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Message from Uwaymir Anjum

IMAG0609Dear Almaghrib Brothers and Sisters, Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

I am thankful to Allah for allowing me to spend two uplifting and blessed days with such dedicated and intelligent Muslims sisters and brothers in faith. I enjoyed teaching you and learning from you; your questions and thoughts are invaluable for me, and will continue to make me think more and strive better.

I had promised a few things during the lectures. From what I can remember, these were: the lecture presentations (attached) and a list of recommended books (provided below).

Please feel free to remind me if I am forgetting something. I’d love to hear thoughts, questions and suggestions from each one of you; feel free to use the email address I have provided uwaymir at yahoo dot com. Some of you had particular questions or requests; please feel free to contact me, I’d love to be of help if I can.

For anyone interested in spiritual writings of Ibn Taymiyya or Ibn al-Qayyim in translation, please contact me directly. For many reasons that you can guess, there is a lack of good books on or by Ibn Taymiyya in English on either his political thought or spirituality. Ibn Taymiyya is a very challenging writer because of his encyclopedic knowledge full of references that common Muslims are not familiar with. Ibn al-Qayyim, the most brilliant and devoted disciple of Ibn Taymiyya, is easier and more organized. I have been translating his Madarij al-Salikin for Aljumuah Magazine for the last five years; I could send you a subset of those writings if you are interested—although I suggest reading the whole magazine. Also, I have some more advanced articles on Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Taymiyya’s spiritual writings, which I can provide upon request.

A list of recommended books

On Ibn Taymiyya,

Ibn Taymiyya Expounds on Islam by Abdul Haqq Ansari (available for download at http://www.scribd.com/doc/16603238/Expounds-on-Islam-by-Ibn-Taymiyyah?autodown=pdf) This one is the best and most extensive anthology of his writings to my knowledge.

The Hanbali School of Law and Ibn Taymiyyah: Conflict or Conciliation (Culture and Civilization in the Middle East) by Abdul Hakim I. Al-Matroudi. This is a very decent academic but accessible study by a Saudi scholar of Ibn Taymiyya’s jurisprudence.

Public Duties in Islam: The Institution of the Hisba by Ibn Taymiyya

Ibn Taymiyya: Muslims under non-Muslim Rule by Yahya Michot (Interface Publictions, 2006). This is an example of how Ibn Taymiyya’s writings have been misused in the contemporary Muslim world. The author is Prof. at Hartford Seminary, a respected Muslim scholar and convert, whose own bias is evident in the book.

Sayyid Abul A`la Mawdudi, The Islamic Movement: Dynamics of Values, Power and Change, ed. By Khurram Murad (Islamic Foundation, 1998)

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Islamic Awakening: Between Rejection and Extremism

Winning the Modern World for Islam, by Abdessalam Yassine (Justice and Spirituality Publishing, 2000)

On Muslim women in particular,

Al-Muḥaddithāt By Muḥammad Akram Nadwī. This is one of the best and most learned accounts I come across of early Islamic tradition on women in good English, very inspiring.

In Arabic, I had mentioned to some sisters Abd al-Haleem Abu Shaqqa’s Tahrir al-mar`a fi `ahd al-risala

Ma`a salamatillah,

Your brother in faith,

Uwaymir Anjum

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Gems from Islamic Political Theory

Adapted from the insightful series of lectures by Dr Uwaymir AnjumIMAG0609

Ask yourself these questions. . . Is Islam an individual matter? Does it have anything to do with the public sphere, with matters of governance? Does Islam have any vision for governing societies?

Muslims would generally agree that governing according to Islam, aka Khilāfah, aka Islamic state, is something necessary or at least something commendable. But ask yourself this— when was the last time you heard a lecture about the Khilāfah, or about the fiqh of the Islamic state? In contrast, when was the last time you heard about the fiqh of prayer, or fasting, or about dhikr? Have we reduced Islam to personal fiqh? What has happened to the domain of Islamic political thought?

It is a matter of faith for us that Islamic teachings remain as relevant today as they ever were. Politics is in essence managing our resources for a greater, collective good, about working together as communities, and as an ummah. In Arabic the term is siyāsah, which is found in the following Prophetic ḥadīth:

كَانَتْ بَنُو إسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلَّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيٌّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيٌّ، وَإنَّهُ لاَ نَبِيَّ بَعْدِي. وَسَتَكُونُ خُلَفَاءُ فَتَكْثُرُ

The Israelites used to be governed/managed (politically) by the prophets. Whenever one of them died, another took his place. But there will be no prophet after me, but only khulafā’ (caliphs). [al-Bukhārī, Muslim and others]

The terms also finds itself from a report from ‘Umar:

خطبنا عمر بن الخطاب فقال قد علمت ورب الكعبة متى تهلك العرب، فقام إليه رجل من المسلمين فقال: متى يهلكون يا أمير المؤمنين؟ قال: حين يسوس أمرهم من لم يعالج أمر الجاهلية ولم يصحب الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلّم

Once ‘Umar addressed us and said, I indeed know, by the Lord of the Ka‘bah, when the Arabs will be destroyed. A man stood up and asked, When will they be destroyed O Commander of the Faithful? He replied, When they entrust their affairs (siyāsah) to those who have not eradicated the matters of jāhiliyyah and those who will not be from the Companions. [Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Bayhaqī]

So politics (siyāsah) is an essential part of human collective life and hence an integral part of the religion of truth.

