Sūrah Al-Kahf (The Cave): The revelation of the Qur’ān as a gift to mankind

Sūrah Al-Kahf (The Cave): The revelation of the Qur’ān as a gift to mankind

In The Name of God, The Most Merciful, The Especially Merciful

“[All] praise is [due] to God , who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and allowed no crookedness in it.”

Indeed the book is a gift to The Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him) and a gift to the Mankind. As for being a gift to Him (Peace Be Upon Him), this is because through the book God (Exalted is He) has informed him of the secrets of the knowledge of Tawhīd (Oneness of God), His Tanzīh (transcendence), His Sifāt (attributes), the hidden states of the His angels, the Prophets, the meanings behind Qadhā and Qadar (Divine judgement and Predestination), the connection between the different heavens, the connection between this world and the world to come, the manner in which predestination descends from the unseen world, the manner in which the spiritual and material world are connected, and so forth. There can be no doubt that these matters are from the greatest gifts.

As for the book being a gift to Mankind, this is because it expounds upon matters relating to religious obligation, divine promise and chastisement, and reward and retribution. In summary, it is a complete book of the highest level such that everyone is able to pick from its tree, according to the strength of their intellect. Therefore, it is incumbent upon The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) and Mankind that they praise God (Exalted is He) for the gift of the Qur’ān.

And only God knows best.

Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and his conduct while teaching at Dārul Uloom Deoband

Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and his conduct while teaching at Dārul Uloom Deoband

Previously I had written about Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and the secret behind his popularity in Medina. (You can find it here: https://haroonsidat.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/maulana-husain-ahmad-madni-and-the-secret-behind-his-popularity-in-medina/)

Here are some of the qualities that are recorded by one of his old students, Maulānā Qāsim Ali Bijnauri when he was while teaching at Dārul Uloom Deoband:

  1. He was very particular about using appropriate terms of reverence whenever he was to mention some of the revered figures of Islamic history.
  2. He would furnish answers to all questions and problems raised by students even when the questions happened to be irrelevant to the subject under discussion. While responding to such questions he never lost temper. The objective was that the students should not hesitate to ask questions and must understand the subject in all its dimensions. This was a unique feature of his class, not found elsewhere.
  3. While teaching he behaved like an affectionate father and occasionally seasoned his lecture with humorous comments.
  4. All the students were totally attentive during his lecture.
  5. He always started teaching with clean body and used perfume.
  6. While teaching he would refer to his personal experiences in support of some traditions.
  7. Wherever there was need to quote some Arab writings he would cite numerous examples so that it would appear that he was reading from some books on Arab literature.
  8. When some art or science came in for discussion it appeared that he was the master of that art.

Besides, there were several other features that showed his spiritual accomplishments for which he communicated inspiration to listeners.

(Taken and adapted from Maulāna Bijnauri’s paper for a Jāmia Seminar)

Taking account of yourself

Taking account of yourself

Abu Ya’la Shaddād ibn Aws reported that the Prophet (May God bless him and grant him peace) said: “The intelligent man is the one who takes himself to account  and works for what will come after death. The foolish man is the one who follows his own whims and hopes that his desires will be gratified by God (Exalted is He).” [Tirmidhī]

It is reported from the Caliph Umar (May God be pleased with him): “Call yourself to account when you are in bliss before the reckoning of that severe Day, for whoever calls himself to account when he is in bliss will win the pleasure of God (Exalted is He) and achieve happiness, and whoever allows his life and desires to occupy all his attention and cause him to be negligent will be a regretful loser.”

An astute trader will continually take account of his business lest it should run into bankruptcy. He will strive to optimise profitability whilst reducing costs as far as possible.  As believers, we are encouraged to take account ourselves lest we should fall into ‘spiritual bankruptcy’. People of the earlier generations would sit and take account (Muhāsabah) before every prayer; thanking God (Exalted is He) for any good acts whilst seeking forgiveness for any misdemeanours. Given our modern lives, we ought to spend at least one moment a day (or before reclining to bed) taking account of our actions during the day. Making a habit of performing Muhāsabah can help put one in planning mode for the day ahead, and to remember that each day is a new opportunity to do better and make amends for the past.

And only God (Exalted is He) knows best.

The Arabic word for reflecting on one’s spiritual state and taking one’s deeds into account,Muhāsabah, is a word form that indicates and connotes duality (just as mujādala would mean an argument between two people, and mushāraka a partnership between two).  This implies that when one takes oneself into account, one should do so in an objective, thorough and just way, just as if one’s nafs (ego) is another person one is working to help improve and encourage towards good.

The connection between people’s possessions and their dignity

The connection between people’s possessions and their dignity

“Regarding property as sacred and inviolable does not protect human dignity; it diminishes it. It elevates material things above human dignity, above individual human rights.”

