The Qur’an As The Uncreated Speech Of Allah

Answer by Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Question: Assalamu alaykum, I read recently that the Ahl Al-Sunnah believe that the Quran is the ‘uncreated’ speech of God. Can you please elaborate on what exactly this means as I find it difficult to understand because the Quran is a physical thing we hold in our hands and recite on our tongues. So how is it uncreated?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh,

May Allah reward you for your courage to ask when you don’t know. To answer your question, yes, the creed of Ahl al-Sunna is that the Qur’an is the “uncreated speech,” of Allah. Similarly, you are right in asserting that the Qur’an is a physical thing that we hold in our hands and recite on our tongues. In fact, in the celebrated creed written by Imam al-Nasafi he says, “The Qur’an is the uncreated Speech of Allah, and it is written in our Masaahif, memorized in our hearts, recited on our tongues, heard with our ears, and He does not dwell within it.” So to rephrase your question for you, how can both of those things be true?

The answer is: The word, “Qur’an,” is used sometimes to refer to God’s Attribute of Speech which is uncreated and other times the word, “Qur’an,” is used to refer to the physical texts we read from, the words we recite on our tongues etc. Therefore, when we use the word, “Qur’an,” to refer to God’s Attribute of Speech, it is uncreated. When we are using the word, “Qur’an,” to refer to the physical text, or what we memorize and recite, those things are all created and they are not the attribute of speech. Therefore, to remove any confusion all one needs to understand is that the physical text as well as the memorized or recited words are not the actual attribute even if we use one word, “Qur’an,” to refer to both. [Sharh al-Aqa’id – Taftazani]

I pray that clarified matters for you.

I leave you in Allah’s care,

[Ustadh] Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi was born in Dubai and moved to the United States six months after he was born. In 1994, the Safi family settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor in 2006 as a double major in Political Science and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. He spent the next 3 years of his life traveling the Middle East, completing the Arabic program, CASA, in Egypt and pursuing private studies in Arabic linguistics and introductory Islamic sciences. His brief introduction to Islamic studies continued for another year at the Dar al-Mustafa Institute in Tarim, Yemen. He is currently enrolled in an MA program at the University of Michigan titled, Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language. He will be finishing the MA in April of 2013, God willing. Mohammed also teaches Arabic at the University of Michigan. Apart from classes at the University of Michigan, Mohammed studies at the hands of Muslim scholars privately in multiple sciences including linguistics, law, and theology.

Modes Of Reciting The Holy Qur’an

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Salams, How it is possible that some traditional scholars have criticized some mass-narrated modes of reciting the Qur’an [qiraat mutawatira]?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Not everything that is mass-narrated [mutawatir] was necessarily known to all scholars at all stages of the Islamic tradition. A hadith or mode of recital [qiraa] can be mass-narrated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give peace), and yet take time to reach every member of Ummah.

This was the case with certain modes of the recital. After they became well known, everyone accepted them. Before that, some scholars of the Arabic language or of other disciplines criticized certain pronunciations that seemed wrong to them.

This is the case with Imam Ahmad and the mode of the recital of Hamza al Zayyat.

What is the Basis for the Ten Modes of Recitation of the Qur’an?

The Cementing of Ideas

Before Ibn Mujahid

Although the Quran was recited in all corners of the Muslim World from the very beginning of the spread of Islam, the codifying of the modes of recital did not happen immediately. Indeed, it was not until the work of Quran specialist Ibn Mujahid (d. 324 AH), and the further work of his student Ibn Khalawayhi and then Ibn al Jazari (d. 833 AH) that the various modes of recital were completely codified, recorded, and distinguished from other modes of recital.

Before this time, and indeed as part of the very process of excluding incorrect modes of recital, criticisms were launched against certain modes of recital. Modes of recital that were later identified as non-mass narrated, and therefore incorrect, were frequently quoted alongside those which were mass-narrated, without any mention of which ones were “valid” or not. This is very clear in books of tafsir from, say, before 700 AH.

For example, the great early grammarian Akhfash (d. 215 AH) cites the non-mass-narrated, invalid recital ‘malika yawmi al din’ alongside the mass-narrated, valid mode ‘maliki yawmi al din’ with which we are all familiar in Sura al Fatiha. [Maani al Qur’an, Akhfash] He does not distinguish the mass-narrated, valid mode from the non-mass-narrated, invalid mode. This just goes to show that before Ibn Mujahid, this clarity was just not there.

