Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta)

Vol 4-Issue 3 Ubayy ibn Kab ra“O Abu Mundhir! Which verse of the Book of Allah is the greatest?” asked the Messenger of Allah (sa). “Allah and His Messenger know best,” came the reply. The Prophet (sa) repeated the question and Abu Mundhir in response recited Ayat Al-Kursi or the Verse of the Throne:

“Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Hayyul-Qayyuum (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists). Neither slumber no sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. (…)” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

The Prophet (sa) beamed and smote his chest with his right hand in approval, and said to Abu Mundhir: “May knowledge delight and benefit you, Abu Mundhir.”

This Abu Mundhir, whom the Prophet (sa) congratulated on the knowledge and understanding which Allah had bestowed on him, was Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) – one of his distinguished companions and a person of high esteem in the early Muslim community.

Ubayy (rta) was one of the Ansar and belonged to the Khazraj tribe. He was one of the first persons of Yathrib to accept Islam. He pledged allegiance to the Prophet (sa) at Al-Aqabah before the Hijrah. He participated in the Battle of Badr and other engagements thereafter.

Ubayy (rta) was one of the select few, who committed the Quranic revelations to writing and had a Mus-haf (transcript) of his own. He was the Prophet’s (sa) scribe. At the Prophet’s (sa) demise, he was one of the twenty five or so, who knew the Quran by heart. His recitation was so beautiful and his understanding so profound that the Prophet (sa) encouraged his companions to learn the Quran from him. Later, when Umar (rta) was busy with financial matter of the state, he told Muslims: “O, people! Whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Ubayy Ibn Kab.”

Ubayy (rta) enjoyed a special honour with regard to the Quran. One day, the Prophet (sa) said: “O, Ubayy Ibn Kab! I have been commanded to show the Quran to you.”

Ubayy (rta) was elated. He knew, of course, that the Prophet (sa) received commands only from Allah (swt). Unable to control his excitement, he asked: “O Messenger of Allah (sa) (…) Have I been mentioned to you by name?” “Yes,” replied the Prophet (sa), “by your own name and by your genealogy (Nasab) in the highest heavens.”

Any Muslim, whose name had been conveyed to the heart of the Prophet (sa) in this manner, must certainly have been of great ability and tremendously high stature.

Throughout the years of his association with the Prophet (sa), Ubayy (rta) derived the maximum benefit from his sweet and noble personality and teachings. Ubayy (rta) related that the Prophet (sa) once asked him: “Shall I not teach you a Surah the like of which has not been revealed in the Tawrah, nor in the Injil, nor in the Zabur, nor in the Quran?” ”Certainly,” replied Ubayy (rta). “I hope you would not leave through that door, until you know what it is,” said the Prophet (sa), obviously prolonging the suspense for Ubayy (rta). Ubayy (rta) continues: “He stood up and I stood up with him. With my hand in his, he started to speak. I tried to delay him, fearing that he would leave before letting me know what the Surah was. When he reached the door, I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! The Surah which you promised to tell me…” He replied: “What do you recite when you stand for Salat?” So, I recited for him Fatihatu-l-Kitab (the Opening Chapter of the Quran) and he said: “(That’s) it! (That’s) it! They are the seven oft-repeated verses, of which Allah Almighty has said: ‘We have given you the seven oft-repeated verses and the Mighty Quran.’”

Ubayy’s (rta) devotion to the Quran was uncompromising. Once, he recited part of a verse which the Khalifah Umar (rta) apparently could not remember, and he said to Ubayy (rta): “You have lied.” To this Ubayy (rta) retorted: “Rather, you have lied.”

A person, who heard the exchange, was astounded and said to Ubayy (rta): “Do you call the Amir Al-Muminin a liar?” “I have greater honour and respect for the Amir Al-Muminin than you,” responded Ubayy (rta), “but he has erred in verifying the Book of Allah, and I shall not say that the Amir Al-Muminin is correct, when he has made an error concerning the Book of Allah.” “Ubayy is right,” concluded Umar (rta).

Ubayy (rta) gave an example regarding the importance of the Quran, when a man came to him and said: “Advise me.” He replied: “Take the Book of Allah as (your) leader (Imam). Be satisfied with it as (your) judge and ruler. It is what the Prophet (sa) has bequeathed to you. (It is your) intercessor with Allah (swt) and should be obeyed.”

After the demise of the Prophet (sa), Ubayy (rta) remained strong in his attachment to Islam and his commitment to the Quran and the Sunnah. He was constant in his Ibaddah and would often be found in the mosque at night after the Isha engaged in worship or in teaching. Once he was sitting in the mosque after Salah with a group of Muslims making supplication. Umar (rta) came in, sat with them and asked each to recite a Dua. They all did, until finally Ubayy’s (rta) turn came. He was sitting next to Umar (rta). He felt somewhat over-awed and became flustered. Umar (rta) prompted him and suggested that he say: “Allahumma ighfir lana. Allahumma irhamna. (O Lord, forgive us. O Lord, have mercy on us).”

Taqwah remained the guiding force in Ubayy’s (rta) life. He lived simply and did not allow the world to corrupt or deceive him. He had a good grasp of reality and knew that however a person lived and whatever comforts and luxuries he enjoyed, these would all fade away and his good deeds would be his only credit. He was always a sort of warner to Muslims, reminding them of the times of the Prophet (sa), of Muslims’ devotion to Islam, of their simplicity and spirit of sacrifice. Many people came to him seeking knowledge and advice. To one such person he said: “The believer has four characteristics. If he is afflicted by any misfortune, he remains patient and steadfast. If he is given anything, he is grateful. If he speaks, he speaks the truth. If he passes a judgment on any issue, he is just.”

Umar (rta) gave him the title of ‘Sayyid of the Muslims’. He was part of the consultative group (Mushawarah) to which Caliph Abu Bakr (rta) referred many problems. This group was composed of men of good sense and judgment (Ahl Ar-Rav) and men who knew the law (Ahl Al-Fiqh) from among the Muhajirin and Ansar. It included Umar (rta), Uthman (rta), Ali (rta), Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf (rta), MuAdh Ibn Jabal (rta), Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) and Zayd Ibn Harithah (rta). Later, when Umar (rta) became Caliph, he consulted the same group. Specifically for Fatwahs (legal judgments) he would refer to Uthman (rta), Ubayy (rta) and Zayd Ibn Thabit (rta).

Suhayb Ar-Rumi (rta)

Vol 4- Issue 2 Suhayb Ar-Rumi raAbout twenty years before the start of the Prophet’s (sa) mission, around the middle of the sixth century CE, an Arab named Sinan Ibn Malik governed the city of Al-Uballah on behalf of the Persian emperor. The city, now part of Al-Basrah, lay on the banks of the Euphrates River. Sinan lived in a luxurious palace on the banks of the river. He had several children and was particularly fond of one, who was then barely five years old. His name was Suhayb Ibn Sinan. He was blond and fair-complexioned. He was active and alert and gave much pleasure to his father.

