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ISLAM SHEDS ITS IMAGE AS PURELY EASTERN RELIGION MUSLIMS IN THE WEST

June 18, 2009 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Current Islamic Articles

Article from “The Times”


converts in the industrial world because of its ability to adapt to Western life and shed its outdated image as a purely Eastern religion. That is the conclusion of academics studying the rise of Islam in the West.

Dr Graham Speake, of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, says Islam is not an East-West issue. “That suggests an `us and them’ attitude, which in these days of integrated society is no longer really applicable. Islam with Judaism and Christianity, is one of the great monotheistic faiths. They all share a great deal and have a lot to offer each other.

“Those of us who believe in any one of the three have come to realise that they are all equally valid and equally to be valued. So many of us have members of another faith living next door.”

Asaf Hussein, tutor in race education at the Open University, says Islam gives westerners a rare voice about the problems in their own society: “If they want a faith which gives them a participatory and active role, the choice is Islam. It places a very strong emphasis on social justice and empowers westerners to say: `This is not correct’.” Converts highlight the applicability of Islam. Nouria, 36 who converted in 1974, says: “It is always considered to be a religion of the Third World, of brown people, of Arabs. But Islam encourages the races to unite by allowing for the differences in culture: the food, the customs, the different ways of wearing Islamic dress. Malaysians are very quiet and delicate in their movements; Nigerians can be very loud and relaxed.”

Islam’s adaptability is most obvious in the varieties of Muslim dress. At a recent British conference for new Muslims there was only one chador in sight. A woman from rural Ireland wore a long sweater and a wool hat, the English had kept their Laura Ashley skirts and silk scarves Scots appeared in kilts and baggy tartan trousers. There was a range of accents to match.

“The idea now is for new Muslims to realise that they don’t have to renounce their Englishness, or whatever they are,” Maimuna, 39, a Londoner who converted in the early seventies, says.

She contrasts the new emphasis on the flexibility of Islam with the fever-pitch conformity of the previous generation. “I have never met any born Muslim women who have said, `I want to be downtrodden.’ But some of the very early converts did, they wanted to be martyrs.

“Some other groups were very rigid and sincere with a strict rule book. They didn’t believe in medicine or registration of marriage or putting the heating on in winter. They have mellowed now; none of them kept that pace of freneticness.”

Many westerners are initially attracted by aspects of Islamic culture; they cite the design of the mosques, the call to prayer and the beauty of the Arabic languages.

“Arabic is very musical, a wonderful language for expressing spiritual things,” Emira Topham says. “Saying `Praise be to God’ is much nicer in Arabic than English. I don’t think you can Anglicise everything.” But new Muslims are selective. As far as possible they incorporate Islam into their own cultural identities, protecting the faith against the non-islamic features of established Muslim communities.

“At first for a lot of British people there is a great temptation to be pseudo-Arab or pseudo-Pakistani because the ethnic presence is so strong,” Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher and author, says. “But there’s a big danger that they will interpret their culture as being Islamic.” Most converts are politically non-confrontational.

“In England you get side-tracked by it all, race relations, Hezbollah, Khomeini,” Maimuna says. “I used to wear my scarf in the Arab way and my colleagues found it frightening. They thought it meant hijacking and fundamentalism and `death to Rushdie’.”


HOLIDAY WAS THE TURNING POINT THE CONVERT

“When I had my first baby people said I was tying myself down, but I didn’t see it like that. For me it was liberating; one of the major life decisions was out of the way. Conversion was the same.

Emira (formerly Emma) Topham converted to Islam last month after being convinced by its emphasis on family values. Aged 26, she lives with her husband, three sons and five stepchildren in Swindon, Wiltshire. She was introduced to Islam in 1988 on a two-week trip to Morocco, at the end of the first year of a degree course in fine art.

Islamic art captivated her: “It was very strong and fresh, not just a superficial covering. She acquired some Muslim hosts and appreciated their tolerance, being bald and dressed in skimpy shorts.

The holiday was a turning point, academically and spiritually. Emira’s first year at college had coincided with a personal crisis brought on by unsettled childhood, during which she was transferred between countries, parents and grandparents. She arrived at college unprepared for coping alone, consumed with anger and unable to paint.

At the end of the first year she had no money, nowhere to live and was about to be kicked off her course. “I decided my relationship with my boy friend was based purely on sex and ended it by shaving off my hair. I was quite suicidal. The only thing that kept the lid on that was a lot of hashish and alcohol. I was thinking, what is the meaning of my life, what is the point?

She returned to college from Morocco inspired by Islamic art and the following February she met her future husband, Rasjid Topham, a musician and artist. He was 41, divorced with five children and had converted to Islam in 1973. Emira became pregnant, started painting again and researched a thesis on North African pattern.

Her son Lieth was born in November and Emira took her degree the following summer. She and Rasjid married but he never suggested that she convert; his own faith had taken a battering during the breakdown of his first marriage.