At the same time, in the same sura he only mentions two ways of pronouncing the word ‘sirat’: with Seen or with a Sad. [Maani al Qur’an, Akhfash] The fact that he doesn’t mention the third mass-narrated pronunciation, namely reciting with a heavy Zed [al Sad al mushamma Zayan], tells that he was simply not aware of it.

All of this reiterates the fact that not all scholars were aware of all of the various ways of reciting the Quran, even if they were genuine scholars, and even it such modes of recital were indeed mass-narrated.

After Ibn Mujahid

Sometimes even after the work of Ibn Mujahid, criticisms still made due to the lack a universal recognition of authority and finality of his work.

By way of example, the great Qur’an exegete Zamakhshari (d. 538 AH) criticized a mass-narrated mode of recital ascribed to Abu Jafar [Yazid bin Qa’qaa’], of the imams of Qur’anic recitation.

According to this mode, the words in verse 34 of Baqarah ‘And when We told the angels: Prostrate …’ is pronounced ‘lil malaikatus judu’ (with a damma on the ta marbuta).

Concerning this, Zamakhshari says, ‘Abu Jafar [Yazid bin Qa’qaa’] recited it lil malaikatus judu with a damma on the ta in keeping [with the damma in usjudu], but you cannot just displace the signs of inflection for the sake of keeping the same sound except in a very weak dialect of Arabic. It is like those who say Al hamdi lillahi.’ [al Kashaf, Zamakhshari]

Zamakhshari says that this is weak Arabic and not valid, even though the mode of recital ascribed to Abu Jafar mass-narrated.

Why did he do this? Because the authority of the work of Ibn Mujahid was still not yet fully accepted by all Muslim scholars, even two hundred years or so later. This kind of thinking would be expected by a fortiori from those well before Ibn Mujahid, such as Imam Ahmad.

Hamza al Zayyat’s mode of recital

So what was wrong with his Hamza al Zayyat’s mode of the recital?

If you have a careful listen to his mode of recital (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sngQiOXMaWs), you might notice some oddities. Certain vowels are recited in a very acute fashion, there are some pauses, and merging of certain similar, but not identical letters. All of these would seem odd to the average listener.

In reality, the student of Arabic and of the Quran knows very well that there many different ways of pronouncing Arabic words, or of certain words in series. Many of these phonological possibilities are spread out among the various canonical modes of reciting the Qur’an. Hence, there is nothing actually “odd” about any of these sounds that we hear.

Regarding scholarly criticism of Hamza al Zayyat’s mode of the recital, Ibn Mujahid mentions the reason why some scholars did not like his mode of the recital.

One of Hamza’s students once attended a lesson of Abdullah ibn Idris (a reciter of the Qur’an and hadith narrator, d. 192 AH) and recited some verses with extremely long vowels and various other somewhat artificial characteristics. At this, Abdullah ibn Idris expressed his dislike of the recital and criticized it. [Kitab al Saba fi al Qiraat, Ibn Mujahid]

Imam al Dhahabi narrates in his short biography of Abdullah Ibn Idris that he actually directly rebuked Hamza al Zayyat. He said to him, ‘Fear Allah! You are a man who is trying to play God! This recitation is neither the recitation of Abdullah [Ibn Masud] nor of anyone else!’ He added later, ‘I do not hold it permissible for anyone to say that Hamza is on the Sunna.’ [Siyar Alam al Nubala, Dhahabi]

So it is clear that Ibn Idris, and probably Imam Ahmad following suit, felt that his model of the recital was not based on learning [talaqqi] but rather based on his own made-up style, a style that seemed very artificial.

However, Ibn Mujahid mentions that the scholars said that such artificial elongation was actually also disliked by Hamza al Zayyat himself, and not recited thus by his skilled students. [Kitab al Saba fi al Qiraat, Ibn Mujahid]

Commenting on this event, Dhahabi says, ‘Thus did Ibn Idris’ denunciation [of Hamza] spread. May Allah forgive him [Ibn Idris]: Muslims have wholeheartedly accepted every letter [of his mode of recital], and today there is consensus on it.’ [Siyar Alam al Nubala, Dhahabi]

Here Dhahabi clarifies that these objections, although sincere, were actually out of place and that as a mass-narrated mode of the recital, we all accept it as Qur’an.