This is a continuation of an earlier post. You can find it here: https://haroonsidat.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/equality-and-the-sanctity-of-property-rights/

There is certainly a connection between people’s possessions and their dignity. That relation is an interesting one: it becomes stronger as the number of possessions diminishes. Christian teaching recognised that “the widow’s mite” surpasses the lavish contributions of the wealthy. People are more shocked by thefts from the poor than by thefts from the wealthy. They should be. Theft is a crime in both cases, but thefts from the poor are likely to do more harm. The lives of the poor are more precarious. A theft can mean the difference between eating and starving, getting to the hospital or not. Even less burdensome threats do more harm to the poor. The poor have less to lose, so each loss weighs more heavily. Dignity depends (though it should not) on maintaining appearances, on the ability to appear as one among equals, without making vulnerability or misfortune visible to any passerby. A rich person can replace a shirt or a tie or pair of shoes (or, for that matter, an insured yet or a yacht). Human dignity is never in question. The poor may struggle to replace a stolen jacket.

Regarding property as sacred and inviolable does not protect human dignity; it diminishes it. It elevates material things above human dignity, above individual human rights. Once slaveholders insisted on their sacred and inviolable right to their human “property.” That is now regarded as shocking and perverse, and no more shocking, than a defence of property that tolerates putting human dignity – and human lives – in danger. In altering the classical liberal understanding of property to elevate possessions above persons, we have distorted the meaning of liberalism.

Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and the secret behind his popularity in Medina

Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and the secret behind his popularity in Medina

Maulānā Husain Ahmad Madni and the secret behind his popularity in Medina

The answer to what made Maulāna rise from obscurantism to become one of the most popular teachers of Medina can be found from Najmuddin Islāhi’s observation. According to him, it rests on the following norms that the Maulānā observed:

  1. He never sought personal fame, respect or material benefit from his learning; his only objectives were the blessings of God (May He Be Exalted), spreading the message of Islām, expanding the area of knowledge, reducing the grip of ignorance and bringing the creation of God on the righteous path.
  2. Following the example of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) he showed filial affection for his students.
  3. He never charged any fee or material compensation from those he taught.
  4. He always advised students to observe purity of character and conduct and refrain from evil ways. About this he was so strict that he severely chastised if a student was found amiss in this respect.
  5. While imparting instruction he trimmed his lessons in accordance with the calibre and disposition of individual students.
  6. Carefully observed the dictum: “practice what you preach” so that nobody could point out any discordance in his word and deed.

from Seerat-e-Sheikh-ul-Islām.

Sūrah Al-Kahf: (Why Tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise)

Sūrah Al-Kahf: (Why Tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise)

Sūrah Al-Kahf (The Cave)

In The Name of God, The Most Merciful, The Especially Merciful

Ibn Abbās (May God be pleased with him) states that it is a Meccan Sūrah  except for two verses. It has been narrated that The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Should I not inform you of a Sūrah with which seventy thousand angels descended? This is Sūrah Al-Kahf.”

Tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise)

It should be clear that the word tasbīh (sanctification or purity) takes precedence over Tamhīd (praise).  For have you not heard it said: “Subhān’Allāh Wa’Alhamdolillāh (God is pure and all praise is due Him)”. Also, God (Exalted is He) mentions tasbīh when He informs us of al-Isrā (the Ascent to the heavens) as in His saying: “Pure is He who made his servant ascend at night…”   and when He informs us of the revelation of the Qur’ān He reminds us of its descent as in His saying: “All praise belongs to God who has sent down to His servant the Book…”.

There are a number of benefits in this:

  1. Tasbīh points to God (Exalted is He) being transcendent in anything unworthy being ascribed to Him; He is perfect in of Himself.  Tamhīd points to God (Exalted is He) being perfect in relation to every thing else. It is clear that perfection over Himself takes precedence over perfection in relation to everything else.  The Tasbīh is the place of inception and the Tamhīd is the station of fulfilment.  This alerts us to the fact that ascension is the first stage in the Prophets (Peace Be Upon Him) perfection and the revelation is the completeness in his perfection; the ascension here refers to acquisition of perfection whereas the descent refers to its completion. There is also an allusion that the highest station for a slave is for him to be aware of himself whilst being active in informing others. This is the meaning of the saying of The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him): “Whoever learns and and teaches others, will be called as the magnificent ones in the heavens.”
  2. The ascension is an expression of the elevation of The Messenger of God (Peace Be Upon Him) from below to a state of loftiness, whereas the revelation of the book upon him (Peace Be Upon Him) is an expression of the light of guidance on him. There can be no doubt that the latter is of greater significance.
  3. The response to the Mushabiha who claim that this Sūrah and the one before it is proof of God (Exalted is He) facing a direction has been refuted completely in Sūrah Al-A’rāf under verse fifty four.

Only God (Exalted is He) knows best

Summer Reading List 2015

Summer Reading List 2015

Bilal Ali Ansari

Upon several enquiries into what I’ve been reading this summer, I quickly put together a list of (i) what I have already read, (ii) what I am currently reading, and (iii) what I plan on reading before the end of the summer. This summer I am not teaching so I have been able to give more time to reading than normally my schedule can afford.

I have only included books that I am reading casually and have thus excluded reference works, hadith commentaries, tafsīr books, etc… that I am using for research purposes. Most the books will be read – or have been already – cover to cover, although some I may be reading only partially. One may notice the preponderance of English works. This year, for several reasons, I am doing much less Urdu and Arabic leisure reading. Descriptions for the books below are not my own.

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