgiveness for that of which I am unaware).  Saheeh al-Jaami, 2876

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3. From a Sister's Desk

This column is not meant for mere reading,
but it is meant to knock at the doors of your conscience,
if the article has knocked don't just sit and ponder but the time demands action right now!

 Disasters and Us

           Life is a testa bitter one for a better life ahead in Aakhirat. This belief of a Muslim is put to test every time a calamity or call it in modern terminology a disaster strikes. Disasters in the form of earthquakes, typhoons, storms strike us with a purpose. They are there to wipe us away as we have been forewarned in Quran should we forget the purpose of our lives. They also come as warning to remind us about the Creator and His Power. In the recent past Muslims in the east and west have fallen victims to the powerful Tsunamis and earthquakes. But we all seem to be taken by surprise as the wrath Allah turned us upside down. Why so, is my question?

We wait helplessly for Christian missionaries to provide  shelter and food to our brethren, we watch in desperation as our children are taken to so called shelter homes far away by fundamentalists of other faiths to mould them in the way they want. Out doctors never volunteer for help, our teachers are content with their own tuition, our engineers have no time for dismantled homes, our officers discuss disasters over a high tea  and so on! In short a disaster had given us an opportunity to introspect  into our own beings, an opportunity to help our own brothers, an opportunity to come close to our brothers in pain and agonybut we failed to cash the opportunity. Much organized, resourceful and active communities have played their part in rescue and rehabilitation operations and weaned our own wanting community away from us.

A disaster leaves a person shattered, without a supporton the roadside. The loss of property, death of dear ones leaves you with a dead mind and broken heart. So what do we do with these desperate souls, here are a few recommendations .

1. Need for an organized effort:- it is not that help does not come but the rehabilitation and rescue work lacks a proper coordination. One party is trying to supersede other party resulting in chaos where no one is benefited. A coordinated small effort will yield better results than a haphazard mighty effort.

2. Plan before hand:- Most disasters come without a warning. Medical teams, volunteers and essential life saving items should be on a standby before a calamity strikes.

3. Help irrespective of faith:- Our faith holds the life and honour of a human being as very sacred. With this mind our help should not be limited to Muslims but should extend to all. This Insha Allah will have a positive impact on our mission.

4. Counsel in the light of Quran and Sunnah:- A disaster brings with it a mental stress the magnitude of which is unimaginable. The best person through reinforcing his faith in Allah and making him face life with a positive approach.

5.  Care of handicapped and concern to orphans:- Handicapped and morbid need care and are unfortunately easily dumped away. Their care and concern by volunteers should be a priority. Also orphans who lose everything in the disaster need to be helped and guided properly.

  There is a lot which needs to be done by Muslims when a calamity strikes. More than funds the physical presence and mental pacification by volunteers should be a priority. Love comes by sharing the grief. We spend a lot on marriages and holidays. Let us take a vow to spend our time and money on our brethren in misery. This act of ours may remove a forthcoming disaster from usby Allahs Will.

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4. Lesson from the Qur'an
Hadhrat Mawlana Mohammad Shaifi Sahib (RA)

And when We said to the angels: Prostrate before Adam! So, they prostrated, all but Iblis. He refused, and joined the infidels. (2:34)

             The episode recounted in the foregoing verses has shown how the angels came to learn that Adam (AS) was superior to them in so far as he possessed the forms of knowledge necessary for the function of divine viceregency, while they themselves did not, nor did the jinns. Now, Allah willed to manifest this superiority in a visible and concrete form. So, He commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam (AS) in his honour. They obeyed except Iblis or Satan who, in his pride, refused to do so.

If we go by the words of the Holy Quran, the command was given to the angels alone, but, in expecting Iblis from those who obeyed, the text also suggests that the command was given to all the created beings that existed at that time and possessed understanding, including the jinns as well as the angels. But the Holy Quran mentions the angels alone, because when superior beings like the angels were required to show their respect for Adam (AS), inferior creatures like the jinns must, t goes without saying, have been ordered to do the same.

 Angels prostrate before Adam

1. In this verse, the angels have been commanded to prostrate themselves before Adam (AS). Another verse of the Holy Quran tells us that the parents and the brothers of Yusuf (AS) on reaching Egypt, prostrated themselves before him (12:100). Evidently such a prostration cannot have been intended as an act of worship, for worshipping anyone other than Allah is an act of association (Shirk) and infidelity (Kufr), and hence cannot possibly be allowed by any Shariah. So, it appears that in the days of the ancient prophets prostrating oneself before somebody must have been just an act of courtesy or a way of showing ones respect, and enjoyed the same value as we do in our own days things like  simple greeting, a hand-shake, the kissing of hand, or standing up in someones honour. Imam Al-Jassas has said in his Ahkam al-Quran that the Shariah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has forbidden gestures like prostrating oneself, or bowing down very low or standing with one hand placed on the other in the manner of the Salah before someone, all of which may suggest an act of worship, and has allowed only greeting (salam) and hand-shake as of gesture of courtesy or respect.

It is easy to understand the raison detre of such a prohibition. Association, infidelity and the worship of anyone other than Allah are things which in their nature go against the very principle of Iman (faith), anc cannot therefore be tolerated any Shariah. There are, however, certain acts and gestures which are not in themselves acts of association or infidelity, but may, on account of the ignorance or indifference or people, become a prelude to association and infidelity. So, the Shariahs of the earlier prophets did not forbid such acts in an absolute manner, but prevented them from being used as the instruments of association and infidelity. For example, making pictures of living things is not itself an act of association or infidelity, and was hence permissible in the earlier Shariahs. In speaking of how the jinns used to serve Sulayman (AS), the Holy Quran itself says

They made for him whatever he likedplaces of worship, and pictures. (34:13).

Similarly, prostrating oneself before somebody as a gesture of respect was permissible in the earlier Shariahs. But gradually the practice opened the way to association and infidelity on account of peoples ignorance and thoughtlessness, and even caused grave distortions in the Shariah of different prophets, which had to be rectified by other prophets and other Shariahs. But gradually the practice opened the way to association and infidelity on account of proples ignorance and thoughtlessness and even caused grave distortions in the Shariahs of different prophets, which had to be rectified by other prophets and other Shariahs.

Since the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the last of all the prophets and messengers of Allah, and his Shariah is the last of all Shariahs and is to remain valid upto the end of time. Allah has, in order to protect it against all distortion, stopped every chink through which association or idolatry could possibly enter. That is why this Shariah has strictly forbidden all those practice which had at one time or another served as a means towards association or idol-worship.

For example, making pictures of living things has been totally banned; prostrating oneself before somebody, even as a mark of respect, has been forbidden; it is not permissible to offer ones salah at those hours of the day which the infidels had reserved for worshipping their gods, for even this slight and external correspondence might lead to association and, according to a Hadith reported by Muslim, one is not allowed to call ones slave an abd, nor is a slave allowed to call his master a rabb - the words respectively signify a slave and one who gives nurture, and are as such harmless, but they can be misconstrued, and may mislead ignorant slaves or helpless and subjugated people into the worship of their masters: hence the prohibition.

With regard to the question of prostration, we may add that, according to some authentic scholars, Salah, the basic form of Islamic worship, comprises of four kinds of actionsstanding upright, bowing, sitting down, and prostrating oneself; the first two of these, standing up and sitting down, and actions which one habitually does in the course of ones daily chores, and which one also performs as acts of worship in the course of a Salah (prayer), but the other two, bowing down and prostrating oneself, are actions which one does not go through as a matter of habit, and which are characteristically associated with Salah (prayer) and Ibaadah (worship); hence it is that the Islamic Shariah has identified them with acts of worship,a dn forbidden the Muslims to bow down or prostrate themselves before anyone other than Allah.

Given that the Holy Quran itself speaks of prostration as a mark of respect, one would wish to know on what grounds it has been affirmed that the Islamic Shariah has forbidden this practice. As to this question, we may point out that several well-known narrations coming down to us from the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) through quite a large number of his blessed companions, are there to establish that prostrating oneself before somebody as a mark of respect is unlawful (haram). To cite only one such narration, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said that, if he could allow people to prostrate themselves before anyone other than Allah as a mark of respect, he would have commanded wives to prostrate themselves before their husbands. This clearly shows that prostrate as a mark of respect is absolutely forbidden, and no allowance can, in this respect, be made in favour of any created being. We may add that the Hadith we have just referred to has come down to us through twenty companions, while, according to Tadrib al-Rawi, the famous book on the fundamentals of the science of Hadith, a Tradition which has been reported by only ten companions is called Mutawatir, and enjoys the same authority in the matter of injunctions as the Holy Quran.

2. The Holy Quran describes Iblis or Satan as an infidel. His infidelity does not arise from disobedience in his action, for, according to the Shariah, giving up an obligation in practice is only a sin and a transgression, and does not constitute infidelity. Iblis became an infidel, because he defied and challenged a divine commandment, and had, in refusing to prostrate himself, virtually said that, in his opinion Adam (AS) was not worthy of it.

3. Iblis had attained such a high degree in science and knowledge that he was called Taus al Malaikah: The peacock among the angels. How did he, the, come to commit such a suicidal error? Some scholars say that it was because of his pride and vanity that Allah took back from him the wealth of knowledge and understanding, and hence he came to act like an ignorant fool. Others have suggested that his error was due to self-love and ambition. The famous commentary, Ruh al-Bayan resolves the question by quoting a line of verse in Arabic which shows that once the aid of Allah has been withdrawn from a man, he can no longer save himself from sins, and all the effort he makes only serves to push him farther and father into misguidace. May Allah, in his mercy, save all of us from such a fate! The commentary draws from it the conclusion that one should not be vain about ones learning or ones deeds or even about ones Iman (faith), for Iman is valid only if it lasts till ones final breath and into the first stage of ones journey to the other world.

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5. Lesson from Bukhari Sharief
Dr. Rafiq Ahmad

Hadith No. 34

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )  

 Narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA)

Allah's Apostle (RA) said, "Whoever establishes prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and with the hope to attain Allah's rewards (and not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven."

 Comments

What is meant by Qadr?

The word Qadr in Arabic has the following meanings viz.,

1. Taqdeer (Fate)

If its meaning is taken as taqdeer then here in this hadith it would mean that during this night the angels are informed about the fate of the people they are going to face that year like death, illness, misfortunes, blessings and other such things.

2. Honour

If its meaning is taken as honour then it would mean that this night is the night of honour or that this night brings honour to those who worship sincerely during this night.

Out of sincere faith and hope to attain Allahs rewards ( )

The reason for keeping Iman as a precondition is obvious that for Magfirat (forgiving of sins by Allah) true faith is a must. What does Ahtisaab () mean? It means to keep the intention of Ikhlaas (sincerity) and attainment of Allah's pleasure in constant view while performing the religious deeds. One thing is to do the worship with automatism while having mind engaged in something else and other thing is to do it with absolute presence of mind. So, if one establishes Salah during this night (i.e, Qadr) with true faith and keeping Allah's pleasure and fear in complete view, it is promised that his all sins will be forgiven.

 Sins that will be forgiven

Majority of Ulema are of the opinion that only Gunnah-i-sagheerah (small sins) will be forgiven and not the Gunnah-i-Kabeera (big sins) as for the latter Toabah is a must. Some Ulema say that it is not far from the Mercy of Allah that he may forgive all sins, small as well as big.

:-

Chapter (Baab) 26: The holy struggle is a part of Iman

 Hadith No. 35

 ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )  

 Purpose of Tarjamatul Baab

Ulema have discussed in detail as to why Imam Bukhari has got the chapter of Jihad after Lailatul Qadr. Ibne Hajar says that as there is a lot of struggle (Mujahadah) to keep standing in the salah during Lailatul Qadr, similarly there is great Mujahadah in the Jihad. Former is a Jihad with one's own enemy i.e., Nafs and the latter is a Jihad with the enemies of Islam.

 Narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA)

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "The person who participates in (Holy battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then I would not remain behind any sariya going for Jihad and I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause."

 Comments

Ulema have given many meanings of the word , viz;

1. It means that one who leaves his home for Jihad, Allah will suffice him for his all needs i.e., his all needs will be taken care of by Allah.

2. Allah answers, one who leaves for jihad in His way, with Magfirat for that person  ( )(An-Nihaya)

 And nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His apostle

Ikhlaas i.e., to do everything for the sake of Allah with absolute sincerity, is an important pre-requisite for acceptance of any deed by Allah. A great deed like sacrificing one's life for the sake of Allah i.e., Jihad will also be rewarded only if it is for His sake. If someone participates in it for worldly gains, he will get no reward. Secondly one should have firm Iman in Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), no deed without this is acceptable to Allah.

Will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise

A true believer who participates in jihad for the sake of Allah will never return unrewarded, he will either return as victorious with a lot of booty, a lot of reward () or will earn martyrdom thereby confirming his abode in Jannah.

 Had I not found it difficult for my followers, I would not remain behind any sariyah going for Jihad

What is Sariyah?

Sariya means a group of army comprising of upto four hundred persons.

 What is Gazwah?

Gazwa is that sariya in which Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) participated himself.

 The reasons behind Rasulullahs (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) not joining all the Sarihahs

1. It would have become compulsory for all followers to participate in jihad, and at least for the Ameer-ul-Mumi'neen it would have become a must.

2. There would have arisen difficulties for the administration at Madinah.

 And I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause.

This statement is to highlight the significance of jihad.

 ( )

Chapter (Baab) 27:

To establish optional Salaah during Ramadhan is a part of Iman

 Purpose of Tarjamatul Baab

Here Imam Bukhari wants to convey that to offer optional deeds like Nawaafil and Mustahibaat  ( )are also part of Iman. Secondly he wants to say that Qiyaam (standing during night Salaah) during Ramadhan is Sunnat and not Waajib

 Hadith No. 36

  ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )  

 Narrated by Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA)

Allah's Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: "Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadhan faithfully out of sincere faith and hope to attain Allah's rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven."

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 6. Islamic Beliefs
Hadhrat Sheikh-ut-Tafseer Mawlana Idris Kandhlawi (RA)

Hadhrat Isaa's (alaihi salaam) following the shariah of Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) after his decension

 Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will follow the Shariah of Nabi Muhammad (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) after he descends from the heavens, because the Shariah of Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) was limited until the time of his ascension. With the coming of Nabi Muhammad (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), all other Shariahs were abrogated and it was necessary for all man and jinn to follow this Shariah. Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) was the seal of all Nabis and his Shariah abrogated all previous ones. His was the last and perfection of all the previous ones. At that time, the actions of Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will conform to the Qur' aan and Sunnah. After his ascension, Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will still be a Nabi, because no Nabi ever loses this status of his. But, he will be sent as a Nabi that follows the existing Shariah, and not as a Nabi that will bring his own new Shariah. After his descension he will not follow the Injeel, but he will follow the Qur'aan and Sunnah and he will judge also according to this.

How will hadhrat isaa (alaihi salaam) have the knowledge of the shariah of nabi muhammad (sallallaahu alaihl wasallam)?

Some Ulama are of the opinion that Allaah Ta'ala will grant Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) the knowledge of the Shariah of Nabi Muhammad (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) prior to his descension, or that after his coming down, he will be given Wahi (Divine Revelation) regarding the Shariah, or he will learn it after studying the Qur' aan and Sunnat, or he will acquire it spiritually. For more details on this subject refer to this humble writer's Kitaab called "Al-Qowlul Muhkam Fi Nuzooli Isaa Ibni Maryam".


Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) and imaam mahdi (alaihi salaam) are two different persons

From the Ahaadith Shareef regarding the appearance of Hadhrat Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) and the descension of Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam), it is as clear as daylight that these are two different personalities. Since the time of the Sahaabah, Taabi'een and upto the present time, there has been no one who has averred that Hadhrat Imaam Mahdi and Hadhrat Isaa (alaihima salaam) are one and the same person.

The reason for this is:

a) Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) is a Nabi and a Rasul, and Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) will be the last Khalifah of this Ummat and he will not be a Nabi.

b). Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) was born to his mother, Hadhrat Maryam (alaiha salaam) without a father, and he was bron about 600 years prior to Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasalam). Hadhrat Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) will be born in dose proximity to Qiyaamah in Madinah Munawarah and his father's name will be Abdullaah and his mother's Amina.

c) Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) is from the Bani Israeel and Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) will be from the progeny of Hadhrat Faatimah (radhiAllaahu anha).

 An objection and its answer

It is reported in a Hadith: "There will be no Mahdi except Isaa Bin Maryam". From this Hadith it appears that Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi sala-am) and Imaam Mahdi are one and the same person.

Answer

The answer to this is that this Hadith is weak and not authentic, as reported by Haafiz Ibn Hajar in "Fathul Baari" on page 358, vol.6.

Secondly, this Hadith is in opposition to the numerous Ahaadith where it is as dear as daylight that Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) and Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) are two different people. Compared to authentic Ahaadith, weak and rejected Ahaadith are not considered.

Thirdly, if we consider even for a little while that this Hadith is true, then the answer will be that during the time of Hadhrat Isaa's (alaihi salaam) descension, there will be none who will be better equipped to be a guide than he. Although he will be following the Shariah of Nabi Muhammad (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), he will still be a Nabi, and it is obvious that no normal person is better equipped to guide people than a Nabi. Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam), will be a Khalifah and Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam), a Nabi, whilst we know that all Nabis are sinless, hence he will be better equipped than Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam).

It is mentioned in a Hadith: "There is no (stronger) youth, than Ali". This Hadith does not mean that Hadhrat Ali (radhiAllaahu anhu) was the only youth in the world at that time. In the same way, the above mentioned Hadith will not mean that Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will be the only one to guide people.

4. The emergency of Yajooj and Majooj

Some time after the descension of Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) and the destruction of dajjaal, Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) will pass away. He will pass away in Baityul Maqdis and will be buried there. Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will perform his Janaza Salaat. At that time Imaam Mahdi's (alaihi salaam) age will be about 45, or 48 or 49 years. After the demise of Imaam Mahdi (alaihi salaam) all the affairs of the Muslims will be in the hands of Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam), and this will be an era of peace and tranquility. There will come a sudden Wahi that Isaa (alaihi salaam) must take the believers to the Mount Toor. Allaah Ta'ala will inform him that He is going to rel,ease such a nation, whose opposition none will have the power to do. This nation will be Yajooj and Majooj, who will be from the progeny of Yaafith Bin Nooh. Zul-Qarnain imprisoned them behind a very strong and impenetrable wall between two mountains; and they wil+ only be able to break through it at a time when it will be close to Qiyaamah. They will emerge in droves and hordes and spread mischief in the world. Their emergence is detailed in the Qur'aan Majeed. Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will go with the Muslims towards the mount Toor. He will make du 'aa to Allaah Ta 'ala to destroy Yajooj and Majooj, and Allaah Ta 'ala will send a plague, that will annihilate them. Then Allaah Ta' ala will send some birds with huge necks that will eat some of them up and throw the balance into the seas. Then there will be torrential rains that will cleanse the earth of the stench. Life will then be pleasant and peaceful. Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will live for 45 years and pass away in Madinah Shareef. Hadhrat Isaa (alaihi salaam) will appoint a person to succeed him, whose name will be Jahjaa". He will rule with great justice and equity, but evil will again begin to spread.

5. The appearance of Dukhaan (A smoke will appear)

After the demise of Jahjaa, there will be many other Muslim leaders, but the spread of evil will become even more apparent. There will come a time when an earthquake will strike a place in the east and west, where the deniers of Taqdeer reside. A huge smoke will emerge from the eastern and western skies, which will engulf the entire space between the earth and the sky: The result is that people will begin to suffocate. This smoke will last for forty days. The Muslims will develop symptoms of a cold and the kuffaar will become unconscious. Some will regain consciousness after two days and ottiers after three days. The Qur'aan Majeed mentions regarding this event as follows:

"Await the day when the skies will come with a huge smoke, that will engulf the people. This will be a fearful punishment."

According to Hadhrat Abdullaah Ibn Mas'ood (radhialahu anhu), this portent had already passed, when Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) had made a bad-du'aa and a severe drought befell the kuffaar. The result of which the kuffaar saw only smoke emerging from the ground.

6. The rising of the sun from the east

One of the greatest sings of Qiyaamah will be the sun rising from the west. It is reported in the Qur' aan Shareef:

"Will they wait (before they bring Imaan), until (the time) when the angels come to them, or until their Rabb comes to them, or that any major sign from your Rabb comes to them."

In this Aayat, the portion "any major sign", refers to the sun rising from the west. It is reported in a Hadith that the night prior to the sun's rising from the west, will be a very long night. To such an extent that the children will begin to wail, and the travelers will become perplexed and they will be expecting a great calamity. They will fall prostrate and make du'aa of forgiveness. Then the sun will rise from the west, but it will have no brilliance, similar to an eclipse. It will be very dim and dull and will only rise to a hands span, thereafter it will begin to set. Then it will resume its normal habit of rising from the east and setting, in the west. Every person (alive at the time) will witness this phenomena. After this occurrence, no Imaan will be accepted from any kaafir and no forgiveness will be granted to an) sinful Muslim.

It is stated in the Qur'aan Majeed:

"On the day when a (great) sign comes from your Rabb, the Imaan of no person will benefit him, who did not have Imaan prior to that, and no good benefit will come to the Imaan of a person (i.e. one who repents)."

It is reported in Bukhari, Muslim and other authentic Hadith Kitaab that the words in the Aayat ("a (great) sign") refers to the sun rising from the west, hence to believe in this is necessary and to reject it is Kufr.

Note:

From the time the sun rises in the west, this will be the beginning of the end of the entire universe. From the time the Trumpet will be blown, all of creation will be destroyed and no person's Imaan or Tawbah will benefit him at that time. In the same way, when the sun rises from the west no ones's Imaan or Tawbah will be accepted, as this will herald the end of the creation. The Hereafter, which until this time, was hidden from sight, is now dear and apparent before everyone's eyes. Imaan is only accepted, when brought in a state when one believes in the unseen.

When Allaah Ta'ala desires to bring this world to an end, step by step then He will do it in this way to show that the normal operation of this world is now coming to an end. Whatever the Nabis has taught and told about the Hereafter, was all true. Whatever they had taught is now before the eyes.

One needs only to look at two Surahs in the Qur'aan Majeed, Sura "Izassamaa un Fatarat" and "Izasham su Kuwwirat", where there is a vivid description of the Day of Qiyaamah, when the sun, moon, stars and every other thing that was operating smoothly will come to an abrupt end. Is not that Allaah Ta'ala who created all this able to bring it to an end. If everyone believed this before then none would have disobeyed Allaah Ta'ala, even to a hair's breadth. People thought the sun's rising from the west was impossible, and then they will witness it with their own eyes, and they will see the thick smoke that will make the day into night. Allaah Ta'ala is Most Powerful and He can make the sun rise from where He wishes and make it set where He wishes. Those who belied His existence and Power and the Message of the Nabis will realise their grave error at that time. 

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 7. Mans Origin and Status

 Jafar Wafa            

There is virtually an antithetical relationship between man's claim to having scientific knowledge about his own origin and the religious belief that, having been created in God's own image, humans occupy a far superior status than animals. In other words, as certain scientific explorations about man's origin steer him away from the belief in 'direct creation', he tends to devalue his own self.

By subscribing to the postulated evolution from a lowly animal, scientifically-oriented man has unwittingly pulled himself down from the high pedestal on which his preceding generations of believers in Abrahamic faiths had hoisted him. The following couplet brings out this paradox with subtle sarcasm, so characteristic of Akbar Allahabadi:

"Kaha Mansoor nay Khuda hoon mein

Darwin belay boozzna hoon mein"

(Mansoor the mystic thought he was God Almighty; And Darwin traced himself to tailless monkey).

