Returning to Our Senses – Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary

It is often mentioned in the Islamic philosophical works, especially those that belong to the Avicennian tradition, that the Intellect (al-`aql), which is an aspect of the Soul, manifests itself at the Brain; and it is often assumed by readers and interpreters that the Intellect’s manifestation is limited to the Brain, especially when it is referred to the Brain as the Intellect’s “place.” However, Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi – may Allah be pleased with him – in his “Commentary on the Problematic Issues in the Canon of Medicine” contradicts such assumption. He says:

“And know that the Brain has other servants as well. The Five Senses provide the Brain with images of sensibly perceptible forms or qualities (sensory perceptions), and they abstract them to a degree, allowing the Brain faculties to work their way through them and to abstract them even further.”

So, basically, Imam al-Razi is stating here that the role of the Five Senses in cognition is not completely a passive one, since the process of abstraction of sensory perceptions begins at the Five Senses themselves. In other words, abstraction as a process does not wait for sensory perceptions to reach the Brain in order to begin, but rather, it is first applied to sensory perceptions at the Five Senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste) and then it is applied even further at the Brain. Thus, according to Imam al-Razi, abstractions are born at the Senses and they grow at the Brain.

In Avicennian philosophy, the abstractions derived from sensory perceptions are called Primary Intelligibles (al-ma`qulat al-ula). The occurrence of Primary Intelligibles signifies the actualization of the second stage of the Theoretical Intellect named: The Habitual Intellect (al-`aql bil-malakah). Consequently, we can infer that, according to the aforementioned view of Imam al-Razi, the Habitual Intellect begins its actualization at the Senses, and therefore, the Theoretical Intellect – in its second stage – has a form of presence at the Senses, and that can only take place if the previous stage – the first stage – of the Theoretical Intellect, known as: The Potential Intellect (al-`aql al-hayulani), which has the capacity of receiving intelligible forms, is also present at the Senses.

It is thus clear that the Intellect, for Imam al-Razi, is not only connected to the body through its main agent – the Brain, but it is also attached to the entirety of the human body. The manifestation of the Intellect is, therefore, not limited to the Brain; and the physical Senses are not mere receptors and transmitters; and their role is not bound to the reductionist view of modern biomedicine – sending electrical signals, known as the nerve impulses, to the Brain. Rather, the Five Senses are equipped with an abstraction capability. 

Moreover, one can trace Imam al-Razi’s explanation of the Senses to the fact that he moves away from the popular position that the Brain is the physical host of the Intellect and views the Brain as a “condition” for the manifestations of all faculties – intellectual and sensory. He claims in his latest philosophical work, “The Higher Issues of Metaphysics,” based on a lengthy argumentation, that the primary origin (al-mabda’ al-awwal) for the manifestation of the faculties is the Heart, and it is emanated from the Heart to the Brain – “the condition of their manifestation.” Consequently, the intellectual faculties are not confined to the Brain, but rather disseminated to the whole body. The primary origin of such dissemination is the Heart and the condition of such dissemination is the Brain. 

In addition, Imam al-Razi also states in “The Higher Issues of Metaphysics” that, for example, while seeing is utilized by the eyes and imagination is utilized by the Brain, they are both actions of a metaphysical entity – The Soul. The one that sees is the Soul itself, and the one that imagines is also the Soul itself. That being so, abstraction is not conducted “by” the Brain, but rather conducted by the Soul – in this context called: The Intellect – “at” the Brain. Hence, for Imam al-Razi, abstraction can be partly conducted at the Five Senses, since after all, abstraction is conducted by the Intellect, not by the Brain nor by any other body organ. 

