Wednesday, 5 October 2022

O Allah, I Love You Even Though I Disobey You | Khutbah by Dr. Omar Suleiman

 


While some of the pious predecessors were passing away, they made a prayer to the effect of “O Allah, I love you even though I disobey you.” Is it possible to really love Allah and disobey Him at the same time? If so, what are the limits to that disobedience?

Monday, 3 October 2022

Abdullah Ibn Rawahah (ra): The Warrior Poet | The Firsts | Dr. Omar Suleiman

 


O My Soul, Death Is Inevitable,So It Is Better for You to Be Martyred

Abdullah ibn Rawaahah ibn Tha'labah (Arabic: عبدالله ابن رواحة‎‎) was one of the companions of Rasulullah ﷺ.
Abdullah ibn Rawaahah RA was from the Arabian tribe, the Banu Khazraj. At a time when writing was not a common skill he was a writer and a poet.
Abdullah-bin-Rawaha RA was originally a Christian writer from Madinah and was also known as Abu Amru’ Al-Ansari Al-Khazraji Al-Badri. He was one of the most active persons from among the Ansar to support the faith of Islam and strengthen its structure.

Friday, 30 September 2022

Pioneers of Islamic History: Omar ibn Abdul Aziz: The Rightly Guided Caliph

 


Islam, meaning surrender to the will of God, is an eternal idea. Muslims assert that it is the pristine faith of mankind, subscribed to by the first created humans, Adam and Eve and confirmed by the Messengers of God, including among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them). Islam throws a challenge to the community of believers to create a society “enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in God”. Islamic history is a perpetual struggle to meet this challenge in the matrix of human affairs. This struggle is continuous and relentless. Muslims through the centuries have struggled to rediscover the fountain from which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) drank. The corruption that surfaces with time is challenged time and again and a corporal attempt is made at a renewal of faith. Hence, revivalist movements in Islam provide benchmarks from which subsequent historical events can be measured and understood. 

Before Omar’s Rule Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, also known in history as Omar II, was the first revivalist Caliph in Islamic history. After Muawiyah, the character of the Caliphate changed and dynastic rule was established. The corruption of the Omayyads reached its crescendo with Karbala. The Omayyads built lavish palaces, surrounded themselves with servants and maids, accumulated enormous estates, treated the public treasury as their privy purse and lived like princes and kings. There was no accountability for their wealth or for their actions. The populace had no say in the affairs of the state. The Caliph was not nominated nor could he be questioned. The people were there merely to obey the strongman, pay taxes and serve in the armed forces. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz became the Emir (Caliph) by a coincidence of history. When the Omayyad prince Suleiman (714-717) lay on his deathbed, he was advised that he could earn the pleasure of God by following the example of the early Caliphs and nominating someone besides one of his own sons as the next Emir. He therefore dictated in his will that Omar ibn Abdul Aziz, a distant cousin, was to succeed him and Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was to be followed by Yazid ibn Abdul Malik. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was a man of polish and experience, having served as the governor of Egypt and Madinah for more than twenty-two years. He had been educated and trained by a well-known scholar of the age, Saleh ibn Kaisan. Before his accession to the Caliphate, Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was a dashing young man, fond of fashion and fragrance. But when he accepted the responsibilities of Caliphate, he proved to be the most pious, able, far-sighted and responsible of all the Omayyad Emirs. 