The text book definition of man as a 'rational animal' places him on the same footing as ordinary animals, domesticated or wild, though he may belong to the highest form of animal in the evolutionary hierarchy. However, neither modern science nor common observation belies the truth that humans happen to be most superior and special kind of living being, not only on earth but in the entire universe. Yet, having been shorn of his divine connection by the creeping disbelief in the existence of the Creator of man and the universe, he has lost the grace and glory of being God's vicegerent.

No poet of today can feel the kind of inspiration that had made the British bard to put these memorable words in the mouth of a tragic character in one of his much acclaimed plays: "What piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!"

QUR'ANIC REVELATIONS:

These verses of Shakespeare bring to mind various verses of the Qur'an about man's creation by Allah from earthly material, like clay, but "having fashioned him, He breathed into him of his spirit" (15: 28-29) and that, having been made of earthly matter, Allah "appointed for him the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, having fashioned him and perfected his shapes" (40:64); and that "He created the human being (Insan) of the best structure" (95:4).

Along with diminution of the human's prestigious position in the created world, irrespective of how and when such a vast universe came into being, whose expanse man has not yet been able to fathom despite having attained such a high degree of technological capability to launch a probe in space not only around the galaxy which is home to the Solar system but also to peer into other galaxies millions of light year away, the scientific knowledge so far gained has reduced the Earth to the position of merely one out of myriads of such planets. .

The earth, the human's home, is no longer the centre of the universe but is like any other ordinary planet orbiting around its Sun. The Earth's distinguishing features which make it stand out in the galaxy to which it belongs, are hardly mentiol1ed in glowing terms by the agnostic scientific.

It appears, there had been a conscious effort to denigrate both the humans and their habitat, just because science acted as a hand-maiden of atheism and had been out to prove that neither man nor his home planet were created by the Divine Being, but were the product of chance and accidental orchestration of, what the scientists call, geochemical and biochemical process which were set in motion automatically under unspecified temperature and environmental conditions. The enigmatic postulate regarding evolution of life, co-evolution of the biosphere and the earth are now being looked upon with suspicion, though much belatedly.

 LATEST RESEARCH:

A new high-aim and high-cost research has now received official blessings of the American President with the recent inauguration of the NASA Institute of Astrobiology (NIA). This is a very important indication of the fact that the scientists of today are sceptic of the evolution theory and the postulate that the universe came into being by chance. Such scepticism regarding the accidental origin of the universe expressed about four centuries ago by Francis Bacon who pronounced, in his Novum Organum, that "chance is the name of a thing that does not exist"

Further, as a strong disclaimer of unbelief and atheism, he wrote is one of his famous Essays that "I had rather believed all the fabulous in the Legend and the Talmud and AI-Koran than that this universe is without a mind... While the mind of man looks upon second causes and beholds a chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must need fly to Providence and Deity".

Instead of recognising that it is God Almighty who created everything, Bacon meant to convey, that scientists and philosophers talked about meaningless terms like "first caused uncaused" or the "first mover unmoved", which is indicative of a guilty conscience in denying the existence of God by taking cover under the figleaf of unclear jargon. NASA Research Centre appears to have now realised what Bacon has suspected far back in the post-Renassance period of Europe. This Centre will try to find out, among other things, whether man came as an alien on Earth and whether there is a possibility of terrestrial life on other planets or in other galaxies in Space.

The Qur'an has already touched upon these subjects. Adam and Eve were created from Earth's "mire and mud" somewhere in the Garden of Eden (in Space?) from where they were sent down on the Earth, "a habitation and provision for a time" (2:36). Further, the Qur'an is the first religious Scripture that mentions of the existence of "worlds" (Alameen) and "seven (meaning several) strong heavens" (78: 12) which hold "Mansions of the Stars (85: 1), all of them "in harmony", or on collision paths, (71: 15).

Today's man of learning can interpret these cryptic hints as numerous formidable galaxies with constellation of stars and planets which modern cosmologists are already observing with the help of powerful space telescopes.

SOLAR SYSTEM:

About the solar system, as we knew now, the Qur'an had said, a thousand and a half years ago, that "the Sun continues drifting to a resting place determined for it by the Mighty, the Wise" (36:38). It lends support to the current hypothesis that the Sun, with all its attendant planets, is gradually travelling away in the limitless Space. Regarding the possibility of terrestrial life in space, the Qur'an gives a positive hint: "Of His portents in the creation of the heavens and the earth and of whatever living creature He has dispersed in both of them" (42:29).

About the Earth, the Qur'an refers to its significant characteristics, having been specially designed to sustain human, animal and planet life. One such passage says: "God made the earth like a bed spread out, and the mountains like spikes in it, built above it in seven strong heavens, appointing a dazzling lamp therein, and sent down round the rainy clouds abundant water to produce grain and plants and gardens of thick foliage" (78:6-16)

Modern science has now rehabilitated the Earth to its prime place of importance in the universe, as had already been given to it in the Qur'an. Scientists admit that Earth is the only celestial body possessing inexhaustible reserve of water and an atmosphere, thick and impervious ("strong heaven" in Qur'anic words) to prevent the high cosmic temperature of outer Space from reaching it and retain the necessary solar heat required for human life and for plants and animals.

 ROTATION ON AXIS:

Another uniqueness is its rotation on its axis (for "alternating days and nights", as the Qur'an says) and its inclination on its orbit to cause changes in season. Another peculiarity, which modern cosmologists have discovered, is that the solid elements of which the Earth is composed are rare in the wide universe. All these suggest that there is a "Mighty and Wise" Creator who fashioned the Earth for' sustaining humans and all the fauna and flora for their benefit.

The authors of Life Magazine's several publications about "the world we live in" (published from New York) in 1955 observed that "it is the apparent loneliness and singularity of our planet in a hostile universe that evoke the deeper questions: How was earth created? When did it come into being? What is its fate? The concept of random universe, existing without origin or destiny, is meaningless to human mind that lives in a dimension of time. Man has always postulated Creation... modern cosmology impinges on the ancient realm of religion... And every mystery that Science resolves points to a larger mystery beyond it."

Unlike sceptics and agnostics who grope in the dark, a true believer, in the words of the Qur'an, "remembers Allah standing, sitting and reclining, pondering over the creation of the heavens and the earth and on the alternation of day and night, and says: 'our Creator-Sustainer! You did not create all this in vain; glory be to You; save us from the doom of Fire' (3:190-91)."

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8. Latino Catholics in US embracing Islam

Sad-Ullah Khan

               At dusk, Aminah Martinez prepares dinner in her small Fairfax kitchen. Corn tortillas for enchiladas, grated cheese and beef for tacos, may be an avocado for guacamole - all staples of her youth.

              But dusk is also time for prayer. So every thing, with her husband and two children, she places her hands together and kneels to the east. It is Maghrib, Muslims' fourth prayer of the day, and she begins whispering in Arabic as the subtle aromas of Mexico mix with sounds often associated with the Middle East.

Martinez is one of the thousands of Latinos nationwide who have converted to Islam. It is an amalgam of two seemingly disparate communities. But in growing numbers, His panics, the country's fastest growing ethnic group, are finding new faith in Islam, the nation's fastest-growing religion. Moved by what many say is a close-knit religious environment and a faith that provides a more concrete, intimate connection with God, they are replacing Mass with mosques.

"Islam has given me a sense of religious community. and well-being that I was starting to miss in my life", said Martinez, 26, who converted from Catholicism in 1993. "It has helped give me a sense of completion."

The steadily increasing number of Latino Muslims illustrates how deeply rooted Islam has become in the national landscape - even spreading to communities not normally associated with the faith, religious scholars say. The Muslim population in the United States is estimated at more than 4 million, nearly six times the number in 1970, but still a fraction of the nearly 1 billion Muslims worldwide.

Although exact numbers are difficult to find, the American Muslim Council, an advocacy group in Washington estimates that there are 25,000 Hispanic Muslims in the United States. The largest communities are in New York City, Southern California and Chicago - all places that traditionally we had large Hispanic and Muslim population. All-Spanish mosques have emerged in some of those areas.

 The General Trend

Many of these converts say they are choosing Islam because they feel the religion gives them greater direct contact with God, without saints and a rigid church hierarchy. Some also points to what they see as a closer-knit, smaller community that helps replace the extended family they have lost here in America, as well as supportive sanctuary to help sort through their sometimes recent immigration. The Latino Muslims are part of a larger trend of American Hispanics 'leaving the Catholic Church, experts say:

In the Washington region, the population of Latino Muslims is largely from Mexico and Central America, as it is in western states, according to Latino American Muslim unity, an advocacy group in Fresno, Calif. In other eastern cities, including Miami, significant numbers of converts are from Puerto Rico and Cuba.

"It certainly is a community that we have seem grow throughout the country over the past several years," said Aly R. Abuzaakouk, executive director of the American' Muslim Council. "The community is not as organized as other Muslim groups here, so sometimes it's hard to determine the numbers".

Signs of the growth of Islam in the United States can be seen in everyday life. A few colleges are building student centres for Muslims, just as they built Hillel centres for Jewish students or Newman centres for Catholics several generations ago. The White House now sends greetings for the Muslim h91iday of Id al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadhan.

"I think on college campuses and other public spaces, you're finding a great acceptance of the views and the presence of Muslims," said John L. Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and director of its Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding. "A generation ago you might use the phrase 'Islam and the West,' and now would you say 'Islam in the West'.

 Acceptance

Indeed, acceptance and exposure are fuelling and inversions, making it easier for Latinos to learn about Islam. Martinez, for example converted when she was a student at the University of Texas in Austin. The eldest child in a strict Catholic household, she says Islam was largely alien to her until she began talking with Muslim students on campus. Like many Hispanics who have converted, she said she felt a distance from the Catholic Church, both as a religious community and a spiritual path.

"Growing up, I was a very devout Catholic... Youth groups and everything ," Martinez said. "But as I got older, I felt there were too many distractions in the church. Islam, to me, was a more direct faith where I felt a strong sense of belonging".

Her faith was tested immediately. Martinez's grandmother was so disappointed by the conversion that she asked for granddaughter to leave home and refused to support her financially. She saw the defection from Catholicism as a rejection of family and tradition, Martinez said. It would be a year before the two would reconcile:

Such stories are common among latinos who have abandoned Catholicism for Islam.

Others have a smoother transition. Becky Diaz Abu Ghannam, 39, a Chilean American resident of Sterling who converted in 1984, said that she grew up feeling that Catholicism did not provide the close-knit religious community she was looking for. As she became more aware of Islam when she came to America, she found that it provided a warmth and direction that appealed to her particularly the five daily prayers. Initially, like many other Hispanic women interviewed, she was concerned about the role of women in Islam and whether she should be forced to take a subservient position to her husband, who is also Muslim, and other men. Her fears subsided as she learned more about the Qur'an and its teachings and how some countries' Islamic communities are less stringent about such requirements.

And, she adds, her mother, a lifelong Catholic, converted several months ago after seeing her daughter's spiritual path.

 Sense of Sisterhood

"The sense of sisterhood I felt with others who wore hijab was something that I had never experienced," said Abu Ghannam, referring to the practice of Muslim women covering their heads in public. She added that, like Martinez, she is raising her children to speak all the languages of their upbringing: Arabic, Spanish, English.

"I think what many (Hispanics) are finding in Islam is a community that they find more nurturing," said Nicole Ballivian, a Los Angeles documentary filmmaker who is completing a movie about Latino Muslims called "Luces Sobre Islam" ("Islam is Focus").

She has travelled throughout South America and Caribbean and visited many Hispanic Muslim communities here. She said that many of the converts she has talked with, say the Catholic Church is large and impersonal.

