Keeping Aleppo In Perspective, and How To Respond, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The horrific news and images coming out of Aleppo, Syria has left the world stunned. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani offers some sobering perspective on how we should process these traumatising event and how we should respond.

When Confronted With Brutal Injustice, by Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila

Remaining faithful and strategic when confronted with brutal injustice is perhaps one of the most challenging tests of this life. However, it is the right thing to do and it pays off, explains Shaykh Salim Mauladdawila.

The tale of the first murder committed in human history and the ripples of sin that would emanate therefrom is one from which many lessons are drawn. The pride of Qabil, the elder brother, his disobedience of his father Prophet Adam, and his inability to accept God’s divine decree all came together to culminate in him committing the vile act of murdering his own brother in cold blood. Of his sin God says in the Quran,

“We decreed for the children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being, except [as punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, it shall be as if he killed all humanity” [5:32].

The Prophet Muhammad further explained in a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim,

“No person is killed unjustly except that the first share of sin falls upon the son of Adam, for he was the first to introduce killing.”

Greater than that perhaps, as some scholars have pointed out, Qabil’s transgression marks mankind’s first open defiance of his Lord, and it would serve as a divide for all the descendants of Adam to come. From that day there would now be two groups in human civilisation: those who follow prophetic guidance, and those who turn away.
But just before that fateful moment when Qabil struck down Habil, the younger of the two, Habil spoke inspired words. Threatened by his brother, he is quoted by God as saying to him,

“If you raise your hand to kill me, I will raise not mine to kill you, for verily I fear God, the Lord of all the worlds” [5:28].

Referencing this thousands of years later, the Prophet Muhammad would say in narrations collected by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Imam Ahmad, and others that when in times of incredible tribulation, it is upon us to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons”.

When Muslim Commit Wrong

Anger and outrage are natural reactions to encountering injustice. When the injustice is towards our fellow Muslims, we are understandably angered further. But sometimes we find Muslims themselves committing wrong. Be it in the sphere of our immediate family, local community, or on a global level, when injustice and oppression occur so close to home we typically feel shaken and betrayed. We cry out for justice and wish that the perpetrators get their comeuppance. Sometimes the powers that be handle the situation correctly and we are blessed with closure, but other times justice escapes us, be it through systemic failure of a trusted establishment or another reason. At times the guilty party is so close to us and so respected by us that we feel that no matter the outcome, true forgiveness can never take place.

Being Entitled to Justice

We are all entitled to justice, however in its pursuit it is pertinent we keep two things in mind: we cannot let our pursuit of justice be an excuse for transgressing the sacred law, and true justice in God’s sight extends to beyond this world and is ultimately carried out on the Day of Judgement.
The vast majority of us can be thankful that no one is immediately threatening their life, but when we are wronged, the Prophet’s advice to “be like the better of Adam’s two sons” remains golden. For us, his words mean that we should maintain high standards in all our interactions, and that whatever situation we find ourselves in, it is upon us to remain bound by the rulings of the sacred law.
In the Quran, God advises us as to what we should do when facing injustice. He says,

“And surely we will try you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and the fruits [of your labour]; but give glad tidings to those who have patience, who, when assailed by adversity, say, ‘Surely we belong to God, and to Him we shall return.’” [2:155-156].

More than simply being words to utter in times of tribulation, what God is outlining for us here is an understanding that Muslims should have in all their interactions. A way of thought that guides us in our daily dealings. Scholars who have commented on this verse have noted that there are two kinds of adversities which can befall us, and this verse is teaching us how to behave with both:

  1. adversity directly from God, like illness or death, and
  2. adversity which comes in the form of animosity and injustice from other human beings.

“Surely we belong to God” means that when God tests us with some affliction, we reaffirm our status as His slaves, surrender to Him all our affairs, and are ultimately pleased with His decree. As for when another person wrongs us, “surely we belong to God” means we turn to Him for retreat and do not seek appeasement for our anger thorough unlegislated means, for He who we belong to has ordered us so.

Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

Indeed God specifically mentions three traits of the pious as those “who expend both in joy and tribulation, who suppress their anger, and pardon the people” [3:134]. God also gives us further direction in how to respond saying, “Good and evil are not alike: respond [to evil] with the better deed” [41:34]. We aught to be mindful of this verse and not stoop to the lows of our oppressors. We do not subscribe to the notion that two wrongs make a right and we always strive to seek the pleasure of our Lord through the means he has permitted.

The Hadith of the Lie

A look at the examples of our Prophet, his Companions, and the pious people in Muslim history gives us further guidance in these matters. One of the greatest examples we have is in the well-known Ifk Hadith, or the hadith of the lie.
A lengthy hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, the Ifk Hadith deals with an incident where the Prophet’s wife Sayyida Aisha was falsely accused of promiscuity outside of her marriage. Over a period longer than a month, false accusations were spread in Medina causing much distress to the Prophetic household and the household of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Aisha’s innocence was eventually proclaimed by God in a revealed verse and the propagators of the lie were duly punished. What remains for us are several lessons in correctly dealing with communal problems.
Firstly, throughout the narration Aisha does not slander any of the individuals who blackened her name. She was proven innocent and justice was served, and she did not seek more than that. Indeed during the ordeal, her only words to the Prophet were, quoting the prophet Yaqub, “patience is best. I seek the aid of God alone for what you impute” [12:18]. Out of the several individuals involved, only two are mentioned by name; one who is somewhat essential to the story and the other, the main source of the lies, is only named in passing. We also find that when the Prophet stood on the pulpit in his mosque and addressed his Companions regarding the allegations, he refers to the source of the lies simply as “a man”. The anonymity of those who spread the lie was maintained to the point that even modern hadith scholars disagree as to who exactly was punished.
Furthermore, probably the most astounding thing we see is the behaviour of Abu Bakr, the father of Aisha, during the turmoil. One of the accusers was Abu Bakr’s first cousin once removed. He was a poor man, and Abu Bakr provided him with aid. While his daughter was actively being slandered, Abu Bakr continued providing for his relative fully aware of his role in the matter. Even when the accuser’s own mother cursed her son, Abu Bakr continued to financially support him. It was only when Aisha’s innocence was revealed by God that Abu Bakr swore to end his charity. However even then, upon revelation of the verse, “Let not those of means amongst you swear that they will not give to their relatives, the poor, and those who leave their homes in the service of God. They should forgive and overlook [their failings]. Would you not like God to forgive you?” [24:22], Abu Bakr resumed his aid, saying, “Yes, by God, I wish that God should forgive me”, and, “By God, I will never withhold it from him ever”.

The Case of Yemen

Even in modern times, we find amazing examples of “responding with the better deed”. In parts of Yemen once under communist control, Islamic scholars were silenced with threats, abducted, and even killed, sometimes publicly. The collapse of the USSR brought with it the fall of communism in the region, and religious scholars returned to the vanguard of traditional society. Their return, however, did not usher in of a wave of bitter reprisals for abducted fathers and murdered uncles. Not one scholar used their position of influence to seek revenge on those who had ransacked their homes and evicted their families. Those previously aligned with the oppressive party found that the scholars did not expose them as wrongdoers, and instead encouraged their repentance and return to sound behaviour and faith. The pious scholars, like the pious of the Muslims before them, busied themselves with God’s words, “Indeed, God orders justice, good conduct, and giving to relatives, and forbids immorality, bad conduct, and oppression” [16:90], and their trust was with his verses, “Whosoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [99:7-8].

