Nasir al-Din al-Tusi – Muslim Astronomer and Mathematician

In the Islamic history, we find various influential personalities, who have contributed immensely to the discipline of mathematics and science. One such influential name is Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. He was born in the 1201 CE, in Tus, which lies close to Meshed in north-eastern Iran. He was educated mainly at a religious establishment, which was supplemented by other subjects taught by his uncle.

Throughout his life, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi focused on such subjects as logic, physics and mathematics. At an early age, he moved to Nishapur, where he studied philosophy, medicine and mathematics. While in Nishapur, he gained the reputation of being an outstanding scholar and became well-known throughout the area.

He wrote a major astronomical treatise called, “Memoir on Astronomy.” In this book, he described a new model of lunar motion, and an invention of new geometric technique called “Tusi-couple” which generated linear motion from the sum of two circular motions. This technique was widely used by all the later astronomers including Copernicus.

One of al-Tusi’s most important mathematical contributions was the creation of trigonometry as a mathematical discipline in its own right, rather than just a tool for astronomical applications.

Al-Tusi wrote extensively on the subject of biology, and he was one of the first to advance the theory of biological evolution. He gave an explanation and argument to say that plants, then animals and then humans evolved; he also argued that heredity and variability were important factors for biological evolution. He gave this idea 600 years before Darwin. However, as opposed to Darwin, he presented his idea based on the Islamic philosophy that Allah (swt) created the world and then His creation developed under His guidance.

Al-Tusi was a great astronomer and mathematician, who also made contributions in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, philosophy, medicine and theology.

Writer’s email: Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

The Day of Arafah

Arafah

Every day in Islam is important. But Allah (swt) has favoured some years, days and months over others. One such day is the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah, the Day of Arafah, on which the central rite of Hajj is carried out. On this day, all the pilgrims gather in one place, regardless of their colour, status and nationality, submitting to the commandment of Allah (swt). The blessings of this day are not limited to those who go for Hajj – everyone can benefit from them.

Two major historical events took place on the Day of Arafah.

In 9 AH, the Prophet (sa) performed his first and only Hajj. When he reached the valley of Arafah, Allah (swt) revealed to him that He has completed his religion. It is reported from Umar (rtam) that a Jewish man said to him: “O Ameer al-Mumineen, there is a verse in your Book, which you recite; if it had come to us, the Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar (rtam) asked: “Which verse?” He replied: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Maidah 5:3) Umar (rtam) said: “We know on which day and in which place that was revealed to the Prophet (sa). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.” (Bukhari and Muslim) All praise is for our Lord, Who has chosen for us a religion, which is perfect.

The second glorious event took place on the Day of Arafah way before we were even born. Allah (swt) with His immense capability brought the entire humanity to life and spoke to us. It is reported that Ibn Abbas (rtam) said: The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah (swt) took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’man, i.e., Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him, and then He addressed them: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes! We testify,’ lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers afortime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e. polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?’ (Al-Araf 7:172-173).” (Ahmad)

We testified that Allah (swt) is our true Lord, before we came into this world. We have already been programmed to believe in Allah (swt). This is why in times of hardship we call on only one God. We call it Fitrah – pure nature. Everyone is born upon Fitrah, and it reminds us of the oath we took in front of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) has given us Fitrah, in order for us to distinguish truth from falsehood, so that we may be guided. Since our Fitrah can change according to our social environment, Allah (swt) has given us other tools, which can help us adhere to the Straight Path.

These tools given to us by Allah include the Shariah – the Quran and the Sunnah – for enlightening our life and guiding us to Paradise. Thus, the people on the Straight Path get the best of this world and the Hereafter  – they are Arafallah, i.e., they recognize Allah (swt) and the oath they took.

