Reflections on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Riba

Interest-RibaRiba or interest is the term that every sane adult living in this age is well-aware of; it is a significant matter of debate in the Islamic societies due to the fact that it has been prohibited strictly in the Quranic laws. It must be understood vividly that raison d’être of abolition of interest is not only the exploitation but actually the consequences brought about by this. Jurists of all times agree upon the definition of Riba as follows:

When a transaction occurs between two parties, and an asset that may include commodity, currency, or even shares of a company are traded with an asset of the same quality in different quantities, the inequality in quantities exchanged is taken as Riba, which is prohibited in the Quran.

The Quran mentions: “Those who eat Riba (usury) will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaitan (Satan) leading him to insanity. That is because they say: “Trading is only like Riba (usury),” whereas Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury). So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops eating Riba (usury) shall not be punished for the past; his case is for Allah (to judge); but whoever returns [to Riba (usury)], such are the dwellers of the Fire – they will abide therein.” (Al-Baqarah 2:275)

“Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms, etc.) And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners.” (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

“O you who believe! Eat not Riba (usury) doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful.” (Al-Imran 3:130)

“And their taking of Riba (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it and their devouring of men’s substance wrongfully (bribery, etc.). And We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:161)

History of Riba in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The debate over whether interest is as same as Riba has been ongoing in Pakistan since 1969 when the State Bank of Pakistan led an enquiry; the  Islamic Advisory Council in its December 1969 session held in Dhaka ruled out the interest on bank loans and prize bonds as Riba. The council advised for a Committee to be formulated in order to work towards founding an interest-free economy. Later on, Article 37 of the constitution of Pakistan in 1973 stipulated interest-removal as the official responsibility of the Government. Further, intense research work was carried out under President Zia-ul-Haq by the Islamic Ideology Council to establish transactions which were free from interest.

Dr. Israr Ahmed began his campaigning for the ban on Riba in 1980. He attempted a great struggle to make the report formulated by Islamic Ideology Council appear in public. All the attempts from activists led the government to formulate the Federal Shariat Court but it was kept out of financial matters, deeming it useless in the matter. And as the alternatives to interest, mark-up schemes were introduced, which Ulema rightly termed as “old wine of interest being marketed in new.”

On November 14 1991, Federal Shariat Court equalized interest on bank loans as Riba and thus Pakistan became the first Islamic nation to declare bank loans as Riba. However quite ironically, this judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court for seven years and later nullified in the review carried out in 2002. The Court asked the Shariah Court to revisit this judgement, providing them with guidance and control. The passage of twelve years led to no concrete judgement being made by the Shariah Court.

Despite these historical affairs, it must be kept in mind that since Pakistan is still following the Constitution formulated in 1973, there cannot be any exception for the Article 38 that stated: “The State shall eliminate riba as early as possible”.

Current Decision Regarding Dealings of Riba

The crux of the matter is to discuss the absurd by-law passed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on October 6th, 2015, where Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani ruled out that those who are not willing to deal with interest shouldn’t deal with it, while the others dealing with it will be questioned by Allah.

This decision led to a public outcry in the country. The law is being ridiculed and denied openly on the social media. However, the most active party involved in the offense is Tanzeem-e-Islami which carried out a peaceful demonstration against the law. Shujjauddin Shaukh, a prominent member of the Tanzeem, has appealed to other Islamic political parties to support him in his mission to render this by-law inoperable.

He debates over the issue, quite rightly pointing out that Pakistan was supposed to be an Islamic state which makes it regulatory for the law-enforcers to stick adamantly upon the Islamic laws. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 promised to align all laws under the Quranic injunctions and no deviance towards the laws against will of Allah and His Prophet (sa).

Ironically, the Indian armies wait for a showdown at the borders dreaming to undervalue the Pakistan Army; the Muslim leaders in the Islamic state are preparing clever ploys to carry out a war with Allah and His Messenger (sa). Allah declares in the Quran:

“And if you do not do it, then take a notice of war from Allah and His Messenger but if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums).” (Al-Baqarah 2:279)

The deprived condition of Pakistan can hardly be revamped unless the affairs with the Divine Constitution are settled. Shujjauddin Shaikh earnestly asks the political leaders and Chief-of-Army-Staff to join their mission and abolish this preposterous law.

It is time for political leaders and religious scholars to stand united against un-constitutional elements disapproved inexorably by Allah and His Messenger (SA).

From Cradle to Grave

Cradle to GraveAyesha Khawaja interviews Ammatul-Mohsi, mother of Rohma (Dr. Israr Ahmed’s grandchild) who passed away after a brief battle with cancer.

As a child, Rohma was a sweet girl by nature, who never gave a hard time to her mother. Her mother, being a righteous person herself, was very conscious about the proper upbringing of her children. She always recited all of the Quranic and Masnoon Duas for them. At every important juncture, she did Istikhara, and for any problems, she got up for Tahajjud. For the girls, she switched schools from regular to Islamic, where they would not feel stigmatized for covering themselves.

From the age of ten, there was no question of ever leaving a prayer. The older siblings were also very vigilant about it. On and off, they would attend Islamic lectures with the family; in the car, they listened to Nasheeds and inspirational songs (without music).