Allah Takes Care of It All

We have been blessed with a religion so complete that we can always find guidance, and a God so merciful that we are never left forsaken. Many scholars state that one of the reasons our Prophet Muhammad endured so many hardships in life was to provide us with a sound example to guide us in our own tribulations. As followers of the Prophet, we cannot let scandals and acts of oppression cause us to forget the moral standards we strive to live by. We are to remember that our God is merciful, and no injustice goes unpunished, be it in this world or in the next.
When we seek justice, we do so for all creation, but without crossing the lines defined by the religious law. We cannot take matters into our own hands in acts of anarchism. We have no rights over any other person’s property. Slander, back-biting, and vilification are all strictly prohibited by our Lord. If justice escapes us, we should remind ourselves that true justice takes place in the hereafter.
As Muslims, we are ordered to do good, but God continuously encourages and calls us to excellence. In acts of obedience and in acts of wrongdoing, we are reminded by the words of our Prophet, “God the almighty is good and accepts only that which is good”.

Resources for Seekers

Amjad Sabri’s death: Yearning for God till his Last Breath

The world is mourning the passing of one of Pakistan’s most beloved devotional (qawwali) singers. Amjad Sabri was gunned down in Karachi, allegedly by extremists who accused him of blasphemy. Shortly after his death, the video of his last televised performance went viral (watch above).

Dr Bano Murtaja has kindly translated the lyrics:

O one of the green dome, accept my request
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
O Noor e Khuda, embed yourself in my eyes
Or call me to your doorstep, or come into my dreams
O veiled one, remain in the veil of my heart
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
O one of the green dome, accept my request
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
When in the darkness of my grave, I fear
Come to my aid, my master
illuminate my grave O Noor e Khuda
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
O one of the green dome, accept my request

When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
I’m a criminal of every kind, on the day, keep my honour
Disillusioned with the world, envelope me in your succour
accept my words my Lord
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
O one of the green dome, accept my request
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
From his face the moon and stars took their splendour
From his doorstep, the afflicted and sad took healing
Only he knows how to heal every affliction every sadness
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
O one of the green dome, accept my request
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision
I have not seen more beautiful than the beloved of God
It is his station that even his shadow its not seen
God chose not to detach even his shadow
When my time is upon me, grant me (your) vision.
Amjad Sabri
Bestow your favor upon me, O Beloved of God, for God’s sake
O Prophet, let the bud of my hopes blossom now
I am a pauper at your door, here to seek alms
Fill my bag, O Muhammad
I will not go back empty-handed
“Bhar Do Jholi”

Resources on who Amjad Sabri was and what he represented

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Gay Muslims; Scholars Issue Statement

“We, as American Muslims, follow the openhearted and inclusive Islam of Muhammad Ali and completely reject the hatred, provincialism, and intolerance of those who trample upon the rights of others, besmirching and defiling the name of Islam.”

On June 13, 2016, Muslim leaders across North America signed the Orlando Statement. Signatories include, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
You can read the statement, in full, at the Orlando Statement website.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf gave a brief interview addressing several difficult issues. We reproduce it below with thanks to CNN.