The Day of Arafah is the day to renew our oath and repent to Allah (swt). According to a Hadeeth, Satan feels more belittled, humiliated and angry on the Day of Arafah than he does on any other day. (Malik) The reason for this is that on this day, Allah (swt) forgives all those who repent and renew their oath. The best Dua to recite on this day is:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ، وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah (swt) alone, He has no partner, His is the dominion and His is the praise and He is able to do all things.”

It is the day of forgiveness of sins and the day of freedom from Hellfire. Aisha (rtaf) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no day, on which Allah (swt) frees more people from the fire, than the Day of Arafah.” (Muslim)

In addition to this, fasting on the Day of Arafah is a Sunnah and expiates sins. When the Messenger of Allah (sa) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah, he said: “It expiates the sins of the previous year and that of the following year.” (Muslim) However, fasting on the Day of Arafah is recommended only for non-pilgrims, because it was not the practice of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to fast on the Day of Arafah during Hajj.

On the Day of Arafah, Allah (swt) is close to the believers. According to a Hadeeth, Allah (swt) draws close, and then He happily says to the angels: “What do these people seek?” (Muslim) And Allah (swt) forgives all of them.

It is also the day, which reminds us of the greatest gathering on the Day of Judgement, when the entire humanity shall stand in front of their Creator. In order to succeed on that day, follow your Fitrah and hasten to do good deeds by channelizing your intellect and desires towards the path illuminated by the Shariah.

What’s after Arafah?

On the Day of Arafah, people stand and prostrate before Allah (swt), invoking and supplicating only to Him, as there is no god, who deserves to be worshipped, except Him. They do not want the sun to set, because they want to make the most of these valuable hours. They feel close to Allah (swt), and their hearts fill with peace and contentment.

When the sun sets on this humbling day, the faces of these people glow with happiness and joy, due to the mercy and bounties of Allah (swt). It is stated in the Quran: “Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.” (Yunus 10:58)

They are happy because Allah (swt) responds to their call. They rejoice, because He forgives their sins and takes away sadness from their lives. They feel blessed, because Allah (swt) descends and comes close to the people of Arafah and talks of their magnificence in front of the angels.

After Arafah, the pilgrims head towards Muzdalifah. It is a place between Mina and Arafah.

The word Muzdalifah is derived from Zulfah, which means ‘being near and close’. The people feel very close to Allah (swt), as they are His guests. They are required to stay overnight at Muzdalifah, and even their sleeping is considered to be an act of Ibadah. Such is the reward of total submission to Allah (swt).

Then, the pilgrims pray fajr and set out for Mina before the sun rises.

These are basic rites of Hajj – each one has a meaning for both the pilgrims and the rest of the believers. Whoever magnifies and honours these rites by performing and perfecting them, in turn magnifies Allah (swt).

As mentioned earlier, the Day of Arafah is like the Day of Judgement – a stressful and critical time, when the doer of good will be waiting for the reward, and the doer of evil will be waiting for the punishment. Everyone will want to hear the good news from the angels that they have been purified and will blissfully dwell in Paradise forever, but the ones worthy of receiving this honour will be the Muttaqeen (possessors of Taqwa).

The day after Arafah, which is the day of eid, resembles the happiness and excitement of the people, who will enter paradise. It is the day of eating and drinking, and of joy and happiness. And this very celebration is an act of worship, because it a command from Allah (swt). He will tell the people entering Paradise: “Eat and drink at ease for that, which you have sent on before you in days past.” (Al-Haqqah 69:24)

It is the day, when we offer sacrifice for the sake of Allah (swt), which brings us closer to Him. Allah (swt) does not need our sacrifice, but He accepts it, appreciates it and gives us the best reward.

It is also the day of remembrance of our Lord – we should celebrate it by increasing the Dhikr of Allah (swt).

The purpose of Eid is to express our gratitude to Allah (swt), and to glorify and thank Him for all His blessings. It is a celebration for those, who strove to do the best, because Allah (swt) will reward them with the very best.