Family life was the deciding factor for Emira, who welcomed the value that Islam places on motherhood. She formally converted last month at the mosque in Regents Park, London, a process that “married up the inside and outside” and also benefited her family. “It changed something very positively for me and Rasjid. It creates more of a unity and makes it easier to establish Islamic guidelines in the home.”

Wearing the hijab (scarf) brought “tremendous freedom: she compares it to shaving off her hair. “When you’re bald people who would have been interested in you will be interested anyway. You feel more vulnerable but more open, and nicer to people.”

Emira had dabbled with Christianity. She attended a convent school—“I found its lack of warmth extraordinary”—and church with her Protestant grandparents. Neither enhanced her self-respect in the way that Islam has: “As a Muslim you stand before God rather than a priest. Everyone is equal.”


RADICAL DECISION TO FOLLOW NEW PATH PREJUDICE

Izzat Heath, 27, was an evangelical Christian studying at Birmingham Polytechnic before she converted to Islam. “Back then I believed without questioning the sources,” she said. “I once tried to convert a Muslim to Christianity and it backfired on me.”

Mrs Heath, who lives in Birmingham with her Pakistani husband and one- year-old son Muhammad said she was attracted by the “expansiveness” of Islam, which radically altered her concept of religion. “Islam catered for my suspicion that existence and God were so much bigger than Christians had painted them,” she said.

“There is no religion and non-religion; everyone is following a path or way of life. Muslims follow a sunna, the example of the prophet and his companions. Everybody follows a sunna. Look at people who follow pop groups. They read the fan magazines, they dress the same.”

“To marginalise people by saying `You’re religious and you do these funny things’ is not owning up to what you do. The problem is that people and their opinions tend to be measured by the liberal democratic yardstick which claims to be the norm.”

“Lots of people, including Muslims, seem to fall wide of that mark and then get labelled fundamentalist. I call some people fundamentalist liberals because they will not shift. I’m not suggesting that they should shift, just that they could recognise that they have a position as well.”

Like most converts, Mrs Heath says finding Islam was less a personal revolution than a formal recognition of her natural self.




>From “The Times”, London. November 9, 1993.

Lucy Berrington finds the Muslim faith is winning Western converts despite hostile media coverage.


SECURE IN SISTERHOOD

For many, the term “Muslim women” prompts images of beaten-up housewives chained to the stove, blinded by their veils, pregnant with sextuplets and frantic to be westernised.

To British women, whose glossy magazines recount tales of “honour killings and female circumcision, often wrongly identified with the Muslim faith, it seems inexplicable that Islam could be a rational choice. Female converts, they say, are either brainwashed, stupid or traitors to their sex.

Muslim women strongly reject such accusations. British converts are often strikingly well-educated. Dozens of the older women seem to be perpetual students, and are anxious to distinguish between genuinely Islamic behaviour and cultural diktats. The oppression of women, they say, is a political issue not a religious condition.

A recent interview in Vanity Fair quoted Fatima Mernissi, a leading Islamic scholar based in Morocco, thus: “You find in the Koran hundreds of verses to support women’s rights and perhaps four or five that do not. [The fundamentalists] have seized upon those four and thrown away the rest.”

Rabia Lemahieu-Evans, a Belgian convert, social anthropologist and postgraduate student at the Muslim College in London, feels Muslim law, the Sharia, should be re-examined in its modern context.

“The Prophet was a reformer of the 7th century,n she says. “It was a tribal society but he united people in a religious sense. He encouraged the emancipation of the slaves but, as in Judaism and Christianity, he did not outlaw it because perhaps society wasn’t ready. He did the same for women. He set things in motion but in the 20th century we need to look carefully at the historical circumstances.”

Muslim women are regularly asked to defend their faith. Many respond by questioning the alternatives.

“A woman in my office said, `At least I’m not a traitor to my sex’,” says Hassana, 39, who converted in 1988.

Her friend Nouria, 36, who converted in 1974 after finding some verses of the Koran in a dustbin, said: “Most of the women in this country are traitors to their sex. It’s almost as if we’ve been defeminised.” Both women are from Scottish Protestant backgrounds and live in London.

Hassana wears the hijab (the scarf) and has tried the veil: “It makes you feel very private, very safe. Your self-confidence gets boosted. You can be doing what you like under there. I’ve worn my personal stereo.”

The attraction of Islam for many converts is its premise of separate spheres; the different biological destinies of men and women. Many Westerners feel this smacks of discrimination but Muslims say the alternatives impose impossible demands. They define Western emancipation as “women copying men, an exercise in which womanhood has no intrinsic value.

Gai Eaton, information officer at the Regent’s Park Mosque, who came to Islam 40 years ago after a diplomatic career, says: “Whatever the I pattern of gender relationships in the Islamic world, women do have a dignity that on the whole they don’t have in the modern world. I think it springs from the awe in which the mother figure is held.” He quotes the Prophet: “Paradise is at my mother’s feet,” and cites a wealthy Arab living in London, exiled for life for mistreating his mother.