Right after puberty, around the age of 12-and-a-half, Rohma began observing full Purdah with the Niqab. It came naturally to her; her mother, Khalas and her immediate cousins were all observing it. They did not watch movies at any point in their lives. Music was out of the question. Some Nasheeds, however, did have some sort of musical background, but even that was eliminated from their lives, as they gained greater understanding of the Deen.

Rohma’s father was extremely particular about Rizq-e-Halal. Even though he owns a huge business, he never took any bank loans. He was meticulous about the rights of others. Although he was a very busy man, Rohma’s mother made sure the family had meals together. He led by example rather than by preaching. The kids could see that their father was an upright man, truthful in his dealings, generous to the core, unpretentious and ever upholding the ties of kinship.

Ammatul Mohsi (Rohma’s mother) has a lot of Haya (modesty). She could not bring herself to utter a word like ‘Jhoot’ (falsehood). According to her, if ever a child did say anything that was incorrect, she would say it was ‘wrong’ and not ‘Jhoot’, because she really disliked the word. In her daily utterances, she would avoid words that had any connotation of immodesty or immorality in it, to the extent that she would not even mention words like ‘potty’.

Rohma’s mother also made sure that the children shared their life experiences with her and did not keep any secrets. In this way, she gently and skillfully guided them, as tests came along.

In Rohma’s own words, her life changed and her heart melted completely, when she did the one year Quran and Hadeeth course from Dr. Israr Ahmed’s Quran Academy after her higher secondary education. She said what she gained from there was far superior to what she had acquired from home.

Rohma’s Khala chose her to be the pious bride for her Hafiz son. Rohma’s deep blush was the only indication of her acceptance. Her bashfulness was such that she used to go deep red, if someone mentioned her fiancé’s name.

After the course, she graduated from Tooba College (the Islamic college opened by Dr. Israr Ahmed) and was married in a simple Nikah ceremony at the Quran Academy’s Masjid. There was no Mehndi, no Barat and no reception afterwards – just the beautiful Khutbah of Nikah at the Masjid, followed by Rukhsati. The Valima was the only dinner that graced this marriage.

It is worth mentioning here that there was a huge chasm between the worldly standards of the two households. Rohma belonged to a very well-off family and lived in a grand place with all the comforts of modern living. The bridegroom’s house, however, was no comparison and far removed from what she was used to. Years later, she had confided in her mother that initially, she had felt this sharp difference. However, her husband Mohsin’s piety and Taqwa had more than made up for lack of material comforts.

When the news of Rohma’s death was conveyed to her mother, the first word that escaped her lips was ‘Alhumdulillah’ and then “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Elaihi Rajeeoon”. She told me that she had asked so much for Sabr from Allah (swt) that the only time tears poured down her cheeks were during Salah in Fajr or some other Salah.

Just the night before I interviewed her, she invoked Allah (swt) long and hard, beseeching Him to show her how to be steadfast in patience. In an instantaneous response to her Dua, Allah (swt) the Most High, showed her Rohma in her dream, looking breathtakingly pretty in a beautiful party dress that her mother had made for her, when she was a little girl. In the dream, she hugged her tight and kissed her and when she woke, an indescribable peace enveloped her.

When Rohma was ill, she had spoken to her sister about a dream, in which she said she was choosing a bride for her husband from a choice of three. It so happened that there were actually three girls that they considered one after the other for Mohsin and then settled for one, who seemed most suitable. Her daughters are, by the grace of God, being taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. After all, is Allah (swt) not the Best to help? And how Excellent a Patron and how Incomparable the Provider!

Readers are encouraged to read more about Rohma in Hiba’s January, 2013, issue (“Legacy of a Mominah”).

Interview with Mrs. Azmat Irfan (Mother of Three Sons)

What are some tips for positive parenting?

  1. Set your priorities. Your kids matter more than career, parties and social gatherings.
  2. Be patient and polite with your kids. At the age they are in, learning is a gradual process.
  3. Don’t punish them before giving them a warning. Punishments hurt both parties.
  4. Don’t punish when you are angry. You run the risk of overdoing it.
  5. No physical punishment before 10 years of age, if it is resorted to at all in the first place.
  6. Whenever you call them, do so with love and affection. Use words like “Mera Beta (my son) or Meri Shehzadi (my princess).” No matter how old your child is, he/she will always like it.
  7. Express your love, embrace them frequently. A bond between a child and a parent is the strongest in the world, but even that needs reinforcement.
  8. When they disobey their parents, they may be ignored if the offense is not severe. However, if they disobey Allah (swt), they should be reprimanded.

Talaq by the Qawwam

talaq

By Dr. Israr Ahmed

Scholar, teacher and founder of ‘Tanzeem-e-Islami’ 

Marital relationship is a sacred bond that should be respected and upheld during the highs and the lows of life. However, divorce is a glaring reality as well. In the wake of the rising instances of divorce, it is imperative to be aware of the conditions that govern this important issue.

It is ironic that in the present era, when vast communication channels facilitate discussion of every topic under the sun and encourage people to resolve issues through dialogue, a candid discourse on divorce is still considered to be a taboo.

