Secrets of Fast

>> Monday, August 16, 2010

InshAllah I will get straigh to it. This is the Ramadan fasting blog. It is the secrets of fast by Imam Ghazzali.

Secrets of Fast

Know, 0 dear readers, that there are three classes of fast. (I) Fast of the general Muslims. It are to restrain oneself from eating and drinking and from sexual passion. This is the lowest kind of fast. (2) Fast of the few select Muslims. In this kind of fasting, besides the above things one refrains himself from sins of hand, feet, sight and other limbs of body. (3) Fast of the highest class. These people keep fast of mind. In other words, they don't think of anything else except God and the next world. They think only of the world with the intention of the next world as it is the seed ground for the future. A certain sage said: One sin is written for one whose efforts during the day are made only to prepare for breaking fast. This highest class of people is the Prophets and the near ones of God. This kind of fast is kept after sacrificing oneself and his thoughts fully to God. This is the meaning of the verse: Say God and then leave them sporting in their vain talks (6 : 91).
The fasting of select few pious men rests on six duties for gaining perfection. (1) To restrain eye sight from what is evil and from things which divert attention from God's remembrance. The Prophet said: Eye sight is a poisonous arrow out of the arrows of the devil. If a man gives it up, God gives him such a faith of which the taste is tasted by his mind. The Prophet said: Five things destroy fasting-falsehood, backbiting, slander, perjury and look with sexual passion. (2) To restrain the tongue from useless talk, false-speaking, backbiting, slander, abusive speech, obscenity, hypocrisy and enmity, to adopt silence and to keep the tongue busy with the remembrance of God and reciting the Quran. The sage Sufiyan Saori said: Backbiting spoils fast. Hazrat Mujahed said: Two things spoil fast, backbiting and falsehood. The Prophet said: Fast is like a shield. If a man keeps fast, let him not rebuke and dispute. If a man wants to assault or make quarrel, jet him say to him : I am fasting. There is in Hadis: Two women kept fast at the time of the Prophet. They were so much overstricken with hunger at the end of the day that their lives were about to end. They were sent to the Prophet so that he might order them to break fast. He sent a cup for them telling them that they should vomit in it what they ate. One of them vomited fresh blood and fresh flesh which filled up half of the cup. Another vomited similarly and filled up the cup. The Prophet then said: The two women fasted with !awful food but broke it with unlawful food. The two women back-bited the people and ate their flesh.
(3) To restrain the ear from hearing the evil talks because what is unlawful to utter is also unlawful to hear. For this reason, God placed the eater of unlawful food and the hearer of unlawful words on the same level. God says: The hearers of falsehood and eaters of unlawful food (5 : 46). God says: Why do not the God-fearing men and the worldly renunciated men prohibit talking sinful words and unlawful eating (5 : 68)? To remain silent at the time of backbiting is unlawful. God says: You are then like them (9 : 138). Thus said the Prophet: The backbiter and the hearer of backbiting are equal co-sharers in sin.
(4) To save hand, feet and other organs from sins from evil deeds and to save belly from doubtful things at the time of breaking fast. There is no meaning of fasting if it is kept with lawful food and broken with unlawful food. He is like a man who destroys a town for constructing a building. it is also injurious to eat lawful food in excess and not to eat it little. He who fasts and does evil deeds is like a patient who restrains himself from eating fruits for fear of disease but who swallows poison. A sin is like eating poison. He who drinks this poison is a fool. An unlawful thing is like poison and it destroys religion and a lawful thing is like a medicine. Its little does benefit and its much spoils. The Prophet said: There are many fasting men who do not gain by fasting except hunger and thirst. On being asked the reason, he said: He refrains from eating lawful food and breaks fast by eating human flesh by backbiting. That is unlawful.
(5) To eat even lawful food so much at the time of breaking fast that it fills up the belly. A belly filled up with too much lawful food is hated more than all other reservoirs. A fasting man eats in full at the time of breaking fast what he could not eat during day time. He prepares different kinds of foods. The object of fast is to keep belly vacant in order to control passion and to increase God-fear. if the belly remains full from morning to evening, sexual passion rises high and greed and temptation reign supreme.
(6) To keep the mind of a fasting man between fear and hope, because he does not know whether his fast will be accepted or not, whether he will be near God or not. This should be the case for every divine service. Once Hasan Basri was passing by a party of men who were playing and sporting. He said:' God this month of Ramadan for running in which the people will 14 running for good deeds and competing with one another. The object of fast is to anoint one with one of the divine attributes. That attribute is Samadiat meaning to be bereft of hunger and thirst and to follow the angels as far as possible, being free from passion.
The rank of a man is far more superior than that of a lower animal as he can control his passion by dint of his intellect, but his rank is lower than that of an angel as his passion is strong and he is tried by it. Angels are near God, This nearness keeps connection with attributes but not with space. The Prophet said: Fast is a trust. Let everyone of you keep that trust. When he read this verse: "God orders you to give trust to its rightful owners (4 : 61)", he placed his hands on his ears and eyes and said: Ear is a trust and eye is a trust. If it had not been a trust of fasting, the Prophet would not have said: I am fasting. In other words, I have kept my tongue as trust for saving it. How can I give it up for replying you? So it appears that for every affair there are secret and open matters.
It is now open to you to observe both secret and open matters or to observe either of them.


Jarh wa Ta'dil

>> Sunday, August 15, 2010


This post will be an original piece by yours truly, The Ghazzali Blogger! I have been meaning to write an article on this topic for a long time but always decided not to because I may get over passionate and offensive. Furthermore I told myself it was not my place to write about this topic. However the more I read the more I kept coming back to this. It did not matter if I read about hadith or fiqh or madhabs or a tafseer this topic just kept creeping back up and haunting me. So I finally decided to speak out and Alhamdulilah I believe Allah willed that I would put off this topic because he wanted me to read more and obtain more sources. InshAllah the Ramadan fasting post will also be posted up today or tomorrow.

Jarh wa ta’dil

"The people shall always be in a good state as long as they take their knowledge from their elders, their trusted ones, and their people of knowledge. When they start taking it from their boys and their reprobates, they shall be destroyed." - Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud
When people listen to a speech or read a book or observe any type of media retain different things. Someone might watch a movie and appreciate the stunts while others may appreciate the story telling or dialogue, the artists may appreciate the rendering and lighting of the movie, others may appreciate that the movie addressed many different philosophies of a certain part of life, while some people may appreciate the fact they can draw parallels from the movie to real life; I have met people who believed the last Lord Of The Rings movie was about the Palestine and Israel conflict. Furthermore something that may seem interesting to one person can be dull to someone else. Sometimes when listening to a speaker, we may misunderstand and our understanding of their talk may be the complete opposite of what they were saying. The same holds true when reading Islamic books or when listening to a Muslim scholar give a talk. Why people appreciate different things or are impacted differently or obtain a different message by the same speech or book maybe because of their values, upbringing, environment, their psyche and their experiences.

One time listening to a talk given by a graduate of the Islamic University of Medinah, I witnessed this first hand. The speaker talked about the history of Muslim communities in the United States and how active and how much we have grown since the 70’s. In my mind this talk was to encourage the up and coming generation to ride the momentum of the previous generation to make bigger and better marks on the world that the previous generations, when they first started off, could not have imagined. I believe we should be grateful for the tedious foundational work the previous generation did so that my generation has an easier time to do more extravagant work. However my colleague sitting right next to me understood the talk as the complete opposite. He believed that our parents came here for money and were not interested in Islam and if they were it was because of culture and not out of sincerity. Furthermore he claimed that our parents did not teach us anything about Islam and that it must be sour for them to see us (their children) not to go after materialistic goals but rather be religious.

To children with that type of attitude I ask; how many Masjids did we build? The hundreds of Masjids in New York City alone, did our generation build them or did our parent generation? The very conference we are attending to listen to the talk we cite as evidence that our parents are materialistic and not good Muslims, did we organize that conference? Did we even start the organization that held that conference or did our parent generation? If our parent generation did not care about Islam and came here for material wealth only then who laid the foundation that allows us to learn Islam in America from people who studied in places such as the Islamic University of Medinah? Furthermore when we claim our parents did not teach us anything about Islam then why did some of us keep our relationship with our girlfriend a secret when we were not practicing? Why did we hide our tattoo from our parents? Why did we hide our piercings from them? How did we learn about the word Muslim and Islam that allowed us to seek out guidance in the first place? And when we claim it must be sour for our parents to see we are religious are we sure it is not because that we do not have the manners that the scholars have told us to have and we talk to our parents as if they were the children and not us?
Point is our parents did teach us. They taught us we were Muslims and we followed a religion called Islam. Otherwise why else did we hide our wrong doings? Some of our parents do not observe all the practices of Islam and we may observe more of the practices. But it is the job of the parent to make their children better Muslim than they were. Our parents did not pray but told us we were Muslims and we followed Islam. We took what our parents taught us and then we pray and do the rest of the five pillars Alhamdulilah. Then InshAllah our children will take what the previous two generations did and become scholars and then their children will inshAllah be greater. The mere fact we are more religious than our parents proves that our parents did their duty when they raised us. So we should give due credit to them and until we can raise a child to be better than us, we should keep quiet because we have not succeeded like our parents have. The child is supposed to be better than his or her parent.
Humility and moderation should come with knowledge but instead arrogance and extremism is implanted into the Muslim youth. The arrogance has become so unbearable that not only do we attack our parents but start to call righteous scholars deviants and throw 1400 years of scholarship out the window. We fall into the false assumption that “stricter is better”. When we hear a scholar give a fatwa which is laxer than something we follow we do not hesitate one second to say that the scholar is ignorant; often forgetting that the scholar studied more years than we have been alive!

Then the arrogance becomes even more! We start to act like we are scholars; we sit and preach without having paid our learning dues at the feet of the Ulema because we cannot wait for others to sit at our own feet. We start to take fatwas from websites and quote them to seem like we have authority and if someone comes with another fatwa we say that the hadiths our dissenter used were weak and fabricated; not only do we believe ourselves to be faqihs but also muhaddiths! We start to rank hadiths and anything we do not think are strict enough we call it fabricated. Not realizing “that as long as the proof of forgery is un-established beyond reasonable doubt and short of compelling assumption regarding a weak report, it becomes a lie to cry forgery and bar people from the benefit of belief in it. This holds true even if the chain of transmission falls short of the rank of “sound” (sahih). God fearing precaution toward the Prophet (pbuh) goes both ways: not only with respect to steering clear from attributing to him what he never said or did, but also with respect to steering clear from belying what he might have said or done.” We start to give our opinions on everything and anything as if we are experts on all Islamic knowledge when two of the greatest scholars, Hujjat al-Islam Imam al-Ghazzaali and Imam Ibn Qudama in their respective books al-Mustasfa and Rawdat al-Nazir said that an Alim may be an Imam in a particular science and an uneducated common person in another. In the end we believe ourselves to be absolute mujtahids like the four great Imams, saying such things as “Abu Hanifa did not have that evidence” implying that we know more than the Mujtahid Imam of the Tabieen.

