Method of learning

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“Learning from those who have been on the journey before you can save you a lot of hurdles and help you deal with the inevitable, better equipped. We need to realise the importance of learning from those before us.”

Seeking knowledge is a highly rewarding venture. It is, however, very easy to become overwhelmed by the vast amounts of information that needs to be processed and digested. Here is an 8 step guide briefly discussing the basic requirements for a student of Deen or an aspiring Hafidh of the Qur’an:

  1. Constancy alongside moderation Continue reading

Role of Women in Islamic Education

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How does a woman fulfill her relationship with Allah Most High, and at the same time, also serve the community?

There are many extremes in this. For example, some people believe that women should not be educated at all; that they should be kept completely ignorant so that they don’t know anything beyond the basics of their faith. This is completely rejected by our deen. Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, for example, compiled the famous work Bahishti Zewar and aimed it particularly toward women. The comprehensiveness of the book suggests it is a work that ought to live on the bookshelf of every home and used as a guidance for every aspect of a woman’s (and indeed her family’s) life. Indeed, such is the usefulness of the book that it is not uncommon to find muftis using Bahishti Zewar as a reference point nowadays.

There is the other extreme, too. Continue reading

How to Safeguard Your Time

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The great tābi‘ī, Hasan al-Basri rahimahullāh once said:

O son of Ādam! You are but (a collection of) days: when a day goes, a part of you goes.

A day that has passed will never return. Every morning at sunrise the day says:

Whoever is able to do some good should do it, for I will never return to you.

Just think! Our childhood days have passed; for many their youth has passed; others have reached old age and are waiting only for death to come. Allāh ta‘ālā says:

…Indeed, when the term appointed by Allāh comes, it cannot be delayed… (71:4) Continue reading

“We follow only the Qur’an and Sunnah”

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by Muhammad Haq (Haq)

Sitting in the mosque board meeting, as one issue after another was raised, I’ll confess it was difficult not to drift into my own thoughts. However, one issue was raised that caught my attention that was, perhaps not surprisingly, the issue of finance and fundraising: the mosque needed funds for refurbishing the ablution (wuḍu) area. Without much progress being made, I identified a possible source, although it was not problem-free. The source I suggested had a large proportion earned from unlawful sources; however, there was an opinion within Fiqh (jurisprudence), which allowed the utilisation of such funds for public good (maslaḥa).1 This objection was fairly raised by some, but as I started to explain how there was a scholarly opinion – “Forget the scholars!! We only follow the Qur’ān and Sunnah,” shouted a fellow member, Continue reading

The Correct Meaning of the Statement “When a Hadīth Is Authentic, It Is My Opinion”

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By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah
Translated by Muntasir Zaman

Before concluding the first cause of difference, it is necessary to discuss two doubts that dwell in the minds of many people:

The statement, “When a Hadīth is authentic, it is my opinion”
The authenticity of a Hadīth is sufficient to practice upon it
The first doubt is put forth as follows:

Imām al-Shāfī‘ī mentions, “When a Hadīth is authentic, it is my opinion.’ Hence, if we come across an authentic Hadith in Sahīh al-Bukhārī, for example, in a particular issue and we practice according to that Hadīth, then we have practiced upon an established Sunnah and according to a reliable school of jurisprudence. Moreover, it is incorrect to confine the madhhab of Imām al-Shafi‘ī to what is written in the works of his school of jurisprudence because, based on his own statement, any authentic Hadith will also form part of his madhhab.”

The answer is that the statement “When a Hadīth is authentic, it is my opinion” has been recorded from scholars besides Imām al-Shāfi‘ī. Rather, this is the mute expression of every Muslim who understands the meaning of the statement, “there is none worthy of worship besides Allāh, and Muhammad is His messenger.” Continue reading

Women’s Mosque? Women’s Empowerment?

