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Qur’an and the Arabic Language – Shaykh Ali Hani

As part of our Helpers program, Ahmad Ariffin interviewed Shaykh Ali Hani on seeking knowledge, the sciences of the Qur’an and the Arabic language, and their importance in today’s world.

 

Shaykh Ali Hani is a leading scholar of Arabic and Tafsir from Jordan. He has dedicated his life to Quran from a young age. He has memorized the Holy Qur’an and studied the Ten Canonical Recitations and studied Tafsir .He is also one of the experts in the Arabic language of our time. He graduated from the University of Jordan specializing in Tafsir from the Faculty of Islamic Principles. Under his tutelage, many of his students became scholars of the language and are now teaching it around the globe.

His Teachers

He studied from many scholars but there are few of them have a lasting effect on him. He memorized the Qur’an under the guidance of Shaykh. Abu Ayman and completed the memorization in two years. One of the things that Shaykh Abu Ayman taught him is that knowledge is fear.It means the more knowledge you gained the more fearful of you towards Allah Most high.

He also completed the reading of the Qur’an by the way of Imam Hafs under the tutelage of Shaykh Abu Yasir and he mastered the Seven Canonical Recitations under the guidance of Shaykh Mahmood al-Uraydhi.

At the University of Jordan, Shaykh Ali studied with Shaykh Fadl Abbas. After he completed his degree he traveled to Yemen at the city of Sana. He studied the Arabic language and its brances with Shaykh Qasim Bahr. A story that Shaykh Ali shared on Shaykh Qasim was that Shaykh Qasim would reject when a student gave him money and instead the Shaykh would give the students money for their daily usage and that Shaykh Qasim was a very humble man.

Shaykh Ali then made his way to tarim and learned from the scholars in Rubat Tarim. He also receive guidance from other scholars such as Shaykh Abu Bakar Belfaqih, Shaykh Abdullah al-Mehdhor, Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Shinqiti and many more.

The Importance of studying Qur’anic Tafsir and the Arabic language

In the modern world that we are living in, Tafsir and Arabic language are very important for Muslims to know. With the uprising of the orientalist movement and atheism, more people are joining them and supporting them. We, as Muslims, ought to seek refuge from the movements and the way to seek refuge is by learning. To learn the Islamic sciences we need to learn the Arabic language as it is the key to understanding the sciences and their texts. Language is the bridge between our mind and the author’s mind particularly when you are reading the classic texts. Without language you would not be able to fully derive what the authors want for you. The most important reason why you need to study Arabic is that the Qur’an is in Arabic. Without knowing Arabic, you would not be able to fully indulge in the beauty of the Qur’an and you would not comprehend the inimitabililty of the Holy Qur’an. Although we have the translated version of the Qur’an in different languages, the true beauty of the Quran is in its pure language which is the Arabic language.

As for studying Tafsir, its importance comes into play when you want to further understand the Quran and the context of why it was sent down and to whom and the deeper meaning of the Ayat. Tafsir is also important to rebut the claims of those who tries to demean the great status of the Holy Qur’an and Islam. By learning Tafsir we are also learning the Qur’an. Also, the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him, said in one of the narrations: “The best among you are those who learn the Qur‘an and teach it.”

Shaykh Ali’s Advice for  Seekers of Knowledge

  1. To follow the footsteps of the past scholars in seeking sacred knowledge which is to read the basics of that branch of Islamic science and and to be expert in it before reading more advanced books.
  2. To teach what you know as this will help your memory and will make it stronger.
  3. To buy books for references as buying books is considered half of the knowledge itself.
  4. To be humble always with your teachers and to accompany them as often as possible as this will invite blessing and divine openings.
  5. To read both classical and contemporary texts and never abandon one of them.
  6. To put great importance in seeking scholars who has chains of narrations in his path of seeking.

 


 

Shaykh Jamir Meah on Science and the Qur’an

Shaykh Jamir Meah recently answered a host of questions on seeming contradictions between science and the Qur’an. It is so good it needed to be featured here.