One day Suhayb’s (rta) mother took him and some members of her household to a village called Ath-Thani for a picnic. There a raiding party of Byzantine soldiers attacked the village. The guards accompanying the picnic party were overwhelmed and killed. All possessions were seized and a large number of persons were taken as prisoners. Among these was Suhayb Ibn Sinan (rta).

Suhayb (rta) was taken to one of the slave markets of the Byzantine Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, where he was sold. Thereafter he passed from the hands of one slave master to another. His fate was no different from thousands of other slaves, who filled the houses, the palaces and castles of Byzantine rulers and aristocrats.

Suhayb (rta) spent his boyhood and his youth as a slave. For about twenty years he stayed in Byzantine lands. This gave him the opportunity to get a rare knowledge and understanding of the Byzantine Empire and society. In the palaces of the aristocracy, he saw with his own eyes the injustices and the corruption of Byzantine life. He detested that society and later would say: “A society like this can only be purified by a deluge.”

Suhayb (rta) grew up speaking Greek, the language of the Byzantine Empire. He practically forgot Arabic. But he never forgot that he was a son of the desert. He longed for the day, when he would be free again to join his people. At the first opportunity, Suhayb (rta) escaped from bondage and headed straight for Makkah, which was a place of refuge. There people called him Suhayb ‘ar-Rumi’ or ‘the Byzantine’ because of his peculiarly heavy speech and his blond hair. He became the assistant of one of the aristocrats of Makkah, Abdullah Ibn Judan. He engaged in trade and prospered.

One day returning to Makkah from one of his trading journeys, he was told that Muhammad (sa) the son of Abdullah had begun calling people to believe in Allah (swt) alone, commanding them to be just and prohibiting them from shameful and reprehensible deeds. He immediately enquired who Muhammad (sa) was and where he stayed.

Suhayb (rta) went cautiously to the house of Al-Arqam and listened to what Muhammad (sa) was saying. He was readily convinced of the truth of the message. The light of faith entered his heart. At this meeting, he pledged loyalty to the Prophet (sa), declaring that there is no God but Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) is the Messenger of Allah. He spent the entire day in the company of the noble Prophet (sa). At night, he happily left the house of Al-Arqam, with the light of faith in his heart.

Then, the familiar pattern of events followed. The idolatrous Quraish learnt about Suhayb’s (rta) acceptance of Islam and began harassing and persecuting him. The punishment was inhuman and severe but Suhayb (rta) bore it all with a patient and courageous heart, because he knew that the path to Jannah is paved with thorns and difficulties. The teachings of the noble Prophet (sa) had instilled in him and other companions a rare strength and courage.

When the Prophet (sa) eventually gave permission for his followers to migrate to Madinah, Suhayb (rta) resolved to go in the company of the Prophet (sa) and Abu Bakr (rta). The Quraish, however, found out about his intentions and foiled his plans. They placed guards over him to prevent him from leaving and taking with him the wealth, which he had acquired through trade.

After the departure of the Prophet (sa) and Abu Bakr (rta), Suhayb (rta) continued to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to join them. He remained unsuccessful. The eyes of his guards were ever alert and watchful.

One cold night, Suhayb (rta) pretended to have stomach problems and went out repeatedly, as if responding to calls of nature. His captors became relaxed and sleep got the better of them. Suhayb (rta) quietly slipped out, armed himself, and headed in the direction of Madinah.

When his captors awoke, they realized that Suhayb (rta) was gone. They set out in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him. Seeing them approach, Suhayb (rta) clambered up a hill. Ready with his bow and arrow, he shouted: “Men of Quraish! You know, by Allah, that I am one of the best archers and my aim is unerring. By Allah, if you come near me, with each arrow I have, I shall kill one of you. Then, I shall strike with my sword.” A Quraish spokesman responded: “By God, we shall not let you escape from us with your life and money. You came to Makkah weak and poor and you have acquired what you have acquired.” “What would you say, if I leave you my wealth?” interrupted Suhayb (rta). “Would you get out of my way?” “Yes,” they agreed.

Suhayb (rta) described the place in his house in Makkah, where he had left the money, and they allowed him to go.

He set off as quickly as he could for Madinah, cherishing the prospect of being with the Prophet (sa) and of having the freedom to worship God in peace. Whenever he felt tired, the thought of meeting the Prophet (sa) sustained him, and he proceeded with increased determination. When Suhayb (rta) reached Quba, just outside Madinah where the Prophet (sa) himself alighted after his Hijrah, the Prophet (sa) saw him approaching. He was over-joyed and greeted Suhayb (rta) with beaming smiles. “Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has been fruitful.” He repeated this-three times.

Suhayb’s (rta) face was filled with happiness, as he said: “By Allah, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of Allah (sa), and only Jibril could have told you about this.”

Yes indeed! Suhayb’s (rta) transaction was fruitful. Revelation affirmed the truth of this: “And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the Pleasure of Allah. And Allah is full of Kindness to (His) slaves.” (Al-Baqarah 2:207)

The Prophet (sa) loved Suhayb (rta) a great deal. He was commended by the Prophet and described as preceding the Byzantines to Islam. In addition to his piety and sobriety, Suhayb (rta) was also light-hearted at times and had a good sense of humour.

One day the Prophet (sa) saw him eating dates. He noticed that Suhayb (rta) had an infection in one eye. The Prophet (sa) said to him laughingly: Do you eat ripe dates while you have an infection in one eye?” “What’s wrong?” replied Suhayb (rta), “I am eating it with the other eye.”

Suhayb (rta) was also known for his generosity. In the period of the caliphate, he used to give his entire stipend from the public treasury to help the poor and distressed. He was so generous that Umar (rta) once remarked: “I have seen you giving out so much food that you appear to be too extravagant.” Suhayb (rta) replied: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say: ‘The best of you is the one, who gives out food.’”

Suhayb’s (rta) piety and his standing among Muslims was so high that he was selected by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) to lead the Muslims in the period between his death and the choosing of his successor.

Suhayb (rta) was undoubtedly among the shining stars, who contributed immensely in the infancy of Islam and earned a respectable status for his love of Allah (swt) and the Messenger (sa).

Said ibn Zayd (rta)

Vol 4-Issue 1 Said Ibn Zayd raZayd (rta), the son of Amr, stood away from the Quraish crowd, as they celebrated one of their festivals. He watched as sacrificial animals, gaily caparisoned, were led out to slaughter before the Quraish idols. He shouted: “O people of Quraish! It is Allah, Who has created the sheep. He it is, Who has sent down rain from the skies, of which they drink, and He has caused fodder to grow from the earth, with which they are fed. Then even so you slaughter them in names other than His. Indeed, I see that you are an ignorant folk.”

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab, the father of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, seethed with anger: “Damn you! We still hear from you such stupidity. We have borne it until our patience is exhausted.” Al-Khattab then incited a number of violent people to harass and persecute Zayd (rta).