These concerns about Catholicism mirror a trend that many officials in US dioceses have tracked for years: the defection of Hispanics. The Catholics Almanac estimates that 100,0000 Hispanics in the United States leave the church each year, although some other experts put the number as high as 600,000. Most have moved to Pentecostal and evangelical Protestant faiths as well as Mormonism, Islam and Buddhism. Converts appear to be both men and women in equal numbers.

"The numbers of Latinos who convert to various religions is certainly significant", said Alaejandro Aguilera Titus, assistant director for the Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs with the National Council of Catholic Bishops in Washington. "We find that the conversion efforts to may faiths have increased recently, which has led many Hispanics away from the Catholic Church".

 Spiritual & Pragmatic

Many area Latinos who have converted say their attraction to Islam is spiritual and pragmatic. And even as their community seems scattered - with members attending mosques in Manassas, Herndon, Falls Church, Langley Park and College Park - they have formed their own organizations and have produced their own literature. Spanish translations of the Qur'an, for instance, are popular at several Northern Virginia mosques.

The Association of Latin American Muslims, a group based in Takoma Park, distributes a bilingual, bimonthly newspaper, "La Voz Del Islam" (The Voice of Islam) with members occasionally walking the streets to talk to latinos.

"Organizing here can be very difficult at times, because it is easy to mistake Hispanics for other ethnicities," said group president R. Abdur Rahman Campos, who converted in 1982, after coming here from Mexico.

Campos, 48, said he felt the Catholic Church frustrated by what he called its heavy emphasis on saints, which he says distracted him from the word of God.

"But it is important to continue to spread the teachings to Hispanics and non-Hispanics", he added. "To every one".

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9. ISLAMIC FINANCE

Justice Mawlan Mufti Taqi Usmani (DB)

Diminishing Musharakah

             Another form of Musharakah, developed in the near past, is 'Diminishing Musharakah. According to this concept, a financier and his client participate either in the joint ownership of a property or an equipment, or in a joint commercial enterprise. The share of the financier is further divided into a number of units and it is understood that the client will purchase the units of the share of the financier one by one periodically, thus increasing his own share till all the units of the financier are purchased by him so as to make him the sole owner of the property, or the commercial enterprise, as the case may be.

The Diminishing Musharakah based on the above concept has taken different shapes in different transactions. Some examples are given below:

1. It has been used mostly in house financing. The client wants to purchase a house for which he does not have adequate funds. He approaches the financier who agrees to participate with him in purchasing the required house. 20% of the price is paid by the client and 80% of the, price by the financier. Thus the financier owns 80% of the house while the client owns 20%. After purchasing the property jointly, the client uses the house for his residential requirement and pays rent to the financier for using his share in the property. At the same time the share of financier is further divided in eight equal units, each unit representing 10% ownership of the house. The client promises to the financier that he will purchase one unit after three months. Accordingly, after the first term of three months he purchases one unit of the share of the financier by paying 1/10th of the price of the house. It reduces the share of the financier from 80% to 70%. Hence, the rent payable to the financier is also reduced to that extent. At the end of the second term, he purchases another unit increasing his share in the property to 40% and reducing the share of the financier to 60% and consequentially reducing the rent' to that proportion. This process goes on in the same fashion until after the end of two years, the client purchases the whole share of the financier reducing the share of the financier to 'zero' and increasing his own share to 100%.

This arrangement allows the financier to claim rent according to his proportion of ownership :in the property and at the same time allows him periodical return of a part of his principal through purchases of the units of his share.

2. A' wants to purchase a taxi to use it for offering transport services to passengers and to earn income through fares recovered from them, but he is short of funds. 'B' agrees to participate in the purchase of the taxi, therefore, both of them purchase a taxi jointly. 80% of the price is paid by 'B' and 20% is paid by 'A'. After the taxi is purchased, it is employed to provide transport to the passengers whereby the net income of Rs. 1000/- is earned on daily basis. Since 'B' has 80% share in the taxi it is agreed that 80% of the fare will be given to him and the rest of 20% will be retained by 'A' who has a 20% share in the taxi. It means that Rs. 800/. is earned by 'B' and Rs. 200/- by 'A' on daily basis. At the same time the share of 'B' is further divided into eight units. After three months 'A' purchases one unit from the share of 'B'. Consequently the share of 'B' is reduced to 70% and share of 'A' is increased to 30% meaning thereby that as from that date 'A' will be entitled to Rs. 300/- from the daily income of the taxi and 'B' will earn Rs. 700/-. This process will go on until after the expiry of two years, the whole taxi will be owned by 'A' and 'B' will take back his original investment along with income distributed to him as aforesaid.

3. 'A' wishes to start the business of ready-made garments but lacks the required funds for that business. 'B' agrees to participate with him for a specified period, say two years. 40% of the investment .is contributed by 'A' and 60% by 'B'. Both start the business on the basis of Musharakah. The proportion of profit allocated for each one of them is expressly agreed upon. But at the same time 'B's share in the business is divided to six equal units and 'A' keeps purchasing these units on gradual basis until after the end of two years 'B' comes out of the business, leaving its exclusive ownership to 'A'. Apart from periodical profits earned by 'B', he gains the price of the units of his share which in practical terms, tend to repay to him the original amount invested by him.

Analyzed from the Shari'ah point of view this arrangement is composed of different transactions which come to play their role at different stages. Therefore, each one of the foregoing three forms of diminishing Musharakah is discussed below in the light of the Islamic principles:

House financing on the basis of diminishing Musharakah

The proposed arrangement is composed of the following transactions:

1. To create joint ownership in the property (Shirkat-al-Milk).

2. Giving the share of the financier to the client on rent.

3. Promise from the client to purchase the units of share of the financier.

4. Actual purchase of the units at different stages.

5. Adjustment of the rental according to the remaining share of the financier in the property.

Let me discuss each ingredient of the arrangement in a greater detail.

1. The first step in the above arrangement is to create a joint ownership in the property. It has already been explained in the beginning of this chapter that 'Shirkat-al-Milk' (joint ownership) cap come into existence in different ways including joint purchase by the parties. This has been expressly allowed by all schools of Islamic jurisprudence.! Therefore no objection can be raised against creating this joint ownership.

2. The second part of the arrangement is that the financier leases his share in the house to his client and charges rent from him. This arrangement is also above board because there is no difference of opinion among the Muslim jurists in the permissibility of leasing one's undivided share in a property to his partner. If the undivided share is leased out to a third party its permissibility is a point of difference between the Muslim jurists. Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Zufar are of the view that the undivided share cannot be leased out to a third party, while Imam Malik and Imam Shafi'i, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad Ibn Hasan hold that the undivided share can be leased out to any person. But so far as the property is leased to the partner himself, all of them are unanimous on the validity of 'Ijarah '.

3. The third step in the aforesaid arrangement is that the client purchases different units pf the undivided share of the financier. This transaction is also allowed. If the undivided share relates to both land and building, the sale of both is allowed according to all the Islamic schools. Similarly if the undivided share of the building is intended to be sold to the partner, it is also allowed unanimously by all the Muslim jurists. However, there is a difference of opinion if it is sold to the third party.

It is clear from the foregoing three points that each one of the transactions mentioned hereinabove is allowed per se, but the question is whether this transaction may be combined in a single arrangement. The answer is that if all these transactions have been combined by making each one of them a condition to the other, then this is not allowed in Shari'ah, because it is a well settled rule in the Islamic legal system that one transaction cannot be made a pre-condition for another. However, the proposed scheme suggests that instead of making two transactions conditional to each other, there should be one sided promise from the client, firstly, to take share of the financier on lease and pay the agreed rent, and secondly, to purchase different units of the share of the financier of the house at different stages. This leads us to the fourth issue, which is, the enforceability of such a promise.

iv) It is generally believed that a promise to do something creates only a moral obligation on the promisor which cannot be enforced through courts of law. However, there are a number of Muslim jurists who opine that promises are enforceable, and the court of law can compel the promisor to fulfil his promise, especially, in the context of commercial activities. Some Maliki and Hanafi jurists can be cited, in particular, who have declared that the promises can be enforced through courts of law in cases of need. The Hanafi jurists have adopted this view with regard to a particular sale called 'bai-bilwafa'. This bai-bilwafa is a special arrangement of sale of a house whereby the buyer promises to the seller that whenever the latter gives him back the price of the house, he will resell the house to him. This arrangement was in vogue in countries of central Asia, and the Hanafi jurists have opined that if the resale of the house to the original seller is made a condition for the initial sale, it is not allowed. However, if the first sale is effected without any condition, but after effecting the sale, the buyer promises to resell the house whenever the seller offers to him the same price, this promise is acceptable and it creates not only a moral obligation, but also an enforceable right of the original seller. The Muslim jurists allowing this arrangement have based their view on the principle that "the promise can be made enforceable at the time of need).

Even if the promise has been made before effecting the first sale, after which the sale has been effected without a condition, it is also allowed by certain Hanafi jurists.

One may raise an objection that if the promise of resale has been taken before entering into an actual sale, it practically amounts to putting a condition on the sale itself, because the promise is understood to have been entered into between the parties at the time of sale, and therefore, even if the sale is without an express condition, it should be taken as conditional because a promise in an express term has preceded it.

This objection can be answered by saying that there is a big difference between putting a condition in the sale and making a separate promise without making it a condition. If the condition is expressly mentioned at the time of sale, it means that the sale will be valid only if the condition is fulfilled, meaning thereby that if the condition is not fulfilled in future, the present sale will become void. This makes the transaction of sale contingent on a future event which mayor may not occur. It leads to uncertainty (Gharar) in the transaction which is totally prohibited in Shari'ah.

Conversely, if the sale is without any condition, but one of the two parties has promised to do something separately, then the sale cannot be held to be contingent or conditional with fulfilling of the promise made. It will take effect irrespective of whether or not the promisor fulfils his promise. Even if the pt:omisor backs out of his promise, the sale will remain effective. The most the promisee can do is to compel the promisor through court of law to fulfil his promise and if the promisor is unable to fulfil the promise, the promisee can claim actual damages he has suffered because of the default.

This makes it clear that a separate and independent promise to purchase does not render the original contract conditional or contingent. Therefore, it can be enforced.

On the basis of this analysis, diminishing Musharakah may be used for House Financing with following conditions:

a. The agreement of joint purchase, leasing and selling different units of the share of the financier should not be tied-up together in one single contract. However, the joint purchase and the contract of lease may be joined in one document whereby the financier agrees to lease his share, after joint purchase, to the client. This is allowed because, as explained in the relevant chapter, Ijarah can be effected for a future date. At the same time the client may sign one-sided promise to purchase different units of the share of the financier periodically and the financier may undertake that when the client will purchase a unit of his share, the rent of the remaining units will be reduced accordingly.

b. At the time of the purchase of each unit, sale must be effected by the exchange of offer and acceptance at that particular date.

c. It will be preferable that the purchase of different units by the client is effected on the basis of the market value of the house as prevalent on the date of purchase of that unit, but it is also permissible that a particular price is agreed in the promise of purchase signed by the client.

 

Diminishing Musharakah for carrying business of services:

The second example given above for diminishing Musarakah is the joint purchase of a taxi run for earning income by using it as a hired vehicle. This arrangement consists of the following ingredients:

i) Creating joint ownership in a taxi in the form of Shirkah al-Milk. As already stated this is allowed in Shari'ah.

ii) Musharakah in the income generated through the services of taxi. It is also allowed as mentioned earlier in this chapter.

iii) Purchase of different units of the share of the financier by the client. This is again subject to the conditions already detailed in the case of House financing. However, there is a slight difference between House financing and the arrangement suggested in this second example. The taxi, when used as a hired vehicle, normally depreciates in value over time, therefore, depreciation-in the value of taxi must be kept in mind while determining the price of different units of the share of the financier.