Following are some Sunnah practices to be performed on the day of Eid:

  • Say Takbeer whenever possible. The most common form of Takbeer is: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illalahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Walil-lahil Hamd.” (“Allah is the Greatest; Allah is the Greatest; there is no one worthy of worship except Allah; Allah is the Greatest and to Allah belongs all Praise.”)
  • Continue to recite the Takbeer three days after eid.
  • Adorn for the occasion (ladies in their homes only).
  • Pray Eid Salah; walk to the Masjid if nearby.
  • Take one route to the Masjid and take a different route back.
  • Offer sacrifice.

Following acts should not be done:

  • Fasting on the day of Eid.
  • Making up the missed prayer of Eid.
  • Offering Eid prayer at home.

All of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are very important. Try to engage in acts of worship to the best of your ability and continue to do so even after the ten days are over. This is what Allah (swt) requires from all of us.

Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives – Part 4

Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives

Verse 7

“And know that, among you there is the Messenger of Allah (sa). If he were to obey you (i.e. follow your opinions and desires) in much of the matter, you would surely be in trouble, but Allah has endeared the faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger [sa]) hateful to you. These! They are the rightly guided ones.” (Al-Hujurat 49:7)

In the previous verse, it was mentioned that whenever someone brings any news, we have to verify it before accepting it. In this verse, we are being informed about an exception. If Prophet Muhammad (sa) brings any news, those around him had to accept it without any process of verification. Likewise, if he did not practice something, then it was not supposed to be done either. ‘Among you’ in the above verse refers to the Sahabah, who were around the Prophet (sa).

Sometimes, the Sahabah wanted to perform extra worship. For instance, once in Ramadan, the Prophet (sa) prayed Qiyam-ul-Lail with the Sahabah. He prayed for a part of the night and then stopped. The Sahabah wanted to perform some more, so they went to the Prophet (sa) and asked, if it was possible to continue the prayer for the whole night. The Prophet (sa) informed them that the one, who has prayed the full prayer behind the Imam, will be rewarded for standing the entire night in prayer. This was his way of saying no to the Sahabah’s request. If he followed every suggestion that those around him gave, it would surely be troublesome and difficult for them. The Prophet (sa) was very kind. He could have heeded the suggestion given to him, but he did not.

The Sahabah were very interested in the kind of worship that was done by the Prophet (sa). Consider the following Hadeeth:

Anas (rtam) has reported: “Three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (sa) to inquire about the worship of the Prophet (sa). When they were informed, they considered their worship to be insignificant and said: ‘Where are we in comparison with the Prophet (sa), while Allah (swt) has forgiven his past sins and future sins?’ One of them said: ‘I shall offer Salah all night long.’ Another said: ‘I shall observe Saum (fasting) continuously and shall not break it.’ Another said: ‘I shall abstain from women and shall never marry.’ The Prophet (sa) came to them and asked: “Are you the people, who said such and such things? By Allah, I fear Allah (swt) more than you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fast and break it; I perform Salah and sleep at night and take wives. Whoever turns away from my Sunnah does not belong to me.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadeeth instructs us to do what the Prophet (sa) did, and to leave what the Prophet (sa) did not do. One should not think that they can do anything more than the Prophet (sa) – it is not possible.

Remember that the chains of narration of Ahadeeth were verified and scrutinized before being accepted. If an individual in the chain of narration was discovered to be a liar, no more Ahadeeth from him were accepted. This is again because no one was supposed to add anything or delete anything from the sayings of the Prophet (sa).

Now that we no longer have the Prophet (sa) among us, this command applies to us in terms of accepting Ahadeeth and Sunnah. We cannot give our own opinion on the Ahadeeth.

Note the reaction of the Sahabah, when the Prophet (sa) did not accept their suggestion. What did they do? Did the Prophet’s (sa) rejection of their suggestion turn them away from Islam? Of course not! It did not affect them in any way, because faith was firmly entrenched in their hearts. They were happy and content with Islam itself, and they accepted anything and everything that was done by the Prophet (sa). Their hearts were stable upon firm faith.