Before Muhammad’s (sa) call to the prophet hood, Zayd (rta) was one of the few men, known as Hanifs, who saw the idolatrous practices for what they were. He proclaimed that he worshipped the God of Ibrahim.

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab had him hounded and persecuted to the point, where he was forced to leave the valley of Makkah. He managed to enter Makkah only in secret. Finding it impossible to stay in Makkah, Zayd (rta) left the Hijaz and went as far as Mosul in the north of Iraq and from there southwest into Syria. Throughout his journeys, he always questioned monks and rabbis about the religion of Ibrahim. He found no satisfaction, until he came upon a monk in Syria, who is reported to have told him that the religion he was seeking did not exist any longer, but the time was now near, when God would send forth from his own people a Prophet, who would revive the religion of Ibrahim.

Zayd (rta) headed for Makkah, intending to meet the expected Prophet. As he was passing through the territory of Lakhm on the southern border of Syria, he was killed by a group of nomad Arabs, before he could set eyes on the Messenger (sa). However, before he breathed his last, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said: “O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.”

Allah (swt) heard the prayer of Zayd (rta). When Muhammad (sa) rose up inviting people to Islam, his son Said was in the forefront of those, who believed in the oneness of Allah (swt) and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa).

Said was not yet twenty, when he embraced Islam. His wife Fatimah, daughter of Al-Khattab and sister of Umar, also accepted Islam early. Evidently, both Said and Fatimah managed to conceal their acceptance of Islam from the Quraish, especially from Fatimah’s family. She feared not only her father but also her brother Umar, who was brought up to venerate the Kabah and to cherish the unity of the Quraish and their religion.

Umar saw Islam as a threat to the Quraish and became most violent and unrestrained in his attacks on Muslims. He finally decided that the only way to put an end to the trouble was to eliminate the man who was its cause. Goaded on by blind fury, he took up his sword and headed for the Prophet’s house. On his way, he came face to face with a secret believer in the Prophet, who, seeing Umar’s grim expression, asked him, where he was going. “I am going to kill Muhammad…”

The believer sought to dissuade him from his intent but Umar was deaf to any arguments. He then thought of diverting Umar, in order to warn the Prophet (sa) of his intentions. “O Umar,” he said, “why not first go back to the people of your own house and set them to rights?” “What people of my house?” asked Umar. “Your sister Fatimah and your brother-in-law Said. They have both forsaken your religion and are the followers of Muhammad…”

Umar turned and made straight for his sister’s house. Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt, who often came to recite the Quran to Said (rta) and Fatimah (rta), was with them then. When they heard Umar’s voice, Khabbab hid in a corner of the house, and Fatimah (rta) concealed the manuscript. But Umar had heard the sound of their reading and when he came in, he said to them: “What is this Haynamah (gibbering) I heard?”

They tried to assure him that it was only normal conversation, but he insisted: “Hear it I did,” he said: “and it is possible that you have both become renegades.”

“Have you not considered whether the Truth is not to be found in your religion?” Said (rta) said to Umar, trying to reason with him. Instead, Umar set upon his brother-in-law hitting and kicking him as hard as he could. When Fatimah (rta) went to defend her husband, Umar (rta) struck her a blow on her face, which drew blood.

“O Umar,” said Fatimah (rta), and she was angry. “What if the truth is not in your religion? I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

When Umar (rta) saw Fatimah’s (rta) bleeding wound, he was sorry for what he had done. A change came over him, and he said to his sister: “Give me that script, which you have, that I may read it.” Fatimah (rta) replied: “You are impure and only the pure may touch it. Go and wash yourself or make ablution.”

Thereupon Umar (rta) went and washed himself, and she gave him the page with the opening verses of Surah Ta-Ha. When he reached the verse: “Verily, I – I alone – am God, there is no deity but me. So, worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer so as to remember Me,” he said: “Show me, where Muhammad is.”

Umar (rta) then made his way to the house of Al-Arqam, where he declared his acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (sa) and all his companions rejoiced.

Said (rta) and his wife Fatimah (rta) were, thus, the immediate cause leading to the conversion of the strong and determined Umar (rta), which substantially added to the power and prestige of the emerging faith.

Said ibn Zayd (rta) was totally devoted to the Prophet (sa) and the service of Islam. He witnessed nearly all the major campaigns and encounters, in which the Prophet (sa) engaged.

After the death of the Prophet (sa), Said continued to play a major role in the Muslim community. He was one of those, whom Abu Bakr (rta) consulted on his succession. He was also known for his courage and heroism. Said was ranked by the Prophet (sa) as one of the outstanding members of his generation. He was among those ten companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) promised Paradise.

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception – Part III

which_method-HUBThe Viewpoint of Scholars

In 1988 a Fiqh council held in Kuwait issued certain resolutions regarding the methods of contraception. These were based on the fact that one of the objectives of marriage, according to Shariah, is to reproduce and preserve the human race. It is not permissible to undermine this objective, as it goes against the teachings of Shariah, which call for having many children.

The resolution stated:

(1) It is not permissible to issue laws that limit the freedom of couples to have children.

(2) It is Haram to remove the ability of men and women to have children (known as sterilization) as long as there is no need to do so according to Shariah principles.

(3) It is permissible to use temporary means of contraception, in order to increase the gaps between pregnancies, or to stop them for a limited period of time, if there is a valid Shariah reason for doing so. This should be based on the couple’s estimation and with mutual consultation and agreement subject to the condition that this does not result in harm and that the means is acceptable according to Shariah and will not damage any existing pregnancy.

It is permissible to engage in Coitus Interruptus (Azl), if a person does not want a child. It is also permissible to use a condom, if the wife gives her permission for that, because she has the right to full enjoyment and to having a child. The evidence for this is the Hadeeth of Jabir ibn Abdullah (rta) who said: “We used to engage in Coitus Interruptus at the time of the Messenger of Allah. News of that reached the Messenger of Allah, and he did not forbid us to do that.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Although that is permitted, it is, nevertheless, Makrooh (intensely disliked) The Prophet (sa) said about Coitus Interruptus: “That is the secret burying alive of infants” (Muslim).

An-Nawawi said: “Coitus Interruptus means intercourse, in which, when ejaculation approaches, the man withdraws and ejaculates outside the vagina. It is Makrooh in our view in all circumstances and with all women, whether the woman consents to that or not, because it is a means of preventing offspring. Hence, in the Hadeeth it is called ‘the secret burying alive of children,’ because it cuts off the means of producing offspring, like killing a newborn by burying him or her alive. With regard to it being Haram, our companions said that it was not forbidden.”

