There is no life after Uni!

29 08 2007

On my first day of University at the fresher’s fair a final year student claimed, ‘there is no life after uni’. I thought, how sad! After almost five years I find myself thinking, how true. Now, I can’t seem to think beyond Uni, I finished a degree, a masters and almost done with my second masters. I can’t work out what it is, the environment, lifestyle or just my own studious nature that has me addicted. I spent the whole of today going through Uni prospectuses, frantically looking at which course and which uni to hit next… even though it really is too late to enrol now. I hate my underpaid 9-5 job with no Internet access, and the option to work for my mum is no longer there since she sacked me the last time. Besides, I don’t want to work, I just want to be at Uni for the rest of my life. 😦


Middle of Sha’ban

27 08 2007

We are in the month of sha’ban, tonight being the 15th (or tomorrow according to geographical location).  Sha’ban is a blessed month like all other months with many virtues attached, one particular being the night of Nisf (middle) or the 15th. There are many practices associated with this night, but the best thing to do is to adhere to that which is confirmed in the Sunna, regarding nawaafil prayers, adhkaar, supplication and of course much tasliyya.

Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Gilani recommended the following modality in his Ghunyatu Talibain:

“As for the ritual prayer traditional for the night of mid-Shaban, it consists of one hundred cycles, including one thousand repetitions of Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad (that is to say, ten recitations in each rak’a). This prayer is called Salat al-Khayr, and its blessings are many and varied. Our righteous predecessors used to gather to perform it in congregation. It contains much merit and rich reward. It is reported of al-Hasan [al=Basri], may Allah be well-pleased with him, that he said: ‘Thirty of the companions of the Messenger of Allah [Peace be upon him] related to me that Allah will look seventy times upon one who performs this prayer on this night, and with each glance He will fulfill seventy of that persons needs, the last of them being forgiveness.’”

Muslim Fanaticism

26 08 2007

The Musilms Ummah today finds itself in an unpalatable situation, an intellectual and political slumber with no way out. Many commentators observe the problem of the Muslims to be a political problem requiring a political solution. There are various solutions being proposed amongst which changing the system from within seems the most popular. In many Muslim countries the Shari’ah is being imposed gradually in some areas, and this is seen as revival. Whereas, some people have looked upon certain political events in the middle-east and as a ‘resurgence’ of Islam, no doubt a certain reaction to the modern world based on Islamic sentiments is involved. But in fact, what we are observing is the death throes of civilisation. Despite all the lip service given to the Qur’an and Prophet (saw), careful observation of what has been happening reveals the following: The Shari’ah is enforced only when it conveniently can be harmonised with ideologies imported from outside; the rest of the Shari’ah is ignored. The Islamic doctrine (Imaan) has totally been distorted; a way of life that always put God before the world has now become another social dogma, one ‘ism’ amongst others.

A pessimistic approach is contrary to the teachings of Islam and hopelessness is not an option. But seeing the atrocities and injustices whilst not being able to do much about it leaves many perplexed. It builds up anger, some manage to channel this anger towards political activism, campaigning, demonstrations or firey speeches constantly going on about the need for Muslims to wake up. Although; some of these activities are helpful in brining the senses back to normality as long as people are pointed towards a sensible direction. However, it can very well have the opposite effect where anger turns into blind hatred, envy, self-centredness, narrow mindedness, and consequently fanaticism.

But the most telling, and for the people with religious sentiments the most obvious, manifestation of the non-Islamic nature of events can be seen in the domain of Ihsan (spirituality), or rather the lack of it. In the view of Islamic spirituality, the beauty and nobility of the human soul are of primary importance. The noblest of Muslims, i.e., the most pious, have always radiated love and mercy, for nearness to Allah (swt) means nearness to His nature and distance from fallen -negligent and forgetful- human nature, i.e., from self-centredness, narrowness, ignorance, and bigotry. But anyone with eyes to see is able to discern the symptoms of the hate that underlies certain so-called ‘Islamic’ movements today: ugliness, noise, clamour, stridency, fanatical narrow mindedness, a total lack of compassion. Nothing further from traditional Islamic values and virtues can be imagined. The fact that the Muslim countries today not only ignore the role that outward beauty and environmental harmony have always played in Islamic civilisation but are usually hostile to it as well only confirms these points. In short, we see before us the semblance of an Islamic form, since the Shari’ah is paraded around as the basis of society. But in many cases it is perhaps not too much to say that the body of Islam has been emptied of its spirit and, like a zombie, it does the work of its new masters.