Q: There have been many statements from Muslims condemning terrorism. Why issue another one?
A: Muslims are constantly being accused of not condemning these types of attacks, even though I don’t have any control over what other people do, and they don’t represent me or my faith. Nobody associates all Seventh-day Adventists with David Koresh, who belonged to a splinter sect, or all of Judaism with Meir Kahane. But when these things happen, the whole religion of Islam is besmirched. We’re trapped in this constant cycle of: events, condemnation; events, condemnation. And then people still say, “Why don’t Muslims condemn these things?”
Q: What do you make of Donald Trump’s speech about Islam and terrorism on Monday?
A: He’s playing a dangerous game, and a lot of lives are threatened by that type of saber-rattling. We’re in an extremely volatile situation and social media has introduced an unprecedented element that we don’t fully understand.
Q: Trump and President Obama are arguing over whether to label attacks like the Orlando shooting “radical Islam.”
A: When a man wrote a political screed against the IRS and flew into its building, he was deemed mentally ill, even though it was clearly a political act. There’s a double standard, which is: If his name is Muhammad, it’s automatically terrorism. This man (Omar Mateen) wasn’t a radical Islamist. To drink or go to gay bars, or any kind of bar, is prohibited in Islam. He seemed to be a nominal Muslim. He went to mosques on occasion but I don’t see a lot of devotion there.
Q: What about the gay community and gay Muslims who may feel ostracized from mainstream Islam?
A: As we say in the Orlando statement, we are committed to Abrahamic morality, but it should not to be imposed on others. America is about choices, including those to live certain lifestyles. There’s a statement in the Quran: There should be “absolutely no compulsion in religion.”
Q: What about gay Muslims, though?
A: Look, I don’t have the power to issue papal decrees. We don’t have that type of structure in our tradition. But I have studied the tradition, and the vast majority of Muslims would never accept the lawfulness of an active homosexual lifestyle. I don’t see that happening. But there is also no authority in the tradition for any individual to take things into his own hands and impose their version of the religion on someone else.
Q: Why can’t Muslim teachings on homosexuality change? Is it because the Quran, which is considered the inerrant word of God, condemns it?
A: The Quran is pretty explicit in its condemnation of the act, and we have a long tradition of jurisprudence that defines it as unlawful. But there were also fatwas permitting people who had those attractions to relieve themselves so they wouldn’t fall into active engagement. There’s an awareness that this is a real human urge. I definitely have sympathy for people who are struggling. I’ve met with young Muslims who have told me about their struggles. But I’m not sure they want our sympathies; they want full recognition of their lifestyle, and my religion tells me that I can’t accept that. But I can’t — and won’t — impose my beliefs on others, either verbally or otherwise. I’m not going to judge people.
Q: What do you say when gay Muslims tell you about their struggles?
A: I say that I’m not going to deny your experience but my recommendation is not to actively engage in behavior outside of what is permitted in the religion. I know that people can live celibate lives, I did it myself for many years.
Q: The punishment for homosexuality in some schools of Islamic jurisprudence can be quite harsh.
A: There’s no specific punishment in the books of fiqh (Islamic laws) that relate to homosexuality per se. They apply to any illicit sexual relations, including prohibited heterosexual acts like adultery. And the punishments are strong, but they are legal fictions because they are impossible to prove. You need four witnesses to say they witnessed (sexual) penetration. In what circumstances are you going to find someone to testify to that?
Q: A lot of Muslims have lamented that the feelings of goodwill after Muhammad Ali’s funeral quickly dissipated after the Orlando shooting. You were at Ali’s memorial. What was that like?
A: Dr. Sherman Jackson said it best: Muhammad Ali put an end to the idea that you can’t be an American and a Muslim. We were all feeling that last week. The memorial was all planned by Muhammad Ali himself, and I was impressed by how much his faith was highlighted, even by people of other traditions. The spirit of love that embodied the city of Louisville for two days was overwhelming. Everyone was smiling and hugging. It felt like such a breakthrough for our community … and then, Orlando. We went from the incredible pathos of joy to the bathos of despair. It’s one step forward, two steps back.
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"Stop Cherry-Picking From Islamic Texts To Justify Hatred"

SeekersHub seminars are unmissable. Broadcast live from Toronto, anyone, anywhere can log in and benefit. To receive a reminder before the next seminar on Refuting Radicalism, register your interest today.
In the meantime, watch a brief teaser of what’s in store. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani speaks unequivocally on the dangers of cherry-picking hadiths and verses of the Qur’an to further an understanding that goes against the spirit of Islam.

Remember to register to take a course with SeekersHub online academy. There are over 30 brilliant ones on offer and no one is turned away for lack of funds.

Resources on ISIS and related issues for seekers:

The Modern Extremists – Who Are They? What Are The Consequences?

Who are the modern extremists and are they a recent phenomenon? How can we understand them and their motivations? And what are the utterly devastating consequences of their words and actions?
Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari, Director of the Ihsan Institute, gives a detailed and engaging explanation at this event hosted by SimplyIslam of Singapore.