For us, the lesson is to remain firm upon faith even when we are overcome with trials and tribulations. Let’s move on to the next part of the verse, which states:

“…Allah has endeared the faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts…” (Al-Hujurat 49:7)

The Arabic word for endearment or love is Hubb. The following diagram explains the meaning of Hubb.

QuranInsights1

Essentially, it means that Allah (swt) puts faith in your heart and gradually enables you to love it. You cannot force your heart to love Islam or the faith. It’s only from Allah (swt), Who makes you love the faith!

Love in your heart is like a seed. You plant a small seed in your heart. Then Allah (swt) nurtures it and enables it to grow gradually, till it becomes big and beautiful with fruits and flowers. One needs to take good care of faith in the heart, similar to the way we take care of seeds in the garden. Our hearts need to be watered with the rain of knowledge and guidance, so that they can blossom into a fruit-bearing tree. One should also supplicate: “O Allah, make my heart love the faith.” Ameen!

Acceptance or belief in the heart plus good deeds based on the five pillars of Islam highlight the extent of one’s faith. Faith grows and nurtures inside the heart, but is manifested through one’s actions. One should worry, first and foremost, about one’s heart. Once the heart is on track and the love in one heart’s is well-nourished, the rest (in terms of action) will follow.

What urges the believer (because all verses of this Surah are addressed to the believers) to follow all the rules given by Allah (swt) in this Surah?

  • Loving the faith.
  • Beautifying the faith in the heart.

We need to thank Allah (swt) for all His bounties and provisions. When Allah (swt) enables you to do good, you need to be grateful to Allah (swt) for putting you in situations that He loves, for example, praying. When you feel that good deeds or acts of worship are difficult for you, this should make you fear that Allah (swt) did not want the deeds from you or would not accept them from you. You need to supplicate a lot. Even if you have the love of faith in your heart, always make Dua. You never know when your heart can change! You need the following triangle:

QuranInsights

Faith is a bird with a head and two wings. When you have all three, you can fly to Allah (swt). Your worship can fly to Allah (swt).

When Allah (swt) plants the seed of love for something in your heart, He also plants the seed of dislike for the opposite of the same. For example, music is not allowed, so you slowly begin to love listening to the Quran and beneficial lectures. At the same time, Allah (swt) plants the seed of hatred of music in your heart. Gradually, your love for music will turn into hate and become love for the good words!

“…and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger (sa) hateful to you…” (Al-Hujurat 49:7)

When Allah (swt) puts love in the heart, no one can remove it. Likewise, when He puts hate in the heart, no one can affect it. Allah (swt) puts the hatred of the following:

  • Disbelief (in terms of the heart),
  • Wickedness (in terms of actions),
  • Disobedience (in terms of actions).

The opposite of faith is not one word. It consists of three words. Those who love faith hate disbelief + wickedness + disobedience.

“…These! They are the rightly guided ones.” (Al-Hujurat 49:7)

Allah (swt) magnifies and honours them by referring to them as the only ones, who are taking the path of the rightly-guided. They love their faith, acquire knowledge and then act upon this knowledge. This entire Surah highlights deeds and acts of worship, along with behaviour and mannerisms to be implemented in the society. Its instructions are meant to be understood and implemented.

Verse 8

“(This is) a Grace from Allah and His Favour. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Al-Hujurat 49:8)

‘Favour’ means blessings, bonuses, bounties and favours. This should make a believer humble. One should not feel proud. Everything we do is a favour from Allah (swt). Some blessings for the believers include even the material things in life that will help them achieve Paradise, like children and money. Believers use these things to attain success in the Hereafter.

The last part of the verse specifies some of Allah’s (swt) names. He is All-Knowing. He knows who deserves what. Also, because He is the most Wise, He does everything according to perfect knowledge and wisdom.