Then when we are called out on the fact that we are acting as if we are absolute mujtahids we counter by saying, “we are only students of knowledge and only teaching what the righteous Ulema who are on the Quran and Sunnah have said.” (As if the four Mujtahids were not on the Quran and Sunnah and as if people who sacrificed their time and livelihood to learn Islam and spread it to the west and east are not on the Quran and Sunnah) How do we claim to be “students of knowledge” when we never sat at the feet of the Ulema and drank from their knowledge? Are we really teaching what the Ulema have taught or are we only regurgitating what we read on the internet or in some book? When Ishaq ibn Rahuyah sat in Iraq with the likes of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Yahya ibn Ma’in he would rehearse many transmissions and evidences just like his fellow companions but when he asked what was the intent or explanation or fiqh, all remained mute except for Ahmad ibn Hanbal. They understood anyone can quote and recite hadiths and evidences but only a few can determine and understand what they mean; do we understand what we read? Have any of the Ulema told us to be of ill manners towards non-Muslims let alone our parents who we believe to be deviants just because they do not have a beard like we do? Did the Ulema give us the right to call any scholar who we think is lax in his rulings a deviant?
Real knowledge is a light, not what is memorized and quoted by individuals to look smart in front of his peers. Al-Shafi says, “Knowledge is what benefits. Knowledge is not what one has memorized.” How does knowledge benefit us? Al-Dhahabi says “Knowledge (al- ‘ilm) is not the profusion of narration, but a light which Allah casts into the heart. Its condition is followership (ittiba’ and the flight away from egotism (hawa) and innovation”
Which brings us to the narration that I began with: “Sa'id ibn Wahb narrated that Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud said "The people shall always be in a good state as long as they take their knowledge from their elders, their trusted ones, and their people of knowledge. When they start taking it from their boys and their reprobates, they shall be destroyed." Notice who are the first people Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (rA) mention; it is the same people that we accuse of only caring about money and do not want us to practice Islam but rather pursue materialistic goals. Either we want to admit it or not our elders are the first people we learned Islam from. Even if your family does not observe all of Islam and in the past you were not religious and now you are you still learned about Islam from them. The second people mentioned are our trusted ones not the most educated. An example of this is when Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rA), a absolute mujtahid whose school still exists today, and Ihya ibn Mayen could not agree on a certain matter they would go to Maruf Karkhi, a man who was not their equal in the sciences of practical religion. They said to Maruf Karkhi:“The Prophet (pbuh) said, “What will you do when you will not find a matter in the Quran or Sunnah? He said: “Ask the pious men among you and consult them in this matter.” We (Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ihya ibn Mayen) have come to you for this. The last people who we should take knowledge from are the people of knowledge or the scholars. If someone sacrificed blood, sweat and tears for years and years to learn Islam at any of the prestigious learning centers he should be considered a scholar, specially one who could have lived a materialistic life but chose to study Islam. Then after all that sacrifice he or she came to us, regardless of where we are, to give the knowledge to us. There is this new ideology going around that claims that “there are no scholars in the west”. Someone does not forget what they have learned if they sit on a plane and travel to the west or the east, knowledge stays with you no matter where one is! The first people who we should not follow according to Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud (rA) are the boys. And the truth is we are all still boys who are barely into our mid-twenties and think we are more intelligent than anyone else. We throw hissy fits when someone does not agree with us as if Islam was not a way of life but a philosophy. We treat discussions of fiqh as if it was a prelaw college class where instead of saying something is unconstitutional (which students say when they do not agree with a law when in truth the law is constitutional) we say it is not the sunnah (when it does fall under the sunnah) and just like a prelaw class where three quarter of the people do not know what constitutional means, we do not know what sunnah means.

The truth is we need to be active and stop sitting and talking about those who are active. We are too lazy to do anything so we pick out faults of those who actually help the community. We feel good about picking out faults in people who actual do something and act like we are practicing Jarh wa ta’dil when in reality we are only back biting. We are back biting not only our parents, the people who are either the door to Jannah or have it under their feet, but also people who are fulfilling our Fard-i-Kafiyah. We need to stop attacking our parents and our teachers by quoting obscure sources and do something useful with our time. If we really want to be scholars then we should know of al-Hasan al-Basri’s report that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The energy of the Ulema is care and help while the energy of fools is to quote” and the statement of the Abbasi Caliph ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mu’tazz: “The learning of the hypocrite consists in his discourse while the learning of the Believer consists in his deed.”

1. A Great talk given by Nouman Ali Khan
entitled Contradicting Community advising Muslim youth and new Muslims on how to deal
with their Families. This talk is very closely related to this article which is also about religious
youngsters and their parents. At 36:00 he makes a point that some speakers will have
different impact on different people. Some speakers are purely entertaining but impact
non-practicing Muslims to pray while the educated practicing Muslim did not learn anything
because he wanted more academics such as more hadith quotations. Similarly an Academic
talk will have less impact on non-practicing Muslims.
2. G.F. Haddad, Sunna Notes Volume 1 Hadith History & Principles, Aqsa publications UK, pg.
3. Ibid., 45
4. Narrated from al-Khallal by al-Bayhaqi in Manaqib al-Shafi’i
5. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’
6. Narrated by Abu Ubayd and Ya’qub ibn Shayba as cited by Ibn Hajar in the Fath, Ibn
al-Mubarak in al-Zuhd, Ma’mar ibn Rashid with a sound chain in his Jami, al-Tabarani in
al-Kabir and al-Awsat through narrators that were declared trusthworthy according to
al-Haythami, al-Khatib chainless in al-Faqih wal-Mutafaqqih, Ibn Abd al-Barr in Jami’
Bayan al-‘ilm and Abu Khaythama in al- ‘Ilm.
7. Imam Ghazzali Ihya Ulum-Id-din (trans:Al-Haj Maulana Fazlul Karim) pg.37
8. Narrated mursal from al-Hasan by Ibn ‘Asakir and al-Khatib, al-Jami’ li Akhlaq al-Rawi
(1983 ed. 1:88) cf. al-Jami’ al Saghir and Kanz.
9. Narrated by al-Khatib in Iqtida’ al-Ilm al-‘Amal pg.38


The Meaning of Biddah (good biddah, bad biddah)

>> Sunday, July 25, 2010

This article was written by Dr. Buti and I believe somes up the whole good biddah and bad biddah debate.

The Meaning of Bid ' a by Dr. al-Buti

The first innovation (bid'a) that took place after the Messenger of Allah 0. was satiety (al-shab`). - Aisha 40151
The lexical meaning of bid' a in the Arabic language is "novelty" while its technical meaning in Islam is a novelty begun after the time of the Tabi' in in contravention of the Qur'an and Sunna as defined variously by the authorities:
Al-Jurjani: "Whatever contrivance (1' latun) contradicts the Sunna, and it is named bid'a because whoever supports it innovated it without basis from an Imam. It consists in a novel matter which the Companions and Successors did not follow and which is unsupported by a legal proof."'
Imam Abu Shama and Imam al-Suyilti: "Everything invented without precedent" (kullu mukhtard in min ghayri aslin sabaq);'53
Imam al-Lacknawi: All that did not exist in the first three centuries and for which there is no basis among the Four Foundations of Islam" i.e., Qur'an, Sunna, , and Qiyas.'
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami: "Bid'a in terms of the Law is everything innovated in contravention of the Lawgiver's command and the latter's specific and general proof's'
Ibn al-Jawzi: "Bid'a in legal convention is whatever is blameworthy in contravening the foundations of the Law."
Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-'Arabi: "Only the bid' a that contradicts the Sunna is blameworthy.'
All of this elucidates Imam al-Shafi's luminous subdivision of bid' a into two types, which we examine below. Thus, it is not enough for something to be novel to be a bid'a, contrary to the misunderstanding of those who use that term most vocally nowadays.
Some of the best works on the precise definition of bid` a are:
[1] Imam `Abd al-Hayy al-Lacknawi's Tuhfat al-Akhyar and
[2] the first part of his lqamat al-Hujja - both with a comment tary by Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda;
[3] Al-Sayyid `Abd Allah Mahfuz al-Haddad's masterpiece alSunna wal-Bid` a;
[4] The most concise, most practical textbook on the topic to date. Kalimatun Ilmiyyatun Hadiyatun fil-Bid'ati wa-Ahkamiha by our beloved teacher Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman Ghawji al-Albani;
[5] Dr. Izzat `Atiyya's al-Bid` a: Tahdiduha wa-Mawqif minha;
[6] Al-Sayyid `Abd Allah ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumarrs Itqan aiSun'a fi Tahqiq Ma' ria al-Bid` a ("Precise Handiwork in Ascertaining the Meaning of Innovation");
[7] Shaykh isa al-Himyari's two works, Daw' al-Sham` a fi T Ma' na al-Bid' a ("The Candlelight in Verifying the Meaning Bid' a") and
[8] al-Bid' atu al-Hasanatu Aslun min usul al-Tashri` ("The lent Innovation is One of the Sources of Islamic Legislation");

