The Passing of Mufti Umer Esmail

We are deeply saddened at the news of the passing of one of our beloved teacher’s, Mufti Mohamed Umer Esmail. A religious scholar, community leader, and loving father and husband, he is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Let us pray for Mufti Umer and his family, may God grant him the highest levels of Jannah and may God’s Mercy shower his family and may the Razzaq, the Provider, provide for his family.

“Mufti Umer Esmail was a wonderful person, of gentleness, and good akhlaq. Much beloved by all those who knew him.”

– Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Help us raise $100,000 by the end of the week to support his estate in this challenging time. The funds raised will be through our Islamic Scholars Fund initiative and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to his family.

SeekersGuidance Canada: Six Month Update Report

In the Name of Allah, Merciful and Compassionate

In six months, we’ve established a full schedule of classes; on-boarded two capable, dynamic scholars; moved into a beautiful New Home; held a sold-out 5-day Summer Retreat; and a full schedule of Fall classes and programs–including launching our Steps Essentials Certificate, a Seekers Youth Certificate, and new Islamic Arts and Calligraphy seminars.

As we reach the end of Summer–and the at-capacity SeekersGuidance Retreat 2019–we’d like to share a six-month update on SeekersGuidance Canada.

 

Alhamdulillah, after establishing our new project at the beginning of 2019, we began a full schedule of week-day and weekend classes at Jame Masjid Mississauga (Coopers). Attendance was very good, and in some cases higher than ever.

In the meantime, we began a careful search for a New Home for SeekersGuidance Canada. As part of this, we held a fundraising luncheon with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Muhammad Badhib, and our teachers.

Your generous support at this fundraiser helped us raise enough to sign the draft of the lease for our New Home. Shaykh Yahya’s memorable keynote titled, ‘Knowledge Is Only Spread Through Sacrifice’, and ‘Supporting the Spread of Knowledge in Society by Shaykh Muhammad Ba-Dhib’ is worth listening (or re-listening!) to.

For Ramadan, we had a special daily program on Embracing Excellence, where Ustadh Amjad Tarsin and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani covered Imam Haddad’s manual on personal transformation, The Book of Assistance, in full. The first half of this was covered at Jame Masjid Mississauga. We would like to thank the mosque and its administration for their generous hosting of our classes, and their support.

In mid-Ramadan, we moved into our New Home at 220 Britannia Rd E, at Hurontario, Misssissaga. This local is a stand-alone unit with a sizeable hall; six rooms; and two spacious lounge areas. For the Night of 27th Ramadan, we had a special program at Candles Banquet Hall. The program was at-capacity with over 600 people in attendance. Imam Yama Niazi (a SeekersGudince teacher then based in Santa Barbara, California–now in Vancouver, BC), Ustadh Amjad, Shaykh Faraz, and a wonderful Syrian nasheed group showcased a memorable night of devotion, celebration, and reflection. You can catch the reminders and nasheed on our YouTube channel.

For the Summer of 2019, we launched a fuller schedule of classes, including:

(a) an Arabic and Islamic Studies Summer Intensive (which was at-capacity, with over 70 people enrolled in it);
(b) relaunching our monthly Critical Issues Seminars–with topics including Perfecting Prayer, for which we were honoured to host the esteemed Shaykh Mohsen al-Najjar (an Egyptian scholar based in the UK);
(c) our popular monthly Family Circle led by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed;
(d) our weekly Friday Circle of remembrance and reflection; and
(e) a full-lineup of classes for both a general audience (such as our Mondays Qur’an Circle) and students of knowledge.

These classes have been held in the entrance lounge area–which can accommodate 70 people–as we were awaiting for final approvals to begin the renovations on the beautiful main teaching hall.

Then, in July, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch and Ustadha Halimah–two capable, dynamic, teachers of the Islamic sciences and both certified hafiz of the Qur’an–joined the SeekersGuidance Canada teaching faculty. See: SeekersGuidance Canada Welcomes Two New Teachers–Shaykh Yusuf Weltch and Shaykha Halimah Maideen–Both Students of Habib Umar.Immediately, they began public and private classes. Some of these can be found on our YouTube channel.

Shaykh Yusuf has been teaching in the Summer Intensive, the Sundays Coffee and Connections class, and has been actively teaching our seminary-track students. Ustadah Halimah has been tutoring young, keen female students–and teaching at our weekly Qur’an Clinic.

In February, two of our seminary-track students went to Tarim, Hadhramawt, to pursue full-time studies under the mentorship of Habib Umar bin Hafiz–after completing three years of foundational Islamic studies here with Seekers here in Toronto.

We presently have three full-time students studying daily under Shaykh Faraz, Shaykh Yusuf, and other teachers. They are making good progress, and are actively training to become future teachers and leaders for our communities, insha’Allah.

We hope to expand our Seminary-track program further in the upcoming months.

Our annual Retreat has been one of our most impactful programs: the five days of immersion in a beautiful natural environment, with close interaction with inspiring scholars, and good company are a life-changing experience for many of the attendees. Many of these go on to become regular students in our classes and programs.

