The First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

Vol 5 - Issue 3 The first ten days of Dhul-HajjOfaira Ateeq Husain shares with us the suggestions of Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid.

Allah (swt) has preferred some times of the year over others in the sense that the rewards for good deeds done during these periods get multiplied many times. This encourages His servants to do more righteous deeds and worship Him more, in order to prepare themselves for death and the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Being laid-back is best in every matter except for good deeds.” (Abu Dawood & Al-Hakim)

Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah (swt) has preferred over all the other days of the year. These days, which include the Day of Arafah and Eid Al-Adha, bring Muslims an opportunity to correct their faults and make up for any shortcomings.

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days” The people asked: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing.” (Bukhari)

It is indeed a great mercy of Allah (swt) that the blessings of Hajj spill over also to those, who are not making the pilgrimage but are fasting on Dhul-Hijjah 9, the Day of Arafah. On this day, also known as the Waqfah (standing), the pilgrims stand on and around the Mount of Mercy to ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. When the sun sets on that day, all their past sins are forgiven. If those, who are not making Hajj, fast on that day, the sins of two years (the past and the coming one) are forgiven. (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days more loved by Allah (swt) for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year, and offering Salatul Tahajjud (late night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power (i.e., Lailatul Qadr).” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi)

In this season, the roads leading to goodness are numerous, so we must not miss out on any of them. Allah (swt) has given us many ways, in which to do good deeds and worship Him. Among the good deeds, which a Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:

1. Salah. A guided slave of Allah (swt) would supply himself with optional Salah during these ten days, because it is a path to goodness and something that Allah (swt) loves. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Salah is the best thing that one can do, so perform as many as you possibly can.” (At-Tabarani) He (saw) also said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Salah, reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered.” (Al-Bayhaqi and others)

2. Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. Hunaydah Ibn Khalid quoted some of the wives of the Prophet (sa) as saying: “The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Ashurah, on three days of each month and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (An-Nisa’i, 4/205)

3. Takbir. During the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, it is Sunnah to say Takbir, Tahmid, Tahlil, and Tasbih loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place, where it is permitted to remember Allah (swt) and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah (swt). Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.

Allah (swt) says: “That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e., reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade), and mention the name of Allah on appointed days (i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah), over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice).” (Al-Hajj 22:28)

Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La Ilaha Ill-Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Al-Hamdu Lillah).” (Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shakir stated that it is Saheeh)

4. Performing Hajj and Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (swt). The one, whom Allah (swt) helps to offer Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly, is included in the words of the Prophet (sa): “An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

5. Doing more good deeds in general. This is because good deeds are beloved by Allah (swt) and earn one a great reward. Whoever is not able to offer Hajj should occupy himself during this blessed time with acts of worship, reading the Quran, remembering Allah (swt), making supplications, giving in charity, showing dutifulness to parents, maintaining the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil and other good deeds and acts of worship.

6. Sacrifice. Offering a sacrificial animal is also among the most virtuous deeds that one can perform. The Prophet (sa) said: “He, who does not offer a sacrifice while being financially able to, let him not come close to our Masjid (i.e. pray with us).” The Sunnah also indicates that the one, who wants to offer a sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha, must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (sa) said: “When the ten days (Dhu’l-Hijjah) have begun and one of you intends to offer a sacrifice, then let him not cut any of his hair or remove anything from his skin.” (Muslim)

In another narration, he (saw) said: “Let him not cut anything from his hair or nails until he sacrifices.” (Ad-Darimi)

7. Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (swt) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Take advantage of these virtuous deeds, beware of laziness and neglect and know that Allah (swt) has favoured certain days over others. Let us use these opportunities and increase our righteous deeds. May Allah (swt) forgive us our sins and shortcomings, Ameen.

Making Sense of the Danish Cartoon Issue

By Maimoona Tariq

The issue has sparked a lot of debate, bitter feelings, protests and even violence. An obscure newspaper in Denmark has spread worldwide contention and acrimony leading to repercussions on the international politics. There is a need to come up with a peaceful resolution acceptable to all.

For the entire Muslim community, Prophet Muhammad (sa) is a role model and epitomizes the essence of Islam. It is obligatory on a Muslim to protest against those, who malign his name.

Those Muslims, who have resorted to violence, have only increased anger, hatred and embitterment. This method of protest is not supported either by the Quran or the Sunnah.