The fourth part of Sayyid Muhammad ibn 'Alawi's book haj
[Chapter 15 of al-Sayyid Abul-Hasanayn Abd Allah ashimi's al-Salafiyya al-Mu` asira and
1] his al-Ittiba' wal-lbtida' .158
ykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti said:
There is no doubt that innovation (bid `a) is absolutely prohibited and that it is misguidance. [...] However, what is innovation? Innovation is "every matter that was innovated and injected into the Religion while it is not part of it (al-bid` atu kullu amrin ustuhditha wa-uqhima fit-dini wa-huwa laysa minh)." As much as the expressions of the Ulema differ in explaining bid' a and defining it, none of those various expressions differs from this comprehensive meaning: "every matter that was innovated; that is, it did not exist beforehand; "and injected into the Religion while it is not part of it." In this [specific] way, an innovation cannot be other than an innovation of misguidance.
An example of this [innovation of misguidance] is if a person should invent a prayer other than the five prayers which Allah Most High has made Law. Another example would be those invented additions pertaining to funerals, such as the supplications that are raised out loud at the forefront of funerals,' the adhan that was innovated upon lowering the deceased into his grave, and those invented states during dhikr such jumping [up and down] and what the jurists "dancing
call "dancing and
swaying from side to side" (al-rag wa1-tamayul)1 and the matters were innovated and injected into the Religion al-h they are not part of the Religion in any way whatsoever.
As for the matters that were innovated and were not existent re but were not injected into the Religion, the people iced them as habits and procedures in which they found lness for themselves, whether such were connected with worldly sphere or with their Religion. f...]
There are many, many examples of this type. We can give an ple for these many habits and procedures which the *ms have innovated after the death of the Messenger of
0, or even in his time. Among them are the innovations ected with food and drink. Also among them are the connections connected with dwellings, their decoration and their architecture. Among them also are the matters connected with ufacture, commerce, agriculture and the like. Among them are the matters connected with dress in all its variety. (...1
All of those are innovated matters but they were not injected
- o the Religion. That is, the people did not practice them as ifthey
were part of the Religion. Hence, the definition of the legal
[innovation does not apply to them.
No doubt, someone is bound to ask: "What does the Law sayabout
these innovations which entered like waves into the life
the Muslims?" Let us hear what the Messenger of Allah said in his authentic hadith: "Whoever institutes a good practice in Islam has its reward and the reward of all those who practice it until the Day of Judgment, and whoever institutes a Ind practice in Islam bears its onus and the onus of all those rwho practice it until the Day of Judgment"' which is part of a well-known longer hadith. Many are those who imagine a contradiction between the dith of the Messenger of Allah 0 "Every innovation is mis ance" and this hadith. They see a problem here and confused when in reality there is no problem at all.
Innovated matters that are injected into the Religion and not part of it are aptly described by his hadith 0, "Ev innovation is misguidance." As for innovated matters am habits and procedures that are connected to daily life in their varieties, without people intending them as Religion without their being injected into the Divine Law (such matt not being part of it): they fall under the [twofold] distincti mentioned by the Messenger of Allah ["Whoever institutes good practice.."]. We look at the results of these habits regimens. Whatever of them have a good effect on the life people or their Religion are classed under the "good sunna" which the Messenger of Allah 0 called. And whatever of thee leave bad effects on the Religion or on the worldly affairs people - for Allah Most High commanded people to take
of their religious and worldly interests - then such are cl under the "bad sunnas" against which the Messenger of Allah I warned. The Ulema of the Law have explained this at length and in great detail under the subheading of "matters of welfare" (masalih al-mursala).
When are such matters of public welfare lawful and notwithstanding their being "widespread" (mursala), since Book and the Sunna did not say anything about them? IN are such matters imaginary and corrupt, that is, part of the sunna? The Ulema of Islamic Law have clarified this. In
case, what the people innovated without injecting it into the Religion - of which it is not a part at all - is not part of meaning of the legal innovation which is always misguidance and always a forbidden practice.
The conferences which are held here and there are among those innovated matters. How are they assessed? We look at the types of these conferences and the effect they have. Whichever of them supports the Religion is classed among the good sunnas; whichever has a harmful effect is classed among the bad sunnas. All those universities which were innovated out of nonexistence; the various media, including publishing houses and all kinds of means for disseminating information; all these are innovated matters that did not exist before. This development which has touched the script of the Qur'an including dotting, vowelization, division into tenths, and so forth - and the chain of developments is endless - all these are among innovated matters. However, those that innovated them at no time claimed that they were part of the Religion or part of the Divine Law.
All of those matters are assessed on the basis of this scale of which the Messenger of Allah 0s informed us. Whatever part of that serves the Religion of Allah Most High or preserves the lawful worldly matters of public welfare for people is classed together with the good sunna and one is invited to practice it, and whoever does so with sincere intention toward Allah is rewarded. And whatever part of those newly innovated matters is harmful to the Religion or harmful to the lawful worldly matters of public welfare for people, is classed together with the bad sunna against which the Messenger of Allah warned.
People have this custom of celebrating the memory of their great personalities. They may do this on the occasion of the L birthday of one of them or on that of his death. This is among innovated matters; but no one ever said that they belong to the Religion. Nor has anyone ever said that they are an integral part of worship or of the Law which Allah Most High has commanded. They can only be described as cultural or social activities by which a certain goal is sought. We examine this .211 goal: if this goal is good and benefits the Muslims in thew Religion or in their lawful worldly matters, then it is a good sunna as the Messenger of Allah said. [...]
Let us now look at the people's celebration of the commemoration of the birth of the Messenger of Allah 4ia. Is it a 1 matter that was innovated and injected into the Religion and I then considered one of the types of worship that was made law I for us? If anyone celebrates this event to that intention then he I is an innovator! For this celebration is not an integral part of the Religion, that is, not one of the types of worship that was made law for us, nor a ruling from the Divine rulings that cane down in the Qur'an or came in the Sunna.
As for those that celebrate the commemoration of the birth of the Messenger of Allah after the model of those who organize conferences to publicize a legitimate principle or a cause or a right which Allah Most High ordered us to uphold, or to defend something which Allah Most High allows in His Lot this is a social activity by which good in the Religion is sought
This is exactly like those who organize conferences and seminars to commemorate one of their great personalities. I toil you once how I was invited to a conference in one of our dear Arab countries on the occasion of the passing of this or
many years after the death of Muhammad ibn Abd al-W
I am not among those that say that such activities are innovation or express disapproval and warn people them. This is because the brothers who organized this ference only did so as a social activity, like all conferences. did it on the basis of a benefit which they considered such activity would bring about. The criterion [of assessment] this is the same as that for information media or television channels - innovated matters by which is sought, When Muslims use them well, a spiritual or temporal benefit Allah has allowed in His Law. What is sought in all this is same good sought by those people who refined the writing of the Arabic language by developing the script of the Qur'an and including in it the dotting and vowelization and division into tenths which you can see, and of which all the Ulema approved. Is there any person who proceeds from a sound and meticulous basis of knowledge who will say: "A conference that is organized to commemorate the passing of this or that many years after the death of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab is a forbidden, innovative act?" I do not think so. Not at all. And since this is the case, then why is such an act [of commemoration] licit or even a good sunna when it is for the sake of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, Allah have mercy on him, but it becomes a "forbidden, innovative act" when the very same act is for the sake of Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah ?? There is no difference.' I believe that this discourse ends all noise and din over the issue.'


How to Read the Quran

>> Thursday, July 22, 2010


This is an article written by Tariq Ramadan on how to approach the Quran, in this he is mainly targeting non-Muslims but it offers some useful advice for Muslims. I hope, InshaAllah, that it benefits anyone who reads it.

January 6, 2008
Reading the Koran

For Muslims the Koran stands as the Text of reference, the source and the essence of the message transmitted to humanity by the creator. It is the last of a lengthy series of revelations addressed to humans down through history. It is the Word of God — but it is not God. The Koran makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning. The Koran is remembrance of all previous messages, those of Noah and Abraham, of Moses and Jesus. Like them, it reminds and instructs our consciousness: life has meaning, facts are signs.

It is the Book of all Muslims the world over. But paradoxically, it is not the first book someone seeking to know Islam should read. (A life of the Prophet or any book presenting Islam would be a better introduction.) For it is both extremely simple and deeply complex. The nature of the spiritual, human, historical and social teachings to be drawn from it can be understood at different levels. The Text is one, but its readings are multiple.

For the woman or the man whose heart has made the message of Islam its own, the Koran speaks in a singular way. It is both the Voice and the Path. God speaks to one’s innermost being, to his consciousness, to his heart, and guides him onto the path that leads to knowledge of him, to the meeting with him: “This is the Book, about it there can be no doubt; it is a Path for those who are aware of God.” More than a mere text, it is a traveling companion to be chanted, to be sung or to be heard.

Throughout the Muslim world, in mosques, in homes and in the streets, one can hear magnificent voices reciting the divine Words. Here, there can be no distinction between religious scholars (ulema) and laymen. The Koran speaks to each in his language, accessibly, as if to match his intelligence, his heart, his questions, his joy as well as his pain. This is what the ulema have termed reading or listening as adoration. As Muslims read or hear the Text, they strive to suffuse themselves with the spiritual dimension of its message: beyond time, beyond history and the millions of beings who populate the earth, God is speaking to each of them, calling and reminding each of them, inviting, guiding, counseling and commanding. God responds, to her, to him, to the heart of each: with no intermediary, in the deepest intimacy.

No need for studies and diplomas, for masters and guides. Here, as we take our first steps, God beckons us with the simplicity of his closeness. The Koran belongs to everyone, free of distinction and of hierarchy. God responds to whoever comes to his Word. It is not rare to observe women and men, poor and rich, educated and illiterate, Eastern and Western, falling silent, staring into the distance, lost in thought, stepping back, weeping. The search for meaning has encountered the sacred, God is near: “Indeed, I am close at hand. I answer the call of him who calls me when s/he calls.”

A dialogue has begun. An intense, permanent, constantly renewed dialogue between a Book that speaks the infinite simplicity of the adoration of the One, and the heart that makes the intense effort necessary to liberate itself, to meet him. At the heart of every heart’s striving lies the Koran. It holds out peace and initiates into liberty.

Indeed, the Koran may be read at several levels, in quite distinct fields. But first, the reader must be aware of how the Text has been constructed. The Koran was revealed in sequences of varying length, sometimes as entire chapters (suras), over a span of 23 years. In its final form, the Text follows neither a chronological nor strictly thematic order. Two things initially strike the reader: the repetition of Prophetic stories, and the formulas and information that refer to specific historical situations that the Koran does not elucidate. Understanding, at this first level, calls for a twofold effort on the part of the reader: though repetition is, in a spiritual sense, a reminder and a revivification, in an intellectual sense it leads us to attempt to reconstruct. The stories of Eve and Adam, or of Moses, are repeated several times over with differing though noncontradictory elements: the task of human intelligence is to recompose the narrative structure, to bring together all the elements, allowing us to grasp the facts.

But we must also take into account the context to which these facts refer: all commentators, without distinction as to school of jurisprudence, agree that certain verses of the revealed Text (in particular, but not only, those that refer to war) speak of specific situations that had arisen at the moment of their revelation. Without taking historical contingency into account, it is impossible to obtain general information on this or that aspect of Islam. In such cases, our intelligence is invited to observe the facts, to study them in reference to a specific environment and to derive principles from them. It is a demanding task, which requires study, specialization and extreme caution. Or to put it differently, extreme intellectual modesty.

The second level is no less demanding. The Koranic text is, first and foremost, the promulgation of a message whose content has, above all, a moral dimension. On each page we behold the ethics, the underpinnings, the values and the hierarchy of Islam taking shape. In this light, a linear reading is likely to disorient the reader and to give rise to incoherence, even contradiction. It is appropriate, in our efforts to determine the moral message of Islam, to approach the Text from another angle. While the stories of the Prophets are drawn from repeated narrations, the study of ethical categories requires us, first, to approach the message in the broadest sense, then to derive the principles and values that make up the moral order. The methods to be applied at this second level are exactly the opposite of the first, but they complete it, making it possible for religious scholars to advance from the narration of a prophetic story to the codification of its spiritual and ethical teaching.

But there remains a third level, which demands full intellectual and spiritual immersion in the Text, and in the revealed message. Here, the task is to derive the Islamic prescriptions that govern matters of faith, of religious practice and of its fundamental precepts. In a broader sense, the task is to determine the laws and rules that will make it possible for all Muslims to have a frame of reference for the obligations, the prohibitions, the essential and secondary matters of religious practice, as well as those of the social sphere. A simple reading of the Koran does not suffice: not only is the study of Koranic science a necessity, but knowledge of segments of the prophetic tradition is essential. One cannot, on a simple reading of the Koran, learn how to pray. We must turn to authenticated prophetic tradition to determine the rules and the body movements of prayer.