There are plenty of reasons for not discussing this issue. The main reason, however, why people prefer to keep mum about divorce is because they fail to understand the Quran, despite reciting it often. Hence, they are not clear about the terms and the conditions that surround this important issue.

The subject of divorce, along with its method and its principles, has been discussed in detail in Surah Al-Baqarah of the Noble Quran. Divorce, if given in a proper manner as prescribed by Islam, does not sever all ties with the spouse in one go. It is mentioned in verse 229 of Surah Al-Baqarah that a window of reconciliation remains open even if divorce is given twice. This is known as Talaq-e-Rajaee. For Talaq-e-Rajaee to be enforced, it is imperative that divorce is given once during the woman’s condition of purity. In such a scenario, the period of Iddat is three Quroo (that is, the beginning or the end of the 3rd menstrual cycle).

Divorce given once

If divorce is given once, the marriage does not break. During her Iddat, a woman can live in her husband’s house with respect, so that physical relationship can be re-established between them, if they desire it and thus, they can reconcile. If the husband does so during Iddat, the wife cannot refuse and there is no need to renew the Nikah.

In verse 229 of Surah Al-Baqarah, it is also mentioned that a man can either retain his wife on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. During Talaq-e-Rajaee, if the husband does not reconcile during the period of Iddat, it becomes Talaq-e-Baenaa. This marks the separation of the husband and wife, and the Nikah breaks. Now, the husband’s right to reconcile ends, and if he wants to stay with his wife, he will have to remarry her with another Nikah. If after giving divorce once, the husband reconciles or remarries the wife and then at some other instance, he divorces her the second time, the entire process of divorce mentioned above is repeated. In a nutshell, the husband can reconcile during the period of Iddat and if he does not do so but decides only after Iddat that he wants to stay with his wife, he will have to renew his Nikah with her.

Divorce given thrice

If the husband divorces his wife the third time, after reconciliation or renewing the Nikah twice, then this is called Mughallaz. In verse 230 of Surah Al-Baqarah it is mentioned that if the husband divorces his wife the third time, then she is not lawful for him thereafter, until she has married another person. Giving divorce thrice ends the husband’s right to reconcile. The woman will have to leave the husband’s house, as she is no longer Halal for him. The period of Iddat in this final divorce is also three Quroo.

In verse 231 of Surah Al-Baqarah, it is mentioned that the verses of Allah (swt) should not be treated with disrespect. Hence, the rules mentioned therein should be strictly followed.

Giving Talaq thrice at once is called Talaq-e-Biddat. This type of divorce is highly disliked in Islam.

The woman, who has been divorced thrice, has the freedom to marry anyone she desires. If after her Iddat, the woman remarries, and her new husband divorces her or she becomes a widow, she can remarry her former husband, if she wills. This is known as Halala. It is not allowed in Islam to plan Halala or do it on purpose. The Prophet (sa) has cursed those who do Halala intentionally, and has declared such a Nikah as being contrived.

Khula

Separation between a husband and wife also occurs due to Khula. It is the woman’s right to obtain separation from her husband, if she so desires; however, in such a scenario she will have to return her Meher and go to a court of law. Even if the husband does not want separation, the court will order him to divorce her, because she does not want to stay with him. If the husband does not give a divorce, the court will nullify the Nikah.

The period of Iddat after the Khula is one Quroo (that is one menstrual cycle). However, according to a majority of jurists, in a Khula, if Talaq has been given by the husband, the period of Iddat should be three Quroo. In the instance of Khula, the husband does not have the right to reconcile during the period of Iddat. Nor after the period of Iddat they can renew their Nikah. Khula marks the final divorce.

Solution

As mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah, it is better to give a divorce once only during the woman’s period of purity. The wisdom in this method is that there is room for reconciliation between the husband and wife within the period of Iddat. Even if the period of Iddat passes, the possibility of another Nikah with mutual agreement remains. Marital relationship holds a lot of importance in Islam, as a couple lays the foundations of an Islamic family unit and ensures sound and knowledgeable future Muslim generations. If divorce is given thrice, the husband loses his right to reconcile and they cannot have Nikah without Halala, the family unit breaks and the future generations suffer.

Based on a lecture on divorce as defined in Surah Al-Baqarah. Transcribed for Hiba by Dur-e-Sameen Zafar Khan.

The Coming of Dajjal

Apr 11- Coming of DajjalThe words ‘Dajjal’ (Antichrist) and ‘Dajjali Fitnah’ – a trial or an evil like that of the Antichrist – are commonly and frequently used today. Many books have been written on it in different languages; however, we will take an analytical look at it in the light of the Quran and Ahadeeth. There is no such word as “Dajjal” in the Quran, and there is no word of the root Daal, Jeem, Laam in the Quran. There are, however, synonyms of this word that mean ‘to cover’ or, ‘to deceive’.

