Saturday, April 27, 2019

Rationalising Allah's commands:

Rationalising Allah's commands:

It’s not surprising that some Muslims attempt to rationalize any and every ruling, considering Western influence, where every function of morality must have a rational reasoning

When Non-Muslims ask “why can’t you eat pork?” our inferiority complex or ignorance kicks in, and we begin to rationalize the commandments of Allah because that is the type of reasoning we are taught in schools and at home - due to secular infiltration of our minds.

The concept of “we hear and we obey” is foreign here, so in order to not appear unintelligent, we now attempt to provide a reasoning for a ruling that Allah didn’t mention anywhere.

What divine knowledge do we possess that we allow ourselves to speculate on the “intention” of a ruling?

Stories about why we do certain things spread like the plague in our communities, and people do not see the implications of this poor form of reasoning.

If we fast to feel how the poor feel, are the poor then free from fasting?

If women cover to avoid harassment & to not be noticed, wouldn’t that mean they should take it off in this day and age?

If we don’t eat pork because it’s “dirty”, what if we ensure it’s clean?

All of those reasons stated above may be the wisdom behind the rulings. We can only speculate on that.

But in Usūl ul-Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) there is made a distinction between hikma (wisdom) and ‘illa (the effective cause).

‘Illa is the reason/cause. Not hikma

So our fundamental understanding is that if there is no reason provided by Allah or the Prophet ﷺ, then we follow the commandments simply because we have been ordered to.

This sometimes means that when people ask “why?”, we respond “because Allah has commanded us to”

When faced with these question, it’s an EXCELLENT opportunity for da’wah. 

This is the perfect time to talk about the concept of objective morality, and that our opinions do not matter if the choice has been made for us by our Lord or His Messenger.

“The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, "We hear and we obey." And those are the successful.” (24:51)


Friday, April 26, 2019

Acknowledging The Role of Scholarship

Acknowledging The Role of Scholarship

Beyond a collection of facts, knowledge transcends the tangible and quantifiable. It is both production and consumption, providing structure, methodology, and substance: the sum of generations of thinkers, teachers, and students. The authority to transmit knowledge is reserved to those who have extensively studied and practiced it. Expertise within a field is a rare blessing and the onus is on laymen to take knowledge from experts about everything, from structuring our lives to engaging with society.

The role of scholars is substantial, especially in Islam. Abu al-Darda, may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger ﷺ said “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets.”¹ This Hadith indicates that scholars, as inheritors of the faith, have effectively and uniquely preserved Islam for 1400 years.

Extinguishing the importance of scholars threatens the vast tradition of Islam itself; indeed, scholars are blessed as caretakers of the faith by Allah ﷻ. They spend years mastering classical Arabic to simply understand sacred texts, let alone interpret and derive rulings from them. Scholars must understand the time and place in which they live, including the complexities of societal and technological advances, to set guidelines for the direction of a believer’s life.

Establishing a clear and strong connection between knowledge and its source is also important. Islamic scholarship emphasizes isnād, or chain of transmission, so much so that Imam Abdallah ibn Mubarak, may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him, said, “isnād is part of deen,” and “the one who seeks matters of his deen without isnād is similar to the one who climbs his roof without a ladder.” Humans thrive because of the information predecessors have transmitted and the isnād is the most meticulous form of transmission.

Receiving sacred knowledge from a chain of trustworthy scholars is unique to the Ummah of Sayyidina Muhammad ﷺ. No other community stringently verifies and conveys knowledge like Muslims do.

However today, many Muslims disregard the role of the scholar and Islamic scholarship. Their attempts at “reformation” threaten the core of the religion. Their opinions are propagated not only on obscure websites or personal Facebook accounts, but also on popularly frequented websites. Some prominent Muslims are now calling for the community’s detachment from the scholar and widespread general Islamic illiteracy is only one of the visible consequences of doing so.

People who disregard scholarly opinions, due to personal whims and manufacture their own opinions, deviate from the religion. Detachment from the preservers of the religion leads to detachment from the religion itself. Abu Muslim Al-Khawlani, may Allah ﷻ have mercy on him, said “the scholars on Earth are like the stars in the sky: when they appear, the people are guided, but when they disappear, the people get lost.”

Those advocating for reform must be aware of the current intellectual climate in the West. Christians, who underwent reform throughout most of their history, populate our society. Contemporary Christianity is diluted because of the historic trend of resisting authority, a trend caused in part by society’s labeling of religious clergy as authoritative and abusive. One reason for the rise of atheism in the West, especially in the Christian community, has been such reformation: namely, disparaging of religion and its preservers. When Muslims propose reform, they must first analyze their social context to determine where they get their “novel” ideas from. Muslims have more to lose from degrading scholarship like Christians have done, as our scholars are unique in being both preservers of knowledge and community leaders.

Encroachment on scholarship by laypeople is present in other fields as well, perhaps convincing some that it is acceptable to similarly degrade Islam.

Many scientists today commit intellectual trespassing in their criticisms of religion, but are appropriately disregarded as they are unqualified in the field. In medicine or law, unqualified practitioners are susceptible to receiving criminal charges. If we defend the experts in matters of this world, why do we so easily neglect the experts in matters of the afterlife? Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets. They are best equipped to treat our spiritual ailments, so let us let them heal us. Let us let them lead us.


¹ Related by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others. Verified as sahih (authentic).

² 8th century Muslim scholar, Muhaddith, student of Abu Hanifa, may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

How Slavery was humanised by Islam: Notes by a British Orientalist

How Slavery was humanised by Islam: Notes by a British Orientalist

In regard to a second feature of the Muslim social system, the practice of slavery, it is important to bear in mind that the slave was generally the body-servant or retainer of his master, and that slavery was in no sense the economic basis of Muslim society.

Master and slave thus Stood a more humane relationship than did the slave cultivator to the Roman landed proprietor or the American planter.

There was consequently less śtigma attaching to slavery, and in no other society has there been anything resembling the syśtem by which, as has been shown in the preceding section, the white slaves came to furnish the privileged cadres whence the high officers of state, commanders, governors, and at length even sultans, were almośt exclusively drawn.

The following story, told by a theologian of the
third century, represents without serious distortion the relations, which, as numerous parallels in Arabic literature indicate, often existed between master, and slave.

I saw a slave-boy being auationed for thirty dinárs and as he was worth three hundred I bought him.
I was building a house at the time, and I gave
twenty dínárs to lay out on the workmen. He spent ten on them and bought a garment for himself with the other ten. I said to him What's this ?" to which he replied "Don't be hasty; no gentleman scolds his slaves." I said to myself " Here have I bought the Caliph's tutor without knowing it."
Later on I wanted to marry a woman unknown to my cousin (i.e. my first wife), so I swore him to secrecy and gave him a dínár to buy some things, including some of the fish called házibá. But he bought something else, and when I was wroth with him he said I find that Hippocrates disapproves of házibá." I said to him "You worthless fool, I was not aware that I had bought a Galen," and gave him ten blows with the whip. But he seized me and gave me seven back saying, "Sir, three blows is enough as a punishment, and the seven I gave you are my rightful retaliation." So I made at him and gave him a cut on the head, whereupon he went off to my cousin, and said to her "Sincerity is a religious duty, and whoever deceives us is not one of us. My master has married and he swore me to silence, and when I said to him that my lady muśt be told of it he broke my head." So my cousin would neither let me into the house nor let me have anything out of it, until at last I had to divorce the other woman.
After that she used to call the boy "The honest lad," and I could not say a word to him, so I said to myself "I shall set him free, and then I shall have peace."