As we can see, this third level requires singular knowledge and competence that can only be acquired by extensive, exhaustive study of the texts, their surrounding environment and, of course, intimate acquaintance with the classic and secular tradition of the Islamic sciences. It is not merely dangerous but fundamentally erroneous to generalize about what Muslims must and must not do based on a simple reading of the Koran. Some Muslims, taking a literalist or dogmatic approach, have become enmeshed in utterly false and unacceptable interpretations of the Koranic verses, which they possess neither the means, nor on occasion the intelligence, to place in the perspective of the overarching message. Some orientalists, sociologists and non-Muslim commentators follow their example by extracting from the Koran certain passages, which they then proceed to analyze in total disregard for the methodological tools employed by the ulema.

Above and beyond these distinct levels of reading, we must take into account the different interpretations put forward by the great Islamic classical tradition. It goes without saying that all Muslims consider the Koran to be the final divine revelation. But going back to the direct experience of the Companions of the Prophet, it has always been clear that the interpretation of its verses is plural in nature, and that there has always existed an accepted diversity of readings among Muslims.

Some have falsely claimed that because Muslims believe the Koran to be the word of God, interpretation and reform are impossible. This belief is then cited as the reason why a historical and critical approach cannot be applied to the revealed Text. The development of the sciences of the Koran — the methodological tools fashioned and wielded by the ulema and the history of Koranic commentary — prove such a conclusion baseless. Since the beginning, the three levels outlined above have led to a cautious approach to the texts, one that obligates whoever takes up the task to be in harmony with his era and to renew his comprehension. Dogmatic and often mummified, hidebound readings clearly reflect not upon the Author of the Text, but upon the intelligence and psychology of the person reading it. Just as we can read the work of a human author, from Marx to Keynes, in closed-minded and rigid fashion, we can approach divine revelation in a similar manner. Instead, we should be at once critical, open-minded and incisive. The history of Islamic civilization offers us ample proof of this.

When dealing with the Koran, it is neither appropriate nor helpful to draw lines of demarcation between approaches of the heart and of the mind. All the masters of Koranic studies without exception have emphasized the importance of the spiritual dimension as a necessary adjunct to the intellectual investigation of the meaning of the Koran. The heart possesses its own intelligence: “Have they not hearts with which to understand,” the Koran calls out to us, as if to point out that the light of intellect alone is not enough. The Muslim tradition, from the legal specialists to the Sufi mystics, has continuously oscillated between these two poles: the intelligence of the heart sheds the light by which the intelligence of the mind observes, perceives and derives meaning. As sacred word, the Text contains much that is apparent; it also contains the secrets and silences that nearness to the divine reveals to the humble, pious, contemplative intelligence. Reason opens the Book and reads it — but it does so in the company of the heart, of spirituality.

For the Muslim’s heart and conscience, the Koran is the mirror of the universe. What the first Western translators, influenced by the biblical vocabulary, rendered as “verse” means, literally, “sign” in Arabic. The revealed Book, the written Text, is made up of signs, in the same way that the universe, in the image of a text spread out before our eyes, abounds with these very signs. When the intelligence of the heart — and not analytical intelligence alone — reads the Koran and the world, the two speak to one another, echo one another; each one speaks of the other and of the Unique One. The signs remind us of meaning: of birth, of life, of feeling, of thought, of death.

But the echo is deeper still, and summons human intelligence to understand revelation, creation and their harmony. Just as the universe possesses its fundamental laws and its finely regulated order — which humans, wherever they may be, must respect when acting upon their environment — the Koran lays down laws, a moral code and a body of practice that Muslims must respect, whatever their era and their environment. These are the invariables of the universe, and of the Koran. Religious scholars use the term qat’i (“definitive,” “not subject to interpretation”) when they refer to the Koranic verses (or to the authenticated Prophetic tradition, ahadith) whose formulation is clear and explicit and offers no latitude for figurative interpretation. In like manner, creation itself rests upon universal laws that we cannot ignore. The consciousness of the believer likens the five pillars of Islam to the laws of gravitation: they constitute an earthly reality beyond space and time.

As the universe is in constant motion, rich in an infinite diversity of species, beings, civilizations, cultures and societies, so too is the Koran. In the latitude of interpretation offered by the majority of its verses, by the generality of the principles and actions that it promulgates with regard to social affairs, by the silences that run through it, the Koran allows human intelligence to grasp the evolution of history, the multiplicity of languages and cultures, and thus to insinuate itself into the windings of time and the landscapes of space.

Between the universe and the Koran, between these two realities, between these two texts, human intelligence must learn to distinguish fundamental and universal laws from circumstantial and historical models. This intelligence must display humility in the presence of the order, beauty and harmony of creation and of revelation. At the same time it must responsibly and creatively manage its own accomplishments or interpretations, which are sources of extraordinary success, but also of injustice, war and disorder. Between Text and context, the intelligence of the heart and that of the analytical faculty lay down norms, recognize an ethical structure, produce knowledge, nourish consciousness, and develop enterprise and creativity in all spheres of human activity.

Far from being a prison, or a constraint, revelation is an invitation to mankind to reconcile itself with its deepest essence, and to find there both the recognition of its limitations and the extraordinary potential of its intelligence and its imagination. To submit ourselves to the order of the Just One and of his eternity is to understand that we are free and fully authorized to reform the injustices that lie at the heart of the order or disorder of all that is temporally human.

The Koran is a book for both heart and mind. In nearness to it, a woman or a man who possesses a spark of faith knows the path to follow, knows her or his own inadequacies. No sheik is needed, no wise man, no confidant. Ultimately, the heart knows. This was what the Prophet answered when he was asked about moral feelings. In the light of the Book, he said, “Inquire of your heart.” And should our intelligence stray into the complexities of the different levels of reading, from applied ethics to the rules of practice, we must never forget to clothe ourselves in the intellectual modesty that alone can reveal the secrets of the Text. For “it is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts within the breasts.” Such a heart, humble and alert, is the faithful friend of the Koran.

Tariq Ramadan is a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford and at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

I'll put up academic articles/papers on a variety of subjects that interest me.


What is Knowledge

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alhamdulilah I am keeping on schedule posting on Wednesdays. However my room is going to be painted so I will be without a computer so I may be a little late next week. Also since the room is being prepared for being painted I will not be making a video because the room is mess.

InshAllah today's topic is on what is knowledge.


Knowledge Is not Memorization but a Light
Fiqh is the context of many statements of the Imams on know' ledge consisting in wisdom, benefit, deeds, and light rather than learning and memorization as we already mentioned. Malik said: `Wisdom and knowledge are a light by which Allah guides whomever He pleases; it does not consist in knowing many things:' Al-Shafi: "Knowledge is what benefits. Knowledge is not what one has memorized:'" Al-Dhahabi: " [Knowledge (a1-` ilm) is] not the profusion of narration, but a light which Allah casts into the heart. Its condition is followership (ittiba` ) and the flight away from egotism (haws) and innovation:'71
Al-Khatib in his brief lqtida al-` Ilm Amal ("Learning
Necessitates Deeds") narrates many statements to this effect from
Ibn Masud, Abu Hurayra, Abu al-Darda, Abu Qilaba, al-Zuhri,
al-Tustari, Ibn 'Uyayna, and others of the Salaf. This Islamic understanding of knowledge elucidates al-Hasan al-Basri's report that the Prophet it said: "The energy of the Ulema is care and help while the energy of fools is to quote" (himmat al-' ulama al-ri` aya wa-himmat al-sufaha al-riwaya) and the statement of the `Abbasi Caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Mu`tazz (249-296): "The learning of the hypocrite consists in his discourse while the learning of the Believer consists in his deed.'


The Meaning of Ahlul Sunnah

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

As promised I have finally posted this topic. InshAllah it will clear up a lot and benefit people. Please make dua for me I have an interview in two hours for Hartford Seminary to enter their Islamic Chaplaincy Program. While waiting for the interview I will be making my first video inshAllah!!

The Meaning of Ahlul Sunnah

The literal translation of the term Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jainci` a is "the people of the Prophetic Way and the Congregation of the Muslims!' The term denotes the people who follow the Prophetic Sunna and adhere to the largest mass of the Muslims beginning with the congregation of the Companions of the Prophet Aa. Its antonym is Ahl al-Bid` a wal-Daldla which means the people of innovation and misguidance, i.e. non-Sunni Muslims.
Muhammad ibn Sirin (d. 110) said: "We used to accept as true what we heard, then lies spread and we began to say: Name your transmitters. If they belonged to Ahl al-Sunna, their hadith would be accepted while Ahl al-Bida` were identified and their hadith was rejected."15 Confirming this is al-Hasan (d. 110) reaction to someone who requested his isnad: "0 man! I neither lie nor was ever called a liar!' Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161) said: When certain narrators used lies, we used history against them,; " and Ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181) declared: "The isnad is an integral part of the Religion, otherwise anyone can say anything." All this is based on the saying of the Companions and Successors: "Truly, this knowledge is our Religion, therefore let each of you look carefully from whom he takes his Religion.'
The Prophet 41- said: "My Community shall divide into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Fire except one: [Those that follow] that which I and my Companions follow."20 Another version states: "My Community shall divide into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Fire except one: the Congregation (jama` a):,21
In the same sense, the Prophet- also said: "My Companions are trustees for my Community"22 and "Mankind makes up one portion (hayyiz) and I and my Companions make up one portion [counter-balancing it]:' The complete narration states:-When the verse {When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory} (110:1) was revealed, the Messenger of Allah recited it until he finished it and said: 'Mankind makes up one portion and 1 and my Companions make up one portion. And he said: 'There is no longer emigration (hijra) after victory but there remains jihad and intention (niyya) [for emigration]: 3
Any doubt that the majority is meant by the word jam'a is dispelled by the narrations elucidating jama' a to mean the largest mass or al-sawad zam. The basic sense of this massive majority is that forwarded by the Ulema first and last, beginning with the Sahaba.
To the claim that Ahl al-Sunna is a contested term that no more clearly defines an actual community than does the term -Muslim," the reply is that both are clear definers but with different emphases. A Muslim should feel at home in any Muslim house on the face of the globe, perhaps more so than in that of his own non-Muslim relatives. As for the defining sense of Ahl al-Samna, it depends on the doctrinal or juridical aspect being emphasized. Imam Abu Hanifa said: "Sunna and Jam' a are defined by giving preference to the Two Shaykhs [Abu Bakr and Umar as Caliphs], love of the Two Sons-in-Law [` Uthman and 'Ali], and [the permissibility of] wiping over leather socks [in ablution]."' Of course, Abu Hanifa considered that belief in Divine foreordained destiny (qadar), the vision of Allah in the hereafter, the intercession of the Prophet the uncreatedness of the Qur'an, etc. were also an inseparable part of Sunni doctrine.
Another defining aspect of the term Ahl al-Sunna for the near totality of Sunni Muslims is the fact of belonging to one of the Four Schools. Al-Qadi Ytisuf al-Nabhani said:
Know that to follow one of those Four Schools which the Umma of Muhammad has unanimously agreed upon accepting and following since their founders until now and for as long as Allah wishes, has exactly the same status as following the Book and the Sunna. For these Schools are explanations for the Book and the Sunna. Hence, when the expression Ahl alSunna wal-Jama` a is used in absolute terms - since one thousand years ago until the present day - what is understood is those Four Schools. Therefore, whoever leaves their compass (da'iratiha) is not counted among Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama` a. Nor does anyone leave it other than the people of vain lusts and innovations in every century until now."