Many Eastern women are content with role differentiation because it ensures their status and power in their own spheres: the household, family and community. Iranian women can receive payment for breastfeeding their children.

“On television recently, they were discussing why women shouldn’t have the right to keep their own names on marriage,” says Nouria, who has an Egyptian husband and five children. “This is a right I got 1,400 years ago. Issues such as property, children and inheritance have all been settled, and it’s very finely tuned in the woman’s favour.” She cites arrangements for divorce, maintenance and child custody, and an Islamic `wages for housework’ school. She adds that in a sense men are just guests in their own homes: “My husband has to ask my permission before another man can stay in the house. This is my kingdom, my domain.”

Many Muslims contrast the status of women in Islam with what they see as the dismal plight of women in the West. They note that here women work full-time out of financial necessity, remaining lumbered with the housework and childcare. It is a puzzling version of emancipation.

Modern Muslims, they say, are not necessarily destined to be housewives. There is a demand in the community for their own social workers, lecturers, journalists and doctors. A female Muslim gynaecologist would make a good living.

Among the greatest advantages of Islam, which to many emphasises the failure of feminism, is its “sisterhood”. Converts find great mutual support among Muslim women, which reflects the wider community values of Islam. “There’s no such thing as a Muslim woman on her own,” Nouria says, “nor a single Muslim parent on her own. Nor a mentally ill woman on her own. If anyone with a commitment to Islam sees you in hijab and you’re suffering, they step in and help. That’s abnormal in Britain.”

According to Riffat Yusuf, 27, a London radio journalist who was born a Muslim, the community is the point. “Rather than the issue of `the Muslim woman’ its really about societal progression, moving on. The thing about `the Muslim woman’ is also the thing about `the Muslim family’ and `the Muslim community’.”

Nouria agrees. “I see no future in this country, the way its going,” she says. “It comes back to women. “Scratch any `new man’ and you find an old man trying to get out; men will always be the same. Women are changing much faster, but they are not trying to get what they want. Everything the feminist movement is aiming for, except abortion and lesbianism, we’ve got.”


THE SPREAD OF A WORLD CREED

Unprecedented numbers of British people, nearly all of them women, are converting to Islam at a time of deep divisions within the Anglican and Catholic churches.

The rate of conversions has prompted predictions that Islam will rapidly become an important religious force in this country. “Within the next 20 years, the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here,” says Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher at a Hull comprehensive and the author of a textbook guide to the Koran.

She says: “Islam is as much a world faith as Roman Catholicism. No one nationality claims it as its own.” Islam is also spreading fast on the Continent and in America.

The surge in conversions to Islam has taken place despite the negative image of the faith in the Western press. Indeed, the pace of conversions has accelerated since publicity over the Salman Rushdie affair, the Gulf war and the plight of Muslims in Bosnia. It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the widespread view in the West that Islam treats women poorly. In the United States, women converts out- number men by four to one, and in Britain they make up the bulk of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 converts, forming part of a Muslim community of 1 to 1.5 million. Many of Britain’s “new Muslims” are from middle-class backgrounds. They include Matthew Wilkinson, a former head boy of Eton who went on to Cambridge, and a son and daughter of Lord Justice Scott, the judge heading the arms-to-Iraq enquiry.

A small-scale survey by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester suggests that most converts are aged 30 to 50. Younger Muslims point to many conversions among students and highlight the intellectual thrust of Islam.

“Muhammad said, `The light of Islam will rise in the West’ and I think that’s whats happening in our day,” says Aliya Haeri, an American-born psychologist who converted 15 years ago. She is a consultant to the Zahra Trust, a charity publishing spiritual literature, and is one of Britain’s prominent Islamic speakers. She adds: “Western converts are coming to Islam with fresh eyes, without all the habits of the East, avoiding much of what is culturally wrong. The purest tradition is finding itself strongest in the West.”

Some say the conversions are prompted by the rise of comparative religious education. The British media, offering what Muslims describe as a relentless bad press on all things Islamic, is also said to have helped. Westerners despairing of their own society—rising crime, family breakdown, drugs and alcoholism—have come to admire the discipline and security of Islam.

Many converts are former Christians, disillusioned by the uncertainty of the church and unhappy with the concept of the Trinity and the deification of Jesus. Others are self-confessed idealists who did not go looking for religion but found an irresistible appeal in Sufi mysticism, which they describe as “the pearl within the shell of Islam”.

Some come to Islam through marriage, which partly explains the imbalance in the sex ratio of converts. It is easier for British women to meet Pakistani or Bangladeshi men than vice versa.

