The Bedouin Life

 The way of life of the Bedouin was not a mere preamble to a higher civilization: it is a rounded, complete culture in itself. It is a culture no doubt formed and influenced by climate and geography and to a certain extent imbued with what may be described as barbaric notions; but in the last resort it is the outcome of realistic human responses to a human condition reduced to the barest essentials of life and lacking all those incidentals of ease which mould society in softer climes.

The natural environment of the Bedouin is hard and inclement. Steppes and deserts, sometimes traversed by dry riverbeds which carry water only after infrequent rains; the scorching heat of summer days and the biting cold of winter nights; shallow desert wells here and there, yielding scant quantities of mostly brackish water; vegetation so scarce for most of the year that it allows only for the breeding of camels and small cattle; and a tremendous expanse of skies, pale and burning in daytime like molten metal, and infinitely high and majestic, black and starry, by night: all this has contributed to the emergence of a special human type and of moral and social characteristics not to be found anywhere else.

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The Prophet in Makkah (Arabic)

و من لم يصانع في أمور كثيرة  

يضرّس بأنياب و يوطأ بمنسم

(زهير بن أبي سُلمى)

هذا البيت من معلقة زهير بن أبي سُلمى ، معناه أن من لم يجامل الناس و يداورهم في الأمور ، قهروه و غلبوه و أذلوه و ربما كشّروا عن أنيابهم و وطأوه بمناسم الإبل. هذا البيت جعلني أفكّر فيما كان للنبي ﷺ من أخلاق كريمة، و خُلُق عظيم. فإن النبي ﷺ لم يقض حياته قبل البعثة بين أحبابه و أصحابه ، بل قضى أربعين سنة قبل المبعث بين مشركي مكة، يخالطهم و يتعامل معهم في حياته ليلاً و نهارًا، و يتعاطى فيهم التجارة و هو عيش طويل طريقها، وعرة مسالكها، كثيرة منعطفاتها، تعترضها وهدات مما قد يصدر عن المرء من خيانة و إخلاف الوعد و أكل مال الباطل ، و عبقات من الخديعة ، و تطفيف الكيل و غير ذلك ، و الرسول ﷺ قد اجتاز هذه السبل الشائكة الوعرة و خلص و نجا منها نقيًّا سالمًا ، لم يصبه شيئ مما يصيب عامة الناس حتى لقد لقبوه بالأمين

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Ramadhan: The Healer

As much as I hate to admit it, I was of those who were wishing that the coming of Ramadhan was delayed this year. Drowning in the toxicity of this life, I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I had prepared enough. So as others were restlessly counting down the days and hours till this beautiful of guests was to grace them with their presence, I felt as if my tongue was empty in its sincerity. I found my heart hollow in its hesitance.

But the mercy of this month does not exclude even sinners like I. As the first sunset on that first day  dawned, I felt a loosing of knots within my soul- as if someone was breathing fresh air into my flailing lungs. Almost as if my soul was reaching out for all that it had been deprived in these last twelve months. As weak as it was, it was slowly but reaching for what it knew it needed- like a frail beggar extending his hand in dire thirst for just that one sip of water- knowing therein lay its remedy. Maybe sometimes our souls know things our physical faculties can never comprehend.

And so that night as each moment elapsed, I felt that knot slowly loosening…loosening. And as I stood there in prayer with complete strangers, a sense of solidarity overwhelmed me- we are all here prepared with our unpreparedness. Standing, untethered hearts in hand, with the anticipation that He will mend what is broken within us.

Al hamdulilahhi rabil aalameen. He is the one who hears me even when I am silent. The One who has always nourished me. How then, can I deny that His is the perfect decree? AlRahmaan Al Raheem. Cradling me like a child His mercy envelops me, irrespective of whether or not my human eye can see. Maliki Yawm iddeen. He is the One I will return to. It has never been about anything or anyone else. All that matters is me and Him. Ihdinas siratul mustaqeem. Guide me towards what is pleasing to you. O turner of hearts! Turn me onto your way. And though I may lapse and let go of you again and again, never let me go. Never leave me to myself.

And so as each crisp verse from the tongue of the imam echoed around me. Words from my Lord meant for an undeserving I, I felt the shackles I had fastened around my heart slowly slacken. I can never be fully prepared for the mercies he showers down upon me. I will always arrive bereft and negligent. But He sees me. He hears me. He knows me. He knows that each year, I will need these days to come and fill my wounds. How each year as my life progresses and I grow, my wounds will be different but the healing they yearn for will always be the same.

This Ramadhan may we all find our healing in Him.

