Posts Tagged ‘education’

An Nasihah Islamic Curriculum Launch Video

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

An Nasihah Publications is honoured to present its very own, long awaited, fun, and engaging Islamic Curriculum. Spanning across 8 years, these books have been designed specifically for the young Muslims of today.

Learning has been made easy and enjoyable through an all-in-one coursebook with colourful illustrations and inspiring stories whilst maintaining a child friendly approach to create a better understanding.

We have selected important topics from the subjects of Islamic Jurisprudence, the life and Sayings of our beloved Messenger Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, historical anecdotes, essential beliefs, mannerisms and social etiquettes all relevant to the age and need of the child.

Corresponding workbooks with differentiated activities which consolidate the pupil’s learning. Involving them by setting tasks using the blooms taxonomy, a proven method of assessing and measuring a child’s progress and attainment.

In addition to this we have also compiled a unique Surah and dua book for the child to memorise and revise with ease.

Fully referenced from authentic sources and verified by senior scholars.

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn!

Register for a launch event: http://an-nasihah-publications.eventbrite.co.uk/

Website: http://www.an-nasihah.com
Email: admin@an-nasihah.com

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BBC focus on British Deobandi, how should you respond?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

[3:110] You are the best Ummah ever raised for mankind. You bid the Fair and forbid the Unfair, and you believe in Allah.

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh

Letters received by numerous Deobandi institutes this week from the BBC News & Current Affairs department has stirred a great deal of interest and frenzy on social media. In light of these letters we would like to point out that the matter is being discussed amongst the ‘Ulama and responses to the BBC are being formulated.

Whilst we are unable to make the contents of these letters public at this time as they are under response, we would like to make a few observations and comments, to bring factual and accurate representation of Deobandi scholars and institutes, as well as to remind Muslims on how they should respond.

Although the letters don’t contain the details of the program, we think that the program is entitled ”The Deobandis” to be aired in 2 parts with the first part going live on Tuesday the 5th of April 2016 between 9.00am-9.45am. We encourage Muslims to tune in to both parts and to listen in.

Understanding the nuances of the term “Deobandi”

Darul ‘Uloom Deoband which is the full name that is often shortened to “Deoband” is an institute of higher Islamic education in a town called Deoband in India that was established in 1866 to preserve the heritage of religious learning. Today, it remains one of India’s largest and oldest seminaries where Muslims not only from India, but countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh etc., as well as from the Middle East and East Asia attend to gain undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Islamic Studies (‘Alimiyyah, Ifta, Tafsir, Hadith etc.).

Those associated with Darul ‘Uloom Deoband have played a crucial role in promoting a pluralistic society within India. During his speech at the World Sufi Forum (Delhi) on the 17th of March 2016, the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s acknowledged this role and paid tribute to the Scholars of Deoband stating:

The tallest of our leaders, such as Maulana Azad, and important spiritual leaders, such as Maulana Hussain Madani, and millions and millions of ordinary citizens, rejected the idea of division on the basis of religion.

Islam does not have a central religious authority, unlike for instance The Pope in Catholicism, and has always had a rich tapestry of diverse mutually-existing emphasis and interpretations of the sources of the religion – the Quran and Sunnah. In that context, it was up to scholarship to investigate and interpret the sources, and thus to establish normative Islam. These efforts very early in Islamic civilisation led to the establishment of centres of learning where both religious knowledge and subjects like Astronomy, Medicine, Chemistry, Geography, Logic, Philosophy etc. where taught. It became customary for scholars to take the name of the place they were from (or most known to be from) as suffixes in their names. And sometimes they would take multiple names. For example, the term “Al-Qurtubi” has been used for scholars from Cordoba in Spain, “Al-Azhari” for scholars from the institute of Al-Azhar in Cairo, “Al-Khwarizmi” for scholars from Khwarizm in Uzbekistan, and so on. The closest to this tradition in UK is the custom of showing the university one attained their degree from, such as the designation “Oxon” for Oxford or “Cantab” for Cambridge.

The use of the term “Deobandi” derives from this tradition, and refers to scholars who have either learnt, or studied with teachers, from Darul ‘Uloom Deoband. However, with time, as the number of graduates increased and became widespread, the term “Deobandi” came to be used much more loosely, particularly by non-scholars, often as throwaway labels of religious identity in antagonism to other religious identities. The growth of such attitude has meant that it is very easy, in a highly un-nuanced way, to categorise just about any Muslim as “Deobandi”. For instance, it is often the case that if you have friends who frequent so-called “Deobandi” institutes it is possible then you too could be known as “Deobandi” simply by virtue of association.

Contextualisation plays a significant role in traditional Islam, jurisprudence and derivation of (Islamic) rulings. It is therefore self-evident that a traditionally trained Deobandi scholar in Britain while using the same processes and methodologies may arrive at a different ruling to a Deobandi scholar in India. The origin of Deoband is in India and the Muslim community in India is a minority. In contrast, the Muslim community in Pakistan is in majority and therefore more assertive in nature. There are some similarities between the British Deobandi model and the Indian Deobandi model due to both communities being minorities. However, since British Deobandi community is unique in its context, it has evolved differently and its successful contribution and integration within the British civil society (across local communities, hospitals, prisons, charity organisations etc.) is evident. British Deobandis are successfully running close to 40% (or more) of Mosques in Britain independently, without resorting to government funds or support. It is a success story which is to be admired and appreciated.

Yet, the overwhelming majority of Muslims who might get labelled as “Deobandi” are of course not the least bit versed in the theological minutia of “Deobandi” scholars, which remain academic in nature. The term “Deobandi” unwittingly thus takes only the meaning of a religious identity. And unfortunately, disinterested Muslims are most guilty of misappropriating the term in this way, particularly those entrenched in religious dissension who fail to recognise that theological debates should be left to scholars. This in turn perpetuates completely unnecessary division within communities. Finally, “Deobandi” itself is not a fixed term. “Deobandi” scholars – both past and present, themselves have different interpretations on many matters, which is in tune with the wider tradition of normative Islamic scholarship throughout all periods. ”Deobandi” is nothing but traditional law.

What is the position of Deobandi scholars of Britain on terrorism, British values and integration?

Deobandi scholars:

  1. Fully endorse and are signatories to the many fatwas and conferences in 2008 & 2009 condemning in the strongest terms all forms of hate speech, violence, radicalisation, and involvement in terrorism, whether home or abroad. They have also endorsed and are signatories to the letter to Baghdadi.
  2. Explicitly, categorically and strongly condemn, and have no links to, terrorist organisations.
  3. Promote British values (such as such as democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs or of none) and teach that they are completely complimentary to Islamic values. The largest and leading Deobandi seminary in the UK is an independent school which has been rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted in 2014, and has repeated been found by inspectors (as recent as 2016) to promote British values and balances secular curriculum with Islamic education.
  4. Are against sentiments that are not conducive to integration and community cohesion in Britain.
  5. Take immense pride engaging in dialogue with faith and non-faith groups, as well as using faith to inspire Muslims to add value to society through achieving excellence in their jobs and workplaces, trades, charities, volunteering etc., so as to play their full part in British society.

Why should the letters to Deobandi scholars and institutes be of a concern to us?