The idealism of the new Muslims is part of the inspiration to “reverts”, people born into immigrant Muslim families who are questioning the religious validity of their own lifestyles and re-examining their faith. The formal process of conversion is simple. The would-be Muslim showers, dresses in clean clothes, gathers some witnesses and says the Shahada, the testimony to God. But embracing Islam is not without problems. According to Batool Toma, 38, an Irish education officer for the Islamic Foundation who converted 14 years ago, converts often have to cope with initial isolation from their families, “who see conversion as a rejection and feel resentful. There’s a lot of fear and apprehension.” She also cites racist abuse which is particularly aimed at women, most of whom are marked out by the hijab (scarf). “Such a small piece of cloth can cause so much antagonism and aggression. You are immediately characterised as not British.” A quarter of the calls to the Muslim Women’s Helpline in London come from converts.

The new Muslims emphasise that the benefits of Islam far outweigh its drawbacks, and are at pains to address misconceptions about their faith. They say it is too often judged on its excesses, which are usually of political origin and unjustified by the Koran.

Converts are active in the Muslim Women’s Institute, a central body established in 1990. Its aims include increasing women’s political awareness and challenging the misconceptions of Western observers and the immigrant community about the rightful status of women in Islam. There are discussions among themselves about what form that rightful status takes, according to Rabia Lemahieu-Evans, a post-graduate mature student at the Muslim College in London, who converted when she was 18 and abandoned the hijab two years later. She says: “There is a debate going on, although some people try to deny it.”

QUEST OF THE CONVERT WHY CHANGE?

“There is no compulsion in religion,” new Muslims quote from the Koran, keen to challenge preconceptions that Islam spreads most simply by the sword. They say the only notable aspect of the pressure to convert is its absence.

Most Western converts are drawn to Islam through Sufism—the contemplative, mystical aspect of the faith.

Aliya Haeri, an American-born convert to Islam based in London, describes the process as “a search for God but not a religion”. She says: “Sufism has a great emphasis on discovering personal freedom, a metaphysical quest. The more practices I took on, the more refined and subtle they became, the more my behaviour changed. My diet improved, I gave up occasional late hours socialising and relationships that lacked any commitment. I was starting to live like a Muslim. People who know me from the past have seen the transformation.”

Other converts describe a long search for a religious identity. Many had previously been practising Christians but found intellectual satisfaction in Islam. “I was a theology student and it was the academic argument that led to my conversion,” Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher and author, said. She objected to the concept of original sin: “Under Islam, the sins of the fathers aren’t visited on the sons. The idea that God is not always forgiving is almost blasphemous to Muslims.”

Maimuna 39, was raised as a High Anglican and confirmed at 15 at the peak of her religious devotion. “I was entranced by the ritual of the High Church and thought about taking the veil.” Her crisis came when a prayer was not answered. She slammed the door on visiting vicars but travelled to convents for discussions with nuns. “My belief came back stronger, but not for the Church, the institution or the dogma.” She researched every Christian denomination, plus Judaism, Buddhism and Hare Krishna, before turning to Islam.

Many converts from Christianity reject the ecclesiastic hierarchy, emphasising Muslims’ direct relationship with God. They sense a lack of leadership in the Church of England and are suspicious of its apparent flexibility. “Muslims don’t keep shifting their goalposts,” says Huda Khattub, 28, author of The Muslim Woman’s Handbook published this year by Ta-Ha. She converted ten years ago while studying Arabic at university. “Christianity changes, like the way some have said pre-marital sex is OK if it’s with the person you’re going to marry. It seems so wishy-washy. Islam was constant about sex, about praying five times a day. The prayer makes you conscious of God all the time. You are continually touching base.”



The Status of Sunnah in Islam by Allama Al-Albaani

June 12, 2009 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Quran & Hadith

Praise be to Allah, Benediction and Peace be on the Messenger of Allah, his family, his companions, and his adherents.

This is a lecture which I delivered in the city of Doha, the capital of Qatar, in the blessed month of Ramadhan 1392 A.H. Some of my friends have suggested to me to publish my lecture on account of need of the Muslims to a work of its kind. In response to their request, I am printing it for general propagation on account of its advantage, having regard for the reminiscences and history. I have added some separate titles to assist the reader to collect the main ideas. I pray to Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious, to write me among those who defend the religion and those who help enact the law; and to reward me for it. Surely he is the most generous in responding to my prayer.

Damascus 22 Muharram-al-Haram 1394 A.H.

The Status of Sunnah in Islam:

A Declaration that it cannot dispense with The Qur’an

All Praise be to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides, none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His servant and His messenger.

O you who believe. Fear Allah truly, and don't die except in a state of Islam (3:102).

O Men fear your Lord who created you from one soul, and created its partner, and from them spread men and women in numbers. Take care, Allah will question you about it and the kinship. Surely, Allah is ever watchful of your deeds (4:1).

O those who believe. Fear Allah and say what is correct so that it fits you. He will forgive your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His messenger that is a great achievement (33:70-71).

The best of speech is the speech of Allah. That is The Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.

I do not think that I will be able to offer this high ranking assembly – especially when there are distinguished ulama (scholars) and professors present – some knowledge which has not been dealt with before. If what I think is true, I will rest contented that my address will be a reminder, as it says in the Qur’an Remind, for the reminder would benefit the believers (51:55).

