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 →

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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Why I Created U-Knowit

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My name is Shazad Khan and I’m passionate about learning and teaching. I founded U-Knowit to provide myself with an online platform to reach people that I couldn’t have reached otherwise. I’ve been teaching a range of subjects for nearly two decades now which include, Critical Thinking, English for Academic Purposes, Interactive Learning & Communication Skills, Arabic and Islamic Studies. I’ve also been blogging at micropaedia.org since 2010.  U-Knowit is basically an accumulation of my struggles, passions, reading, learning and meanderings; all systematically organised into modules for intellectual consumption.

 

But enough about me… I have a question for you – what type of person are you?

Are you passionate about empowering yourself?

Do you want to learn new skills and knowledge?

Do you struggle with the ability to write academically?

Do you struggle with being a Muslim in a Western context?

Do you find yourself in a pickle over pronouns and prepositions?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions – then you’re in the right place. Now without wanting to generalise too much, I believe that most people fall into one of three categories.

 

  1. The Victims

My intention here is not to offend anyone, I’m highlighting this to illustrate my point. But the little voice in the minds of people who do not want to empower themselves sounds something like this:

  • It’s too hard.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • I have no skills and don’t know how to go about getting them.
  • Even if I want to improve my skill-set I have no idea of how to go about it.

You’re not actually to blame if you have these thoughts. I’ve actually had them myself. But to put it quite bluntly, they are just plain old excuses. A life worth living is one where you take risk; where you tread uncharted territories and “boldly going where no man has gone before.”

Unless you fight this inner voice, it will constantly impede you getting anywhere in life. You need to take that first leap of faith and just do it.

 

2. The Wannabes

Again, I’m highly generalising here but please bear with me. The wannabes know that the only way they can get themselves out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into is by actually doing something. But they’re just not ready to take the action.

If they finally do pluck up the courage to take the first leap, they’re held back by negative comments made by their friends.

If you have friends who are never wanting to get out of their own hell-hole, most likely you will never want to get out of yours. And, unsurprisingly, the opposite is also true: if you have friends who are encouraging, positive and always wanting to improve themselves, it’s highly likely that you are too. Remember:

You are the sum total of the views, opinions and worldviews of your closest five friends.

So, to put it quite bluntly, you need to ditch your negative friends and start hanging around with people who will support you in your learning journey to become a better person.

 

3. The Open-Minded

Being open-minded is always a good thing. You have the ability to see things from different perspectives and to empathise with the other. You take the risk of listening to your opponents and if need be to change your own opinion. This takes courage and is usually the first stepping-stone to success.

Think about this, nearly all successful people have been open-minded risk takers. And if you want to be successful, you need to be an open-minded risk taker too.

But here’s the reality of all this. We need all three groups to run parallel for us to operate as a healthy cool-headed individual.

  • You need the objections of the first group for you to be more prudent in life. You don’t want to be taking a leap of faith for every opportunity that knocks your door. You need the inner voice to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
  • You need the knowledge-base of group 2 to synthesise the pessimism of group 1 with optimism.
  • You then need to have the daredevil of group 3 to take the risks to better yourself.

 

OK, so you’ve got me interested in improving myself. What next?

 

Well, this is why I created U-Knowit. As a great admirer of the traditions of the East and the West, I believe that a serious student should acquire the great works of both these traditions and treat them as  a shared possession – a frame of reference and further communication for all who acknowledge it, and which permits the steady appreciation of new works, new sympathies and new ideas. Memorising Shakespeare’s Sonnets, reading aloud Rumi’s Mathnavi and performing the stories of Kalilah wa Dimnah  – such ought to be the beginnings of a literary education.

The pursuit of knowledge is not for financial gain nor for securing employment; it is to become part of a long hailing tradition, culture and religious community.

So with this aim in mind, I wish to harness both these traditions and develop in students an appreciation of the best works of the ancients. To enable young minds to appreciate, articulate and communicate in a highly engaging way.

I believe that culture is a source of emotional knowledge, as to what to do and what you should feel. This knowledge comes to pass through ideals and examples, through images, narration and symbols. We convey it through the forms and rhythms of art, literature and architecture, and they are a reaction to the fragile nature of human life.

Our civilizations have been uprooted –  both Eastern and Western. But when the tree is uprooted, it doesn’t always die. Sap may find its way into branches, which are divided into foliage every spring with lasting hope in living things. This is what U-Knowit aims to preserve – an Islamic identity flavoured in Western tradition. Culture and religion are not only precious to us, they are a real political cause, and the fundamental way to preserve our moral heritage in the face of a cloudy future.

I do not have a package of ready-made solutions, rather a stimulus to thought, an appreciation of the best of traditions and a challenge to inventions.

So all I can say is sign up to U-Knowit and take the leap needed to change yourself for a better you, a better life, and, God-willing, a better hereafter. Click here

 

Reason & Revelation: Ibn Taymiyyah vs. Asharites

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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].”

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Shah Waliullah: The Benefits of Congregational Prayer

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“To save the people from fatal effects that their own customs and rituals can bring them, there is nothing more useful than to make one of the religious services so common a custom and so public a ritual that it may be performed open before everybody by any person; whether he be learned or illiterate. Townfolk and countrymen should both be equally anxious to observe it. It should become a subject of rivalry and pride among all of them, and it should be so universally practised that it becomes a part and parcel of their social setup, so much so that life without it maybe worthless for them. If this is achieved, it will help in establishing the worship and obedience of Allah and will form a very useful substitute for those rituals and customs which could cause them serious harm. Since ritual Prayer is the only religious observance that surpasses…

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Education & Culture

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Sitting in a cafe last night with an old friend and student – Dr Khalid Hussain – we had a very insightful and lengthy conversation about education and its purpose. The conversation was interspersed with sweet cardamom tea and added more flavour to the discussion. It propelled me to write today’s blog.

One of the deeply rooted superstitions of our age is the notion that the sole purpose of education is to benefit those who receive it. What we teach, how we teach, what subjects we encourage, are all utilised for one underlying purpose – “what do the kids get out of it?” And this ignites another more detrimental question – “is it relevant?” – and by relevant they mean “relevant to the interest of the kids.” From these superstitions have arisen a multitude of other problems such as the abhorrence of rote learning. Continue reading →

Hujjatullah al-Balighah Course

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Are you struggling with why Islam has given us ‘strict’ rulings?

Learn the underlying theory of Islam in this course where Shah Waliullah’s masterpiece is explained.

 

Hujjatullah al-Balighah

Like the thread that slips through the holes of scattered pearls and brings them together as one exquisitely beautiful necklace, the Hujjah is what unites the sacred sciences allowing you to appreciate the Shari’ah’s beauty in its entirety.

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My Ustadh: Shaykh Yusuf Motala

I walked into the library of Darul Uloom. Orderly rows of Arabic books, handsomely bound in rich colours framed in arabesque and stamped in gold and silver surrounded me. I looked at the titles around me that ran boldly across the spines of all the volumes. I could see the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Tafsir of Tabari and Ibn Kathir’s al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah. 

I slowly walked forward and saw a crouched man before me, sitting cross-legged reading some penned notes on pieces of paper. He raised his head as I came forward, and replied to my nervous Assalamu ‘Alaykum. I sat myself down before him and conveyed Shaykh Asad Madani’s salam to him. A conspicuous smile lit his face and he replied, ‘Alayhi wa ‘Alaykas Salam‘. This was my first meeting with my ustadh, Shaykh Yusuf Motala, who departed this temporal abode on the 10th of Muharram this year. Continue reading →