The recent letters to Deobandi institutions are mostly generic in nature, and are being responded to by the institutes concerned. However, in some of these letters, the BBC programme makers have not asked for clarification but seem to have concluded that senior Deobandi scholars and institutes are associated with the Taliban. It appears that an attempt is being made to frame Deobandi scholars as somehow supporters of terrorist organisations by virtue of an implied “guilt by association”. Such assertions are deeply ill-informed and unsubstantiated. It is disconcerting that a public broadcaster like the BBC should attempt crude sensationalism, as it clearly belies the BBC’s high standards and defames the peace-promoting “Deobandi” scholars and institutes.

The methodology of being “guilty by association” is a tactic which is being liberally used against all Muslims, particularly those already in or seeking to enter public life. Many high profile Muslims and Muslim organisations who are fully engaged with the democratic and civic traditions of our country have also been unfairly slurred in part due to their Islamic identity. The source of such concerns could be as flimsy as being a Facebook friend with a former extremist, attending a university where radicals also studied, or having encouraged others not to co-operate with police. These broad brush character assassinations are seriously worrying.

With regard to the relationship with the Taliban, there has no doubt been an evolution in the collective stance of the UK and USA. For example, in the period 2001-2004 the Taleban had a number of official diplomatic-level visits to the USA meeting up with the then Vice President Joe Biden, which culminated in the White House officially confirming that the Taliban were not the enemy. Here are two examples of White House policy on Taliban, in 2001 and then 10 years later in 2011.

In light of this, finding Deobandi scholars today guilty by historical association is a crass standard of journalism. If it were an acceptable standard of journalism, it would mean that the many Foreign Secretaries who met and supported the likes of Saddam Hussain, Muammar Ghaddafi, Jerry Adams (Sein Fein) and others who were once supported but turned out to be terrorists or dictators etc., should all be found guilty by association. British relationship with the Sein Fein has  evolved over decades from being considered terrorists to (now) a legitimate political party involved in the British democratic process. Political relationships are fluid, influenced by policies and evolve.

Such approach does not take into account the changing nature of geo-politics and the adjustments and responses people, institutes and governments make.

How should British Muslims react when faced with slander?

The Quran provides a clear way forward for Muslims: “The good deed and the bad deed cannot be equal. Repel (the bad) with one which is better, then surely between whom and you there was enmity, will become as though he was a close friend.” (Quran, 41:34). The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught the companions: “You have been raised to be easy on people, not to be hard on them” (Al-Bukhari).

This means that even when fear, prejudice or stereotyping become widespread, particular if intended to defame or discredit Muslims, Islamic traditions (or infact any law-abiding civilised society), it is important to respond with convincing arguments and compassion, with something better as the Quran clearly states.

Advises Muslims to:

  1. Always seek consultation with parents, elders, scholars, imams and community leaders.
  2. Refrain from unnecessary commenting on this subject unless you have something beneficial to say as it is a matter for the institutes that have received the letters.
  3. Refrain from bad choice of words and language, or showing disrespect to the BBC or anyone, on social media or otherwise.
  4. Understand that the use of the term “Deobandi” has nuances that are usually overlooked. Whilst differences will always remain, and are a mercy to us, they should not be allowed to cause disunity. We should have the maturity and understanding to show good relations and manners (adab and akhlaq) to one another. We remain a part and parcel of British society and must show solidarity to play a key role in discharging our obligations and being in service (khidma) to others.
  5. We will further advise on how to write to the BBC to convey your thoughts about how the BBC should act to resolve not to make untrue and sensationalised assertions.

Finally, we pray and sincerely hope that the BBC producers will play a positive role in community cohesion to bring hearts and minds together and to maintain the high standards of journalism.

جزاك اللهُ خيرًا

Wifaqul Ulama

is an Islamic organisation and attempts to provide answers to issues and queries pertaining to Islam which are subsequently posted for public view for educational purposes. We bear no responsibility for circumstances and situations where the answers are misinterpreted, applied incorrectly or taken out of context. We reserve the right to revise and update content as and when needed and required. Please feel free to contacts us on wifaqulu@wifaqululama.co.uk.

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Women’s Mosque? Women’s Empowerment?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

By Khalid Baig

Posted: 11 Rabi al-Thani 1436, 1 February 2015

The Women’s Mosque of America has started operations in Los Angeles. It is not a mosque per se, but the name of a non-profit organization. It began with holding female only Jumuah prayers, in an old synagogue with Stars of David etched on the stained glass windows. The decision to use this venue was made to “promote peace.”

Creating a separate space for Muslim women is a noble idea. Unfortunately the organizers chose the one event for this project for which it has no basis in the Shariah. Muslim women are not required to offer Jumuah. They are allowed but not required. (They can offer the Dhuhr prayer instead.) Further by consensus of scholars of all schools, Muslim women are not allowed to lead Jumuah prayers or deliver Jumuah Khutbahs. Not surprisingly the project met with disapproval from the great majority of local Muslim scholars who objected exactly on this ground. The women who prayed there were advised to still offer their Dhuhr prayer as the prayer obligation remained undischarged.[1]

But there is a larger issue that has not been discussed. One wonders what the officers of this corporation would think of establishing a women only school or women only college. Obviously if women need access to Islamic education in an exclusive space, then would not a daily regular school be far superior to a twenty minute sermon delivered once a month? Alas their future programs make no mention of such a plan. On the contrary other programs will be coed.

It is also interesting to see the media reaction. This was a media event and all the big names were there. And they were excited. From the Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal, from ABC news to Fox News, everyone praised this as a historic event. It was considered a key development in empowerment of Muslim women. “Maybe we could get a female Luther out of this,” Los Angeles Times reported an excited congregant as saying.

The question that we must ask is what the media reaction would be if the organizers had opened a women’s only college instead. Would that be considered a historic event that would open the doors to scholarship for Muslim women? Would that be praised by the same media as a space “where Muslim women can ‘bring their whole self,’ learn more about their faith and foster bonds of sisterhood?”

It is more likely that this would be ridiculed as a step backwards, as another sign of oppression of Muslim women.

Why? Why the same act is praiseworthy in one case and blameworthy in the other?  The answer may be that it is flouting the traditions and well established Islamic teachings in one case and complying with them in the other. The first act is therefore considered empowering and the other enslaving. The hypocrisy has a rationale!

It may be therefore empowering to deconstruct the notion of “women’s empowerment” itself.

The sad fact is that we are caught up in the discourse of empowerment. Everyone these days is for “women’s empowerment.” And it is taboo to question this dogma. But let us ask, where does this word come from? Does it come from the Islamic discourse or its textual sources? The Qur’an does not talk about “women’s empowerment.” Neither does Hadith. Neither does the Islamic literature produced by authorities and scholars of varied persuasions over the centuries. If in doubt please tell me what is the Arabic term for “empowerment” and where do you find it in the Islamic textual sources?

Let us face it: It is a foreign term. And like other foreign terms it has to be examined carefully before we start using it and submit to its dictates.

The term as used today comes from the feminist discourse. And it brings with it the entire feminist agenda. Simply stated, the ideology of women’s empowerment means establishing an absolute-no-holds-barred-equality between men and women. Dozens of international organizations are devoted to promoting “women’s empowerment” and use the term interchangeably with “gender equality” and “gender mainstreaming.” At a more basic level it means fighting for your rights. As American feminist Gloria Steinem said, “Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.”

Let us contrast this with Islamic history.