Though he makes no reference in his “Commentary on the Problematic Issues in the Canon of Medicine,” but such view by Imam al-Razi provides a deeper understanding of the verse (21) in Surat Fussilat: “And they will say to their skins, “Why have you testified against us?” They will say, “We were made to speak by Allah, who has made everything speak; and He created you the first time, and to Him you are returned.” Thus, according to Imam al-Razi’s view of the Five Senses, we can conclude that the speech of the “skin” on the Judgement Day will not be a completely new utilization of it that had no existence in this life, but rather an actualization of its worldly potentials, because speech as an intellectual capacity is rooted in abstraction – as without abstraction human speech would not have been possible; and abstraction begins, as al-Razi stated, at the Five Senses.

Such deep understanding of the Five Senses, of course, does not conform with a modernistic view of the human body: a biological machine. According to modern neuroscience the Brain is imprisoned in the chamber called: The Skull, and it never experienced the external world and never will. The Brain creates its understanding about the physical nature through the electro – chemical signals it receives from the Five Senses. One might expect that this view would call upon us to engage more with nature, but reality defies expectation. In a modernistic world, people gaze at screens, not the skies; and they open Google to learn about the current weather instead of opening their windows. 

According to Imam al-Razi, we have an Intellect, which belongs to the Soul, not just a Brain, which belongs to the Body; and the Intellect not only experiences the external world through the Senses, but it begins the journey of conceptualization at the Senses – i.e. in the physical world. Thus, we can move beyond the natural world – “the world of objects” – to the metaphysical realm – “the world of meanings” – only after we live the present fully and experience the physical mindfully; and as long as we are incarcerated in a pseudo-physical reality, reaching the metaphysical becomes impossible, and living the actual physical experience becomes outdated, to the point where it becomes unserviceable and more or less incompatible with the new – Virtual Reality Headsets!


Biography of Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary:

Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary is a researcher in Islamic intellectual history and a teacher of Islamic traditional sciences. He’s currently a teacher of Hadith, Usūl, Logic, and Kalam at Rawdatul-Na`īm under the supervision of Habib `Ali al-Jifrī; and at Madyafat Shaykh Ismaīl Sadiq al-`Adawī (RA), a prominent learning center by al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Formerly, Shaykh Ahmed worked as a Lead Researcher at Tabah Foundation. He was appointed by Habib `Ali al-Jifrī to architect the philosophical framework of Suaal initiative – an initiative concerned with modeling an Islamic philosophical response to contemporary existential questions, supervised by Shaykh `Ali Jumu`ah, Habib `Umar and Shaykh Usama al-Azhary. Shaykh Ahmed continues to participate in Suaal initiative through essays, public lectures, and workshops.

Shaykh Ahmed studied Anthropology at American University in Cairo and received his training in Leadership Communication from Tulane University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also a life-long learner. He holds a diversified portfolio of almost 50 certificates in a variety of subjects – extending from Teaching Character and Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People to Complexity Theory, Model Thinking and Conflict Analysis.

Shaykh Ahmed began his journey of studying traditional sciences about 20 years ago. In addition to studying with scholars from al-Azhar, he had the privilege of studying with visiting scholars from Algeria and India in a one-on-one format and was thus given an exceptional opportunity to study and discuss advanced-level texts of different sorts and over a long period of time. Shaykh Ahmed has more than 70 Ijazas from scholars from all over the Muslim world.


 

Empathy and Behavior Modification – Moulana Muhammad Carr

* Courtesy of Neo Marketing

In this video, Moulana Muhammad Carr shares the importance of developing empathy with those who are facing tremendous challenges during this trying time of Covid-19. As Muslims it is important that we reflect on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was always concerned about the welfare of others.

Islamic Time Management During COVID-19 – Sidi Tushar Imdad

With curfew measures and stay-at-home orders in place across the world, most of us find ourselves cooped up at home for much longer than we are used to.

Worse still, trying to work or study with multiple family members competing for space and time is a recipe for distraction!

Politicians liken the fight with Coronavirus to a war – it’s like a battle humanity must win.

Productivity experts like to use the same analogy for time management. You are battling with your life, your week or your day.

