Meri Soch aur Meri Awaz

The treasure of a fool is in his tongue, so think before you speak

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Commitment to Adhere to Islamic Beliefs and Code of Living

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the message of Islam to someone and that person was convinced of its truth, he would commit himself to following the Prophet with a pledge. The pledge meant a commitment to adhere to Islamic beliefs and code of living. Sometimes the details of the pledge differed according to the stage at which it was given and the people giving it. When Islam established its state in Madinah and the rest of Arabia was hostile to it, the pledge included immigrating to Madinah to provide support to the Muslim community and be among its defenders. However, when a clan or a group of people from a particular tribe or a person of influence accepted Islam, the Prophet might ask them to remain with their own tribes so that they would be able to call others from their community to accept Islam. When Makkah fell to Islam and most of its people accepted the Islamic faith, there was no longer any need for immigration. Therefore, the pledge required by the Prophet dropped this condition. Mujashi’ ibn Masoud reports: “My brother and I went to the Prophet and said: ‘Accept our pledge to immigrate (for God’s sake).’ The Prophet said: ‘Immigration is now over and those who immigrated have had it.’ I said: ‘What shall we pledge to you, then?’ He said: ‘You pledge yourselves to Islam and to strive for God’s cause (i.e. jihad).’” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
These are the two basic things to which every Muslim pledges himself. Islam is a serious commitment that requires striving for its cause so that people everywhere will know about Islam and consider it in its true light. As for immigration for God’s cause, which gives a very important status and brings great reward from God, it is not a condition of Islam. It was an important step when Islam was weak in a hostile environment and in need of all its new believers to defend it.
Sometimes, the Prophet made the pledge more detailed, without departing from these two commitments. Basheer ibn Al-Khasasiyyah reports: “I went to the Prophet to give him my pledge, and I asked him: ‘What shall I pledge to you, Messenger of God?’ He said: ‘You declare that you believe that there is no deity other than God and that Muhammad is God’s servant and messenger; attend regularly to your five daily prayers, pay your zakah (i.e. obligatory charity), fast in Ramadan, perform the pilgrimage and strive for God’s cause (i.e. jihad).’ I said: ‘Messenger of God! I will fulfill all these except two which I find too hard: Zakah, for I only have ten she-camels which provide milk for my family and are used for our travel; and jihad. I am a coward and people say that anyone who runs away from battle will incur God’s displeasure. I fear that should there be a battle, my life will be too dear to me and I might run away and incur God’s displeasure.’ closing his hand and taking it away, The Prophet said: ‘Basheer! Neither zakah nor jihad! How will you, then, gain admittance into heaven?’ I said: ‘Messenger of God! Put out your hand so that I can give you my pledge. He did so and I pledged myself to all that he mentioned.’” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Hakim, Al-Bayhaqi and others).
It is clear how the Prophet was keen to make Basheer understand that Islam cannot be taken lightly. When the latter tried to spare himself the commitment to pay zakah and evade the risk of being killed in a battle for Islam, the Prophet signaled that he would not be prepared to accept his pledge. Then he put a question that made it clear to his interlocutor that heaven is not open to anyone unless people prove that they gain admittance into it with their work and readiness to sacrifice.
Another person to give a pledge to the Prophet was Jareer ibn Abdullah who reports: “I said to the Prophet: ‘state your conditions, for you know them better.’ He said: ‘I accept your pledge to worship God alone, associating no partners with Him, attend regularly to your prayer, pay zakah, give good counsel to every Muslim and dissociate yourself from idolatry in all forms.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Nassaie). Another Hadith mentions that the Prophet told Jareer to put out his hand to give his pledge. Jareer, who was intelligent, said: “In what terms?” the Prophet said: “You pledge to submit yourself to God and to give good counsel to all Muslims.” Jareer gave his pledge, stating the qualification: “In whatever way I can.” (Related by Al-Tabarani). The qualification, which was agreed by the Prophet, provided a concession for all people in the sense that no one is expected to honor a pledge if it is beyond his ability.
We note here that the terms of the pledge the Prophet asked for were the essential requirements of Islam that no Muslim can omit: i.e. submission to God, prayer, zakah and renunciation of idolatry. The only addition is to give good counsel to all Muslims. This is no strange thing, because the essential role of God’s messengers is to provide good counsel to their communities. This was stated by every Prophet as he addressed his people. It is quoted in the Qur’an with reference to every one of them.
The Prophet’s companions took their pledges seriously. Many reports confirm this. To give an example we mention this report by Ziyad ibn Illaqah who quotes Jareer, the reporter of the previous Hadith, saying in a speech: “I urge you to maintain a line of action based on fearing God alone, associating no partners with Him, and to be calm and forbearing. I made my pledge to God’s Messenger with this hand of mine to be a good Muslim, and he made it a condition of the pledge that I should give good counsel to all Muslims. By the Lord of the Kaabah, I am giving you all good counsel. I pray for God’s forgiveness.” He then came down.
We deduce from this speech that Jareer always remembered the terms of his pledge and did not miss any opportunity to provide good counsel to all those who listened to him. Such is the proper attitude to one’s religious duties.
It is important to remember that the Prophet often stated the conditions of the pledge in detail. He did so when he accepted the first pledge by the Ansar group. These terms continued to be valid for women, but for men a further condition of fighting for God’s cause was added. The details of women’s pledge are stated in the Qur’an: They pledge never to associate any partners with God, and nor to commit theft or adultery, kill their children, fabricate any falsehood concerning the parenthood of their children, nor disobey the Prophet.
The question arises: What if any of these conditions is violated. To answer this question we quote the following Hadith reported by Jareer: “We made our pledges to the Prophet in the same terms as women’s pledge. Anyone who dies having fulfilled these terms is sure to be admitted into heaven. Whoever violates its terms and receives the mandatory punishment for it then that punishment wipes it away, but if he is spared punishment in this present life and the violation remains secret then he is accountable to God for it on the Day of Judgment.” (Related by Al-Tabarani).

Adil Salahi

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Story of Great Significance Begins