The pre-Islamic Meccan society, like all Jahiliyya societies then and now, had its share of the weak and the downtrodden. Women were oppressed. So were slaves. Anyone belonging to another tribe was discriminated against. Did the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, go to them and say I have come to empower you? Did he invite them to start an empowerment movement? If he did, the seerah and Hadith books do not record it. Rather his message to everyone was, “Become a believer and you will be successful.” The promise was falah, the eternal and ultimate success, to be achieved through iman (faith) and taqwa (righteous action performed with the fear of displeasing Allah). To men and women, to slaves and masters, the rich and poor, Arabs and non-Arabs, the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said one thing:

"O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful." Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

“O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful.” Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

“O people, say there is no god but Allah and you will be successful.” Belief in Allah and submission to His commands were the road to falah.

The society that was so built did eliminate the injustices to the slaves and women and the poor and all the downtrodden people. But the path to that uplifting was not through the talk of empowerment. Rather it was through an exactly opposite strategy. Islam did not urge women to fight for their rights; it urged the men to discharge their responsibilities toward the women, fearing Allah. It did not urge the poor to fight for their rights; it urged the wealthy to discharge their responsibilities toward the poor, fearing Allah. It also urged the women to discharge their responsibilities toward their husbands. In fact it changed the focus of everyone from their rights to their responsibilities. For in the Hereafter we’ll be held accountable for our responsibilities, not our rights. If we were shortchanged on our rights here, we will be fully compensated there. But if we were negligent in discharging other’s rights on us, we will have to pay heavily for it there. Needless to say, with everyone concerned with their responsibilities, the rights of the others are automatically secured. Further, with justice being a supreme goal of Islam, redressing injustices becomes everyone’s job not just those of the victims. With this approach Islam obtained justice in the society but without the incessant friction and disharmony that is an essential result of an ongoing fight. It uplifted women without instituting a perpetual gender war. As Imam Zaid Shakir notes: “Islam has never advocated a liberationist philosophy.”

The language of empowerment is diametrically opposed to it. It makes everyone focus on their rights, not their responsibilities. The battle cry is, watch out for yourself for no one else will. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. With no one being primarily concerned with discharging their responsibilities, securing your rights becomes a lifelong struggle. You will only get those rights for which you fight. Hence the perpetual campaign for women’s empowerment.

What has that led to? The exact opposite of what it aimed at. The empowerment rhetoric did not end exploitation of women; it actually has opened exciting new avenues for it. As Dr. Brooke Magnanti wrote in the Telegraph, “Too often the word is used as a smokescreen for increasing consumerism, a cousin of L’Oreal’s ‘because you’re worth it’ whereby you can presumably empower yourself by buying shoes and pretty little journals, which is somehow worthier than simply buying things because you need or like these things. Or worse still, by landing some 9-to-5 corporate grinding job.”[2]

But it has done much more. It has destroyed the home and family beyond recognition. Even more, it has drastically changed men and women. Here are the words of Father John McCloskey, a Catholic priest lamenting the disaster that this world has faced.

There is something radically wrong with the family and the relationship between the sexes in the West as we rapidly approach the third millennium of the Christian era… Indeed it would be hard to find similar situations in history, unless it be the pre-Christian paganism of the Roman Empire (cf. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans l: ll-20) or the behavior of the barbarian hordes of central Asia as they poured into a weak and decadent empire… Today, in societies that are nominally Christian, we witness the phenomenon of women who do not act like women, nor men like men, nor families like families. Codes of moral behavior that have made the family the central unit of society and have been the “guardrails” of civilization for centuries have been discarded as antiquated.”[3]

If we blindly follow the talk of women’s empowerment, we will also be headed to this lizard’s hole. Or we can follow the path of falah shown by the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and say goodbye to the borrowed language and borrowed ideologies.

The Women’s Mosque organization was started by two ladies, a comedy writer and a lawyer, as a reaction to their “mistreatment” at some other mosque. The “mistreatment” consisted in somebody in that mosque gently pointing them upstairs to a separate area for women.  They apparently thought that the separate upstairs space that had been provided was beneath them. One wonders if that is the attitude of a humble servant of God. In reaction they organized an event that violated the commands of the same God whom they so desperately wanted to serve. And they started a first ever “protest mosque.”

Among other firsts, it also encouraged women to “enter the mosque in the type and style of clothing in which they feel comfortable.” In other words it decreed that Islam does not prescribe any dress code for prayers. Anyone who thought otherwise was asked to keep their opinions to themselves. It asked that no woman should remind another woman to, say, cover her head while praying. If the mosque was a consecrated space which imposed its own rules of decorum and proper conduct, including dignified and modest attire, the “Women’s Mosque” had nothing to do with that.

Such is the tragedy when we become consumed by our desires. These ladies and their sympathizers would do well to listen to the words of Imam Zaid Shakir: “Our fulfillment does not lie in our liberation, rather it lies in the conquest of our soul and its base desires. That conquest only occurs through our enslavement to God.”

Does Islam ask the women to get sacred knowledge? Absolutely. And today, unlike the bleak picture painted by the marketing department of Women’s Mosque, women are very active in seeking religious knowledge. They are doing it from their homes over the phone and Internet; in gatherings arranged at private homes; in schools established for this purpose. And they are doing it in mosques as well. There are some institutions who have thousands of women studying with them from their homes. They are studying Arabic, Hadith, Fiqh, Qur’an, and so on. May Allah bless these efforts and multiply them. This is the right answer to the problem of women education. Not a Jumuah khutbah delivered by a woman once a month.

The organizers of the Women’s Mosque are right that for proper education women need a safe space where they are by themselves. Where they can discuss their problems freely, get inspired by other sisters, and seek both emotional and intellectual fulfillment from them. Where they do not have to act like men or compete with them. Where women can be women. If one is guided by Islamic teachings and not the talk of empowerment then one could easily see that it should lead to the development of female only schools, colleges, and youth groups.


[1] For a detailed discussion of the fiqhi ruling on women leading prayers, see Imam Zaid Shakir’s article at http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/female_prayer_leadership_revisited. But the matter is simple to understand even without a detailed technical discussion. Dr. Salman Nadvi, who headed the Islamic Studies department at the University of Durban until his retirement and who is the son of the illustrious scholar Allama Sulaiman Nadvi, said: “If Allah wanted women to lead their own Jumuah prayers He would have asked the Prophet to order this and would have asked the Ummahat al-Mu’mineen to lead the prayers.”

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/dr-brooke-magnanti/

[3] http://www.catholicity.com/mccloskey/singlesexedu.html

source: http://albalagh.net/current_affairs/0107.shtml

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The Nobel Award and the Not-So-Noble Propaganda Campaign

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

By Khalid Baig

Posted: 20 Dhul Hijjah 1435, 15 October 2014

“The US corporate media loves talking about the remarkable bravery and strength of Malala and the brutality of the Taliban forces that almost killed her. Such coverage fuels its racist, orientalist, neocolonialist narrative about “backward,” violent, misogynist Muslims and their need for “white saviors,” thereby legitimizing Western imperialist interests in South and West Asia.  (Ben Norton in Dissident Voice)

The news of the award of a Nobel Prize for Peace to a Pakistani girl was accompanied by a condemnation of the Pakistani society in the mainstream media. Its crime: Its people were not dancing in the streets to celebrate the honor given. They even had the temerity to question the motives of the award givers and the actions of the recipient. They refused to take the attacks of the young recipient on Islam in stride. If it was trying to give a message to Pakistan, the Nobel committee must have felt that it was doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful. Poor, fanatic Pakistanis who cannot appreciate a good thing.  “By winning the Nobel prize, Malala joins Pakistan’s loneliest club,” announced the Washington Post in a bold headline.