Prophetic narrations, or Ahadeeth, mention ‘Dajjal’ in the following three ways:

Individuals claiming to be false prophets

Allah’s Messenger (sa) prophesized that the Dajjal would be the last of a series of thirty dajjals or ‘deceivers’ (false prophets), after whose appearance, the Day of Judgement will be close. Liars will come to the forefront and claim that they are prophets. Allah’s Apostle (sa) said, “The Hour will not be established till about thirty dajjals (liars) appear, and each one of them will claim that he is Allah’s Apostle.” (Bukhari)

False prophets had started to appear during the time of the Prophet (sa) and continued to do so after his demise. There are a few individuals, even in the current time, who have claimed prophethood.

An individual claiming divinity

The Dajjal Al-Akbar, or the greatest of Dajjals, will claim divinity. Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid (Islam-qa.com) has defined Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

“…a young man with a ruddy complexion, short, with thick curly hair, a wide forehead, and broad upper chest, blind or defective in the right eye. This eye will look like a floating grape. His left eye will be covered with a thick piece of flesh growing at the edge of his eye. Written between his eyes will be “Kaaf faa’ raa’ (K-F-R)”, in separate (Arabic) letters, or “kaafir”, with the letters joined. He will be sterile, with no children.”

A hadeeth mentions that he will have unlimited power and resources. People will be ready to prostrate to him and listen to him. He will be blind and on his forehead the three Arabic letters Kaa Faa Raa will be written. Every true believer will be able to see and read these letters, whether they can read or not. The Dajjal Al-Akbar will demonstrate miracles even greater than Isa (as). This will be the greatest test and trial for the believers. The Prophet e said that those who will prostrate to him will be spared (by him), but those who will not (prostrate to him) will be killed (Bukhari).

A civilization based on the qualities of Dajjal

From some Ahadeeth, we can surmise that one form of “dajjal” or deception is this world because it makes us forget the Hereafter and Allah (swt). We strive for gain and success only in this world. Allah (swt) says: “Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. And verily! We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.)”. (Al-Kahf 18:7-8)

Just as this verse exhorts, this world is becoming more beautiful and appealing as time goes on due to technological advances, luxurious lifestyles, numerous comforts, etc. It keeps on deluding us that we are better off than before. The question, though, is whether we are leaning towards the world or Allah (swt)? Who do we love more: this world or Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) says: “Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers, evil-doers), and (there is) Forgiveness from Allâh and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)

In the past three decades, the world has acquired immense luxuries. Consider Saudi Arabia or UAE. There was nothing but sand there. Now, they have the tallest buildings, the most lavish food, the best entertainment etc. These are all signs of the Day of Judgement.

The end is near

The signs that the Day of Judgement is close are several. There will be false claims to prophethood. There will also be a huge war. If a man has 100 sons, 99 will be killed. A bird will not find a place to land because there will be dead bodies everywhere. Then, the bird will fall down, exhausted, on a pile of dead bodies. This time is not far.

Gerald Flurry has written in “The Trumpet”: “Most people think the crusades are a thing of the past—over forever. But they are wrong. Preparations are being made for a final crusade, and it will be the bloodiest of all!”

20th century philosopher Arnold Toynbee, says in his book ‘Civilization on Trial’: “…real will be the battle between Christianity and Islam not between capitalism as communism and communism will not be able to sustain itself…”

Qualities of Dajjal present in the world and in us

There are certain qualities which we believe to belong only to the Dajjal, however, they are present within us as individuals. In the past, the Pharaoh and Nimrod had claimed Divinity. Today, each of us believes that we are the true rulers; we confine religion to the mosques and certain rituals. We do not let it enter our homes or workplaces. Our desires (Nafs) rule us as well. We declare that we are the masters of our actions and no one can dictate what we can or cannot do.

The qualities of Dajjal are also present in the economic system of the world. The system of interest is universal – there is no bigger sin in the eyes of Allah (swt). In the social world, we have the “women’s liberation movement” which translates into the eradication of modesty and the erosion of family life.

More about the Dajjal Al-Akbar

Some Ahadeeth describe the Dajjal Al-Akbar as follows:

He will go into every town for 40 days, there will be a distance of 80 yards between his ears and a day and a night’s travel will be the distance of one step of his donkey. He will speak in such a way that everyone in the east and the west will be able to hear him. (Muslim) We can imagine that the travel system and media technology will be so advanced that they will help Dajjal achieve the aforementioned feats.

Seventy thousand scholars wearing turbans, from my community, will follow the Dajjal. (Musnad Ahmad)

Two angels, resembling Prophets, one on either side, will accompany him. This will be a test for mankind. Dajjal will ask: “Am I not your lord? Do I not give life and death?” One of the angels will reply, “You are a liar.” However, nobody will be able to hear this reply except for the other angel. The second angel, addressing the first angel will say: “You are speaking the truth.” Everybody will hear what this second angel said, and will think that an angel is testifying that the Dajjal is Allah (swt). In reality, this second angel was addressing the first one and agreeing with his reply about the Dajjal certainly being a liar by saying, “You are speaking the truth”. (Ahmad)

He will come to a bedouin whose parents will have passed away and will say to him: “Will you believe that I am your Lord if I bring your parents back to life?” He will reply: “Yes.” The devils accompanying him will take the form of his parents and will say to him: “Oh child, believe in him and follow him, he is your Lord.” The bedouin will be deceived into believing him. (Ibn Majah)

