Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gems in Divine Subtleties

Some gems I collected from various vereses of the Noble Qur'an based on several Tasawwuf texts. This is a taste of what is going to come, bi-Idhnillah.
1. ‘‘And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect’’[1]

[Ar: wa sakhara lakum ma fi al-samawaati wa ma fi al-ardhi jamee’am-minhu inna fee dhalika la-aayaatin-li qauwmiy-yatafakkaruwn]

Oh Man! You are the medium between the higher and lower worlds. Allah Most High has placed in you a soul from the highest realm, namely, the Ruh al-Insani illustrated in the verse ‘‘and I blew in him my soul’’ [wa nafakhtu feehi min ruhi][2] and created your body from the lowest world. The Divine purpose in this is that you realise your true station, that is, you embody the angelic realm and manifest all creation. In you is the reflection of creation thus you are the epitome of being. Your body belongs to the Universe as a part, yet the universe is not but a part of your inner self.

In the earlier scriptures Almighty Allah revealed: ‘‘Oh son of Adam! I created everything for you, and created you for myself. Do not occupy yourself with that which is for you over that which you were created for.’’

Oh Man! In you are qualities of all creation. You manifest the angelic qualities through intellect, worship, and recognition [ma’rifa]. You embody satanic attributes through disobedience, malice and rebelliousness as well as having beastly nature in the inner-self. Thus, You are like the lion in anger, the swine in lust, the dog in greed, and similar to the fox in cunning. You have the qualities of flora since your youth is fresh and colourful, and old age is dull and dry. You epitomise the heavens that are the centre of Divine secrets, illuminations and angels, and the earth that cultivates behaviour and embosses human nature- either easygoing in your disposition or harsh. You manifest the Heavenly Tablet [lauwh] that is the treasure of all knowledge, and the Throne [arsh] whose heart is the centre of theophany [tajalliy]. Heaven and hell are both in you; if your character is virtuous you will benefit your companion and if your character is blameworthy you will set him on fire.

Your essence is the microcosm [al-`alam al-sageer] of the macrocosm [al-`alam al-kabeer]. In you are summed the secrets of all worlds. If you keep your eyes fixed to the outside world, you will become ‘‘the lowest of the low’’ [asfala saafileen][3] so keep your vision towards the creator so you stay connected with the highest of all high.

You must step beyond the confines of your exO and walk into the boundlessness of the esO to recognize who you really are. You will remain with the worlds whence heedless of Allah, and when you enter the Divine presence [Hadrah Qudsiyah], the worlds will be with you. ‘‘Do they not ponder in themselves? Not but in truth and for a term appointed, did Allah create the heavens and the earth’’[4] Do not be heedless of the subtle arrangement in this verse involving You, the heavens and the earths.

2. Ayah: [Fakhla’ Na’layk fa innaka bi al-waad I al-Muqaddasi al-Tuwa]

Oh Seeker! When entering the presence of your Lord, you must remove the shoes of this world and what is in it, for surely, you are entering the Divine Presence [Hadrah Qudsiyyah] that is greater than the district of Tuwa. When stepping towards this door take off the shoes of ostentation, arrogance and worldly longings, for whosoever comes to this door bare footed is given permission to enter.

The following verses conveys a similar meaning:

3. Ayah: [La taqrabuw al-salata wa antum sukara]

‘‘Do note enter prayer [Salah], whilst in state of intoxication.’’

Prayer is the intermediary between man and his Lord and this relationship requires purity and sincerity.

Oh seeker! When you attempt to enter prayer- a humble call and state of exhibiting your absolute servitude to him- do not forget that you are connecting yourself to the higher realm and it’s time to wake up and be conscious. You must not try to connect whilst in the intoxication of worldly thoughts, longings of the lower-self and satanic influences. Therein, Allah Almighty will not look at your physical appearance and neither your body, rather, Allah will look at your heart and what is in it.[5]

This is the only avenue to reach the true Islamic psyche of prayer described as that which ''prevents one from fahsha, munkar and bagy.’’[6]

4. Ayah: [Huwa al-ladhi arsala rasulahu bi al-Huda wa deen al-haqq]

Oh Seeker! Always remember that the pathway to the Divine one [Haq] is the final Prophet, our Master Muhammad, boundless peace and blessings shower upon him. He alone remains the entry to Allah and brings to us a clear direction. His actions, sayings and tacit approvals are his traditions [sunnan] as well as his inner states [ahwal] all of which reflect his proximity with the Divine presence.