Islamically, we have an even better model (because it’s true!). Spiritual masters have described our real battle to be with four: our nafs (selfish ego), our hawa (obsessional tendencies or ‘stubborn, wilful folly’), Shaytan (we all know him!) and the Dunya (defined by Imam al-Ghazali as anything that distracts one from Allah).

Whichever model you look at, the point is the same. If we do not actively battle with the enemies of our time, then we will lose.

Remember what Imam Shafi’i (r.a.) learned from the Sufis:

“Time is like a sword; if you don’t cut it, it will cut you!”
 
What does any military leader do before any battle?

PLAN.

Preparation is EVERYTHING. If there’s just one time management habit you get from all my articles, I hope it is this: plan your weeks and plan your days .

(If you want a deeper dive into the basics of planning, goal setting and other time managements tricks, you could look into my self-study course Time Tactics 101: https://tusharimdad.thinkific.com/courses/time-tactics-101. Before you buy, email me for a massive discount)

If you don’t plan, this is what happens:

You’re right in the middle of an essential task and your son comes in the room to ask for something.

You’re trying to concentrate but the sound from the kids is driving you nuts!

You are about to finally finish that complex report when your spouse reminds you that you promised to get lunch ready.

It’s like waking up late and spending the whole day fighting fires.

(I contrast a well-planned day with a distracted, ineffective one in a previous article: https://seekersguidance.org/articles/featured-articles/islamic-time-management-series-power-your-day-with-pre-planning-sidi-tushar-imdad/).

Imagine moving city, or starting a new job. Wouldn’t there be so much research and prep you’d do? The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is no less dramatic – indeed, for many of us, it’s even more disruptive.

The more disrupted your life is, the more you need to plan for it.

So HOW do you optimize your time at home to ensure continued productivity at home.

Below I share 10 pro tips, all of which I practise myself:

1. Sit with your spouse and plan your week.
If you want to be a ‘super couple’ I recommend you do this every week, but for now we ALL need to be doing this. Since you’re both working under the same roof and kids are home, you need to thrash out the following:

  1. Who will home-school/ monitor the kids and when?
  2. Who and when will shop online or locally
  3. Agree meal times, start of work times, end of work times

2. Define and agree clear work times.
You will argue. You will get stressed. It’s all normal and all part of the process. Arguments always happen when expectations are not met. So you need to COMMUNICATE and AGREE what your expectations are for work time and family time. If you are the husband, you need to make sure your family understands when you are unavailable. If you are the wife, you must communicate and discuss any help you need from your husband BEFORE he gets absorbed in his work. Nothing starts an argument like being interrupted from an important task and being asked to help with something not agreed to before!

3. Set up a defined work area.
Hopefully, you have a study or a room which you can designate as your makeshift ‘office’. Even if it’s a bedroom, that’s fine for now. Just ensure your family know that between work hours you are unavailable.

4. Put up a sign.
My coach has us print ‘Do not disturb’ signs and stick them on the door when we are embarking on ‘deep work’. Some office workers will even stick such a sheet on their backs . The point is to communicate deadly seriousness that your work time is sacred. Because it is.

5. Share breakfast or lunch with family.
To make strategy 4 more palatable for your family, give back by being really present for a family meal – either breakfast or lunch. You’d normally be eating alone or at the office. Take advantage of the curfew by enjoying a bonus 30 minutes purely with your family. If you do this with presence, your family will be more than happy enough to then let you work intensively later.

6. Set an alarm for all your salahs.
It’s surprisingly easy to get into bad habits with salah when working from home. Your whole routine has changed and the usual cues – including the chance to pray in the masjid – are gone. You can read my brief LinkedIn post about this point here:
https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tushar-imdad-0a466b13_islamictimemanagement-productivitytips-timemanagement-activity-6648563223773745152-Yo0x

7. Keep to clear boundaries.
As my wife has reminded me on many of the occasions when I’ve slipped up on this point, there’s nothing more frustrating for your family than when you keep working past your agreed end time. If you decide and agree that you will finish at 6, then stop at 6. You’ve given your word. Stick to it. Go and be with your family for Allah’s sake.