He will have water and fire with him. As for that which the people will see as water, in reality it will be fire, which will burn. As for that which people will see as fire, in reality will be cold, sweet water. The Prophet’s (saw) Advice is: “Whoever meets the Dajjal and sees the water and the fire, should fall in the fire and not the water, as the fire is, in reality, water, and the water is, in reality, fire.’” (Mishkat)

Passing by a place in ruins, he will order it to take out its hidden treasure. The earth will immediately take out its treasure, and the treasure will literally follow him wherever he goes, like bees following the queen bee. (Muslim)

I think that Dajjal is a Jinn, not a human; a soldier of Satan, chained in shackles. During mankind’s last hour on the earth, he will be released for humankind’s last and final test. After 40 years of rule, Prophet Isa (as) will kill him. But before that, such a mighty wind of Kufr will spread that, after Prophet Isa’s (as) death, Allah (swt) will send a special wind directed at those believers with Islamic faith in their hearts. They will have their souls taken out without any pain. Only the disbelievers will then remain on the earth, and the Judgement will be passed on them.

Love Allah (swt) and not the world; worry about the Hereafter, not the here and now; nurture your soul, but take care of your body as well. Be steadfast in your faith (iman) so that you can face the Dajjal.

Transcribed and compiled by Tasneem Vali and Sadaf Farooqi

The Difference between Deen and Madhab

Jan 11 - Difference bw Deen and Madhab

By Dr. Israr Ahmad

The words Deen and Madhab are entirely different from each other with regard to their underlying concepts. Although in our part of the world we generally refer to Islam as Madhab (religion), yet what is interesting indeed is the fact that the word Madhab has never once been used in the entire treasury of the Quranic text and Ahadeeth literature! Instead, the word that has almost always been used for Islam in the original sources is Deen.

The fundamental difference between the two terms must be understood. Madhab, or religion, is a term used for a set of beliefs and rituals of worship. On the other hand, Deen refers to an entire way of life that pervades all aspects of life. In other words, as compared to Madhab, Deen is a far more comprehensive, all-encompassing reality. With this backdrop, it will perhaps not be entirely correct to say that Islam is not a Madhab (religion), because all of the elements of a Madhab are certainly part and parcel of Islam – it includes the articles of belief, spirituality, and the etiquettes of worship (Salah, Saum, Zakah and Hajj). Hence, it would be more accurate to say that Islam is not merely a Madhab, but an entire code of life (Deen). It not only offers whatever constitutes religion, but is endowed with the elements of a complete way of life. Hence, Islam is, essentially, Deen.

In this context, it must also be understood that while several religions can co-exist at a time in a particular region of the world, there can only be a single Deen (way of life). It is not possible, for instance, for capitalism and communism to coexist in a country at the same time. Only one will be dominant and prevail over others. Similarly, monarchy and democracy cannot simultaneously be established in a country. A system can either be based on the law of Allah (swt), or it will be against the law of Allah (swt). There cannot be two parallel systems, although there can be several religions co-existing at a time in a certain place. The only exception can be made in the case of a single dominant system ascendant above all, subservient to which, all shrunken up and sidelined, may exist other systems. Allama Iqbal said: “In a state of enslavement, it is reduced to a single, small droplet / The very same life which, when freed, becomes a ceaseless, shoreless torrent!”

When Deen is subjugated, it is reduced to mere religion. At the high point of Islamic history, Islam was the single dominant system, under which existed Christianity, Judaism, Magianism and other creeds as religions. They were given this allowance on the clearly laid out condition to pay a nominal tax (Jizya) and accept their subservience to the ascendant system, as said in Surah At-Taubah: “Fight… until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (At-Taubah 9:29)

The law of the land shall be Allah’s (swt), and the dominant system will be Islam, but as far as personal law and private life was concerned, they were free to live according to their own beliefs and practices. However, during the period of the decline and downfall of the Islamic state, the situation was entirely reversed. It will not be wrong to say that in the Indian subcontinent, the dominant system of life belonged to the British. Hence, Islam in the subcontinent was reduced to mere religion – Muslims could pray as they wished, and the British never objected to that; they could declare the call for prayer from the mosques, and they could marry and inherit according to their religious laws, but the state law had to be none other than British, according to the dictates of the British Crown, without interference from the local people. This is exactly what Iqbal expressed in his verse: “Since the Mullah (cleric) in India is allowed to prostrate in prayer / He foolishly thinks it implies his freedom.”

In other words, Islam was not free, but had shrivelled up and been reduced to the level of a mere religion among many.

Deen is essentially that which dominates and pervades. If it is subjugated, it will no longer remain Deen, but will be reduced to Madhab. Its true character will be distorted. If studied from this angle, it becomes clear that no matter how great a system, if it is presented merely as a vision and idea, or presented in the form of a written treatise, it can at best be an idealistic utopia, but can never truly be a criterion, a standard, or a benchmark. It can become a decisive criterion for the whole of mankind to judge and live by only when it is brought into practice, established and fully implemented.