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Ta. Sin. Mim. These are verses of the Book that makes things clear. We shall relate to you some of the story of Moses and Pharaoh, setting forth the truth for people who will believe. (The Story, Al-Qasas: 28: 1-3)
These verses begin a surah that was revealed in Makkah, when the Muslims were a small minority without power, while the idolaters were in full control of wealth, position and authority. It establishes the true standard of values and power, making clear that there is only one true power in the universe, which is God’s, and one true value, which is faith. Whoever enjoys God’s support need have no fear, even though he may be bereft of any material power, and whomever God opposes can have no peace or security even though he may be in possession of all types of material power. A person who enshrines the value of faith enjoys every good thing, and the one who lacks it will not benefit by anything whatsoever.
The corpus of the surah is based on the story of Moses and Pharaoh at the beginning and the story of Qarun (or Korah) with Moses’ people at the end. The first of these two stories tackles power and authority, showing Pharaoh, a ruthless tyrant, fully alert to any source of danger as he faced Moses, a suckling baby with neither power nor shelter. Pharaoh had exalted himself, ruling over people, dividing them into sections and classes, persecuting the Children of Israel, slaying their men and sparing their women, watching carefully lest they should do anything against him while they were under his control. Yet all his might and precautions are of little avail against a little child who is cared for by the only real power that protects him from all evil. Indeed this power challenges Pharaoh openly, throwing the child into his own lap, placing him in Pharaoh’s own palace so as to be doted upon by his own wife, while he stands watching, unable to do anything against Moses. On the contrary, he does with his own hands what brings about his downfall.
The second story demonstrates the value of wealth, as also the value of knowledge. Wealth takes up people’s whole attention as Qarun goes out in his adornment. They were fully aware that he was given such enormous treasures that carrying their keys alone would tire out a whole band of strong people. What is more, Qarun also had knowledge that he thought to have brought him all this wealth. Yet those endowed with true knowledge among his people were not bewitched by such wealth. They were looking up to God’s reward, knowing that it is infinitely better and more lasting. Then God’s power intervenes sinking him and his household into the earth, showing all beholders that neither his wealth nor his knowledge was of any avail to him. The intervention here is direct just like it is in the case of Pharaoh who was sunk with his troops in the sea.
Both Pharaoh and Qarun exalted themselves, tyrannizing over the Children of Israel, one with the brute force of authority and the other with financial might, but the end is the same in both cases: One was swallowed with his dwelling into the earth, and the other drowned with his army in the sea. In neither case do we see any opposing force to resist God’s direct power that intervened to put an end to tyranny and injustice. The two stories clearly show that when evil stands out in full view and corruption is manifest while those who are good and righteous appear powerless, God Almighty may intervene directly and openly to put an end to such evil and corruption.
In between the two stories, the surah takes the idolaters on a couple of rounds opening their eyes to the significance of the stories and directs their attention to some of God’s signs that are present in the universe, the fate of past communities or scenes of the Day of Judgment. All these endorse the moral of the stories and confirm God’s unalterable law.
The unbelievers used to say to the Prophet: “If we were to follow the guidance along with you, we would be torn away from our land.” (Verse 57) Thus they tried to justify their rejection of the Prophet’s message by their fear that people would tear them away from their land if they were to change their old beliefs that ensured that people held them in awe and reverence, as they were the custodians of the Sacred Mosque. God relates here the stories of Moses and Pharaoh showing which people could enjoy security and which should be in fear. It tells them that it is only under God’s protection that people could feel truly secure even though their situation may appear to lack all security. By contrast, fear lies in lacking such protection even though all familiar conditions people associate with security may be in full presence. Qarun’s story is related to confirm this basic truth in a different way.
Their justification of their attitude is answered as follows: “Have We not given them a secure sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things, as a provision from Us? But most of them have no knowledge.” (Verse 57) This is a reminder that it is God who has provided them with security, appointing the Sacred House in their own vicinity. It is He who has extended security to them and it is He who can easily deprive them of it. This is followed by a warning against arrogance and ungratefulness: “How many a community that exulted in its life (of ease and plenty) have We destroyed. The dwellings they left behind were but scarcely inhabited. It is We who are the only heirs.” (Verse 58)
The surah then makes it clear to them that they have already been warned when a messenger of God has been sent to them. God’s law has been in operation for a long time, making it inevitable that people are destroyed when they persist in their erring ways after a warner has been sent to them: “Your Lord would never destroy a community without first sending them a messenger who would recite to them Our revelations. Never would We destroy a community unless its people are intent on wrongdoing.” (Verse 59)
This is followed by a scene of the Day of Judgment when they stand alone, having been publicly disowned by those beings whom they alleged to be God’s partners. Thus they are made to realize what punishment they are liable to incur on the Day of Judgment, after they had suffered punishment in this present life. It tells them again where security lies and what brings fear.
The surah concludes with God’s promise to His Messenger as he is driven out of Makkah by the idolaters. The promise makes it clear that God, who has assigned to him this Qur’anic message and defined the duties involved in his assignment, will surely facilitate his return to his hometown, giving him support against idolatry and idolaters. God had favored him with the message to which he never aspired. He will certainly give him support and return him to the city from which he was driven out. The stories related in this surah endorse this promise. Moses returned to the very land that he fled in fear for his life. And when he came back, he took out with him the Children of Israel, saving them from Pharaoh who met his humiliating fate.
The final note in the surah also seals God’s promise: “Never call on any deity side by side with God. There is no deity other than Him. Everything is bound to perish except Himself. With Him rests all judgment, and to Him you all shall return.” (Verse 88)
Such is, in a nutshell, the theme of the surah and its import outlined in four phases: Moses’ story, the comments that follow it, Qarun’s story and this final promise.

commentary by : Sayyid Qutb

Friday, January 27, 2006

Description of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)

The excerpt are taken from the book entitled "The Message of Mohammad", by Athar Husain.

AppearanceMuhammad (pbuh) was of a height a little above the average. He was of sturdy build with long muscular limbs and tapering fingers. The hair of his head was long and thick with some waves in them. His forehead was large and prominent, his eyelashes were long and thick, his nose was sloping, his mouth was somewhat large and his teeth were well set. His cheeks were spare and he had a pleasant smile. His eyes were large and black with a touch of brown. His beard was thick and at the time of his death, he had seventeen gray hairs in it. He had a thin line of fine hair over his neck and chest. He was fair of complexion and altogether was so handsome that Abu Bakr composed this couplet on him: "as there is no darkness in the moonlit night so is Mustafa, the well-wisher, bright." His gait was firm and he walked so fast that others found it difficult to keep pace with him. His face was genial but at times, when he was deep in thought, there there were long periods of silence, yet he always kept himself busy with something. He did not speak unnecessarily and what he said was always to the point and without any padding. At times he would make his meaning clear by slowly repeating what he had said. His laugh was mostly a smile. He kept his feelings under firm control - when annoyed, he would turn aside or keep silent, when pleased he would lower his eyes.


In the upcoming days, I will post more about the prophet's (pbuh) dress code, Mode of Living, His Manners and Disposition, Children, Trust in Allah, Daily Routine, Justice, Equality, Kindness to Animals and Love for the poor which will be taken from this very book mentioned above Inshallah.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Prophet as a Man: Maintaining an Air of Dignity and Calmness