When you keep working past your set boundaries, it communicates indifference and disrespect to your family. Your kids and your spouse see that you value your work more than them. Don’t let this happen – especially in these fearful times – when they need you to lead and guide them most.

8 .Go for a morning walk.
I won’t hyperlink again, but I’ve written before about the power of a morning walk. In countries like the UK, we are restricted to just one session of outdoor exercise outside. Ironically, this may help families exercise MORE than before! Make it an unmoveable part of your schedule to go on a 10-30 minute morning walk. If you can bring family with you, then you kill two birds with one stone! A brisk, morning walk can bring wonders to your energy, mood and sleep. Don’t miss it.

9. Schedule time for Islamic gatherings or learning LIVE.
One of the hardest aspects of the current pandemic is our isolation from each other. When in our lives have we ever been prevented from attending the masjid? As such, it is vital we replace this with the best, possible substitute: online halaqas or lectures or lessons where Islamic knowledge is being imparted and pious ‘ulema are present. Try to attend live as there is much more barakah in live sessions. Seekersguidance.org have a whole range of quality courses from absolute beginner to those proficient in Arabic – all completely FREE. Aim for at least one weekly majlis that you attend.

Aside from the social and spiritual benefits from this, spending time with those beloved to Allah palpably helps your mindset. It’s a soothing antidote to all the fear and negativity from news and social media.

10. Calendarize and timetable all the above.
I can’t emphasize this enough. You must schedule all the above in writing, or on your app. Once you write it down in your calendar, it becomes concrete. It becomes a commitment. So many good intentions float away as they simply weren’t tied down to a written plan.

Try implementing these 10 steps methodically and you’ll experience a profound sense of control and order in the midst of turbulence.

As we enter Sha’ban, our minds will start preparing for Ramadan. Allah has blessed us with a whole month to get to grips with the new unexpected lifestyle changes brought on by Covid-19. One of the best things you can do in this month is to get organized, start mastering your schedule and live optimally as possible.

That way, when Ramadan arrives, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Praying for barakah and taufeeq in your time,

Tushar Imdad 

P.S. I run an Islamic-oriented online homeschool academy, specialising in quality English teaching suitable to support any Western curriculum. We are due to expand to meet the new demand caused by school closures and also add science and maths to the programme. If you are interested in learning more, please complete this short survey so I can understand your needs: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VHFF356

If you enjoyed this article, you can sign up to Tushar’s mailing list for his weekly Jum’a articles, free content about Islamic Time Management as well as updates for exciting courses or services: https://mailchi.mp/5879bd7982eb/tusharimdad


Biography:
Tushar Imdad (aka Tushar Mohammed Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya) is an Islamic Time Management Coach and Educational Entrepreneur. Professionally trained as a high school English teacher, Tushar has taught or managed prominent Islamic schools in Leicester, UK, between 2007-2016. With a flair for managing multiple roles, Tushar is also a GCSE English examiner, a teacher trainer for AMS UK; professional proofreader; former lead instructor at Madrasa Manara; and is currently the Director of Shaykhspeare’s Online English Academy and High Impact Tutors.  
 A long-term student of knowledge, Tushar has studied a range of Islamic sciences at the feet of scholars such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Umm Sahl, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Maulana Ilyas Patel and Ustadh Tabraze Azam. In 2015 he completed Level 5 of the Classical Arabic Program from the prestigious Qasid Institute, Amman.   
Throughout his varied career, Tushar has always been driven by a passion for time management. Starting in 2009, he has delivered a mixture of workshops, webinars, web-coaching and client visits, attracting delegates as varied as CEOs, corporate professionals, housewives, dentists and scholars from places spanning the UK, US and Middle East. Tushar has published articles and delivered training for ProductiveMuslim.com, SeekersGuidance.org and Qibla.com (now Kiflayn). In recent years he has immersed himself in  productivity systems, learning from world-class experts such as Demir Bentley, the authors of The One Thing, Leo Babuta and James Clear. His recent courses have included  ‘Principles of Islamic Time Management’, ‘Time Tactics 101’ and ‘The Breakthrough Habit’.

Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 4) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this fourth and final video of a 4 part series, Mufti Taha Karaan advises Muslims on what they should do when they are in self isolation at home. He asks Muslims to reflect on their internal states and morality, and question themselves honestly if they have contravened the rights of others. Muslims should in engage in sincere repentance and introspection so that they can identify their internal faults and contradictions.  Additionally, he recommends that Muslims use their time constructively so that when this crises ends they are able to contribute positively in society.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mutfi Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 3) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this 3rd video of a 4 part series, Mufti Taha Karaan discusses what the concept of reliance on Allah really means. There are many individuals advocating for Muslims to shun social distancing and isolation because of their understanding of relying Allah. Mufti Taha explains that relying on Allah entails following and adopting the means that He has created in the world. Therefore, not taking the necessary means of social distancing to curb the rate of Covid-19 transmission is in fact not relying on Allah. Mufti Taha also emphasizes that now is not the time to dispute and bicker amongst ourselves as Muslims because this one of the reasons where mercy and blessings are removed from communities.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mutfi Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


 

Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 2) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council

In this second video of a four-part series on COVID-19, Mufti Taha Karaan explains the religious rationale and reasoning on why the Friday congregational prayer should be suspended. Additionally he provides evidence from the rich Islamic legacy of when congregational prayers should be prayed at home. By analogy, the COVID-19 poses a greater risk to the well being of the community and therefore becomes a valid reason to pray at home. Mufti Taha emphasizes that such reasoning is not a distortion of Islamic law, but rather a means to preserve life which is an objective of Islamic law.

 

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


Guidance on COVID-19 (Part 1) – Mufti Taha Karaan

* Courtesy of the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)

In this first video of a four-part series, Mufti Taha Karaan advises Muslims to practice social distancing with immediate effect in order to prevent and reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission. The unfortunate reality is that places of worship such as mosques are communal places where transmission can spread. In light of this, Mufti Taha advocates for the Friday congregational prayer to be suspended in the mosques, and the five daily prayers to be prayed at home. This is a difficult decision, but a necessary one for us as Muslims. We all have to play our role in curbing the spread of the novel Coronavirus

* We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mufti Taha Karaan and the Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa)


Biography of Mufti Taha Karaan

Mufti Taha Karaan is a Shafi‘i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa, to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, the late Mufti Yusuf Karaan, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was one of the most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape.

Mufti Taha completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. During his stay, he assisted in the editing of the Qur’anic prints that the Institute has become famous for the world over. After finishing four years of the ‘alim course in two years, he journeyed to the Indian sub-continent and Dar al Uloom Deoband, graduating from there in 1991 with the highest of distinctions, as did his father, in a class of over 700 students. He then travelled to the Middle East and completed a two-year graduate diploma at the Higher Institute for Islamic Studies in Cairo, Egypt.

Mufti Taha is the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat), from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others, in numerous fields of the Islamic sciences.

Currently, Mufti Taha is the Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences but attends them sparingly, preferring to spend most of his time at the Islamic seminary, Dar al Uloom al Arabiyyah al Islamiyyah, that he founded in 1996. The educational thrust of the seminary reflects Mufti Taha’s own pioneering vision and commitment to squarely interface with the challenges of the modern age through the twin objectives of preservation and progress.

In his teaching, writing and legal verdicts (fatawa), Mufti Taha regularly addresses contemporary issues such as the challenges of post-modernity, feminism, Islamic economics and finance, the old and new Orientalisms, and fiqh issues affecting Diaspora Muslim communities.

His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.