 Diminishing Musharakah in trade:

The third example of diminishing Musharakah as given above is that the financier contributes 60% of the capital for launching a business of ready made garments, for-example. This arrangement is composed of two ingredients only:

1. In the first place, the arrangement is simply a Musharakah whereby two partners invest different amounts of capital in a joint enterprise. This is obviously permissible subject to the conditions of Musharakah already spelled out earlier in this chapter.

2. Purchase of different units of the share of the financier by the client. Thjs may be in the form of a sepal-ate and independent promise by the client. The requirements of Shari'ah regarding this promise are the same as explained in the case of House financing with one very important difference. Here the price of units of the financier cannot be fixed in the promise to purchase, because if the price is fixed before hand at the time of entering into Musharakah, it will practically mean that the client has ensured the principal invested by the financier with or without profit, which is strictly prohibited in the case of Musharakah. Therefore. there are two options for the financier about fixing the price of his units to be purchased by the client. One option is that he agrees to sell the units on the basis of valuation of the business at the time of the purchase of each unit. If the value of the business has increased, the price will be higher and if it has decreased the price will be less. Such valuation may be carried out in accordance with the recognized principles through the experts, whose identity may be agreed upon between the parties when the promise is signed. The second option is that the financier allows the client to sell these units to any body else at whatever price he can, but at the same time he offers a specific price to the client, meaning thereby that if he finds a purchaser of that unit at a higher price, he may sell it to him, but if he wants to sell it to the financier, the latter will be agreeable to purchase it at the price fixed by him before hand.

Although both these options are available according to the principles of Shari'ah, the second option does not seem to be feasible for the financier, because it would lead to injecting new partners in the Musharakah which will disturb the whole arrangement and defeat the purpose of diminishing Musharakah in which the financier wants to get his money back within a specified period. Therefore, in order to implement the objective of diminishing Musharakah, only the first option is practical. 

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10.  Advice of Hadhrat Sheikh

On Vigil

 Hadhrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA)

                        The Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with him) also spoke about His words (Exalted is He): Keeping vigil by night is more potent in impact. (73:6)

              This refers not only to giving up sleep in the ordinary sense, but also to giving up the sleep of involvement with creatures, the lower self [nafs], natural inclination [tab'], passion [hawa] and willfulness [irada]. For its food and drink the heart is left with speaking confidentially [munajat] to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), standing [qiyam] and bowing [ruku'] and making prostration [sujud] in His presence.

Surely you can see that if someone abstains from this world, so as not to be distracted by it from seeking the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), he must likewise abstain from the hereafter, so that it will not distract him from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). He must wish that the hereafter did not exist, because it is so charming, such an obvious mercy. He must make the heart and the innermost being become a face, on the surface of which the contents of his heart are visible. He must want this world to last, because he is worshipping Allah in secret, doing business with Him in secret.

You are in isolation from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). When will you isolate your heart from creatures and seek the company of the Lord of Truth, going from door to door until there is no door left, from town to town, from heaven to heaven until there is no heaven left?

He [the believer] will bring the Resurrection upon himself. He will stand before the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He), reading the records of his deeds, the good and the bad which consign him to the Fire [of Hell]. While he is caught between fear and hope, between falling into the Fire and crossing over it, Allah (Exalted is He) will overtake him with His gracious kindness. He will put out the Fire with the water of His mercy, and the Fire will exclaim: "Pass through, O believer [mu'min], since your light has extinguished my flames!" The passagea journey that should take three thousand yearswill be shortened for him to an instant, and then, when he is near to the palace of the King, he will recover his senses, his volition, his love for His Master [Mawla] and his ardent longing for Him. He will say: "I shall not enter except in the company of the Beloved [Mahbub]."

Do you not see? [As we know from sayings of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)], the miscarried fetus [siqt] will halt at the door of the Garden [of Paradise], saying: "I shall not enter until my parents enter. Where is the neighbor? Where is the witness?"

He will not enter until he is touched by the hand of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he can go in to meet the Beloved. Then, when he has finally experienced this, he will be sent back into this world, in order to receive his full quota of the shares allotted by destiny [aqsam], so that the [divine] foreknowledge ['ilm] shall not be altered, abrogated and annulled. Your Lord has finished with the work of creation.

[As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:] No soul shall depart from this world until it has received its allotted share [qism] in full.

You must therefore be dutifully devoted to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and have the decency to look to the Lord of Truth for what you need, instead of to His creatures. The material means [asbab] are a screen.

The King's doors are locked. If you turn away from them, there will be opened unto you a door you can recognize. The door of the innermost being has swung shut [babu's-sirri sara ila sadd], but then it is opened without your own power and strength.

The believer [mu'min] must leave his natural inclination [tab'] behind, moving in the direction of his Lord. As long as he is following this present course, he is exposed to harmful influences affecting his person and his property. He is reverting to his sins, to his bad behavior and to infringing the rules [hudud] of the sacred law [shar'] of his Lord. He must not seek help through supplication [du'a'], nor must he seek help from anyone other than his Lord. No, he must remember his sins and practice self-criticism until, when he has done a thorough job of this, he can resort to acceptance of the decree of destiny [qadar], to surrender [taslim] and entrustment [tafwid] as far as his heart is concerned. Once he is in this state, he will see an open door.

Whoever is dutiful toward Allah, He prepares a way out for him. (65:2)

He puts His servant to the test to see how he will behave:

And We have put them to the test with good things and bad things. (7:168)

The heart of the son of Adam must continue to travel along the path of good and evil, honor and humiliation, wealth and poverty, until he finally acknowledges that all blessings are due to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). This means gratitude [shukr]and gratitude is an act of obedience [ta'a] performed without moving the tongue and the limbs of the bodyand patient endurance of misfortune. He must admit his sins and offenses until, having taken his last step on the good side and his last step on the bad side, there he is at the King's door. He has taken the step of gratitude and the step of patience, with divine help [tawfiq] as the guide. He has seen the King's door, and beyond it he can see things that no eye ever saw, that no ear ever heard of, and that never occurred to any human heart. The alternating sequence of good moves and bad moves is at an end; now comes the turn of conversation, discourse and sitting in company [with the Lord].

Can you grasp this, O 'Iraqi, O camel at the mill, O stupid fool? You go through the motions of ritual prayer [anta fi qiyam wa-qu'ud] without sincerity. You perform the prayers [tusalli] for the sake of other people, and while you are fasting [tasumu] your eyes are on their dishes of food and on the contents of their houses.

O alien to the human race, O straggler from the ranks of the champions of truth [siddiqun] and the Lord's own people [rabbaniyyun]! Do you not realize that I am your goldsmith's furnace, your probe and your touchstone? Do your utmost. Refuse to let me eat from your plate. Unsheathe your sword against me. You do not amount to anything. O little ignoramus, I am twisting your reins. I am giving you good advice and treating you with compassion. I am afraid that you may die an atheist [zindiq], a pretender [mura'i], an impostor [dajjal]-doomed to suffer in your grave the punishment of the hypocrites [munafiqun]. So you must desist from what you are up to. You must strip yourself naked and then put on the clothes of dutiful devotion [taqwa]. You will soon be dead. There is no hostility between me and you. You will have cause to remember what I am saying to you.

The insight of the righteous man [salih] is indicative of his spiritual state [hal]. When someone really knows ['arafa] Allah, his tongue falls silent; he is free from want because of Him, and of Him alone he is in need.

In my childhood, back in my home town, I used to hear someone saying to me, "O blessed one [ya mubarak]." I would run away from that voice, but then in solitude I would hear someone saying to me: "I think well of you."

If you wish for success [falah] you must stick close to me. When you see a person running away from me, you must know that he is a hypocrite.

The believer [mu'min] is such that, when he closes the eyes in his head, the eyes of his heart are opened and he sees what is over there; and when he closes the eyes of his heart, the eyes in his head are opened and he sees the situation of Allah and His dealings with His creatures.

The words of Allah addressed to Moses (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) include the following:

I have chosen you above all men to receive My mission and My words. (7:144)

"And I have drawn you close to Me. One day you were shepherding a flock of sheep when one of them strayed off, so you followed after it until you caught up with it. By then you were exhausted, as it was exhausted, so you picked it up and hugged it and you said: 'You have worn yourself out and you have worn me out.'"

The remedy for someone who is separated [from the Lord] is detecting the cause of his separation, turning from it in repentance and confessing it in His presence.

The sinless ones [ma'sumun], those who are protected from every aspect, they do not have creative power [takwin]. Creative power comes in the process of following the path [fi't-tariq]. There is nothing worth talking about until you cross the wastelands, the deserts, the two continents and the two oceans the continent of creatures and the continent of the self [nafs], the ocean of the law [hukm] and the ocean of knowledge ['ilm] as well as the shore.

For the people [of the Lord] there is neither night nor day. Their diet is the diet of the sick and their sleep is the sleep of the drowned. Their speech is only out of necessity. When someone really knows Allah, his tongue falls silent, but "when He wills, He resurrects him" (80:22), and then he speaks without instruments, without tools, without preparation, without time for thought, without pretext. There is no difference between his tongue and his finger. Thus there is no wall of separation, no restriction, no door and no doorman, no permission to be granted or sought, no authorization and no dismissal, no Satan and no sultan, no inner core [janan] and no fingertips [banan]. 

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11. Be Careful with Muhammad 
(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)

Khalid Beig 

      The crowd was growing in size by the minute. They were beating drums, singing, dancing, and shouting in joy. Pagan Makkah was about to kill Khubaib bin Adi Ansari, Radi-Allahu anhu, who had been captured through a sinister and treacherous plot, then sold in the slave market so the buyers could exact their vengeance.

              It started when some tribesmen from Uthul and Qara went to Madinah and requested the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to send some teachers with them who could educate their fellow tribesmen about Islam. The request was granted and about ten Companions were sent with them. When the group reached Raji' two hundred armed men were lying in wait for them. Khubaib and Zaid bin Adathna, Radi-Allahu anhuma, were captured alive, while the others were martyred. Then they were sold in exchange for a hundred heads of camel. Both had fought in the battle of Badr and their swords had killed some pagan soldiers. Now the relatives of those killed in war wanted to get even. Of course, Arab traditions did not allow revenge for war like this. But their opponents were Muslims. Then, as now, the pagan world was ready to violate its own rules and traditions when the victims were Muslims.

While facing death, Khubaib, Radi-Allahu anhu, said a poem that has been recorded by history. It includes these lines: "They say if I renounce Islam, my life will be spared. But it is better to die with belief than to live with unbelief."

At the last minute, the pagans asked him: "Don't you wish that you were spared and Muhammad (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) got this punishment? Would not you like that you were resting comfortably in your home, while he was killed in your place?" From the man who was about to die because he had accepted the Message brought by Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came this reply: "By Allah, I cannot even imagine that a thorn should prick the foot of Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, while I rest in my home."

Abu Sufyan, an unbeliever at the time, remarked to his associates: "See, the love of the companions for Muhammad (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) is unparalleled and unprecedented." At another time, a similar observation was made by another Quraish leader Urwah ibn Mas'ud al Thaqafi. "I have seen Ceasar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I seen a man honoured, as Muhammad is honoured by his comrades."

The biographies of the Companions are full of stories that show their extra-ordinary love and devotion for the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The Qur'an itself attests to this. "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves." [Al-Ahzab 33:6] It is a statement of fact as well as a command. The following two ahadith, from among the many on the subject, clarify this point further. "None of you can be a believer unless he loves me more than his parents, his children, and all the people." [Bukhari and Muslim] "There are three signs that indicate that a person has tasted the sweetness of faith. 1) That he loves Allah and His Prophet more than anything else. 2) He loves everyone solely for the sake of Allah. 3) After accepting Islam he hates going back to unbelief as much as he hates going into the fire." [Bukhari and Muslim]

It has to be so, because our relationship to the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is at the core of our entire religion. He is human, not Divine, but he is our connection to the Deity. He relays to us the Word of Allah and he explains what the Word means. He sets a personal example that we look at not just for admiration but emulation. Our relationship to him is legal as well as personal; moral as well as spiritual; intellectual as well as emotional. Allah chose him to guide us, educate us, inspire us, and purify us --- and we remain indebted forever!