Imam Ahmad’s View of Hamza al Zayyat

Imam Ahmad disliked the modes of recital [qiraah] of Hamza al Zayyat and that of his student Kisai, and he also disliked the idgham kabir [merging of two similar letters even if the first is not silent] of the Quran reciter Abu Amr. [Sharh Muntaha al Iradat, Bahuti]

That said, it is actually valid in Hanbali school to recite even a non-mass narrated mode of recital [qiraa shadha] as long as the chain for it is sound and it conforms to the Uthmanic mushaf. [Sharh Muntaha al Iradat, Bahuti] This is most definitely found in these aforementioned modes of the recital.

This tells us that one can actually recite these modes of the recital in the Hanbali school, as we shall explain later.

The View of Others

One of the many illustrious students of Hamza al Zayyat was the famous Sufyan al Thawri. He was once sitting in his circle of students, and Hamza came and then left. He said of him, ‘Do you see this man? He never recited a single letter of the Qur’an save that it was based on precedent [athar].’ [Kitab al Saba fi al Qiraat, Ibn Mujahid]

Clearly, his student (Thawri) knew that there was nothing “creative” about his mode of recital but it was all taken from his teachers, and from them back to the Followers and Prophetic Companions.

Ibn Mujahid also quotes the position of Ibn Dawud [hadith narrator, d. 213] regarding Hamza al Zayyat. He said, ‘Have you heard what the scholars of Basra say? Who is there that has more knowledge than Hamza of how it [the Qur’an] is recited and the subtleties thereof?’ [Kitab al Saba fi al Qiraat, Ibn Mujahid]

It is evident that Ibn Dawud, and in fact the scholars of Basra, held Hamza and his mode of the recital in high esteem.

And it is sufficient enough that Kisai, the actual founder of the Kufan school of Arabic grammar, was his student and narrator of his mode of the recital. If there was anything odd or linguistically invalid about it, Kisai would definitely be the first one to point it out.

You can hear a sample of Kisai’s recension from Hamza here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7aAit-6i20

Conclusion

Imam Ahmad, exercising his brilliant and valid Islamic scholarship in a period before the Ten Modes of Recital were properly known and codified, like many other scholars, criticized Hamza al Zayyat because of what was ascribed to him of his apparent unorthodox way of reciting the Quran.

After it became clear to the whole Umma that his recital was perfectly fine, and that it was mass-narrated and based on the recitals of the Early Muslims, the objection leveled no longer bore any weight.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Sincere Memorization of Quran

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: Is it considered shirk [polytheism] or even being insincere to tell someone that you are going to memorize some of the Quran?

Answer: It is not shirk [polytheism] but could be considered showing off [riya]. You shouldn’t get too tied up in it.

Developing innate sincerity takes time and effort. You should work on that as a universal goal, and not get bogged down with the specifics of what you just said or meant.

Shirk-like Things

There are no such things as Shirk-like things: one either worships something besides Allah or does not. It is very clear.

In your case, you are clearly not worshiping your father or teacher, so there is no question as to whether or not your actions or words constituted shirk.

The hadith that says that ‘Shirk [polytheism] is more hidden among my nation than the crawling of ants over a smooth boulder on a dark night.’ (Hakim) does not mean that every Muslim is accidentally committing shirk every now and then. Rather it is referring to the propensity of people to show off in good deeds. (Sharh Umdat al Ahkam, Ibn Taymiyya)

The Graveness of Showing Off

Showing off in good deeds is a very natural thing. After all, we grow up “showing off” to our parents and teachers trying to please them by doing good things. That said, upon the onset of puberty we are obliged to re-tune our psyches such that the driving force behind all good deeds — indeed deeds as a whole — is Allah Most High alone.

Allah Most High says, ‘And all they were ordered to do was to worship Allah, keeping religion purely for Him, as men by nature upright, and to establish worship and to pay the poor-due. That is true religion.’ (Qur’an, 98:5)

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) explained in a lengthy Hadith Qudsi that the very first people for whom judgment will be made on the Day of Rising with be the martyr, the scholar, and the philanthropist who only did their good deeds out ostentation and showing off. All of whom will find their fate in the Hell-Fire. (Muslim)

So ostentation is no small matter.