This year’s Retreat, held over Labour Day weekend at the beautiful Bark Lake in the Muskoka region,  is at full-capacity (nearly 150 attendees), with eight diverse teachers–Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Yama Niazi, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yusuf Weltch, Ustadha Halimah Maideen, and Ustadh Tayssir Safi.

This Fall, we are launching three key new programs:

(a) the one-year, Steps Essentials Certificate;
(b) the new Seekers Youth Certificate;
(c) new monthly Islamic Arts seminars with leading world-class calligraphers and artists.

This is along with a full schedule of seminars, classes, and programs. You can view the full Fall 2019 schedule by clicking here.

And all of this is offered completely free–through your consistent support.

Please consider becoming a monthly donor–even a dollar a day goes a long way–and help us spread reliable knowledge and guidance in our community and around the world.

 

Why Islam is True E12: Who Designed the Designer? – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Atheists object to the argument for God’s existence from design by asking the question, “Who designed the designer?” This objection is, in fact, a sound objection because the design argument in its common formulation by Christian theists is, in fact, flawed. But it is not a valid objection to the inferences that Muslim theologians make from design because they make a different argument.


 

Two Year Specialization in Hanafi Fiqh

Attention to all interested students. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will be teaching:

 

Dars al-Tanwir al-Absar wa Ifadat al-Anwar

 (A Two Year Specialization in Hanafi Fiqh)

In the Name of Allah, Merciful and Compassionate, with blessings and peace upon our Master Muhammad, his folk, and companions

  1. Imam Tumurtashi’s Tanwir, with extensive readings in Haskafi’s Durr
    al-Mukhtar and Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar;
  2. Imam Haskafi’s Ifadat al-Anwar Sharh al-Manar, in intermediate Hanafi
    usul, with extensive readings from Ibn Abidin’s Nasamat al-Ashar.
  3. Later, we will cover Ibn Abidin’s Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti, and
  4. Select readings from Ibn Nujaym’s al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir.

Class Format

Two live classes per week, 2.5 hours each. Students are expected to attend live, or to follow the recordings.

Preparation, participation, questions, and doing recommended readings is expected.

There will be an online forum for questions, discussion, and for related texts, and resources. The pdf of the commentary, and other important works will be provided.

Purpose of the Class

The goal of the class is to begin the journey of gaining mastery of the fiqh details of the Hanafi school.

We will study the meta-matn (Tanwir al-Absar) that is the basis of the central commentary for legal details (al-Durr al-Mukhtar) in the later Hanafi school–and for the central work for the fatwa positions of the Hanafi school
(Radd al-Muhtar).

We define “mastery” as thorough understanding of the text itself, its legal reasoning, and key details. Fiqh is deep knowledge, with understanding of nuances and implications.

The purpose in this mastery is to seek the pleasure of Allah, through benefiting oneself and others by preserving, acting upon, and transmitting this noble Prophetic inheritance in ways that assist others in seeking the pleasure of Allah by following Divine Guidance with conviction and clarity.

The means to mastery would be through understanding of eight matters related
to the text:

  1. Tawdih (clarification of the text, in expression and indication)
  2. Taqyid (conditioning the text, where essential conditions are needed)
  3. Tafsil (detailing the text, where essential details are needed)
  4. Taswir (describing the text’s issues, through practical examples)
  5. Taq`id (clarifying the legal principles the text’s issues are based on or entail)
  6. Tafri` (important derived rulings, classical and contemporary, that serious
    seekers must know)
  7. Ta`lil (understanding legal reasoning and wisdom underlying text’s rulings)
  8. Tadlil (understanding the legal proofs for the rulings of the text)

Conditions for Joining the Class

This is an upper-intermediate to advanced class in Hanafi fiqh. Students need to have completed at least two complete works in all chapters of Hanafi fiqh, including at least one intermediate-level commentary (such as Sharh al-Wiqaya, or the Ikhtiyar, or Hidaya, or similar), with understanding.

Student Expectations

The expectations from the students would be to:

  1. Prepare for the class, by [a] thorough reading of the matn; [b] careful reading of the commentary–with focus on the legal details and reasoning mentioned in the commentary; [c] preparing properly thought-out questions related to the text and its implications. It is encouraged, especially for more advanced students, to research key issues in the reference works and commentaries. (This is not an expectation. Students are welcome to email the instructor for advice on this.)
  2. Attend the class, with [a] attentiveness, through cutting out distractions (no surfing, messaging, texting, etc); [b] participation when the instructor asks questions; [c] asking questions, from their preparation or from things unclear in the text or the instructor’s explanations.
  3. Review of the class notes and text. Research of issues that arise is encouraged, and asking questions regarding things that remain unclear is essential. The more you can keep reviewing the text (especially the matn), the better. Test yourself, by checking whether you remember the key details. Diagramming the text helps.
  4. Take notes. It is best to write out the matn itself, and essentials from the commentary (such as the key details and reasoning). This is also good Arabic writing practice.
  5. Participate in the Class Forum by asking questions, sharing issues of benefit, and getting involved in the relevant discussions, with the proper manners of a keen seeker of knowledge (talib `ilm).
  6. Seek Allah’s assistance, make this a means of seeking His pleasure, have high secondary intentions of acting upon what you learn with excellence, preserving and transmitting Prophetic guidance, to benefit yourself and to benefit others, and to gain all the benefits mentioned by Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) for those who seek and transmit sacred knowledge for the sake of Allah.