The distance between the make-believe world of the media and the reality can be seen in that headline itself. Did she win, as the headline says, or was she awarded? You win, say, a marathon race, by being the first to reach the destination. It reflects effort and achievement. You do not get it because of the largess of the judges. They do not declare you a winner to promote the diet and exercise routine that you had followed. A Nobel prize, on the other hand, is an award— a political decision made by the judges aimed at achieving a political goal. Even the award announcement makes it so clear. It says: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.” This is loaded political language.

Obviously if one does not agree with your political goals, one will not support the decisions made to advance those goals. There will be no reason to celebrate the award, in contrast to the win in the race. The media showed a singular inability to understand the distinction by blaming the Pakistanis for not celebrating the “win.”

Education is a wonderful thing. But what exactly do you want to teach? In case of Malala the agenda is very clear. In the writings that have been published in her name, she looks down on the education in the core values of one’s faith. She does not like Islamic studies. She is concerned about the increase in the number of madrasahs. She condemns female students who were the victims of barbaric military atrocities including dropping of phosphorous bombs on their own school. So much for being a champion of universal education!

Beyond education she also has statements to make on important issues of the day in Pakistan, like Blasphemy laws, Islamization of penal code, Hudood ordinance, even Muslim protests against the intensely provocative insults of Salman Rushdie. And on all these issue she parrots the lines taught by her imperial mentors. It is obvious that all her utterances are scripted. Further, her script writers and those who have awarded her for reading from the script are certainly working in harmony.

And then the pundits wonder with perfect disingenuity why the people are not rejoicing over her “win.”

But there was some consolation for the media. For some people did fall for the trap both in Pakistan and in the diaspora.

If you are suffering from  a very low self esteem (itself a gift of the media) you would be excused for grabbing on to anything to raise it up, including a tainted award.  They exhibited the signs of an inferiority complex: Denial, day dreaming and wishful thinking. Denial that a young girl is being used (Even when many of them agreed that her book is a case of that. No one defends her book and people in Pakistan are not rushing to the bookstores to get a copy.); daydreaming that the powers that be are choosing to honor a Muslim girl because of her goodness; and wishful thinking that some good can come out of the plans which are anything but good.

Their infatuation with the Nobel prize —itself a mark of colonization of the minds—led them to accept the Malala-for-education-versus-Taliban-against-education narrative. Little did they realize that this is a false dichotomy created by the propaganda machine. She is no champion of education and those questioning her status as a heroine are not against education. She did not build schools or help anyone get an education. She did not come up with any program for spreading education. She only allowed herself to be used by faithfully uttering the propaganda lines that she had been assigned. In a way she had been abducted. Her Nobel Prize award was a certificate that her abduction was complete.

After reading her book and her pronouncements the most charitable thing that can be said is that she is young and innocent and is unfortunately being used by powers with an agenda. This admission will lead us to pray for her liberation from the trap she has fallen into.

Let us mourn the abduction of a daughter of this ummah. And let us also mourn the celebration in some quarters of this abduction.

http://www.albalagh.net/current_affairs/0106.shtml

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Quran Reflections – Juz Four

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Muslim Unity

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with Allāh, and do not draw apart from one another. And remember the blessings which Allāh has bestowed upon you: how, when you were enemies, He brought  your  hearts together,  so  that  through  His  blessing  you became brethren; and (how, when) you were on the brink of a fiery abyss, He saved you from it. This is how Allāh makes His signs clear to you, so that you may take the right path. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:103)

Unity is a subject discussed often in Muslim circles. The problems caused by its absence at every level, from small local communities to the worldwide ummah, are too vivid to be ignored. Unfortunately we talk about unity the way we talk about the weather; something that is happening to us. We take no responsibility for it and thus assure that the sorry state of disunity will continue.

This āyah should change that fatal attitude for it starts with two command verbs, a do and a don’t.  Do hold fast together unto the bond with Allāh and do not cause divisions among yourself. The word used is ḥabl or rope. The metaphor is that of a lifeline thrown at us by Allāh. If we hold on to it we will be saved. It will keep us together as well as we will all be pulled by the same rope. This lifeline can never break. But we can choose to not hold on to it. This is the fundamental reason for all the disunity today. If we choose to attain unity on any other basis (e.g. nationalism, democracy, or economic goals) we will fail as has been witnessed in so many cases in recent history alone. Ultimately all of these appeal to interests that will collide at some point or another.

The brotherhood that brought the tribes that had been at war with each other for centuries is mentioned as a blessing. Not only the Muhājirs of Makkah and Anṣārs of Madinah were brought together in an exemplary brotherhood, so were the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, the Madinan tribes whose last war lasted for 120 years and ended only a short time before the coming of the Prophet ﷺ to Madinah.

But this blessing came when the new Muslim society had been taking steps that qualified it for receiving it. From the moment the Prophet ﷺ set his foot in Madinah  he took steps to nurture brotherhood. Among the first hadith reported from that period is the famous one: “Spread salam, feed others, pray (nafl tahajjud ṣalāh) when the  people are asleep, and you will enter the Paradise with  ease.” Here interpersonal relations were put at the same level as acts of worship. Greeting everyone and not just those with whom we have good terms was emphasized.  So was inviting people to break bread together. Such seemingly minor acts have big consequences in nurturing brotherly  love and creating the environment which promotes unity and stifles the negative feelings that cause disunity. It is remarkable how the smallest things that can cause ill feelings were elaborated. For example it  was prohibited that  in the presence of a third  person two people should start a whispering conversation among themselves. This would make him feel left out. Making fun of each other was strictly prohibited on moral grounds.

Today we ignore all of these commands. Backbiting, suspicions, and slander are common. We are driven by personal interests and egos while running Islamic organizations. Then we complain that unity is not happening to us. Things will change only when we take personal responsibility for it.

Charter of the Ummah: Enjoining Good

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم ۚ مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
You are the best ‘Ummah ever raised for (the good of ) mankind. You enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong and you believe in Allāh. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:110)

Here, promoting good, truth, and justice and checking evil and injustice in the community and the world is declared as the defining mission for this ummah. This gives rise to that cherished (and much maligned in the secular world) institution of amr-bil-maʿrūf.

In amr-bil-maʿrūf, the community of believers has a built- in self-correcting mechanism. Consider cruise control in an automobile. Once turned on, it keeps monitoring the car speed and pulling it towards the set point. It does not mean absence of tendency to deviate from the desired speed, only an effective  mechanism for monitoring and countering it. What cruise control does for car speed, amr-bil-maʿrūf does for the direction of the society.

This mechanism works at two levels. At one level it is the responsibility of every member of the society. When we see a wrong we should correct it. A very famous hadith declares it as an issue of faith. “Whoever amongst you sees an evil should change it with his hand. If he is unable to do that then with his tongue. If he is unable to do that, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of Īmān.” So if a person does not even feel bad about an evil, he has no faith whatsoever. Similarly we are encouraged to promote good. One hadith promises that a person who persuades another one to do some good deed will get the same reward as the person he persuaded. At this level the responsibility of every member of the society is for his or her own sphere of influence: family, friends, colleagues,  neighbors. When taken together these spheres would encompass the entire society.