Big Announcement

>> Sunday, July 4, 2010


I still have to post up the blog about what Ahlul Sunnah means and Alhamdulilah that is ready. For now on inshAllah (and please make dua) I will at least update this blog 4 times a month with a minimum of 3 excerpts from books and one original piece by me at the end of the month. All the updates inshAllah will be on Wednesdays. I have a new system where I complete all 4 posts at the beginning of the month so I have the rest of the month to start the posts for next month. Now this does not mean that I will not have mroe than four posts a month. It just means I will definitely (inshAllah) have 4.

Furthermore follow me on twitter for I will be updating that quiet often now. The link to my twitter is . Make sure to follow me on there and check out all of today's tweets where I talk about my visit to the Bronx zoo. I took pictures of almost everything I saw.

Now for the biggest announcement is that I will now start a youtube channel. It will be a book review blog. However the name is misleading because I will be reviewing not only Islamic books but also classes offered by Islamic institutes, Islamic conferences and Islamic media (such as the CD's scholars sell). The channel is . However it is not setup so just put it in your favorites and subscribe to it.

See you soon!! InshAllah



>> Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This will be an interlude post. As you all know I went on Umrah recently. I was not planning on sharing my experience because I didn't know what to write. However I received a special request asking for my experiences, so I decided this post would be about my Umrah. It will be in a list format to record all my memories inshAllah (Hoping that people inshAllah will see advices that will help them inshAllah).

My Umrah

When I first entered the plane and was wearing my thobe because if you are flying Saudi Arabian Airlines they have a small prayer room in which you can change into your ihram.

About an hour into the flight I decided to pray Duhr and Asr. There is a compass in the prayer area showing you where the Qibla is and during prayer there was an announcement which I did not catch (because I was obviously praying). In the middle of my Asr prayer, the Qibla actually changed 180 degrees and I heard the last part of the announcement that they were dumping fuel. I went back to my seat, which was next to the wing and saw them just pouring out fuel (ironically this was just hours before the whole BP fiasco which I didn’t hear about until I had spent one week in Mecca). I immediately began to pray because being the bad flyer that I am, I was scared witless. So I am already a bad flyer and now we need to turn around and land in JFK because the engine is freezing. There was some problem with the anti-ice machine and we could not cross the Atlantic. For some reason the plane kept turning left and right and circling and sitting by the wing and looking out the window scared me even more (They should really let us close the window shades during landings).

Alhamdulilah the plane landed and right away, while still on the plane, food was served. Then they told us to leave the plane and wait at the gate because they still could not find the problem. Then five hours later they let us have free food at the Turkish restaurant in JFK. After 3 more hours they finally let us back into the plane and then took off an hour and half later.

When the plane landed, even in my Ihram, I could feel the heat right away. My uncle's brother-in law-picked me up and I stayed at his place for the day. My Ihram belt broke and it was very annoying so I wore the belt I usually wear with my jeans. Then at night he took me to Mecca to do Umrah. First however he booked a hotel for me, when I got settled in I went to the Haram. It was great seeing it for the first time in person and not just in pictures. That Umrah was very easy Alhamdulilah and I finished 5 mins before fajr. I had to quickly get my head shaved run home to shower because I was sweaty and I usually shower when I get a haircut and change into my regular cloths. I quickly ran to the masjid and joined the fard jammat.
In Mecca I stayed mostly in the Masjid and walked around in the masjid when I got tired of reciting. My hotel was literally right outside of the masjid so at night when I was tired I would not need to walk very far and because of that I was able to do Tawaf nightly, Alhamdulilah. During all this time I wondered what did people complain about when doing Tawaf and Umrah. It was pretty simple. Then I did my second umrah and because I did tawaf every night the soles of my feet were bruised. When I did this second umrah the laps between Marwa and Safa were very difficult. I literally was fighting to finish those laps. I realized then what shoes were for.
Lessons I learned in the Haram were:
  • Keep your sandals with you; they WILL get lost (they will not get stolen, you will most probably forget where you put them).
  • Birds love to defecate on you and not just when you sit outside. They will travel inside the masjid and regardless of whether or not you are below a chandelier or not they will somehow sit on a ridge and aim for your head (know the fiqh of bird droppings before going to the Haram).
  • Try not to look like a foreigner; there are no fixed prices and taxi drivers who usually charge 10 riyals charge you anywhere from 20-100 riyals. They overpriced me specially because they thought I was Egyptian. (How I know this is because later I would complain to my friend about cab drivers ripping me off and he would make fun of me. Then I happened to mention people kept asking if I was Egyptian and then he told me that cleared up everything). When taking a cab make sure your driver is Bengali, if he is not make sure he is a Pakistani and try to avoid Arab and specially Saudi drivers at all costs. Saudis are the laziest people I have met and if you ask them to turn the corner because it is closer or use a different gate in the university or to help you find where you need to go on the specific street, they will get angry and tell you they were only paid to bring you here.
Then I went to Jeddeh for a day and a half to look for jobs and what not. I stayed at my uncle's brother-in-laws house. It is best to take the bus to go from Mecca to Jeddah. But when going to Medinah make sure to take a taxi with A/C. They are much faster and they stop at Masjids with clean bathrooms and not public rest areas that have Bedouin restrooms.
In Medinah it was very difficult to find my hotel. Everyoen is a tourist so it is hard to ask for directions to your hotel. Plus the cab/bus stattion was on one side of the haram (the back of the masjid) and my hotel was by Bab-Asalam (the complete front where the graves are). Another problem was the name of my hotel was Golden Mubarak and there were many hotels with the word Golden in them and others with the word Mubarak in them but only one had both "Golden" and "Mubarak". Plus the sign that says the hotel's name is not facing the main road and is hidden which from a business and marketing point of view is terrible. Alhamdulilah I found the Hotel then went to the haram to give my salaams. The next mronign I realzied all the shops (like the very important bin dawood) and places to eat were on the other side of the masjid. We (I had a roommate who arrived 2 hours after me because he took the bus) then changed hotels to Sufra al Huda. This hotel's room was amazing. The bathroom was huge. And they had room service and it only cost a few more riyals. Plus it was very close to not only the Masjid but to bin Dawood and not one, but two wifi spots. The wifi spots allowed me to use my Skype app on my iPhone to call home. One wifi spot was between gates 16 and 17 outside of the masjid and another was in one of the Tayyiba hotels.
In the Medinah masjid there were many study circles where you can just sit and study with the Imam, most of them were Tajweed classes. And most of the Imams I met knew both Urdu and Arabic. Also at night in front of the masjid there were speeches.
One strange thing I notice was that people would push and shove to touch the black stone because it is from heaven and they believe you get more hasanaat for touching it. But in reality you do n tget more hasanaat and the Prophet (PBUH) said you can merely point to it. Now if you can go ahead and touch it, however Muslims have no concept of making a line (even in bin Bawood a girl threw her items over my items on the register belt) and furthermore they push and shove to touch something that is neither mandatory to touch nor gives you "blessings". However in the Medinah Masjid people would like up at the rawda and when they finsihed praying woudl stand up look for someone to take their spots call them over and then leave the rawda. People actually made room for one another. The Rawda is said to be a peice of heaven and you do get extra blessings in there. Basically what I want to say is be courteous. If you see an Aunti who wants to touch the Black Stone let her through and do not push her. It is a superficial display of piety where you cry and moan to touch the black stone and when you do touch it scream, "GOD IS GREAT," all the while pushing and shoving an old lady who is in the winter of her life.
I then flew to Jeddah and arrived there at 11 hours before my flight to NYC. I basically just slept in the airport and almost missed my flight even though I arrived 11 hours earlier. When I arrived to NYC, Alhamdulilah, everything went smoothly and I did not receive special treatment like some Muslims do.


The Meaning of Sunna

>> Saturday, June 19, 2010

I have not updated this blog for awhile because I have been extremely busy and my computer has a virus (I think it had one even before I went to Umrah). I updated once since i came back from umrah then I had to get ready for ICNA then my brother visited so I did not have time. So in return I made a very long post. Today's post is the definition of the word "sunna". We hear it all the time and just naturally know what it means. However in different fields of knowledge it means different things. InshAllah this post will be useful to Muslims and also to secular nonmuslim who are studying Islam. This is a first of two post that defines commonly used terms. The next post inshAllah will be the definition of Ahlul Sunna wal jamma.

P.S. I did not add in the footnotes because it was getting very difficult to format. So if you see big numbers after certain sentences it is because that was an in-text citation. If you want any of the citation please tell me the number and I'll give you what the footnote says. Furthermore some of the Arabic transliterations were messed up and instead of letters you will see numbers. I started to correct some but it was taking way to long and I thought to myself 2 things; 1) Muslims should know the Arabic because most of the Arabic terms are in parenthesis and come AFTER their translation so you can infer what they are, for example: qawl and saying in the paragraph dealing with the definition of sunna in hadith terminology. 2) Nonmuslims will not care for it. If you see the number 4 after the mentioning of the Prophet (pbuh) or a Scholar it was actually an Arabic graphic that either said peace be upon him (when it came after the prophet) or May Allah's mercy and blessing be upon him (after a scholar).

P.S.S. This is a new book with a new label!

InshAllah May the below text be beneficial

The meaning of Sunna from the book, "Sunna Notes Volume 2"

The Sunna in Islam is more rare and precious than Islam is rare
and precious among the rest of the faiths. - Abu Bakr ibn `Ayydsh6

Sunna means the path that is trodden (al-tariq al-maslak), which entails holding fast to whatever the Prophet and his rightly-guided successors held of doctrines, deeds, and sayings. This is the perfect and complete Sunna. That is why the Salaf of old refrained from applying the name of Sunna to anything that fell short of this.

- Ibn Rajab7

The Sunna is wisdom and wisdom is to place each thing in its right
context. - Isma'il al-Ansari8

The Arabic word "sunna" lexically means "road" or "practice." In the language of the Prophet and the Companions it denotes the whole of licit practices followed in the Religion, particularly the pristine (hanif) path of Prophets, whether pertaining to belief, religious and social practice, or ethics generally speaking.

In its technical sense, "sunna" has several meanings. In hadith terminology it denotes any saying (qawl), action (fi' l), spoken or tacit approval (taqrir), or attribute (sifa), whether physical (khilqiyya) or moral (khuluqiyya) ascribed to (udifa ila) the Prophet whether before or after the beginning of his prophet-hood.' Thus the "sciences of the Sunna" (` ulum al-Sunna) refer to the biography of the Prophet (al-sira), the chronicle of his bat­tles (al-maghazi), his everyday sayings and acts or "ways" (sunan), his personal and moral qualities (al-shamail), and the host of the ancillary hadith sciences such as the circumstances of occurrence (asbab al-wurud), knowledge of the abrogating and abrogated hadith, difficult words (gharib al-hadith), narrator criticism (al­jarh wal-ta` dil), narrator biographies (al-rijal), etc., as discussed in great detail in the authoritative books of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi.