In a hadith, Allah’ s Noble Messenger, our Master Muhammad, boundless peace and blessings shower upon him, said to the companions: ‘‘do not stand for congregational prayer until you do not see me’’ [La taquwmuw hatta tarawnu].

In the apparent, what this meant is that the point of standing for the congregational prayer in the second call [Iqamat] is when the companions saw the Prophet walk into the mosque. Yet this wording implies another meaning for the men of vision. What Allah’s Messenger also indicated was that the Divine Presence is only entered through Him since he remains the only means for this. Our Master Muhammad, May Allah shower peace and blessings upon him, remains the only step between the higher and lower worlds. All connections until the last day between the two realms are through Him.

The Divine One cannot be grasped by our senses or our intellect. Glorified be He who is beyond our confined means. The only solution of removing the veil from our eyes to enter the vision of Divine existence is Prophet Muhammad, (boundless peace and blessings shower upon him). Without him, the ambiguities of ‘Huwa’ and ‘al-ladhi’[7] remain obscure in the Divine words. ‘Arsala Rasulahu’, alone, is the opening to their elucidation and meaning. Hence, proximity with the Divine Huw can only be achieved by means of the Noble Prophet,boundless peace and blessings shower upon him.

5. ‘‘That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for it, in order that we may test them as to which of them are best in conduct’’[8]

[Ar: Inna Ja’alna maa ala al-ardhi zeenatan-laha li-nabluwahum ayyuhum ahsanu amala]

Dear Seeker! Do not be fooled by the colours of this temporary world. They are not but there to distract you from your ultimate goal, that is, to find Allah in your heart. [wa ma khalaqtu al-Jinna wa al-insa illa li-ya’budwun]. Your conduct reflects your inner state. Your embodiment of pure traits reveals your inner state of Allah-consciousness and ugly mannerisms manifest your inner corruption. The more you spend your time with Allah, the more is your heart beautified with chasteness, heavenly light and centralised for spiritual opening, hence more pure becomes your conduct. The quality of a well is judged by its water.

If you seek Allah, keep your eyes up towards the highest realm. As soon as you turn away from it, you will drown in the gleaming display of the world. Remember that ‘‘this present life is nothing but temporary enjoyment’’[9] so fasten yourself to the eternal and everlasting delight. Do not become those who ‘‘know but the outer things in this life’’[10] and are heedless of the treasures in themselves. Surely, ‘‘the luggage of this world is not but very little’’. [11] ‘‘Know you all, that the life of this world is but a play and past time, adornment and mutual boasting and multiplying in competition among yourselves, among riches and children…And what is the life of this world, but Goods and possessions of deception?’’ [12]

In comparison, the world is your shadow and knowledge of Allah, religion and good character-all of which are centrally connected with one another- as a whole are like the sun. As long as you face in direction of the sun, your shadow will always follow after you. Likewise, when you are focused in direction of knowing Allah, He will suffice all of your worldly needs by placing the world at your feet. On the contrary, you are at liberty to back the sun and find yourself chasing your shadow for the rest of your life. It is up to you what direction you take.

This meaning is also conveyed in the following verse, ‘‘we created you in order to test you as to which of you are best in conduct’’.

The verses suggest that Man is at liberty to do what he wills.

6. ‘‘He (Satan) said: Because you have thrown me out of the way, Lo! I will wait for them (believers) on the straight path. Then I will assault them before them and behind them, from their right and their left: nor will you find, in most of them gratitude’’. [13]

Oh seeker! Be assured that the Satan is never heedless of you. He will put you in doubt about the hereafter before you, drag you towards the world from behind, confuse you in the matters of your religion from the right and beautify sins for you from the left. [14] Therefore, do not neglect your Lord whose power has control over you.

Dhunun al-Misri said: ‘‘if he sees you whence you cannot see him, lo! Allah sees him whence he cannot see Allah. So seek help with Allah.’’

Man is put to test by four things, Satan, the world, lower self, and lust. As long as you keep them as your enemies, they will have no way over you since Allah has promised you his security, ‘‘As for my servants, no authority shall you (satan) have over them. Enough is your lord for a disposer of affairs’’. [15]

Allah Most High says, ‘‘O men! The promise of Allah is true, let not then this present life neither deceive you nor let the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah. Verily, Satan is an enemy to you: so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his supporters, that they may become companions of the blazing fire’’[16]

Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi
Incomplete work. Posted by request.

