Contextualising Justice in the Muslim Community – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. Here, he and Ustadh Nazim Baksh discuss contextualising justice in the Muslim communities.contextualising justice

When the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, began his mission in Mecca, the society was rift with tribalism, racism, and economic inequality. As he taught his people, he did so with a deep understanding of how they operated. This serves as an example for us, since we cannot have social change without deeply understanding the people that we aim to affect. Otherwise, what will follow will be a series of Band-Aid solutions which do not have a lasting impact.

The current paradigm is very much based on identity politics. In the long term, we may wish to upend the paradigm, because sincere Muslims do not fit into any of these boxes. Similarly, we cannot put others into boxes, because we lose the opportunity to engage with them.

In addition, we should take steps to realise and cement our identity, and be cautious about how our own principals may be warped and used against us. For example, in traditional Islamic teachings, the hijab was not termed as such. Guidelines on how to cover properly would be found in the fiqh books, in chapters with titles such as “covering one’s nakedness,” in the context of both men and women’s dress. It was not politicised or used as a spiritual status symbol. Nowadays, the rhetoric of hijab goes two ways: it is politicised in the Western world, and in the Islamic world, it is seen as something that only women of very high spiritual stations may wear.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?


Why Muslim Youth Need Guiding Mentorship

In this memoir, a student speaks about how having knowledgeable, concerned mentorship in his teenage years helped him take the right path.

My Two Mentors

One day in my late teens, I remember being out all day with my brothers and younger cousins. We engaged in all kinds of activities, such as football, laser tag, and then going to a restaurant to eat.

We had fun all day. My father simply took us to where we wanted to go and would watch us have fun, until we were ready to go to the next one. When we got home that evening, I began talking to my cousins about the next activity my dad could take us to.

At this, my two older cousins, Umar and Ali, approached me. They both pointed out quite bluntly that I needed to be more grateful to my parents and appreciate how much effort and sacrifice they’d made for me. Only then did I realize how much I was taking them for granted.

I benefitted a lot through Umar and Ali, who served as my mentors through my teenage years. Both about ten years older than me, they had been through the same education system as me, and had been brought up in the West just like me. They’d seen the same challenges to their faith that I was going through. I knew I could speak to them whenever I needed.

I didn’t have the benefit of having learnt sacred knowledge from a young age. As a result, for the first twenty years of my life, my knowledge of Islam was quite basic. Like the other Muslims in my school, I had to figure it out largely on my own. I remember being in school at age 12, where the teacher was asking the students how many of them believed in God. Despite their age, many answered that they did not.

In most subjects there was either an anti-God, anti-religious, or anti-Islamic narrative. In history classes, the Islamic nations were always the bad guys, whether it was the Ottoman armies or the successful “kicking out” of the Muslims from Spain. Religious study lessons would include philosophical challenges to the existence of God, such as the so-called “Problem of Evil,” without mentioning the vast contributions and proofs of the great Muslim thinkers.

And of course, biology lessons always featured evolution in biased ways. When speaking about animals that were well adapted to their environments, the teacher would attribute it to the genius of evolution. But when there were apparent biological flaws in an animal, the teacher would say that a Creator would not have let that flaw to exist.

This environment impacted me greatly. I felt very insecure about not having clear answers. I’d find myself around the age of 14 and 15 lying in bed at night for hours thinking about how the universe began, whether evolution existed, and everything else.

By the grace of Allah, I always remained a Muslim in belief. However, I had fundamental questions that needed answering. During this period, I benefited immensely from Umar and Ali, who would answer my questions. They would explain how there is no problem believing in the Big Bang as long one believes it is God that caused it to happen. They explained the problems with evolution from a scientific perspective, and that explaining how science and Islam are compatible. Their mentorship was so effective because they had gone through the same journey that I had. Because of this, they were able to help me in a way that parents, aunties and uncles were not.

Battling Ideology

But my troubles weren’t over. When I began university I got involved with the Muslim student groups. Their arguments seemed logical and straightforward, and I got caught up in them. After all, why did we need to follow a school of thought, if we had the Qur’an and sunna? And why were we introducing innovations if our religion was already clear?