This not only establishes a relationship between a believer and the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, it also establishes the relationship among the believers, making them one unit because of--- in addition to their common faith--- their common love for the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Together these facts explain a Muslim's sensitivity to the honor of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. To begin with, we must remember that the honor of everyone is important. As the hadith reminds us: "If a believer does not come to the help of another believer whose honour and dignity are under attack, then Allah will also not help him when he is most in need of Allah's help. And a believer who does come to the help of another believer whose honor and dignity are under attack, then Allah will also help him when he is most in need of Allah's help." [Abu Dawood]. If a Muslim is not supposed to be indifferent when the honour of another ordinary Muslim is under attack, how in the world can anyone expect him or her to be indifferent when the honor and dignity of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself may be under attack?

As has been noted by someone else, a civilization in which nothing is sacred may have difficulty in understanding the values of a civilization in which sacred is all that counts. But if it cannot understand the logic, because of its own blinders, it will have to come to terms with the facts on the ground: Muslims treat their Prophet, and all the prophets, with utmost respect and they simply cannot tolerate any willful insult and disrespect. To compromise on this issue would tantamount to compromising one's faith. And no one has a right to demand that. The blasphemy laws in Muslim countries like the one in Pakistan, are not only based on solid and agreed upon juristic grounds, they express a fundamental value of the Muslim civilization. We need not offer any apologies for that just because the forces of profanity seem to be powerful.

Some think that the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, forgave his worst enemies and never took revenge for himself. So any law that prescribed punishment for assaulting the honour of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is clearly against his Sunnah. What the prophetic example teaches is that we should also be willing to forgive those who have committed offences against us, personally. But we know of Ka'ab bin Ashraf who used to abuse the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and instigated others to do so. He ordered Mohammed ibn Salma to execute Ka'ab. (Bukhari) There are not many but history records that whenever anyone tried to abuse the person of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he was meted with the same punishment. As the Persian poet said, "May take liberty with God, Be careful with Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam."

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12. Hellfire: Its People And Its Terror

Saalih Ibn Humayd

              Praise be to Allah. I praise and thank Him, exalted is He, and I glorify and revere him. Forever does He merit attributes of veneration and perfection. I testify that there is no god but Allah, Who has no partner and I thus admit His Oneness. I also testify that Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) is His Servant and Messenger, the selected Prophet (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) who is of a better lineage than the entire humanity and is far more honorable than them all. May Allahs peace and blessings be upon him and his righteous companions, people of benevolence and honesty and those who follow the way of Allahs messenger (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and his righteous companions.

O People, I advise you and myself to fear Allah, glorified is He, Allah says which translates as: And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah (Al-Baqarah: 281). Beware of a Day when you will stand for a long time awaiting a thorough judgment. Fellow Muslims, every soul will be held accountable only for the deeds s/he has committed. No one will be punished for a sin s/he did not commit. On Judgment Day, every soul will stand alone in his/her defense.

Sinful desires lead many people astray. Their faith is not reflected in their deeds. They speak but they never act on what they say. This is the position of the unintelligent persons. Having learned the truth, they then deny it. They declare permissible what Allah and His messenger (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) have decreed as prohibited. Al-Hassan Al-Basri may Allah bless his soul, exclaims: Do they believe in Judgment Day? No, I swear by the Master of the Day of Resurrection, they are liars. No one is admitted to paradise except one who genuinely seeks it and no one will be saved from the Hellfire except one who truly fears it. Entering in to the Hellfire is an indisputable fact, As Allah says which translates as: There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell); this is with your Lord; a decree which must be accomplished (Maryam: 71) but is salvation from the Hellfire an indisputable fact too?

Who shows signs of real fear from it? Who would be truly delighted to be saved from it? Musa Ibn Sad said: Whenever we were in the company of Sufyan, we would feel that we were surrounded by the hellfire because of the look of fear and terror we saw on his face. Whoever honestly fears the Hellfire strives to avoid it and whoever strives to avoid it attains Paradise. As in the Quran which translates as: Saying: Aforetime, we were afraid with our families (from the punishment of Allah), But Allah has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the torment of the fire, Verily, We used to invoke Him (Alone and none else) before. Verily, He is Al-Barr (the Most Subtle, Kind, Courteous, and Generous), the Most Merciful (At-Tur: 2628). Truly, Allah guides and has mercy on those who fear Him.

Brothers in Islam, our sermon seeks to remind and warn of the hellfire and fill your hearts with the fear of what was mentioned in the Glorious Quran and what Prophet Muhammad, (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), said concerning the punishment of the disbelievers and those who do not abide by Allahs laws. Our sermon is about the Hellfire, its people, and its terror. We seek refuge in Allahs mercy from it, as Allah says which translates as: O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded (At-Tahrim: 6).

Al-Hassan Al-Basri, may Allah bless his soul, states: By Allah! It is never that a servant of Allah honestly believes in the Hellfire, but he feels as if the spacious earth has become incredibly narrow, whereas if the Hellfire was right behind a hypocrite, he would still not believe in it until he tumbles into its burning depths. I swear that the servants of Allah have never been warned against anything more horrific.

Allah says which translates as: Therefore I have warned you of a Fire blazing fiercely (Hell); None shall enter it save the most wretched, Who denies and turns away (Al-Layl: 14- 16). This is the Hellfire, of which those who fear it will never sleep. Fear of the Hellfire torments the righteous. Allah says which translates as: Verily, it {Hell, or their denial of prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) or the Day of Resurrection} is but one of the greatest calamities. A warning to mankind, To any of you that chooses to go forward (by working righteous deeds), or to remain behind (by commiting sins) (Al-Muddaththir: 35- 37).

Do you not know that even angels and prophets are warned against the Hellfire? Concerning angels, Allah says which translates as: And if any of them should say: Verily, I am an Ilah (a god) besides Him (Allah) such a one We should recompense with Hell. Thus We recompense the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc) (Al-Anbiya: 29). As regards to the prophets, He says which translates as: And set not up with Allah any other Ilah (god) lest you should be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected, (from Allahs Mercy) (Al-Isra: 39).

O People, avoid the Hellfire by giving away as little as a date. Avoid the Hellfire by saying a good word. Mention the Hellfire repeatedly and seek to be saved from it, as Allah says which translates as: With this Allah does frighten His slaves: O My slaves, therefore fear Me! (Az-Zumar: 16). The Hellfire is the worst abode, its torment is the most horrific of all, its heat is extreme, its pit is bottomless, and its maces are made of iron. A stone may continue to fall for seventy years before if reaches its depth. Its ways are narrow, it is constantly ablaze, terribly drawing its breath, and its gates are locked. Its scorching columns are outstretched. Its heat is continuously increasing. It is the wrath of Al Jabbar and His punishment.

Whole nations will be brought to their knees. Those who were unjust to themselves will realize the consequences of their actions. The disbelievers will be dispatched to a shadow of smoke ascending in three columns, which yields no shade or coolness and is of no use against the fierce blaze. The flames of a blazing fire will surround them. They will hear its exhalations and groaning and witness its rage and fury. They will be called on by the angels of the Hellfire, as the Quran says which translates as: So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein, and indeed, what an evil abode will be for the arrogant (An-Nahl: 29). They will be gathered in the Hellfire, with the angels of the punishment crushing them. They will groan in its straits as they tumble downwards. You will see the sinners on that day bound together in fetters, their garments will be made of liquid pitch, and their faces will be covered with fire. Their necks will be shackled and they will be dragged by chains, pulled by the forehead and feet, and then thrown into the Hellfire. A burning fluid will be poured onto their heads and it will melt their skins and their stomachs. Their hands will be shackled with iron fetters, and their foreheads, sides, and backs will be burnt.

Taste you the touch of Hell (Al-Qamar: 48). They will be made to eat bitter Zaqqum and Dari, which will neither nourish nor satisfy their hunger. They will be made to drink a boiling fluid and a dark, murky, and intensely cold liquid that will burn their faces and tear up their stomachs. The Quran describes which translates as: He will sip it unwillingly, and he will find a great difficulty to swallow it down his throat (Ibrahim: 17) Therein they will cry: Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not (the evil deeds) that we used to do (Allah will reply): Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it? And the warner came to you. So taste you (the evil of your deeds). For the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc) there is no helper (Fatir: 37) As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for other skins that they may taste the punishment (An-Nisa: 56) They will wish to die, only there will be no way out of the Hellfire, nor will there be an escape. The Quran describes which translates as: And they will cry: O Malik let your Lord make an end of us, he will say: Verily you shall abide forever. Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth (Az-Zukhruf: 77-78). Their inhalation and exhalation will then be heard even louder when they are deprived of what they desire. Their despair will be increased and they will think to themselves, It makes no difference to us, whether we rage, or bear with patience. There is no place of refuge for us (Ibrahim: 21). We seek refuge in Allah, from His wrath and severe punishment.

Brothers in Islam, these are indisputable facts about the Hellfire which I swear by Allah will be fulfilled. Allah says which translates as: but the Word from Me took effect, that I will fill Hell with Jinn and mankind together (As-Sajdah: 13).

Woe unto every disbeliever and wicked person who does wrong, prefers worldly life and does not believe in Judgment Day, as Allah says which translates as: The Mujrimoon (polythiests, idolaters, and disbelievers) will be known by their marks (black faces) (Ar-Rahman: 41) And obey not everyone who swears much, and is considered worthless. A slanderer, going about with calumnies. Hinderer of the good, transgressor, sinfull. Cruel, after all that base-born (of illegitimate birth) (Al-Qalam: 10- 13). Those who do not believe in Allah, the Almighty, nor encourage the feeding of the poor, who never prays nor feeds the poor, joining with the disbelievers in denying Judgment Day. These are the people of the Hellfire. We seek refuge in Allah from them.

Servants of Allah, people of the Hellfire will include wine drinkers, those who sever kinship relations, believe in magic, remind others of the charity they gave them, backbite others, let their garments hang down below their ankles, hoard silver and gold and refuse to spend in the way of Allah. Among the people to be most severely tortured are those who create pictures and statues to imitate Allahs creation and those who oppress people in this world.

What would be the position of the reciters of the Quran, scholars and mujahideen (fighters in Jihad) whose deeds are for showing off, and those who command people to do good deeds yet do not do them themselves, who forbid people from committing sins, yet do not refrain from committing sins themselves, who never practice what they preach, who rebuke when they advice and turn a deaf ear when advised and who judge without knowledge or without justice. These are people of the hellfire.

A ruler who betrays his people will be condemned to the Hellfire.

A person who pledged allegiance to the Imam but for the sake of the world (material gains). If the Imam bestowed on him (something) out of that (worldly riches) he stood by his allegiance and if he did not give him, he did not fulfill the allegiance such a person is condemned.

Whoever cuts off the right of a Muslim man by his oath, Allah forbids him the Garden an obliges the Fire for him.

Whoever eats or drinks from gold or silver utensils is indeed filing his stomach with the fire of hell.

Allah says which translates as: Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a fire into their own bellies, they will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire (An-Nisa: 10).

Woe to the one who devours usury! The fire is the only worthy punishment for him whose body is nourished by usury or by what is forbidden. There will be two types of people who are destined for the Hellfire: people with whips, like the tails of cows, who beat the people (i.e. tyrannical rulers who are the enemies of their own people), and woman who although clothed, are yet naked, seducing and being seduced, their hair styled like tilted humps of camels. These will not enter the Garden nor will its fragrance even reach them If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, she will be made to stand on the Day of Resurrection wearing a trousers of pitch and a shirt of mange Cheat and deceit will be condemned to the fire Indecency leads to the Hellfire The worst of people in the sight of Allah is he who people avoid due to his indecency, aggressiveness, and vulgarity. Woe unto those who wish that indecency would spread among those who believe, they will be severely tortured in this world and in the Hereafter.