At a higher level this is a specialized task. A full time job for a qualified group to always monitor the direction of the society and fight deviations at a collective level. We must remember that the Islamic society is the only society with a declared mission of promoting good and forbidding evil. So this is also a unique institution that will not be looked at kindly by those who oppose this objective. Further, its definition of good and evil is not  subject to the whims and desires of every generation or the perceived interests of a nation-state. They are permanent concepts as defined in its unalterable sources: Qur’ān and Sunnah. In a world of moral relativism these permanent values are the hope for the whole mankind. To keep these alive in the society we need the institution of amr-bil-maʿrūf.

Anti-Islamic Propaganda

لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your persons; and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you persevere patiently, and guard against evil, then that will be a determining factor in all affairs. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:186)

Many of us get unnerved when the propaganda machine goes in the attack mode. While it is our job to respond to the allegations and portray the correct image, nevertheless it is not right to get panicky and start appeasing to “correct the image.” A Muslim must not be intimidated by false propaganda,  no matter how ferocious. The Qur’ān mentions as a quality of the believers who love Allāh and are loved by Him that they strive in His path “fearing not the blame of any blamer.” It assures us that the propaganda will continue as part of our test. But it will not harm us if we persevere.

Wisdom and Science Education

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Surely, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of wisdom. (Āli ʿImrān, 3:190)

This āyah gives a totally revolutionary concept of wisdom. The truly wise person is one who looks at the universe and the phenomena taking place here, reflects on them, and sees the Hand of Allāh in all this. The observation of the creations leads him to the Creator. The more he reflects the more he remembers Allāh.

It follows that the person who remains disinterested or a disbeliever in the Creator while looking at the universe is not a person of understanding or wisdom. He may have the most prestigious degrees, yet he remains an ignorant person in reality.

This is the fundamental problem with the education of science today. It teaches that God is irrelevant to the running and study of the universe. This position itself is not scientific; it is not that science has discovered and proved that God is not there or is not running the universe. It is only a dogma that is forced on its students.
In  schools throughout the Muslim world this dogma is being spread in  the  name of science education, with devastating results. That is why Islamization of the entire curriculum is so important.

Taqwā and Marital Bliss

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
O Mankind! Have taqwā of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And have taqwā of Allāh, in whose name you demand (your rights) from one another, and fear (the violation of the rights of ) the ties of kinship. Surely, Allāh is watchful over you. (An-Nisā’, 4:1)

This āyah should be familiar to anyone who has attended a Muslim wedding ceremony and listened to the khuṭbah of nikah. What is the relevance of this āyah to the marriage ceremony? Taqwā, as is usually imagined, involves visions of austere piety. In typical marriage ceremonies the atmosphere is as far away from any sense of taqwā as possible.  Yet the short khuṭbah on this occasion heavily emphasizes taqwā.

While the atmosphere in  these ceremonies is a great misfortune, the question remains: What does taqwā have to do with success in married life? The short answer is, everything. Taqwā is the consciousness of Allāh and fear of displeasing Him. It applies to every aspect of our life, not just the acts of worship to which it is usually and erroneously restricted. And it is especially the taqwā in dealings which is the key to solving all marital problems. It is when problems arise—which is natural—that negative feelings of frustrations and  anger are engendered, which lead to negative actions. Trouble starts in these moments of weakness. Taqwā in dealings—although not found easily even among otherwise religious people—is the key to maintaining a fair and balanced attitude exactly at these difficult times.

A husband or wife conscious of their accountability to Allāh will not get carried away in their anger nor will they be ready to exploit the weakness of the other party. They will be kind and patient. They will be willing to make sacrifices and compromises when indicated by the situation. They will be forgiving. They will not be preoccupied with their rights but with their responsibilities in marriage. The Prophetic guidance on this matter is sufficient to solve marital problems and bring about true marital bliss. Taqwā will make it possible for the couple to listen to the Prophetic advice even in the heat of the moment and benefit from it.

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Knowledge and Adab

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Syed Muhammad al-Naquib al-Attas
Posted: 26 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1433, 18 April 2012

The aim of education in Islam is to produce a good man.’ What is meant by good in our concept of `good man’? The fundamental element inherent in the concept of education in Islam is the inculcation of adab (ta`dib), for it is adab in the all-inclusive sense I mean, as encompassing the spiritual and material life of a man that instills the quality of goodness that is sought after. Education is what the Prophet, Peace be upon him, meant by adab when he said:

“My Lord, educated (addaba) me and made my education (ta`dib) most excellent.”

There is a general tendency among Muslims who are aware of the dilemma that is now pressing upon the Community to see its causes as external, as coming from the outside, originating from influences exerted by Western culture and civilization. That its causes are attributed to external elements is of course based upon correct observation, but it is also only partly true. It is true that the Muslim mind is now undergoing profound infiltration of cultural and intellectual elements alien to Islam; but to say that the causes are derived from external sources is only partly true. How has it been possible in the first place for Muslims to succumb to such infiltration to the extent that their predicament has now assumed the proportions of a dilemma? We will at once realize that the external causes referred to are not the only ones responsible for throwing us into a state of general crisis, and we must see that the full truth of our answer to the question lies undeniably in the prevalence of a certain anomaly within our Community; an anomaly that has with increasing persistence plagued our world and our intellectual history, and that has been left uncorrected and unchecked, now to spread like a raging contagion in our midst. Only by our consciousness and recognition and acknowledgement that serious internal causes have in. fact contributed considerably to our general disarray will we be able to discern the full truth that lies at the core of the dilemma we suffer today.

We can never resolve this dilemma unless we know why we have allowed ourselves to be so weakened as to be susceptible of straying away from the right path. One of the definitions of knowledge is to know the cause of the existence of a thing, for knowledge of the cause or causes is itself a partial solution to the problem. And this brief discussion on external and internal causes is meant to create the awareness that the internal causes are prior to the external and as such the former have primacy over the latter, so that their clarification demands our urgent attention. This introduction will attempt to clarify the problem.

Basic Problem: Loss of Adab

As to the internal causes of the dilemma in which we find ourselves, the basic problems can – it seems to me – be reduced to a single evident crisis which I would simply call the loss of adab. I am here referring to the loss of discipline — the discipline of body, mind, and soul, the discipline that assures the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s self, society and Community; the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual capacities and potentials; the recognition and acknowledgement of the fact that knowledge and being are ordered hierarchically. Since adab refers to recognition and acknowledgement of the right and proper place, station, and condition in life and to self-discipline in positive and willing participation in enacting one’s role in accordance with that recognition and acknowledgement, its occurrence in one and in society as a whole reflects the condition of justice. Loss of adab implies loss of justice, which in turn betrays confusion in knowledge.

In respect of the society and community, the confusion in knowledge of Islam and the Islamic world-view creates the condition which enables false leaders to emerge and to thrive, causing the condition of injustice. They perpetuate this condition since it ensures the continued emergence of leaders like them to replace them after they are gone, perpetuating their domination over the affairs of the Community.