Send Your Zakat To Besieged Scholars of Sacred Knowledge

Did you know SeekersHub actively provides financial support to traditional scholars whose lives – and ability to teach, have been utterly devasted or disrupted by the acts of violent extremists? These scholars are zakat-eligible – contribute your zakat today and earn the rewards from these noble efforts.

sh_saadShaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al-Azhari is the Founder and Director of the Ihsan Institute of Arabic & Islamic Studies (United Kingdom). He was born into a family of scholars whose lineage goes back to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and became a master of the Qur’an at a very young age. Shaykh Ahmed was the SeekersHub Ramadan Scholar in Residence in 2015 and much of the content can be found on the SeekersHub archives.

Resources for Seekers:

Modern Day Khawarij: Dissociate Yourself from them! – Dr. Hamid Slimi

Imam Hamid SlimiA khutbah delivered by Dr. Hamid Slimi, of the Sayeda Khadija Center, Canada, stressing on understanding the similarities and common ideas between the historical khawarij/kharijites (secessionists) and today’s new groups that claim to do things on behalf of Islam including breaking the laws of the countries where they live or visit, killing innocent people – Muslim and non-Muslim – as well as doing takfir (excommunicating Muslims from their faith). The message here is loud and clear: learn who we are dealing with and dissociate yourself and your families and loved ones from such people and such dangerous ideologies.


Resources for Seekers:

“The Way of Safety” – Responding to the Attacks in Tunisia, France & Kuwait

You’re listening to an extract of a Jummah khutbah by Shaykh Ahmed Sa’ad Al Azhari – a distinguished master of the Qur’an and scholar in residence at Seekershub Toronto during Ramadan 2015. He offers prophetic (saw) guidance on responding to the recent attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait.

All SeekersHub programming during this blessed month is freely available at the Ramadan Hub. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Striking Necks: It Must Be the Kharijites!

hamza-yusuf.pngTo paraphrase an aphorism coined by a 20th century philosopher, those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them until they learn them.

The earliest strain of extremism in Islamic history emerged in the late 7th century with the Kharijites, a sect that scholars have said will continue until the end of the Ummah’s time. In other words, as long as there are Muslims, the pathology of extreme sectarianism and anathematization of fellow Muslims will persist in segments of the community.

It is imperative that the Muslim community, especially the youth, be made aware of the dangers inherent in extremism. To do this, we must understand the mentality of extremist sectarianism, its etiology, and its outward signs and symptoms, which will help us to counter it when confronted by it. The most problematic aspect of the Kharijites and their ilk is that they are often cloaked in religiosity and may even exhibit intense devotional practices, especially prayer, Qur’an memorization, and its recitation. This display of puritanical piety often leads many Muslims to deem them rightly guided.

Below is a translation of a narration given by Imam al-Dhahabi, in his magisterial Biographies of Noble Notables (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’), concerning Wahab b. Munabbih’s insights into the pathology of sectarianism and its degenerative effects if left unchecked.

Wahab b. Munabbih was a Yemeni scholar and transmitter of hadith. He is sometimes described in the biographical literature as a Jewish convert to Islam due to his vast knowledge of the Torah and Talmudic stories, but other scholars mention that he was actually of mixed descent, his father being a Persian aristocrat and his mother a Himyarite Yemeni, though not Jewish. In any case, he was born during the Caliph ‘Uthman’s reign, in year 34 after Hijrah. Wahab b. Munabbih was a student of several notable companions, including Ibn ‘Abbas and Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah, from whom he narrates one of the earliest hadith collections.

The vast majority of hadith scholars considered Wahab b. Munabbih a sound narrator: both imams al-Bukhari and Muslim narrate his transmissions. Imam al-Nasa’i, who has some of the strictest requisites for narrating hadith, considers him absolutely reliable. Ibn Hajar said that Wahab b. Munabbih was “trustworthy” (thiqah). Unfortunately of late, he has come under attack from some modern redactors of Islam because he narrated what are known as Isra’iliyat or Jewish stories, and they accuse him of introducing unsound Jewish traditions into Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir). These attacks are in spite of the Prophet’s permission to “Relate the stories of the people of the Bible, but neither assert nor negate their veracity.” (It is permitted to use our own sources to assert or negate them; scholars negate them if they clearly contradict our sources, especially those narrations that put prophets in a bad light, such as the story of Bathsheba and Uriah with David, or that of Noah and his daughters).