Many of us often wonder what the Prophet (peace be upon him) looked like. We learn how he conducted his affairs, and how he cared for his family and his companions, and we listen to his teachings. We may feel that he is close to us, and that we know him well, but we cannot visualize his physical appearance. Yet we have several detailed descriptions of him, some of which are given by those who were in close contact with him over a long period of time, such as his cousin and son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib. Rather than give such a detailed account of the Prophet’s physical appearance, we will concentrate on his general description and on pointing out some aspects of how he looked in different situations.
Ata’ ibn Yassar mentions that he asked Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas, a young companion of the Prophet who reported a large number of Hadiths, about the Prophet’s description in the Torah. This is in reference to the Qur’anic statement that the Prophet is clearly described in both the Torah and the Gospel: “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet whom they shall find described in the Torah and the Gospel that are with them. He commands them to do what is right and forbids them to do what is wrong, and makes lawful to them the good things of life and forbids them all that are foul. He lifts from them their burdens and the shackles that weigh upon them. Those, therefore, who believe in him, honor and support him, and follow the light that has been bestowed from on high through him shall indeed be successful.” (7: 157)
Abdullah ibn Amr answered: “Yes indeed! The Torah includes some of his description given in the Qur’an: ‘Prophet! We have sent you as a witness (to the truth), and as herald of good tidings, and a warner,’ (33: 45) to all mankind. You are My servant and My messenger. I have called you Al-Mutawakkil, the one who relies (on Me).” He is further described as “neither harsh nor crude. He is not one to speak loudly in markets. Nor does he repel one bad action with a similarly bad one, but he forgives and forbears. God will not gather him to Himself until He has established through him the perfect religion, purging it of all crookedness so that people will declare that ‘There is no deity other than God.’ And through him God will open some blind eyes, deaf ears and sealed hearts.”
We note here that there is no description of the Prophet’s physical appearance. What is important is the Prophet’s character, which is described in clear terms, and a statement of his role and status. He is certainly a witness to the truth and a herald bringing good news and issuing a warning. The good news is given to those who follow the truth he states, and the warning is to those who turn away from it. They have to change their stance if they wish not to incur God’s displeasure and be liable to His punishment. He is given a name that describes his character. No matter how strong the opposition he faces, he places his trust in God and feels sure that the truth will eventually triumph.
Abdullah ibn Amr goes on to describe the Prophet’s behavior as stated in the Qur’an and the Torah. All the characteristics that make people turn away are alien to him. Thus, he is neither crude nor harsh. He does not shout or raise his voice when he walks in the market areas, where many tend to shout in order to attract attention. He maintains an air of dignity and calmness. He does not return a bad action with a similarly bad one. Rather, he forbears and forgives. This is how he wins people’s hearts. Then his mission is defined. He is to set the divine faith on its firm foundation, which is the belief in God’s absolute oneness. When people accept this, their hearts, ears and eyes are wide open. They see the truth for what it is and follow it.
There are several Hadiths that describe the Prophet’s physical appearance. These are very detailed. In addition, we have numerous Hadiths that describe certain aspects of his appearance or how he conducted himself. For example, we have a good description of the way he walked. Ali reports: “When God’s Messenger walked, he would bend forward a little as if he were coming downhill.” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Saad and Al-Baghawi.) This is the sort of walk that gives a clear impression of a very strong person for whom walking was a simple exercise. When we walk downhill, we find walking easy, and we are fast because the sloping ground makes it easier for us to move forward.
This is confirmed by the following description given by Abu Hurayrah: “I have never seen anyone better looking than God’s Messenger. It was as if the sun was reflected in his face. I never saw anyone walking faster than the Prophet. It was as if the ground shrank for him. We would be making a strenuous effort (to keep up with him) while he walked effortlessly.” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban, Al-Bayhaqi and others.) Again this gives a clear impression of the Prophet’s physical strength. It was not as if he made any effort to give such an impression. He would be walking normally, but his walk was fast for his companions who had to put a real effort to keep up with him.
Another description of his walk is that given by Ibn Abbas: “When the Prophet walked, he moved all his body in such a way that gives a clear image that he was neither lacking ability nor lazy.” (Related by Ibn Saad and Ibn Hibban.) It is indeed important to realize that his way of walking always indicated physical strength, but his physical strength was never highlighted as a main characteristic of his. Indeed people concentrated on his character and the way he behaved.
Other Hadiths describing his way of walking may be quoted, such as Jabir’s report: “When the Prophet walked, his companions walked in front of him, leaving his back for the angels.” (Related by Ibn Hibban.) Abu Hurayrah reports: “The Prophet walked with his full feet, coming forward altogether, or going back altogether. I never saw anyone like him.” (Related by Ibn Hibban and Ibn Katheer.)

Adil Salahi

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Best Place to Sit

Islam gives us guidance in all aspects, even those where social custom directs people’s actions. Such guidance, however, is not intended to restrict people and make them behave in a certain manner from which they cannot digress. On the contrary, it aims to make things easier and more pleasant for both the individual and the community. Thus, it improves people’s manners, approving what is good correcting what is wrong, and adding an element of refinement wherever it is needed. In all its teachings, Islam aims to make things easier for us. Hardship is to be avoided in every respect. Even where people’s behavior does not seem to involve any inconvenience, Islam improves it so as to make it more convenient and pleasant. We only need to look at the Prophet’s reported statements to realize that he took care to set people’s social behavior on the course that ensures closer ties within the community.
The Prophet’s companions realized this, because they were aware of the wide gulf that separated their social manners before and after Islam. They realized that Islam approved every good thing in their customs, amended what needed to be amended and discarded what is wrong or unsocial. Hence they were keen to demonstrate the proper Islamic manners, pointing out the Prophet’s teaching wherever needed, so that the following generations could consolidate these manners.
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri was a young companion of the Prophet who reported a large number of Hadiths. He lived long after the Prophet and he was received everywhere with the respect due to one of the Prophet’s companions who was at the same time a fine scholar. “One day he was informed of a funeral. Apparently he was delayed and came only when people had already taken their places where the funeral was to start. When he came and people saw him they welcomed him. Some of them stood up to give him their places. He said to them: Do not do that. I heard the Prophet say: ‘The best meeting place is the one most accommodating.’ He moved aside to sit in a place where there was plenty of room.”(Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)
We see in this Hadith that many people were keen to show their respect of Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, for his position as one of the Prophet’s companions, giving up their places so that he would sit in a better position. But we see also that he would not accept this, explaining that it is not right for a latecomer to displace some of those who have arrived before him. In our societies we see this happening all the time, with young people moving toward the end of a large room, because of the arrival of a person who is highly placed in society. While this is a good sign of respect, the proper manner is that shown by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, where the latecomer sits at the end so as to give the least disturbance to the people attending. In this instance, Abu said had plenty of room and he was able to sit comfortably.
It is also preferable to sit facing the qiblah if possible. The qiblah refers the Kaaba, the black building in Makkah which Muslims must face in prayer wherever they happen to be, and it also means the direction leading to the Kaaba. Thus, we have a Hadith stating: “Abdullah ibn Umar would mostly sit facing the qiblah. Once as he was sitting, Yazeed ibn Abdullah ibn Qusayt recited a passage of the Qur’an containing a prostration when the sun had just risen. When he read the prostration verse, he and everyone else prostrated themselves except Abdullah ibn Umar. Later when the sun had risen well in the sky, Abdullah ibn Umar untied his top robe and prostrated himself. He then said to the reciter: ‘Have you not seen how your friends prostrated themselves at a time when prayer may not be offered.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad.)
The first point in this Hadith is the desirability of facing the qiblah wherever we sit. This is to be encouraged, but it is by no means required. Had it been so, it would cause people much inconvenience. Hence, when it is feasible, without causing any inconvenience, it becomes preferable. If it causes inconvenience to oneself or to others, then it need not be done. We see the reporter of this Hadith making clear that Abdullah ibn Umar mostly sat facing the qiblah. This means that he did not insist on doing so, but did it wherever possible.
Secondly, we learn that if a group of people are listening to someone reading the Qur’an and he reads a verse where it is recommended to offer a prostration, the reader and the audience should prostrate themselves. There are 14 or 15 verses in the Qur’an in this category, each of them contains a reference to prostration as a mark of true submission to God alone. Hence, offering a prostration when such a verse is mentioned indicates compliance with this universal requirement. The Prophet made it clear that this is to be done, even when we are reading these verses in prayer. Hence, everyone listening to the recitation in this instance prostrated themselves.
The last point to make is that concerning Abdullah ibn Umar’s delayed prostration. This is concerned with the times when prayer is discouraged. There are certain times in the day when we should not offer any prayer, and this includes the prostration offered at reading, or listening to, any of the verses containing a prostration. These times are as follows: 1) after we have offered Fajr prayer until the sun has risen well into the sky; 2) at the time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky until it starts to move down; and 3) after we have prayed Asr until the sun has completely set. The reason for discouraging prayer in these times is that Islamic worship should never be thought of as associated with the sun and its position in the sky.
This is due to the fact that in certain communities, the sun was worshipped as a deity. Hence, it is important that our worship should not be confused with the worship of those communities.
In the case described in this Hadith, Abdullah ibn Umar was the only one who noted the time when the reciter read the relevant verse. It was just when the sun had appeared. As such, it was the wrong time for prayer. Therefore, he delayed his prostration for something like 20 minutes or half an hour and offered it then. This is the proper practice.
Islam gives us guidance in all aspects, even those where social custom directs people’s actions. Such guidance, however, is not intended to restrict people and make them behave in a certain manner from which they cannot digress. On the contrary, it aims to make things easier and more pleasant for both the individual and the community. Thus, it improves people’s manners, approving what is good correcting what is wrong, and adding an element of refinement wherever it is needed. In all its teachings, Islam aims to make things easier for us. Hardship is to be avoided in every respect. Even where people’s behavior does not seem to involve any inconvenience, Islam improves it so as to make it more convenient and pleasant. We only need to look at the Prophet’s reported statements to realize that he took care to set people’s social behavior on the course that ensures closer ties within the community.
The Prophet’s companions realized this, because they were aware of the wide gulf that separated their social manners before and after Islam. They realized that Islam approved every good thing in their customs, amended what needed to be amended and discarded what is wrong or unsocial. Hence they were keen to demonstrate the proper Islamic manners, pointing out the Prophet’s teaching wherever needed, so that the following generations could consolidate these manners.
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri was a young companion of the Prophet who reported a large number of Hadiths. He lived long after the Prophet and he was received everywhere with the respect due to one of the Prophet’s companions who was at the same time a fine scholar. “One day he was informed of a funeral. Apparently he was delayed and came only when people had already taken their places where the funeral was to start. When he came and people saw him they welcomed him. Some of them stood up to give him their places. He said to them: Do not do that. I heard the Prophet say: ‘The best meeting place is the one most accommodating.’ He moved aside to sit in a place where there was plenty of room.”(Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood)
We see in this Hadith that many people were keen to show their respect of Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, for his position as one of the Prophet’s companions, giving up their places so that he would sit in a better position. But we see also that he would not accept this, explaining that it is not right for a latecomer to displace some of those who have arrived before him. In our societies we see this happening all the time, with young people moving toward the end of a large room, because of the arrival of a person who is highly placed in society. While this is a good sign of respect, the proper manner is that shown by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, where the latecomer sits at the end so as to give the least disturbance to the people attending. In this instance, Abu said had plenty of room and he was able to sit comfortably.
It is also preferable to sit facing the qiblah if possible. The qiblah refers the Kaaba, the black building in Makkah which Muslims must face in prayer wherever they happen to be, and it also means the direction leading to the Kaaba. Thus, we have a Hadith stating: “Abdullah ibn Umar would mostly sit facing the qiblah. Once as he was sitting, Yazeed ibn Abdullah ibn Qusayt recited a passage of the Qur’an containing a prostration when the sun had just risen. When he read the prostration verse, he and everyone else prostrated themselves except Abdullah ibn Umar. Later when the sun had risen well in the sky, Abdullah ibn Umar untied his top robe and prostrated himself. He then said to the reciter: ‘Have you not seen how your friends prostrated themselves at a time when prayer may not be offered.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad.)
The first point in this Hadith is the desirability of facing the qiblah wherever we sit. This is to be encouraged, but it is by no means required. Had it been so, it would cause people much inconvenience. Hence, when it is feasible, without causing any inconvenience, it becomes preferable. If it causes inconvenience to oneself or to others, then it need not be done. We see the reporter of this Hadith making clear that Abdullah ibn Umar mostly sat facing the qiblah. This means that he did not insist on doing so, but did it wherever possible.
Secondly, we learn that if a group of people are listening to someone reading the Qur’an and he reads a verse where it is recommended to offer a prostration, the reader and the audience should prostrate themselves. There are 14 or 15 verses in the Qur’an in this category, each of them contains a reference to prostration as a mark of true submission to God alone. Hence, offering a prostration when such a verse is mentioned indicates compliance with this universal requirement. The Prophet made it clear that this is to be done, even when we are reading these verses in prayer. Hence, everyone listening to the recitation in this instance prostrated themselves.
The last point to make is that concerning Abdullah ibn Umar’s delayed prostration. This is concerned with the times when prayer is discouraged. There are certain times in the day when we should not offer any prayer, and this includes the prostration offered at reading, or listening to, any of the verses containing a prostration. These times are as follows: 1) after we have offered Fajr prayer until the sun has risen well into the sky; 2) at the time when the sun is at its highest point in the sky until it starts to move down; and 3) after we have prayed Asr until the sun has completely set. The reason for discouraging prayer in these times is that Islamic worship should never be thought of as associated with the sun and its position in the sky.
This is due to the fact that in certain communities, the sun was worshipped as a deity. Hence, it is important that our worship should not be confused with the worship of those communities.
In the case described in this Hadith, Abdullah ibn Umar was the only one who noted the time when the reciter read the relevant verse. It was just when the sun had appeared. As such, it was the wrong time for prayer. Therefore, he delayed his prostration for something like 20 minutes or half an hour and offered it then. This is the proper practice.