 

And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz Rabbani


All interested students who wish to take this class need to fill out a brief application by clicking here.


 

Adab 11: The Proprieties of Speech

Ustadh Tabraze Azam gives a detailed account of the adab or proprieties of speech according to the Sunna.

One day, a man was sitting with Qadi Abu Yusuf, a senior companion of Imam Abu Hanifa. After a period of extended silence, which was strange given that Qadi Abu Yusuf was the chief justice and an imam in Sacred Law (fiqh), and people wouldn’t usually remain silent around him for too long, the Qadi said to him, “Do you have a question?” The man, fearing a missed opportunity, mustered up enough courage to remark, “Of course! When does a person stop fasting?” Qadi Abu Yusuf replied, “When the sun sets,” The man paused for a moment, then said, “But what if the sun doesn’t set until half the night has passed?”

Sometimes, silence is just better. The Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, gave us a central principle with respect to speech when he said, “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him say the good or remain silent.” (Muslim) In fact, there are so many traditions (ahadith) which point out the risks of speaking without due thought, and more importantly, need, that anybody who reads them regularly would begin to fear for his hereafter. In an age of social media where everybody has a voice, it’s imperative that we take a moment to step back, recall what our Lord wants from us, and recognise that we have two ears and one tongue, namely, that our listening should be twice as much as our speech.

1. The Rulings of Speech

The first thing to remember is that speech, like all other actions, has rulings. When the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, told our Master Mu‘adh to “Restrain this,” namely, the tongue, he replied, “Will we be taken to task for what we say?” The striking, vivid, prophetic answer should suffice all of us as a reminder of the danger and harm we can reap with our tongues: “Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said their noses – into the Hellfire other than the harvests of their tongues?” (Tirmidhi)

Thus, speech may be divided into that which is (1) obligatory, (2) recommended, (3) permissible, (4) disliked, and (5) unlawful. 

Obligatory speech is speaking up to command the good, or to correct the wrong by forbidding some vice, when the conditions have been met. Remaining silent in such cases would be impermissible, just as actually engaging in wrongful speech is impermissible. Examples of the latter include engaging in slander, talebearing, lying, and the like of which we’ll see more of shortly.  Similarly, fulfilling many of the rights of your fellow believers is mandatory, such as responding to their greeting of salam, or praying for them after they’ve sneezed, for instance. 

It is recommended to speak when the speech will be recitation of the Qur’an, other remembrances (adhkar), or supplication for oneself or another. Another praiseworthy action is bringing joy to the heart of a fellow believer, or simply saying something pleasant to him because this is a form of “charity.” (Bukhari) On the other hand, it is disliked to speak whilst (a) using the bathroom, (b) undressed, or (c) engaged in intimate relations and the like. Likewise, it is unbecoming to speak when the benefit in doing so isn’t clear, or to speak during discouraged times such as after the nightfall prayer (‘isha). 

As for permitted speech, it is that which is devoid of any resultant reward or sin. An example would be to ask somebody to bring you some tea, or to tell your child to avoid something harmful. Of course, whenever the permissible is conjoined with an intention for Allah Most High, it transitions from the merely permissible to the recommended. 

2. The Golden Rule of Silence

Some of the scholars explained that speech is of four types: (a) harmful, (b) beneficial, (c) harmful and beneficial, and (d) not harmful nor beneficial. Eternal consequences matter, and whenever something harmful and beneficial conjoins, the harm is considered to preponderate over any potential good. Accordingly, this rules out two types of speech. As for that which is not harmful nor beneficial, it is unnecessary and a waste of one’s effort and energy as one finds oneself in the loss of Sura al-‘Asr. The only thing left is beneficial speech and even that has otherworldly danger, namely, because it may lead to showing-off or pride or other blameworthy traits. 

It behooves anybody, then, to recognize that speech should only be used when there is some good in it. If you don’t have anything good to say, you should remain silent as this is the sunna. Interestingly, the Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, instructed us to say the good, not the truth. Now, this isn’t permission to lie, obviously, but it gives us something of prophetic wisdom to work with. The prescriptions of the Sacred Law are always beneficial to us, whether we can see the good in them or not. Many of the early Muslims had much to offer in terms of directing believers towards silence. So twenty years from now, and when your husband asks how he looks in what used to be his wedding suit, be kind!

Imam Qushayri writes in his Risala that silence is the basis. But speaking when there is a manifest need is the manner of real men (namely, in the spiritual sense, so it applies equally to women.) He continues by stating that Abu ‘Ali al-Daqqaq, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Whosoever remains silent when truth is required is a blind devil.” Therefore, when speech is required, you must speak.