But our collective lives are a mess. We have many great individuals among us who are quite diligent in their prayers and even cry when reading the Qurʼān, but when they sit in committees to run a masjid or a school or an event, chaos breaks loose. Tensions rise, accusations are leveled, backbiting occurs!

The Judgment of Akhirah is about individuals, but the Prophet of Islam established communities, social environments and, yes, states. They didn’t focus on knocking on doors and reaching every individual person but they had a broader mission. The majority and bulk of Arabia did not embrace Islam when each person was convinced of its truth, but when the writing on the horizon changed after the conquest of Makkah. The early Muslims conquered lands but did not force Islam on individuals. Why did the masses embrace Islam, then? The Muslims established order and institutions and a new way of organizing things, the writing on the horizons changes, and that brought the masses of people to them.

The Prophet and early Muslims had a profound sense of mission. We owe it to them to try to understand what that was and what happened to us. . . .

The Reality of Hamd

zikr-beadsالحمد لله

What does the phrase al-ḥamdu lillah really mean.

  • Ḥamd refers to praising someone for an intrinsically praiseworthy and perfect quality, while madḥ is more general praise or praise for something which is not intrinsically praiseworthy.
  • Ḥamd is praise that comes from love, while madḥ or shukr or other forms are not necessarily motivated by love.
  • Ḥamd is praising Allah for all states, good and bad, while shukr is praising Allah for the good one receives.
  • Ḥamd is restricted to verbal forms and states of the heart while other forms may be expressed by actions as well.

Therefore al-ḥamdu lillah really means praising Allah— out of love and gratitude— for His praiseworthy and perfect attributes, and for the bounties and blessings he bestows upon us, and for the calamities and adversities which purify us and raise us in ranks.

-adapted from Shaykh Walid Basyouni

Quick Facts about the Companions

blue-hillsDid you know . . .

  • The total number of Companions: around 114,000 [Abū Zur‘ah], though the documented names reach about 10,000
  • Mukthiruʼl-Ḥadīth [about 7 Companions who narrated the bulk of ḥadīth from the Prophet]— Abū Hurayrah (5,374), Ibn ʻUmar (2,630), Anas b. Mālik (2,286), ʻĀʼisha (2,210), Ibn ʻAbbās (1,660), Jābir b. ʻAbdullah (1,540) and Abū Saʻīd al-Khudrī (1,170); no other Companion narrated more than 1000 ḥadīth
  • Only 120 Companions known to give fatāwā (in general, they refrained from doing so)
  • Most learned Companions—ʻUmar, ʻAlī, Ubayy b. Kaʻb, Zayd b. Thābit, Abuʼl-Dardāʼ and Ibn Masʻūd
  • Abu Bakr narrated only 142 ḥadīth due to his early death and preoccupation with governance and more urgent matters
  • The Generation (Qarn) of the Companions: When the majority of them lived, ended with the end of ‘Alī’s Caliphate [Ibn Taymiyyah]
  • Last living Companion— Abū Ṭufayl ʻĀmir b. Wāthilah al-Laythī (died 100H in Makkah); Last Follower to meet him— Khalaf b. Khalīfah (d 188H)
  • About 300 were named ‘Abdullah, though only 3 are famous, known as the ‘Abādilah— Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbās, Ibn Amr b. al-‘Āṣ
  • There was no Companion named ‘Abd al-Raḥīm or Ismā‘il

[Sources: Shaykh Walid Basyouni, PhD, 

Mohammad Hashim Kamali, A Textbook of Ḥadīth Studies. The Islamic Foundation, United Kingdom. 2005.]

Ilm Summit of Knowledge

IMAG0428With Allah’s grace, this year’s Ilm Summit kicked off in Houston with Shaykh Yaser Birjas and Yasir Qadhi addressing us on the virtue of knowledge and traveling for it. Like last year, we plan on posting daily glimpses and gems, Live from Houston . . .

  • The Prophet stated once: O Abu Saeed al-Khudri, people will come to you in droves one day to learn, so greet them by saying Welcome, welcome to the inheritance of the Messenger of Allah and teach them well. [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

مَرْحَباً مَرْحَباً بِوَصِيَّةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ

  • It is said the first to travel for knowledge was the Prophet Musa. When he was asked who was the most learned in the world, he replied I am. Jibreel informed him that there is one whom Allah has taught that which you do not know and spoken to him directly. Musa immediately placed someone else in charge of the Israelites (Yusha b. Nun, who was to become a prophet after him) and set out for this person. Imam al-Bukhārī placed this account in the beginning of the chapter on traveling for the sake of knowledge.
  • Jabir b. Abdullah traveled from Syria to Madinah for one month to gain just one ḥadīth from Abdullah b. Unays.  [this account is authentic at the level of Hasan, and mentioned by al-Bukhārī in his chapter headings, as well as in Khalq Af ‘āl al-‘Ibād; also related by Aḥmad, al-Ḥākim]
  • Some of the blessings and benefits of traveling for knowledge:
  1. The physical travel itself is rewarded
  2. The seclusion from distractions is extremely beneficial
  3. The environment and aura of knowledge also benefits
  • Some of the etiquette of seeking knowledge [from Ibn Jamaa’ah, died 733H]:
  1. Deviating from one’s comfort zone and pushing yourself to the edge
  2. Keep yourself slightly hungry while seeking knowledge but full while teaching
  3. Use of study sessions
  4. Learning patience and perseverance before learning knowledge
  5. Walking/exercise to keep one’s  mind fresh
  6. Good companionship- those who are sincere, pious and devoted to knowledge, not lazy and distracting
  7. Taking notes