Adil Salahi

Guidance from the Prophet: Family care

No one was more caring and loving of his family than the Prophet. His kindness was exemplary. Everyone of his household spoke of his kindness. Indeed even those who served him spoke of his exemplary conduct. One of them stated that he spent ten years in the Prophet’s service and the Prophet never told him off for any mistake he made or omission of any task. But the Prophet was also a model husband and a model father. One of his dearest relatives was his youngest daughter, Fatimah.
Aishah, the Prophet’s wife reports: "I have never seen anyone who was closer to the Prophet in conversation, speech or the way they sat than Fatimah. When the Prophet saw her coming, he welcomed her and stood up to greet her and kissed her. He would then take her hand in his hand and seat her in his position. If the Prophet went to visit her, she would welcome him and stand to greet him and kiss him. Once she came to him when he was in his last illness, shortly before he died. He welcomed her and kissed her and whispered something in her ear. She cried.
Then he whispered to her again and she laughed. I said to other women, ‘I used to think that this woman has a higher status than other women, but I see that she is just like them. She laughs just as she is crying.’ I asked her what the Prophet said to her, and she answered, ‘If I tell, I would be unworthy of a secret.’ After the Prophet’s death she said, ‘He whispered to me that he was to die soon and I cried. Then he told me that I would be the first of his household to join him, and I was pleased with that’." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Al-Nassaie).
The first thing to say about this Hadith is the close relationship between the Prophet and his youngest daughter, Fatimah. We find in his behavior toward her something that is rarely done by a father. He was apparently very pleased to see her at any time. He would welcome her at a distance, and then would stand to greet her and he would kiss her. Fathers may have a very close relation with their sons or daughters, and they may spoil their daughters, but it is rarely the case that a father would stand to greet his daughter and kiss her. Fatimah would do the same every time her father, the Prophet, visited her.
The particular occasion this Hadith deals with is one of the latest in the Prophet’s life. He was in his last illness, shortly before his death. Fatimah’s presence gave him pleasure which is indicated in his greeting and whispering to her, giving her first the sad news of his approaching death, and then the happier news that she would be the first to join him. Again this reiterates their close relationship.
In this Hadith we have the statement of Aishah, one of the closest relatives of the Prophet remarking on the close similarity between the Prophet’s manner in his speech and movement and that of her step daughter, Fatimah, the youngest of the Prophet’s children. She makes a further comment later in this Hadith, stating that she used to think very highly of Fatimah, but when she saw her crying then laughing in quick succession, she felt that she did not have such a status, as her feelings could swing so easily.
Yet the change of mood filled Aishah, and probably others, with curiosity and she asked Fatimah what her father, the Prophet, told her. The answer shows that Fatimah was fully aware of the Islamic moral standards, revealing nothing of what was told to her in secret. However, when the Prophet had passed away, she was free to disclose what he had told her, since it became partly known. The Prophet told her that he was dying, and after he had actually passed away, that part of the conversation was no longer a secret. The other part concerned Fatimah herself and she was free to tell it.
A point in this Hadith that merits further discussion is that of standing up to meet someone as he or she arrives. The Hadith mentions that the Prophet used to stand to greet his daughter, and she did likewise. Here we note that the two people involved are father and daughter. It is normal, and well in line with Islamic manners, that a son or a daughter stands up when their parents come in. It is a gesture of genuine respect. But the Prophet’s standing when his daughter comes in is a gesture of genuine love and kindness. In neither case, there could be any confusion of feelings or action.
The point about standing up to express respect or high esteem is highly relevant. At certain points, the Prophet indicated that this is not an acceptable behavior. Consider the following Hadith reported by Jabir ibn Abdullah, a companion by the Prophet: "The Prophet was ill, and he was leading us in prayer. He was seated, while Abu Bakr was repeating the takbeer so that the congregation could hear. The Prophet turned slightly to us and saw that we were standing. He signaled us and we all sat down to pray in the same position he prayed. When he finished his prayer, he said, ‘You were about to do the same as the Persians and the Byzantines: they would stand in the presence of their kings who would be seated. Do not do that; rather, do as your prayer leaders do. If the imam prays standing, you stand up; and if he prays seated, you also sit’." (Related by Muslim and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).
In this Hadith the Prophet makes it clear that the congregation should do like the imam. If the imam can only pray in the seated position because of an illness or an injury, the congregation should do likewise. According to Imam Malik and Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan of the Hanafi school of Fiqh, this is obligatory, to the extent that if the congregation stand when the imam is seated, the prayer is invalid. However, other schools of Fiqh consider that permissible relying on other equally strong evidence.
As for standing up to meet respected people, there are Hadiths which show that this is permissible when there is no question of confusing this with glorifying the person concerned, as in the case of Saad ibn Mu’ath when he was to rule in the case of the Jews of Quraythah. As he entered, the Prophet told everyone in his main tent, saying: "Stand up to meet your master." On the other hand, Anas ibn Malik, a close companion of the Prophet reports: "They (meaning the Prophet’s companions) did not love to see anyone more than they loved to see the Prophet. When they saw him, they would not stand up to greet him, because they were well aware that he disliked that they should stand up." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi)

