February 25, 2010
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At a time when many Muslims will be debating the definitions of bid‘ah and the condemnation of people based upon whether they don’t celebrate the ‘Eed Milād’l-Nabi or do, where some will find excuse to mix and party and others will find reason to have a quiet reflective moment, perhaps it would be pertinent to remind ourselves exactly what this debate is all really about.
The blessed Prophet and Messenger Sayyidina Muhammad (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was understood to have been born in the early half of the current month Rabī’l-Awwal in the year 570 or 571 CE. There is not a single piece of evidence that categorically establishes the exact date of birth and indeed this was never an issue for the early scholars due to their lack of celebrating the particular birthday of the Prophet (‘alayhi-salātullāh). As one of my teachers used to say, “Why do people find this strange? I was born in the 20th Century and my family still have no idea when I was born, not even the year!”
What is known for sure though is that the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was born on a Monday which is indeed perhaps one of the reasons he fasted on a Monday as he (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated and as collected in Sahīh Muslim. We likewise fast on Mondays in celebration of his Sunnah.
Yet within the discussion surrounding the birth of the Prophet, many people don’t get further than either the fact that we simply fast on a Monday as a result of it or on the other side, hold celebratory functions in which devotional songs are recited. Perhaps both parties would do well to not miss the wood for the trees and reflect upon an individual who simply cannot be reduced to a Mawlid gathering or a chain email warning of deathly innovation.
Thus let us start and look at who then was born that great day!
The Description of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
Physically speaking, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the most handsome of people. He was of medium height, not too tall and not too short, of medium build, of white going slightly red-brown skin colour, with a completely full head of shiny black slightly curly hair that would reach to his shoulders at its longest, hair which was sometimes dyed slightly red and/or yellow, a taut neck, an extended black thick beard with a few white hairs, firm un-raised cheeks, a fine slender nose, wide white eyes with a slight reddish tinge with strikingly black pupils, a flat chest and stomach, well-statured, thick heavy hands with slightly long fingers, very soft palms, smooth large feet, no excess fat or flesh on the heels, and a gait of one leaning slightly forward when he walked. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He had a large back, broad shoulders, in between which slightly to the left one could see the Seal of Prophethood – a slightly raised piece of skin with a small grouping of hair. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
When he met people, he would turn his whole body to meet them. He was the first to greet people, having a wide smile, with a face that was immersed in blessed light that shone and radiated like a bright moon. He had a firm handshake which he would not let go of until the other person let go yet at the same time was so gentle that if a small girl was to take his hand and lead him around the town, he would follow in tow. It was difficult for people to compose themselves in his presence due to the sheer awe of his countenance and the shock of how handsome he was. His gravitas and presence was such that despite his medium height, he seemed taller than those surrounding him. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He would love to wear cotton shirts, some similar to a thawb, short and long but never below the ankles, sometimes short-sleeved so that one could see his white clean arm-pits and sometimes long to his wrists. He disliked woollen garments except for the occasional use of a woollen over-garment, mostly white yet sometimes colourful garments particularly striped, sometimes red-striped, but never wore anything saffron in colour. He would wear a turban, sometimes a two-piece outfit with a sarong type lower garment, and would accept and wear the clothes of foreigners given to him as a gift. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
The Demeanour of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
He was always cheerful, of mild temperament and easy going, yet at the same time reflective and would spend much of his time looking down at the ground in contemplation. When he spoke, those sitting around him were so still that it seemed that birds were perched on their heads. When he fell silent, they talked but never argued in his presence. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He was neither rude nor coarse and did not shout or utter obscenities. He did not find fault with others nor lavishly praise them. He did not interrupt another’s speech. He would interact with those who sat with him in the best of ways: he would never frown at them, treat them harshly or turn away from them, he would not point out slips of the tongue nor reprimand one for any coarseness in speech or the likes, and he would make excuses for them as much as possible. Whoever mixed with him would think that he was the most beloved person to him due to the attention he received, his kindness and the sincere advice he was given. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He would honour the leader of every people and put them in charge of their affairs. He would show respect to the people of nobility and excellence and he would divide his time amongst them in accordance to their religiosity, yet there wasn’t a soul who felt they were not able to approach him due to his humility and welcoming nature. He gave everyone who sat with him his due share such that none thought that another was more honoured than he. If any person sat with him or near him to ask of him, he was tolerant and remained so until that person himself turned away. When someone asked him for something he needed, he either departed with it or with some consoling words. He had the kindest and best behaviour of all people, being like a father to them. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He was easy going, soft, close to people, he answered the calls of those who called him, judged those who required judgment, fulfilled the need of those who asked of him – never preventing them from asking him and never letting them go disappointed or empty handed. When his Companions desired a matter from him, he would agree with them and follow them; if he determined to do something, he would consult them. He would accept their good from them and overlook their mistakes. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
He was the most truthful of people, the most honourable. The people of the earth fought him, employing all means at their disposal yet none of them ever accused him of lying. His friends and foes alike would not describe him except as the most gentle, generous and empowering individual to walk the face of the Earth. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
His generosity did not come about through effort, neither was it hard upon him, rather it naturally arose due to the purity of his soul and gentleness of spirit. He had the most giving of hearts by virtue of the righteousness of his spirit and the great good contained therein. Kindness would pour out of his heart for it was enveloped in every beautiful moral and in every excellence.