{Repel (an evil) with one which is better, then verily he with whom there was enmity between you, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient ? and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e. Paradise and of a high moral character) in this world. And if an evil whisper from Shaytan tries to turn you away (O Muhammad ) (from doing good), then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.} (41:34-36)

Ibn Abbas (ra) narrated regarding [41:34], “It means to be patience when angry, forgiving when hurt. If they do this then Allah will protect them and their enemies will surrender to them.” {Imam Bukhari reported this with a Mu’allaq Isnad}

One Global Caliphate!

15 08 2007

In the last few years, the words Caliphate/Khilafah or the Islamic State have been used as discussion point between Musilms, Non-Muslims, Politicians, Media and everyone else concerned.

However, it seems there is lack of uniformity in terms of what people understand this term to mean. Different segments of society, groups, and individuals perceive the notion of Islamic State according to their own line of political/spiritual thinking. For some, it is a totalitarian state, others consider it a state with democratic framework with shura, a republican state where authority belongs to the people, or just any civilian form of government, dictatorship, or monarchy… providing the ruler is good and the supremacy is for Shari ah. Though, there seems to be a consensus amongst all Islamic schools of thought about the supremacy of Shariah.

I use the term, Ideal Islamic Polity, to describe the Islamic notion of State as I understand it. This ideal State was the State of Madinah, which the Prophet (saw) shaped entirely based upon Divine laws that impart social justice. The State of Madinah was not a Kingship, or Monarchy, much less a Dictatorship and it was not a Democracy. Islamic State, in its true perspective, is the Qur’anic State, neither totalitarian nor authoritarian. It cannot be described as a democracy, not the type of the Athenians where absolute power or sovereignty itself lies in the hands of the people, nor is it a Theocracy where the state is governed by sacerdotal class, for Islam does not countenance sacerdotalism in any form. To sum up, life in an Islamic State is treated as a composite whole, all its components, political, economical, social, and others are managed and controlled by Islamic law.

Recently, I attended a conference in London organised by the Islamic group Hizb-utTahrir, highlighting their vision for the Global Caliphate. This conference was part of their global campaign, where similar conferences were organised throughout the world with largest one being in Indonesia which attracted 90,000. HuT is not the only one calling for this Global Caliphate, there are numerous other groups with similar ideals, though they differ in some aspects of the methodoly. I sat and heard their vision for the Caliphate… most of which I agree with as I too consider supremacy of Shariah to be a necessity. However, I can’t seem to understand the idea of ‘One Global Caliphate’ which is being propagated by such Islamic groups. And what is even more interesting though, is the kind of fear it strikes in the hearts of the western leaders, as if it’s a reality about to emerge!

I believe in unity of Muslims and Muslim lands. Ideally, Muslims should be united based on their creed without the artificial borders which disunite them on the basis of race and nations. However, it seems too complex to imagine how a Caliphate would rise in a particular Muslim country and somehow manage to unite the whole of Muslim world under one leadership, creating the ‘One Global Caliphate’. Even if it became a reality, such an idea would cause devastation, bloodshed of millions and the very picture of an angelic State which is being drawn would never surface.

I am now having to question the idea of ‘One Global Caliphate’, where the entire Muslim world would be ruled by the one Caliph (ruler). Upon research, it seems that it is argued by most Scholars of the past and present that there may be two Caliphs or more. They maintain this on the basis that many Caliphs existed at one time, in Iraq, of the Abbassids and the other, in Spain, of the Ummayads. The Muslim scholars of the time, who were also shrewd political theorists accepted the existence of multiple States as long as the supreme rule was the Shariah. Further, it is asserted that there was, after the demise of Prophet (saw) and before the election of Abu Bakr (ra) to Caliphate, a proposal made at the Saqifah meeting, for two Caliphs, one from the Ansaar and one from the Muhajireen. This proposal was dismissed on the account of the Prophet (saw) saying: “Imaams are of the Quraysh”. Perhaps, if it was not for this saying two Caliphs would have been accepted.