 

We Need to Be Concerned. The Situation is Getting More Urgent. Please Give Zakat & Charity Now.

Asalamoalaikum wa Rehmatullah, may this find you and your loved ones safe.

We need to be concerned. The situation is getting more urgent. Please give Zakat and Charity now.

The current COVID-19 crisis and the ensuing lockdowns are creating havoc in the lives of scholars–many of whom are now unable to teach; their classes are cancelled–for many, their already precarious livelihood is threatened. Give your zakat and charity now to urgently assist them through the Islamic Scholars Fund.

We’re only at $11,000 of the $150,000 we urgently need.

Give your zakat and charity now.

WHY ARE OUR SCHOLARS SO IMPORTANT?

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.” Throughout history, the scholars have carried the Prophet’s torch — in teaching and guiding, and ensuring the community remains on the straight path.

The Dar al Fuqaha Seminary is Being Directly Affected

We have all celebrated the recent launch of the Dar al Fuqaha, where almost 150 students are benefiting on-ground from a full schedule of classes with leading Islamic scholars, from Syria and elsewhere, at the Mevlevihanesi, a historic Ottoman seminary in Istanbul. This was made possible only through the Islamic Scholars Fund and your support.

But now, this is under threat. There is a complete shutdown, with an imposed curfew, empty halls, and the livelihood of most of these scholars is under threat.

Don’t wait till Ramadan: give your zakat and charity now to support needy and deserving Islamic scholars –who are so challenged by the current crisis.

Supporting scholars–who preserve and spread the light of faith and Prophetic guidance in these testing times–is the best of charity:

عَن أبي هريرة أنَّ رَسُول اللَّه ﷺ قَالَ: مَنْ دَعَا إِلَى هُدىً كانَ لهُ مِنَ الأجْر مِثلُ أُجورِ منْ تَبِعهُ لاَ ينْقُصُ ذلكَ مِنْ أُجُورِهِم شَيْئًا رواهُ مسلمٌ

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever calls to guidance has the like of the reward of those who follow them–without this reducing their reward in any way.” [Muslim]

Supporting Islamic scholars is among the highest of Ummatic imperatives today.

Help spread the light of Prophetic guidance in these challenging times. Invest your Zakat and charity impactfully — to preserve sound, reliable Islamic knowledge for future generations.

Please remember, we don’t need to wait until Ramadan. The best of zakat and charity is the giving that has the greatest benefit. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

So go to seekersguidance.org/donate — give generously; encourage others to give; and pray for the scholars and students in need, and for all those affected.

Need to find out more about the Islamic Scholars Fund? See: seekersguidance.org/articles/featured-articles/the-islamic-scholars-fund/

17 Benefits of Tribulation – By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this video, Shaykh Faraz Rabanni goes over a brief treatise by al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam listing the various benefits of trials and tribulations. Now more than ever do Muslims need to understand the divine meanings and wisdom in the trials and tribulations that humanity is facing in the Covid-19 pandemic. Whatever difficulty befalls us is an opportunity to remember the majesty of Allah, and to show gratitude for the innumerable blessings he has bestowed upon us. This trial of Covid-19 is an opportune time for us to increase in our connection with Allah.

The Believer, Futuwwa, & Times of Crisis – Shaykh Salman Younas

A few days ago, I visited the local supermarket to stock up on some basic supplies for the home – some rice, canned food, tissues, cleaning items, and medicine. An announcement from the government was imminent, and anticipating a potential decision to close schools, offices, and other public venues and activities, people were rushing to prepare themselves for the worse of the coronavirus crisis. 

Finding some of the items on my list proved a difficult task. Fever reducing medication, such as paracetamol, was sold-out in most places despite efforts to limit the quantity individuals could purchase. I went from store to store until finally I was able to purchase the maximum two packets of medicine allocated to each customer. This was the fifth store I had visited. Earlier, as I walked in the medicine aisle of one chain pharmacy, I saw an elderly couple looking for the same medicine that I was. There was none, of course, and I informed them that the situation was the same at the local supermarket. 