It is sufficient to end with the fact that the very greatest and noblest of people would all say about the Prophet Muhammad, “I have never seen anyone, before him or after him, who was comparable to him.” May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
The Right of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
Allah jalla wa ‘alā sent him as a Prophet and a Messenger to the entirety of the worlds of Jinn and Man. He was sent as nothing but a Mercy to these worlds, one blessed with wisdom and guidance, with a criterion to establish right from wrong, truth from falsehood, and to bring the people from darkness into light.
He was sent as a favour to mankind, and was sent to be followed. He was sent to be emulated and loved, to become more beloved to us than our parents and our children, even more than our own souls. It is in his cause that we are asked to sacrifice throughout our life for, and it is through his praise that we will attain the true success in this world and the Hereafter, by ultimately achieving the love of the Divine Himself.
It is his Sunnah that we study, revise, memorise and implement. We then internalise it, promote it, then teach it, defend it, protect it and die for it. At this moment then, let us revive his Sunnah by not indulging in actions contrary to it, but by reflecting on the magnificence of the one who came with it and his attempts to keep the people straight upon its path. Let us reflect upon the actions of those supreme Companions whom Allah Himself is Happy with, and the way they acted upon the Sunnah and the way they remembered their guide and master and celebrated his coming.
The Messenger was born and the world became illuminated as a result of that birth. Let us celebrate, not on the 8th, not on the 12th, not this month, and not even this year, but rather every single living moment of our lives as we now start to realise that we have been blessed beyond our wildest imagination to have even known of this great man: our master and leader, Sayyidina Muhammad. May Allah jalla wa ‘alā bless and bestow peace upon him.
* All of the above is based upon authentic narrations. Please see the “Commentary to the Shamā’il al-Muhammadiyyah”, Refi Shafi, Sunnah Publications, exp. release end of 2010 insha’Allāh for further information
February 21, 2010
Some interesting studies continue to prove the benefits of taking a Qaylūlah or a Qā’ilah which are the two Arabic words for “siesta”.
Nap “boosts” brain learning power – BBC News
Taking a Qaylūlah in the early afternoon seems like a dream come true for many of us, due to the continual practice of it by our early Salaf and Khalaf. What might be surprising perhaps is that we don’t have a plethora of narrations (with a large number of scholars declaring them all weak – including the following two narrations – other than Shaykh al-Albani from the contemporaries) encouraging this rest-period from the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) except that he said, “Take the afternoon rest (Qaylūlah) because it is the devils that don’t,” (Tabarani, Sahīh) as well as the statement of ‘Umar (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu) who said, “Take the afternoon rest,” (al-Adab al-Mufrad, Hasan-l’Isnād). It is important to realise here that the word Qaylūlah means to “rest in the afternoon” and doesn’t include sleeping per se, but yet “siesta” is still the most popular translation given for this word.
So for those who expect to get up for Tahajjud prayers, then the Qaylūlah during the early afternoon was seen as helpful as the “Sehri” meal to the fasting one. Likewise as the research above shows, by helping the memory and keeping the body fresh and rested, the students of knowledge and scholars should use the Qaylūlah to help them increase in ‘ibādah, memorisation and study.
It goes to follow then that we shouldn’t kid ourselves too much in trying to claim a desperate need for the Qaylūlah living in the West where often we go back to sleep after Fajr, the daytime temperature is cool or at least much cooler than the Middle East, where we go to sleep very late wasting lots of time after ‘Ishā and where unfortunately we seldom pray Qiyām’l-Layl i.e. the only reason we seem to have to take the siesta is to just get some extra sleep!