edited by Adil Salahi

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Praising God Before Going to Sleep

Praises, glorifications and supplications the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say at different times of day and night, we mention a Hadith reported by Jabir ibn Abdullah, a companion of the Prophet who was very close to him and reported a very large number of his statements. Jabir says: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) used not to go to sleep before reading the two surahs, Al-Sajdah and Al-Mulk.” Abu Al-Zubayr, who reports this Hadith from Jabir, mentions that “these two surahs earn 70 good deeds more than any other surah in the Qur’an. Whoever recites them earns 70 good deeds, is given a rise of 70 steps; and 70 bad deeds are erased from his record.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Al-Nassaie).
All types of worship earn rich reward from God. This applies to prayer, fasting, zakah, reading the Qur’an, glorifying God and remembering Him. However the Prophet was keen to recite certain surahs or verses at particular times because of the meanings they stress. In this Hadith we are told that he used to read these two surah, which together run into five and a half pages of the Qur’an. There is strong emphasis in both surahs on the life to come, the resurrection as well as the reckoning and reward. Since sleep is a kind of death, as we lose consciousness of everything around us in both situations, the reminder of the hereafter is most apt at this particular time.
It is important to clarify how some surahs are said to be better than others. A number of scholars do not approve of the notion that certain parts of the Qur’an could be described as better than the rest. They say that this is contrary to the fact that all the Qur’an is God’s word and should be viewed as a complete whole, with every part of it equal to the rest. Other scholars agree that the Qur’an should be viewed in the same light, with no preference given to any part over the rest. However, they maintain that this does not contradict that God may give greater reward for reading certain surahs.
They also say that on certain occasions, or at certain times, reading a particular surah may be better. They cite the example of reading Surahs 32 and 76 in the two rak’ahs of fajr prayer on Fridays, or reading Surahs 87, 109 and 112 in the three rak’ahs of witr prayer everyday.
This is a valid point, but other scholars also mention that the result of reading a particular surah at a certain time is what may give it preference at that time. In this case, reading these two surahs before going to sleep is stated to ensure that one does not suffer torment in the grave after one’s death.
While a supplication to be spared such suffering after reading any part of the Qur’an may be certainly answered, it is hoped that reading these two surahs gives a greater chance of that, if God so wills.
Moreover, reading the Qur’an, or glorifying God and repeating some supplication and prayer before going to bed make it easier for a person to get to sleep. Abdullah ibn Masoud, a learned companion of the Prophet, says: “Being overtaken by sleep when glorifying God is brought about by Satan. You may try this if you wish. When you go to bed and you want to get to sleep straightaway, glorify God and praise Him.” (Related by Al-Nassaie, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi).
This is something we can try ourselves. Indeed scholars encourage people who complain from insomnia to read the Qur’an or engage in God’s glorification, and they would not take long to get to sleep. What the Prophet’s companion refers to in his statement is that Satan will help to get to sleep a person who is reading the Qur’an or praising God and glorifying Him, so that he would not earn more reward for his glorification and remembrance of God. Whether we can attach such influence to Satan is rather debatable, because he is stated in the Qur’an not to have any control on us, unless we give in to his promptings. However, when we read the Qur’an or glorify God, Satan feels depressed and he cannot come near us. As such, he would not be prompting us or keeping us awake. By leaving us alone, we will feel the pleasure and relaxation of what we are reading or saying, and such relaxation helps us to get to sleep faster.
The Prophet also teaches us to make sure that our beds are free of harm. He says: “When any of you wishes to go to bed, he should undo the edge of his robe and strike his bed with it, because he would not know what went into his bed after he left it.
He then lies on his right side and say: ‘In Your name I place my side. If You hold my soul, bestow on it Your mercy; and if You release it, then protect it with what You protect the righteous among Your servants.” (Related by Al-Bukahri, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Nassaie).
To give the Arabic wording of this supplication, we add: “Bismika wada’tu janbi. Fa’in ihtabasta nafsi farhamha, wa in arsaltaha fahfazha bima tahfazu bihi ibadaka al-saliheen.”
The point about striking the bed with one’s garment is simply to shake it properly in order to ensure that no crawling or harmful creature is hidden into it. Perhaps this is unnecessary in modern homes and apartments, but following the Prophet’s example and doing his teaching earns reward from God.
In country homes, villages and in desert areas, the risk of something like a scorpion or a snake crawling into a bed where it finds warmth is very real. Striking the bed with one’s garment is bound to disturb such a creature and drive it away. Or at least the person will see it moving and take the necessary action to ensure his comfortable sleep.

Adil Salahi

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Prophet as a Man : Fearing for His Community

Asalam O Alaikum,
We muslims are required to follow the prophet's (pbuh) guidance throughout our whole lives and we were assured that if we do that, we will not do any wrong. Unfotunately, a lot of muslims fail to do that in our daily lives. Maybe thats because we fail to read how he lived his life and how he dealt with different issues in his life. every now and then Mr. Adil Salahi talks about different topics on the Prophet's (pbuh) life and how he dealt with different issues and things. So here is one I found recently and after reading it, I cannot stop myself from posting this.

The Prophet as a Man : Fearing for His Community

Abu Bakr was the closest to the Prophet (peace be upon him) of all his companions. He was Muhammad’s intimate friend before he began to receive any revelations from God. When the Prophet was ordered to call on people to believe in God’s oneness, Abu bakr was one of the very first people the Prophet addressed. He immediately accepted the divine message, knowing that his friend, Muhammad, who never told a lie to any human being, would not start by lying to God or fabricating any story about him. Thus, Abu Bakr was the first to become a Muslim from outside the Prophet’s own home. He never wavered in his support of the Prophet and his message. He was always ready to give any sacrifice the message needed.

Looking up to the Prophet, Abu Bakr once said to him: “Messenger of God! You have grown gray!”