Translated and transcribed for “Hiba” by Maryam Sakeenah.

The Wayfarer

Jul 10 - The Wayfarer

Maryam Sakeenah pays a humble tribute to Dr. Israr Ahmed.

As I walked through the dust and heat, threading my way through the throng of unfamiliar faces, I felt an indescribable kinship, an invisible bond that linked me to the faces I walked among. We were drawn towards the same – a personage, a symbol, a phenomenon, an institution, an era and a life larger than life. I was a nobody among the crowd, one among many – and yet I felt I needed to be there, to draw in the moment, to feel the meaning in the cool shade of the towering white minaret and the gentle wind’s whisper, to see it writ large, to savour blessedness and to understand what it meant to truly live, and to live well. That was one of the many realizations the departure of Dr. Israr Ahmed brought home to me. As I looked around at the silent, sombre crowd I felt we were all suddenly bereft, forlorn and derelict. There was a huge, gaping void that would take decades, perhaps centuries to fill.

He was rare – not just as a scholar, but as a person too. A family member tearfully confided in me how he had been the unifying factor, helping resolve differences, sorting things out, solving problems and strengthening ties; how he had been the advisor, guide, patron, father figure, guardian, comforter and confidante.

There were tearful eyes; one of them a friend’s, who reminisced of her time at the Quran Academy as a student. She said it had only struck her now that the personal revolution that had given her an entirely new orientation had been just one of the many, many transforming experiences thousands like her had undergone, made possible by the conviction and endeavour of a single ‘possessed’ man – a man obsessed with a Single Idea. I had never before understood with such crystal clarity the meaning of ‘Sadaqah-e-Jariya.’

In one of his interviews, Dr. Israr Ahmed, in his candid demeanour, had said he didn’t think he had been successful in any significant measure, except perhaps that his work had helped create religious awareness and inclination among the country’s educated middle class.

Understated indeed, considering the enormity and significance of the task. His tireless mission spanned decades, and his tenacity in pursuing the goal he believed in with all his soul was commendable. The depth of his knowledge and insight had been garnered over years of painstaking, unaided personal effort. The maturity of his seasoned vision, the sense of balance and the conviction in the face of formidable odds were a rare combination. His passion for the cause he held dear and strove tirelessly for was powerful and moving. He dreamt alone, and dared to act it out. He was thoroughly immersed in the Quran, thoroughly in love with it. You couldn’t doubt the love, it was so there. He had its glow on his face, its brilliance in his eyes, and its ring in his voice.

As I stepped into the place where he had lived for years, I was instantly struck by the simplicity, as it was so utterly shorn of any semblance of comfort and luxury. ‘Live in this world as a stranger or a wayfarer.’ The Wayfarer had lived it out, eyes firmly fixed on the greater beyond, and moved on.

His last Friday lecture, barely days before his passing away, was about the meaning of Shukr – gratitude to Allah I – for being chosen to discover and share and disseminate; for the man that he was, and for the legacy he left. In this last lecture, he mentioned at length the blessings awaiting the believers in Al-Firdous. Only on receiving that true and lasting reward would the actual meaning of ‘Alhumdulillah’ be experienced in its totality.

Alhumdulillah for your being there. Alhumdulillah for passing it on.

In class, when I shared the news with the students, I could not at first explain to myself the calm that suddenly overwhelmed me, perhaps out of a sense of comfort in the hope that he would be in that Happier Place. A student wrote of him, “I would go to Jannah and meet him there Insha’Allah. I would shake hands with him. I always wanted to do that but he has died, you know, so I can’t. But in Jannah, I shall shake his hands and he will smile and say, ‘My son, I am so proud of you.'”

The Dream lives on, beckoning us.

Our Obligations to the Quran

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Our Obligations to the QuranBy Dr. Israr Ahmad

The pathetic and disastrous condition of the Muslim Ummah throughout the world is due to its abandoning of the Holy Quran. The constant attitude of indifference, along with our hypocritical lip-service, is tantamount to ridiculing the last of Allah’s (swt) revelations. Instead, we must clearly understand our responsibilities towards the Holy Quran and try our very best to fulfill them. We can neither expect any improvement in our worldly state of affairs, nor hope for salvation in the Hereafter, unless we carry out all the obligations that we owe to the Quran.

The five demands that the Quran makes on every Muslim are as follows:

  1. A Muslim is required to believe in the Quran.
  2. He is required to read it.
  3. He is required to understand it.
  4. He is required to act upon its teachings.
  5. He is required to convey its teachings to others.

Our First Obligation

The first obligation is to have faith (Iman) in the Divine origin of the Quran. Iman has two phases: verbal profession (Iqrar Bil-Lisan), and heart-felt conviction (Tasdeeq Bil-Qalb). To have faith in the Quran means that we should verbally profess that the Quran is the Word of Almighty Allah (swt) that was revealed by Him through His angel Jibrael (as) to the last of His messengers, Prophet Muhammad (sa). This is a legal requirement for the acceptance of a person as a member of the Muslim society.