A Pious Reformer, indeed, Omar ibn Abdul Aziz set out to reform the entire political, social and cultural edifice of the community and to bring back the transcendental values that had governed the Islamic state in its infancy. He started by setting a good example in his own person. When news reached him of his nomination to the Caliphate, he addressed the people saying: “O people! The responsibilities of the Caliphate have been thrust upon me without my desire or your consent. If you choose to select someone else as the Caliph, I will immediately step aside and will support your decision”. Such talk was a breath of fresh air to the public. They unanimously elected him. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz discarded his lavish life style and adopted an extremely ascetic life after the example of Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari, a well-known companion of the Prophet. Abu Dhar is known in history as one of the earliest mystics and Sufis in Islam who retired from public life in Madinah during the period of the Caliph Othman and lived in a hermitage some distance away from the capital. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz discarded all the pompous appendages of a princely life–servants, slaves, maids, horses, palaces, golden robes and landed estates–and returned them to the public treasury. His family and relatives were given the same orders. The garden Fadak provides a good example. This was a grove of palms owned by the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet’s daughter Fatimah had asked for this garden as an inheritance but the Prophet had declined saying that what a Prophet owned belonged to the whole community. Fatimah had pressed her claim before her father, but Abu Bakr had denied the request saying that he could not agree to something that the Prophet had not agreed to. After the Caliphate of Ali, Fadak had been made a personal estate of the Omayyads. Omar restored Fadak to the public treasury, as a trust for the whole community. The Omayyads had no accountability to the treasury. To support their lavish life styles, they collected enormous taxes from Persia and Egypt. They compelled traders to sell them their merchandise at discount prices. The Emir’s appointees received gifts of gold and silver in return for favors. Omar reversed the process. Omar abolished such practices, punished corrupt officials and established strict accountability. Some Omayyad officials, drunk with power, mistreated the conquered peoples. Oftentimes, their property was confiscated without due process of law. Contrary to the injunctions of the Shariah, even though people in the new territories accepted Islam, they continued to be subject to Jizyah (tax to be paid by non-Muslim citizens). Those who refused to pay the taxes were subject to harsh punishment. Umar abolished these practices and ensured fairness in the collection of taxes. Gone was the oppression of Al Hajjaj in Iraq and Qurrah ibn Shareek in Egypt. The populace responded with enthusiastic support of the new Caliph. Production increased. Ibn Kathir, the Muslim scholar, records that thanks to the reforms undertaken by Umar, the annual revenue from Persia alone increased from 28 million dirhams to 124 million dirhams. 

Following the example of the Prophet Muhammad, Omar ibn Abdul Aziz sent out emissaries to China and Tibet, inviting their rulers to accept Islam. It was during the time of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz that Islam took roots and was accepted by a large segment of the population of Persia and Egypt. When the officials complained that because of conversions, the jizyah revenues of the state had experienced a steep decline, Omar wrote back saying that he had accepted the Caliphate to invite people to Islam and not to become a tax collector. The infusion of non-Arabs in large number into the fold of Islam shifted the center of gravity of the empire from Madinah and Damascus to Persia and Egypt. Knowledge Applied in Daily Life Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was a scholar of the first rank and surrounded himself with great scholars like Muhammad ibn Ka’b and Maimun ibn Mehran. He offered stipends to teachers and encouraged education. Through his personal example, he inculcated piety, steadfastness, business ethics and moral rectitude in the general population. His reforms included strict abolition of drinking, forbidding public nudity, elimination of mixed bathrooms for men and women and fair dispensation of Zakah (alms). He undertook extensive public works in Persia, Khorasan and North Africa, including the construction of canals, roads, rest houses for travelers and medical dispensaries. Omar ibn Abdel Aziz was the first Caliph to commission a translation of the Quran from Arabic into another language. Upon the request of the Raja (king) of Sind (in modern day Pakistan), Umar ibn Abdel Aziz had the Quran translated into the ancient Sindhi language and had it sent to the Raja (718 CE). 

To put this event into historical context, this was within ten years of the conquest of Sind and Multan by Muhammad ibn Qasim and the conquest of Spain by Tariq ibn Ziyad and Musa ibn Nussair. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was also the first Emir to attempt a serious reconciliation of political and religious differences among Muslims. Since the time of Muawiyah, it had become customary for khatibs to insult the name of Ali ibn Abu Talib in Friday sermons. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz abolished this obnoxious practice and decreed that the following passage from the Quran be read instead: {God commands you to practice justice, enjoins you to help and assist your kin and He forbids obscenity, evil or oppression, so that you may remember Him} (16:90) It is this passage that is still recited in Friday sermons the world over. He treated Bani Hashim and the Shi’a with fairness and dignity. He even extended his hand to the Kharijites. According to Ibn Kathir, he wrote to the Kharijite leader Bostam, inviting him to an open discussion about the Caliphate of Othman and Ali. He went so far as to stipulate that should Bostam convince him, Omar would willingly repent and change his ways. Bostam sent two of his emissaries to the Caliph. During the discussions, one of the emissaries accepted that Umar was right and gave up Kharijite extremism. The other went back unconvinced. Even so, the Caliph did not persecute the man. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was the first Muslim ruler who moved his horizons from external conquests to internal revival. He recalled his armies from the borders of France, India and the outskirts of Constantinople. 