Ironically, this Danish cartoon publication and the response it caused manifest intense feelings of racism. The cartoons simply portray the Western perception of Muslims, while violence by Muslims reciprocates with a similar sentiment. There is no effort on either side to avoid causing offense to the other.

Activities of a few members of a religion cannot be used to generalize that this religion is preaching disorder. Instead of imposing their uninformed opinion about Prophet Muhammad (sa), Danish newspapers should have done their homework on the actual teachings of the Prophet (sa). Many non-Muslims have studied his life and have given a positive feedback. In his book on 100 the most influential people in history, Michael Harte has ranked the Prophet (sa) as the first!

Freedom of speech should not be used as a license to offend others or spread bigotry. It should be a tool for voicing the truth and speaking up against injustice. Muslim media does not malign venerated figures of other religions; thus, it has the right to protest against the humiliation of the Prophet (sa).

Although Western newspapers are publishing cartoons on Christianity, this practice should not be so easily applied to other religions. Muslims do not have pictures of the Prophet (sa), as Christians have of Christ. Muslims do not make movies about apostles and do not use their names in satire. Their respect is compulsory. Danish newspaper has not only crossed the boundaries of another religion, but also done something prohibited in that religion. The newspaper cartoons, which continued over a total of twelve issues, were a source of a tremendous heart sore for the entire Muslim community.

In Christian society, censorship still prevails; yet, the freedom of speech is lauded, as if it is the only concept defining the Western pattern of communication. “Da Vinci Code” and “Passion of Christ” were banned on religious and social issues. The same Danish newspaper, which published cartoons about the Prophet (sa), refused to publish drawings of Christ, as these were thought to be offensive to the readers. Wasn’t this issue also worth the same consideration? Or is this simply a way to express the Western supremacy?

I believe that the people involved owe an apology to the entire Muslim community. This issue has increased the gap between Muslims and the rest of the world. It has also given to hostile people, who call themselves Muslims, a reason to proliferate their objectionable activities.

Voicing discontent about cartoons also falls under the ambit of freedom of speech. Actually, the emphasis should not so much be on the freedom of speech, as on justice, logic, rights and equality. It is important to distinguish between right and wrong, rather than rationalize a wrongdoing. Muslims condemn all the un-Islamic actions done in the name of Islam. We would appreciate a similar response from the Western side for dissolving the racial bigotry.

It is better to conduct seminars for stimulating a worldwide dialogue on the interpretation of Islam. Islam is different from other religions and has a unique approach to life and humanity. It must be understood, rather than ridiculed on the pretext of freedom of speech.

Knowledge in Islam

By Erum Asif

After the demise of the Prophet (sa), a teenager, who had acquired much knowledge from him, was determined to learn more from the Sahabahs, saying that “the Sahabahs are in a great number today.” If he heard of a Sahabah knowing a Hadeeth he didn’t know, he would dash to his home, at times having to wait outside in scorching heat. The Sahabah would insist that he could have come to this esteemed teenager himself. To this, the teenager would reply that rather he should be coming himself to seek knowledge. When those Sahabahs passed away, people, including the Caliph, would refer to this youth. He was Abdullah Ibn Abbas (rta), Mufassir of the Quran and narrator of Ahadeeth.

Moving forward in history, we find Imam Malik travelling on foot for days and nights for the sake of a single Hadeeth, Imam Shafai writing on bones, as he could not afford paper, and Ibn Asakir (compiler of the history of Damascus) mentioning 80 women among the teachers he learnt Ahadeeth from. We witness people’s love of the scholars. When Imam Bukhari was returning to Bukhara from his scholarly journeys, the inhabitants would set up tents for three miles outside the city to welcome him.