3. Excellence in Speech

We were directed to observe excellence in all of our dealings. Consequently, excellence, or ihsan, towards ourselves and others entails that we speak normally with others, without trying to put on heirs. Moderation, too, is generally the emblem of piety. When speaking, avoid being too loud or too quiet, or speaking too quickly or slowly, or speaking sternly when encouraging towards the good and with gentleness when warning against evil. However, this latter point must be contextualized and stated in the correct manner lest that it be a means of pushing people away from religion. Moreover, and as an aside, the sunna is to be attentive to the speaker whilst he is speaking as this nurtures respect and minimizes unbecoming outcomes from “hearing” things that weren’t said or other misunderstandings.

Equally, it is important to train oneself to see the good in things and speak accordingly, turning a blind eye to the ugly. Allah Most High says, “When they come across falsehood, they pass it by with dignity.” (Sura al-Furqan 25:72) It is reported that some of the disciples were walking with the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and they came across the carcass of a dog. One of the disciples then remarked, “What an awful stench!” The Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, said, “It would have been better if you had said: ‘How white its teeth are!’” Regardless of the soundness of the report, we can learn something about dignity from it. 

In the same vein, one of the righteous used to say “good morning” to wild pigs and stray dogs that he passed, and when asked about it, he commented that he was getting himself accustomed to saying the good! It is also reported that a group of the corrupt were paddling by in a stream besides Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi and his companions. The companions asked Ma‘ruf to pray against them as they were drinking wine and playing unlawful instruments. So they raised their hands, and Ma‘ruf said, “O Lord, make them glee with joy in the hereafter as you have made them joyful in this life.” Astonished, they asked him how he could make such a supplication given the impermissible they were engaged in. He replied, “Their rejoicing in the hereafter will come about because of their repentance in this life.” May Allah be pleased with him!

The Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If a person says, ‘People have gone to ruin,’ he is the most ruined of them all.” (Muslim) How so? Because of his conceitedness with respect to his state and actions, and his causing believers to despair from Allah Most High’s mercy. 

Another sunna is to be brief with one’s words so as to speak only to the extent of the need. Going beyond that can lead to situations which may comprise one’s religious comportment, or worse, make one say something which will be a source of later regret. Note, as previously explained by Imam Qushayri, speaking is the dispensation, or rukhsa, so the basis is in using it sparingly or at least with wisdom. There is nothing like safety, as Imam Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him, noted. 

4. Self-Control in Speech

When clear benefit has been ascertained, the sunna is to engage others with excellence, holding oneself to standards of decency that befit a believer who is striving to emulate his Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and especially if he claims love. As such, foul language needs to be completely shunned, not only because it is impermissible and interdicted, but because it is at odds with the manner, or adab, a strong, faithful believer is trying to uphold. The Noble Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The believer is not given to reviling, cursing, obscenity, or vulgarity.” (Tirmidhi) If you are habituated to using such language, ask Allah Most High to free you from its shackles and grant you the ability to express joy or disappointment in a manner that is pleasing to Him. 

Modesty is from faith,” (Bukhari) said the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. The way of the Qur’an and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is to avoid explicit references to matters that are unbecoming, such as when referring to the nakedness (‘awra). This is why the Qur’an alludes to the publicly undignified, specifically in the context of ablution (wudu) and cleanliness, and also intimate relations, by saying, “But if you are ill, on a journey, or have relieved yourselves, or have been intimate with your wives and cannot find water, then purify yourselves with clean earth.” (Sura al-Ma’ida 5:6) The scholars explain that a proper islamic education brings about a sense of refined decorum and modesty which prevents a person from mentioning certain things inappropriately and without express need. 

When it comes to self-control, a number of matters require attention. Unsurprisingly, these are the matters whose implications are religiously quite serious, namely, oaths, vows, promises and divorce. If you find yourself making too many oaths or promises, or threatening your spouse with divorce, you need to work on your self-restraint. Neglecting promises is one of the signs of hypocrisy, and failing to uphold the contents of oaths has expiatory consequences. But neither is encouraged unless you have the full conviction to carry out what you say, and the details of both may be sought elsewhere. The Companions (sahaba) were people of their word, and this is one of the traits of true believers. 

5. Unlawful Speech 

Something that was touched upon earlier was the impermissibility of certain types of speech. Practically, this means that it is not permitted to engage in any of it without a genuine, shari‘a-countenanced reason. The honour of your fellow believer is sacred and inviolable, as our Beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, informed us. (Muslim

Generally, there are two types of impermissible speech: that which relates to another, and that which relates to yourself. The former is more dangerous because it affects the rights of others, and its harm may reach you in the hereafter. The Blessed Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “The bankrupt from amongst my community is the one who will come on Judgement Day with his prayers, fasts and alms, yet he swore at so and so, wrongfully accused so and so…” (Tirmidhi) The remainder of this lengthy tradition (hadith) apprises us that those wronged will come to receive their rights by taking this person’s good deeds. For anybody who believes in the reality of the hereafter and divine justice, this should make us all at least think twice or three times before reeling off a word or two by which one falls into the divine wrath. (Bukhari)

The types of speech which fall into this category are numerous, but some of the most important to keep in mind are as follows: (1) slander (ghiba), namely, to mention a fellow believer in their absence with words that they would dislike; (2) talebearing (namima), namely, saying words which worsen relations between people, or that which entails the divulging of something private; and (3) lying (kadhib), namely, to deliberately say something false. Finally, one of the cancers affecting the community of believers (umma) is anathema (takfir). This is something that must be left for the Muslim judge (qadi), or at the very least, senior jurisconsults (muftis), because ordinary people do not understand subtleties and intricate rulings. Condemning people to the Hellfire is extremely dangerous, the peril of which is palpable for everybody to see, both in our times and in recent history. 