Note: I have based much of this work on the peerless Aphorisms of Ibn Ata’illah and its commentaries by al-Shurnubi, Ibn Ajibah and al-Sharqawi, May Allah reward them all.
[1] Al-Jathiyah: 13
[2] Qur’an.
[3] Qur’an
[4] Al-Rum: 8
[5] Hadith: surely Allah does not look at your physical appearances and your bodies, but he looks at your hearts. (Sahih Muslim)
[6] Qur’an
[7] Huwa: ‘He’, al-ladhi: ‘who’. Referring to the verse. Both words are ambiguous in their import.
[8] Al-Kahf: 7
[9] Gafir: 39
[10] Al-Rum: 7
[11] Qur’an.
[12] Al-Hadeed: 20
[13] Al-A’raf: 17
[14] Commentary of Ibn Abbas
[15] Al-Isra:65
[16] Fatir: 6

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Benefits of Tea

Research reveals that 7 cups of green tee a day for 12 weeks can help lower bad cholestrol levels by 16 percent.

White tea slows the effect of ageing and red tea reduces anxiety...

Black tea, as well as green tea, is excellent for colds and flus.

''and in the creation, do you not ponder?''

Arabic Windows: Read & Write Arabic

This article is the first step in filling this niche by providing the teacher, student, and home computer user with the ability to access Arabic on the Internet and to word-process in Arabic, irrespective of their current computer operating system and software versions. This article is technical in nature. It provides detailed instructions for enabling reading and typing Arabic capabilities within: 1) all Microsoft Windows operating system versions, 2) the latest and most common versions of Microsoft Word and WordPerfect, and 3) Internet web browsers such as Netscape Navigator, Mozilla, and Internet Explorer.

Converting Roman Numerals

Converting Dates

Conversion of Hijri A.H. (Islamic) and A. D. Christian dates.

Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldun

An e-Text translation by Franz Rosenthal.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Excellence of Pursuing Knowledge - Imam al-Nawawi

The Excellence of Pursuing Knowledge over Worship, al-Majmu' Sharh al-Muhadhab (Arabic).

Abu Darda' said: ''a moment of revising knowledge is better than standing in prayer all night.''

Ibn Umar narrated from the Prophet (May Allah shower peace & blessings on him) who said: ''sitting in a gathering of understanding the deen (fiqh) is better than six years of worship.''

Anas relates that the Prophet (May Allah shower peace & blessings on him) said: ''a single person who understands the relegion has more virtue in Allah's court than a thousand worshippers.''

Ibn Umar narrates from the Prophet (May Allah shower peace & blessings on him) who said: ''the best of worship is understanding the deen (fiqh).''

Abu Dharr & Abu Hurayrah said: ''Learning a chapter of knowledge is better than a thousand rakah's of nafl prayer, and pursuing a chapter of knowledge whether it be put into practice or not, is better than a hundred nafl rakahs.''

The above two narrate from the Prophet (May Allah shower peace & blessings on him) who said: ''If death comes to a student of knowledge whislt in that state, he dies as a martyr.''

It is reported that Al-Hassan al-Basri said: ''I desire learning a chapter of knowledge and then teaching it to a Muslim over giving the entire world as charity in the way of Allah.''

Sayyiduna Ali said: ''an alim has more reward than the one who fasts, stands all night in prayer and returns from the battlefield of Jihad with victory.''


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Kufah The Abode of Knowledge- Imam Abu Hanifah Series

Kufah the Abode of Knowledge[1]

This is a chapter from my extensive research on Imam Abu Hanifah, his school, colleagues, criticisers and most significantly his unparalleled rank in Hadith.

Iraq was dominated by the Muslims during the caliphate of Sayyiduna Umar at the hands of Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, May Allah be pleased with them both. Since its establishment in the17th hijri, Kufah received many major companions and masters of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

. Caliph Umar, for example, sent their Ibn Mas’ud whose agnomen was Ibn Umm Ma’bad. His mastery in fiqh and hadith was well known and many scholars praised his work in Kufah. Large groups of Sayyiduna Ali and Ibn Mas’ud’s students dwelled there, the names of who entail a voluminous book.

. The Major Tabi’i, Masruwq bin al-Ajda’ said, ‘‘I found that the knowledge of Muhammad’s men concludes at six men, Ali, Abdullah, Umar, Zaid bin Thabit, Abu al-Darda’, Ubayy bin Ka’b and the knowledge of these six is summed up in Ali and Abdullah.’’