The following story illustrates the dangers of sectarian pathology in the social body of Islam and why it is imperative that scholars and advanced students of knowledge warn simple believers, especially those among the youth who may fall prey to such seductively simplistic yet ultimately destructive distortions of Islam.

Imam al-Dhahabi relates the following in his section on Wahab b. Munabbih in his work, Biographies of Noble Notables (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’):

Dawud ibn Qays narrates the following story about Wahab b. Munabbih:

I had a friend who was called Abu Shamir Dhu Khawlan. I departed from Sana’a to visit him in his village. As I approached his village, I stumbled upon a letter addressed to Abu Shamir. Upon my arrival, I found him disconsolate and depressed. When I inquired as to why, he explained, “A postman from Sana’a came to deliver a letter from some friends I have there but confessed that he had lost it.”

“No worries, I found it!” I said.

He cried, “Praise be to Allah!” He then opened its seal and read it silently.

“Why don’t you read it to me?” I asked.

He replied, “I consider you a little too young.”

So I asked him, “What is in it?”

He said, “The striking of necks!”

I then said, “Maybe some people from among the Haruris [Kharijites] have written it.” 1

Nonplussed, he asked, “How did you know that?”

“Because my friends and I sit with Wahab b. Munabbih,” I replied, “and he always says to us, ‘Beware all of you young and inexperienced ones from these extremists: don’t you let them pull you into their deviant views. Indeed, they are an evil that has afflicted this Ummah.’”

At this point, Dhu Khawlan tossed the letter to me, and I read the following in it: “Peace be upon you. We praise Allah to you and counsel you to piety. Verily, the religion of Allah is discrimination and guidance. Surely this religion is obedience to Allah and disobedience to whoever disobeys the way of His Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him. When our letter arrives, ponder deeply, in sha Allah, whom you fulfill your zakat obligation through. By doing so, you will earn a close place with Allah and the protection of His allies” [i.e. the Kharijites].

I then said to him, “I prohibit you from associating with them.”

To this, he replied, “Tell me why I should follow your opinion and abandon one from those older than you.”

I then suggested to him, “How about if I take you for an audience with Wahab so that you can hear his counsel?”

He agreed, so we set out for Sana’a, and I took him to Wahab b. Munabbih. At that time, Mas’ud b. ‘Auf was the governor of Yemen appointed by ‘Urwah b. Muhammad. When we arrived, we found a group of people sitting with Wahab. One of them said, “Who is this elder with you?”

I said, “He has a problem that needs addressing.”

The group stood up, and Wahab said, “What is your need, Dhu Khawlan?” 2

On hearing his name [from one he had never met], he was rendered mute from fright. Wahab turned to me and said, “Speak on his behalf.”

I said, “He is a man of Qur’an and virtue, as far as I know, but Allah knows his inner state. He told me that some Kharijites had appealed to him and said that his poor-tax paid to the rulers was invalid because they do not distribute it to its rightful recipients. They said to him it was valid only if paid to them. Given that, I thought it appropriate to bring him to you, O Abu ‘Abd Allah Wahab b. Munabbih, knowing that your words would have more of a healing effect on him than mine.”

At this, Wahab said to Dhu Khawlan,

Is it your wont to become an extremist at this late age of yours, Dhu Khawlan? Do you want to testify that those better than you are astray? Tell me, what will you say to Allah tomorrow when He has you stand on the Day of Judgment with those you have condemned as disbelievers? Allah testifies to their belief, and yet you claim they are disbelievers! Allah declares they are guided, and yet you claim they are astray! Where will you end up if your opinion contradicts Allah’s decree and your testimony belies His testimony? Tell me, Dhu Khawlan, what are these extremists saying to you?