The Prophet said: “Yes indeed! This is caused by Surah Hood and its sisters.” The Prophet named Surah 56, Al-Waqi’ah, Surah 77, Al-Mursalat, Surah 78, Al-Naba’ and Surah 81, Al-Takweer. All these surahs portray scenes from the Day of Judgment that are bound to fill us with dread. Should we reflect on these scenes we would be in real worry lest we should be made to endure the sort of punishment God has in store for the wicked of people. The Prophet was fully aware of all that the Qur’an contained. He knew it by heart and never lost a single verse of it. Considering how alert his conscience was, the images of the Day of Judgment were bound to send a shiver into his heart.

Proper thinking of the Day of Judgment and its dreaded punishment will fill any heart with awe. Indeed, prophets used to sit on their knees, praying God to spare them and their communities its horrors. As he was most aware of what the Day of Judgment signified, the Prophet always thought about it and felt that the task of steering away from punishment was hard indeed. Hence, when he was asked which verses in Surah Hood made him grow gray, he mentioned the verse that says: “Follow, then, the right course as you are bidden, together with those who, with you, have turned to Him; and let none of you transgress. Surely, He sees all that you do.” (11: 112)

In the first instance, the Prophet’s answer appears to be strange. The verse clearly carries an order that the Prophet should do as he is bidden. This applies to all believers, and indeed all mankind. They all must obey God. But the Prophet understood this command as an order not to steer an inch away from the path that God has marked out for him to follow. This obviously required a most diligent approach that always followed God’s commands, obeying them in letter and spirit. It is an order that keeps both heart and mind at full alert, keeping every single commandment we are given by God in front of our eyes, trying hard to fulfill it, and making sure that we never fail. This is far from easy. Hence, it caused the Prophet to be always on the alert, and made him grow gray.

Indeed the Prophet took this order most seriously, and was conscious of it at all times. Remembering this, we understand the opening statement of the Hadith reported by Aishah, his wife, who says: “I never saw God’s Messenger in full command of his strength laughing heartily so as to see the back of his mouth.” It was his consciousness of the Day of Judgment and its hardship that kept him serious at all times, so that when he laughed his merriment would still be controlled. The rest of the Hadith explains that the Prophet was always mindful that God’s punishment could come at any time. Aishah reports of him: “Whenever he saw clouds or wind, his color would change. I said to him once: ‘Messenger of God! When people see clouds they look delighted hoping that they would bring them rain, but when you see clouds, your face shows worry.’ He said to me: ‘Aishah! How can I be sure that it does not carry punishment? Some people were punished with wind. Others saw the punishment approaching, yet they said that it was rain-bearing clouds.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Abu Dawood.)

This Hadith speaks of the Prophet’s care for his people, fearing that they might be punished like others were before them. The last part refers to the Aad people, the giants who lived in southern Arabia and rejected the message of the Prophet Hood who tried hard to persuade them to believe in God. They were destroyed by storms that lasted eight days, leaving them all dead. Yet these very people were delighted when they saw the clouds approach, declaring that they would bring them rain. Instead the clouds brought them storms heralding God’s punishment. The Prophet felt uneasy whenever he saw clouds gathering, until rain started and he would then feel God’s mercy.

A similar Hadith is also reported by Aishah: “Whenever the Prophet saw clouds approaching with an air of rain, his color would change. He would go in and out, to and fro. When it rained, he would relax. I mentioned this to him and he said: ‘How could I tell what such clouds would bring?’ He quoted the verse that said of certain people: ‘When they saw it in the shape of a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they exclaimed: ‘This is but a heavy cloud which will bring us rain.’ No, indeed. It is the very thing which you sought to hasten: A wind bearing grievous suffering bound to destroy everything at its Lord’s behest.’” (46: 24-25)

The Prophet’s attitude is the one that behooves every believer to follow, realizing that no one can be sure what God’s will might be in any situation. As we all are liable to sin, we can easily incur God’s punishment, unless we repent and seek God’s forgiveness. The Prophet was keenly aware of this, particularly as he considered the verses that say: “Do the people of these cities feel secure that Our might would not strike them at dead of night when they are asleep? Or do the people of these cities feel secure that Our might would not strike them in broad daylight when they are playing around? Do they feel themselves secure from God’s designs? None feels secure from God’s designs except those who are losers.” (7: 97-99)

The best thing that helps avert God’s punishment is to turn to Him in repentance, particularly at night when one is alone, unseen by anyone other than God. This is confirmed in the following Hadith reported by Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s wife: “One night God’s Messenger woke up worried. He said: ‘Limitless is God in His glory. How much of God’s treasures have been brought down tonight, and how much temptation! Who would wake up the women in these rooms (meaning his wives) so that they would pray? Many a woman who is well dressed in this life finds herself bare in the life to come!” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Malik and Al-Tirmidhi.)

It is sincere devotion that averts God’s punishment and ensures the forgiveness of sin. Hence, the Prophet wanted his wives to wake up and spend part of the night in such devotion. The last sentence in the Hadith refers to the fact that what we enjoy in this life is no guarantee that we will have favor in the life to come, unless we earn it through diligent attendance to what God requires of us.

Adil Salahi

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

THE PROPHET MOHAMMAD'S (PBUH) LAST SERMON

One of the readers of this blog requested this speech from Mohammad which was his last speech to all Muslims.


This Sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat )


"O People lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.

O People just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usuary (interest), therefore all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn 'Abd'al Muttalib (Prophet's uncle) be waived.

Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived and the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibn al Harithibn.

O'Men, the Unbelievers indulge in tampering with the calender in order to make permissible that which Allah forbade, and to forbid which Allah has made permissible. With Allah the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Shaban.

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope of that he will be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have right over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with his permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in ernest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers fast during month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute o ne brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belogs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people."

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Prophet’s Pilgrimage Step by Step — II