Some scholars, like Ibn Taimiyya hold that the Caliphate is no more now as the Prophet (saw) predicted: “After me there will be a Caliphate for thirty years, then it will become a Tyrannical Kingdom.” Some past Scholars separated Caliphate as Khasaa (specific) and ‘Amma (general) from rulership. Although, there may have been a powerless hereditary Caliph somewhere in Egypt, but the reigns of Power were in the hands of various Sultans who ruled over independent Sultanates where Shariah was supreme. The Scholars of the past who wrote in volumes to address the situation of the Muslims had not seen the existence of various Sultanates to be a problem. On the contrary, they had ordered their followers to ‘obey the long as they command the good and forbid the evil’ and spoke against rebellion.

With regards to the idea of Islamic State today, I find the position of classical scholars to be correct. Islam does not attach much importance to the outward form and is satisfied if the Islamic Law is applied in its totality and decisions are taken after consultation in compliance with the Qur’anic verse; “Their affairs are conducted by mutual consultation” (42:38). There is no such thing as a ‘blue print’ for the Caliphate prescribed by the Qur’an and Sunnah. We have the model of Madinah and those of Khulafah Rashidun, and some examples of good governance from the Umayyads, Abbasids in Spain, Memluks and Ottomans could be used as guidelines. I believe, the procedure, the duration of representation, administration, economy should all be left open to interpretation, to be applied as it suits the occasion, time and place.

The public opinion for Islamic Shariah is gaining momentum in the Muslim world, and the recent victory of the ‘Islamists’ in Turkey over the secularist speaks volumes. I believe in these times, we have to utilise what we have to bring about social justice in Muslim countries as prescribed by Qur’an and Sunnah, and more importantly to Islamically educate the masses. The idea of ‘One Global Caliphate’, it sounds far too complex… unless, someone is about to simplify it for me. *confused*

Sufis in Politics

11 08 2007

In UK, we have an organisation by the name “Sufi Muslim Council.” The title should not have this organisation confused with the kind of Sufi tariqas that exist concentrating on tazkiyahtun-nafs (purification of the soul) and tasawuff according to Shariah (Islamic law). The SMC is an Islamic spiritual organisation with a twist, it has political goals which transcend the limits of Islam. SMC is relatively new, founded on secular ideals by supporters of new Labour with neo-con history. More can be read here

In April this year, they had organised an event in Burnley (UK) to renounce Terrorism and Islamophobia inviting the local Police officers, Mayor and other community leaders. Nothing strange about that! Today, I came across a video of what went on in that meeting, its funny, shocking, weird, but does it have anything to do with Islam?

Role of Arabic language

9 08 2007

‘Change the record, will ya,’ my friends complained this morning. It seems, they have just about had enough of my continuous Ijtihad/Taqleed rants, which seems to find its way into almost everything I touch these days. They may have a point though. Not so long ago, Wahabbis, Sufis, Uncle Tom’s, sell-out scholars, modernists, progressives were all at the receiving end of my rather ruthless criticism. In fact, I still manage to find a spot for them somewhere in my current Ijtihad vs Taqleed altercation. It may seem incomplex to shift blame for problems of a global community down to a few sects or individuals, but in my opinion it is crucial to exercise criticism of rotten ideas and those who hold them for future sake. Hence, I have decided to dedicate the blog to my thoughts on Ijtihad and particularly Tajdeed (renewal).

Recently, I have been thinking about languages- inspired by a post on Bubble’s blog. Languages are fascinating, a means of communicating thoughts, ideas, and concepts. Through languages, ideas are conveyed from one person to another, from one place to another, and from the past to the present and recorded for the future. Often, people find it difficult to convey something understood in one language to another. I find it very annoying when some of my friends in middle of a conversation start speaking in their ‘back home’ language. It seems like they are hiding something or don’t want me to know something. However, in reality, they are unable to express certain thoughts or terms linked to their ‘back home’ culture in English. Similarly, people have complained to me about excessive usage of Arabic terms when I am speaking about an Islamic issue. I have tried to minimise the use of Arabic terms but it is almost impossible to discuss Islam without using the language it was revealed in.