Alhamdulillah, yet again, there were Umar and Ali. They tried their best to gently explain the issues with textual literalism, and the importance of schools of thought and following traditional Islam. It wasn’t an overnight process, nor was it an easy one.

They would patiently tolerate me debating with them on religious issues, but would not argue with me. “Don’t worry,” I heard Umar say to Ali. “He’ll figure it out for himself one day.” With wisdom and kindness, they gave me the space to explore for myself, while also advising me at the right moments when I most needed it.

A few years later, when I was ready, Ali very generously paid for me to study some Sunni Path courses (now Qibla), including an Aqida al-Tahawi course taught by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, and a course that covered the sources of Islamic law, taught by Shaykh Farid Dingle.

I remembered how I told a brother from university that I was about to take these classes. “Be careful,” he warned. “They may be Asharis!” “What are Asharis?” I asked. “They interpret some parts of the Qur’an figuratively,” he replied. “For example, when the Qur’an refers to ‘Allah’s hand,’ they say it’s a metaphor for His power, because He does not resemble created things.”

I personally couldn’t see what was wrong with that. He gave me a CD and told me to listen to it instead. I tried, but the speaker was just bashing the other methodologies without actually proving his own points.

I decided to go ahead with the Sunni Path courses. They were detailed and well-taught, and confirmed to me the truth of traditional Sunni Islam in a clear, factual manner. The Aqida course included some articles written by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller about the Sunni Aqida. I sent them to the brother from university.
When he finally responded, he told me that the articles were not backed up by sources from the Qur’an and Sunna.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “The whole article is based on hadith!” “Yes, but they need to be verified.” “They are sahih, what more do you want?” I was frustrated with the lack of response. Learning from Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Farid gave me the inspiration to study more. Alhamdulillah, Ali also introduced me to the spiritual teachings of Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, who I now learn from and do not ever want to look back.

However, their work was not yet over. When the time came for me to start searching for a spouse, it was time for them to help me again, as some of my family members, although they wanted nothing but the best for me, weren’t on the same page as me when it came to what to look for in a spouse. My cousins themselves had gone through the same challenges while looking for a spouse. By now, they were both married and starting families, and through their advice I eventually did find a wife who had the same religious perspective and goals as me.

To this day, Umar and Ali continue to guide me with their calm influence, wisdom and life experience. To me, my story is an example of the importance of Muslim youth having role models, who are older than them but not too old, and well-grounded in their own faith.

By Amjad Shaykh


This piece was written by a SeekersHub student. Looking to inspire? Consider writing for our Compass Blog! We are looking for individuals willing to submit feature pieces for publication. Share your stories with us. Contact [email protected] with your pitch and inspire and motivate hundreds – if not thousands – of others.


Contextualising Justice in the Muslim Community – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. Here, he and Ustadh Nazim Baksh discuss contextualising justice in the Muslim communities.

When the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, began his mission in Mecca, the society was rift with tribalism, racism, and economic inequality. As he taught his people, he did so with a deep understanding of how they operated. This serves as an example for us, since we cannot have social change without deeply understanding the people that we aim to affect. Otherwise, what will follow will be a series of Band-Aid solutions which do not have a lasting impact.

The current paradigm is very much based on identity politics. In the long term, we may wish to upend the paradigm, because sincere Muslims do not fit into any of these boxes. Similarly, we cannot put others into boxes, because we lose the opportunity to engage with them.

In addition, we should take steps to realise and cement our identity. We should be cautious about how our own principals may be warped and used against us. For example, in traditional Islamic teachings, the hijab was not termed as such. Guidelines on how to cover properly were included in the fiqh books. The chapters would have titles such as “covering nakedness,” in the context of both men and women’s dress. It was not politicised or used as a spiritual status symbol. Nowadays, the rhetoric of hijab goes two ways. It is heavily politicised in the Western world. However, in the Islamic world, it is seen as something that only women of very high spiritual stations may wear. Neither of these ideals are correct.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?