These articles quote the detailed Hadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah, describing the pilgrimage of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from the moment he announced his intention to do it. This Hadith provides the basis of most of the rulings concerning the performance of all pilgrimage rituals. We quote the Hadith and add some comments of explanation where necessary.
We mentioned last week that on arrival in Makkah, the Prophet performed the tawaf and sa’ie, explaining that for a pilgrim doing either the ifraad or qiran methods, these count as the tawaf of arrival and the sa’ie of the pilgrimage, adding that for the latter method it suffices for both the Umrah and the pilgrimage. For those doing the tamattu’ method, they count as the duties of the Umrah. The Prophet did his pilgrimage in the qiran method, because he had brought his sacrificial animals with him. But he made it clear that the tamattu’ method is to be preferred. When he had completed them, he said: “Were I to start my pilgrimage anew, I would not have brought my sacrificial animals with me, and would have started with an Umrah. Whoever of you has not brought his sacrificial animal with him should release himself from ihraam and make this an Umrah.” Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju’shum stood up and said: “Messenger of God, does this apply to this year only or forever?” The Prophet inter-crossed his fingers as he put his two hands together, and said: “The Umrah has intermingled with the pilgrimage.” He repeated this twice and said: “Indeed, till the end of time.”
Ali (ibn Abi Talib) came with the sacrificial animals (cows and camels) which belonged to the Prophet from the Yemen. When he arrived he found Fatimah (his wife and the Prophet’s daughter) having released herself from ihraam and put on a colorful dress and colored her eyelashes. He objected to what he saw, and she told him: “My father has ordered me to do so.” Ali used to say later when he was in Iraq that he went to the Prophet complaining of what Fatimah did. He asked the Prophet’s opinion concerning what she attributed to him. Ali said: “I told the Prophet that I objected to her action.” He said: “She has told the truth. She has told the truth. What did you say when you started your pilgrimage?”
“I told him that I said: ‘My Lord! I intend to do the same as Your Messenger (peace be upon him).’ He said: ‘I have my sacrificial animals with me. Do not, then, release yourself from ihraam.’”
All the sacrificial animals that Ali brought with him from the Yemen and the ones the Prophet brought with him numbered one hundred. All people released themselves from ihraam and shortened their hair except the Prophet (peace be upon him) and those who had their sacrifice with them.
There is no doubt that the tamattu’ method is the one the Prophet preferred for all Muslims, although he himself had to continue with the qiran method, explaining that the reason was that he had brought his sacrifice with him. This ruling applies for all time, although nowadays no one brings his sacrifice from distant land. Still, it is possible that motorist pilgrims, particularly those using goods vehicles may do so. Consistent with his practice throughout his life, the Prophet preferred the easier of any two options, as long as both were permissible. Undoubtedly, the tamattu’ method is the easiest of the three because it completes the Umrah on arrival and allows the pilgrim to be out of consecration until the start of the pilgrimage days. The other two methods require the observance of all ihraam restrictions throughout one’s stay in Makkah until the major part of the pilgrimage has been completed.
On the Day of Tarwiyah (8th Dul Hijjah) they proceeded to Mina resolving to do the pilgrimage. The Prophet mounted (his she-camel) and prayed at Mina the prayers of Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr (meaning that he stayed all day and throughout the night in Mina). He stayed on until after sunrise. He ordered that a dome of animal hair be erected for him at Nimrah (in Arafat). The Prophet then proceeded. The Quraysh people were certain that he would stop at Al-Mash’ar Al-Haraam (in Muzdalifah, short of Arafat), in the same way as the Quraysh used to do before Islam. The Prophet, however, proceeded until he came to the dome which was erected for him at Nimrah and dismounted there. When it was midday, he ordered that his she-camel, Al-Qaswa, be prepared for him and proceeded to the middle of the valley (of Arafat).
In breaking with the Quraysh traditions, the Prophet put the pilgrimage rituals back to their original state, as performed by the Prophet Abraham and his son the Prophet Ishmael. Their practice continued to be followed until the Arabs deviated from the pure divine faith, introducing idolatry and polytheism. This led them to invent new practices, some of which meant giving the Quraysh, the tribe living in Makkah, a status with special privileges, such as refraining from attendance at Arafat. They argued that since they lived in the Haram area, they could not leave it to Arafat which is outside it, because the Haram area is the blessed one. This is contrary to the Qur’an and the Prophet’s practice.
Perhaps we should briefly comment on the fact that after her Umrah, Fatimah, the Prophet’s daughter, put on a colorful dress and wore make up. This is perfectly normal in Islam, and it is practiced in many Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and African countries, where Muslim women go out wearing Islamic dress of all colors.
The Prophet addressed the people and said: “Your blood and your properties are forbidden among you in the same degree of sanctity as this day, in this month, in this city. Everything which belonged to jahiliyyah (the state of ignorance that is the antithesis of Islam) is hereby forgone and placed under my feet. The blood (i.e. revenge killing) of jahiliyyah is hereby forgone. The first (victim) whose blood I forgo from among our own people is Ibn Rabee’ah ibn Al-Harith (the Prophet’s own cousin. He was nursed in the tribe of Bani Saad and was killed by the tribe of Hudhayl). All the usury of the days of jahiliyyah is wiped off. The first of it I wipe off is that which belongs to Al-Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib (the Prophet’s own uncle). All of it is hereby forgone. Fear God in (your treatment of) women. You have taken them on to yourselves with peace from God, and they are lawful to you with God’s word...” He continued his speech until he said: “They (women) have a right against you to provide for them and to dress them in accordance with what is reasonable. I am leaving with you God’s book. If you hold fast to it you will never go astray. You will be asked about me, but what will you say?” They (i.e. the people present) replied: “We declare that you have delivered the message perfectly and have given sound counsel.” He pointed his forefinger raising it to the sky and, pointing it to the people, said: “My Lord! Bear witness.” (He repeated this three times).
The Prophet’s speech at Arafat was longer than what is quoted here, but Jabir quotes the most relevant parts, re-emphasizing the total prohibition of vengeance killing and usury. The Prophet gives the lead, making clear that what belonged to his own relatives in these two areas was ended and foregone.
The Prophet again speaks about the importance of kindness to women. It is well known that women were ill treated in pre-Islamic Arabia, as they have been, and remain, ill-treated in many parts of the world. Islam gives women equal status with men and requires all men to be most kind to their women folk. Unfortunately, many Muslims do not heed the Prophet’s orders, even in our own time. This is a depressing state of affairs. No God-fearing Muslim could abuse a woman under his care or deny her what God has given her and remain God-fearing.
The Prophet then called on God to witness that he had delivered the message entrusted to him, giving all mankind good counsel.
We will continue with this Hadith soon, God willing.

Adil Salahi

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Prophet as a Man: ‘You Would Have Laughed but Little’

A very important aspect of Islam is that the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is always a guide for us. If we follow the Prophet we will not go wrong. Indeed, we will always be on the right track that earns reward from God. This applies to matters pertaining to religion. As for ordinary matters, the Prophet made clear that he gives no guidance to be followed. When the Prophet passed by some farmers who were engaged in inoculating their date trees, he questioned them about what they did. He then suggested that it might be better if they do not resort to such a practice. They stopped immediately. Their yield of dates that year was less than usual and they mentioned this to the Prophet saying that it could have been caused by the lack of inoculation. The Prophet said: "You know your worldly matters best." However, when something has a religious aspect, or relates to religious practices, then we follow the Prophet’s guidance. This will bring us rich rewards from God Almighty.
What is important to remember about Islam is that it is easy to implement. It does not require people to steer away from all life comforts, or to devote long hours to worship rituals. It deals with human life as it is, endorsing its requirements, forbidding only what is harmful or unbecoming of human dignity. It does not forget that man is the creature God has honored by granting him his free will and the ability to determine his actions as he pleases. Therefore, it steers a middle way between pleasure and responsibility, comfort and duty. Whenever hardship looms, it provides a concession. Moreover, it makes the exercise of a concession a worthy action deserving of reward.
It is very important to realize this. The Prophet tells us that "God loves that the concessions He gives should be exercised just as He loves the fulfillment of the major duties He assigns." When we benefit by the concession and thank God for granting it, we actually demonstrate our gratitude to God, and this, in effect, expresses our submission to Him in the same way as it is expressed when we fulfill the major duties God has made binding on us. Some people, however, tend to look at concessions as having a lower status than the original duties to which they apply. Thus, when they travel, they prefer to offer their prayers in full length instead of the shortened version that applies during travel. If their travel happens to be in Ramadan, they prefer to continue to fast despite the added difficulty that travel involves. Yet God has given us the concession of not fasting during travel, provided that we compensate for that by fasting a similar number of days after our travel is over. This is due to the fact that by nature, people tend to make things more difficult. Yet Islam prefers that things are kept easy, simple and manageable.
Lady Aishah, the Prophet’s wife, reports: "God’s Messenger did something by way of concession. Some people, however, felt that it would be better that they should not exercise the same concession. This was communicated to the Prophet and he addressed the people in general, praising God before saying: ‘How is it that some people prefer not to follow my example. By God, I know God better than all people and I am the most God-fearing among them." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Ahmad).
That the Prophet knew God better than anyone else is indisputable. Who could have known God better than the one who received direct revelations from Him? It is also indisputable that the one who knows God best fears Him most. It is not the sort of fear that we feel when we face an enemy or serious danger; rather, it is a feeling that puts us on our guard lest we should do something that displeases the One who has given us everything that we have. It is He who ensures our happiness and gives us all that we need to live and be comfortable in life. Hence, we are keen to please Him and we are on the alert lest we should commit something that incurs His displeasure.
Those people who felt that they should not take up the concession the Prophet exercised undoubtedly thought that they would earn more reward by doing so. The Prophet, however, makes it clear that theirs is a mistaken notion. What pleases God most is to obey Him and to follow His Messenger. When He allows a concession, we should uphold it, expressing our gratitude to Him for making things easier for us. Thus, our relationship with God is based on love compassion and kindness.
Nevertheless we should always be mindful of God, aware that His punishment is severe, and work hard not to incur His displeasure or commit what makes us liable to His punishment. We should always remember that God’s punishment is grievous indeed. Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: "By Him who holds my soul in His hand, if you were to have the knowledge I have, you would have wept much and laughed but little." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Ahmad, Al-Nassaie and Al-Darimi.)
In this Hadith, the Prophet refers to what happens on the Day of Judgment and its difficulties. On that day, when all creation are resurrected and stand before God awaiting His judgment, theirs is a very hard position. Even the most pious and the most diligent in worship would not have given enough thanks for the endless aspects of grace God had bestowed on him throughout his life. Yet such a person inevitably committed enough sins to deserve punishment. If God were to judge him in absolute fairness, his lot will be difficult indeed. But God treats us with kindness and compassion. Hence, the pious and the God-fearing are admitted into heaven. Yet the knowledge of all this should make everyone tremble with fear, lest God’s kindness should be withdrawn from him in punishment for something grievous he might have committed. It is such knowledge that should banish laughter and bring tears to people’s faces. How could they laugh when they know that it merely needs that God should treat us in all fairness to make us doomed? Yet it is the trust in God’s compassion and kindness that makes us hopeful. It is an unfailing hope that He will bestow His grace on us, just like He bestows it in this our present life.

