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 →

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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 →

Shah Rafi Uddin’s Metaphysics

blind men

John Godfrey Saxe’s (1816-1887) version of Blind Men and the Elephant:

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

Continue reading →

Sayyid Habeeb Ullah Madani

Blue-Mosque-19

Shaykhul Islam Husain Ahmad Madani writes about his father, Sayyid Habeeb Ullah that in the field of taweez and amaliyaat he had notable skill and complete expertise. He used to mention, ‘There was a time when I had become so proficient that I used to write naqsh myself for curing illnesses and benefits were derived from them.’ At the time when my father granted me verbal ijazah to practice amaliyat and nuqoosh, he added, ‘I have fulfilled the zakah required for all the amaal within this common place book (his own hand-written compilation). There is no need for you to fulfil the zakah. I present you with ijazah; however, it will be better for you to carry out all the amaal in my presence once. Unfortunately, owing to my insolence and idleness I avoided this opportunity because I considered it an exertion and gave precedence to my Ilmi commitments. I was left regretting my decision thereafter.

Continue reading →