Thus to put it briefly in their proper order, our present general dilemma is caused by:

1. Confusion and error in knowledge, creating the condition for:
2. The loss of adab within the Community. The condition arising out of (1) and (2) is:
3. The rise of leaders who are not qualified for valid leadership of the Muslim community, who do not possess the high moral, intellectual and spiritual standards required for Islamic leadership, who perpetuate the condition in (1) above and ensure the continued control of the affairs of the Community by leaders like them who dominate in all fields.

All the above roots of our general dilemma are interdependent and operate in a vicious circle. But the chief cause is confusion and error in knowledge, and in order to break this vicious circle and remedy this grave problem, we must first come to grips with the problem of loss of adab, since no true knowledge can be instilled without the precondition of adab in the one who seeks it and to whom it is imparted. Thus, for sublime example, God Himself commands that the Holy Quran, the Fountain of all true knowledge, cannot even be touched in approach save through the prescribed adab or ritual purity. Knowledge must be approached reverently and in humility, and it cannot be possessed simply as if it were there available to everyone irrespective of intention and purpose and capacity. Where knowledge of Islam and the Islamic world-view is concerned, it is based on authority. Since Islam is already established in perfection from the very beginning, requiring no further developmental change nor evolution towards perfection, we say again that adequate knowledge about Islam is always possible for all Muslims. There can be no relativism in the historical interpretation of Islam, so that knowledge about it is either right or wrong, or true or false, where wrong and false means contradiction with the already established and clear truth, and right and true means conformity with it. Confusion about such truth means simply ignorance of it, and this is due not to any inherent vagueness or ambiguity on the part of that truth. The interpretation and clarification of knowledge about Islam and the Islamic world-view is accomplished by authority, and legitimate authority recognizes and acknowledges a hierarchy of authorities culminating in the Holy Prophet, upon whom be Peace.

It is incumbent upon us to have proper attitude towards legitimate authority, and that is reverence, love, respect, humility and intelligent trust in the veracity of the knowledge interpreted and clarified by such authority. Reverence, love, respect, humility and intelligent trust can be realized in one only when one recognizes and acknowledges the fact that there is a hierarchy in the human order and in authority within that hierarchy in the matter of intelligence, spiritual knowledge and virtue.

In respect of the human order in society, we do not in the least mean by `hierarchy’ that semblance of it wherein oppression and exploitation and domination are legitimized as if they were an established principle ordained by God. The fact that hierarchical disorders have prevailed in human society does not mean that hierarchy in the human order is not valid, for there is, in point of fact, legitimate hierarchy in the order of creation, and this is the Divine Order pervading all Creation and manifesting the occurrence of justice.

God is the Just, and He fashions and deploys all Creation in justice. In order that mankind generally might recognize and acknowledge the just order, He has bestowed upon His Prophets, Messengers and men of piety and spiritual discernment, the wisdom and knowledge of it so that they in turn might convey it to mankind who ought to conform with it as individuals and as a society. And this conformity with that order is the occurrence of adab; the resulting condition of that conformity is justice.

Process of Leveling

The chief characteristic symptom of loss of adab within the Community is the process of leveling that is cultivated from time to time in the Muslim mind and practiced in his society. By `leveling’ I mean the leveling of everyone, in mind and attitude, to the same level as the leveler. This mental and attitudinal process, which impinges upon action, is perpetrated through the encouragement of false leaders who wish to demolish legitimate authority and valid hierarchy so that they and their like might thrive, and who demonstrate by example by leveling the great to the level of less great, and then to that of the still less great. This Jahili streak of individualism, of immanent arrogance and obstinacy and the tendency to challenge and belittle legitimate authority seems to have perpetrated itself— albeit only among `ulama of less authoritative worth — in all periods of Muslim history. When Muslims become confused in their knowledge of Islam and its world-view, these `ulama tend to spread among them and influence their thinking and infiltrate into positions of religious leadership; then their leadership in all spheres of life tends to exhibit this dangerous streak and to encourage its practice among Muslims as if it were in conformity with the teachings of Islam. They who encourage this attitude pretend that what is encouraged is no other than the egalitarian principle of Islam, whereas in fact it is far from it in that what they propagate leads to the destruction, or at least the undermining, of legitimate authority and hierarchy in the human order — it is the leveling of all to their level; it is injustice.
No doubt it is possible to concede that the critics of the great and learned were in the past at least themselves great and learned in their own way, but it is a mistake to put them together on the same level — the more so to place the lesser above the greater in rank, as happens in the estimation of our age of greater confusion. In our own times those who know cannot fail to notice that critics of the great and learned and virtuous among Muslims, critics who include groups of both modernist and traditionalist `reformers’, and a third group consisting of secular scholars and intellectuals, who all emulate the example of their teachers in the habit of censuring their own true leaders, are men invariably of much less authoritative worth than the lesser of the past; men whose intellectual and spiritual perception of Islam and its world-view cannot even be compared with any of those of their teachers — let alone with those of the great they disparage, from whom their teachers derived knowledge and guidance without due acknowledgement.

They and their followers thrive where there is confusion and ignorance, where they can escape the relentless scrutiny and censure of knowledge. It is because Muslims in our age have become confused, ignorant and desperate that they see in them men who have, as if for the first time, opened their minds to Islam; they do not see that these men are poor imitations of the great of the past. They do not bring anything new that the illustrious Muslims of the past have not already brought; nor do they clarify Islam better to the clouded vision than the immensely superior clarification accomplished by the masters of the past. Yet, it is such as they who have been most vociferous and vehement in disparaging and denouncing the past, its, great and learned scholars, thinkers and jurists and men of spiritual discernment.

All the three groups mentioned are prone to leveling everyone to the same level of equality, notwithstanding the fact that even in God’s Sight we are not all the same and equal. Indeed, we are all the same in that we are creatures of God, human beings, cast in flesh and blood. But our spirits, our souls, though derived from that One Spirit, and though essentially the same are, in point of power and magnitude, not the same, not equal. We are like so many candles of varying lengths and shapes and hues and sizes; the tallow they are made from is essentially the same and the light they burn is essentially the same, but the greatness of the flame, the light each sheds, is not the same in power and magnitude. And we judge the value of the candle by the light it sheds just as we judge a man by those qualities by which he is not the same, but excels another, such as by his intelligence, virtue, and spiritual discernment. So it is neither correct nor true to regard such a man as merely a man of flesh and blood like any other, for he is not like any other in that his intelligence, virtue, and spiritual discernment transcend the limitations of his flesh and blood, and his greatness of spirit manifests his excellence over others. Adab is the recognition and acknowledgement of such lights in man; and acknowledgement entails an attitude expressing true reverence, love, respect, humility — it entails knowing one’s proper place in relation to him who sheds such light.

The basic problem, therefore, is that of education — the lack of proper and adequate Islamic education — for such education, rightly systematized, would assuredly prevent the occurrence of general confusion leading to aberrations and excesses in belief and in practice.

How Education is Leading to De-Islamization of the Muslim Mind

The secular scholars and intellectuals among the Muslims derive their inspiration mainly from the West. Ideologically they belong to the same line of descent as the modernist `reformers’ and their followers; and some of them cleave to the views of the traditionalist `reformers’ and their followers. The majority of them do not possess the intellectual, spiritual, and linguistic prerequisites of Islamic knowledge and epistemology so that they are severed from the cognitive and methodological approaches to the original sources of Islam and Islamic learning. In this way their knowledge of Islam is at the barest minimal level. Because they occupy a strategic position in the midst of the community and unless they drastically change their ways of thinking and believing, they pose a grave danger to the Islamic welfare of the Community. They have no adab, for they do not recognize and acknowledge the legitimate authorities in the true hierarchical order, and they demonstrate by example and teach and advocate confusion and error.