This meaning is used in contradistinction to the Qur'an in ex­pressions such as "Qur'an and Sunna" and applies in the usage of hadith scholars. Imam Ahmad said: "The Sunna in our defini­tion consists in the reports transmitted from the Messenger of Allah, and the Sunna is the commentary (tafsir) of the Qur'an and contains its directives (dald'il).'

The early Sunni Masters such as Abut Hanifa, al-Humaydi, Ibn Abi Abu Dawild, and Abfi Nasr al-Marwazi also used the term "the Sunna" in the narrow sense to refer to Sunni Doctrine as opposed to the creeds of non-Sunni sects.

In the terminology of usal al fiqh or principles of jurispru­dence, "sunna" denotes a saying (qawl), action (fr I) or approval (taqrir) related from (nuqila 'an) the Prophet it4 or issuing (adara) from him other than the Qur'an.

In the terminology of fiqh or jurisprudence, "sunna" denotes whatever is firmly established (thabata) as called for (mathib) in the Religion on the basis of a legal proof (dalil shar` i) but with­out being obligatory, the continued abandonment of which constitutes disregard (istikhfaf) of the Religion and sin, and in­curs blame (lawm, itab, tadlil) or also punishment (` uquba)" according to some jurists. However, some jurists made a distinc­tion between what they called "Emphasized Sunna" (sunna mu'akkada) or "Sunna of Guidance" (sunnat al-hudd), such as what the Prophet 4 ordered or emphasized in word or in deed, and other types of Sunna considered less binding in their legal status, such as what they called "Non-Emphasized Sunna" (sunna ghayr mu'akkada) or "Sunna of Habit" (sunnat al.' ada).

The above jurisprudential meanings of Sunna are used in contradistinction to the other four of the five legal categories for human actions - fard ("obligatory"), sunna, mubah ("indifferent"), makrah ("offensive"), haram ("prohibited") - and applies in the usage of jurists from the second Hijri century. However, the jurists have stressed that the basis for all acts of worship categorized as sunna is "obligatoriness" not mere "permissive­ness" (al-aslu fil-sunna al-wujab la al-ibaha).12 Sunna is thus defined as the strongest of several near-synonymous categories:

"praiseworthy" (mandab); "desirable" (mustahabb); "voluntary" (tatawwu`); "refinement" (adab);

"obedience" (ta` a);

"supererogatory" (nafl); "drawing near" (qurba); "recommended" (raghiba, murghab Pi);

"excellent" (hasan);

"excellence" (ihsan);

"meritorious" (fadila); and "best" (afdal).

Al-Dhahabi relates from Ishaq ibn Rahayah the saying: "If al­Thawri, al-Awza`i, and Malik concur on a given matter, that matter is a Surma." Al-Dhahabi comments:

Rather, the Sunna is whatever the Prophet made Sunna and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after him. As for Consensus (lima' ), it is whatever the Ulema of the Community both early and late have unanimously agreed upon, through either assumed (zarint) or tacit (sukuti) agreement. Whoever deviates from such con­sensus among the Successors or their successors, it is tolerated for him alone. As for those who deviate from the three above-named Imams, then such is not named a deviation from Con­sensus, nor from the Sunna. All that Ishaq meant was that if they concur on a given matter then it is most probably correct, just as we say, today, that it is nearly impossible to find the truth outside of what the Four Imams of scholarly endeavor agreed upon. We say this at the same time that we admit that their agreement on a given matter does not dictate the Consensus of the Community, but we refrain from asserting, in relation to a matter upon which they all agreed, that the correct position is otherwise.'

In the largest sense, "Sunna" does denote the true knowledge and practice of the Religion and is antonymous with "innovation" (bid' a), as in the expression "People of the Sunna" or Sunnis (Ahl al-Sunna). Al-Junayd said: "The way to Allah is closed except to those who follow the traces of the Prophet and adhere to his Sunna. Allah & said, {Verily in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much} (33:21).""


Cover girl

>> Friday, May 28, 2010

So I had been on Umrah from May 4th to the 18th. I had not gotten a chance to blog because of packing and then not having internet and then returning and getting settled in. Anyways this is an article that I found on one of my friends facebook page (see it can be used for good things) and it made me smile and tear at the same time. May Allah bless the little girl Ameen.

it is four pages long just click next on the bottom.


Beyond Halal and Haram

>> Saturday, April 24, 2010

First I would like to apologize for not updating. Usually when I am writing an original blog and not taking from scholars I do take a much longer time to update. However I always choose to write original blogs when I am already extremely busy making my updates even more late.
Today's post has more to do with avoiding the doubtful and being spiritual and struggling and being for the hereafter. It does not have to do with fiqh.

My thoughts

Islam is simple, enjoy the good, forbid the evil and (what most people forget) avoid the doubtful. Many times we get engulfed in the idea of Halal and Haram of do’s and don’ts. However look beyond Halal and Haram. I see many people ask questions like, “Is it permissible to eat something that contains vanilla extract (or any ingredient that is in a grey area)” or if it is permissible to smoke and participate in events that might contain haram if they do not actually participate in the haram. They go do extensive research and go around to every Shaykh possible and gather anything they can find. My question is, was it worth the time?
Now some people may think it obviously is worth the time to find out about matters such as ingredients and to go to Shaykh after Shaykh to obtain any ruling available. But ask yourself something, do you really have to eat those cupcakes that have vanilla extract or do you really need to eat chicken from McDonalds? You can’t go make your own cupcakes or find another halal chicken place. Imagine if you found a great place to eat and you were eating there and then found out it was produced with an ingredient that there was some doubt about its permissibility. (And by doubtful we mean that some Shaykhs said it was halal, while others said it was haram.) Now imagine if you decide to give it up for the sake of Allah even though some Shaykhs said it was halal. Imagine the eating place Allah will give to you for giving up something that is doubtful because you chose the safer route. I believe this is what is meant by avoid the doubtful.
In short I would like to quote Abdul Kareem Yahyaa who wrote on his Facebook status which actually inspired me to write this, “Students keep asking me about food ingredients like vanilla extract, but I am more concerned about the ingrediants of my heart. O Turner of Hearts!”
May Allah make all of us strong enough to avoid the doubtful AMEEN (please make special dua for me because my favorite cupcake place – Dylan’s Candy Bar is doubtful and those cupcakes are REALLY good. Though their chocolate is Kosher.)


Dr. Israr Ahmed and Fajr Center

>> Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I am sure most of you heard but for thos eof you do not know the great scholar Dr. Israr Ahmed passed away yesterday. InshAllah may Allah have mercy on him and our duas go out to his family. For those of you who are not fimilair with his works he was the head of tanzeem-i-Islami in Pakistan. The American branch is called IONA. InshAllah you can find his books online and inshAllah those books with be his sadaqa jariya.

On another note I found a great Arabic learning center located in Cairo. It is called the fajr center the website is . what is great about this center is that it is CHEAP and provides housing. One level is $105 and housing is $90. Plus they pick you up and drop you to the airport (extra charges).

Anyways I do not have any readings to share and this month will be slow because I only share things I read. And well I need to read.


The Third Word (and facebook fanpage)

>> Friday, March 26, 2010

First I would like to announce that there is a fan page for The Ghazzali Blogger now up on facebook. From now on each post will also be put up on the discussion board of that fan page and anyone may comment or discuss or debate etc. any and all posts. The last three posts and this one are up on the discussion board. All future posts will be there too. Click here to visit the fan page. Keep in mind to actually become a fan and discuss topics you must have a facebook account. Go to to make an account if you wish.
Now this chapter in the Risale-i Nur is a comparison illustrating the great profit of worship and great loss of vice and dissipation.

In The Words of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

The Third Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. 0 you people, worship....
If you want to understand what great profit and happiness lie in worship, and what great loss and ruin lie in vice and dissipation listen to and take heed of the following story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, two soldiers received orders to proceed to a distant city. They set off and travelled together until the road forked. At the fork was a man who said to them, "The road on the right causes no loss at all, and nine out of ten of those who take it receive a high profit and experience great ease. While the road on the left provides no advantages, and nine out of ten of its travellers make a loss. But they are the same as regards distance. Only there is one difference: those who take the left-hand road, which has no rules and no one in authority, travel without baggage and arms. They feel an apparent lightness and deceptive ease. Whereas those travelling on the right-hand road, which is under military order, are compelled to carry a kit-bag full of nutritious rations four kilos or so in weight and a superb army rifle of about two kilos which will overpower and rout every enemy..."
After the two soldiers had listened to what this instructive man had to say, the fortunate one took the road to the right. He loaded the weight of ten kilos onto his back, but his heart and spirit were saved from thousands of kilos of fear and feeling obliged to others. As for the other, luckless, soldier, he left the army. He did not want to conform to the order, and he went off to the left. He was released from bearing a load of ten kilos, but his heart was constricted by thousands of kilos of indebtedness, and his spirit crushed by innumerable fears. He proceeded on his way both begging from everyone and trembling before every object and every event until he reached his destination. And there he was punished as a mutineer and a deserter.
As for the soldier who loved the order of the army, had guarded his kit bag and rifle, and taken the right-hand road, he had gone on his way beingobliged to no one, fearing no one, and with an easy heart and conscience until he reached the city he was seeking. There he received a reward worthy of an honourable soldier whO had carried out his duty well.
And so, 0 rebellious soul, know that one of those two travellers represents those who submit to the Divine Law, while the other represents the re- . bellious and those who follow their own desires. The road is the road of life, which comes from the Spirit World, passes through the grave, and carries on to the Hereafter. As for the kit-bag and rifle, they are worship and fear of God. There is an apparent burden in worship, but there is an ease and lightness in its meaning that defies description. For in the prescribed prayers the worshipper declares, "I bear witness that there is no god but God." That is to say, since he is believing and saying, "There is no Creator and Provider other than Him. Harm and benefit are in His hand. He is both All-Wise; He does nothing in vain, and He is All-Compassionate; His bounty and mercy are abundant", he finds the door of a treasury of mercy in everything. And he knocks on it with his supplication. Moreover, he sees that everything is subjugated to the command of his own Sustainer, so he takes refuge in Him. He places his trust in Him and relies on Him, and is fortified against every disaster; his belief gives him complete confidence.
Indeed, like with every true virtue, the source of courage is belief in God, and worship. And like with every iniquity, the source of cowardice is misguidance.
In fact, for a worshipper with a truly illuminated heart, it is possible that even if the globe of the earth became a bomb and exploded, it would not frighten him. He would watch it with pleasurable wonder as a marvel of the Eternally Besoughted One's Power. But when a famous degenerate philosopher with a so-called enlightened mind but no heart saw a comet in the sky, he trembled on the ground, and exclaimed anxiously: "Isn't that comet going to hit the earth?" (On one occasion, America was quaking with fear at such a comet, and many people left their homes in the middle of the night.)
Yes, although man is in need of numberless things, his capital is as nothing, and although he is subject to endless calamities, his power too is as nothing. Simply, the extent of his capital and power is merely as far as his hand can reach. However, his hopes, desires, pains, and tribulations reach as far as the eye and the imagination can stretch. Anyone who is not totally blind can see and understand then what a great profit, happiness, and bounty for the human spirit, which is thus impotent and weak, and needy and wanting, are worship, affirmation of God's Unity, and reliance on God and submission to Him.
It is obvious that a safe way is preferable to a harmful way, even if the possibility of its safety is only one in ten. But on the way of worship, which our matter here, there is a nine out of ten possibility of it leading to a treasury of eternal happiness, as well as it being safe. While it is established by the testimony - which is at the degree of consensus - of innumerable experts and witnesses that besides being without benefit, and the dissolute even confess to this, the way of vice and dissipation ends in eternal misery. And according to the reports of those who have uncovered the mysteries of creation this is absolutely certain.
In Short: Like that of the Hereafter, happiness in this world too lies in worship and being a soldier for Almighty God. In which case, we should constantly say: "Praise be to God for obedience and success", and we should thank Him that we are Muslims...