I do not think that my talk in this blessed month of Ramadhan, the month of importance, is an exposition of something of its merits, rules and their practice, and the like, which generally the preachers and instructors touch on, on account of the benefit they give to the listeners, and procure for them good and blessing; but I have chosen my talk to be a study of a general nature, surely it is one of the roots of the Shari’ah (Islamic law). It is a declaration of the importance attached to the Sunnah in the Islamic law.

The Role of Sunnah Towards The Qur’an

You all know that Allah, The Blessed and Mighty, chose Muhammad (SAW) as His Prophet and picked him to deliver the final message. The Qur’an was revealed to him and commanded him to obey all what He had ordered him to do, that is, to expound His message to the people. Allah says, We have revealed to you the Reminder (The Qur'an) to expound to people what was revealed to them (16:44).

I think that the declaration mentioned in the verse contains two orders:

1. Declaration of the word and its arrangement. It is the communication of the Qur’an and its non-concealment, and its pursuit to Mankind just as Allah, The Blessed Almighty, has revealed to the heart of the Prophet (SAW) which is the intent of His saying O Messenger proclaim what is revealed to you from your Lord (5:67). Sayyida Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have said “Whosoever says that Muhammad (SAW) concealed something which he was commanded to communicate, is is a great calumny against Allah.” Then she read the abovementioned verse. (Bukhari and Muslim have stated it.)

And according to the narration of Muslim: “If the Messenger of Allah (SAW) had concealed something which he was commanded to communicate, he would have concealed the saying of The Almighty

Behold thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: Keep your wife to yourself and fear Allah. But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest; you did fear the people, whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him (33:37).

2. The explanation of the meaning of the word or sentence or verse for which man needs an explanation, most of which bear reference to ‘Mujmal’ (comprehensive) verses or ‘Amah’ (general) verses or ‘Mutlaq’ (unbounded) verses.

Then comes the Sunnah and clarifies the sentences and specifies the verses called ‘Amah’ and defines what is ‘mutlaq’ that is, in refernce to the saying (Qaul) of The Prophet (SAW), his deed (Fi’l) and the act he confirmed (Iqrar).

The necessity of Sunnah to understand The Qur’an and Parables on that

Allah says The male thief and female thief cut off their hands (5:38) is a fitting example of that. The thief in it is general like the hand.

The oral tradition explains the first of them and restricts it by ‘as-sareq’ (the thief) who steals something worth a fourth of a Dinar according to the saying of the Prophet (SAW) There is no cutting – of the hand – unless the thing stolen is worth a fourth of a Dinar or more (Bukari & Muslim) the two shaikhs have recorded this Hadeeth.

Again, the other is explained by the action of the Prophet (SAW) or the action of his companions and his confirmation. They used to cut the hand of the thief from the wrist as is known in the work of Hadeeth. The oral tradition explains the hand mentioned in the verse on Tayammum (dust ablution) And rub therewith your faces and hands (5:6) is also the palm of the hand as is stated in a Hadeeth Tayammum is the wiping of the face and the hands recorded by the two shaikhs and Ahmad and others from a tradition reported by Ammar bin Yasir (may Allah be pleased with them).

There are other verses that cannot be completely understood except through Sunnah. They are:

1. It is whose who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong, 'dhulm' that are (truly) in security for they are on (right) guidance (6:82).

The companions of the Prophet (SAW) understood the word ‘dhulm’ in its general sense to mean every wrong doing, even if it be little. On this account the verse is regarded as dubious and they said, “O Messenger of Allah, which of us did not involve his faith with obscurity?” He (SAW) said;

It is not that. It is only the ‘shirk’. Have you not heard what Luqman said: Verily, 'shirk' is a very great sin (dhulm) (31:13). The two shaikhs have recorded it with others.

2. Allah says: When you travel on earth, there is no blame on you to shorten your prayer, for fear the unbelievers will persecute you (4:101). It is obvious from this verse that fear is a pre-requisite for the shortening of prayers. Some of the Prophet’s companions asked him: “Why do we shorten our prayers while we feel safe?” He said: It is a charity from Allah, so accept it (Muslim).

3. Allah says: The carcass and it's blood are forbidden to you (5:3). In explanation of this verse, the corpse of locusts, fish, the livers, spleen of blood are lawful. So the Prophet (SAW) said: He has made two dead things and blood lawful: the locusts and the fish, the liver and the spleen.

Baihaqi and others have recorded it as ‘marfu’ type of hadeeth as also ‘mauquf’ type. The ‘isnad’ od ‘mauquf’ is authentic and it is as good as ‘marfu’ tradition, since it is not stated in the form of a ‘ra’y’ (decision based on one individual’s judgement not on Qur’an and Sunnah).

4. Allah says: I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any (food) forbidden to be taken by one who wishes to, unless it is dead meat or blood poured forth or the flesh of swine, for it is an abomination, or what is impious (meat) on which a name has been invoked other thatn Allah's (6:145).