6. Dignified Joking and Jest 

The condition for the permissibility of joking is that it is free of lying. Thereafter, it should be in moderation, like with all things, and it should certainly not turn into mockery or ridicule. Insulting one’s fellow believers is not permissible as many verses and traditions attest to. When free from the undignified, making believers laugh, bringing joy to their hearts and putting a smile on their face is a tremendous action worthy of a huge reward, particularly when coupled with an intention for Allah Most High. There are a number of traditions (ahadith) which record the humour and joking of the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. 

We pray that the All-Merciful overlooks our many shortcomings, increases us in presence and sincere following, and grants us the clarity and capacity to make speech-judgements that are in line with our next-worldly goals and hopes. All blessing and facilitation is from Him, Most High.

And Allah alone gives success.


 

 

The Truth Will Prevail – Saliha Nazir

Sister Saliha Nazir, a student of SeekersGuidance, was motivated and inspired by her studies to write the following poem.

The Truth Will Prevail

You peer out from within the walls
That you built standing so tall
Wondering what you are doing here
You are held back by your own fear

The vast open fields and sky
Beckon to you, reminding you that you can fly
Won’t you listen to the call
To let go and enjoy the fall

You are not what you see
Understanding that is the key
The fortress of solitude that you built
Is boxing you in through your guilt

Turn to Your Lord in repentance
He is The One whose important is acceptance
Rest all is just an illusion
Running after the world is not a solution

There is a reality you cannot see
But for that you have to forget ‘I’ and ‘me’
The treasures are yours for taking
Why for this world are you your Lord forsaking

Take heed and turn away
Remember that there will be a day
When neither wealth nor children will avail
The Truth of Our Lord will prevail.

In Defence of Prophet Ibrahim from Modern Misconceptions – Shaykh Abdurrahim Reasat

Ibrahim: The Father of Prophets

No study of the life of the Final Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, can ever be complete, nor properly understood, without a look at the influence of his greatest ancestor: Ibrahim. A man whose life and teachings have affected billions throughout history. A man who prophets look up to with pride, and gratitude for being from his progeny.

Ibrahim was always imbued with prophetic insight. Even as a child he was able to show his people the folly of worshipping statues which could not hear, speak, nor defend themselves – let alone anyone – else from harm.

He was shown signs of the perfection and power of Allah, Most High, that the majority of humanity will never be privy to; “In is such a tremendous way did We show Ibrahim the inestimable kingdom of the heavens and Earth!” (6:75). He was a man who not only had the highest degree of faith and certainty, but someone who was who received the greatest honour available to a human being: direct communication with the Creator through revelation.

Beyond Criticism

We live in times where almost everyone, to some degree, has been exposed to frameworks and paradigms that are not in line with the understanding and worldview Allah teaches us through revelation. Sometimes, due to personal trauma, or the witnessing of injustice or cultural misrepresentations of Islam, people ask questions which are entirely misplaced.

Had Islam been understood on its own merits, and from an unbiased perspective, external paradigms would not be able to influence people’s understandings of individuals and events Islam holds significant. No…not just significant – but sacred!

Ibrahim was created to be a messenger of God. This entails that all his actions which were carried out due to revealed instructions were done so based on revelation from a truly wise and omniscient being. They were far beyond the scrutiny of these aforementioned paradigms.

The Barren Valley

An example of such misplaced judgements is the criticism of Ibrahim and Sara for him taking Hajar and her infant Ismaʿil  from what is modern-day Hebron to a remote, barren valley that would come to be the location of the most frequented site of pilgrimage on the planet: present-day Mecca.  That very pilgrimage is a commemoration of this event.

We know that Sara found it difficult emotionally when Hajar gave birth. Can you blame her? Was she not human? Did she not have feelings? Did she not spend decades of her life longing for children? Is this not a basic human desire that both men and women alike have? Did she not want to give birth to an heir to her loving husband who faithfully supported her for decades?

Or is it the case that people who are looked up to due to their closeness to Allah slowly become robots devoid of emotion? Do they shed their humanity, and behave as beings unattached to themselves or the world around them? Of course not!

She had a normal emotional response, and out of love and concern for her Ibrahim was commanded to take mother and son to Mecca. It would be interesting to see how one of her critics would fare in the same situation. In the Islamic narrative there is no indication whatsoever of any sort of mistreatment of Hajar from Sara.

Fulfilment – Not Deriliction – Of Duty

When Ibrahim left Hajar in the desolate valley, she turned to him and said, “O Ibrahim, where are going after leaving us in this valley in which there is nothing – human or otherwise?” She repeated the statement and he did not look back at her. Eventually she asked, “Did Allah command you to do this?” “Yes!” he replied. “Okay; He won’t ever let us perish!”  she confidently said. (Bukhari).