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “What Muslims should do is to have as many children as they can, because this is the command issued by the Prophet (sa): ‘Marry the one, who is loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations [i.e., on the Day of Resurrection].’ (Abu Dawood)  Increasing the number of children increases the size of the Ummah, and being of great numbers is a source of pride, as Allah (swt) said, reminding the Children of Israel: ‘And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in man-power.’” (Al-Isra 17:6)

Great numbers of Muslims would lend the Ummah pride and strength, not poverty and hunger, as some might think. If the Ummah increases in number, relies on Allah, and believes in His promise: “And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah” (Hood 11:6), then Allah (swt) will make things easy for them and will grant them sufficient means from His Bounty.

Regarding the use of birth control pills, Fatawa Al-Marah Al-Muslimah states that a woman should not take them, unless the following two conditions are met:

(1) She should have a reason for it, such as being sick and unable to bear a pregnancy every year, or being physically weak, or having other reasons, why getting pregnant every year would be harmful for her.

(2) Her husband should give his permission, because the husband has the right to have children. This must also be done in consultation with a doctor, in order to find out, whether taking these pills will be harmful for her or not.

If these two conditions are met, then it is acceptable for her to use these pills, but that should not be on a permanent basis, i.e., she should not use the type of birth control pills that prevent pregnancy permanently, because this is preventing progeny.

Concerning the harms caused by contraception, Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “Birth control pills a number of doctors say are harmful. Even if we do not know this from the doctors, we realize that preventing something natural that Allah has created and decreed for the daughters of Adam is undoubtedly harmful. Allah is Wise, and He has only created this blood, which flows at certain times for a reason. If we prevent it with these medicines, that is harmful without a doubt. It may also be a means of damaging the womb, and a means of causing nervous disorders. This is something we must beware of.”

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz was asked: “What is the ruling on removing the uterus, in order to avoid having children for medical reasons, which are either present, or may occur in the future and have been predicted by medical and scientific means?”

He answered: “If that is necessary, then it is acceptable; otherwise, it should not be done, because the Law giver urges us to have children and promotes that, in order to increase the size of the Ummah. But if there is a necessary reason, then it is OK, just as it is permissible to use means of contraception for a limited time for a legitimate Shariah reason.”

The same applies also to the use of the coil. It has been proven that this contraceptive method causes harm, especially when it is used continually. It is known that the woman, who has a coil inserted, has an increased flow of menstrual blood, and her period may come twice a month, which causes an iron deficiency in her body. Some women may become anemic and suffer from infections of the uterus. Also, a woman can become pregnant with the coil in place.

Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “With regard to Azl, some of the scholars regarded it as Haram, but the view of the four Imams is that it is permissible with the wife’s permission. It is permissible for the spouses to agree on family planning, so long as that is not permanent and subject to the condition that the means used do not harm the woman.”

Practicing contraception is really a judgment call. Only husband and wife can decide, whether they mean to limit their family for selfish reasons (such as a luxurious standard of living, freedom in mobility, or pursuit of a career by the woman), or there is a genuine problem behind their decision. Whatever the reason may be Allah (swt) knows every soul’s deep intentions.

Abu Darda (rta)

Abu Ad-DardaEarly one morning, Abu Darda (rta) awoke and went straight to his idol, which he kept in the best part of his house. He greeted it, anointed it with the best perfume from his large shop, and decked it with beautiful silk.

When the sun was high in the sky, he left his house for his shop. On that day the streets and alleys of Madinah were crowded with the followers of Muhammad (sa) returning from Badr. With them were several prisoners of war. Abu Darda (rta) asked about the fate of his close friend, Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta). Everyone in Madinah knew the bond of brotherhood, which existed between the two men from the days of Jahiliyah. When Islam came to the city, lbn Rawahah (rta) embraced it, but Abu Darda (rta) rejected it. This, however, did not rupture the relationship between them.

One day Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta) went to Abu Darda (rta)’s house, while he was at his shop, and took out an axe, which he had brought with him, and began destroying the idol while saying: “Isn’t everything Batil (falsehood), which is worshipped besides Allah?” When the idol was completely smashed, he left the house.

Abu Darda (rta) returned home and saw his wife sitting at the door of the room, where he kept his idol. She was clearly distressed and narrated the incident to her husband. Abu Darda (rta) looked at the broken idol and was horrified. He was consumed with anger and determined to take revenge.

However, it was not too long before his anger subsided and thoughts of avenging his idol disappeared. Instead, he reflected on what had happened and said to himself: “If there was any good in this idol, he would have defended himself.” He then went straight to Abdullah, and together they went to the Prophet (sa). There he announced his acceptance of Islam.

From that time onwards, Abu Darda (rta) devoted himself completely to Islam. He deeply regretted every moment he had spent as a Mushrik and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about Islam in the preceding two or three years. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night, to make up for what he had missed.

Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. He spent a lot of time memorizing the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When trade kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without regret. Someone asked him why, and he replied: “I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of Allah (swt) (sa). When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (Tijarah) and worship (Ibadah), but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards Ibadah. By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu Darda (rta), I want to have a shop near the door of the Masjid, so that I would not miss any Salah with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy, and make a modest profit every day. Allah, Great and Majestic, has not prohibited trade, but I want to be among those, whom neither trade nor does selling distract from the remembrance of Allah.”

During his caliphate, Umar (rta) appointed Abu Darda (rta) as a governor in Syria. In Damascus, Abu Darda (rta) found people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the Masjid and spoke to them: “O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors, who live together, and helpers of one another against enemies. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world), while the ignorant among you are not learning? I see that you incline towards such things, which Allah has made you answerable for, and you abandon that, which He has commanded you to do.”

“Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding, what you do not eat, and erecting buildings, in which you do not live? Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed. Their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of Ad. O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children. Who is there, who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of Ad for two Dirhams?”

The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the Masjid. From that day, Abu Darda (rta) began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus.

Once, he passed a group of people crowding around a man, whom they began to insult and beat. He came up to them and asked: “What’s the matter?” “This is a man, who has committed a grave sin,” they replied. “What do you think you would do, if he had fallen into a well?” asked Abu Darda (rta). “Wouldn’t you try to get him out?” “Certainly,” they said. “Don’t insult and beat him. Instead, make him aware of the consequences of what he has done. Then give praise to Allah, Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin.” “Don’t you hate him?” they asked Abu Darda. “I only detest, what he has done, and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother.” The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.

While Abu Darda (rta) was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night, he went to visit Abu Darda (rta) at home. There was no light in the house. Abu Darda (rta) welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar (rta) felt Abu Darda’s (rta) ‘pillow’ and realized it was an animal’s saddle. He touched the place, where Abu Darda (rta) lay, and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet, with which he covered himself, and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn’t possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus.

Umar (rta) asked him: “Shouldn’t I make things more comfortable for you?”

“Do you remember, Umar,” said Abu Darda (rta), “a Hadeeth, which the Prophet (sa) told us?” “What is it?” asked Umar (rta). “Did he not say: ‘Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider?'” “Yes,” said Umar (rta). “And what have we done after this, o Umar?” asked Abu Darda (rta). Both men were moved to tears, no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.