The early Muslims gave the top priority to seeking and spreading knowledge, especially that of Deen. They acted upon what they learnt. Thus, history reflects the respect, peace and power they enjoyed. Those who know and those who don’t are not equal in this world and the next. “… Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’….” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

Islam is a religion of knowledge and it does not befit a Muslim to be ignorant of his Deen, even though this is a wide-spread case nowadays. The Prophet (sa) clearly said: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (lbn Majah and others; reported by Anas)

Note four things here:

1. Which knowledge is the Hadeeth referring to? Physics, mathematics or computer science? The knowledge, which is obligatory and Fardh-ayn, is that of Deen. It is also referred to in another Hadeeth: “…the scholars are the heirs of the prophets and that the prophets did not leave behind Dinars and Dirhams; rather, their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has acquired a great share.” (Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood)

Does learning our Deen mean knowing every detail? Some knowledge of Deen is obligatory, and some is optional. The Prophet (sa) said: “Knowledge is (of) three (categories): Muhkam Ayah (precise verse), or Sunnah Qaimah (established Sunnah), or Fareedhah ‘Adilah (firm, obligatory duty). And whatever is besides this, is extra.” (Abu Dawood and Majah)

The minimum we must know is our faith: the teachings relating to worship (prayers, fasting, Zakah, Hajj), Akhlaq (manners) and transactions (e.g., everyday Halal and Haram; teachings regarding family-life; teachings concerning our roles as businessmen, rulers, employees, etc.). Learning in-depth religious sciences, such as Tafsir, Fiqh or Ahadeeth, is Fardh-Kifayah.

2. The most serious term in the Hadeeth is Fareedhah (obligation). Learning the Deen is an obligation – the first obligation, not something optional we can postpone because of degree pursuits, marriage or career-development.

3. Another key-word is Talab (seeking). Muslims have to seek the knowledge of Deen actively, instead of hoping for its arrival by chance.

4. The Prophet (sa) made NO exemptions. He said Kull (every) Muslim. Old or young, poor or rich, male or female, busy or idle, free or enslaved – everyone must learn the glorious Deen!

Seeking the knowledge of Dunya is Fardh-Kifayah and optional. If the guidelines provided by Islam are followed, seeking worldly knowledge can be an Ibadah; otherwise, a pointless or even damaging venture.

As an Ummah, have we got our ‘obligatory’ and ‘optional’, right? “Nay, you prefer the life of this world, although the Hereafter is better and more lasting.” (Al-Ala 87:16-17) Knowledge of Deen is badly neglected and considered done, upon completing the sessions of Quran recitation in childhood, while optional knowledge has been secularized and made obligatory, with children spending nearly 20 years, and parents incurring back-breaking expenses for the sake of ‘education’. Consequently, we have societies that are ‘Muslim’ but not Islamic. We have PhDs and professionals, who don’t know the Deen. Does the average businessman holding an MBA know and follow Islam’s teachings about trade? Do our economists understand Islam’s flawless economic system? Are our doctors, lawyers and journalists aware of the Islamic ethics relevant to them? Does this ignorance affect their work? Should they be considered educated, if they haven’t learnt the obligatory? Imagine a person not performing the five obligatory prayers, though working hard on much Nafl. If Muslims start treating obligatory knowledge as obligatory, the Ummah can recover drastically.

Allah (swt) Himself conveyed the knowledge of Deen through messengers, while He left other matters for us to discover. Why? Based on intellect, experience and experimentation, we can learn the laws of nature and the ways of growing food, treating diseases and constructing houses. But intellect and experience cannot tell us the purpose of life, who created us, what happens after death, the rights and responsibilities in various roles, the permissible and impermissible in food, money matters and gender relations. When we try to figure these out ourselves, we either reach devastatingly wrong conclusions or die without discovering the truth.

It is vital to seek and spread knowledge. We want to be the best. Who is the best? “The best of you is the one, who learns the Quran and teaches it.” (Agreed upon) Ponder over Surah At-Taubah (9:122): “And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).”

We are Muslims, because the Sahabahs and succeeding generations spread the Deen through words and deeds. Muslim rulers propagated Islamic knowledge. Caliph Umar (rta), a shining example, appointed Quran teachers everywhere in the Islamic state. Abu Darda (rta) was appointed in Damascus and was reported to have 1,600 students in his circle. Death terminates our deeds, but beneficial knowledge we leave behind keeps multiplying our rewards. (Muslim)

Regarding worldly knowledge, remember:

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who created (all that exists).” (Al-Alaq 96:1) Divine knowledge must guide worldly knowledge. It will help filter good ideas from the bad ones, and remembering the Lord (swt) will humble us as learners. Divorcing Deen from Dunya was the design of Kuffar. We imported it into our educational institutions, which then became the prime breeding-grounds for secularization of mindsets and societies. If Islamic teachings are mentioned only in Islamic Studies class, how can our children believe that Islam is relevant to real life? While secular economics cannot fix today’s economic crises, Divine economics can. Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz’s (rta) officials would go looking for deserving recipients of charity but find none! The opening verse of Surah Al-Alaq also suggests we seek any knowledge with the Niyyah of pleasing Allah (swt) and serving His Deen. In contemporary times, Harun Yahya and Dr. Zakir Naik have set good examples.