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I have had a lot of questions about some claimed scientific mistakes in the Qur’an that I haven’t had any answers too (or any good answers to). I would like for you to have patience with me, since I have a lot of questions that have been bothering me.

    1. 1. In the verse, يخرج من بين الصلب والترائب (

Sura al-Tariq 86:7

    1. ) I haven’t seen a good explanation that doesn’t feel forced or تكلف that explains the verse, which is against what is seen.
    1. 2. The hadith of the “tail bone” (عجب الذنب), I want references from credible scientific sources that this bone doesn’t go away and it is where the human is created or any explanation as to how is this hadith can be interpreted.
    1. 3. The verse of وحلائل ابنائكم الذين من اصلابكم (

Sura al-Nisa 4:23

    1. ) and واذ اخذ ربك من بني آدم من ظهورهم ذريتهم. (

Sura al-A‘raf 7:172

    1. ) I want an explanation for how can this reconcile with what is known. How is it that children are from the back?
    1. 4. It is known (and correct me if I am wrong) that circumcision for young ladies is permissible and some say it is good. This leads to a weird contradiction, since the Qur’an and Sunna never asks us to do anything that harms us, but there is a whole movement trying to stop it for young ladies, since it harmful.
    1. 5. I also wanted to ask about cousin marriages, and how is it permissible as scientifically it is may be more harmful?
    1. 6. There is a sahih hadith that says a woman has a role in the gender of the child, which is مَاءُ الرَّجُلِ أَبْيَضُ، وَمَاءُ الْمَرْأَةِ أَصْفَرُ ، فَإِذَا اجْتَمَعَا ، فَعَلَا مَنِيُّ الرَّجُلِ مَنِيَّ الْمَرْأَةِ ، أَذْكَرَا بِإِذْنِ اللهِ ، وَإِذَا عَلَا مَنِيُّ الْمَرْأَةِ مَنِيَّ الرَّجُلِ ، آنَثَا بِإِذْنِ اللهِ . ً(Muslim) What is the correct interpretation for this hadith?
    1. 7. Last thing is the verse, ومن كل شيء خلقنا زوجين. (

Sura al-Dhariya 51:49

    ) What is the correct interpretation for this ayat?

May Allah help you and help me, and may you help me to reach clarity and strong faith.

Thank you.

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Thank you for your questions. I have answered them in order below.

Questions 1-3: Qur’an and Science

I am unable to provide scientific proofs to your questions as I am not a scientist. However, please note the following points in regards this set of questions:

A. There is a lot of literature out there which discuss scientific facts found in the Quran. While it is true that the Quran does indeed contain scientific miracles and will I’m sure continue to shed light on numerous facts about our universe, much of the information written on this subject is unfortunately often poorly researched.

Therefore, Muslims who do not have both a solid understanding of the Qur’an; it’s language and exegesis, alongside a firm understanding of the relevant branches of modern sciences, should avoid too much discussion on these aspects of the Qur’an. The most important matters in the Qur’an that man needs to know and hold onto have been made clear, while other verses are not so clear to the laymen, and should not be delved into by the unqualified, for Allah Most High tells us in regards some verses, “What does Allah mean by such a parable? Through this He leaves many to stray, and guides many.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:26)

B. The Qur’an is not a scientific book, it is the Divine Speech of God, which contains guidance for man to fulfill his earthly needs and attain to eternal salvation, and a warning of what awaits those who transgress. Unless for general interest or scholarly specialization, one should focus on these aspects of the Qur’an and attaching ones’ heart to Allah and his Messenger, as ultimately, this is what matters and the point of the guidance.

C. The Qur’an has an endless depth of meaning. This is one of the Miracles of the Qur’an. Because it is the eternal Speech of God, it indicates to some of the eternal knowledge of God, which is limitless. No one will ever fully encompass its full meanings, but new meanings become apparent over time, and occur to people of varying abilities and insight. However, it’s meanings never change, and its inward meanings do not contradict its outward implications.

D. When the Qur’an mentions facts about the created universe, it is often implicit and indicative to these facts, and not usually explicit or apparent immediately.