This was Abu Darda (rta) – the wise man. When people praised his piety and asked him to implore Allah (swt) for them, he replied in humility: “I can’t swim well and I fear drowning.”

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta)

Vol 3- Issue 3   Abdur Rahman ibn 'AwfHis name in the days of Jahiliyah was Abdu Amr, but after accepting Islam, the Prophet (sa) called him Abdur-Rahman (rta) – the servant of the Beneficent. Abdur-Rahman (rta) became a Muslim two days after Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (rta). He did not escape but steadfastly bore the punishment inflicted on the early Muslims by Quraish. As a result, when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia, Abdur-Rahman (rta) went too. He returned to Makkah, when it was rumoured that conditions had improved for Muslims, but that was contrary to the truth, and so he went to Abyssinia again on a second Hijrah. He later returned to Makkah and made the Hijrah to Madinah.

Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (sa) began pairing the Muhajirin with the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood, and eased the destitution of the Muhajirin. Abdur-Rahman (rta) was linked by the Prophet (sa) with Saad ibn ar-Rabiah (rta). Saad (rta) in the spirit of generosity offered to Abdur-Rahman (rta): “My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See, which of the two orchards you like, and I shall vacate it for you, and which of my two wives is pleasing to you, and I will divorce her for you.”

Abdur-Rahman (rta) replied: “May Allah (swt) bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me, where the Suk (market place) is.

Abdur-Rahman (rta) went to the marketplace and began trading whatever resources he had and made a profit. He continued and his profits grew rapidly. Soon, he was well off and was able to get married. He went to the Prophet (sa) smelling of perfume.

“Mahyam, O Abdur-Rahman!” exclaimed the Prophet (sa) – “Mahyam” being a word of Yemeni origin indication pleasant surprise. “I have got married,” replied Abdur-Rahman (rta). “And what did you give your wife as Mahr?” “The weight of a Nuwat in gold.” “You must have a feast, even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah (swt) bless you in your wealth,” said the Prophet (sa).

Thereafter Abdur-Rahman (rta) was successful in business.  It was said that if he lifted a stone, he expected to find gold or silver underneath!

Abdur-Rahman (rta) distinguished himself in both battles – Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm despite suffering over twenty wounds, some severe. Even so, his physical Jihad matched that of his wealth.

When the Prophet (sa) decided to send an expedition to distant Tabuk – the last Ghazwah during his lifetime – he was in need of finance, material, and men to go against the huge and well-equipped forces of the Byzantine. That year in Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long and provisions were low.

The Prophet (sa) urged his companions to give generously for the path of Allah (swt) and assured them that they would be rewarded. The Muslims’ response to the Prophet’s (sa) call was immediate and generous. In the forefront was Abdur-Rahman (rta), who donated two hundred Awqiyah of gold.

The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. The time of Salah came, and the Prophet (sa) was not there, so the Muslims chose Abdur-Rahman (rta) as their Imam. Just before the completion of the first Rakat the Prophet (sa) joined the worshippers and performed the Salah behind Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta). Could there be a greater honour conferred on anyone than to have been the Imam of the most honoured of Allah’s (swt) creation!

When the Prophet (sa) passed away, Abdur-Rahman (rta) took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family. He would go with them wherever they pleased, and even performed Hajj with them to ensure all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence, which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet’s (sa) family.

Once he sold a piece of land and distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (relatives of the Prophet’s (sa) mother Aminah (rta)), poor Muslims, and the Prophet’s (sa) wives.

The prayer of the Prophet (sa) that Allah (swt) should bestow Barakah on the wealth of Abdur-Rahman (rta) accompanied Abdur-Rahman (rta). He became the richest man among the Companions of the Prophet (sa). His trading caravans grew bringing to the people of Madinah wheat, flour, butter, cloth, utensils, perfume, and other commodities and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard beyond the boundaries of Madinah. In addition, clouds of dust were seen. The people of Madinah realized that a mighty caravan was entering their city. They were amazed as seven hundred camels laden with goods crowded the streets. There was much excitement as people called others to witness the sight and goods that they had brought.

Aisha (rta) heard the commotion and asked: “What is this that’s happening in Madinah?”

She was told: “It is the caravan of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf, which has come from Syria bearing merchandise.” “A caravan making all this commotion?” she asked in disbelief. “Yes, O Ummul-Mumineen. There are seven hundred camels.”

Aisha (rta) shook her head and gazed in the distance, trying to recall an utterance of the past and said: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say: ‘I have seen Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf entering Paradise creeping.'”

Some friends related this Hadeeth to Abdur-Rahman (rta), although he had heard it more than once from the Prophet (sa). He hurried to Aisha (rta) and said: “Ya Ammah! Have you heard that from the Messenger (sa)?” “Yes,” she replied.

“If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, ya Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will give Fi-Sabilillah.”

And so he did. This is just one incident that shows the type of man Abdur-Rahman (rta) was. He earned much wealth, but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and did not allow it to corrupt him.

All this wealth did not corrupt Abdur-Rahman (rta). When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day, food was brought to him with which to end a fast. He looked at the food and said: “Musab ibn ‘Umayr (rta) has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him, with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered… Then Allah (swt) endowed us with the (bounties of) the world… I really fear that our reward has been bestowed on us early (in this world).” He began to cry and sob and could not eat.

May Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta) be granted felicity among “Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah (swt) and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 262)

Simply Friends

Vol 3-Issue 2  Simply friendsBy Umm Isam and Dr. Sadaf Sheikh

Stepping out of an all-girls college, I entered the corporate world, which was not segregated. Alhumdulillah, I did a great job. I felt the myth of “girls going to co-ed are the confident ones” dissolve. I was never under-confident or threatened by any male (who were definitely the dominating work force) in spite of having no prior experience of working along with them.

There was, however, one thing common in almost all of my male colleagues. Deliberately or unintentionally they would grab the first chance they could to joke, flirt, play a super hero, try to impress, etc. Obviously, the co-working girls giggled and enjoyed all the attention (negative or positive) that came their way. Nobody was going out with no one, but the vibes or chemistry still existed even among good friends. This reminded me of the popular sitcom “Friends” – in spite of being casual buddies, there remained a cross connection among each and every one of the characters.

No matter how much we may hate chemistry, the only chemistry we are pulled towards as normal human beings is the boy-and-girl chemistry shown in movies, described in books and so on. It is natural, because Allah (swt) has wired the male and female bodies this way. They are meant to attract each other. So all such excuses as ‘we are simply friends,’ or ‘just a gang hanging out together,’ or ‘strictly working professionals’ is more of a self-deceptive game that we play with ourselves.

A teenager going to one of the most reputed co-ed schools of Karachi shared with me: “When girls from other schools come to our campus for their exams, you can tell that they have gone to extra length in dressing up to be noticed by boys.”

What happens, when a boy and a girl meet? Dr. Sadaf Sheikh reports a story from BBC News (2003) about how male sex hormones get easily triggered.