Shaykh Emad Effat – Shaykh of the Revolution, Martyr of al-Azhar

Dr H. A. Hellyer remembers Shaykh Emad Effat seven years on from his death.

Seven years ago today, Shaykh Emad Effat died of a gunshot wound when Egyptian soldiers clashed with demonstrators – of which Shaykh Emad was one – protesting against the country’s military leaders in downtown Cairo. He became known as “Shaykh al-Thawra” (the shaykh of the revolution) and “Shaheed al-Azhar” (the martyr of the Azhar). Seven years on, I still ponder a great deal about Shaykh Emad, what he represented, what lessons he taught those of us who believed in the January 25th revolution of Egypt, and the roles that religious leaders play today in the region from whence he came.

The Azhari

Shaykh Emad was an Azhari shaykh, in the old mold of what it meant to be an Azhari ‘alim (scholar). He earned several degrees: the first in Arabic language from Ain Shams University, the second in Shari‘a at the Azhar University, and then a diploma in Islamic jurisprudence, also from al-Azhar University. Before his more extensive studies in the Islamic tradition, he was more sympathetic to an ultra-conservative form of Salafism – but in his 20s, shifted to a more mainstream Sunnism.

He taught in the old rooms of the Azhar mosque, in a very traditional manner – and upheld the traditional methodology (minhaj) of the Azhari collective of learning. That meant, as Imam al-Saffarini describes it in his Lawami’ al-Anwar, the two major schools of theology (the Ash‘aris and the Maturidis), the minor school (the Athari or Hanbali) of theology, the Sunni schools of law, and Sufism. That is historically normative Sunnism, and the largest body of Muslims historically have followed precisely that. I’m not aware if Shaykh Emad was a member of a specific tariqa (Sufi order) – I do know that he taught texts from the orders, including the famous Hikam (Aphorisms) of Ibn Ata’illah, a luminary of the Shadhuli order of Sufis.
Shaykh Emad Effat
And at the same time, he was a deep believer in contextualization, in the finest tradition of his Azhari upbringing. As his student, Ibrahim al-Houdaiby mentioned of him, “The shaykh greatly respected expertise and listened closely to experts in all fields and gladly sought the advice of social studies specialists before expressing his opinion on something in their field. He criticized “preachers” and “shaykhs” who talk about God’s religion without being qualified.” How few, it seems, that pay genuine attention to this important note today, despite it resonating through the ages from various ‘ulama.

The Hasani and the Husayni

Shaykh Emad was also a member of the official Azhari establishment. By that, I mean he engaged in a rather direct fashion with officialdom writ large. From 2003 until his death, Shaykh Emad held the position of “amin al-fatwa,” or the “director of religious verdicts” at Egypt’s Dar al-‘Ifta – a part of the state’s Ministry of Justice, which issued religious verdicts to citizens and state departments that requested them. One of his most beloved teachers was the then grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa’.

But there was another aspect to Shaykh Emad Effat – and it was the aspect that led him to protest against the military leaders of Egypt in late 2011.

Ironically, one of the most vivid testimonies to that came from the grand mufti, who was immensely critical of that aspect of him. As Dr Waleed Almusharaf recalls, in a piece that deserves to be read again and again: “He never asked my opinion on going down to [Tahrir] square,” said the Grand Mufti, “He blamed me for not going there myself. He would say of it: ‘the air around Tahrir now, is purer to me than the air around the Kaaba.’ I criticized him for the statement.”

His widow, Nashwa Abdel-Tawab, said, “During sit-ins at Tahrir Square [in January and February of 2011, when the revolutionary uprising broke out], he would go to work in the morning and spend the night in the square.” Shaykh Emad believed in that revolution – as a way to “enjoin the good and forbid the evil,” as the Qur’anic verse stipulates. During the day, he would continue his work, as an ‘alim that was part of the official state apparatus. And at night, he went to Tahrir Square, and called for accountability of that same state apparatus. He saw no contradiction in that – but he did so on the basis of principle.