Secondly, Islam encourages us to seek beneficial knowledge and shun the non-beneficial. In today’s age of excessive information, this is an indispensable criterion. Allah (swt) has blessed us with curiosity – we should use it wisely. We should seek knowledge that benefits us, fellow humans and the planet. A Muslim cannot afford to waste time studying “Romeo and Juliet” or cramming useless data that exits his brain soon after exams are over.

With these two points in mind, we need to reclaim our proud tradition of learning. Righteous people must lead the various fields, instead of allowing evil or secular ‘experts’ to mislead humanity. The Ummah needs knowledgeable people also for reducing its dependence on non-Muslims. Here is some inspiration from our predecessors:

Aisha (rta) was an authority on medicine. Uthman (rta) and AbdurRahman Ibn Awf (rta) were brilliant businessmen.

Muslims have made invaluable contributions to manners, literature, science, medicine and mathematics. They were the first to establish hospitals and universities. Ibn Sina’s “Canon of Medicine” was used in European universities for centuries as the most respected medical bible. Muslims introduced the concept of zero in mathematics. Non-Muslims learnt Arabic to benefit from books written by Muslims.

Baghdad, Timbuktu and Samarqand were great learning centres. The scholars were more important than the rulers, the latter having to listen to the former. Rulers, traders and the public consulted scholars; they governed the city, acted as judges and ensured fair trade. The work of Muslim astronomers in Samarqand’s state-of-the-art observatories enabled people to pray towards the Qiblah and measure the size of the Earth. Modern scientific achievements were made possible by the work of early Muslims.

They were exemplary also because they acted upon their knowledge. Sayyid Qutb remarks: “Thus, instruction to be translated into action was the method of the first group of Muslims. The method of later generations was instruction for academic discussion and enjoyment. And without doubt this is one of the major factors, which made later generations different from the first unique generation of Islam.”

Jews and Christians read their books without practicing them. Islam advocates knowledge for the sake of action. Nobody will be able to move from before his Lord (swt), till he/she answers five questions, including “how much he acted upon the knowledge he obtained”. (At-Tirmidhi)

Let the study of the Quran and Seerah be a daily routine for your family. At least once a week, get together with fellow-Muslims to learn collectively. Check, whether you are acting upon your knowledge, and where you are falling short. Learning and practicing our Deen can secure for us not just this short life but the entire eternity!

The Dawn of Knowledge – Part 1

By Uzma Jawed

In this present era, Islam is viewed as anything but a source of inspiration and enlightenment. This is despite the fact that a crucial part of Islam is to seek and attain knowledge. The Quran repeatedly invites man to observe, ponder and use his intellect to understand his surroundings:

“Do they not look at the camels, how they are created? And the heaven, how it is raised? And the mountains, how they are rooted (and fixed firm)? And the earth, how it is outspread?” (Al-Ghashiyah 88:17-20)

In addition, Prophet Muhammad (sa) placed importance on knowledge: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” and “Verily, the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the Prophets.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)

Islamic civilization under the Abbasid dynasty experienced a Golden Age, spanning mid-eighth century to the mid-thirteenth century. The Muslim Empire encompassed present-day Iran, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, North Africa, Spain, and parts of Turkey. The caliphate’s capital was in Baghdad, which drew people from all parts of the empire. Hence, the culture unified Arab, Persian, Egyptian and European traditions. This resulted in an era of astonishing intellectual and cultural achievements by Muslim scholars, scientists, craftsmen and traders.

The Quran and the Sunnah inspired Muslims to excel in various fields, such as mathematical sciences, medicine, geography, chemistry, philosophy, art and architecture.

In the initial stage of the Abbasid era, Muslim scholars collected the Greek scientific manuscripts and translated them into Arabic. The flexibility of the Arabic language and the richness of its terminology facilitated the translation process. All of this was carried out at the Bayt-Al-Hikmah (the house of wisdom) – a huge library and research center based in Baghdad. It became an invaluable source of information and a place, where the early scholars of Islam assembled, analyzed and extensively supplemented the Greek works.