Ramadan The Healer (Arabic)

شهر رمضان المبارك

بقدر ما أكره  الاعتراف به ،أني لم أكن أتطلع إلى قدوم رمضان هذا العام، و كنتُ أتمنّى تأجيل مجيئه. لقد كنتُ غارقًا في مشاغل الحياة الدنيوية السمّيّة، لم أشعر بالاستعداد، و لم أشعر أني أعددتُ ما يكفي، فبينما كان الآخرون يعدّون الأيّام و الساعات حتى يكرمهم هذا الضيف المبارك بحضوره، شعرتُ كما لو أن لساني كان كاذبًا في ما يقول، و قلبي خاليًا عن أيّ تمنٍّ، وكان هذا القذى في جفني مدّ الطول

لكن رحمة هذا الشهر لا تستثني أحدًا، حتى المُذنِبين مثلي، فمع أفول الشمس حينما رُئِي الهلال، تبدّل الجوّ عاطرًا طاهرًا، شعرتُ بحلّ عقدةٍ في روحي، كأن أحدًا تنفّس الهواء النقي الصافي في رئتي المضطربة، كما لو أن روحي تمدّ يدها إلى كلّ ما هي محرومةً منه في الأشهر الماضية، كانت عطشانةً و لم تشعر، كانت جائعةً و لم تحسّ، كأنها تستخدم المخدّرات. لكن مع بدء هذه الأحاسيس و المشاعر شيئًا فشيئًا، كانت روحي تحاول الوصول إلى ما كانت تعرف أنها بحاجة إليها ، مثل الفقير الذي يمدّ يده في عطش شديد لرشفةٍ واحدة من ماء. ربما تعرف أرواحنا أحيانًا ما لا تستطيع أجسادنا فهمَه أبدًا

وهكذا في تلك اللّيلة المباركة مع مرور كلّ لحظة، شعرتُ أن العقدة التي حرّمتني الوجدان الروحي تحلّ و تتفكّك ببطء…و بينما كنتُ واقفًا في صلاة التراويح بين الأجانب تمامًا، غمرني شعور تغلغل في أحشائي و تمكّن في نفسي: نحن كلّنا هنا على استعداد مع عدم استعدادنا،و مع توقع أنه سوف يُصلَح ما انكسر بداخلنا

بدأ الإمام يقرأ الكتاب العزيز في الصلاة، الكتاب الذي حمَلَه المسلمون في فتوحهم الأولى، تلك الرسالة القوية الواضحة المشرقة، فأخذتْني الأفكارُ تطير بي، فالفاتحة التي سمعتُها من صوت الإمام كانت غير الفاتحة التي حفظتُها عن ظهر قلبي في صِغَري، نعم، آياتها كآيتها، و نظمها كنظمها، لكن معانيها كانت غير معانيها التي تعوّدتُ ذكرها. فغشيني موج كموج البحر فبدأتُ أغوط في هذه البحار العميقة

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ. هو الذي يسمعني حتى و أنا صامت، الرب الذي يغذيني دائمًا، الذي أنبتني نباتًا حسنًا، و أنشأني نشأةً طيّبة، له الحمد و له الجزيل الثناء

ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ : هو الرب الذي يحتضني كطفل، يغلفني رحمته التي وسعتْ كلّ شئي

مَـٰلِكِ يَوْمِ ٱلدِّينِ: هو الذي سأعود إليه

إيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ: لا أهِمّ و لا أهتمّ  بأيّ شيءٍ أو أيّ شخصٍ آخر… كل ما يُهِمّني هو أنا وهو فقط

 ٱهْدِنَا ٱلصِّرَٰطَ ٱلْمُسْتَقِيمَ: أرشدني إلى ما يرضيك يا مقلّبَ القلوب! حوّلني إلى طريقك، وعلى الرغم من أنني قد أتركك مرارًا وتكرارًا ، فلا تتركني أبدًا. لا تكلني إلى لنفسي طرفةَ عين

وهكذا تردّد صدى كل آية حولي. كلمات ربي كانت تعني بي غير مستحق، و شعرتُ بأن الأغلال التي ربطتُّها على قلبي تتراخى، و كلّ آية أسمعها تفيضُ بالبهجة، وتموجُ بالنشوة، و تتفتح بالحياة الروحية

لا يمكنني أبدًا أن أكون مستعدًّا تمامًا للرحمة التي ينزلها عليّ ربّي، سأصِلُ دائمًا مجرّدًا ومهملًا، لكنه يراني، ويسمعني، و يعرفني حقّ المعرفة. إنه يعلم أنني سأحتاج إلى أن آتيه كل عام وأفتح جراحي. و كل عام مع تقدّم حياتي ونموها ، ستكون جراحي مختلفة ولكن الشفاء الذي أتوق إليه سيكون دائمًا كما هو، وحيدة، منفردة، طازجة كما قال ﷻ: وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنَ القُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِين

هذا رمضان! ربّنا يجعل لنا نجد كل شفاءنا فيه

شهزاد خان

 
 

 
 
 
  

The Nature of Prayer

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The Quran speaks of two great worlds: the unseen and the visible (Q, 59:22); the world of matter and the world of spirit. We often refer to them as things visible and invisible – putting are sight as the main criterion for differentiating between the two great worlds. Yet, this is far from the truth. Indeed, the world of matter is all things made known to us by all our senses – the air we breathe, the sounds we hear, the things we touch, the food we taste; by the world of spirit we mean all those things our bodily senses cannot sense, perceive, feel, or make known to us.