Having done that, however, we also need to develop a deeply felt certitude in the Quran. It is only when we have real conviction in this verbal declaration, that our hearts and minds would come under its spell, leading us towards genuine devotion and veneration of the Holy Book. Unfortunately, there is a woeful lack of staunch faith in the Divine origin of the Quran among the Muslims of today. This lack of faith is the reason why we neither find any reverence for the Quran in our hearts, nor feel inclined to study it, nor evince any interest in pondering over its meanings, nor ever think of seeking its guidance in conducting our lives.

It might be asked as to how we can acquire true faith. The answer is that the source of Iman is the Holy Quran itself. If the Book is studied and its meanings are pondered upon in an authentic quest for truth, all the veils of darkness shall be lifted from our heart, and the inner self – the soul – will get illuminated by the light of true faith. Note that faith is not something that can be planted in us from the outside. It is an embodiment of fundamental truths that already exist inside us; the practice of pondering over the Ayahs of the Quran serves to bring them to the surface of our consciousness.

Our Second Obligation

The second obligation is slow and thoughtful reading of the Holy Quran with correct pronunciation, generally described as Tilawat, Tarteel, and Tajweed.Note that Tilawat is not only an important form of worship, but it is also an effective method of continually refreshing our faith. The Quran is not a book to be read once; it is a book that needs to be read again and again. We must read it carefully, reflecting on its messages, constantly seeking guidance for our lives. Just as our material body is in constant need of food for its sustenance, our spiritual soul or Rooh is also in perpetual need for its nourishment. And just as the food for our bodies is derived from the earth, the diet for our souls is obtained from the Word of God, the Holy Quran itself.

Moreover, a regular and constant programme of reciting the Holy Quran is also needed because it is a means of refreshing and reviving our faith, and a weapon for surmounting the obstacles in the path of Almighty Allah (swt). The ideal way in which the Holy Book should be recited is that one should stand in the post-midnight prayer before his Lord (swt) and recite its Ayahs in a slow and patient manner, pausing at proper places so as to enable one´s heart to imbibe its influence.

Our Third Obligation

The third obligationis to understand and comprehend the Holy Quran. The Quran has been revealed so that it may be understood and pondered upon. Of course, there are numerous levels and grades of comprehension, accessible to different persons according to their respective planes of intellect and consciousness.

The first stage in the comprehension of the Holy Quran is called Tazakkur, a term which alludes to the fact that the teachings of the Quran are not at all foreign or alien to the human Fitrah. Instead, they represent the eternal truths dormant in the human soul itself, and the reading or listening of the Holy Quran only facilitates the recalling of these forgotten verities. The Holy Quran has been rendered very easy by Almighty Allah (swt) for the purpose of gaining this level of guidance. It does not matter if a person´s intelligence is limited, or his knowledge of logic and philosophy is poor, or if he has no fine sense of language and literature. In spite of these drawbacks, he can still understand the basic message and practical guidance of the Holy Quran, provided he has an untainted nature not perverted by any crookedness.

The knowledge of Arabic language is, however, indispensable for this purpose. Muslims, who are not only educated but who have obtained advanced degrees in arts and sciences, would have no excuse before Almighty Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement, if they failed to learn so much Arabic as would have enabled them to understand His Book. Learning basic Arabic is a duty that every educated Muslim owes to the Holy Quran.

The second stage in the comprehension of the Holy Quran is far from easy. Tadabbur is described as a penetrating study, an intense reflection, as thorough deliberation of the Holy Quran as possible. It involves diving deep into the bottomless ocean of its wisdom. This kind of understanding is impossible, unless one is to devote his entire life, all his talents, and all his energies for the sole purpose of comprehending the Quran. Obviously, not everyone is capable of such a high level of devotion and effort to acquire such insight and comprehension. But there must be a number of persons, at all times, who are engaged in this enterprise.

Such scholars cannot be produced unless we have a network of universities throughout the Muslim world, which concentrate on Quranic research by making it the focus of all their intellectual activity. Such scholars would need to have a thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and its grammar and a refined literary taste to appreciate the beauty and force of its expression. They must acquire a good grounding in the language in which the Quran was revealed by a critical study of the works of the pre-Islamic poets and orators. They must be able to appreciate the terms and modes of expression evolved by the Quran itself, along with an understanding of the coherence in the Quran. A good knowledge of tradition and old scriptures is also necessary for the comprehension of the Quran. Along with this classical knowledge, the scholars must also have an understanding of the fundamentals of modern physical and social sciences. This would widen their intellectual horizon and enable them to present the eternal Quranic truths in the contemporary idiom.

Our Fourth Obligation

The fourth obligationis to act upon the teachings of the Holy Quran. The Quran is the ‘guidance for mankind’. The purpose for which this Book has been revealed will be fully realized only when people act upon its teachings and make it the guide for them in every sphere of their lives. If we disregard the injunctions of the Quran, then the reading and understanding of the Holy Book, instead of doing us any good, will only make us guiltier before Almighty Allah (swt).

At an individual level, it is imperative for every Muslim to mould his or her life according to the teachings of the Quran. The best way to benefit from the study of the Holy Quran is to go on changing our lifestyles and mending our ways in accordance with its teachings.