Looking at this event with the proper context shows us that Ibrahim was obeying the instructions of Allah, who clearly had a wise plan for all those involved. Ibrahim’s actions were exemplary. His not turning to respond to Hajar speaks volumes about his greatness. He was conflicted between the love he felt for Allah and his duty to Him, and the love he felt for Hajar and the son he had been blessed with by Allah in his eighties.

Had he turned around and spoke to her, he might have been overwhelmed by his emotions, and struggled to fulfil the divine command. After all, the primary allegiance of believer – let alone a prophet – is to Allah. We are Allah’s and He owns us: “Indeed Allah has purchased from the believers their very lives and properties in exchange for the Garden.” (9:111).

The same struggle is apparent a decade later when he is commanded to sacrifice the same son. Ismaʿil asked his his father to lay him face down lest his emotion at the sight of Ismaʿil be a hindrance to fulfilling the divine command.

The Tests Of Ibrahim

The tests Ibrahim faced were beyond what most of humanity could bear. His devotion and duty to the Creator who made him and gave him all he had were his primary concern. All others in His life were a gift from Allah, and consequently, they were an impetus to further devotion to Allah.

His test was to leave his dependents in a place which would usually claim the lives of people – trusting their fate to the caring hand of Allah. His test was to show that he would place his loyalty to his Maker above all else – even if it meant sacrificing his dear son, at the time when he would feel his loss the most.

Hajar and Ismaʿil were never meant to perish there. The knife was never meant to cut. He, however, had to hear and obey. His test was to suffer the separation from them, and to take the means to sacrificing his child.

Yet, his success in those trials – despite the obstacles he faced –  is testament to his greatness in his service of Allah. “Indeed Ibrahim was [as good as] an entire nation, utterly devoted to Allah, inclining away [from falsehood], and he certainly was not an idolater. Grateful – even for the least of blessings! [Allah] chose him and guided him to a truly magnificent, straight way.” (16:120-121).

Projection

Wrongdoing exists. No one denies this. Islam provides all the tools to establish justice in this word, and leaves its enforcement to us. Life is a test, after all! Those with the best conduct will attain greater, everlasting rewards than those will lesser conduct.

For a man to run away from his dependants, leaving them stranded, needy, and prey to societal harms is wrong. There may be many tragic cases of this, but let’s not project the wrongdoing of this scenario onto the prophet Ibrahim.

Seeing things though the filter of ‘feminism’ and decrying the ‘patriarchal’ undertones of the narrative of Ibrahim is clearly missing the mark. We should not conflate one of the greatest manifestations of the human potential to attain greatness through selfless service to Allah with this selfish dereliction of duty present in our societies.

To see things as they are, we must distinguish the between facts, but after peeling away the alien paradigms imperceptibly imposed on us through a lifetime of exposure to irreligious frameworks. Otherwise, all that will occur is the projection of our cultural baggage onto people, laws, and a religion, which are actually an antidote for the state we are in.

Seeing the narrative of Ibrahim through the vase scope of divine revelation, its wisdom, and its great purpose and benefit for all leads to seeing the greatness within the great. Looking at it through our own myopic cultural baggage, however, only leads us to seeing wrongs which are not actually there.