Being Realistic

That said, completely purity of heart does not come overnight, and it takes work and perseverance. As the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said when they complained to him of their late of sincerity, ‘I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, were you to be forever as you are will me in remembrance [of Allah and the Next Life], why, the very angels would be shaking your hands as you lay in bed or walk down the street! But, O Handhala [the questioner], sometimes [you are one way], and sometimes [you are another]! (Muslim)

This means we cannot expect to be perfect all the time. Rather we should resolve to try to be perfect: ‘But rather aim right, try your best, and “travel” in the morning, in the afternoon, and a little bit at night. Stick to moderation … Stick to moderation, and you will get where you need to be.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

So we must strive to remove the cancerous diseases that we have in our hearts while bearing in mind that it is not flick-of-a-switch operation. As described by Imam Junayd, ‘Spiritual change [tasawwuf] is a war of attrition with no cease-fire.’ (al Risala al Qushayriyya, Qushayri)

Baby Steps

There are two simple things to ward off ostentation.

The first is to decide on a certain regular system of worship etc., and not change it no matter where you are or whom you are with.

The second is to watch the motives that come to your heart, and whenever you see that you are about to show off, stop yourself and make a new sincere intention to do the action purely for Allah’s sake.

This takes a lot of work, and it helps a lot to keep the company of people who have done this to themselves or are at least working on it too.

For more detail, please see: Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Can Muslim Women Be Imams?

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: assalam alaykum, I´m from Italy and here some people think that Islam is for man and the woman have a second place in Islam. I see a program on tv, about women can be Imam, and they say this is a revolution inside Islam. So my question are: woman can be Imam in a community? She can be Imam for women and men? Where in the Holy Qur’an say that woman can’t be Imam for the Ummah?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Gender equality in Islam

Allah looks at everyone equally and everyone is welcomed to draw near to Him in sincerity, dedication, fear and hope. Whoever excels another in these is greater in Allah’s eyes, regardless of race or gender.

Allah Most High says, ‘Verily, Muslim men and Muslim women, believing men and believing women, worshipful men and worshipful women, true men and true women, patient men and patient women, humbled men and humbled women, men and women who give in charity, men who fast and women who fast, men who protect their chastity and women, and men who remember Allah much and women, Allah has prepared for them [indescribable] forgiveness and a tremendous reward.’ [33: 35]

So All men and women are equal before Allah, irrespective of gender.

That said, Allah has also told us in the Quran that He has not given everyone in this life the same provision, and rights and responsibilities:

´It is We who have divided up each person’s livelihood in the Lower Life, and we have raised some over other whole categories such that some should be subject to others. And your Lord’s mercy is better than that which they amass’ [43: 32]

Some people are rich, and that gives them the right to buy things that others can’t; that also gives them the responsibility to support others. Some people are strong and healthy, and that gives them the right to enjoy their health, and the responsibility to defend the weak. Some people are really intelligent and have the ability and therefore the responsibility to fulfill certain communal obligations, such as being a brain surgeon or a mufti. Some others do not have such capabilities, such opportunities, etc., and this is all from the wisdom and mercy of Allah.

None of this “favouritism” reflects how Allah looks at His slaves: they are all equal and their true and ultimate rank is how they are morally.

And one such way that Allah has apportioned and organised temporal life in this “Lower Life” is that He has not made men and women the same, and has not given them the same rights and responsibilities.

Allah has said in the Quran, ‘Men are in charge of women because We have given more to some than others.’ [4: 34]

Men are not women, and women are not men. Allah has made two genders to compliment one another, and has put one in charge of the other in this life, even though they are equal before Allah’s eyes in the next.

Well, to what degree are men in charge of women?

Generally speaking, no man has any control or say in what another man or woman does. However the general tack in Islam is that men are in charge of leadership roles, such as being the caliph, judgeship, leading the household, and leading the Eid and Friday prayers.

Woman can be and do many things: they can be politicians, muftis, CEOs, millionaires, writers, revolutionists, mothers, astronauts, you name it! But there is a general hierarchy in things that touch the structure and performance of the Muslim community.

This responsibility, dictates that one follow the other, and the other show mercy, consideration, stewardship to the other in light of the grave responsibility that rests on his shoulders. This hierarchy is for everyone’s benefit: emotionally, physically, financially, politically, economically …

Responsibility means answerability: so men, or women, who abuse their rights and do not fulfill their what is required of them, must provide an answer for their transgressions before a Sharia court in this life, and Allah’s court in the next.

For more details on Women’s active role in the authority, please see: Do the Hadiths Say Women Can’t Be Leaders?