. Ibn Jareer said, ‘‘No other person has famous men who document his verdicts and school other than Ibn Mas’ud. He used to take the opinion of Umar and leave his own. Very rarely did he oppose the opinion of Umar and he turned to it leaving his own’’.

. The likes of Sa’d bin Malik, Abu Waqas, Huzayfah, Ammar, Salman, Abu Musa and other unique companions went there to help Ibn Mas’ud enhance the city with Qur’an, hadith and the understanding of religion.

. Many of the Fuqaha among the companions used to instruct their students to accompany Ibn Mas’ud for his knowledge. Among them was Mu’adh ibn Jabal who advised his colleague Amr ibn Maymun al-Awdi to accompany Ibn Mas’ud in Kufah.

. Upon seeing the proliferation of knowledge in Kufah, Ali ibn Abi Talib remarked: ‘Allah have mercy on Ibn Umm Ma’bad, this region is plentiful of knowledge’’.

. Ibn Mas’ud left approximately four thousand students behind and those who studied with them. About them Sayyiduna Ali said, ‘‘the men of Ibn Mas’ud are lanterns of this city’’.

. Imam al-Ajali mentioned that the total number of Sahabah who dwelled there were 1,500 precluding those who lived elsewhere in Iraq. On the other hand, Muhammad bin al-Rabee’ al-Jeezi and Imam al-Suyuti manage to mention only 3,00 companions who entered Egypt. This signifies the significance of Kufah, alone, over entire Egypt.

. According to the report of al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, 1,000 companions dwelled in Kufah from which 3,00 were As’hab al-Ridhwan and 70 were from the people of Badr.

. Al-Ramahurmuzi cites the following statement of Anas bin Sirin in his al-Muhaddith al-Fasil who said: ‘‘I came to Kufah and found in it four thousand persons pursuing hadith and four hundred who had obtained fiqh’’.

Imam Zahid remarks to abovementioned narration saying, ‘‘and in which city among the Muslim cities other than Kufah do you find this mass of Hadith Masters and fuqaha? This narration indicates that the job of a faqih is very difficult, this is why the number of fuqaha does not measure up to the masses of Hadith narrators’’

. Madhkuwr bin Sulayman al-Wasiti said I heard Affan say, ‘‘we went to Kufah and stayed there for four months. If we wanted, we could have recorded one-hundred thousand hadiths yet we only documented fifty thousand. We only took that upon which the Ummah agrees’’.

Allamah Binnauwri remarks in his footnotes, ‘‘what he means by this is that we would not accept anyone’s hadith or narration except that which the Ummah upholds. Look at this stringent pre-requisite and then look out the amount of hadith the people of Kufah had that met this condition. This point is extremely important so beware of it’’.

He further introduces Imam Affan saying, ‘Affan bin Muslim al-Ansari al-Basri, Shaykh of Bukhari, Ahmad, Is’haq and many other scholars. He is the one about whom Ibn al-Madeeni said, ‘‘If he doubted a word in a hadith he would leave it’’. This is what is cited in al-Taqreeb…’’

. Imam Bukhari, whilst mentioning the people who travelled to Islamic cities for hadith, comments on Kufah saying ‘‘I cannot encompass the names of all of those who entered Kufah to pursue Hadith’’.

. Sayyiduna Umar said, ‘Kufah is the spear of Islam, treasure of Iman and brain power of the Arabs’.

. Sayyiduna Ali used to say, ‘Kufah is Allah’s sword’. His remarks regarding its knowledge have been mentioned previously.

. Sulayman al-Farisi used to say, ‘Kufah is the Abode of Islam’.. Many Qur’an specialists, such as Asim, Hamzah and Kisa’I who are among the seven major Qurra’ and fuqaha travelled to Kufah, and it was celebrated for its focus on knowledge. It was already famous for its Arabic since the most eloquent of Arabs and well learned of the Arabic language lived in its precincts.

. Kufah and Basrah were far-famed for their specialization in the Arabic language. People their would collect the different Arab dialects during the era of revelation so it helped them understand the secrets of Qur’an and hadith. Students of Arabic language are familiar with these two mother schools of Language.

. Even the Sahabah used to advise people to stick to the opinions of the men of Kufah. When the people of Kufah went to Ibn Abbas asking him for fatwa on their issues, he would ask them, ‘‘Do you not have Ibn Umm al-Dahma among you?’’ i.e. Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr.