In contrast, the early Muslims from the Salaf would awake very early to pray Fajr in the Masājid and then remain awake for the rest of the morning, recognising that the morning is a blessed time for the Muslims, and is a particularly industrious time for all people who are disciplined enough to awake early. They would get the majority of their work and study done in the first half of a very hot day, and then around the zenith time of Dhuhr, at the intense heat, they would sometimes pray or sometimes delay the prayer due to the heat and take their Qaylūlah rest which could be anything from a number of minutes to an hour odd. This nap would allow for recovery from a busy hot day as well as rest before a busy night of ‘ibādah much later on. And remember, the early Muslims wouldn’t waste a single minute after ‘Ishā but would go to straight to sleep in order to wake up early for Tahajjud – unless there was a specific reason such as guests visiting, or specific studies as explained by Imam Ahmed (rahimullāh) himself.
Interestingly, we often welcome the winter period in Western countries with short days and long nights, not because we have only a few hours to fast during daylight and long nights to pray Tahajjud in but invariably because we get so much more time to … yes, sleep. And goodness, again, do we sleep!
The real problem here then is that we don’t arrange this sleep in our days and nights around what might please Allah, but rather what our jobs and schools dictate, or what the desires of our souls dictate. When we think about the warning of the companion Khawwāt b. Jubayr (radhy Allāhu ‘anhu), “Sleep in the morning is ignorance, in the afternoon a good habit, and at the end of the day idiocy,” (al-Adab al-Mufrad, Sahih’l-Isnād) then more than a few of us will empathise with the realities explained in this athar.
In explanation of the above athar, those who go back to sleep in the morning are utterly ignorant of the benefits of the morning, sleeping in the afternoon is a good thing, and that napping around Maghrib time is a recipe for disaster in that it might lead to missed prayers and a ruining of the system of the latter night-time.
Reflect again on these various times of the day in that not only do we miss out on certain times of potential barakah and opportunity, but also as some of the Imams mentioned that for example an early ‘Ishā often places us at risk of sleeping in sin. How? Well the blessing of going to sleep straight after ‘Ishā is that the prayer has erased the sins of the day before it as per the Prophetic Hadīth, thus you go to sleep “pure”. This is what was also indicated by the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) when he commanded us not to speak after ‘Ishā but to go straight to sleep.
For those of us who aren’t disciplined in this art, the Summer time is a blessing because it helps us without us realising it! There’s not much talking to be done after an ‘Ishā at 11.30pm and Fajr at 3am so no wonder we’re all in bed by midnight! And that is a mercy from Allah jalla wa ‘alā even though we might not have deserved it, in that the majority of our day has had its sins erased by the late night prayer and we go to sleep as “pure” as humanly possible.
There’s so much to be said about sleep, the Sunnah and our habits but at least with the few words above, we might motivate ourselves to reflect more upon our living arrangements according to the Sunnah by utilising all the variables of environment, climate, season, working hours and customs that we all individually experience in whatever country we live in.
And Allah knows best.
February 17, 2010
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Women say some rape victims should take blame – survey
I’m just thinking like, but can you imagine if some miskeen Australian Shaykh suggested something similar?
There would be uproar!!
Woops sorry! There was uproar…
February 16, 2010
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It really is.
Just thought I’d say that.
February 13, 2010
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As well as a slap-down for the girls playing on the other side. Just don’t know what you call them though.
February 12, 2010
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…just who died yesterday, the one who said, “The U.S. had nothing whatsoever to do with these people’s decision to fight … but we’ll be damned by history if we let them fight with stones.”
Ex-US congressman Charlie Wilson dies in hospital
and this which has some nice stuff:
رحيل «أبو الجهاد الأفغاني» في أميرك
I loved reading about this guy in the 90′s, and the story behind his arming of the Afghan Mujahideen against the Russians which later then become American Govt. policy once they woke up.
“Wa yarzuqhu min haythu la yahtasib…!”
Irony though doesn’t do justice to the fact that by extension Charlie Wilson is also the one who armed al-Qa’idah. Fancy that!