Dear Muslims, may Allah have mercy on you and I, and save us from this horrible torture. These are the various types of punishments in the Hellfire and the different characteristics of the people of the Hellfire. So fear Allah and avoid the Hellfire by shedding tears out of fear of Allah, for no man who cried out of fear of Allah will ever be tortured in the Hellfire. Two eyes will never be touched by the Fire; and eye that sheds tears out of fear of Allah, and a vigilant eye that stayed awake on guard for the sake of Allah (in Jihad). Whoever fasts a day is distanced from the Hellfire by a space to be covered in seventy years. Seek refuge with Allah from the Hellfire, for this is one of the characteristics of the righteous, who constantly remembers Allah.

The angels will pass by those who remember Allah in parties and Allah will say, From what do they seek refuge? The angels reply: They seek refuge from the hellfire Allah says, Did they see it? The angels say: No by Allah, O Lord! They did not see it, Allah says: How it would have been if they saw it? The angels say: If they saw it they would flee from it with the extreme fleeing and would have extreme fear from it. Then Allah says, I make you witnesses that I have forgiven them.

In another narration: Whenever a Muslim prays to be admitted to paradise three times, paradise says: O Allah, admit him to paradise. Whenever a Muslim seeks refuge from the Hellfire three times, The Hellfire seeks refuge from the Hellfire three times for that Muslim, The Hellfire says: O Allah, grant him refuge from me. O Allah, we seek refuge with You from the Hellfire. O Allah, we seek refuge with You from the Hellfire. O Allah, we seek refuge with You from the Hellfire. As in the Quran, which translates as: Our Lord, we have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of the fire (Al-`Imraan: 16). our Lord, avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily, its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Evil indeed it is as an abode and as a place to dwell (Al-Furqan: 65, 66). May we all benefit from the Glorious Quran.

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13. Saviours of Islamic Spirit

 Al-Ghazali (RA)

S. Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (RA)

Critique of the Rulers and Kings:

              AI-Ghazali held that along with the religious scholars, kings and rulers, administrators and nobles were also responsible for the widespread moral and spiritual degeneration of the people. (Abdullah ibn Mubarak had also expressed the same feeling in regard to the kings and nobles two hundred years before al-Ghazali in his famous verse saying:

"And who pollutes religion excepting the kings, nobles and the priestly order ?"

Unmindful of his personal safety al-Ghazali stood up against the unjust ways of the powerful despots and autocratic rulers who considered themselves above every law. It was a common practice amongst the scholars in those days to accept donations or stipends granted by the then kings. AI-Ghazali was, however, courageous enough to denounce these awards as unlawful. He declared that these grants were, at best, doubtful and at worst, prohibited. He writes: "The revenues accruing to the kings these days are mostly prohibited, for they seldom have a lawful income, or, if they have any, it is only-paltry.

Again he says: "The income of the kings in our times is either entirely prohibited or its major portion comes under this category. There is nothing surprising in it because we find now-a-days no trace of the lawful sources like the poor due, spoils of war, etc. No income from these sources generally reaches the king. Among the lawful sources, only poll-tax remains now, but numerous unjust means are employed in the recovery of these dues, which are not allowed by the Shariah. The officials of the State exceed the prescribed limits both in regard to the amounts to be recovered and the persons to be assessed for the poll-tax. The conditions laid down for assessment of this tax are also disregarded. Apart from these sources of income, the coffers of the state are also filled with riches extracted from the Muslims far in excess of the tributes of the lands held by them, confiscation, illegal gratifications and similar other taxes which are collected even more mercilessly than the poll-tax."

AI-Ghazali maintained that since the riches amassed by the kings was either unlawful or at least of a doubtful nature from the view-point of the Shariah, it was advisable that no grants or donations out of it should be accepted by a scholar. Such an income, he held, was not conducive to the spiritual advancement of the recipient. He further argued that instances of scholars accepting royal grants in the past could undoubtedly be cited but that was a world altogether different from that of his own times. In this connection he writes:

"The despotic rulers of the past, because of being nearer in time to the right-guided Caliphs, were at least conscious of their tyrannical ways and hence they were ever eager to win the favour of the companions of the Prophet and their associates and descendants. Since these rulers of the old were anxious that their favours should be accepted by the devout scholars, they made these presentations of their own accord and without any strings attached to their donations. They even expressed gratitude for the acceptance of their grants. The- religious savants, on the other hand, accepted these presentations only to distribute these among the poor and the needy. At the same time, these mentors of the old never sided with the rulers in the furtherance of their political ends. They never paid visits to kings and chieftains nor did they ever encourage the latter to call upon them. It was not un often that they warned the kings for their irreligious actions or even cursed them for their tyrannical ways. Thus, these scholars accepted the presentations of the then ruler because there was no danger of any harmful effect .to the faith on account of it:

"The kings now-a-days have, however, only such scholars on their payrolls whom they hope to win over to their side for certain ulterior motives or those who would be willing to act as their entourages and sing their praises. The vices flowing out of the acceptance of such favour are many: first, the recipient has to endure humiliation; secondly, he has to pay visits to the donor; thirdly, he has to be lavish in his praise for the grantor; fourthly, he is required to help the donor in realizing his ends; fifthly, he has to dance attendance on t he ruler like other courtiers; sixthly, he has always to express gratitude and assure the donor of his help; and, seventhly, he has to hold his tongue over the tyrannies and misdeeds of the kings. The rulers now-a-days would not extend their help to anybody who is not willing to accept even one of these conditions, no matter whether he be an erudite scholar of al-Shafae's fame. It is because of these reasons that it is not lawful now for anyone to accept donations from the kings, even if one knows that the latter have derived their income through lawful means. There is thus absolutely no justification for accepting grants out of the revenues which have been mobilized through prohibited or even doubtful means. Now, if anybody still unashamedly accepts the donations from these rulers and quotes the companions of the Prophet and their successors as a precedent, he perhaps considers the angels to be peers of blacksmiths, for, he cannot avoid waiting upon the rulers or even their chiefs and officials and playing second fiddle to them. And, these are all sins.

"I have now explained the sources of lawful and unlawful income accruing to the kings. If, however, anybody still deems it practicable to obtain a grant drawn out of lawful revenues, and he also deserves the same or gets it without in any way asking for the same or having to please the king or his chieftains, or else the donation does not depend on any service to be rendered in return thereof, then it may be lawful to accept the same, but I would still advise that it is preferable to refuse it if only on account of the evils likely to follow in the wake of its acceptance."

Al-Ghazali did not merely advice to forsake the donations and grants from the kings, he went even further to stress that one ought completely to disassociate oneself with them and hate their tyrannical and despotic ways. He writes in the Ihya :

 "Secondly, one should be so completely cut off from the kings that he may never come across them. It is obligatory and, indeed, safety lies in it that one should hate them for their tyranny. He should never entreat God's blessings for them nor praise them, nor else seek acquaintance of their courtiers. One should not even desire to know anything about them."

We are living in a democratic age when freedom of speech and expression is more or less assured in almost every country of the world. It is rather difficult to visualise the amount of courage al-Ghazali had had to muster, and the grave danger to which he exposed himself by openly preaching disassociation with the rulers or advising refusal of their grants, and criticising them for their tyrannical and un-Islamic policies in the social, political and fiscal matters. For the despotic and autocratic rulers, as the kings generally were in those days, even the slightest criticism of the state or its policies or officials was a sufficient mar of treason, and the heads of eminent scholars and reputed personages rolled on the ground at the slightest displeasure of those tyrants. However, throwing all considerations of personal safety to the winds, al-Ghazali preached and practised what he considered to be right and never faltered from the duty of severely admonishing the arrogant kings of his time. Sultan Sanjar, the son of Seljukid King Malik Shah, was the Governor of Khurasan. Once al-Ghazali happened to see him in his court. Addressing Sanjar, he said before his courtiers:

"It is indeed regrettable that the necks of the Muslims are breaking under the crushing  burden of thy tyranny, while those of thy horses are over. burdened with expensive harness."

Muhammad, the elder brother of San jar, succeeded his father Malik Shah. AI-Ghazali wrote a detailed letter in the form of a treatise exhorting him to inculcate the awe of God, fulfill his obligations as a king and work for the betterment of his people.

Administration Was generally in the hands of ministers in the times of al-Ghazali. He, therefore, paid more attention to them than to the Seljukid kings for bringing about reforms in administration. He wrote detailed letters and directives inviting their attention to the mismanagement, maladministration, inefficiency, illegal exhortations and high handedness of the State officials. AI-Ghazali reminded .them of their responsibility before God and invited their attention towards the fate earlier tyrannical rulers and administrators had met, as a consequence of their oppressive administrative policies. The letters written by al-Ghazali to the then ministers of Seljukid kings mirror his personal courage, the desire for exposition of truth and effectiveness of his pungent mode of expression. .

In one of his letters to a Minister, Fakhar ul-Mulk, he wrote:

"You should know that this city (Tus) had been laid waste by famine and tyranny. Everyone was scared by the news of your presence in Safra'in and Damaghan; cultivators sold their produce and hooligans behaved nicely with the populace. Now that you are far away, the fear has taken flight from these elements. The bully has - again taken heart and the farmers and grocers are indulging in black-marketing. Anybody sending you a report contrary to what I have stated is not your well wisher. Verily, the solemn invocation of the oppressed in Tus would surely be answered by the Lord. I counselled the Governor of Tus but he did not pay any heed to me until an example was made out of him by the divine justice. My solemn admonitions would undoubtedly appear distasteful to you but I would not have dared to write this letter, if I had not cast away all temptations of earthly favours out of my heart. Pay heed to me for you would not be counselled like this by anyone after me. Only those can admonish you who do not allow their selfishness to conceal the Truth."

In a letter to Mujir ud-din, another minister, he says:

"Now that the tyranny has reached its limits, it has become incumbent on you to succour the oppressed. I was a witness to this state of affairs for a year or so; I then migrated from Tus in order to avoid casting a glance over those ignoble oppressors. Now that I have returned to Tus, I find that the oppression is still continuing."

After inviting the attention of Mujir ud-din to the despicable fate met by earlier ministers, al-Ghazali continues:

"The ministers, before you, met a fate which none had met before them. But now I see oppression and destruction which I had never witnessed earlier. You may not be pleased with this state of affairs but when these oppressors will be called up on the Day of Requital, everyone res. possible for their tyranny, even in the remotest possible way, will be asked to render an explanation for it. The Muslims of this place are extremely aggrieved. The officials have collected quite a substantial amount from the populace, many times more than the money sent by you for distribution among the poor, but it has not been remitted These people have misappropriated the entire amount.

 Other Classes of the Muslim Society:

AI-Ghazali had also made a deep study of the religious and moral life of the other sections of society besides the scholars, kings and chieftains. He has left a detailed description of numerous innovations and deviations, customs and rites, in short, all aspects of mundane life which had somehow or the other found a place in the life of the different sections of the then society. It is remarkable that apart from being a profound scholar of religion, al-Ghazali was also such a keen observer of social life that no aspect of the life of the people escaped his attention. He has devoted one section to such customs as violate the dictates of the Shariah although they do not apparently seem to do so. In this section he leaves untouched no aspect of individual or social life from the mosque to the market and from the baths to the social gatherings and enumerates the practices which are prohibited and ought to be given up.

Another section of the book deals with those people who were suffering from one or the other misconceived notions which impeded the improvement of their character. This section is concerned with the people who were suffering from different types of self-deceptions, weaknesses, fallacies, illusions and paradoxes. The survey includes the affluent, nobles, scholars, mystics and similar other classes of rank and distinction, exhibiting a keen insight into their mental and emotional life which can be expected from an expert psychologist only. His study reveals the elements of misgivings and illusions of which the people concerned would have themselves been hardly aware.

