>> 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).""