There were few internal uprisings and disturbances during his Caliphate. Islam had momentarily turned its horizons on its own soul, to reflect upon its historical condition and replenish its moral reservoir. Faith flourished, as it had during the period of Omar ibn al Khattab. It is for these reasons that historians refer to Omar ibn Abdul Aziz as “Umar II” and classify him as the fifth of the rightly guided Caliphs, after Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali. But greed does not surrender its turf to faith without a battle. The reforms of Omar “II” were too much for the disgruntled Omayyads and the rich merchants. Omar ibn Abdul Aziz was poisoned and he died in the year 719, after a rule that lasted only two and a half years. He was thirty-nine years old at the time of his death. And with him died the last chance for Omayyad rule.

Read More on islamonline

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Islam’s Stance on Celebrating Birthdays

 


Islam teaches Muslim to have a unique character and to be distinguished. A Muslim is weaned on morality and avoiding blind imitation. Islam supports the celebration of a birthday if it is an expression of gratitude to Allah for His bounties, sustenance and blessings in man’s life, as long as that celebration does not include anything that may displease Allah, the Almighty. Focusing on the issue of celebrating birthdays, we would like to start by citing the following: “In Islam, birthdays are not considered `eid (a festival) like `Eidul-Fitr or `Eidul-Adha, because `eids have conditions and guidelines such as not being allowed to fast during the days of Eid. Therefore, birthdays are simply occasions of a person’s date of birth and are a matter of culture. If a person wants to commemorate his/her date of birth, then he/she may do so, especially if he/she takes the opportunity to reflect on the past and pledge to be better during the following year. However, to make the birthday an important occasion is not recommended or encouraged.” (Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islamicity.com) 

 Shedding more light on the issue, the prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Tajuddin Hamid Al-Hilali, Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, states: “A Muslim has a distinguished personality. He should not imitate others in evil things and leave the good ones. Talking to our children about their birthdays, we should remind them that on such days they should remember the blessings of Allah and praise Him for giving them life and guidance. It would be better if we ask them to offer something in charity as a form of showing gratitude. Still there is nothing wrong if we try to make them feel happy on that day as long as we are using lawful things. It is better if we make it a day ahead or a day after. You said that your children insist on having such a celebration, and this is really dangerous. If the child insists on having his desires fulfilled at this early age, what is going to happen when he grows older? We need to be alarmed and never allow Western traditions that are based on individualism, to ruin our families. Thus, calling birthdays `eids is not accepted, for this has no basis in Islam.

  At the same time, there is nothing wrong if we use these occasions to inculcate Islamic principles in our children, like showing gratitude to Allah, praising Him and seizing the chance of this life in performing good deeds since the older we grow the nearer to the grave we come.” Speaking about the same issue Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, adds: “Permissibility is the original ruling in this case, as there is no evidence of prohibition. The principle of not following the Jews and Christians is really required in matters of their false claims and beliefs in relation to religion. Such beliefs are no more than disbelief from an Islamic perspective. Islam supports the celebration of birthdays if it is an expression of gratitude to Allah for His bounties, sustenance and blessings in man’s life, as long as that celebration does not include anything that may displease Allah, the Almighty. In this context the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about fasting on Mondays, and he answered: “It is the day on which I was born.” Muslim scholars take this hadith and the hadith of fasting on the Day of `Ashura’ (10th of Mharram) as evidence on the permissibility of celebrating good occasions, which have special significance in our religion such as occasions like the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In this context, people must be aware that celebrating such occasions, e.g. the Prophet’s birthday, is no more than a matter of habit, and by no means a religious requirement.