E. The universe is still mainly undiscovered territory. What science knows now maybe different tomorrow. It is a tool for discovering facts, not the fact itself, therefore it is subject to change as new facts become undisclosed. It cannot be relied upon as the standard to measure the absolute truth. The first thing we learnt from even our basic science texts at school is that in science, “no theory is accepted as absolute truth.”

F. Despite science and modern medicine making immense advancements in the understanding of human anatomy and physiology, it is by no means complete knowledge. Moreover, in regards the human being as a whole, such as psychologically and spiritually, and how this connects to the physical, modern science’s understanding of these are deeply inadequate and relies on various assumptions and theories. The interconnection between the somatic and non-somatic levels of the human being are only now being explored and new ways in how we view and study the human body are being discovered.

G. In regards the hadith, “There is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone; the little bone at the end of the coccyx of which the human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari) It actually doesn’t matter whether this bone decomposes or not, as the hadith does not explicitly state that the whole bone does not decompose, nor delineate what is meant by “tail bone.”

Therefore, it is valid to state that what the hadith could be referring to is that even the tiniest part of the tail bone does not decompose, as a part is necessarily a part of the whole, so one may use the whole to describe the part. Thus, even if the smallest part of the tail bone is left intact, perhaps even extending to the molecular or atomic level, then this suffices to make the statement true, as is supported by the hadith, when asked about the tailbone, he, peace and blessings be upon him, replied, “[It is] like a grain of mustard.’ (Ahmad)

Furthermore, there is a difference of opinion on how humans will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement. One opinion is that we will be assembled and resurrected from all our scattered remains. Another opinion holds that when the trumpet blows all our parts and remnants will be utterly annihilated and taken out of existence, except whatever remains of the “tail bone” (even if nanoscopic), and then we will be created again, almost ex-nihilo, similar to how we were created the first time. (Sharh al-Kharida al-Bahiyya)

H. Know that Allah Most High is the Creator of all things, and this includes natural laws and normative relationships of cause and effect. If He so willed, He could turn these laws and relations on their heads or create entirely different laws. Therefore, when Allah Most High informs us that He bought forth the children of Adam from their “backs” it is irrelevant whether this coincides with the ordinary manner that we observe the reproduction system to work or different to it, as Allah Most High has power over all things and may do as He pleases. Secondly, most reliable translators translate the words “min dhuhurim” “from their backs” as “from their loins,” in which case, there is no contradiction between these words and what is normally observed in this life.

Question 4: Female Circumcision

Female circumcision is mentioned in various narrations, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a woman who circumcised females, “Do not go to the extreme in cutting; that is better for the woman.” (Abu Dawud) The Mujtahid Imams differed on its rulings; some holding it obligatory, others recommended, and others still, considered it good etiquette.

I specifically quoted the hadith above, because it contains a warning; “Do not go to extremes” and this is the important point. Proper female circumcision consists of removing a tiny flake or shaving of skin from the hood of the clitoris, nothing more. This is what is described in our fiqh books. Advanced hospitals in the UAE perform this very well.

It does not in any way consist of excess skin or flesh being removed, harm to the woman, mutilation of any kind, or anything else that interferes with or diminishes the functioning of the genital area.

The whole point of correct female circumcision is increased hygiene and sexual pleasure for the woman. This is obviously not achieved by the malpractice we have just mentioned, but rather the opposite occurs.

Unfortunately, in many cultural practices of female circumcision this is what happens, and in this we wholeheartedly agree with those who speak out about such practices, while at the same time, we uphold the correct and Shari‘a-defined female circumcision we have outlined above. This is certainly an area which needs serious addressing and educating.

Question 5: Cousin Marriages

There is nothing wrong with cousins marrying one another, and the possibilities of any defect occurring is not significant unless the cousins in question are from generations of cousin marriages or they have genetic defects themselves. Cousin-marriage is permitted in Islam, Judaism, and has been within Christianity at various periods of time, or still is depending on the Christian denomination.