The scholars in al-Ghazali's time had generally developed an extremism in the cultivation and practice of their different branches of learning which had obscured from their view the essence of the true faith. Jurists were stretching their legal quibblings too far to include all sorts of futile juristic issues; dialecticians deemed it worthwhile to engage in specious reasoning and irrelevant polemics; traditionists busied themselves with unnecessary researches into the terms and phrases used in the Traditions and their derivatives; while mystics considered it an act of devotion to commit the writings of their masters to memory. Al-Ghazali vigorously criticised all these people and brought out succinctly the misconceptions under which they were labouring. Summing up the discussion in this regard he writes:

"The secular sciences pertaining to mathematics, medicine and other useful arts do not produce so much self-deception among their students as is born out of the religious sciences. This is because nobody ever thinks of these branches of learning as a means of attaining salvation in the Hereafter; whereas, the study of religious sciences is itself, apart from its aim and the ultimate result desired of it, very often taken as leading to salvation."

Along with the religious scholars, al-Ghazali brought the pious and the mystics too under the focus of his criticism. In highlighting their mistakes and misconceptions, self-deceptions and the show of assumed piety, al-Ghazali disclosed how a number of devotional practices were really unimportant and worthless, and that the motive behind several of these devotional acts was not a sincere desire to serve God but simply to satisfy one's own self or others, or else to seek respect and honour.

Turning to the affluent and well-to-do sections of the society al-Ghazali has made certain pertinent observations of far-reaching importance:

"There are many amongst the men of substance who are too liberal in spending their wealth on the performance of Hajj. They set out for the pilgrimage regularly year after year as if they have none hungry or in want amongst their neighbours. (Abdullah ibn Masud truly said that during" the later times quite a large number of persons would perform the: Hajj unnecessarily, simply because they would find it easy to travel and would have enough to spend; but they would return from the Hajj without any recompense for they would not help their fellow-travellers whom they would find "in trouble. "

"Abu Nasr Tammar relates that somebody informed Bishr ibn al-Harith of his intention to set out for the Hajj. Bishr asked, 'What have you got to meet the expenses ?' The man replied, 'Two thousand dirhams.'

'And what is the purpose of your journey', demanded Bishr again, 'Do you want to make a show of your piety, visit the Kaaba or seek the pleasure of God ?'

He replied, 'To seek the pleasure of God.' All right', said Bishr, 'but would you agree, if I tell you a method whereby you would attain the pleasure of God without having to go all the way for Hajj? You would undoubtedly spend the money you have, but you would also be satisfied that you have done something that would be liked by the Lord.'

After the man had given his assent Bishr told him, 'Then you should distribute the amount you have set aside for the Hajj among ten insolvent persons so that they may be able to payoff their debts, or to paupers who lay live on it, or to the orphans or persons in indigent circumstances. If you like, you may give the entire amount to a single person because rendering help to the poor or the needy or anyone in trouble is better than performing a hundred voluntary Hajjs. Now you should do as I have told you but if you have any hesitation, tell me about it.' 'The truth is', the man rejoined, 'that I want to under take the journey.'

Bishr smiled and remarked: 'When the money is obtained from prohibited or doubtful sources, the insinuating-self of man urges him to gratify its desires which it often brings forth in the garb of virtuous acts to deceive him. God Almighty has, however, decided that He would accept the deeds of only those who fear him.

"Another group among the moneyed but niggardly persons is more interested in such devotional acts on which nothing is to be spent. They like to keep fasts, offer prayers or recite the Quran. These persons too are deceiving themselves because stinginess has captured their souls. They ought to spend their money in order to cure themselves of the malady but they keep themselves busy in the acts which are really not required of them. These elements are like the man who is about to be bitten by a snake and of which he would undoubtedly die, but he keeps himself busy in preparing a syrup for relieving his cough. These miserly persons do not stand in need of the aforesaid devotional acts as that foolish man would not be cured of the snake-bite by his syrup. Once somebody told Bishr that a certain wealthy person was profusely keeping fasts and offering prayers. He replied, 'The poor fellow is doing the work of others but has given up his own. He was required to feed the hungry and help the poor. Instead, he is forcing his own self to remain hungry and is trying to help himself by offering voluntary prayers. Along with this, he is also busy in accumulating as much wealth as possible so as to exclude the poor from it'."

In regard to another self-deception from which people generally suffer, al-Ghazali says: "There are still others, both among the well-to-do and the poor, who are victims of self-deception for they consider it sufficient enough to attend the religious discourses and sermons. They regularly attend such gatherings and think that it is propitious to listen to these discourses even without acting on the counsel of the preachers. These persons are deceiving themselves because the merit of these sermons lies simply in their exhortation to adopt the righteous course. But if the sermons certain no urge for virtuous action, then they are simply valueless. Anything used as a means for achieving an end has importance because of its objective and if it cannot somehow be helpful in achieving the object, it becomes worthless. But these persons are led astray by the merit of listening to such discourses, unduly emphasised by certain preachers. Often such listeners are found in a melting mood or even in a flood of tears during the discourses -but they never make up their mind to tread, the righteous path. If these persons are told something dreadful, they begin to implore God and seek His protection, but they appear to think that it is all they need to propitiate the Lord. It is nothing but self-deception. Such a person is like a patient who consults the physician simply to gain knowledge of the prescription but he can never regain his health by it. Or, else, lie resembles one who is hungry but cannot fill his belly merely by learning the name of different types of edibles,

"Being attentive to the preachers and hearing the details of doctrines and devotional practices would likewise be of no avail in the life-to-come unless it makes you change your life and pattern it in a manner that it may inculcate awe and remembrance of God, If the sermons do not produce this effect and do not make you weary of this-worldliness, then these will he produced as an evidence, against you in the Hereafter. Verily, if you think that simply listening to these sermons would he enough for your salvation, you are deceiving yourself."

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14. News: Around The Globe

 Americas Defense Review: More towards clash of civilizations?

              As angry rioters across the Muslim world continue to express their outrage at the despicable cartoon depiction of Prophet Muhammad in several European newspapers, the US Department of Defense released what it calls the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which is mandated every four years by the Congress and is an important document outlining how the US will deal with major security challenges in the future. Interestingly, the document opens with the words: The US is a nation engaged in what will be a long war and differs from the 2001 review in that it calls for US forces to be able to operate around the globe and not only in Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia as the previous review had suggested.

Muslim Conf. Probes Human Genetic, Reproductive Tech

CAIRO, February 6, 2006 The 9th conference of the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences (IOMS) opened in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday, February 6, to discuss a host of issues on human genetic and reproductive technologies.

"We are living in a world where the real priority is given to science and scientific advancement, and this should be the real evaluation for any nation on this earth," Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi told the opening session.

He stressed that the Muslim faith urges its followers to seek more knowledge in the different fields of sciences.

"The Quran stresses the importance of seeking useful knowledge in different fields such as agriculture, medicine, religion and many other fields that are widely-spread in todays world."

A flurry of issues are on the discussion table, including humanity and creation, the nature of the world, genetics, and reproductive technologies.

Issues of the family and social impacts of genetic and reproductive technologies are also on the agenda.

The four-day conference is co-organized by the Islamic Organization for Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It is hosted by the Cairo-based World Health Organization's Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office.

Taking part are a cohort of prominent Muslim scholars from around the globe, including Egypt's Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Dr Hassaan Hathout, member of the board of trustee of the IOMS, Dr. Jamal Badawi as well as leading US and European Muslim figures. 

Building Bridges

Dr. Hathout said Shari`ah came to protect five objectives, namely, religion, life, intellect, property and progeny.

"Tampering with any of those objectives is prohibited in Islam," he told IOL.

He asserted that the conference aims "to build better understanding among followers of different faiths on sticky issues."

John H. Brayant, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in the US and the director of the Institute of Community Health in Kismu, Kenya, agreed.

"Such gatherings are surely capable of bringing people together and enhancing the sense of mutual brotherhood," he told IOL.

Professor Brayant also stresses the importance of moral and ethical thought that should be enhanced by representatives of different religions.

Dr. Hussein Al-Jazaeri, manager of the WHO regional office, was of the same opinion.

"The research papers submitted to the conference are of much and mutual benefit to all people from different backgrounds and different beliefs," he stressed.

He urged all the attendees to reach conclusions that are beneficial to humanity in order to help achieve better respect to all beliefs and religions.

Dr. Hamid `Eid, ISESCO representative, urged Muslim scholars to prove the suitability of Islam for all times.

"Respecting different views from different backgrounds is very much needed in todays modern world.

"Ignoring the effective role of religions in our lives leads to irresponsible decisions that run counter to the interests of the members of the human family who are sharing the earth," he said. 

Helping

Dr. Hathout urged Muslim medical and scientific figures to join hands to help ease and eliminate the human suffering.

"No doubt that scientists are moving from ivory towers to golden towers, and humanity should transcend the concept of you and me to the concept of we," he told IOL.

Professor Brayant echoed the same position.

"[The] conference prompts people to think differently regarding issues that are primarily dealt with extensively to help the poor and the needy in the world," he said.

Working on the problems facing orphans and vulnerable children in the urban slums of Africa, Brayant believes that there are millions of children in the urban slums of Africa who escape the media spotlights.

"We should be sensitive to those in need and we should bring human understanding to their needs."  

Prostitution Flourishes With US Forces in Mindanao

CAIRO, February 6, 2006 Prostitution has been flourishing in Mindanao, the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines, since the announcement of a planned US-Filipino military exercise on the island, a local newspaper reported on Monday, February 6.

"It has become our greatest concern. My office is being flooded with complaints and petitions from residents near the military camp," Alkramer Izquierdo, the acting mayor of Jolo, the capital of the Mindanao island of Sulu, told the Inquirer.

Since December of last year, the number of scantily dressed prostitutes has rapidly increased near the military camp in the town, where the US soldiers will be staying, he added.

A month-long military training exercise, "Balikatan", is due to begin this month between US soldiers and their Filipino counterparts.

Some 3,000 US soldiers will be participating in the exercise, a big contingent of which in Sulu.

"I support the Balikatan, but we also fear the negative impact of prostitution in our town," Izquierdo said.

Members of Muslim and women's groups on January 17, gave a rowdy reception for an advance US force.

Filipino legislators have asked the government of abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a treaty that spells out the legal framework for US soldiers in joint training exercises in the Philippines. 

Trade

Retired Army Major Roberto Parayno, President of the Tabak village association, echoed a similar concern.

"Some of our female teenagers were being mistaken for prostitutes and our teachers could no longer make their lesson plans at night due to noise coming from the videoke bars," he said.

Major Parayno said that the number of prostitutes in Jolo increased to about 100 since November 21.

"Most of these women came from Pagadian City, Dipolog City, and Zamboanga City and the majority of them are very young."

He blasted behavior of the military personnel on the prostitution trade in the area.

Several military personnel were even acting as pimps for the sex workers, he charged. 

Badawi Urges Muslims, West to Accept Each Other

KUALA LUMUR, February 10, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi Friday, February 10, urged the Muslim world and the West to accept one another as equals, blasting "demonization of Islam" in the West.

"The West should treat Islam the way it wants Islam to treat the West and vice versa. They should accept one another as equals," Badawi told the International Conference on "Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West", according to Malaysia's news agency Bernama.

Badawi further said certain voices, both in the West and Muslim world, shared a common perspective on some of the critical challenges facing both civilizations and the world at large.

"Both were opposed to hegemony, rejected violence and terror, yearned for a just and peaceful world, united by a common bond and it was this common bond that made them bridge-builders."

The two-day conference brings together 60 leaders from the Muslim world, the United States, Europe and other Western countries.

Delegates are discussing how policymakers can develop policies to ensure that globalization benefits Muslims and diffuse Muslim grievances towards the West.

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DARUL ULOOM ILAHIYAH
INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH
ILAHI BAGH, BUCHPORA, SRINAGAR, 190011, KASHMIR, INDIA