Scientists have proved that even the most seemingly innocent chat with a woman can be enough to send male sex hormones soaring. A team from the University of Chicago paid students to come into their lab under the pretence of testing their saliva chemistry. While there, the students got to chat to a young female research assistant. Saliva tests showed that the brief interaction was enough to raise testosterone levels by as much as 30%. The more a man’s hormone level shot up, the more attractive he later admitted the research assistant to be. The research assistant herself was also able to identify the men, who found her attractive. The men, whom she judged to be doing the most to impress her, proved to be those, who registered the biggest jump in testosterone levels.
However, little or no change was detected in the saliva of students, who chatted with other men.
Testosterone, a male sex hormone, has long been closely linked with the male libido. The researchers say their work is the first time that hard evidence has been produced about it. It is known that the release of testosterone in animals can embolden them, triggering courtship or aggressive behaviour. The Chicago team believes the same may be true about humans.
Dr. Nick Neave from the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Northumbria University said the study was very interesting. “Other researchers have found changes in male hormone levels after watching erotic movies, but this seems to be the first study attempting to assess hormone changes, when males meet women on a more ‘normal’ level.”
Dr. Benjamin Campbell, an anthropology expert at Boston University, said it was possible that testosterone made men bolder by suppressing activity in an area of the brain called the amygdala, which controls the stress reaction. Testosterone levels peak in a man by his early twenties, and then gradually diminish. Men, who are married or engaged in long-term relationships, have lower testosterone levels than those still playing in the field.
This research was published in the journal “Evolution and Human Behaviour.”

Now, this was the scientific explanation about the Hadeeth of Allah (swt)’s Apostle (sa): “A man should not be secluded with a woman except with a Mahram (guardian).” (Muslim)

The skipping of your heartbeat, sweating of your palms, giggling, babbling, blushing, or hitting around playfully are just some signs of your attraction towards the opposite sex. Understandingly, close interactions between the opposite sexes in solitude or in a confined environment are thus discouraged in Islam. This is not because Islam belongs to the medieval times, but because men and women have not changed since Adam (as) and Hawwa (as) and will continue to behave the same till the very last soul Allah (swt) will send to this world.

The Prophet (sa) also said: “A man should not be alone with a woman, for verily Satan makes a third” (Muslim). This is mainly for protecting both sexes and preventing the possibility of any evil that may come thereof. Infatuations, misunderstandings, broken hearts, and illicit relations are just to name a few.

Since nowadays the society encourages a mixed culture, unfortunately, it may be difficult at times for one to adhere to the Islamic principles. In this case we need to act with caution, care, distance, and poise. Your mannerisms are sufficient to signal to others that you are not interested in the simple friendship proposition. You will only interact with others for business in a decent manner, whether it is in college, at work or in the marketplace. There should be no under-currents, hidden messages or misleading behaviour.

Allah (swt) has given a code of conduct to the believing men and women: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah (swt) is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornments except only that which is apparent (like both eyes or palms of hands, etc.).” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Save the special friendship for your spouse-to-be and opt out of simple friendships with many. It’s time to pay attention to our self-dignity and not to the fools around us.

Beautiful Names

Vol 2 -Issue 4     Beautiful names“And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…” (Surah Al-Araaf 7:180)  Dr.Sadaf Shiekh and Umm Saad re-discover the Majesty of the Creator’s names.

1. Ar-Rahmaan: The Compassionate

The term Rahmaan comes from the Arabic word Rahmah. This name is exclusively for Allah, which encompasses every type of mercy that Allah has. Rahmah means tenderness, which makes one show kindness to others. Thus, Ar-Rahmaan means that Allah has much mercy and love for His creation.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them…” (Ibrahim 14:34)

“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah…” (Al-Nahl 16:53)

Since Allah has bestowed so much from the time when man was a drop of fluid in his mother’s womb till the time he dies, he should feel embarrassed to disobey Him. Another aspect of this name can be understood by the following Hadeeth, “Allah the Exhalted said, I am Ar-Rahman. I created the Rahm (womb, family relations) and derived a name for it from my name. Hence whoever keeps it, I will keep ties with him. And who ever severs it I will severe ties with him.” (Tuhfat Al – Ahwadhi 6:33)

2. Ar-Raheem: The Merciful

This is also derived from the word Rahma. But the difference is that Allah is Ar-Rahman to His creations but Ar-Raheem to the believers only. “And He is ever Raheem (merciful) to the believers.” (No reference of ayah)

Ar-Raheem is less general and softer than Ar-Rahman. Mercy is the patience and forgiveness that Allah holds for us and which flows from Him to all His creation, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to goodness. The Mercy of Allah is for everyone, while His justice and punishment are kept for those who turn away from the goodness. The benefits that we receive from others are because of Allah’s mercy to them and us. Allah says, “…My mercy embraces all things…” (Al-A’raf 7:156)

Allah has also described others by this name, “Verily there has come to you a Messenger from amongst yourself. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He (Muhammad sa) is anxious over you, for the believers he (sa) is kind and Raheem.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

A true Momin considers how generous and compassionate Allah has been to him in all of his affairs. To achieve more of that mercy, he humbles himself to Allah with sincere humility, supplications, best of speech and good deeds.

3. As-Samad: The Independent

This is one of the greatest names of Allah. Allah mentions this name in Surah Al-Ikhlas, which is equivalent to a third of the Quran. Al A’mash reported from Shaqiq who said that Abu Wail said, “As Samad is the master whose control is complete.” (Al Tabari 24:692)

Ikrimah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “That Allah As-Samad means the one Who all of the creation depends upon for their needs and their requests.” Ali bin Talhah (rta) reported from Ibn Abbas (rta),  “He is the Master Who is perfect in His sovereignty, the Most Noble Who is perfect in His nobility, the Most Magnificent Who is perfect in His magnificence, the Most Forbearing Who is perfect in his knowledge, and the Most Wise Who is perfect in his wisdom. He is the One who is perfect in all aspects of nobility and authority. He is Allah, glory be unto Him. These attributes are not befitting anyone other than Him. He has no co-equal and nothing is like Him. Glory be to Allah, the One Irresistible.” (Al Tabari 24:692)

The Best Prescription

Islam considers health to be one of the most important blessings given to human beings by Allah. Good health is something for which we are accountable to Allah. The Prophet (sa) said, “The first thing every servant of Allah will have to account for on the Day of Judgment is that he will be asked by Allah, Have I not given you a healthy constitution and have I not quenched your thirst with cold water?” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) also said, “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgment until he has been asked how he spent his life; how he used his knowledge; how he earned and spent his money; and in what pursuits he used his health.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The preservation of this blessing can only be achieved through taking good care of one’s health and taking every measure to maintain and enhance it. Moreover, the Quran and the Sunnah contain teachings, which show every Muslim how to protect his health generally and how to take care of each of his organs. Numerous examples can be given. Prominent among these is Wudhu (ablution), which Islam regards as compulsory whenever it is invalidated.