The coming days will prove to be challenging for many of us: increasingly confined to our homes and uncertain of what to expect in the coming few weeks and months. Some people, however, will be faced with difficulties of an entirely different magnitude. The coronavirus, which has gripped the entire world, is particularly dangerous for those above the age of sixty and those with underlying health conditions. Significant numbers will succumb to the virus, while many others will be hospitalized in critical and intensive care. The empty shelves we are seeing as a result of the paranoia that has gripped various nations also means that many will probably find themselves struggling to find basic supplies and medicine, at least until a system is implemented to ensure demand is met.

Islam teachers us that the believer is someone who maximizes benefit and minimizes harm for all those around him. Often, when we speak about our treatment and dealing with other people, the concept of mercy, love, care, selflessness, etc., come to mind. In Islam, there is another concept that is all encompassing of the adab a believer is meant to display: futuwwa, or chivalry.

Its foundation, as stated by Imam al-Qushayri, is “that the servant of God always exerts himself in the service of others.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This is in keeping with the statement of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), “Allah is in the aide of his servant as long as the servant is in aide of his brother.” (Sahih Muslim) There are several futuwwa traits that we should uphold in these trying times, among them:

  1. Minimizing harm to others. Imam al-Junayd said, “Chivalry means keeping trouble away from others.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This is an all-encompassing definition. In the current context, keeping trouble away from others entails ensuring that one is not a cause for the spread of this illness in any way shape or form to an interdiction on hoarding, raising prices, spreading false news, and more. The believer is someone who avoids causing difficulties for others, while bearing the difficulties caused by them.
  2. Making active efforts to assist those around us. Imam al-Qushayri said, “Chivalry is that you do not hide from those who seek your assistance.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) The coming weeks will see individuals in our community struggle: financially, emotionally, and in other ways. They will look to the wider community to lift them up and it is the duty of every Muslim to extend them his hand in support. This should be something we do actively without being asked. As Sufyan al-Thawri said, “It is contrary to proper adab to not serve when you are able to.” (Kitab al-Futuwwa)
  3. Giving to people freely. Imam al-Qushayri said, “Chivalry is that you neither hoard wealth nor seek excuses to avoid giving to those in need.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) The past few days have shown that people are concerned about the future, which has resulted in buying goods in bulk often at the expense of others. This is contrary to trust in Allah (tawakkul). Part of chivalry is to have trust that one’s sustenance is guaranteed and not let concern for it prevent from assisting others.
  4. Giving preference to others. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq said, “Chivalry is that if we are given something, we prefer to give it to someone else.” (al-Risala al-Qushayriyya) This only arises from worldly detachment, being satisfied with little for oneself, and wishing much for others. It is expected of the Muslim in good times and is demanded of him even more when hard times fall on people. As the current crisis unfolds, Muslims will have to freely and generously give of their wealth, time, and resources in order to ensure the well-being of wider society.
  5. Showing compassion to all of creation. This manifests in numerous ways: a cheerful smile, a kind gesture, soothing words, tolerating the actions of others, overlooking faults, empathy, and praying for all. Everything we do in these moments should embody prophetic compassion. In times of uncertainty and anxiety, the believer will encounter unsavoury things, but he must confront them not with negativity, harshness, or complacency, but positivity, patience, and decency.

In Islamic discourse, the fata was essentially the word used to describe the ideal, noble man whose hospitality and generosity was so expansive that he left little for himself. The term futuwwa came to denote a code of honourable conduct that followed the examples of the prophets, saints, and righteous. At its core was the notion of not just generosity, but an almost heroic generosity of time, wealth, and spirit where one went above and beyond for his fellow human beings. If there was any time for Muslims to adopt the ethics and traits associated with futuwwa – loyalty, generosity, humility, courage, etc. -, it is this time we find ourselves in right now.