At the collective level of the community, it is equally imperative for us to try and establish the system of social justice as given by the Holy Quran. The Muslims are, as a whole, responsible for establishing the Sovereignty of Almighty Allah (swt) in the public as well as the private sphere, and each of us is obligated to try his utmost in this path. The struggle for the establishment of such a just and equitable order in accordance with the teachings of the Quran is the bounding duty of its followers.

Our Fifth Obligation

The fifth obligation is to propagate the message of the Holy Quran to every nook and corner of the world. This was originally the responsibility of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who fulfilled his own obligation by conveying the Divine message to the Ummah; since Prophethood has been concluded with the advent of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who is the last of the Divine Messengers, it is now the duty of the Muslims to deliver that message to all humanity. Unfortunately, the proclamation of the Divine message to the whole world appears like a far-fetched and fantastic idea, because, at the moment, the Muslims themselves are ignorant of the teachings of the Holy Quran.

Therefore, a powerful intellectual and academic movement – back to the Quranis needed in order to propagate and disseminate the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Quran, both on a general scale for the benefit of our masses and on the highest level of scholarship in order to convert the educated and intelligent elite of the Muslim society.

Lal Masjid in Focus

Vol 4-Issue 3 Lal Masjid in focusDr. Israr Ahmed gave two lectures on the incidence of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. Here are the excerpts from his speech.

Historical background of Jihadi movements

When the Colonial rule was coming to an end, Muslims around the world started waking up like a sleeping giant from a deep slumber. They remembered that they once had a Deen, their own socio-political system, a glorious past an independent identity. This self awareness gave rise to a number of movements that wanted to re-establish Islamic values and systems. These movements were all contemporaries and had the same driving force. Their motive was to re-establish Islam.

There were movements in Indonesia, Turkey, Iran. The Indo-Pak sub-continent also had its share of such Tehreeks, namely: Hizbullah of Maulana Abu Kalam Azad (1913-1920), Tablegi Jamat of Maulana Ilyas, Jamat ul Muslimeen of the Khairi Brothers, Tahreek-e-Mujahideen in Aligarh, etc. All these movements had good intentions, Khuloos and Ikhlaas, zeal and passion. They even had very clear objectives and target. However, they had no workable methodology for establishing Deen and that was the reason, why none of these Jamaats was successful. These groups tried the prevailing systems of democracy, electoral system but they failed.

However, the USA could see their force, zeal and passion. It realized that if harnessed, these people can move mountains and are not afraid to die. Dying for the cause of Deen is a big honour. At that time, communist Soviet Union was a threat to the American capitalist ideology. The USA decided to use the Muslim world, and the result was the Afghan war. Muslims from all over the world came with sincerity and for the establishment of Deen. Their intensions are not at all questionable but the hands behind them were.

The USA distributed millions of copies of the Glorious Quran and fueled the spirit of Jihad for its own cause. It also supplied arms and ammunition. At the same time, Pakistan also decided to use these Jihadis to serve their own purpose to liberate occupied Kashmir. Thus started a culture of Jihadis – people with good intentions, great motivation and clear target, but no effective methodology.

Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa

Lal Masjid was one of the first mosques built in Islamabad. The clergy of Lal Masjid became an off-shoot of the Jihadi culture promoted by America and Pakistani government. The students at the Jamia Hafsa, under Lal Masjid, were taught the Quran and the spirit of Jihad, all with good intentions and right objectives.

However, the attitude of the USA and Pakistan towards the Jihadis changed after the Afghan war, as they foresaw a threat that might harm them. Hence, they withdrew their support of these Jihadis.

Now, the same Jihadis couldn’t alter their ideologies based on a mission. When they saw Pakistan marching on the road to secularism, they decided to take the law into their own hands, committing a mistake.

At that time, general Pervaiz Musharraf was treading on disturbed waters. His standing and support inside the country was falling. The mayhem involving Supreme court Chief Justice Chaudry was gaining momentum. Then, there was the APC in London.

Now, the taking over of children’s library by the Lal Masjid brigade provided the right kind of distraction. Here was a group of religious extremist militants, and he was the knight in shining armour. He let the small pimple grow into a big infected tumor and then did a major operation. An operation that took many lives of women and children. This military operation could have been easily avoided by using antibiotics of timely negotiations.

Hamid Mir wrote in this article for “Jang” (July 12) that Abdur Rasheed Ghazi said that if their gas, electricity and water supplies were cut off immediately, they could not have stayed locked up for too long in the children’s library. The government kept delaying taking action on the grounds that there were women and children involved. Actually, they could have easily sent women police officers from all over the country for the raid, but no such efforts were made.

However, the leader of Pakistan received a lot of praise and applause from Britain, China and the USA for his stand on fight against terrorism and extremism. Now, his position is better – he has gained support of foreign countries at the cost of his own people’s lives.

Consequences:

This unfortunate showdown of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa will have very serious consequences. On one hand, the militant Jihadi groups will become more aggressive because of the martyrdom of Sheikh Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, and on the other – the secular movements will also strengthen their efforts. More and more Masajids and Madrassahs will be brought down. The polarization has become very clear.

May Allah (swt) help, guide and protect us all. Ameen.