A dear friend of mine, bore witness to the fact that at one time he was in Shaykh Emad’s office, a policeman called Shaykh Emad on the telephone to ask about the permissibility of shooting unarmed protesters. Shaykh Emad was absolutely categorical – from within that same state institution – that this was absolutely forbidden (haram). Engagement with that state authority structure was something he did – certainly – but he did so on the basis of principle, and that principle included speaking truth to that same structure. As Dr Waleed Almusharaf reminded us, in what I describe as the “Husayni” aspect of Shaykh Emad Effat: “When the time for elections [in 2011] came, he declared, without fear of blame, his opinion that to vote for ex-members of the [Mubarak] regime is a sin outright, as it is to vote for anyone who has been proven to be corrupt, whether from the past regime or not.”

There was a sense of Shaykh Emad Effat bringing together what I would call the “Hasani” and the “Husayni” approaches to power. The former being an engagement with it, to minimize damage and lessen conflict. The latter being an opposition to it, through open declarations. For Shaykh Emad, they were intertwined – by consistency, by persistent adherence to principle, by a refusal to bow to authoritarianism of any type.

Consistency

When it came to the clashes in late 2011, his wife said, “He wasn’t able to join the Cabinet sit-in, but when he saw [the violence], he couldn’t just stand and watch people dying, so he went down to the protest.” “He didn’t advocate violence,” she added. “He was there to show solidarity with the protesters.”

It might be too easy to say “different strokes for different folks” – because the implication is that there isn’t a consistent principle at play here. But the reality is that the Husayni way of open opposition is appropriate in some situations – and the Hasani way of minimizing damage in another – and they are both Prophetic. And they both revert back to that age old set of prescriptions for the duty of “forbidding the wrong and enjoining the good.” Is such engagement effective? What about those who suffer from that engagement? What about those who would suffer without such engagement? What is the extent of that engagement that is necessary? Can it be limited? Should it be?

And if one cannot do it right and properly – then the option of staying out of it is not a bad option in the slightest. But then we apply the principles consistently. If I learned anything from Shaykh Emad’s example, it was that just because one bad power is not as bad as another bad power, it does not give that lesser bad power immunity from justifiable critique. In the world of the good, the bad and the ugly, the existence of the bad doesn’t give the ugly a free pass. And even when it seems unrealistic and difficult, striving to be of the good is its own recompense, in his world and the next – even if it means you’re damned by both the bad and ugly in response.

Nuances

But there were other nuances to Shaykh Emad’s life and witness, which were subtle, while immensely important. When Shaykh Emad went on protests, for example, he didn’t do so wearing his traditional Azhari garb. He purposely went almost incognito. His students knew he went on protests – and respected him for it – but he did not leverage his religious authority identity when he did so. He went as a son of Egypt, and even as a man of religion. Indeed, because he was a man of religion. He loathed the usage of religious imagery and language for unethical purposes. To one of his students, he said that he didn’t wear his Azhari garb, as he didn’t intend to represent the Azhari institution, nor Dar al-Ifta’, when he went on protests – he sought only to be there as an Egyptian concerned for his country’s future. “Love of one’s homeland is from faith” – a Prophetic narration that is questioned in terms of authenticity, but not in terms of meaning.

Ibrahim al-Houdaiby, also my friend, once tweeted about the massacre of the Copts in Maspero, which took place a couple of months earlier in Cairo. He declared that any talk which does not begin with the condemnation of the massacre, was “an affront to humanity and patriotism.” Shaykh Emad, who tweeted nine times in his life, added, “And to religion.”

That was the place of religious vocabulary in Shaykh Emad’s lexicon – to stand for truth against power, not in trying to explain away the abuses of power through verbal gymnastics. He was clear about that when it came to the Egyptian state – even though he worked in one of its institutions – and he was clear about it when it came to sectarianism. The Maspero massacre was nothing if not a sectarian outrage – perpetrated by state institutions, and defended by religious populists in the Brotherhood and others. Not Shaykh Emad.