Adil Salahi

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Prophet’s Pilgrimage Step by Step — I

All Muslims know that to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in matters of religion is required as a duty. To follow him in other aspects is always good and fruitful, except where he expressly stated that what he did was specific to him. In as far as offering the pilgrimage is concerned, we have no option but to follow his guidance. As he started his pilgrimage, he said: “Learn from me your rituals.” This is an all-embracing Hadith that makes clear that the way the Prophet did his pilgrimage is the standard which we should all emulate.
We have a very detailed Hadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah telling us of everything the Prophet did on his pilgrimage. In this first of three articles we will be perusing this Hadith and, where necessary, adding comments to provide a full picture that helps us in offering this great act of worship. Jabir reports:
“God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) stayed (in Madinah) nine years without offering the pilgrimage. In his tenth year in Madinah it was announced to all people that God’s Messenger would be offering the pilgrimage. Many people flocked to Madinah seeking to follow the Prophet’s guidance and to do like him.”
Several reasons led to the delay of the Prophet’s offering of the pilgrimage. In the first few years of his stay in Madinah, he could not have traveled to Makkah, while the Quraysh, its inhabitants, were raising one army after another to fight him. When Makkah fell to Islam toward the end of Year 8, the Prophet chose not to offer the pilgrimage the following year because he did not wish to see the abominable practices of the unbelievers which they introduced into the pilgrimage, such as being naked when doing the tawaf. In Year 9, Abu Bakr was the leader of the pilgrimage and a ban was declared prohibiting idolaters from coming to Makkah for pilgrimage, and banning the practice of doing the tawaf naked. With that done, the pilgrimage could be offered in the proper Islamic way, and this is what the Prophet did. With him was no less than one hundred thousand people, all eager to offer this great act of worship with him.
“We went out with him until we arrived at Dhul-Hulayfah where Asma’ bint Umays gave birth to Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. She sent a message to the Prophet asking what she should do (considering that she would be in her postnatal period).
He told her to have a bath and to wrap herself properly (putting a wide piece of cloth at the place of discharge, tying both ends from the front and the back and sticking that wrapping tight to a belt she has around her waist.) She could then enter into ihraam, or consecration. The Prophet offered his prayers at the mosque there and mounted his she-camel, Al-Qaswa’. When his she-camel was well into the desert, I looked up and saw all around me people walking or riding animals, accompanying him. I could not see the end of them in any direction: Front or rear, right or left.
The Prophet was with us receiving Qur’anic revelations, the interpretation of which we knew very well. Whatever he did, we did likewise. He raised his voice with phrases stressing God’s oneness: Labbayk Allahumma labbayk. Labbayk Laa shareeka laka labbayk. Inna al-hamda wal-ni’mata laka wal-mulk. Laa shareeka lak. People raised their voices with whatever praises they wished to repeat, and the Prophet did not take exception to any of that. He, however, maintained his own form of talbiyah.”
We discussed in an earlier article what effect a woman’s discharge, whether menstrual or postnatal, has on her pilgrimage. Here we have the detailed guidance the Prophet gave to Asma’ making clear that she could conduct her pilgrimage easily, but she must not do any tawaf until she has been cleansed of all discharge. It should be noted that she gave birth to her son shortly after departure from Madinah, when she arrived at the point of meeqat, which is Dhul-Hulayfah or Abyar Ali as it is better known nowadays.
The ruling given to her applies to all women who start such discharge at any time during their pilgrimage. We also learn that there could be different forms of declaring our response to God’s call to do the pilgrimage. However, the Prophet’s preferred form is the one that millions of pilgrims repeat all the time.
“We did not intend to do anything other than a pilgrimage. We knew nothing about the Umrah. When we arrived at the House (i.e. the Kaaba) with the Prophet, he touched the corner (i.e. kissed the black stone) then he moved in a jogging movement for three rounds and walked the other four.
“He then went to Maqam Ibraheem and recited: ‘Make the place where Abraham stood as a place of prayer.’ He stood with that place (Maqam Ibraheem) between himself and the Kaaba.
“In his two rak’ahs he read Surah 112, Al-Ikhlas, and Surah 109, Al-Kafiroon. He then returned to the corner (of the Kaaba, where the black stone is) and kissed it. He then left through the door nearer to the hill of Al-Safa.
“When he reached Al-Safa, he read: ‘Safa and Marwah are among the symbols set up by God. Whoever visits the Sacred House for Pilgrimage or Umrah, would do no wrong to walk to and fro between them. He who does good of his own accord shall find that God is most thankful, All-knowing’. (2: 158)
“He also said: ‘Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are two places which God has made sacred.’ He went first to Al-Safa and climbed up until he could see the Kaaba. He turned his face toward the qiblah and declared God’s oneness and glorified Him. He then said: ‘There is no deity other than God. He has no partners. To Him belongs the Kingdom as well as all praise. He is able to do everything. There is no deity other than God. He has fulfilled His promise, given victory to His servant and has defeated the confederate forces on His own.’ He also prayed to God. He repeated these phrases three times then descended toward Al-Marwah. When he was at the bottom of the valley (marked nowadays with two green lights) he started jogging. When we were again climbing up, he walked. When he arrived at Al-Marwah, he did there the same as he did at Al-Safa. He finished his sa’ie at Al-Marwah.”
Thus, there is nothing special to be done on the way to Makkah other than repeating the phrases of talbiyah. These make clear that offering the pilgrimage is dedicated to God alone, in response to his order stated in the Qur’an. Purity of faith is emphasized as God’s oneness and is repeated over and over again.
The mention of God’s support of His Messenger is a reference to the defeat of the allied forces of unbelievers who tried to annihilate the Muslim community, but they suffered a humiliating defeat without being fought by any human forces.
On arrival in Makkah, a pilgrim should offer the tawaf and the sa’ie. If he is doing his pilgrimage in the ifraad or qiran methods, these count as his tawaf of arrival and the obligatory sa’ie of pilgrimage. Indeed in the case of qiran, it counts for both the pilgrimage and the Umrah.
If the pilgrim opts for the tamattu’ method, which is the one preferred by the Prophet, these count for his Umrah and he releases himself from consecration immediately after he finishes these duties. We will discuss this further next week, God willing.
Adil Salahi