Now able to speak, Dhu Khawlan said to Wahab, “They demand that I give charity only to those who follow their opinion and that I should ask forgiveness for them alone.”

Wahab responded:

Yes, what you say is correct: this is their calamitous, deceitful sedition. As for their claim about charity, it reached me that the Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, said that a woman from Yemen was punished for locking up a cat [and starving it to death].

Is a human being who is free of idolatry and worships Allah declaring His oneness closer to Allah or is that cat? Isn’t this person who worships Allah free of idolatry more worthy to be relieved of his hunger than that cat? Allah says, “They give food out of love of Allah to the destitute, the orphan, and the prisoner.” As for their saying that none should seek forgiveness for others except for those who are like him, are they better or the angels? About the angels, Allah says, “They ask forgiveness for whoever is in the earth.” By Allah, the angels are doing only what Allah commanded them to do, as He tells us, “They don’t do anything before they hear the word from Allah, and they do what they are told to do.” It has been made clear in the verse, “They ask forgiveness for those who believe.

Dhu Khawlan, I saw the beginning of Islam. By Allah, this group of Kharijites and all others like them did not appear except that Allah scattered them due to the evil of their states. And none of them puts forward their opinions except that eventually Allah destroys him. Had Allah allowed their views to spread and flourish, corruption would fill the earth, and you would see no security on the roads or even for those on the Hajj, and this religion of Islam would become an ignorant and zealous affair (jahiliyyah). And then every group will declare their caliphate, each one fighting the other. Every group of ten thousand will fight all the others, each group accusing the others of disbelief, until the believer is afraid for his life, his religion, his blood, and his wealth and doesn’t know who to be with. Allah says, “Had not some protected others, the whole earth would be corrupt,” and “We will give victory to Our messengers and those who believe.” If they were true believers, they would be given victory, as Allah says, “Our soldiers will have victory.

Dhu Khawlan, does not Noah’s response to the idolaters of his time suffice you in responding to these extreme Muslims today? The idolaters challenged him about the believers following him, saying, “Should we believe like these lowly outcasts believe?” [Noah merely responded, “And what knowledge have I of what they did? Their reckoning is only with Allah, and I am not going to drive away the believers. I am but a plain warner.”] 3

Dhu Khawlan then said, “What do you tell me I should do?”

Wahab replied, “Give your zakat to those who Allah has put over us. Dominion is Allah’s alone. It is in His hand, and He gives it to whomever He pleases. If you give it to whoever is in charge, you are absolved of your obligation. If anything remains, give it to your next of kin, those in your employ, your neighbors, and your guests.”

At this point, Dhu Khawlan declared, “Bear witness all of you that I no longer follow the deviant opinions of the extremists!” 4

It is worth pondering the lesson of this story from the early years of Islamic history, given that history does indeed repeat itself, and once again we are faced with a strain of extremism first embodied by the Kharijites. Wahab b. Munabbih’s remarkable concluding statement should be a reminder to many modern Muslims, especially the extremists, who have lost sight of this truth: “Dominion is Allah’s alone. It is in His Hand, and He gives it to whomever He pleases.

When Muslims prove themselves worthy of being caretakers of power through moral rectitude, Allah will restore once again our glory, but as long as we are in the inglorious condition that we find ourselves in, the destructive and corrupting danger of power is best kept from us. Many of the Prophets in the Qur’an were oppressed, but they were always exemplary in their response to oppression. Imam al-Ghazali, who witnessed the collapse of the Seljuk state and the advent of civil strife during that period after the assassination of Malikshah, knew that states collapse but that the righteous man, if purified and protected, does not collapse. Politics invariably fails us, but piety never fails us. “And whoever is pious, Allah will prepare for him a way out and provide for him from where he least expects.” Imam al-Ghazali then set out to record a roadmap for the traveller who lives in this world of instability and uncertainty. That roadmap is always available – in times of light and in times of darkness. It begins with knowledge and ends with death.