Bathing

Another act of worship, which also helps to maintain good health, is taking a shower, or Ghusl. This is compulsory when one is in the state of ritual impurity. We read in the Quran, “If you are defiled (following sexual intercourse or a wet dream) then purify yourselves.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) The Prophet (sa) also recommended his followers to have a shower on many occasions, such as on Fridays. He said, “He who comes to Friday prayer should first have a shower.” (Agreed upon)

Bathing is also recommended on the two feasts. Taking a shower is also recommended for entering into the state of consecration (Ihram); whether for Hajj (pilgrimage) or Umra (lesser-pilgrimage); after washing the body of a deceased person in preparation for burial; for praying for rain or eclipse of the sun; before secluding oneself for prayer; when body odour becomes too strong; and before attending any social gathering.

Hands, Feet, Nails, etc

Islamic teachings are not confined to general cleanliness, but also take care of local cleanliness, such as washing one’s hands. The Prophet (sa) used to wash his hands before eating. We are also recommended to clip our nails. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said, “Five practices are part of natural cleanliness: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, plucking out the armpit hair, cutting the nails and trimming the moustache.” (Agreed upon).

A Muslim is also supposed to keep the feet clean, for the Prophet (sa) used to rub in between his toes with his little finger when he performed his ablutions.” (Abu Dawood) He also said, “Woe to heels (from the punishment of Hell if they are not washed). Perform the ritual of ablution properly.”(Abu Dawood)

Mouth and Teeth

Islamic teachings also take care of the cleanliness of one’s mouth. We are required to rinse our mouths, as the Prophet (sa) said, “When you perform ablutions, rinse your mouth.”(Abu Dawood). The Prophet (sa) also said, “Rinse your mouth after drinking milk, because it contains fat.”(Abu Dawood). We are also commanded to keep our gums clean. The Prophet described the process of cleaning one’s teeth as “purification of one’s mouth, and an act that is pleasing to the Lord.” (Al-Nasa’i). The Prophet (sa) also said, “If I were not afraid that it would be too hard for the community, I would have asked Muslims to brush their teeth whenever they prayed.” (Agreed upon)

Eyes, Ears, Nose

Another aspect of health protection is to keep clean one’s ears, eyes, nose, hair and genitals. It has been authentically reported that the Prophet wiped his ears, using his forefingers to clean them from inside and his thumbs on the outside, thus wiping them both inside and out. It is also authentically reported concerning cleanliness of the eyes that the Prophet used to wipe the inner corner of the eye. We are also recommended to clean our noses, for the Prophet said, “When any of you perform the ablutions, introduce water into the nose and then blow it out.” (Ibn-Majah). Science has proven that the act of inhaling water slightly in order to moist the inner top of the nose is beneficial for Sinus patients since it clears away germs.

Hair and Private Parts

With regard to keeping the hair clean, the Prophet said, “He who has hair should take good care of it.” (Abu Dawood). Local cleanliness particularly includes the genitals and private parts. Anas (rta), the Prophet’s servant, said, “When the Prophet defecated, I brought him water to wash with.” (Agreed upon). Aisha (rta), the Prophet’s wife, told Muslim women, “Tell your husbands to wash their private parts with water, for I am too shy to tell them so. The Prophet (sa) used to do that.” (At-Tirmidhi)

It is part of the duty of every Muslim, therefore, to safeguard this blessing and not to allow any change to overcome it through ill usage. Islam put stress on human body’s cleanliness. In summary, our healthy body is a gift from Allah and we are the trustees. We should not misuse it, nor provide wrong raw product for the factory and should keep superb maintenance of this delicate and sensitive machine, in order to enjoy Allah’s blessings. It is after all, the container of our soul.

Know Your Creator

Esm-Allah-00“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on Him by them, but shun those who deviate regarding His names for they will be punished for what they do” (Al.Araaf 7: 180)

Dr. Sadaf Shiekh and Umm Saad attempt to describe the Majesty of the Creator

A Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) states: “Allah has ninety-nine names, i.e., one hundred minus one, and whoever believes in their meanings and acts accordingly, will enter Paradise. And Allah is Witr (one) and He loves Witr (odd numbers).” (Bukhari)

Principles followed regarding the Names of Allah (swt)

Al-Qurtubi’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)

This famous Islamic scholar has divided the names into four categories on the basis of their inferences:

a. Those which refer to Allah’s (swt) essence e.g. Ar-Rahman, Al-Jalalah.

b. Those which refer to Allah’s (swt) characteristics inseparable from His essence e.g. As-Sami, Al-Aleem.

c. Those which refer to an act attributed to Him e.g. Al-Khaliq, Ar-Razzaq.

d. Those which refer to the negation of something from Him e.g. Al-Quddoos, Al-Ala.

Calling on Allah (swt) is an Ibadah (worship). This should be done according to the Sunnah e.g. Allah (swt) has a name called As-Salam (The one free from defects). After the prayers, Prophet Muhammad (sa) would say:

“Oh Allah you are As-Salam and from you is all peace, blessed are You, Oh Possessor of Majesty and Honour.” (Muslim)

Ibn Al-Qayyim’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)

“The reasons which cause Mahabbah (love) of Allah (swt) to develop, are ten out of which the fifth one is: ‘Contemplating and deliberating over the Names and Attributes of Allah’.”

As for the last part of the ayah: “But shun those who deviate regarding His names for they will be punished for what they did,” scholars have many explanations. In general it means one should act according to the names, understand their meaning and believe in them.

Ibn Battal’s opinion about the Names of Allah (swt)

a. Those suitable for following should be adapted.

b. Those restricted to Allah (swt) should be avoided and confirmed humbly to Allah (swt) alone.

c. Those containing promise should produce hope.

d. Those containing warning should produce fear.

His Foremost Name ‘Allah (swt)’

Allah (swt) is Al-Ism Al-Azam: It is The Greatest Name, which contains the divine and beautiful attributes, and is the sign of the essence and the cause of all existence. Allah (swt) does not resemble, in any way, any of His creation. Allah (swt) is only Allah’s (swt) name. Nothing else can in any way assume this name nor share it

“Do you know anyone who is His namesake?” (Maryam 19:65)

Allah and His Attributes: In several ayahs where Allah (swt) has mentioned His attributes, He has started of by calling Himself Allah (swt) and then went on to mention His attributes. e.g Ayat Al-Kursi (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:255) or in (Hashr 22:23). He begins with “He is Allah…” and then goes on to mention His attributes.

Allah (swt) is the most appropriate term: No other term can be more suitable than ‘Allah (swt)’ to describe The Creator and the Sustainer. The title Allah (swt) is complete, and any other name will be a poor substitute. It is the ideal name for God. All other titles, including Rabb, are attributes or names of God.

