Sunnah: The Prophetic Paradigm

In this study, we shall begin by defining the terms ‘hadith’ and ‘Sunnah’ and the position they occupy in Islam. Subsequently, we shall state the arguments against the authenticity of hadith and present our conclusions.

Hadith

Hadith, linguistically is speech/news/information. Technically, it is the sayings, actions, tacit approvals, character and circumstances of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, his Companions [ṣaḥābah] and Followers [tāb‘īn] [S. Usmani 2003:2, Dihlawi 1368 A.H.:1, Lucknowī 1997:32-33]. It includes all narrations about the Prophet’s birth, physical appearance, and the statements, actions and silent approvals of the latter two. Continue reading →

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Shah Waliullah: Training the Traveller of the Spiritual Path

The training of travellers has successive stages. Firstly, he must correct his beliefs. Thus when an individual is desirous of the divine path, first command him to correct his beliefs, according to the creed of the pious forebears.

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The Hanafi Legal School

Levels of texts

The foundational books in the Hanafī school fall into three categories:

1] Ḍāhir al-Riwāyah or al-Aṣl

2] Nawādir

3] Nawāzil or Wāq’iāt or Fatāwā

Ḍāhir al-Riwāyah consists of the six canonical books of Muhammad ibn Hasan Shaybānī. They have been transmitted from him through multiple contiguous chains of transmission [tawātur or mashhūr]. These six canonical books are: Jām’i al-Ṣaghīr, Jām’i al-Kabīr, Siyar al-Ṣaghīr, Siyar al-Kabīr, Ziyādāt and Mabsūṭ. They all contain narrations of Imams Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad and at times contain narrations of Abu Hanifahs other students like Hasan ibn Ziyad and Zufar. 

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The Quran – Deciphering Holy Writ

quran

Literally, the Quran in Arabic means recitation. Fulfilling this purpose, it is perhaps the most recited – as well as the most read book in the world. Certainly, it is the most memorised book in the world, and possibly one that exerts the most influence on those who read it. So great was the Prophet Muhammad’s, Allah bless him and give him peace, regard for its contents that he considered it the major miracle that God worked through him. He himself, unschooled to the extent that he was unlettered, could not have produced a book that provides a ground plan of all knowledge and at the same time is without poetic peer.

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Understanding the Daughters of Eve

Love is to man a thing apart, 

‘Tis woman’s whole existence. 

(Lord Byron)

In millions of homes everyday there are men leaving for work who probably have as their last words, “Who can understand a woman? What makes her act that way?”

This lack of understanding between the sexes arises from the fact that women are not like men. They do not think as men do. They are different in temperament, characteristics and needs. They have a different world of responsibility and therefore a different set of problems.

And yet women can be understood. To gain such an understanding is to gain a liberating education – one that is essential for the ying and yang  balance in marriage. The following are some of the most basic needs and characteristics to understand if you (men) are to live with a woman in peace and happiness. Continue reading →

The Importance of Being Grateful

WordsworthThe onslaught of technology has left us with little energy or mental space to ponder over creation. In times gone by, nature spoke the language of God; it still does but we fail to comprehend it. William Wordsworth, the celebrated English poet, repeatedly lamented the loss of the connection with the divine. His ode, ‘Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ begins with these words:

‘There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,

The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light

The glory and freshness of a dream.’  Continue reading →

Philosophy of the Hijab

hijab

A relative of mine asked me about the hijab, and this is what I replied:

The concept of hijab is based on modesty, which as Muslims, is a praiseworthy trait and in this sense of the term it is not gender-specific. It is incumbent on both male and females to adopt and adorn themselves with modesty and decorum when they interact with each other. This should be obvious. This notion of hijab thus goes beyond the outward dictates of the law – it is an inner trait that one adopts. A non-hijabi in this sense can be adorned with the praiseworthy trait of modesty, and a hijabi can be completely divest of it.

The law possesses both an outward conformance and inward reality – the letter and spirit of the law respectively. The ideal is to create an inward and outward harmony. Even a superficial reading of Quranic verses and related hadiths will attest that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace,  has always emphasized the balance that is reached by this.    Continue reading →

Reason & Revelation: Ibn Taymiyyah vs. Asharites

theology

The decisive difference between Ibn Taymiyya and opponents such as al-Ghazali and Fakhr al-Din al-Razi is not about whether reason is a foundation (asl) of revelation –
they all agree that it indeed is – but what claims follow from that. Ibn Taymiyya clarifies this only late in his work, namely at the beginning of the 34th viewpoint (wajh) of his Dar’ T’aarud al-‘aql Wa al-Naql:
“Those who oppose revelation and prioritize their opinion over what the Messenger conveys, they [also] say: “Reason is the foundation (asl ) of revelation. If we prioritized revelation over reason, this would mean the dismissal of the foundation of revelation.” This statement is indeed correct on their part (sahih) if they acknowledge the truth (sihhat) of revelation without objecting [to it].” Continue reading →

A Tale of Two Birmingham Schools

John Holmwood states that “Fundamental ‘British’ values are understood to involve a commitment to democracy, the rule of law and religious tolerance. A strong implication is that some ethnic minorities lack a commitment to such values where conservative orientations to gender roles and sexual orientation have come to indicate this weak commitment. The failure to embrace British values on the part of some minorities is also put forward as an explanation of poor pupil achievement, which, in turn puts integration at risk. Yet British values tolerate the exercise of conservative orientations on the part of the wealthy, who are also allowed to purchase educational advantage for their children. While all schools are expected to have a religious ethos – expressed in the legal requirement for religious education and daily acts of collective worship – when that ethos is Islamic it is subject to profound suspicion, such that the authorities are willing to castigate educationally successful and unsuccessful schools alike.

Sir Michael Wilshaw was asked by the House of Commons Select Committee on Education in 2015 if he thought that children, communities and schools in Birmingham had benefited from Ofsted’s intervention over the Trojan Horse affair. He replied, “they have benefited in some sense, because they are not the subject of the sort of policies that would be pursued by these governors with a very particular view of how schools should be run. They are free of that. But those schools have been through an enormous amount of turmoil” (paragraph 76). Four years after the Trojan Horse affair, the successor school to Park View has yet to reach the educational success it achieved for its pupils. In other words, its pupils have been ‘freed’ from the supposed constraints of their own cultural expression, while not being provided with the academic achievements that would ensure social mobility. In the meantime, Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon launched the first of his new army cadet corps at the school, offering them access to the British Army as an alternative route.”

Remembering Maulana Hasan Tai (1930-2017)

 

Sadly, on the 28th of December 2017, Maulana Muhammad Hasan departed from this temporal abode and left us with his memories.

عن عاءـشة قالت : ما غرت على أحد من نساء النبي  ما غرت على خديجة – وما رأيتها – ولكن كان يكثر ذكرها، وربما ذبح الشاة فيقطعها أعضاء، ثم يبعثها في صدائق خديجة، فربما قلت: كأنه لم يكن في الدنيا امرأة إلا خديجة فيقول: «إنها كانت وكانت وكان لي منها      ولد

 

Aisha, Allah be well pleased with her, states that:

“I was not envious of any of the wives of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, more than I envied Khadija – and I had not seen her – but the Prophet used to remember her frequently. He, at times, used to distribute meat amongst Khadija’s friends, whereupon I would exclaim, “It’s as if there is no other woman in the world except Khadijah!”

He would remark, “She was like this …and like this.. and I have had children from her”

(Bukhari)

As I sit down to write this, there are many memories that I recall about Maulana Hasan Tai – too many to mention here. Somewhat similar to how the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to reminisce over Khadijah. Continue reading →