Muslim Imperatives (Poem) – By Novid Shaid

Muslim Imperatives

Smile endearingly like Al Mustafa

Brighter than an iridescent star

Rise celestially like Isa

Transcending corporeal fever

Conjure mystic snakes like Musa

Which devour the pull of Lucifer

Teach insightful lessons like Al Khidr

Slay the evil imp lurking within

Endure your quandaries like Ibrahim

Scorched by worldly fires but still serene

Supplicate with tears like Maryam

Ask for blessings of miraculous sums

Love your companions like Adam

Appreciate your sir or your madam

Show true patience like Asiya

With pharaonic souls and behaviour

Search for holy water like Hajar

Traverse the mounts of genuine manners

Rest like the seven sleepers of the cave

Hibernate from tendencies depraved

Convey your trusts faithfully like Jibril

Honour your receiver and reveal

Stand for truth like Abu Bakr As Siddiq

Stern with the arrogant; kind with the weak

Rule dependants like Umar ibn Al Khattab

Mediate fairly avoiding harm

Read Quran like Uthman Ibn Affan

Whether in safety or in enemy hands

Strive against deception like Imam Ali

Rip off the gates of inner hypocrisy

Believe sincerely like Khadija

Stay with the truth when most waver

Learn by heart like Lady Aisha

Capture wisdom like an early riser

Abstain from vanity like Fatima

Be in the world like a traveller

Worship the Only One like Al Hasan

Before light appears on the horizon

Campaign and move onwards like Al Husain

Before the tyrants struggle unafraid

Safeguard texts and secrets like dear Hafsa,

As the Quran was entrusted to her

Unify like Bilal Al Habashi

Crush your sins under boulders of unity

Travel like Salman Al Farisi

Gaining untold wisdom endlessly

Persevere and strive like Sumayya

Sacrifice your soul for divine favour

Nurture nature like Abu Hurayra

Be the cats and animals’ saviour

Serve leaders like Anas Bin Malik

Make your service glisten like magic

Love the poor like Uwais Al Qarani

Share your blessings even in poverty

Lead the masses like Umar ibn Abdul Aziz

Treat the rich and poor impartially

Purge your thick self, like Abu Hanifa,

Understand the rulings of the ether

Cherish Medina like Imam Malik

Dismount your horse and feel his dynamic

Efface your self, like Imam Ash Shafi

Even in genius show humility

Cling unflinchingly, like Ahmed Ibn Hanbal

To your creed and your principles

See your faults like Imam Jafar As Saddiq

Let not your lineage make you lethargic

Flee from worldlings like Mulay Idris

Whether in the west or in the east

Reject, like Imam Hasan Al Basri,

The vain glories of this world and history

Eulogise like Rabia Al Adawiyya

Reject the idols that people revere

Recite janaza prayers like Al Bistami

Upon the world’s commotions and tsunamis

Roam for God, like Dhun Nun Al Misri

Searching unceasingly for divine mysteries

Relinquish, like Ibrahim Ibn Adham,

Your earthly throne and mass media bedlam

Walk on earth like Bishr Al Hafi

Waken your sleeping soul like caffeine

Watch your soul like Zubda and Mughda

Make love and service your inner dogma

Join the schools like Imam Al Junayd

See the names and essences unveil

Hide your worship, like Bahlul Majnun

Don’t fret if people think you are a fool

Deny your selfish self, like Lubaba,

Resist the urge to swagger and blabber

Love the next world like Mu’mina

Transcend the aim for fame and villas

Burn your ships like Tariq Bin Ziyad

Face your inner fears, making a stand

Experiment with life, like Imam Al Razi

Test the chemicals of life’s safari

Aim for excellence like Fakhru Din Al Razi

Purify your faith from heresies

Contemplate deeply, like Ibn Rushd,

The signs and symbols of Godhood

Study humankind like Ibn Khaldun

Learn from Bedouins and urban fools

Journey through the earth like Ibn Battuta

See with your own eyes, not with computers

Rise with merit like Lubna of Cordoba

From slavery to exquisite culture

Humble your intellect like Imam Ghazali

Discipline your soul before life’s finale

Conquer the deserts like Hazrat Jilani

Prevail over the world’s spell, uncanny

Accompany sages like Ibn Al Arabi

Absorb their state and spirits’ clarity

Proselytise like Muhyidin Chisti

Dispel misconceptions, dim and misty

Love your friends like Rumi and Shams Tabriz

Let true friendship cure this life’s malaise

Persist and resist like Ertugul Ghazi

Never bowing before the enemy

Conquer your psyche like Al Faatih

Make these victories in constanti

Sail the seas like Imam Ash Shadhili

Against the winds of hidden idolatry

Pray with your secret like Naqshabandi

Gaze into your heart’s profundity

Forgive and be gracious like Salahudin

Those close to you or even your enemies

Share your riches like Mansa Musa

Be generous whilst in your cruiser

Facilitate like Fatima Fehri

Fund the arts, learning and poetry

Flourish superbly like Fakhr Un Nisa

Flow and curl like a master calligrapher

Dress yourself like Imam An Nawawi

Just one suit of utter simplicity

Rouse your ruh like Jani Begum

Ride your elephant; fight for the heavens

Project-manage like Mihrimah Sultan

Build structures steeped in excellence and charm

Compose couplets like Imam Busayri

Praising the chosen one visionary

Send prayers and peace like Imam Al Jazuli

Make salawat your soul and duty

Purify intentions like Imam Haddad

Relish intention’s sky like a nomad

Design structures like Mimar Sinan

Instil a sense of awe across the lands

Direct your sultanate like Uthman Dan Fodio

Make law and spirit your guiding glow

Silence your self like Ma Laichi

Like Khufiyya release your inner chi

See Rasul Allah like Ahmed Tijani

Wade through his tremendous valley

Invoke peace like Al Arabi Ad Darqawi

With all the jealous ones and their armies

Say Allah like Shaykh Ahmed Al Alawi

Until you see the Only Reality

Fight invaders like Tipu Sultan

Make your enemies shiver with alarm

Battle imperialists like Imam Shamil

Purge the empire of your cruel will

Protect the vulnerable like Al Jazairi

Those of faith or other minorities

Tame your lion like Ahmadu Bamba

Just for the truth invoke your anger

Leave this world like Omar Al Mukhtar

Facing death like a warrior

Study Al Quran like Marmaduke Pickthall

Let the verses settle and enthral

Know your degrees like Al Shabrawi

Rise through the seven souls sincerely

Disappear through the One and Only One

Say His name, until your self has gone.


 

Why Islam is True E11: Science Reveals God’s Unrestricted Agency – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Modern science has revealed that God can do anything. We have always discerned purposes in the universe–the purpose of our eyes is for us to see and the purpose of our ears is for us to hear. But modern science has delved deeper than ever before into these purposes to reveal a unimaginable, unfathomable, undeniable intricacies in way that God made the universe. These intricacies incontrovertibly reveal that God can do absolutely anything.