Muslim Contributions to Mathematical Sciences and Medicine

Early Muslim scholars agreed with Aristotle that the basis of all science was mathematics. The Quran also contained several complex laws of inheritance, which could be solved through mathematical equations. So mathematics was initially focused on. Traditionally, mathematical sciences included mathematics itself, geometry, astronomy and physics.

Mathematics

One of the greatest Islamic mathematicians was Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi. He is the founder of modern algebra. In fact, the word ‘algebra’ is derived from his famous book “Hisab Al-Jabr waAl-Muqablah” (“The Calculation of Integration and Equation”). Until the sixteenth century, this became a standard text in most European universities. Al-Khwarizmi also developed the sine, cosine and trignometrical tables, which were later translated in the west. Moreover, he helped explain the Arabic numerals and the concept of zero – a number of fundamental significance to mathematics. Furthermore, he developed the decimal system, hence the numerical sequence of numbers.

Another great mathematician was Thabit Bin Qura, who developed algebra further. Abu Kamil, who also worked on algebra, was called ’the Egyptian calculator.’ Ghiyath Al-din al Kashani worked on theory of numbers and techniques of computations.

Geometry

According to a North African historian, geometry was a greatly encouraged study, as it “enlightens the intelligence of the man, who cultivates it and gives him the habit of thinking exactly.” The three brothers Banu Musa, who lived in the ninth century, were probably the first outstanding Muslim geometers. Abul Wafa, also a very accomplished mathematician, wrote a book, which explained, how algebra could be used to solve geometrical problems.

Astronomy

Astronomy is highly valued in Islam, particularly for accurately predicting prayer times and the Islamic lunar calendar. Islamic astronomers studied eclipses, the rotation of the planets, the circumference of the Earth, the mean orbit of the Sun and the length of seasons. Abu Abdullah Al-Battani is considered to be one of the greatest Islamic astronomers. One of his discoveries was the precise estimate of the solar year, and it was very close to the modern estimates.

Muslims were also the first in establishing an astronomical observatory as a scientific institution. This was the Maragha observatory in modern-day Iran, established by Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi. Maragha contained a library of 400,000 books and as a school of astronomy. The observatory was used as a model for the later European observatories. Al-Tusi was a Persian astronomer, who was held in high esteem, especially for discovering and explaining the difference between trigonometry and astronomy. Muslims also invented numerous astronomical instruments, the most famous being the astrolabe.

Physics

One of the most eminent physicists was Abu Al-Fath Abd Al-Rahman Al-Kahzini. He studied mechanics and hydrostats, and wrote several books on physics and astronomy. Another esteemed physicist was Abu Al-Hassan al Haitham, who made significant contributions to optics and the scientific method.

Medicine

Muslims have shown an avid interest in the field of medicine since the time of the Prophet (sa), who said that there existed a cure for every disease. A major medical achievement in Islam was the establishment of a hospital for lepers in Damascus. This was the first of its kind, and it was a huge accomplishment, since lepers in Europe were condemned and burnt by royal decree. Also, many advanced hospitals and clinics were built in the Muslim Empire during the ninth century, which included also pharmacies, libraries, lecture rooms for medical students and separate wards for men and women.

One of the greatest Muslim physicians was Ibn Sina (Avicenna). He was called the ‘prince of physicians’ in the West. He wrote 246 books on many subjects. His most famous book was titled “Al-Qanun fi Al-Tibb” (“The Canon of Medicine”), the chief medical guide throughout Europe until the seventeenth century. Dr. William Osler, the author of “The Evolution of Modern Science,” stated: “The Qanun has remained a medical Bible for a longer period than any other work.” Ibn Sina discovered many drugs and identified several diseases such as diabetes, mellitus, and meningitis. He also recognized the contagious nature of tuberculosis and made notable contributions to anatomy, gynecology, child health and the interaction between health and psychology.

Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Al-Razi, known as Rhazes, was the most prolific Muslim doctor, whose accomplishments were probably second only to Ibn Sina. He wrote more than 200 books on such subjects as pharmacy and chemistry. His major contribution was a 20-volume encyclopedia, titled “Al-Hawi” (“the Continence”). He headed the first Royal Hospital at Ray, Iran, and discovered treatments for kidney and bladder stones. He was the first to use opium for anesthesia and the first to introduce alcohol for medical purposes. Moreover, he conducted research on small pox, measles, hereditary diseases and eye diseases.