Each object in the universe manifests some power of Allah (swt): His Joy or His Anger, His Love or His Magnificence flow through these objects. That is why, when we look at this world we see beauty, grandeur, sublimity, strength, the power of joy or destruction manifested in it. Accordingly, we are attracted or repelled by things and happenings.

Allah (swt) wants to be worshipped: Allah (swt) does not desire anything from His creation except that He is worshipped. But Allah (swt) cannot be worshipped unless one learns to know Him, and He cannot be known except if He is remembered. Allah (swt) Himself has made this road easy.

“Verily, I am Allah! La Ilaha Illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-As-Salat) for My Remembrance.” (Ta-Ha 20: 14)

Dates – The Candy That Grows On Trees

Image datesDr. Sadaf Sheikh explores the medical and spiritual healing preserved in dates

There are many edible palm fruits and the most widely found and favoured are dates. Dates were cultivated in ancient lands, from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 6000 B.C. Then, as now, dates were a staple for the natives of those dry regions. Much later, Arabs spread dates around northern Africa which are classified according to their fleshiness:

  • Soft dates (Barhee, Halawy, Khadrawy, Medjool)
  • Semidry dates (Dayri, Deglet Noor, Zahidi)
  • Dry dates (Thoory)

Dates are rich in natural fibres and therefore, help against many ailments. They also surpass other fruits in the sheer variety of their constituents. They are the most wholesome food among fruits because of their hot and moist substance. Eating dates in the morning on an empty stomach kills intestinal worms and other parasites, for dates have an antidotal potency, which inhibits their growth.

The Prophet (sa) likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying: “Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall.” (Bukhari)

Dates were the food that Allah (swt) provided for Maryam (as) when she felt labour pains, and after she gave birth to Isa (as) under the palm tree. The great worth of dates is also indicated in a famous and beautiful passage of the Quran, (Maryam, 25:6): “Shake the trunk of the palm tree, and it will drop ripe dates on you, so eat, drink, and comfort your eyes with what Allah gave you.”

Experiments have also shown that dates contain some stimulants, which strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy. This helps the dilation of the uterus at the time of delivery and reduces post-natal bleeding. Dieticians consider dates the best food for breast-feeding mothers. This is because they contain elements that assist in alleviating depression and enrich the breast milk with the nutrients needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease.

Regarding the Messenger of Allah (sa) breaking his fast with fresh dates, dried dates, or even water, there is, of course, a subtle reason. Since dates, particularly if they are moist, travel faster to the liver and are converted more quickly than other nutrients, the liver accepts their contents more readily and hastens their distribution to the rest of the body, which is thirsting for energy. Another factor making dates the ideal food is their digestibility. Within half an hour of eating them, the tired body regains new vigour. The reason for this is that low blood sugar is the main cause of hunger, not an empty stomach as is often assumed. When the body absorbs the nutritional essence of a few dates the sensation of hunger is abated. It would seem that taking dates after fasting helps one avoid overeating.

A serving of dates contains about 31 grams of carbohydrates, making them a powerhouse of energy. 

Aisha (rta) used to prescribe dates to those suffering with giddiness. It is now well known that low blood sugar and low blood pressure are among the causes of giddiness. She was also reported to have used dates combined with cucumber to treat her over-slim condition. She said: “They fed me with every type of food to gain weight, yet I did not put on any. Then they added cucumber and fresh date to my diet and that did it.”

As dates are rich in calcium, they contribute to healthy bones. For this reason it is recommended that children and older adults, especially women, eat plenty of dates to strengthen their bones. Dates are also important in maintaining good vision and are effective in guarding against night-blindness. In the early years of Islam, dates were served as food for Muslim soldiers as they stimulate muscles and give energy for physical exercise. They also help heal stomach ulcers. Modern medicine has shown that eating dates prevents abdominal cancer.

There are said to be at least eight hundred uses of the date. It is used as a fresh or a dry fruit with excellent storage properties, and is commonly used in the confectionery trade. One possible industry that is currently unexploited is the use of dates for crude sugar.

People often ask: “Do all these dates really taste different?” The answer is a resounding: “Yes!” Each variety of date not only has its own distinctive taste, but also its own distinctive texture, sweetness and size. When properly stored, dates keep exceedingly well. Stored in airtight containers and kept in the refrigerator, dates will stay moist and delicious for as long as 30 days. Dates can also be kept frozen for up to a year with no loss of taste or quality.

Nutritional Facts

A serving of five or six average dates contain about 20 calories each and are a good source of fibre, potassium, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, without the sodium or fat found in other snacks. A serving of dates helps fulfil the “2 to 4 servings of fruit and vegetables a day” guideline of the USDA’s “Food Pyramid”.

Fibre

A serving of dates provides approximately 14% of the USDA Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of fibre, which has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Potassium

Eating dates and drinking water is an ideal, natural way to replenish the body’s need for potassium. One serving of dates contains about 240 milligrams of potassium, or 7% of the RDA, of this essential nutrient.

An interesting scientific medical study, published in the British Medical Journal (No. 6993, 10 June 1995), proved the benefit of giving a new-born child sugar to reduce the feeling of pain during procedures, like heel pricking for a blood sample, or circumcision. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Dates contain a variety of B-complex vitamins. They contain thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and pantothenic acid. Dates also contain 2.2% protein, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2 ad nicotinic acid (which fights against Pellagra); they also have traces of minerals needed for the body such as potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese and copper.

Carbohydrates

A serving of dates contains about 31 grams of carbohydrates, making them a powerhouse of energy. The carbohydrates found in dates, include about 3 grams of dietary fibre and about 3 grams of naturally occurring sugars, such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Dates have about 1430 calories per pound and for that reason are not recommended for anyone on a diet.

They are variously classified as food, drink, fruits, sweets, nutrients, and medicine. Cured dates are called ‘Ajwah’ in Arabic. Aisha (rta) related the saying of Allah’s Messenger (sa), “Ajwah date is an excellent remedy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Dates are also among the fruits of Paradise, as noted in the Hadeeth: “Ajwah is from Paradise and contains an antidote against poison.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (sa) said: “He who eats seven Ajwah dates (the dates which he sow himself) every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.” (Bukhari)

Dates and date palms have been mentioned in the Quran 20 times, thus showing their importance. The Prophet (sa) likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying: “Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall.” (Bukhari)

It is also a custom among Muslim parents to put a piece of well-chewed date (or other available sweet fruit) in the mouth of a newborn baby. An interesting scientific medical study, published in the British Medical Journal (No. 6993, 10 June 1995), proved the benefit of giving a new-born child sugar to reduce the feeling of pain during procedures, like heel pricking for a blood sample, or circumcision. This reduced the crying time, compared to babies who got water. Also, their heart rate returned to normal more quickly.

Finally, we hope that Muslim medical scientists and researchers will take this new discovery on board; and that many more Islamic ideas and practices needing investigative research and scientific study will get the attention they deserve, Insha’Allah.