What has been observed by medical scientists as a significant concern is the repeated marrying of first cousins, generation after generation, due to the increased chances of sharing recessive traits. In these cases, the Shari‘a ruling would also be that it is not recommended to do so.

Question 6: Gender

The gender of the child can depend on many factors, among them the manner of fluid exchange during intercourse, which is what is mentioned in the hadith, “Man’s discharge is thick and white and the discharge of woman is thin and yellow, so the resemblance comes from the one whose water prevails or dominate.” (Muslim)

Imam al-Nawawi mentions that the scholars have explained prevailing or dominant to mean here either the one who emits first, or the one whose discharge is more plentiful and stronger in relation to whose desire was stronger. (Sharh Muslim)

Question 7: Duality in Creation

The verse, “And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect,” (Sura al-Dhariya 51:49) means that creation has been created in two types or two kinds, such as the land and sea, night and day, the sun and moon, sweetness and bitterness, earth and sky, light and dark, male and female. Pairs are either opposites or similar.

These pairings point to one Creator, to His Power and Ability and that the one who is able to create them is able to recreate them at will and bring them together again, and that one may reflect that pairs and plurality belong to all things possible (mumkinat) while a necessary being (al-wajib bi dhat), namely God, does not accept plurality or division (Most of these arguments require further logical explanation). (al-Baydawi, al-Qurtubi, al-Wahidi, al-Tafsir al-Kabir)

A Word of Advice

Lastly, I would suggest you focus more on studying the broader aspects of religion, particularly aqida and tafsir. This will help you in your understanding. Unless one is firmly grounded in both their religious knowledge and the secular sciences, entering into discussions or answering other people’s questions on such topics such as science and religion (and many more subjects) can often do harm and turn people away, even if one’s intentions are good.

I pray the above provides sufficient guidance and clarification.

Warmest salams,

Jamir


 

The Revival of the Religious Sciences – Studying the Ihya

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is covering two books in the Ihya in his weekly live classes from SeekersHub Toronto:

Book 2: The Principles of Islamic Belief

Book 13: Earning a Living

These classes will deepen the understanding of key subject-areas for concerned seekers, from one of the greatest, most blessed, and most insightful works of the Islamic tradition and develop seekers’ understanding of Arabic, as the text will be read in Arabic, translated, and some key Arabic vocabulary and usage will be explained.
Click here to register

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About Ihya ulum al-din
Imam al-Ghazali’s masterwork The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya ‘ulum al-din) is an unrivalled sourcebook of Muslim spiritual wisdom. Practical rather than abstract, the compelling force of this text has changed millions of lives – and continues to do so today.

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad explains in the introduction to The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife: Book XL of The Revival of the Religious Sciences, ed. by T. J. Winter, Islamic Texts Society 1995:

Imam al-Ghazali (d.1111), known as the ‘Proof of Islam’, authored over a hundred books on all the Islamic scholarly disciplines.

Famed as a jurist, theologian and teacher at the Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad, he mastered the swirling intellectual currents of his day to articulate the importance and harmony of Islamic orthodoxy with compelling and renewed clarity.

This is most clear in the work for which he is most celebrated, The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din), a compendium of spiritual guidance which he wrote to revive the flagging fortunes of the Islamic world in his age.

Covering every aspect of the religion, from belief, to worship, to daily life, to vice, virtue, and the final encounter with God, this text is regarded as one of the masterpieces of world sacred literature.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answered a question in regards to Ihya ulum-al din:

The reason that the scholars and others paid so much attention to Ihya’ `Ulum id Din, ‘The Revival of the Religious Sciences’ by Imam Ghazali is because he (may Allah have mercy on him and be well pleased with him) explained the realities of Islam in the most stunning way and with the most subtle of discourse.

Imam Ghazali also explained the diseases of hearts that destroy one on the Day of Judgment and explained the ways the shaytan enters upon one and how one may cure this.

Importance of Imam al-Ghazali today – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Lessons from the Life of Imam al-Ghazali – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

1. al-Zabidi, Ithaf al-sada al-muttaqin (Cairo, 1311), I, 27.