The Second Word

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is the chapter The Second Word from the book The Words by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. It is a comparison between the believer's and unbeliever's view of the world. InshAllah I will continue posting up the Ihya when it is closer to Ramadan sicne the next section is fasting. For now I will be posting from the Risale-i Nur inshAllah.

In The Words of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

The Second Word
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Those who believe in the Unseen.'
If you want to understand what great happiness and bounty, what great pleasure and ease is to be found in belief in God, listen to this story which is in the form of a comparison:
One time, two men went on a journey for both pleasure and business. One set off in a selfish, inauspicious direction; the other on a godly, propitious way.
Since the selfish man was both conceited, self-centred, and pessimistic, he ended up in what seemed to him to be a most wicked country due to his pessimism. He looked around and everywhere saw the powerless and the unfortunate lamenting in the grasp and at the destruction of fearsome bullying tyrants. He saw the same grievous, painful situation in all the places he travelled. The whole country took on the form of a house of mourning. Apart from becoming drunk, he could find no way of not noticing this grievous and sombre situation. For everyone seemed to him to be an enemy and foreign. And all around he saw horrible corpses and despairing, weeping orphans. His conscience was in a state of torment.
The other man was godly, devout, fair-minded, and with fine morals so that the country he came to was most excellent in his view. This good man saw universal rejoicing in the land he had entered. Everywhere was a joyful festival, a place for the remembrance of God overflowing with rapture and happiness; everyone seemed to him a friend and relation. Throughout the country he saw the festive celebrations of a general discharge from duties accompanied by cries of good wishes and thanks. And he also heard the sound of a drum and band for the enlistment of soldiers with happy calls of "God is Most Great!" and "There is no god but God!" Rather than being grieved at the suffering of both himself and all the people like the first miserable man, this fortunate man was pleased and happy at both his own joy and that of all the inhabitants. Furthermore, he was able to do some profitable trade. He offered thanks to God.
After some while he returned and came across the other man. He understood his condition, and said to him: "You were out of your mind. The ugliness inside you must have been reflected on the outer world so that you imagined laughter to be weeping, and the discharge from duties to be sack and pillage. Come to your senses and purify your heart so that this calamitous veil is raised from your eyes and you can see the truth. For the country of an utterly just, compassionate, beneficent, powerful, order-loving, and kind king could not be in the way you imagined, nor could a country which demonstrated this number of clear signs of progress and achievement." The unhappy man later came to his senses and repented. He said, "Yes, I was crazy through drink. May God be pleased with you, you have saved me from a hellish state."
0 my soul! Know that the first man represents an unbeliever, or someone depraved and heedless. In his view the world is a house of universal mourning. All living creature are orphans weeping at the blows of death and separation. Man and the animals are alone and without ties being ripped apart by the talons of the appointed hour. Mighty beings like the mountains and oceans are like horrendous, lifeless corpses. Many grievous, crushing, terrifying delusions like these arise from his unbelief and misguidance, and torment him.
As for the other man, he is a believer. He recognizes and affirms Almighty God. In his view this world is an abode where the Name of the All-Merciful One is constantly recited, a place of instruction for man and the animals, and a field of examination for man and jinn. All animal and human deaths are a demobilization. Those who have completed their duties of life depart from this transient world for another, happy and trouble-free, world so that place may be made for new officials to come and work. The birth of all animals and humans forms their enlistment into the army, their being taken under arms, and the start of their duties. Each living being is a joyful regular soldier, an honest, contented official. And all voices, either glorification of God and the recitation of His Names at the outset of their duties, and the thanks and rejoicing at their ceasing work, or the songs arising from their joy at working. In the view of the believer, all beings are the friendly servants, amicable officials, and agreeable books of his Most Generous Lord and All-Compassionate Owner. Very many more subtle, exalted, pleasurable, and sweet truths like these become manifest and appear from his belief.
That is to say, belief in God bears the seed of what is in effect a Tuba Tree of Paradise, while unbelief conceals the seed of a Zakkum Tree of Hell.
That means that safety and security are only to be found in Islam and belief. In which case, we sould continually say, "Praise be to God for the religion of Islam and perfect belief."


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Taqleed by Abu Yusuf Riyadh Ul Haq

>> Saturday, February 20, 2010

The videos are embedded so if you are subscribed to me via E-mail you will need to actually visit the site.
Usually Abu Yusuf speaks about the Quran or character. I have many of his CD's and I suggest people to buy the CD on the Quran and the one on selfishness. However this is one of the CD's I do not have. I know it is lenghty but PLEASE listen to all of it SPECIALLY the last 4-5 parts. And if you are against madhabs and say, "that Hanafis do not use hadiths" or that "some hadiths did not get to some scholars" and that "Abu Hanifa said if a hadith is sahih then that is my ruling" then please listen to this ENTIRE lecture and he will prove EACH of those statements wrong.



THE DEBATE BETWEEN: Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn `Ata' Allah al-Iskandari

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This is something I came across. I am not showing you this so you can decide who is right or wrong. Rather I am showing you guys this because I want you guys to see the way scholars debated and their adab. And to highlight that we should give our brothers 70 excuses. Those of you who know me personally and sat with me know that I always defend people even if it sounds liek they said soemthing wrong because I always believe no Muslim will ever really mean that and their writing is being taken out of context. Ibn Taymiyya was a great admirer of Ibn Arabi. However when the Fusus was published Ibn Taymiyya very harshly refuted Ibn Arabi. However in this debate we see Ibn Arabi was taken out of context and also we discover many of his opponents actually changed his book.

This debate can be found in Usul al-Wusul by Muhammad Zaki Ibrahim Ibn Kathir

The Debate

The Testimony of Ibn Taymiyya to Ibn `Ata' Allah: Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya had been imprisoned in Alexandria. When the Sultan pardoned him, he came back to Cairo. At the time of the evening prayer he went to al-Azhar mosque where salat al-maghrib was being led by Shaykh Ahmad Ibn `Ata Allah al-Iskandari. Following the prayer, Ibn `Ata' Allah was surprised to discover that Ibn Taymiyya had been praying behind him. Greeting him with a smile, the Sufi shaykh cordially welcomed Ibn Taymiyya's arrival to Cairo, saying: "as-Salamu alaykum". Then Ibn `Ata' Allah started to talk with the learned visitor.

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "Ordinarily, I pray the evening prayer in the Mosque of Imam Husayn and the night prayer here. But look how the Divine plan works itself out! Allah has ordained that I should be the first one to greet you (after your return to Cairo). Tell me, O faqih, do you blame me for what happened?

Ibn Taymiyya: "I know you intended me no harm, but our differences of opinion still stand. In any case, whoever has harmed me in any way, from this day on I hereby exonerate and free him from any blame in the matter."

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "What is it you know about me, Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya?"

Ibn Taymiyya: "I know you to be a man of scrupulous piety, abundant learning, integrity and truthfulness in speech. I bear witness that I have seen no one like you either in Egypt or Syria who loves Allah more nor who is more self-effacing in Him nor who is more obedient in carrying out what He has commanded and in refraining from what He has forbidden. Nevertheless, we have our differences. What do you know about me? Are you claiming that I am misguided when I deny the validity of calling on anyone save Allah for aid (istighatha)?"

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "Surely, my dear colleague, you know that istighatha or calling for help is the same as tawassul or seeking a means and asking for intercession (shafa`a); and that the Messenger, on him be peace, is the one whose help is sought since he is our means and he the one whose intercession we seek."

Ibn Taymiyya: "In this matter, I follow what the Prophet's Sunna has laid down in the Shari`a. For it has been transmitted in a sound hadith: "I have been granted the power of intercession." I have also collected the sayings on the Qur'anic verse: "It may be that thy Lord will raise thee (O Prophet) to a praised estate" (17:79) to the effect that the "praised estate" is intercession. Moreover, when the mother of the Commander of the Faithful `Ali died, the Prophet prayed to Allah at her grave and said:O Allah who lives and never dies, who quickens and puts to death, forgive the sins of my mother Fatima bint Asad, make wide the place wherein she enters through the intercession of me, Thy Prophet, and the Prophets who came before me. For Thou art the most merciful of those capable of having mercy.

This is the intercession that belongs to the Prophet, on him be peace. As for seeking the help of someone other than Allah, it smacks of idolatry; for the Prophet commanded his cousin `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas not to ask of anyone to help him other than Allah."

Ibn `Ata' Allah: May Allah cause you to prosper, O faqih! As for the advice which the Prophet -- on him be peace -- gave to his cousin Ibn Abbas, he wanted him to draw near to Allah not through his familial relationship to the Prophet but through his knowledge. With regard to your understanding of istighatha as being seeking the aid of someone other than Allah which is idolatry, I ask you: Is there any Muslim possessed of real faith and believing in Allah and His Prophet who thinks there is someone other than Allah who has autonomous power over events and who is able to carry out what He has willed with regard to them? Is there any true believer who believes that there is someone who can reward him for his good deeds and punish him for his bad ones other than Allah?

Besides this, we must consider that there are expressions which should not be taken just in their literal sense. This is not because of fear of associating a partner with Allah and in order to block the means to idolatry. For whoever seeks help from the Prophet only seeks his power of intercession with Allah as when you yourself say: "This food satisfies my appetite." Does the food itself satisfy your appetite? Or is it the case that it is Allah who satisfies your appetite through the food?

As for your statement that Allah has forbidden Muslims to call upon anyone other than Himself in seeking help, have you actually seen any Muslim calling on someone other than Allah? The verse you cite from the Qur'an was revealed concerning the idolaters and those who used to call on their false gods and ignore Allah. Whereas, the only way Muslims seek the help of the Prophet is in the sense of tawassul or seeking a means, by virtue of the privilege he has received from Allah (bi haqqihi `inda Allah), and tashaffu` or seeking intercession, by virtue of the power of intercession which Allah has bestowed on him.