Just as senses put us into connection with the material world, so to does our Faith put us into connection with the spiritual world. Faith is to the spiritual world what sense perception is to the material. Thus, Faith is often called the eye of the soul. But this is only partially true: Faith is not only the eye by which the soul can see, it is also the ear by which it can hear, the hand by which it can touch, the nose by which it can smell and the tongue by which it can taste that which the body cannot. Our senses realise the world of matter by making it real, substantial and evident. The work of Faith is to realise the world of spirit; to make it real, substantial and evident. This work of Faith is plainly described in the words, “This is the Book, wherein is no doubt; a guide to the God-fearing, who have Faith in the Unseen” (Q, 2:2-3).  Its task is to draw us out of the physical and material and place us before the presence of the unseen, invisible and spiritual.

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The Birth & Origins of Islamic Sciences

The golden age of Islam, insofar as the intensity of the religious and spiritual life and the realization of its ideals are concerned, must be identified with the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad- Allah bless him and give him peace- and the first Muslim community at Medina. But just as the seed sown in the ground grows into a tree and finally bears fruit only after the passage of time and the gaining of nourishment from a suitable soil, so did the tree of Islamic civilization bear its intellectual and artistic fruits several centuries after its inception, during which it was nourished by the legacy of the previous civilizations to which Islam became the heir. The arts and sciences, as well as philosophy and metaphysics, reached their zenith of formal perfection and became fully articulated only after Muslim society had become completely consolidated, and only after the tenets of the Islamic revelation had been realized in concrete and tangible forms so as to make the new civilization distinctly Islamic, even when elements of non-Islamic origin had been incorporated into it.

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A Forthcoming Book on Philosophical Ethics in Islam…

‘Are there moral road maps?’ A question that has baffled humankind since time immemorial. What is the right, proper and ethical way of doing something? Philosophers, both religious and secular, have toiled and vexed over these fundamental questions. Yet, there are some things that we all unanimously agree, are good, and others, we unanimously agree, are bad; it is the blurry grey areas that make us lose sleep at night – and there is no easy answer.

Historically, it was via the institution of religion that humans first heard the call to ethics and moral responsibility. The Abrahamic scriptures – Genesis and the Quran – tell us that it was Noah who first held humans accountable for their wrong doings.

Then came the Greeks, who, through their ingenuity, converted ethics into a science and philosophy. The forerunners here were the Sophists. Frequenting Athens and other Greek cities they would teach virtue and social morality in the second half of the fifth century B.C. Socrates came thereafter, who through his dialogues, greatly expanded upon the themes of the Sophists until finally Aristotle entered the scene and left his indelible mark on the pages of history with his Nicomachean Ethics.

The story does not end there. Religion makes a second appearance in the forms of Christianity and Islam. This time, Christianity and Islam adorn the philosophical musings of Aristotle and his ilk in religious garb and lay the bedrock of trying to harmonise reason and revelation – their entire focus here being the salvation and felicity of humankind in this world and the next.

During medieval times in the Islamic world, from Baghdad to Cordoba, where there was a constant struggle to try and harmonise reason with revelation, ethical philosophy was also argued, rebutted and debated along similar veins. One group, known as the philosophers, held that reason was the foundation upon which religious dictates needed to be built, and more importantly, conform to.  They thus attempted a Hellenistic commentary of religion. To this group belong: Farabi, Ibn Miskawayh, Avicenna and to some extent, Averroes.

On the other side were the Sufis, who argued that religious rulings are fundamental, and that reason is to be only regarded as a tool to understanding the complexities of the Divine. Prominent amongst this party were: Suharwardi, Ghazali, Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Ibn Qayyim, Sirhindi and Shah Waliullah.

Differences aside, what is apparent is that ethics as a science benefitted tremendously from these scholarly debates.

Why then a need for another book on virtue and ethics? Why am I resurrecting out-of-date and antiquated morals in a postmodern era? My answer is simple: a civilization without a moral compass will find itself very soon out-of-date and antiquated.

While life is confusing and challenging, it is these underlying moral foundations that provide guidance without which there is only confusion. My attempt in this book is to primarily lay bare that guide for myself in this ever-confusing world. I have delved into many books of eastern and western origin in English, Urdu, Arabic and Persian. Whilst my search lasted over a decade, it resulted in vain. What I mean by this is that books on this subject have either dealt with the subject from a rational perspective, or from a religious one – none from both. My attempt here is to provide a comparison from both rational and religious aspects to draw a line of comparison and to enable and articulate a clear path of demarcation. How successful I have been in this attempt I shall let the readers decide. Whilst not making any boastful claim on my behalf, if I have helped the reader even the least bit further to understand ethics, or appreciate the scholarly discourse on ethics or catch something of value for their own practical lives, I would claim that my humble attempt is justified.

I have divided this book into four chapters: the first three chapters deal with traditional and contemporary aspects from both religious and rational corners; the fourth and final chapter deals solely with the Islamic ethical framework.

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?

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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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The Quran – Deciphering Holy Writ

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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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