One of the factors which caused the Ummah to reach the decline she faces today is the neglect of Arabic language. It is this neglect which led to a situation where Muslims were no longer able to access the scriptures (Quran and Sunnah) directly, consequently Ijtihad ceased and Taqleed began. The Qur’an and Sunnah are an Arabic legislative speech, so they must be understood like the Arabic speech, therefore it is important to understand this language in order to deduce a ruling. The Arabic in this context means the pure and unadulterated Arabic. This Arabic language has many qualities such as, it is derivational, rendering it as a language where a jurist can seek the Illah (legal reasoning) behind the law and thus extend the Illah to other situations to apply the law. Another fascinating quality of Arabic is in its richness in words which describe human actions and feelings while lacking names of objects. It is also the medium through which the Islamic concepts and laws were conveyed to us. Furthermore, it is impossible to know what Allah (swt) wants us to do without knowing and understanding Arabic.

Islamic revival cannot be achieved through material or scientific advancement. The basis of correct revival is rather in understanding the applicability of Islam. Therefore, Arabic is needed to deduce solutions from the Islamic sources in leading an Islamic way of life. Also, to produce original material requires from us to directly access the Quran and Sunnah, otherwise we will be restricted to thought based upon translations or secondary works. It is equally important for Muslims to learn technical terms (Istilah) or the shari’ah definitions making them part of their Islamic vocabulary as they have been preserved just like the Quran and the Sunnah.

End of Ulema!

7 08 2007

As part of my studies of Usul al-Din (Islamic sciences) at an Islamic university in Arabia, I am required to submit a dissertation consisting study of a principle of jurisprudence. I decided to look at the historical perspective and modern applicability of ‘Ijma’ (consensus) and its various forms. I thought this particular topic to be straightforward since I had quiet extensively engaged in discussions comprising such topics. Unfortunately for me though, it wasn’t going to be as easy as I had anticipated. I was informed by my tutor that I am not qualified to give legal opinions on Islam and therefore must rely upon opinions of those qualified (‘Ulema).

The problem is, for most contemporary ‘Ulema with legal authority (Ijaza) have failed to produce any original thinking. When faced with new issues or those concerning modernity they attentively rely upon juristic opinions of classical scholars from their respective madhab (school of thought). As I embarked upon my project, to my utter dismay, I found that detailed original works by contemporary scholars on Islamic Jurisprudence concerning the current modernity discourse were inaccessible, obsolete or even non-existent. My exciting research became tedious, I was now having to go through volumes of classical manuals of ‘Usul in Arabic to add value to my proposed theories. I am talking about manuals written hundreds of years ago and some over a thousand!

The Muslims today are not short of ‘Ulema (scholars). Despite hundreds and thousands of them being around us, Muslims are still having to refer to classical scholars. Imam al-Ghazali, ibn Taymiyah, ibn al-Qayyim, ibn Hazm, Shatibi, at-Tabari, Ibn Kathir to name but a few. So what are the contemporary ‘Ulema doing? Producing fatwas which are copy/paste from a classical manual of fiqh, mostly without considering the social impact, nature of civilisation, environment and reality which have entirely changed since. What is keeping the shops of these so called ‘Ulema running is the Muslims who do not seek the necessary knowledge concerning their actions, despite it being Fard ‘Ayn (individual obligation). Apart from that, the role and contributions of these ‘Ulema in lives of Muslims and revival of Islam is almost next to nothing. Most of these ‘ulema today are in the pockets of various despotic governments, receive funds to keep the masses intellectually contained and actively interpret Islam to push non-Islamic agendas. Those who are not part of this agenda.. is most likely due to the fact that they are too stupid and can be used to deliver same sermon every week at the mosque. Some of these act like arrogant thugs, they simply demand people to hear and obey and give bayah (oath of allegiance) to them. In turn, they use these innocent Muslims for their own causes and make them do unislamic things like hadrah (dancing/whirling) and to remain in state of ecstasy (fatalism), because these Muslims don’t know better. I can no longer trust any of the these so called ‘Ulema, everything they say or do must be taken with pinch of salt.

I now feel more than ever before, how important it is for young Muslims to learn Islamic sciences, learn Arabic and learn what is required to do what most ‘Ulema do today. If Muslims can become Doctors, Engineers, Psychologists, Physicists, Analysts… they can very well learn the skills required to extract a ruling from classical manuals of fiqh and eventually be able to perform Ijtihad. Only this will result in true revival of Islam and Muslims, when each Muslim is clear about the ideology they have embraced and how to live their lives according to it… without having to rely on someone else to explain.

Rant over!