The Sunnah has forbidden many things not mentioned in the verse mentioned above, as for example in the saying of the Holy Prophet (SAW): All predatory animals with tusk and every bird with claw are forbidden for consumption. There are other traditions which have forbidden the consumption of such animals as the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said on the Day of Khayber: Allah and His Messenger have prohibited the consumption of domesticated asses, for they are filth. The two shaikhs have reported it.

5. Allah says: Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants, and the things clean and pure (which he has provided for sustenance) (7:32).

The Sunnah, too, has forbidden some adornments, and this is evident from the Prophet (SAW) who is reported to have met some of his companions, and had a silk garment in one hand, and gold in the other, and said: These are prohibited to Muslim males, lawful to females. The hadeeths in their interpretation are many and well known in both the authentic collections of hadeeths, and others and the like of many examples well known to scholars familiar with hadeeth and Islamic Jurisprudence.

From what has been stated above, O Muslim Brethren, you can see the importance attached to Sunnah in Islamic Law. When we divert our intention again to the examples mentioned beside others not mentioned, we are certain that there is no way to understand the Qur’an correctly except in association with the interpretation of the Sunnah.

In the first example, the understanding of the ‘sahabah’ of ‘dhulm’ mentioned in the verse is on its general sense, despite the fact that the (Allah be pleased with them) were, as stated by Ibn Mas’ud: “The best of this community, most pious, profound in learning, least of dissimulation.” Yet with all that they erred in their understanding of that.

Were it not for the Prophet (SAW), who held them back from their mistaken notion, and made them take the step in the right direction in that the correct meaning of ‘dhulm’ in the context is shirk (association of partnership with Allah), we too would have followed in their wrong thinking. Allah, The Blessed and The Most High saved us from that wrong notion by the grace of the right direction of the Prophet (SAW) and his Sunnah.

In the second example – with Allah’s guidance – if not for the hadeeth mentioned above, we would have been in doubt at least with regard to the shortening of prayer (qasr-as-salat) during a journey while secure – if we did stipulate the condition of fear as obvious in the verse – till the companions saw the Prophet (SAW) shorten the prayers when it was safe and secure.

In the third example, if not for the hadeeth, we would have forbidden ourselves the consumption of good things made lawful to us: locusts, fish, liver, and the spleen.

In the fourth example, if not for the hadeeths, some of which we have mentioned, we would have considered lawful what Allah has made unlawful through the dictum of the holy Prophet (SAW) like predatory animals, and the birds which have claws.

And so in the fifth example, if not for the hadeeths in regard to this question, we would have considered lawful what Allah prohibited through the words of His Prophet (SAW) like gold and silk.

It is for this, some forbearers (as-salaf) say that ‘Sunnah’ pronounces judgement of The Book (al-Qur’an).

The Deviation of those who are satisfied with The Qur’an to the exclusion of Hadeeth

It is a matter of regret that according to the interpretation found in the works of some commentators and moders authors, that it is permissible to do what is stated in the last two examples: Consumption of the predatory animals and the waearing of gold and silk by referring their interpretation only to the Qur’an.

Today, a sect exists called “Quranites” who comment according to their whims and fancies; without seeking the explanation of the authentic Sunnah. They only accept and follow the Sunnah which suit their desires, the rest they throw behind. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that: None of you reclines on his bed, the order comes to him on an affair which I am commanded to do or not to do. He says: “I don’t know, what is found in The Book of Allah we follow” (Tirmithi). According to another report: What is found in The Book of Allah as ‘Haram,’ we pronounce it ‘haram’ (forbidden). Surely, I am given The Qur’an and its example with it. Yet, according to another report: What the Messenger of Allah has forbidden, Allah has prohibited it.

It is a matter of regret that one renowned scholar has written a book on Islamic law and its dogma, and in its preface, he says that he has written it and that he has made reference only to The Qur’an.

This true hadeeth gives positive evidence that the divine law of Islam – As-Shari’ah – is not merely Qur’an, but Qur’an and Sunnah. Therefore, whoever holds fast to one source for reference to the exclusion of the other, he held fast to neither of them, since both complement each other. The Qur’an says Whoever obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. Allah says, No, by your Lord they do not believe until they submit to your adjucation in all disputes between them, then they do not find themselves oppressed with your decisions and they completely submit (4:65). Again, Allah says When a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, it does not behove a believer, man or woman, to have choice in their matter. One who disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path (33:36). Furthermore, Allah says What the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it (59:7).

In connection with this verse, I am marvelled by what is corroborated by Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that is, a woman came to him and told him, “You who says: May Allah’s curse be on ‘Al-Namisat’ and ‘Al-Motanamisat’ and those who tattoo.” He said “Yes.” She said, “I read the Book of Allah (Al-Qur’an) from beginning to its end. I did not find what you have said. He told her, “If you have read it, you would have found it. As for your reading what the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it.” She said, “Certainly.” He said, “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say May Allah’s Curse be on the Al-Namisat.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Inadequacy of Philology to understand The Qur’an

From what has been stated above, it is clear that there is no scope for anyone with all his Arabic Scholarship to understand the glorious Qur’an, without the help of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), his sayings and actions.