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The Women’s Mosque of America has started operations in Los Angeles. It is not a mosque per se, but the name of a non-profit organization. It began with holding female only Jumuah prayers, in an old synagogue with Stars of David etched on the stained glass windows. The decision to use this venue was made to “promote peace.”

Creating a separate space for Muslim women is a noble idea. Unfortunately the organizers chose the one event for this project for which it has no basis in the Shariah. Muslim women are not required to offer Jumuah. Continue reading

Aside

Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze

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What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.

There is a group of practices that we can consider as the twin sister of bid’ah. Like bid’ah they flourish on the twin foundations of ignorance and outside influence. Like bid’ah they entail rituals. But unlike bid’ah the rituals have not been given an Islamic face. They are followed because they are considered an acceptable cultural practice or the hottest imported “in” thing.

Most of those who indulge in them do not know what they are doing. They are just blind followers of their equally blind cultural leaders. Little do they realize that what they consider as innocent fun may in fact be rooted in paganism. That the symbols they embrace may be symbols of unbelief. That the ideas they borrow may be products of superstition. That all of these may be a negation of what Islam stands for.

Christianity tried to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. Its only success was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine’s Day

Consider Valentine’s Day, a day that after dying out a well deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this much is clear: Valentine’s Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BCE to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for “entertainment and pleasure”–until the next year’s lottery. Among other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the “sacred” thongs by these “holy men” was believed to make them better able to bear children.

As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did.

How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti-Islamic ideas and beliefs?

The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine’s Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a “lovers'” saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter.

Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine’s Day cards called— what else— valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth–when $5,000 was a lot of money–the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

It is the same story with Halloween, which has otherwise normal human beings dressing like ghosts and goblins in a reenactment of an ancient pagan ritual of demon worship. Five star hotels in Muslim countries arrange Halloween parties so the rich can celebrate the superstitions of a distant period of ignorance that at one time even included the shameful practice of human sacrifice. The pagan name for that event was Samhain (pronounced sow-en). Just as in case of Valentine’s Day, Christianity changed its name, but not the pagan moorings.

Christmas is another story. Today Muslim shopkeepers sell and shoppers buy Christmas symbols in Islamabad or Dubai or Cairo. To engage in a known religious celebration of another religion is bad enough. What is worse is the fact that here is another pagan celebration (Saturnalia) that has been changed in name —and in little else— by Christianity.

During joys and sorrows, during celebrations and sufferings, we must follow the one straight path — not many divergent paths.

Even the celebration considered most innocent might have pagan foundations. According to one account, in pagan cultures, people feared evil spirits – especially on their birthdays. It was a common belief that evil spirits were more dangerous to a person when he or she experienced a change in their daily life, such as turning a year older. So family and friends surrounded the person with laughter and joy on their birthdays in order to protect them from evil.

How can anyone in his right mind think that Islam would be indifferent to practices seeped in anti-Islamic ideas and beliefs? Islam came to destroy paganism in all its forms and it cannot tolerate any trace of it in the lives of its followers.

Further, Islam is very sensitive about maintaining its purity and the unique identity of its followers. Islamic laws and teachings go to extra lengths to ensure it. Salat is forbidden at the precise times of sunrise, transition, and sunset to eliminate the possibility of confusion with the practice of sun worship. To the voluntary recommended fast on the tenth of Muharram, Muslims are required to add another day (9th or 11th) to differentiate it from the then prevalent Jewish practice. Muslims are forbidden to emulate the appearance of non-Muslims.

A Muslim is a Muslim for life. During joys and sorrows, during celebrations and sufferings, we must follow the one straight path — not many divergent paths. It is a great tragedy that under the constant barrage of commercial and cultural propaganda from the forces of globalization and the relentless media machine, Muslims have begun to embrace the Valentines, the Halloween ghost, and even the Santa Claus. Given our terrible and increasing surrender to paganism the only day we should be observing is a day of mourning. Better yet it should be a day of repentance that could liberate us from all these days. And all this daze.

By Khalid Baig

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