 However, if it entails any forbidden practices, such a celebration becomes forbidden for that reason alone. Moreover, a celebration of this sort becomes recommended if it includes recommended acts of worship. It is also right to say that such celebrations contain some aspects of innovation, however it is an innovation in matters of popular habits not in matters of religion. Actually innovation in habits is not prohibited. What is prohibited in this context is innovation in religion, as indicated in a well-known Prophetic hadith. By analogy, there is nothing wrong in celebrating birthdays, as long as the celebration does not include any forbidden practices.”

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Tuesday, 27 September 2022

My Child Has Wandered off the Straight Path

 


I’ll admit it. I used to be complacent. A decade ago, my children were young and happily attending Islamic school. They were memorizing Qur’an, socializing with other Muslim kids, and willingly joining us for salat in our home and activities in the masjid. In those days when I would hear about a Muslim teen in our community who had started dressing immodestly. . . or one who had been caught with a boyfriend or girlfriend behind the school. . . or one who consistently skipped prayers . . . I thought, alhamdullilah my kids are not like that.

If I’m being completely honest, deep down inside I also sometimes thought, What did their parents do wrong to get such a misguided child? This assumption, of course, implied that I was doing something right. That my children’s current acquiescence to the rules of their faith was my doing. That my husband and I could take all the credit for their innocence and love of Islam.

So often in life we find that the very thing we judge others for – the thing we smugly think could never happen to us – will come back to bite us. And in my case, sadly, it did.

My daughter wore hijab until she was seventeen. Then one day she removed it, not with hesitance or regret, but with grim determination. In retrospect, I guess I should have seen it coming. She had been dropping hints for a long time. She had cried about the tactless and hurtful comments about her Islamic dress that she’d heard from non-Muslim peers and complete strangers. She had complained numerous times about the inconvenience of wearing modest swimwear at the beach because all the material weighed her down, and she felt she looked like a “freak” amongst her bikini-clad contemporaries. She had argued countless times that Muslim men had it easy: they could blend in with Western society and wear almost anything they wanted. They usually did not face the same harassment that Muslim women did. No matter how many times I tried to explain the reasoning behind Islamic rulings, remind her of Allah’s wisdom and love, and encourage her devotion to her faith, my words increasingly fell on deaf ears.

Still, the fact remains that I was surprised and heartbroken when my daughter decided to remove her hijab. Even more concerning, her faith started slipping away bit by bit – missed prayer by missed prayer – over the subsequent months. I tried many times to change her mind, but ultimately, I felt powerless to stop the downward spiral. At this point, my intelligent, strong-willed daughter was listening only to her peers, social media influencers, and even the books she read in school. All of these made her feel like her faith was a prison that she needed to escape.

I was a teen once. I remember the allure of the “freedom,” “independence” and “glamor” that the world promises to individuals who follow their whims and desires. I realize that as an adult, it is far easier to embrace modesty, humility, and submission to God; but for many adolescents in the modern world, adhering to Islam can indeed feel like grasping a burning coal, as our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) predicted.

Eventually, due to my daughter’s deviation from the Straight Path, I realized that my children’s guidance was not in my hands. Yes, I have a responsibility to do my best to be a good Islamic role model and teacher, but my efforts are not necessarily enough to secure my children’s hearts to Allah. Only He SWT can guide, and He is the Turner of Hearts. “Verily, you [O Muhammad] guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided” (Quran 28:56).

I grieved privately for months. Finally, I hesitantly opened up to some close Muslim friends about my experience. I was immensely relieved when they confessed similar stories: many of them also had teens who were struggling to practice, or barely practicing, or not practicing at all. Of course, I was not happy to hear this news, but I admit it gave me some solace to know I wasn’t alone. Those parents,my friends and contemporaries, were excellent Muslims. They prayed and worshiped as a family, led a wholesome life, set a good example, and invested in Islamic schools, homeschooling, and Qur’an lessons. And yet, many of their teenagers had still drifted from their deen. It was a tragedy, yes, but clearly, it wasn’t entirely the fault of us parents.