The companions of the Prophet (SAW) were the most knowledgeable in the language, which The Qur’an was revealed in, when it was not blemished by the incorrectness of the common folks knowledge or their grammatical mistakes. Yet, they erred in understanding the verses quoted above when they relied on language alone.

It is self-evident that a man well-informed of the Sunnah is more appropriate to understand The Qur’an and deduce the rules from it than one who is ignorant of it. How can it be a source to one who does not reckon it and does not make reference to it?

For this reason, it is part of the rules agreed upon that Qur’an should be interpreted by the Qur’an itself as welll as the Sunnah, then by the sayings of the Sahabah… etc.

It is here that the cause of deviation of scholastic theologians (Ahlu-el-Kalam) become clear, both ancient and modern, and their opposition to the forbears ‘As-salaf’ (May Allah be pleased with them) in their doctrines not to speak of their laws. They are far from Sunnah, and knowledge of it, and rely on their intelligence and desires to decide on the verses of attributes and others.

What is best is what was written down in the exposition of Tahawi’s doctrine (page 212 Fourth Edition):

When one is not well-informed of The Book and Sunnah, what would he say about the Fundamentals of Religion (usulu-d-din)? He only receives the assertion of someone. If he says that he takes it from The Book of Allah, he does not study the commentary of The Qur’an on the basis of prophetic traditions, and reflects over it, nor what the companions (Sahabah), and the following generations narrated, which is transmitted to us from the authorities whom the critics chose. They have not transmitted the system and arrangement of The Qur’an, but its poetic expression and meaning. They did not learn the Qur’an like children, but studied it with meaning. One who does not follow in their footsteps, speaks on his own accord. One who does that thinks it be the religion of Allah, and does not study The Book of Allah, he sins, even if he is right.

One who studies The Qur’an and The Sunnah, he is rewarded, even if he goes wrong, but if he is right in his opinion, his reward is doubled. Then he says:

What is obligatory, is submission to the Messenger (SAW) carrying out his saying and accepting his saying with satisfaction and belief without contradicting it with false ideas called ‘opprehensive faculty’ (Ma’qul) bearing doubt or complaint, or offering the opinions of men and the garbage of their intellect. We unite with The Prophet (SAW) in judgement, submission, obedience and compliance, just as we have unison with Allah, glory be to Him, by worshipping Him by humility, submissiveness, repentance and reliance.

In short, what is obligatory on all MUslims is that they do not separate between Qur’an and Sunnah; whereas, it is obligatory to take both of them and to formulate the law on both of them.

This is a safeguard for them, so that they won’t fall right or left; and that they won’t fall back in error as explained by The Prophet (SAW): I leave behind me two things. You will never go astray if you hold fast to them: The Qur’an and my Sunnah.

CAUTION !!!

It is self-evident after this that I say:

The Sunnah which has an important bearing on Islamic Law is only the Sunnah confirmed by scientific channels, and authentic chains of narrations known to the learned in regard to hadeeths and the background of the narrators.

It is not the one which is found in different works of Tafseers (commentaries of The Qur’an) and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), and in different writings of longing, intimidation, advices, and admonitions, etc…

They contain weak, spurious, and fabricated hadeeths, of which Islam absolves, like the story of ‘Harut and Marut,’ and the sotry of ‘gharanik.’ I have a special letter which makes it void and it is printed. A major part of it is recorded in two huge books namely “A chain of weak and fabricated hadeeths and their evil impact on the community.” Their number up to date have reached approximately four thousand hadeeths.

It is obligatory on the learned, especially those who spread the knowledge of fiqh and legal opinions among the public, that they shouldn’t dare to argue with hadeeth unless it is well-attested. Books of jurisprudence, which they refer to, are normally filled with traditions which are not well-attested, nor have any bases, as is well-known to the learned.

I have begun an important project, and I think it will be of use to those occupied with jurisprudence, and I will name it: “Weak and Fabricated Hadeeths in the Major Jurisprudence ‘fiqh’ Books,” by which I mean:

1. Al-Hidayah, by Al-Marghinani, in Hanafi fiqh,

2. Al-Modawwanah, by Ibnil-Qasim, in Maliki fiqh,

3. Sharhul-wajeez, by Al-rafiee, in Shafiee fiqh,

4. Al-Mughni, by Ibn Quddamah, in Hanbali fiqh, and

5. Bidayatul Mujtahid, by Ibn Rushd-al-Andalusi, in comparative fiqh.

I regret that I did not get the opportunity to finish it, because the journal “Al-Wa’e-al-Islami” of Kuwait which promised to publish it, when perused it, didn’t print it.