Can women lead the prayer

Please see: How a Female Imam Should Lead a Congregation of Women in Prayer? [Shafi’i School]

An Explanation of the Hanafi School’s Position on Women’s Congregational Prayer

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Quran Etiquette

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Salaam Alaykum,

What is the ruling regarding reading Quran with shoes on. Must the shoes be removed if there is mud or impurity on them? Is it Sunnah to remove the shoes when reading Quran? Jazakallah Khair

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

It is permissible to recite the Qurʾan with your shoes on. What is we have reverence for the Qurʾan when reciting it.

Cultural Expressions of Respect

There are many practices which entail respect, such as not turning your back to someone distinguished, and in some places these practices were also applied to the Qurʾan. This is why many Indo-Paks, Turks, etc do not turn there backs to a copy of the Qurʾan.

All such practices are praiseworthy, because they emanate from a deep-seated reverence of the Book of Allah. They are, however, mostly cultural, and so subject to change from place to place. Removing one’s shoes before reciting could also be one of these.

Islamic Expressions of Respect

There are other practices which are rooted within the religion, such as reciting the Qurʾan with wudu – even if one is not touching a physical copy, facing the Qiba, cleaning one’s teeth with a miswak before reciting. These practices do not change from place to place.

Permission from the Sunna

Having said that, we have examples of when the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, would lie in the lap of his wife ʿAʾisha during her menstrual cycle, and recite the Qurʾan. (Bukhari). This is a beautiful expression of spending quality time with one’s family and imbuing that time with the remembrance of Allah. ʿAʾisha herself would recite her daily portion of the Qurʾan whilst lying down.

Imam Nawawi, in his book al Tibyan, has mentioned the proper conduct of reciting the Qurʾan, and we should try to apply that as much as possible. However, should we see that someone is not facing the Qibla, or is reciting from memory without wudu, or whilst lying down, we should remember that we have permission from the Sunna to do such things.

I hope that helps.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. In the presence of Shaykh Ali Hani, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

Recitation Error During Prayer

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: In Surah Fatiha and Surah Ikhlas i didn’t pronounce from throat not pronounce correctly, made all these mistakes without knowing it and i have made these in all my previous prayer since i have started. Now what should i do? Do i have to repeat all those prayers? Dose mistakes done in recitation during without knowing them even if they changed the meaning are forgivable?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

No, none of those prayers need to be repeated. According to the Hanafi school such mistakes are overlooked. (Ibn ʿAbidin, Radd al-Muhtar). Not all mistakes in Tajwid alter the meaning.

It would be a good idea, however, to find a Tajwid teacher locally and rectify your recitation if possible. Don’t worry about the errors though. Sometimes, it takes a while to perfect pronunciation. Use it as a means to get closer to Allah with a good intention.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. He moved to Damascus in 2007 to study and sit at the feet of some of the most erudite scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies in Fiqh, Usul al Fiqh, Theology, Hadith Methodology and Commentary, Shama’il, and Logic with teachers such as Dr Ashraf Muneeb, Dr Salah Abu’l Hajj, Dr Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr Mansur Abu Zina amongst others. He was also given two licences of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabr and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali Hani he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic Sciences, Tafsir, Arabic Grammar, and Rhetoric.

Reading Qur’an For A Deceased

Answered by Ustadh Farid Dingle

Question: As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

A few years ago I signed up to read a juz of the Quran as part of a khatm sign up sheet for someone’s passing.. I had forgotten about that for a while and now I don’t even remember what juz number I signed up for.. I feel very worried. What should I do? Do I read the whole Quran with the intention of all of it being towards that same khatm? JazakAllah Khair.

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

The moral weight of promises

Allah Most High has said:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [2: 177]

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The signs of a hypocrite are three, even if he fasts and prays and claims to be a Muslim: when he speaks he lies, when he gives a promise he breaks it, and when he is trusted he is treacherous.’ [Bukhari and Muslim]

We can learn from these divine teachings that fulfilling one’s promise is of the perfection of faith, and breaking one’s promise is of the signs of hypocrisy.

The believer vs. the hypocrite

That said, there is a big difference between making a genuine promise with full intent to fullfil, and just lying to someone’s face. The latter is what is meant by the hadith.