Talking with other moms, I also realized that the Muslim community’s reaction to misguided youth is, generally, very unhelpful. The teens feel so judged and unaccepted that they stop attending Islamic events and start avoiding practicing Muslims altogether. One friend’s daughter noticed that when she stopped wearing hijab, some of the “aunties” who had known and loved her for years were suddenly cold and distant. In part, I can’t blame them. They were probably saddened to see a young woman abandon an important act of worship. Perhaps they were even worried that she would influence their daughters and encourage them to stop dressing modestly. I don’t entirely fault them, but I do know the community’s rejection hurts teens deeply and pushes them even farther away from the deen.

Whether you can relate to my situation or not, if you are a Muslim parent, I have some words of advice. These are words from a distraught mother whose own child has wandered off the Straight Path and whose constant prayer is for her child’s repentance.

Don’t get complacent. If your young children are enthusiastically practicing their faith, that is wonderful. But do not mistake that for a guarantee of future adherence. No matter how much they seem to love Islam now, still make dua for your children’s guidance on a daily basis. Their faith will likely be tested in the teen years, and peer pressure is perhaps worse than ever because of social media.
Never be arrogant if your children are “good Muslims.” If they love Islam, and if they continue on the Straight Path, it is a blessing from Allah, not a bragging right.
Don’t condemn people silently or, even worse, backbite them verbally. We know that speaking badly about someone is like “eating the flesh of your brother,” according to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Keep in mind: we never know who might stray from the Straight Path. It could be me, or you, or any of our children. We all must work continuously to maintain and strengthen our faith. Even the Prophet (s) who was the most perfect human and the most beloved by Allah SWT, continually made the dua: “O Turner of Hearts, keep my heart firm on your deen.” If the Prophet (s) supplicated Allah SWT to help him keep his faith strong, who are we to be complacent about our iman?!
Supplicate for any wayward child. The best thing you can do for a youngster who has stopped practicing is to make sincere dua for them. Do it with compassion, sincerity, and humility. Know that each prayer we make for another person is answered by an angel saying, “And the same to you.” By making heartfelt dua for another child, then, we are also protecting our own, insha’Allah.
Continue to treat them like your brother or sister in faith. Even though they might not look or act like a “proper” Muslim right now, they still have a seed of iman in them, insha’Allah. We do not know what lies in another person’s heart. Errant Muslims still deserve our kindness. Indeed, perhaps because of their precarious situation, they need even more of it.


Be supportive of that child’s parents. Do not treat them differently, nor presume that their child’s behavior is their fault. Remember that some of the strongest Muslims of all time had family members who did not embrace Islam. Prophet Nuh had one son who remained a disbeliever, refused to board the ark, and eventually drowned. Even Prophet Mohammad (s), whose beautiful example inspired countless individuals to accept Islam, could not convince his uncle Abu Talib to acknowledge the truth.
Guidance is in the hands of Allah SWT, and a person’s current behavior does not necessarily reflect the quality of their upbringing. Remember that many forces are working against Muslim parents’ best intentions. Keep in mind that teen rebellion is a common – if not justified –phenomenon.
Do not assume this is the end of their story! Insha’Allah their period of disobedience, rebellion, and confusion will end, by the grace of Allah. Insha’Allah their parents’ fervent du’as will be answered, and these children will repent and turn back to the Straight Path. Perhaps today’s misguided teen will become tomorrow’s pious adult who knows exactly how to reach confused Muslim youth because she has been in their shoes. There is always hope, insha’Allah, and a believer is always optimistic about Allah’s mercy and guidance.


May Allah SWT guide our children, forgive our shortcomings, and protect our ummah from anything that turns us away from His love and forgiveness. Ameen. 

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