Although I missed this opportunity, perhaps I will succeed on another occasion, Allah willing, to offer to my bretheren occupied with jurisprudence a precise learned course to help them to facilitate their knowledge of the different categories of hadeeth with reference to various sources from books on hadeeth, with an explanation of its special nature and character and reliance on them. Allah is the source of success.

Weakness of Hadeeth of Muadh in the opinion And its disapproval

Before I conclude my talk, I think I must direct the attention of brethren present to a well known hadeeth. It is devoid of one of the books of jurisprudence on account of its weakness in respect of its chain of narration (isnad) and its contrdiction with what we have concluded in this talk, regarding the illegitimacy of discrimination in law between The Qur’an and Sunnah; and the necessity of taking both.

It is a hadeeth of Muadh bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (SAW) said to him when he sent hin to Yaman: By what source will you decide? He said, “By the book of Allah.” He then asked, If you don’t find any guidline? He said, “I will make an effort to form my own opinion.” He said, Praise be to Allah who makes success the effort of the envoy of the Messenger of Allah, to what The Prophet likes.

As for the weakness of its ‘isnad,’ there is no scope for its explanation now. But I have explained it clearly in the above mentioned chain.

It would suffice now to mention that the Commander of the Believers in the hadeeth ‘Imam Al-Bukhari’ (may Allah have mercy on him) says that the hadeeth is not recognized (munkar). After this I am permitted to begin to explain the conflict which I pointed.

The tradition of Muadh gives the ruler a method of three stages which does not permit to search for any rule with regard to ‘Ra’e’ (personal opinion) except that he does not find it in the Sunnah, nor in the Sunnah, except that after he does not find it in The Qur’an. It is in relation to ‘Ra’e’ a genuine method with all the learned (ulama), so that they say, “Where there is a tradition relating the deeds and utterances of The Prophet (SAW), personal opinion is void.” But in relation to Sunnah, it is not true, because Sunnah dictates The Qur’an and and clarifies its doctrines. It is then essential to search for a ruling in Sunnah, even if he thinks it is found in The Qur’an as we have mentioned it.

Sunnah is not with The Qur’an in the same manner as ‘Ar-Ra’e’ with the Sunnah. No, definitely not. It is rather necessary to regard the Qur’an and Sunnah as being one source with no discrimination between the two whatsoever. This is indicatied in a saying of the Prophet (SAW): Certainly I have come with The Qur’an and its like (meaning the Sunnah). He said They are never separated until they come to the Basin (9). The compilation mentioned between them is not correct because the separation between them is void as we have explained.

This is what I wish to draw attention to. If I am right, it is from Allah; if wrong, it is from me. I ask Allah Almighty to protect us and you from errors and from all that displeases him. I conclude my praising by “Al-Hamdu-lillahi rabbil-alameen” – Praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds.


Service is worship

June 09, 2009 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Other Profile

Some people say that “service is worship” that, “if God serves us, why should we not serve Him? We should give honor to the name of God Almighty by serving His creatures. Worship is useless without the  service to our fellowmen, God works through His people living  in this world”.

But the question is: what is the correct way to serve Allah and His creation? And how can we  love, serve and utilize the sick humanity and participate in their pain, trouble, affliction and sadness?

Really, it is the way that Allah Almighty revealed on his most sacred and pious persons i.e. the Holly Prophet (May Peace and Mercy of Allah be upon them) and that is Islam , as Allah Ordains, “Lo; religion with Allah(is) The Surrender those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves,”(Ale-Imran:19)

Islam is a religion of love, peace, forbearance and piety, It teaches us to love and serve God and His creation, It reveals that God loves those who love mankind. It teaches us to love and serve God and His creation. It also reveals that God is the true and sincere friend of human being  and Lives with him  all the time. And, when he calls his true friend from the depth of his heart , be he is a sinner or a pious man, rich or poor, he receives a reply at once.

Almighty Allah Says in the Holy Quran,”and if they turn away, then know that Allah is your Befriender-a-transcendent patron, a transcendent Helper!”(Al-Infal: 40) and, when My servants question thee concerning Me then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they maybe led aright,”(The Cow:186)

To serve Allah and His creation, Islam presents two ways, Huqooq-Allah and Huqooqul-Ibad (rights of Allah and rights of His servants) .To serve Allah by paying His rights and to serve human being by paying his rights; is the real worship. Every two ways are explained well in the light of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) i.e. the good example of him.

The holy Prophet (PBUH) said that “feed the people who are hungry, give water to those who are thirsty and serve your parents. He also said,” there are five rights of a believer on the other believer that:=

(1) when he meets him, he say Salam to him.

(2) If he invites him to the meal, then he should accept his invitation.

(3) If he ask from him any consultation (for business,or  another issue,), then he should give him the proper consultation.

(4) If he falls ill, then he should go to inquire after his health.

(5) If he dies, then he should offer his funeral. (Al-Mishkat-tul-Masabeeh)

In short, service will becomes real worship whin we pay the rights of Allah Almighty and His slaves.