Another exceptional Islamic physician was Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, who headed the famous school of translation in Baghdad and wrote the first systematic textbook on ophthalmology. Yuhannah Ibn Masawayh was another great physician, who authored books on fevers, headaches, nutrition and sterility in women. Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi, a renowned surgeon, attracted patients and students from all over the Muslim Empire as well as Europe. Known as Albucasis in the West, he wrote a medical encyclopedia on surgical knowledge and illustrated 200 surgical instruments. This encyclopedia was used as a standard reference book in universities in Europe for about five centuries. He performed many delicate operations and was the first to use silk thread for stitching wounds.

It is usually a foregone conclusion that medicine was developed by Western minds. However, Harvard’s George Sentors says that modern science is entirely an Islamic development. A lot of European physicians, such as Johann Weger, were taught the medical studies of Ibn Sina and ar-Razi. In this way, Muslim scholars contributed to every scientific field and were widely used as sources in the early Western schools of learning. As Dr. Ahmed stated in a live dialogue on Islam Online: “The contributions of Muslims scientists in the pre-renaissance era accelerated the renaissance by at least 100 years in Europe.”

The accomplishments of all the above mentioned Muslim scholars were many. However, it was not only their contributions that made them so successful. It was their source of inspiration, the Quran and the Sunnah, combined with firm belief in their faith that laid the foundations for modern awakening.

For all the aspiring scholars out there, this quotation by Khawarizmi can be truly inspirational: “That fondness for science… that affability and condescension, which God shows to the learned, that promptitude, with which He protects and supports them in the elucidation of obscurities and in the removal of difficulties, has encouraged me to compose a short work on calculating by Al-Jabr [algebra] and Al-Muqabala, confining it to what is easiest and most useful in arithmetic.”

Contributions of the early Muslims were so vivid, abundant and diverse that this article has barely been able to give them the credit they so richly deserve. Contributions of Muslims to the fields of geography, chemistry, philosophy, art and architecture will be discussed in the successive article.

Selection of Duas

Vol 5 - Issue 3 Selection of DuasBy J. Samia Mair

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The Jews were divided into seventy-one sects, one of which is in Paradise, and seventy are in the Fire. The Christians were divided into seventy-two sects, seventy-one of which are in the Fire, and one is in Paradise. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, my Ummah will be divided into seventy-three sects, one of which will be in Paradise, and seventy-two will be in the Fire.” It was said: “Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He said: “Al-Jamah.” (Awf Ibn Malik)

I usually keep quiet, when a brother tells me something incorrect about Islam. I have learned through experience that silence is often the best answer.

Because of my status as a convert and a woman, my words are less credible to some. But this day I could not keep quiet. I could not let his interpretation of the Holy Quran go unchallenged. I could not risk my silence implied that I agreed.

“Brother,” I said at one point in the conversation, “how can you be so sure that you are in the one sect that follows the straight path?”

Perhaps, I should not have been so surprised, when he told me that he was sure. But I was surprised. How can anyone be sure? Indeed, how can any of us be confident that our worship is sincere, correct and accepted? I suggest that if you have not worried about your status on the path, then this fact itself should make you worry.

Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Allah (swt) instructed the Prophet (sa) to tell us: “Say (O Muhammad (sa)): ‘If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ Say (O Muhammad (sa)): ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)).’ But if they turn away, Allah does not like disbelievers.” (Al-Imran 3:31-32)

Scholars tell us that our goal is to become beloved by our Creator, so that we may spend eternity in His (swt) Divine Presence. To be loved by Allah (swt), we must obey Him. Obedience means following the Quran and the Sunnah. To know, what the Quran and the Sunnah require from us, we must turn to people of knowledge. This is exactly where the problem lays. Who are the people of knowledge?

At a recent lecture, Imam Zaid, scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, referred to ‘Sheikh Google’ – a humorous but painfully accurate description of the current state of Islamic scholarship in the West. Let’s face it – the spiritual leadership in many Masjids is abysmal. Very few Imams are scholars and many lack any significant Islamic education. They freely issue Fatwahs, forgetting that it is best to remain silent, when one does not know the answer. I do not question the sincerity of these Imams, but clearly many are not qualified to teach and unwittingly lead other Muslims astray.