So, if one makes a promise, one must keep it, but if you unable to or you just happen to forget this is not a sin: ‘Indeed Allah has overlooked for my the mistakes of my nation does, and that which they do forgetfully or under compulsion.’ [al-Bayhaqi and Ibn Majah]

This means that if you generally meant to fulfill the promise but then forgot, you are not sinful, and the hadith of the signs of hypocrisy does not apply to you.

It is however a deficiency in one’s faith, even if it is not sin, to forget about something that you are supposed to do. May Allah forgive us all?

What to do now?

InshaAllah, you are not sinful for forgetting to recite then portion of the Quran you had promised to do, but this is a wake-up call from Allah to raise you to a higher level of trustworthiness with Him and His creation.

What you should do is, this month, when you are reciting Quran intend that the whole khatm is dedicated to whatever the original cause was and when you finish each day make a special dua to Allah to make you a trustworthy slave. Please make that dua for me too, if you remember.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to crafts lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

Shaytan’s Promise to Adam, Peace Be upon Him

Ustadh Tabraze Azam explains the meaning of Shaytan’s promise to Adam, peace be upon him, concerning eternal life in Paradise.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I have a question regarding the 120th ayah of Sura Ta Ha in which, according to a translated commentary of this ayah, Shaytan promised immortality and the everlasting kingdom to Adam, peace be upon him, in order for him to eat from the forbidden tree.

My question is: Wasn’t Adam, peace be upon him, immortal in Paradise at that time? And how did Shaytan whisper to Adam and Eve, peace be upon him, when he himself was not in Paradise? I would appreciate a deep explanation of this if possible.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The answer to your questions has a little detail which you may find below. But it is important to remember three matters: (1) the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, was cunningly deceived by the devil in Paradise; (2) the Prophets, peace be upon them all, are sinless, and protected from sin, before and after prophethood, as we learn in our studies of Theology (‘aqida); and (3) his descent to earth was to fulfill a divine purpose, to manifest His divine wisdom and to honor the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. It was certainly not a “punishment.”

Thereafter, the verse in question is Allah Most High’s saying, “But Satan whispered to him, saying, ‘O Adam! Shall I show you the Tree of Immortality and a kingdom that does not fade away?’” (Sura Ta Ha 20:120)

Immortality in Paradise

The Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, was actually created for custodianship or vice-regency (khilafa) of the earth, so he was not going to be in Paradise forever at this stage. Abu al-Su’ud, Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Empire of his time, and widely considered to have authored the greatest work of exegesis (tafsir), clarifies this in his explanation of the relevant verses in Sura al-Baqara (2:36), namely, that the divine instruction wasn’t to remain in Paradise forever.

Elsewhere, Allah Most High says, recounting the words of the devil, “He said, ‘Your Lord has forbidden this tree to you only to prevent you from becoming angels or immortals.’” (Sura al-A‘raf 7:20) Imam Alusi explains that immortality, here, meant either that (a) you will never die, or (b) you will remain in Paradise forever, just as the “Tree of Immortality” (Sura Ta Ha 20:120) indicated eternal life. This is perhaps another indication that the Prophet Adam knew that Paradise wasn’t an eternal abode at the present time.

How Did the Devil Get into Paradise?

As for how the devil managed to deceive them, the reality isn’t clear to us. We do know that he was instructed to leave Paradise by the command, “Get out of Paradise, for you are truly cursed,” (Sura Sad  38:77) and that he was known to them as somebody harmful, “We said, ‘Adam, this is an enemy to you and to your wife. So let him not expel you from Paradise.’” (Sura Ta Ha 20:117)

The exegetes, however, have forwarded a varying number of possibilities explaining the issue. Some of these affirm that the devil was no longer permitted to enter Paradise in a state of honor like the angels, but could enter in a humiliated state; others said that he called upon them from the door as they were close to it; others still that he took on the form of another creature and the guardians of Paradise didn’t realize, and a variation of that, namely, that he entered whilst being carried in the mouth of another animal or creature.

The Moral of the Story

At the end of the day, these kinds of details aren’t relevant to the message of the story, as Ibn ‘Ashur points out in his Tahrir. The important point is that we come to realize and appreciate the presence of a divine command, the great gift and blessing of belief and guidance, the duty to avoid the unlawful and it great harm in this life and the next, the tremendous opportunity to attain unto eternal salvation and divine pleasure, and the reality that this is the one and only chance we get.