This is in fact the main reason why, as demonstrated in the course of Western intellectual history throughout the ages and the rise of secular philosophy and science in Western civilization, the Western conception of knowledge based upon its experience and consciousness must invariably lead to secularization. There can be no doubt, therefore, that if the secular Muslim scholars and intellectuals allow themselves, or are allowed to confuse the Muslim youth in knowledge, the delslamization of the Muslim mind will continue to take effect with greater persistence and intensity, and will follow the same kind of secularizing course in future generations. Large numbers among them do not fully understand the nature of Western culture and civilization whence they draw their inspiration and before which they stand agape in reverential awe and servile humility portraying the attitude of the inferior. They do not even completely grasp the contents and implications of the teachings of their alien masters, being content only to repeat them in vulgarized versions and so cheat the Muslim audience of their true worth.

In deIslamizing the Muslims, and in situations where Western colonialism or domination have held sway, the Western administrators and colonial theorists have first severed the pedagogical connection between the Holy Quran and the local language by establishing a system of secular education where race and traditional culture are emphasized. At the higher levels, linguistics and anthropology are introduced as the methodological tools for the study of language and culture, and Western values and models and orientalist scholarship and philology for the study of literature and history. Then, still being brought to bear upon the study of language and literature (which are the identifying and consolidating cultural elements of Islamization) and of history and traditional culture, sociology and educational theory and psychology are significantly introduced. These, misplaced at the purely rational disposal of scholars and intellectuals inadequately equipped with knowledge of Islam and its world-view, tend to reduce Islam to the level of other religions as if it were the proper `subject’ of the philosophy and the sociology of religion, and as if it were an evolved and developed expression of primitive religion. And all these and other fields of knowledge in the human sciences, including those philosophical elements in the theoretical aspects of the natural physical and biological sciences, instilled into the marginal minds of secular Muslim scholars and intellectuals, are such that their knowledge so conceived is productive not only of potential and theoretical confusion, but also of actual and practical error as well. Through the unbalanced assimilation and imparting of such knowledge without any Islamizing science and judgment being brought to bear upon its every proposition, and the active participation in its formulation and dissemination by secular scholars and intellectuals, the rapid propagation of loss of adab is assured and indeed becomes a widespread reality.

These false leaders among Muslims are responsible for causing the Romanization of the originally Arabic script of the language and thus facilitating gradual severance from its formal, lexical and conceptual connections with the Sources of Islam, with their own Islamic sources and with the languages of the other Muslim peoples; for causing the deArabization, Westernization and confusion of the language and its semantic and general vocabulary so that many important concepts pertaining to Islam and the Islamic world-view have lost their transparency and have become opaque; for causing the emergence of the journal and the newspaper — so significantly un-Islamic in concept and purpose — and of mediocre journalists and writers of rustic quality who all contribute to the mutilation of the standards of literary values and expression established by Islam; for causing the widespread emergence of the marginal Muslim and the marginal society stranger to the Ummah, and hence for causing the disintegration of consciousness in the ummatic solidarity; for causing the severance of the Muslim past from the consciousness of the present; for causing the establishment in our midst of an educational system designed, from the lowest to the highest levels, to perpetuate secular ideology; for causing the rise of various forms of chauvinism and socialism; for reviving the Jahili spirit of advocating a return to pre-Islamic values — and cultural tradition — and many more which for obvious reasons it is not necessary to detail here. And the same is true, in varying degrees of the absence of adab in respect of their character traits, their lack of quality, their contagious contribution to error and confusion in knowledge of Islam and its world view, and their propagation of false knowledge, of other such scholars and intellectuals among the Muslims, wherever they may be in the Muslim world, whether in the Arabic speaking regions or not. They have all become conscious or unconscious agents of Western culture and civilization, and in this capacity they represent what we have earlier identified as the external sources and causes of our dilemma. But their existence amongst us as part of the Community creates for us the situation whereby what was once regarded as `external’ has now moved in methodically and systematically to become internal. In their present condition, they pose as the external menace which has become a grave internal problem, for intellectually, as it were, the dar al-harb has advanced into the dar al-islam; they have become the enemy within, and — unlike the kinds known to the Muslims of the past — they are not hidden nor any longer lurking underground, but have surfaced in multitudes into the full light of awareness, advertising themselves openly and conspicuously and exhibiting their learned confusion and arrogant individualism so publicly that it is no longer possible to ignore them. The epistemological weapons they use to bring about the de-Islamization of the Muslim mind are invariably the same, and these are —apart from the underlying principles of secular philosophy and science that produced and nurtured them — anthropology, sociology, linguistics, psychology and the principles and methods of education. If the underlying principles and methods of these sciences are not made subject to some kind of Islamizing formula whereby they are rendered harmless, then, as they are, they would continue to be harmful to the Islamic welfare of the Community.

Iblis: Seeing the Clay Only

Loss of adab, then, not only implies loss of knowledge; it means also loss  of the capacity and ability to recognize and acknowledge true leaders. If all are brought down to the level of the masses, the awam, how can true leaders stand out above the rest? If true leaders are denied their rightful place above those they lead, how can they be recognized and acknowledged by the led? And true leaders must not be confused with the false, for how can nightingales, put in the same cage as crows, sing? To put true leaders in lofty stations in our estimation and to put ourselves below them and to revere, to love, to respect, to affirm their veracity and confirm in our actions their wise counsels and learned teachings in humility is not to worship them, as the narrow-minded among the modernist and traditionalist `reformers’ erroneously think. Were the Angels worshipping Adam, upon whom be Peace, when they prostrated themselves before him? Indeed, they were obeying God, Glorious and Exalted, and recognizing and acknowledging the superior knowledge bestowed upon the first men by his Creator — they not only ‘saw the clay he is made from, but they recognized and acknowledged even more so the spirit that God breathed into him. It was Iblis who saw only the clay and refused to recognize and acknowledge Adam’s superior nature, and disdained to prostrate before him in spite of the Divine Command. Recognition and acknowledgement of excellence in another does not mean regarding the other as a rabb and assuming an attitude of the `abd towards that other; it is none other than recognizing and acknowledging God’s knowledge and Will and Power and Just Purpose, His Bounty, Charity and Love in bestowing excellence in one over the other, so that that one may share it with others. But only those others who recognize and acknowledge derive benefit from it, not those who do not.

New Lamps for the Old?

We must see that the three main groups that perpetuate loss of adab in our times, and that not only perpetuate, but also consolidate its paralyzing influence and intensify its odious spread among the generations of contemporary Muslims, are not in reality our true leaders. Without knowing any of them, and without being in any way guided by them, we can still know about Islam and its world view from the great ‘ulama of the past who are the real interpreters of the sources of such knowledge. Conversely, without knowing the true teachers of the past and without being guided by them, it is almost impossible to arrive at the correct understanding and knowledge of Islam and its world view. It is as if the false leaders of our times have been fashioned in the mould of the crafty Master Magician in the guise of new lamps meant to be traded for the old. They indeed claim to be the new lamps; and we must not fall into the error of the ignorant wife of Aladdin, trading the old for the new, unaware of the priceless value and wonderful quality of the old far surpassing all of the new put together.