 

The Trodden Path (Episode 7): A Glimpse At the Lives of the Illustrious Scholars and Saints of the 20th and 21st Century – Umar Mukhtar

In this series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed of South Africa will take us on a journey through the lives and biographies of some of the most celebrated and well known scholars of the twentieth and twenty – first century. These historical accounts will provide us with refreshing insights and lessons, and motivate us to follow in the footsteps of our pious predecessors.


In this seventh episode of the The Trodden Path series, Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed writes on the life of Umar Mukhtar.

 Umar Mukhtar 1277-1350=1861-1931 (Libya)

Umar Mukhtar, the man who opposed the Italians when they tried to colonize Libya, was born in 1861 (1277) in the valley of Batnaan in Barqah. He was from one of the famous Arab tribes in the area. His father had taken an oath that if Allah granted him a son, he would ensure that he acquired knowledge and serves Islam.

When he was five years old, he joined a primary school to learn the basics in reading and writing. Thereafter he joined the Jaghbub Mosque corner (zawiyah) where he studied the Islamic sciences. Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al-Sanusi started the zawiyah.

Every zawiyah comprised of three rooms. The first was used to conduct lessons to the Bedouin children, the second was used to entertain the travelers and the third served as a residence for the teachers. The zawiyah was always situated next to a well and it had a small piece of land that was cultivated and farmed by the students. The students consumed that which they planted. It also included a small workshop where they produced some goods that were sold to some tribes. It was situated in a place where the students could practically learn about Jihad.

It was in this atmosphere and environment that Umar Mukhtar grew up. Sanusi teachings encouraged its students to abstain from smoking or amassing gold and jewels. They were not to mix with strangers, because of the fear that they would corrupt their beliefs. In addition they were very aware that Islam was not restricted to the five pillars. Instead, it included brotherhood, tolerance, sacrifice and jihad.

These aspects were visible particularly when Umar Mukhtar raised the banner of Jihad against the Italians when they tried to colonize the region.

After completing his studies he was appointed a teacher at the Qusoor zawiyah near the Green Mountain. Initially he faced a rebellious tribe of highway robbers who had no regard for the law. Because of the manner in which he dealt with them, he was able to repress their defiance and he returned them to life of compassion and tenderness. He was able to instill in them pure Islamic characteristics.

When Italy tried to colonize Libya, many Muslims stood up opposing it. One of them was Umar Mukhtar. He appealed to the Muslims to have a conference to prepare the people mentally and physically to fight the colonialists. His vast knowledge assisted him in motivating the people, with the result the people of Libya were changed overnight into an army fighting in the path of Allah under the leadership of Ahmad Al-Sanusi.

Umar Mukhtar and those with him in spite of being few in number with limited resources resisted the Italians with their might. The number of Muslim martyrs in the first ten years, (1911-1921) were more than 70 000. The Italians used to throw some Muslims to their death from airplanes. They also gathered many Muslims and tied them to boats and dragged them in the sea. In addition they slaughtered and butchered hundreds of Muslims.

Umar Mukhtar led the Jihad against the Italians for twenty years until he was captured and imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1931 when he was seventy years old. 

General Istiyani said that he fought 263 battles against Umar Mukhtar in a period of twenty months. Even magazines like the ‘Time’ regarded the killing of Umar Mukhtar as an indication of the Italian’s victory.

When the Italians took over the city of Kafra, Umar Mukhtar took refuge on the ‘Green Mountain’ which he also used as his base.

One night, he went out on an operation along with fifty mujahids. They were taken by surprise when they found themselves surrounded by Italian soldiers. They exchanged gunfire, during which his horse was shot and wounded. When his horse fell, the Italians were then able to capture him. The Italian Governor in Marj arrived by plane, and ordered that Umar Mukhtar be taken to the port and from there he was taken to Benghazi. He remained in prison for four days. When his sentence was passed and he heard all the allegations against him, he did not deny it, instead he said, “You have transgressed and acted in hostility on our land. Islam has made Jihad compulsory on us against the usurpers of our land. I did not do anything except carry out the teachings of Islam, because Islam refuses and does not allow its followers to be disgraced.”

The Italian judge pronounced the sentence. The next day he was taken to the area where he was to be hanged. He continued to recite the Shahadah until he passed away. This was in 1931.


Shaykh Shoayb Ahmed is a well respected South African Islamic scholar who lives in Pretoria, South Africa. He studied at the King Saud University in Riyadh and the faculty of Shariah at the Islamic University of Madina. He has attained a M.A. in Islamic Studies from the University of South Africa. Through his extensive travels he has met and benefited from many senior scholars from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, India, Turkey etc. He has received numerous Ijazahs from the various scholars that he has met, studied with and served. He is currently a senior educator at the al – Ghazzali College in Pretoria.

He has authored two books:

  1. Muslim Scholars of the 20th Century.
  2. Muslim Scholars of the 21st Century.

He was one of the translators of Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al – Maliki’s work: The Way of the True Salaf.