I found that condemnation of the Maspero massacre doubly interesting, because it signified something very clear. It indicated to me – then, as it does now – that a man of religion like Shaykh Emad rejected authoritarianism and the use of power against the vulnerable by the powerful. Whether in the name of religion or otherwise; whether by the state, or by non-state actors. This, irrespective of his commitment to traditional Sunnism – or, I think he would say, because of that commitment. Shaykh Emad didn’t advocate complete disassociation from the corridors of power, though I believe he also respected this as a legitimate choice. But he was consistent.

Adab

In the years running up to the outbreak of the revolutionary uprising in Egypt in 2011, Effat wrote to al-Houdaiby, when he mentioned something about respect for shaykhs. The answering is telling:

“There are all these good words about respect for shaykhs, giving them leeway and excuses, but where is God’s right to His own religion? Where is the right of the public who are confused about the truth because shaykhs are silent, and your own silence out of respect for senior shaykhs? What is this new idol that you call pressure? How does this measure to Ahmed ibn Hanbal’s tolerance of jail and refusing to bend and say what would comfort the unjust rulers?”

“What is this new idol you invented? The idol of pressure! If we submit to these new rituals, to this new idol, we would then tolerate everyone who lies, commits sins and great evils under the pretext of easing pressure and escaping it. Oh people, these pressures are only in your head and not in reality. Is there a new opinion in jurisprudence that coercion can be by illusion? Have we come to use religious terms to circumvent religion and justify the greater sins we commit? So we use legitimate phrases such as pros and cons, the lesser of two evils, and pressure to make excuses for not speaking up for what is right and surrendering to what is wrong!”

“Shaykhs of Al-Azhar used to leave their resignations in the drawers of their secretaries and told them: if you see us submitting to pressure then hand over the resignation to the press. When they are honest to God, He makes them victorious and cherishes them.”

Ends

If there were two sentences I think summed up his life, it would be this one by his widow, followed by one of his students. The first was written about his life during the uprising – the second about his life, and his death, during the revolutionary period.

[Shaykh Emad] would go to work [in Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyya] in the morning and spend the night in the square. – Nashwa El-Tawwab

[Shaykh Emad] stood before the bullets and the rest of it. – Dr Waleed Almusharaf

But if I were given a chance to repeat something longer, perhaps it would be this – a recollection of his first lesson after Mubarak’s ouster in 2011, recalled by al-Houdaiby. Shaykh Emad was an exemplar of the inheritors of the Prophets – may we benefit from him, and may God perfume his resting place.

“I urge everyone, especially my students, to pause and reflect. The gauge is not the success of the revolution but taking a stand. Revolutions can be aborted, and sincere calls can be defeated. Some prophets, peace be upon them, will come alone on the Day of Judgment, some were killed, and that is not a measure of failure. Not at all; the gauge is one’s stand.

“Do not look at the consequence of what has happened but look at its nature and what it was. What was your position? Where were you? Why were some of us present in classes and at prayers, but absent at these blessed moments? We must reassess and hold ourselves accountable because God, with His mercy, extended our lives, and so this is an opportunity to re-evaluate. As long as we breathe there is room for repentance and revision. The end is the gauge. It is not too late. Perhaps what is coming is harder than what has passed.”


Ustadh Dr Hisham A. Hellyer (Biography from A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Makkan Sages).

A noted scholar and author focusing on politics and religion, Dr Hisham A. Hellyer was born to an English father and to an Egyptian mother of Sudanese and Moroccan heritage and HHasani and ʿAbbasi lineage. He was raised between London, Cairo and Abu Dhabi, before receiving degrees in law and international political economy from the University of Sheffield, and a doctorate from the University of Warwick. He began researching Islamic law, theology and spirituality in his teens, keeping the company of and studying under a number of classically trained-scholars in the UK, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and elsewhere, receiving ijāzāt from a number of them. They include the likes of Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, the former head of the fatwa department of South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council, and the khalifa of the Makkan polymath and sage, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki.

Dr. Hellyer’s career has included positions at and affiliations with the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the American University in Cairo, Cambridge Muslim College, and the Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (CASIS).