As for your pronouncement that istighatha or seeking help is forbidden in the Shari`a because it can lead to idolatry, if this is the case, then we ought also to prohibit grapes because they are means to making wine, and to castrate unmarried men because not to do so leaves in the world a means to commit fornication and adultery."

At the latter comment both the shaykhs laughed. Ibn `Ata Allah continued: "I am acquainted with the all-inclusiveness and foresight of the legal school founded by your Shaykh, Imam Ahmad, and know the comprehensiveness of your own legal theory and about its principle of blocking the means to evil (sadd al-dhara'i`) as well as the sense of moral obligation a man of your proficiency in Islamic jurisprudence and integrity must feel. But I realize also that your knowledge of language demands that you search out the hidden meanings of words which are often shrouded behind their obvious senses. As for the Sufis, meaning for them is like a spirit, and the words themselves are like its body. You must penetrate deeply into what is behind the verbal body in order to seize the deeper reality of the word's spirit.

Now you have found a basis in your ruling against Ibn `Arabi in the Fusus al-hikam, the text of which has been tampered with by his opponents not only with things he did not say, but with statements he could not even have intended saying (given the character of his Islam). When Shaykh al-Islam al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam understood what Shaykh Ibn `Arabi had actually said and analyzed, grasped and comprehended the real meaning of his symbolic utterances, he asked Allah's pardon for his former opinion about the Shaykh and acknowledged that Muhyiddin ibn `Arabi was an Imam of Islam.

As for the statement of al-Shadhili against Ibn Arabi, you should know that Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili is not the person who said it but one of the students of the Shadhiliyya. Furthermore, in making this statement that student was talking about some of the followers of Shadhili. Thus, his words were taken in a fashion he himself never intended.

"What do you think about the Commander of the Faithful, Sayyidina `Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him?"

Ibn Taymiyya: In the hadith the Prophet, on him be peace, said: "I am the city of knowledge and `Ali is its door." Sayyidina `Ali is the one mujahid who never went out to battle except to return victoriously. What scholar or jurist who came after him struggled for the sake of Allah using tongue, pen and sword at the same time? He was a most accomplished Companion of the Prophet -- may Allah honor his countenance. His words are a radiant lamp which have illumined me during the entire course of my life after the Qur'an and Sunna. Ah! one who is ever short of provision and long in his journeying.

Ibn `Ata' Allah: Now, did Imam `Ali ask anyone to take his side in a faction? For this faction has claimed that the Angel Gabriel made a mistake and delivered the revelation to Muhammad -- on him be peace instead of `Ali! Or did he ask them to claim that Allah had become incarnate in his body and the Imam had become divine? Or did he not fight and slay them and give a fatwa (legal opinion) that they should be killed wherever they were found?

Ibn Taymiyya: "On the basis of this very fatwa, I went out to fight them in the mountains of Syria for more than ten years.

Ibn `Ata' Allah: And Imam Ahmad -- may Allah be pleased with him -- questioned the actions of some of his followers who were in the habit of going on patrols, breaking open casks of wine (in the shops of their Christian vendors or wherever they find them), spilling their contents on the floor, beating up singing girls, and confronting people in the street. All of this they did in the name of enjoining good and prohibiting what is forbidden. However, the Imam had not given any fatwa that they should censure or rebuke all those people. Consequently, these followers of his were flogged, thrown into jail, and paraded mounted on assback facing the tail.

Now, is Imam Ahmad himself responsible for the bad behavior which the worst and most vicious Hanbalis continue to perpetrate right down to our own day, in the name of enjoining good and prohibiting what is forbidden?

All this is to say that Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi is innocent with respect to what those of his followers do who absolve people of legal and moral obligations set down by the religion and from committing deeds that are prohibited. Do you not see this?

Ibn Taymiyya: "But where do they stand with respect to Allah? Among you Sufis are those who assert that when the Prophet -- on him be peace -- gave glad tidings to the poor and said that they would enter paradise before the rich, the poor fell into ecstasy and began to tear their garments into pieces; that at that moment the Angel Gabriel descended from heaven and said to the Prophet that Allah had sought his rightful portion from among these torn garments; and that the Angel Jibril carried one of them and hung it on Allah's throne. For this reason, they claim, Sufis wear patchworked garments and call themselves fuqara' or the "poor"!

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "Not all Sufis wear patchworked vests and clothing. Here I am before you: what do you disapprove of in my appearance?"

Ibn Taymiyya: "You are from the men of Shari`a and teach in al-Azhar."

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "al-Ghazali was equally an Imam both in Shari`a and tasawwuf. He treated legal rulings, the Sunna, and the Shari'a with the spirit of the Sufi. And by applying this method he was able to revive the religious sciences. We know that tasawwuf recognizes that what is sullied has no part in religion and that cleanliness has the character of faith. The true and sincere sufi must cultivate in his heart the faith recognized by the Ahl al-Sunna.

Two centuries ago the very phenomena of pseudo-Sufis appeared which you yourself criticize and reject. There were persons who sought to diminish the performance of worship and religious obligations, lighten fasting and belittle the five daily prayers. They ran wild into the vast arenas of sloth and heedlessness, claiming that they had been liberated from the shackles of the slavery of divine worship. Not satisfied with their own vile deeds until they have claimed intimations of the most extravagent realities and mystical states just as Imam al-Qushayri himself described in his well-known Risala, which he directed against them. He also set down in detail what constituted the true path to Allah, which consists in taking a firm hold upon the Qur'an and the Sunna. The Imams of tasawwuf desire to arrive at the true reality not only by means of rational evidences thought up by the human mind which are capable of being false as well as true, but by means of purifying the heart and purging the ego through a course of spiritual exercises. They cast aside concerns for the life of this world inasmuch as the true servant of Allah does not busy himself with anything else except love of Allah and His Prophet. This is a high order of business and one which makes a servant pious and healthy and prosperous. It is an occupation that reforms those things that corrupt the human creature, such as love of money and ambition for personal standing in society. However, it is an order of business which is constituted by nothing less than spiritual warfare for the sake of Allah.

My learned friend, interpreting texts according to their literal meanings can sometimes land a person in error. Literalism is what has caused your judgments about Ibn `Arabi who is one of the Imams of our faith known for his scrupulous piety. You have understood what he wrote in a superficial fashion; whereas sufis are masters of literary figures which intimate much deeper meanings, hyperbolic language that indicates heightened spiritual awareness and words which convey secrets concerning the realm of the unseen."

Ibn Taymiyya: "This argument is against you, not in your favor. For when Imam al-Qushayri saw his followers deviating from the path to Allah he took steps to improve them. What do the sufi shaykhs in our day do? I only ask that Sufis follow the path of the Sunna of these great and pious ancestors of our faith (Salaf): the ascetics (zuhhad) among the Companions, the generation which suceeded them, and the generation that followed in their footsteps to their best! Whoever acts in this way I esteem him highly and consider him to be an Imam of the religion. As for unwarranted innovation and the insertion of the ideas of idolaters such as the Greek philosophers and the Indian Buddhists, or like the idea that man can incarnate Allah (hulul) or attain unity with Him (ittihad), or the theory that all existence is one in being (wahdat al-wujud) and other such things to which your Shaykh summons people: this is clearly godlessness and unbelief."

Ibn `Ata' Allah: "Ibn `Arabi was one of the greatest of the jurists who followed the school of Dawud al-Zahiri after Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, who is close to your methodology in Islamic law, O Hanbalis! But although Ibn `Arabi was a Zahiri (i.e. a literalist in matters of Islamic law), the method he applied to understand ultimate reality (al-haqiqa) was to search out the hidden, spiritual meaning (tariq al-batin), that is, to purify the inward self (tathir al-batin).8 However, not all followers of the hidden are alike. In order that you not err or forget, repeat your reading of Ibn `Arabi with fresh understanding of his symbols and inspirations. You will find him to be very much like al-Qushayri. He has taken his path in tasawwuf under the umbrella of the Qur'an and Sunna just like the Proof of Islam, Shaykh al-Ghazali, who carried on debates about doctrinal differences in matters of creed and issues of worship but considered them occupations lacking in real value and benefit. He invited people to see that the love of Allah is the way of a proper servant of Allah with respect to faith.

Do you have anything to object to in this, O faqih? Or do you love the disputations of Islamic jurists? Imam Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, exercised extreme caution about such wrangling in matters of creed and used to say: "Whenever a man enters into arguing about issues of creed it diminishes his faith." Similarly al-Ghazali said: The quickest means of drawing near to Allah is through the heart, not the body. I do not mean by heart this fleshy thing palpable to seeing, hearing, sight and touch. Rather, I have in mind the inner most secret of Allah himself the Exalted and Great which is imperceptible to sight or touch. Indeed, the Ahl al-Sunna are the very ones who named the Sufi shaykh al-Ghazali: "the Proof of Islam," and there is no-one to gainsay his opinions even if one of the scholars has been excessive in praising his book when he said: "The Ihya' `ulum al-din was almost a Qur'an."10

The carrying out of religious obligation (taklif) in the view of Ibn `Arabi and Ibn al-Farid is a worship whose mihrab, or prayer-niche indicating the orientation of prayer, is its inward aspect, not merely its external ritual. For what is the good of you standing and sitting in prayer if your heart is preoccupied with something other than Allah. Allah praises people when He says in the Qur'an: "Those who are humble in their prayer" (23:2) and He blames peoples when He says: "Those who are heedless in their prayer" (107:5). This is what Ibn `Arabi means when he says: "Worship is the mihrab of the heart, that is, the inward aspect of prayer not the outward."

The Muslim is unable to arrive at the knowledge of certitude (`ilm al-yaqin) nor at certitude itself (`ayn al-yaqin) of which the Qur'an speaks unless he evacuates his heart from whatever distracts it in the way of wordly cravings and center himself on inward contemplation. Then the outpourings of Divine reality will fill his heart, and from there will spring his sustenance. The real sufi is not the one who derives his sustenace from asking and begging people for alms. The only one who is sincere is he who rouses his heart and spirit to self-obliteration in Allah by obedience to Allah. Perhaps Ibn `Arabi caused the jurists to rise up against him because of his contempt of their preoccupation with arguing and wrangling about credal matters, actual legal cases, and hypothetical legal situations, since he saw how much it distracted them from purifying the heart. He named them "the jurists of women's menses." May Allah grant you refuge from being among them! Have you read Ibn `Arabi's statement that: "Whoever builds his faith exclusively on demonstrative proofs and deductive arguments, builds a faith on which it is impossible to rely. For he is affected by the negativities of constant objections. Certainty (al-yaqin) does not derive from the evidences of the mind but pours out from the depths of the heart." Have you ever read talk as pure and sweet as this?"

Ibn Taymiyya: "You have spoken well if only your master were as you say, for he would then be as far as possible from unbelief. But what he has said cannot sustain the meanings that you have given in my view."