What is the average Muslim to do? I try to learn from a variety of sources, what different scholars say on a particular topic. Then I make an educated decision about my practice. This approach is not wholly satisfying. I find scholars, whose writings I trust, and my friends turn to others. Sometimes our scholars disagree on important issues, and so it seems extremely difficult to know, who is right. I believe the answer is to pray. Only Allah (swt) can lead us to the straight path, only with His (swt) mercy and compassion are we rightly guided.

The Fatihah is my favorite Dua, when asking for knowledge. The first time I read the translation, I knew I was going to convert. The seven verses said exactly what I had wanted from Allah, but could not find the words myself.

Other Duas that I say regularly are below. I have collected them from various books and lectures. I always start with a Dua asking for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. Allahu A’lam.

O Allah, You are my Lord; there is no God but You. You created me and I am Your servant. And Your covenant and promise I uphold to the best of my ability. And I seek refuge in You from the evil of whatever I have done. I acknowledge that all my blessings are from You. And to You I bring my sins, so forgive me, because no one can forgive sins but You. (Bukhari)

O Possessor of Majesty and Generosity, whoever You guide cannot be led astray; whoever You lead astray cannot be guided. Please, let me my family and the believing men and women be among those rightly guided. Increase our knowledge, cure the diseases in our hearts and make what is pleasurable to you pleasurable to us, and what is displeasurable to you displeasurable to us. Let us live in Islam and die in faith. Let our graves be spacious. Give us light, shade and water on the Day of Doom. Build us a home in the highest level of Paradise in the company of our Master Muhammad (sa) and in Thy Presence (swt). (An assorted Dua I put together myself.)

O Allah, save us from the torture of the grave, grant us wisdom and unite us with the righteous.

O Allah, I ask You for the good of this day, its openings, victories, lights, blessings and right-guidance.

O Allah, make my inward better than my outward and make my outward virtuous.

O Allah, place a light in my heart, my family’s heart, the believing men and women’s hearts, in our ears, our eyes, and our mouth; on our right, on our left, before us, behind us, above, below us. Give us light and make us light. (Muslim)

O Lord Allah, we ask You by the Light of Your Face and by Your right over Yourself to grant us a good ending at the time of death – for us, our loved ones and for all the Muslims, O Most Merciful of the Merciful. Lord, allow not our hearts to swerve after You have guided us; grant us Your Mercy, You are the Bestower. Lord, make us patient, and take us to You as Muslims surrendering with sound hearts.

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the straight path and increase our knowledge, Ameen.

Hikmah (Wisdom)

Vol 5 - Issue 3 WisdomMichael de Montaigne once commented: “We can be knowledgeable with other men’s knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men’s wisdom.”

I find myself pondering upon this quotation often, especially when I am seeking to be wise about life and the challenges it throws my way. I also observe that in this day and age of extra-ordinary scholastic achievements and exposure to information and technology, wisdom is seldom found. It is not simply knowledge that produces wisdom. Knowledge is a collection of facts. Wisdom is how to apply knowledge. Further, it is a combination of other factors such as deep observation, far-sightedness, experiences, patience, endurance and a continuous quest for solutions that leads to insight and acumen.

The Arabic term for wisdom is Hikmah. In the Quran, it means the knowledge and the understanding of the Quran and the Sunnah and one’s ability to speak and act in the right way.

Allah (swt) states: “He grants Hikmah (wisdom) to whom He pleases, and he, to whom Hikmah (wisdom) is granted, is indeed granted abundant good.” (Al-Baqarah 2:269)

Apparently, wisdom is something bestowed upon a person by Allah (swt). A person may be learned, but it does not mean he is wise. The Prophet (sa), though unlettered, was an epitome of wisdom.

“Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own (and indeed Allah answered their invocation by sending Muhammad (sa)), who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in the Book (this Quran) and Al-Hikmah (full knowledge of the Islamic laws and jurisprudence or wisdom or Prophethood), and purify them. Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

This is further confirmed about the Prophet (sa) in Al-Baqarah 2:151 and in Al-Imran 3:164.

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find innumerable instances, when wisdom turned the tables. His silence, his speech, his anger and his restraint were all driven by wisdom that earned him unbelievable success in unfavorable circumstances.