He is a frequent commentator and columnist in various media in the United States, Europe and the Arab world, and is included in the annual global list of The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world (The Muslim 500). Among his written works are “Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans” (Edinburgh University Press), “A Revolution Undone: Egypt’s Road Beyond Revolt” (Oxford University Press) and “The Islamic Tradition, Muslim Communities and the Human Rights Discourse” (editor)(Atlantic Council). Dr Hellyer works between London, Washington DC, and Cairo, where he continues to research, teach, and study. @hahellyer


http://seekershub.org/articles/video/imam-haddad-neo-sufism-dr-hisham-hellyer/
http://seekershub.org/articles/video/nasheed-hub-qasida-burda-part-10-petition-ones-state/
http://seekershub.org/articles/events/mawlid-zawiya-masjid-cape-town-19-nov-2018/

Frequently Asked Questions – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. In this segment, he answers some frequently asked questions about the topic.

Q: Should we partner with groups with whom we have some differences of opinion?

A: The Qur’an tells us to co-operate in good and God-fearingness. Is it not wrong to ally with someone on a just cause, however you should take care. Many times, these issues are political in nature, with a sense of “we do something for you, you do something for us.” If you do go into an alliance with such a group, you should go in with eyes open and be clear on which points you agree and don’t.

Q: How should we act as a Muslim minority?

A: For most of Islamic history, Muslims have been the minority, in places like Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and more. Places that do have a Muslim majority, such as Somalia, Indonesia, Kenya and Mozambique, became such without a single Muslim army entering them. Being a minority group is nothing new in Islamic history.

Q: How should we navigate unjust laws? 

A: We need to make a distinction between the laws that we can accept, and the laws that we absolutely cannot accept. For example, if a government makes a low forbidding people from praying five times a day, then we need to do something about it. However, if the law relates to things that are not required by Islam, we should follow it, but can oppose it or work towards it.

Q: How should we view the idea of civil disobedience?

A: On one hand, if we agree to live in a society, we should abide by the law. However, there may be situations that arise when we might need to take action, such as when Rosa Parks protested racial segregation. Civil disobedience does not always mean breaking the law, but we should be careful not to harm the people we seek to convince. For example, having a protest that shuts down an airport, will do the most harm to people who need to fly for medical reasons, or to meet important deadlines. We have to consider what we will be doing, and whether it will actually help the outcome.

Q: What should we do if we are called to jury duty?

A: There is nothing impermissible about being a member of the jury, and it is generally a civic duty. However, you could do what many scholars did, which was to avoid being judges. Once, Imam Abu Hanifa and two other scholars were called to be interviewed for the position of Qadi, or judge. The first pretended to be insane, and Abu Hanifa declared that he was unfit for the post, which caused the ruler to dismiss them both. The third was confused as to what to say, and became the Qadi by default.

Q: What advice would you give to parents of children who feel marginalised?

A: We cannot shield our children from the world, and we should teach them that these things are going to happen. We need to give them a good sense of identity. From a young age, we should instil in them a sense of self-worth, and that the dunya will necessarily include tribulations.

Q: Why is speaking about social justice important, while most Muslims lack even basic tawheed (creed)?

A: Questioning peoples tawheed is questioning their Islam, so that is not a fair assessment to make. If a person believes in Allah and His Messenger, part of their tawheed would necessarily be upholding social justice, as well as the rest of the Prophetic teachings.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?


Food Consumption – A Reader

This reader gathers various guidelines on food consumption, from the etiquette of eating, to what is considered impermissible to eat.

Adab of Eating and Feeding Others

Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food

Should We Cover Food?

Is It Permissible to Do Dhikr and Then Blow on Food for Barakah?

Day 1: Food – 30 Deeds 30 Days 

How to Dispose of Leftover Food

True Gratitude for Food – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Food And Worship -The Enormous Correlation

When the Call to Prayer is Given and Food is on the Table What Should I Do?

08 – Food Etiquette – SeekersHub Podcast

Avoiding the Impermissible

A Guide for Consuming Various Meats, Foods, Alcohol, Animal By-Products and Cosmetics

Is It Permissible to Blow on Food to Cool it Down?

Is It Permissible to Eat Vegetarian Food Prepared by Non-muslims? 

Can I Give Impermissible Food to Non-Muslims?