The thinking, methods and example adopted by these false leaders and their followers, (compounded of a mixture of truth and falsehood and right and wrong which are the ingredients of confusion, propagated and advocated at a time when Muslims are already confused and desperate and in no balanced state of mind and spirit to absorb more confusion), have effected among the generality who are influenced by them, a warped understanding of Islam and a clouded vision of its interpretation of the world and of reality and truth. The effect of their teachings among this generality of Muslims, particularly the younger generation who are experiencing the effects of Westernization, is the tendency towards a relentless and erroneous attitude of leveling by which they judge all things. Their words and actions betray their mental and attitudinal condition of leveling in which they imply and even understand the Holy Quran to be on the same level as other books; Islam to be on the same level as other religions; the Holy Prophet, upon whom be Peace, to be on the same level as other Prophets, Peace be upon them all, who are all regarded as being on the same level as ordinary men; the knowledge to be on the same level as other sciences; true leaders to be on the same level as false ones, and the greater to be on the same level as the lesser; the life of the world to be on the same level of importance as that of the hereafter. It is this leveling of everything instilled into the understanding of the masses, without due consideration being given to the quality of that understanding, and without due elaboration as to the distinctions that naturally exist in the hierarchical order of creation, especially in the human order, that is productive of the socialization’ of Islam.
The despiritualization of man, starting from the Holy Prophet himself—the despiritualization that must necessarily take place as a precondition to the leveling process — tends to involve Islam absurdly in a kind of secularization. These groups of false leaders, who are not even sure what they are supposed to do, and are equally groping for solutions to the general problems we encounter today — solutions hastily conceived in piecemeal fashion, of tentative validity and dubious soundness – have indeed misrepresented the achievements of the truly great `ulama of the past: the mujtahidun, the men of piety and virtue and of intellectual and spiritual excellence, in connection with their interpretation of Islam and its world view. Inclined as they are to see only small matters and not great ones in their estimation of superiors, they have not understood those men completely and have misrepresented them in caricature before us.

Torches and Candles

Our task ahead is to represent the true leaders of the past in truer light, to exercise justice in our estimation of them from whom our predecessors derived guidance and knowledge. We must reexamine the misrepresentations, referring every detail to the original sources they allegedly claim to represent; we must scrutinize their premises, their deductions and conclusions, and retrace the paths of their logic to see how far they have been correct or have been led astray by their own process of inadequate thinking; we must ourselves know the originals and understand them in their correct perspectives. It is our duty to study diligently the thoughts of the true leaders of the past, who were all recognized and acknowledged by a grateful Community; who all served Islam and the Muslims with signal merit, recognized and acknowledged by a knowing Community of contemporaries without their true characters and qualities having to be fabricated and `built up’ long after they were gone, as so often happens in our age of falsehood and confusion. We must learn from the great of the past their knowledge and wisdom. This does not mean that we ourselves cannot contribute any further knowledge that can be contributed, but it does mean that we must first draw our strength and inspiration from their wisdom and knowledge, and that when we do begin to contribute ours, we must recognize and acknowledge them as our teachers, and not disparage and denounce, for ijtihad can be exercised without having to undermine legitimate authority. They are like torches that light the way along difficult paths; when we have such torches to light our way, of what use are mere candles?

(Abridged from Introduction to Aims and Objectives of Islamic Education, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, 1978).

Source: Albalagh

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Why do we search for skills?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I once visited a deprived town to deliver a lecture, after which there came to me a teacher from outside the town. He said,”I hope you can help us finance some students.”

I said,”Strange! ’ arent the schools government funded, and therefore free?”

He said, “indeed they are, but we would like to fund their university education.”

I said, “Well, the universities are also government funded. They even offer student grants.”

He said,”Allow me to explain to you…”

“Go ahead”, I said.

He said,”Our students graduate from their secondary school with no less than 99%.They are so clever that if their intelligence was divided amongst the ummah, it would suffice! But when a student becomes determined to travel outside his town to study Medicine, Engineering, Islamic Law, Computer Science or any- thing else, his father prevents him from going, saying, what you know is sufficient! Now, remain with me and be a shepherd!”’

I screamed impulsively,”Be a shepherd?!”

He said,”Yes, a shepherd!”

And indeed, the poor boy stays with his father and becomes a shepherd, whilst all his abilities are wasted.Years go by and he remains a shepherd. He may even get married and have children whom  he may treat exactly as he was treated by his father Hence, all his children also become shepherds!

I asked,”So what’s the solution?”

He said, “The solution is to convince the father to employ someone as a shepherd for a few hundred riyals, which we will pay, and allow his son to take full advantage of his skills and
abilities. Of course, we will also continue to fund his son until he graduates.” The teacher then lowered his head and said,”it is inexcusable that such skills and talents in people are wasted when they long to utilise them.”

I contemplated upon what he had said and realised that we cannot reach the pinnacle except by taking advantage of the abilities we have and acquiring those that we do not.

Yes, I would challenge anyone to find a successful person, be they successful in academia, preaching, lecturing, business, medicine, engineering, or influencing others; or be they successful in family life, such as a successful father with his children, or a successful wife with her husband; or be they successful in their social life, such as a person who is successful with his neighbours and colleagues, and I mean a truly successful person, not one who simply climbs upon others’ shoulders! I would challenge anyone to find me any such highly successful person who does not practise certain interpersonal skills through which he has been able to achieve such success, whether they realise it or not.

Some people may exercise such interpersonal skills instinctively, while others may have to learn them in order to be successful, and these latter people are the types of successful personalities whose lives we would like to study and whose methods we would closely seek to follow in order to discover how they were successful, and to find out whether or not we can take their route to success.

A while ago, l listened to an interview with one of the most affluent people in the world,Shaykh Sulayman alRajihi, and found him to be a mountain in terms of his manners and thoughts.This man owns billions, possesses immense real estate, has built hundreds of mosques, and has sponsored thousands of orphans. He is hugely successful. He spoke of his humble beginnings around fifty years ago, when he was a regular person who would only have enough money to feed himself for the day, and sometimes not even that. He mentioned that he would sometimes clean peop|e’s houses to feed himself and continue working at night at a shop or money exchange. He discussed how he was once at the bottom of the mountain, and how he continued to climb until he reached the summit.

l thought about the abilities and skills he possesses and realised that many of us are well capable of being like him, if Allah grants us the ability. lf one learns these skills, exercises them, perseveres and remains steadfast, then yes, he can surely be like him.

Another reason for us to search for these skills is that some of us may have certain abilities, which we remain unaware of, or which nobody has assisted us in discovering, such as the skills of delivering a lecture, business acumen, or possessing general knowledge.

One may discover these skills on his own, through a teacher’s  or a work colleague’s help, or even through a sincere brother  however few they may be! However: these skills may remain buried inside the person until his personality becomes as stale as anyone else’s, and this is when we all lose out on another leader, lecturer or scholar; or perhaps a successful husband, or a caring father.

Here we will mention certain skills which we would like to remind you of if you already possess them, or which we would like to train you in if you don’t. So come along!

A thought…
When you climb a mountain, look to the top and not to the rocks that surround you. Make sure of where you step as you climb, and do not leap in case you loose your footing.

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