. Khuzaymah once went to Madinah to consult Abu Hurayrah about an issue. He remarked, ‘‘why would you have to come to Madinah when you have the knowledge in Kufah?’’

. Statements attributed to Rabee’ah and Imam Malik on the weakness of Iraq and its poorness are fabricated.

Here is a list of some of Sayyiduna Ali and Ibn Mas’ud’s colleagues who took fiqh from him

1. Ubaydah bin Qays al-Salmani, d.72h. Imam Shireeh used to consult him in issues of fiqh. Imam Shireeh is well known for his excellence among the Tabi’een in fiqh and issues of law.

2. Amr bin Maymun al-Awdi, d.74h. He was from the early colleagues of Mu’adh and then accompanied Ibn Mas’ud. He performed 100 hajj and umrahs.

3. Zarr bin Hubaysh, d.82h. He was the most learned in Arabic. Ibn Mas’ud used to consult him about the language. He narrates the Qur’anic recitation from Ibn Mas’ud and Asim took it from him.

4. Abu Abd al-Rahman Abdullah bin Habib al-Salami, d.74h. He studied the Qur’an under Ali, Zaid bin Thabit and Uthman and taught it in the mosque of Kufah for forty years. Asim took the Qur’anic recitation of Ali from him and Hafs took it from Asim.

5. Suwayd bin Gaflah al-Mudh’haji, d.82h. He was born in the year of the elephant and accompanied Abu Bakr for many years. He died in Kufah.

6.Alqamah bin Qays al-Nakha’i, d.62h. Ibn Masu’d said, ‘‘I do not known anything except that Alqamah knows it’’. Jareer bin Qabuws asked his father, ‘‘why do you go to Alqamah and leave the Prophet’s companions?’’ To which he replied, ‘‘Oh son! Because the companions turn to him in their issues and he has travelled to take knowledge from Abu al-Drda’ in Shaam, Umar, Zayd, and Aishah in Madinah. He is among those who collected the sciences of all cities. He was the maternal uncle ‘khal’ of the Imam of Iraq, Ibrahim ibn Yazeed al-Nakha’i.’’

7. Masruwq bin al-Ajda’, d.63h. He travelled extensively for knowledge.

8. Al-Aswad bin Yazeed bin Qays al-Harithi, d.74h. He performed 80 hajj and umrahs. He was the nephew of Alqamah.

9. Shireeh bin al-Harith al-Kindi, d.80h. He was appointed as the Qadhi for Kufah during the caliphate of Umar. He remained as Qadhi for 62 years. Sayydiduna Ali said to him, ‘‘stand oh Shireeh! You’re the most learned of juridical matters among the Arabs’’. He nourished the fiqh of Iraq with his peerless opinions.

10.Abd al-Rahman bin Abi Layla, d.83h. He met 125 companions and was appointed as Qadhi.

After listing the names of another 23 colleagues, Imam Zahid al-Kawthari remarks, ‘‘Most of these met with Umar and Aishah too, and took knowledge from them. If their hadith or fiqh were recited to an insane person his sanity would restore. None who understands what he is saying is ever able to object to their Hadith and fiqh’’.

To sum everything said we can say, Kufah was the centre of learning Fiqh, Hadith, language, and Qur’an in the era of the companions and those after them.
By having a just look at the aforementioned background to Abu Hanifah’s city of learning, one is obliged to believe that it is irrational to deem Abu Hanifah inexperienced in Hadith whilst dwelling and studying in the city of so many sahabah and men of knowledge.
Bare in mind also that Abu Hanifah travelled to Basrah and Madinah many times and performed Hajj fifty five times, according to one narration, once of which he stayed in Makkah for six years from 130h till 136h. Hence, how is it logical to say that Abu Hanifah narrated only a handful hadith and had no expertise in them?

Main References: Fiqh Ahl al-Iraq wa Hadeethuhum & al-Tabaqat al-Kubra


© Aqsa Publications 2005
Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi

[1] Much of this section is an abridgement of Imam Zahid al-Kawthari’s section on ‘The High place of Kufah in the Sciences of Ijtihad’ in his excellent epistle, Fiqhu Ahl al-Iraq wa hadeethuhum, p24 to 32.

Major Tariqahs & Their Backgrounds

An excellent website to all major Tariqahs in the world.

Thanks to Sayyidi Fakhruddin Owaisi.