Should I Eat at Restaurants With Food Cross-Contamination Issues?

Are Dishes in Which Pork and Other Haram Food was Eaten Made Pure by Washing?

What Is the Ruling Regarding Accidentally Consuming Haram Food?

Is Unethical Food Permissible to Eat?

Social Action in Islam – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. This segment speaks about how Muslims should pursue social action.

What Causes Injustice in the World?

As Muslims, we believe that nothing can happen without the will of Allah. It is impossible for anything to happen  against His decree.

What about the injustice that occurs? We believe that Allah has firmly commanded us to establish justice and good conduct, and forbids us from bad conduct. It is our responsibility to uphold these principles and act with righteousness.

However, from a Divine perspective, Allah sends us calamities and difficulties for two reasons: either to admonish us, or to teach us a lesson which can raise us.

Accountability and Oppression

The question then arises: who created actions?

In terms of actual creation, that is, making something out of nothing, only Allah has the power to create. However, we humans have take kasb, or acquisition, of actions which we are responsible for.

Oppression has two forms. There is oppression against others, which can be punished by Allah in this life or the next. However, there is also oppression against the self, which we will also be held accountable for.

Distributive justice, from an Islamic paradigm is based on an equitable distribution of rights and responsibilities, rather than a strictly uniform one. A strict uniformity approach would be unjust. For example, we do not speak to children in the same way that we speak to adults, and vice versa. That is because we have a responsibility towards our children, to raise them and guide them. We do not have the same responsibility towards adults.

In addition, adults are also treated differently according to their circumstances and abilities. A woman, for example, is entitled to different things than a man is, because she can bear children. A man does not have the right to provide for himself by using his wife’s money, but she can use his money.

Enjoining Good and Righting Wrongs

The concept of enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong is one that is shared by both Muslim scholars and modern social  activists.

In fact, Imam Nawawi stated that doing this would be obligatory under the following three conditions. Firstly, the wrong in question would have to be considered harmful by scholarly consensus. Secondly, that in the process of righting the wrong, a greater harm would not occur. Thirdly, the method of reproach had to be within the confines of the Sacred Law.

Similarity, Imam Ghazali determined five steps by which to correct a wrong, as follows:

  1. To assume that the person involved in the action is doing so innocently, and raise awareness and give counsel to them.
  2. To gently admonish them.
  3. To verbally rebuke them.
  4. To physically prevent them, if they are actively engaging in the action.
  5. To physically discipline the guilty party after the fact, if the act could not be prevented. This step is only for the authorities to carry out, and civilians should only report to the designated authority, in order to prevent vigilantism.

Imam Ghazali warned that a person should not move on to the next step, until they have absolutely exhausted all means to succeed on the earlier steps.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?


What is the Muslim Women’s Literary Conference?

On October 27th, 2018, Daybreak Press held its 4th Annual Muslim Women’s Literary Conference. Fatimah Gomez was an attendee and gives us an overview of the conference.

The Muslim Women’s Literary Conference, which took place in Toronto, Canada at a college chapel, was a golden opportunity. It was hosted by Daybreak Press, an independent publishing company that strives to empower and raise the voices of Muslim women from all over the world.

Daybreak Press lets women recognise their identities by taking a firm hold of their own narrative. The organisation is part of Rabata, a larger, academic-focused organisation that aims to provide an uplifting and spiritual experience of Islamic education for women.

There were many speakers from diverse backgrounds, who spoke about the importance of using words to convey a heartfelt message. Discussions explored the topic of serving others with the fruits of our lives and religion through our own words. As Shaykha Tamara Grey, the founder of Rabata said, we are very fortunate to have the ability to showcase the beautiful writing that Muslim women have to offer through a platform as large and easily accessible as Daybreak Press. As we have seen in our history, few literary works and manuscripts written by women have survived.

Ustadha Shehnaz Karim, who has studied under various scholars of Syria, spoke about writing through a spiritual lens, whether for ourselves or for others. This is a way of connecting with God and finding inspiration along our spiritual journey to Him. “The written word is something holy,” she said.

