A Closer Look at the Historical Transmission of this Popular Text
The poem Tuḥfat al-Aṭfāl, authored by the Egyptian scholar Sulaymān Ḥusayn al-Jamzūrī [died circa 1198AH/1783-4CE], has been memorized, taught and kept alive by countless individuals since its authorship more than two centuries ago, making it the single most utilized resource for learning Tajweed to this day. Since that time, it has continued to be transmitted in the traditional manner, in the line of great classical works of Islamic learning, complete with formal authorization (ijāzah) and chains of transmission (isnād) tracing the line of one’s teachers back to the author. These documents exist across the Muslim world in various shapes and forms, handwritten, transcribed and sometimes even oral; at times free-standing and sometimes as part of larger written works.
Despite its great popularity as a traditional text, however, the chain of transmission of Tuḥfat al-Aṭfāl to the author remains problematic for a variety of reasons. Continue reading
بَيْنَمَا رَجُلٌ يَمْشي بِطَريقٍ وَجَدَ غُصْنَ شَوكٍ عَلَى الطريقِ فأخَّرَه فَشَكَرَ اللهُ لَهُ ، فَغَفَرَ لَهُ
If a man who is walking along the road finds a thorny branch and removes it, God thanks him for that and forgives him .
[Bukhārī 2305, Muslim 4750, Riyāḍ al-Ṣāliḥīn 127]
Streets and public places. An unlikely concern for a Prophet of God. But it was all part of a comprehensive plan on the part of the Prophet Muhammad to establish a sound and prosperous Islamic society. And ensuring the public welfare along with the safety of public places was an inevitable part of that plan.
And so, the Prophet spent a considerable amount of time safeguarding the public road.
Help the skilled laborers and serve the disabled.
Alternate translation: Assist the one who is skilled, and do something for one who is not.
[Bukhārī 2382, Muslim 250][i]
From the Prophetic treasures for human society are these important moral instructions concerning public service. The Prophet instructed his followers to be forever in the service of others. It is a basic ethical value, recognized by all cultures and faith traditions. Yet, the genius of the Prophet of Islam lay not only in the advice, but in his choice of words and in his ability to diagnose and prescribe—in the most precise ways—the most effective solutions for the problems faced by people.
PROPHETIC WISDOM FOR OUR TIMES series [The Message Magazine]
عنْ أبي موسى الأشعري، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، قَالَ : ” عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ صَدَقَةٌ ” ، قِيلَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يَعْتَمِلُ بِيَدَيْهِ ، فَيَنْفَعُ نَفْسَهُ وَيَتَصَدَّقُ ، قَالَ : قِيلَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يُعِينُ ذَا الْحَاجَةِ الْمَلْهُوفَ ” ، قَالَ : قِيلَ لَهُ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يَأْمُرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ أَوِ الْخَيْرِ ، قَالَ : أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ لَمْ يَفْعَلْ ؟ ، قَالَ : يُمْسِكُ عَنِ الشَّرِّ فَإِنَّهَا صَدَقَةٌ “
The Prophet stated:
Every Muslim should give charity.
He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should go find work and help himself and others.
He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should help someone in need.
He was asked, What if one cannot? Then he should command what is right or good.
He was asked, What if one cannot? Then at least he should refrain from evil, and that would be charity for him.
The spirit of charity, volunteerism and service to others is the hallmark of Islam and among its greatest teachings. The Prophet never lost an opportunity to teach this message to others and on its basis, he built a prosperous and charitable society oriented to public service.