Even prior to receiving his prophetic mission, he was requested to settle a dispute amongst the chiefs of Makkah. They were quarreling, as to who would be granted the honour of placing the black stone (Hajra Aswad) in the Kabah. The Messenger (sa) suggested a simple yet wise solution, which was acceptable to all and, thus, defused a volatile situation.

The Prophet (sa) also demonstrated wisdom in the most pressured times, such as at the time of Hudaibiyah, when the enemies drafted a pact that the companions were displeased with. However, amidst the mounting tension, they obeyed the Prophet’s (sa) decision to agree to the pact. Time proved, how that same pact worked in favour of Muslims, thus attesting to the Prophet’s (sa) wisdom and endurance.

What does it take to become wise? Is there a formula for it? And of all qualities in life, why should one seek wisdom? Does it pay to be wise? These are all pertinent questions.

Ibn Masud (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no envy except in two instances: a person, whom Allah has endowed with wealth and he spends it righteously, and a person, whom Allah has given Hikmah, and he judges by it and teaches it to others.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The intention of this article is to highlight the importance of Hikmah in our lives. How can wisdom bring back the long departed peace? Our superficial and self-centered lives are fleeting by. If today we were to capture the true essence of our achievements, most of us would be saddened to learn that we are living no better than animals – mainly for our base desires. We have no time to reflect or even listen.

Whether it is a domestic dispute or a judiciary one on a macro level, how many people can you find, who would give a sound counsel and settle disputes by giving meaningful guidance? Very few.

“They belied (the Verses of Allah – this Quran) and followed their own lusts. And every matter will be settled (according to the kind of deeds: good deeds will take their doers to Paradise, and similarly evil deeds will take their doers to Hell). And indeed there has come to them news (in this Quran) wherein there is (enough warning) to check (them from evil), Perfect wisdom (this Quran) – but (the preaching of) warners benefit them not. So, (O Muhammad (sa)) withdraw from them.” (Al-Qamar 54:3-6)

Seeking Hikmah is imperative, if we want to pursue true success now and in the Hereafter.

 “Hiba” conducted a poll to understand the dynamics of wisdom. Following are the answers we received from some participants:

1. What is wisdom?

Wisdom is the ability to see things as they are; to give everything just the right due. A wise person is able to recognize reality. It also means to make the right decision most of the times.

2. Is this quality God given or can be acquired?

It is acquired. However, only Allah (swt) can give Hikmah to someone… so the answer is ‘yes’ to both options. He Alone is Al-Hakim. And He Alone chooses to bestow wisdom to His servants; to some He gives more than others. For e.g. Sulaiman (as), Ibrahim (as), Luqman, Abu Bakr (rta), Ali (rta)etc.

3. If it is God given, then who does God give Hikmah to?

The person, who is humble, who meditates, yearns for guidance, shuns the world’s temptations and the self’s base desires and learns from mistakes by rectifying his behaviour. Also someone who is composed and not emotional or quick to temper as in such a state it is impossible to think and act rationally. God gives Hikmah to those, who contemplate; basically, those who want it.

4. If it can be acquired, what should one do to become wise?

Gain knowledge, do not indulge in any kind of excess, help others, lead a life with a higher purpose and do not give in to desires of the self. Also, wisdom is a product of time – very few young people are wise, although there are exceptions. Mostly, wisdom comes with life’s experiences.

To become wise, one must also ‘live perceptively.’ Contemplate on Allah’s Ayat (signs) both in the Quran and in the universe. Einstein was wise, because he studied science in depth and detail. He may not have reached the TRUTH (Haq) or chose to ignore it, but he definitely acquired wisdom.

To gain Hikmah, one needs to practice Sabr (patience), talk less and observe more, learn to listen to others, bear a positive attitude, give rights to Allah (swt) and people and, lastly, make much Dua for oneself to make the right decisions in life.

The company of wise teachers and role models is also imperative. Most importantly, following the Sunnah and reflecting upon the Quran’s Tafseer helps gain deeper understanding of life.

5. Lastly, does Hikmah help people in their day to day lives?

YES, it works wonders! Wise people make very few mistakes, have healthy relationships with everyone and enjoy tremendous peace of mind.

Hikmah was one of the things the Prophet (sa) taught. And the Prophet (sa) cultivated a pragmatic sense in his companions at all levels of their lives.