Bin Laden better be mourning tonight otherwise he really would be an ungrateful…
February 3, 2010
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Let me say right at the onset that the only reason I’m writing this is to help the Egyptian Tourism industry, and also to show my gratitude to the Organisers of the quite incredible Cairo International Book Exhibition. It’s not to make other students of knowledge and scholars feel jealous as they realise what they missed out on (although of course you did miss out) and it’s not to make others feel bad (although of course you should feel slightly bad and gutted on missing the greatest show around).
So no nazr on me folks.
Anyway, this معرض القاهرة الدولى للكتاب yearly get together is world-famous and rightly so. It is quite simply mind-boggling. Effectively all of the world’s Arabic book publishers come down for a couple of weeks with all their key stock and all their latest releases, prints, authenticated versions etc.
It’s nothing but books, books, and then more wonderful, amazing, gratifying, delightful…books. Seriously, it’s the playground of the scholars (and there are plenty of them walking round, it’s like spotting the celebrity!) and when you enter and walk around, you start to really feel like a kid again in a sweet shop. It’s ‘ajeeb ya’ni.
I think I visited over two hundred separate book shops/stalls over 18 hours and I probably had to leave 80% of the rest of the stalls because my body simply couldn’t handle it, despite wheelchairs, brothers and all the other help you can imagine. Okay, I’ve got to admit that we decided to use the wheelchair to carry the books, but hey.
I could wax lyrical to be honest, but instead why don’t I show you some of the pics that were taken from our group.
Books, books, glorious books!
Amongst all this fitnah (yeah, believe me!), we came across some wonderful old prints of the Hashiya of Ibn ‘Abidin (r), as well as a lovely copy of Tafsir’l-Manar…
The other wonderful aspect to the fair is the amount of people. Thousands! And most of them very “practising” masha’Allah which really adds a great feel to the place as a whole…
We came across some very interesting people as well. One of them was the Shaykh behind Dar’l-Minhaj based in Jeddah who are behind Shaykh Muhammad al-’Awwamah’s and Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s books. They were promoting their excellent un-tampered versions of Riyadh’l-Salihin and the 40 Hadith Nawawi, based upon quality manuscripts from the riwayah of Ibn al-Attar. Most exciting masha’Allah and nice to see some quality work still being put in to the well-known and often thus neglected classics.
Interestingly they’re also about to release a new version of the Musnad of Imam Ahmed in 12 volumes with approximate 200 extra hadith found from the latest checking of international manuscripts which is fascinating to say the least. Perhaps caution might be better until we get the book in our hands, but judging by Sh Awwamah’s discoveries on the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah, we might be in for a big surprise. Or not. Let’s see.
Then we came across one of my favourite book shops (al-Azhariyyah li’l-Turath) run by probably the most knowledgeable owners out there. Normally, owners know everything about bottom lines, how much discount they can give, how good or rubbish a buyer you are i.e. British (think Omid and that moneysupermarket ad!) and that’s about it. But this man (on the left) is quite unbelievable when it comes to his knowledge and his love for his books, stock and madhab. Even more amazing than him is his wife who was even more knowledgeable but I haven’t seen her in a long time…
There were loads of the ‘Ulema walking about but we only got a picture of Sh Ali Hasheesh on the left with Sh Ali Hasan al-Halabi from Jordan on the right…
Anyway, it was simply incredible. I came out cream-crackered, bamboozled, but very satisfied. And so I just wanted to say that this is the greatest show I’ve ever seen where you can just pick up any book you’ve dreamt of, for excellent prices, in one place at the one time.
I loved it. Now say Masha’Allah. No nazr remember?
February 1, 2010
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The Faith Community at Davos has many different roles depending on what’s big at the time; last year although the financial crisis was massive news, the Gaza war was certainly uppermost in the eyes of many – I wrote this document supported explicitly by a few of the Faith Community present with me (and many hundred movers and shakers secretly) as well as a few outside of Davos.
But normally I like to see my own role at Davos as the networking nice guy, hooking up, relaxing, spreading the Deen and just having a
doss nice beneficial time for all and sundry…
As for the real ‘Ulema amongst us then they have far more serious roles, and in that light I wanted to share a wonderful policy document written by our Shaykh and Maulana, Mufti Taqi al-Usmani hafidhahullah, presented to the WEF at Davos on this Thursday morning (prime time) just gone. Here it is:
Post Crisis Reform: Points to Ponder
Please read carefully, digest, and pass on. This pristine religion really does have the solution for all this mess we’re in, but who will lend an ear?
Well, that’s your job folks, to get those ears wagging in the right direction…