Because of that, how we convey our messages to others is very important, lets them know who we are. She said that writing can be a means of prayer, writing to Allah when we’re not ready to openly talk to Him. Instead, we can choose to freely express ourselves through written words, and this creates meaning and a beautiful and sincere connection with our Lord. When we reflect on what we have written, we are ultimately discovering who we are, through a mirror of our own words.

When it comes to self-identity within today’s societies, it’s very important as Muslims to see ourselves and our identities reflected in literature. This helps us initially recognise who we are, which later leads to a stronger image of who Muslims are.

Sister Ambareen Syed, a writer and mother of six, mentioned that beautiful virtues are universally recognised by readers. And when our audiences are ready to hear the virtues of our religion through written works, we must be ready to step forward and be willing to articulate the golden image of Islam. She explained that we can do so by replicating a prophetic model in our texts, through characters and ways of beliefs. With this in mind, we are striving to uplift and elevate our society by the power of our own words alone.

It is vital to make a sound intention before writing, because without it, the writing loses its purpose. If one has the ability and gift to touch their readers and communicate a message that remains true to their identity, then they must pick up the pen and write, taking this priceless opportunity to send their message to our readers. As Muslims, we are people of faith and we strive to close the gap of misunderstanding by realising the true identities of who we are and letting the world hear our articulations. We must write to provide a voice for ourselves and others, because if we don’t, nobody else will.


Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.


Justice in the Islamic Paradigm – Social Justice Series

In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. This segment covers the Islamic methodology for defining social justice.

Muslims are enjoined to command the good and forbid the wrong. In addition, we are called upon to fulfil the rights of individuals, as well as the general rights of entire communities. Fulfilling the rights of communities is a unique Islamic concept, since most of the social rights we are taught today have a greater focus on individual rights.

We also have methodologies for upholding what’s right and removing what’s wrong. One of our main methodologies, is that we believe that the means by which we alleviate wrong, must be also sound and good, rather than having “the end justifies the means’ idea.

We are not defined by other people’s impressions of us. We seek validation and recognition form institutions and member of society, but we should focus on Allah’s impression of us, which is the ultimate empowerment.

Another part of our methodology for attaining justice, is defined by the hadith, “Help your brother, whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed.” What is meant by that, is that we should help the oppressed to get their justice, but help the oppressor by doing our best to stop them form doing their actions. This also means that we should not resort to name-calling, insulting, or other similar actions, because it cuts off the possibility of redemption. By putting people into a box, such as “he’s a racist,” etc, we lose the opportunity to meaningfully engage them and work for a better future.

About the Series

Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?

Questions & Answers – Why We Suffer Series

“Why We Suffer” is a series that explores why there is suffering in the world, and how we should respond to evil according to Allah’s teachings. This segments answers come common questions about the subject.

If Allah created everything, then did He also create evil?

Allah created absolutely everything, even our own actions. Good and evil are relative to what they bring us.

What’s the Islamic term for evil?

In the Qur’an, the words khayr and share are not used to mean absolute good or absolute bad. We believe that Allah creates everything with wisdom, for a very specific reason. For example, a fancy house and car could be a very good thing for one person, but an evil thing for another person what takes it with pride and arrogance.

What is the purpose of difficulty? Are we being punished?

All difficulties are an automatic erasure of our sins if we deal with them properly. We should pray to Allah for well-being, and should not seek out difficulties. However, if we do experience them, we should not be negative and feel that we are being punished. Rather, we should remain positive and see the good in the situation and appreciate the good.

What should we do if dealing with difficulty and trials?

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “Be with the group, and beware of remaining alone, for the Shaitan is close to the one who is alone and is distant from two people. Whoever seeks the fragrance of Paradise let them hold fast to the group.”

About the Series

Shaykh Hamza Karamali (Dean of Academics at SeekersHub Global) and our founder Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explain the Islamic understanding of why there are tests, trials, evil and suffering in this life. They address questions such as: What is the wisdom and purpose behind evil and suffering in this life? How should we respond to evil, suffering, tests, and trials? What are the spiritual teachings of Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) to respond with trials?


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