Allah Most High sums the final matter up in a few words, “a group will be in Paradise and another in the Blaze.” (Sura al-Shu‘ara 42:7) But Allah Most High has made Paradise for the believers, and it is up to us to ensure that we get both feet there. Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah al-Sakandari commented in one of his Aphorisms, “He has made worship binding upon you, and in reality, He hasn’t made anything but Paradise binding upon you.”

We ask Allah Most High to shower His everlasting mercy upon us out of His pure grace and favour.

Please also see How do We Understand the Sinlessness of Prophets in Light of Their Reprimand in the Qur’an?  and How Did the Devil Tempt Adam & Hawa (Eve)?

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

(Abu al-Su‘ud Effendi, Irshad al-‘Aql al-Salim; Alusi, Ruh al-Ma‘ani; Tantawi, al-Tafsir al-Wasit; Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil; Sabuni, al-Muntaqa min ‘Ismat al-Anbiya’ (34))

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

The Qur’an and Scientific Findings Through Time

Ustadh Farid Dingle answers questions concerning Qur’anic verses comprising scientific findings that are uncannily similar to scientific findings, and whether verses have been changed over time.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a Muslim. So one night a thought strikes my mind that “maybe, after the scientists have discovered some particular thing, the Arabs have added those discoveries in the Qur’an by replacing previous ayats.” Please try to understand that I am not saying that the Qur’an is written by humans. Rather my question is that maybe they have done some mixing by adding the scientific ayats and saying that it is already written in the Qur’an?

For example in Sura al-Anbiya 21:30 it says that “the heavens and the earths were joined together and we cleft it asunder.” My question is that maybe, after the Big Bang theory was discovered, the Arabs added this verse to the sura?

I really need evidence about it, so please help as this answer means a lot for me. This answer is like my life, so please don’t just say that there was no addition but please state evidence. It is really necessary to me and sorry because my question will make everyone angry, but this thought is killing me.

Answer:

Wa alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

The Qur’an is too wide spread to allow a mass conspiracy to change its content even in manuscripts that date back over a thousand years.

The Qur’an has not been changed.

That said, we do notice that there is some level of over emphasis on “scientific” verses that don’t necessarily conform in any detailed way with the latest scientific discoveries. This however has nothing to do with changing the text.

I pray this helps.

Farid

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Muslim Woman to Marry Christian Man

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil makes it clear that a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man.

If a Muslim woman wants to marry a Christian man on the condition that he will allow their children to be practicing Muslims, and their life and all matters will be handled as per Islamic teaching, then is there an issue in getting married?

The Qur’an doesn’t mention clearly that Muslim women are prohibited from marrying Christian men. It seems to be just a matter of scholars thoughts or considerations.

Best regards

Marriage Validity

“Do not marry polytheistic women until they believe; for a believing slave-woman is better than a free polytheist, even though she may look pleasant to you. And do not marry your women to polytheistic men until they believe, for a believing slave-man is better than a free polytheist, even though he may look pleasant to you. They invite you to the Fire while Allah invites you to Paradise and forgiveness by His grace. He makes His revelations clear to the people so perhaps they will be mindful.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:221)

Dear sister, it is not permissible for you to marry a Christian man.

There is no scholarly difference on this very clear matter. Please refer to these previous answers for further clarification: Can a Muslim Woman Marry a Non-Muslim Man if Their Children Are Raised as Muslims? and Why Is a Muslim Woman Not Allowed to Marry a Non-Muslim Man?

The only way for your relationship to be made halal is this – he must embrace Islam, and you must do a valid nikah with him.

Future Children

Your marriage contract to a non-Muslim man is invalid, causing your children to be born out of wedlock. Your unborn children will be innocent of your sin of zina, but they deserve a better start to life. Please read: Can I Claim a Child from an Illicit Relationship?

Reality of Your Situation

You are both already in love, want to marry, live by Islam and raise your children as Muslims. As a courtesy to you, your Muslim family, his own soul, and most of all, to Allah Most High, please encourage your partner to embrace Islam.

Even if he does not fast a single day in his life or complete a single prayer, it is better for him to die on belief, so the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, can intercede for him on the Day of Judgement. Death, Hellfire and Heaven are real. Would you not want the man you love to be with you and your children in Paradise?

I encourage you to share this with your partner: Advice to a Christian Man Who Wants to Marry a Muslim Woman.

I pray that Allah opens his heart to Islam, and blesses you with a loving marriage and pious children.

Please also see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.