  1. The Haruris were Kharijites from Harura’ near Kufa in Iraq. They are the very first innovators in Islamic tradition, and this was their base. When they opposed Imam ‘Ali, their headquarters was in Harura’, and so they came to be known as Haruriyyah. It is essentially synonymous with Kharijite or extremist. In a sound hadith, ‘A’ishah was asked why women have to make up fasting from menstruation but not prayers. She replied, “Are you a Haruriyyah?” It is interesting to note that upon merely hearing his cryptic phrase “the striking of necks,” Dawud b. Qays suspected that it was from the Kharijites.
  2. Wahab knew the man’s name without previously knowing him or being told his name, which frightened the man leaving him unable to speak. This is known as kashf and can occur among the deeply righteous whereby they know something that is not possible for them to know by ordinary means. Usually the righteous hide this gift, but sometimes it is necessary for them to reveal it, as it can help their words to penetrate the heart of the one they are trying to guide. I have witnessed this many times with my own teachers, so it does not strike me as contrived, which is generally how orientalists, unfamiliar with this phenomenon, view such narrations. Kashf can also occur without the one at whose hands it occurs being aware of it, but the one hearing it will know clearly that Allah inspired that person. This is due to the veil that many of the righteous have concerning their own state with Allah.
  3. Wahab knew this man was a man of Qur’an, so he quoted only the first part of the story. The verses are in the chapter entitled “The Poets.” The disbelievers challenged Noah, peace be upon him, concerning those who followed him, saying they were lowly and insignificant people, so why should they, in their stature, follow along with these lowly ones? Noah’s reply is what Wahab is telling this man to follow – that it is not our business to judge people who follow or claim to follow prophets. Allah will judge them. In judging them ourselves, we will end up driving away true believers, which is exactly what the Kharijites and their ilk among fanatical and sectarian Muslims do to other Muslims: they drive them out of Islam.
  4. Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, Volume 4, 554-557.

By Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, originally published on Sandala.


Resources for Seekers:

Leading Islamic Scholar’s Detailed Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and All Forms of Terrorism – Shaykh Tahir Qadri

Islamic Library – Islamic Law > Fatwa: Suicide Bombing and Terrorism
Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri Fatwa: Suicide Bombing and Terrorism Islamic Law
A torturous spate of terrorism that continues unabated for last many years has brought Muslim Umma in general and Pakistan in particular into disrepute. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Muslims on the whole oppose and condemn terrorism in unequivocal terms and are not ready to accept it even as remotely related to Islam in any manner. However, a negligible minority amongst them seems to give it a tacit support. Instead of openly opposing and condemning terrorism, these people confuse the entire subject by resorting to misleading and perplexing discussions. Injustice being currently meted out to the Muslims in certain matters, double standards displayed by bigger powers and their open-ended and long-term military engagements in a number of countries, under the pretext of eliminating terror, form some of the fundamental local, national and international causes that underpin terrorism, and add a punch to the war cry of militants.
Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
Similarly, the terrorists’ recourse to violence, indiscriminate massacre of humanity, suicide bombings against innocent and peaceful people, and bomb blasts on Mosques, shrines, educational institutions, Bazaars, governmental buildings, trade centres, markets, security installations, and other public places, which are heinous, anti-human and barbarous steps in their very essence, have become a routine affair. These people justify their actions of human destruction and mass killing of hundreds of innocent people in the name of Jihad and thus distort, deform and confuse the entire Islamic concept of Jihad (holy struggle against evil). This situation is causing Muslims in general and the Muslim youth in particular to fall prey to doubts and reservations besides muddling their minds in respect of Jihad because those perpetrating these atrocities are from amongst Muslims. They practice Islamic rituals, perform acts of worship and wear appearance delineated in Sharia. This has put not only the common Muslims but a dominating majority of religious scholars and intellectuals too into a paradox, bewildered to know truly the exact and precise Islamic injunctions about the way of workings, methods and measures these individuals and groups have adopted to cause the havoc.

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