When the Moors ruled in Europe

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)

Bi fadhlillah al-adheem (= by the immense bounty of God, the most High) I am currently in Spain, in the province of Andalusia which is the modern form of the Arabic name, Al-Andalusia. Al-Andalusia comes from how the Arabs called the ‘Vandals’, the old European tribes that lived in this area.

Now many of my readers, as indeed I was a few years ago when yet again, this period of lost history was revealed to me, would be surprised to know that there was a long period of Islamic rule in Spain. It began only 80 years after the death of the prophet (peace be upon him) and ended with what the Spanish call ‘The reconquest’ and Inquisition of the 15th century – a period of over 700 years. Yet, my history books certainly never breathed a word of it. It is a very interesting history and Muslims derive many teachings by it. It is also very interesting how many Islamic civilizational practices came into European culture by it, such as for example the ‘three course meal’ and apparently even the tradition of traveling musicians ‘troubradours’.

I am most interested also for a personal reason which I will share; Sri Lankan Muslims are commonly considered descendants of Arab traders who settled over the centuries (and integrated with the local communities, via marriage and adopting local languages while Arabic was preserved only in the written form and that too with interesting variations on the text itself…that are now being corrected with the Internet-age), however we are ethnically called ‘Ceylon Moors’. I always wondered where the term Moor came from. Some said it was because the British who coined it during their rule of what was at that time Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) were only familiar with Muslims from Spain so they called any Muslim a Moor. That seems rather simplistic to me. An alternative I have heard is that we may indeed be descendant of those Spanish Muslims who fled Grenada when it fell to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who then initiated a brutal and comprehensive inquisition which lasted many decades if not centuries. This happened in the year 1492 CE, the same year the same couple blessed the voyage of Chistopher Columbus! Its outcome is that the Muslim history in Europe was almost wiped out. But not quite, and this is good, for no matter what religion or group we belong to, history is a common human treasure and must be preserved.

Having said that, I will endeavor to share more of what I learn here, but for now a very well produced documentary from a great historian, Bettany Hughes, that will introduce the subject well I believe and that I feel you will enjoy. It is called ‘when the Moors ruled in Europe’

BTW I can’t help but say that I love the segment where Bettany speaks with a very honorable princess of the modern-day Royal family in Spain (if I recall correctly). I love the way she holds herself, her simplicity and her clear presentation of facts.

Enjoy, peace be with you all

 

 

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Modern influential Muslim women

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum

Now, a couple of posts ago I promised to follow up with a more detailed post highlighting modern influential Muslim women at the request of my dear reader ‘genometalk’. This is a reminder to myself never to promise something with a definite time-line attached unless I can be sure to meet it. Please forgive me for the tardiness of this post, it should have come a few days ago. But I’ve had a couple momentous life-events come to pass in the meantime and was a little unwell due to that as well, and this I hope will excuse me. Allah forgive me. Breaking a promise is a sign of the ‘munafiq’ (=one whose is in a state of ‘nifaaq’, which means hypocrasy) and being a munafiq is a terrible state to be in indeed. We know this from the well authenticated hadith of prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)-

Muahmmed (peace be upon him) said, “There are three signs of “Munafiq”; When he speaks he Lies, when he promises he breaks those promises and when he is entrusted, he embezzles.” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim).

So with the prayer this fulfills my promise and thanks to be able to do it;-

Here are some names that have been coming to mind the past few days that I have enjoyed contemplating on this post. They are in no particular order and not the outcome of extensive research, rather of some moderate research and names that are well-known in the Muslim community. I purposely wanted to include examples of leaders/exemplars in the religious and secular fields.

Dr. Ilham Al-Qaradawi

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Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is professor of Physics at Qatar University and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University in Qatar. She received her Ph.D. working in the field of positron physics from University of London, UK in 1991.

Over the past decade, she has established a positron laboratory at Qatar University and successfully built the first slow positron beam in the Middle East. She has also established an environmental radiation measurement laboratory. Dr. Al-Qaradawi is involved with Europe’s CERN in the Antihydrogen experiment AEGIS. She is the founder of the Qatar Physics Society. Dr. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is a fellow of the institute of Physics and a member of many international societies. She also sits on the advisory committee of the World Nuclear University Radiation Technology Summer School and the World Council on Isotopes, and has lectured in the World Nuclear University Summer Institute for the past four years.

Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi has been awarded many awards for excellence in research, for Arab Women in Science and outstanding contribution to science. She has had many appearances on Al-Jazeera channel and several other TV channels and newspapers and magazines.

She has been listed by the Arabian Business magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in the State of Qatar and one of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world for the year 2012 and 2013 and one of the top 28 Arab scientists in the world and by CEO Middle East magazine as one of the100 Most Powerful Arab Women for the year 2012.

Above is taken from her website, www.ilhamqaradawi.com

[Interesting to many of my Muslim readers maybe (and perhaps for my dear non-Muslim readers also) is that she is the daughter of a very prominent orthodox scholar in the Muslim world, the Eygptian theologian, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who was exiled from Egypt for 30 years during the Presidency of Hosni Mubarak. I believe he delivered the Friday sermon in Tahrir square soon after the overthrowing of Mubarak. On this note, a prayer for my Egyptian brothers and sisters - Allah ease their present difficulty and increase them in what is pleasing to Him, SWT (=subhahana wa ta'ala, most Exalted and the most High)]

 

Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed (Ustadha is a title meaning something like ‘teacher’. It is affectionately given, She is not of the stature of a shaykha in terms of religious knowledge acquired, but she is certainly a recognized teacher by the community)

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A gifted and powerful speaker, she is raising young Muslims to new heights of self-awareness. Here is her bio from her website, it doesn’t do her justice. I have personally met many sisters who say her teachings have personally benefited them through life-events, and I can say the same. I also had the great delight of meeting her briefly, a simple and humble person. Allah bless her

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as a youth coordinator. She also worked as a writing instructor at Cardinal Stritch University and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Yasmin recently released her new book, Reclaim Your Heart, which is now available worldwide. Visit her website, yasminmogahed.com, where you can find a collection of her articles, poetry, and lectures.

 

Dalia Mogahed

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The sister of Yasmin Mogahed. Her forte is different to that of her younger sister, but no less powerful. I will let her bio from the Huffington Post speak for her

Dalia Mogahed is Chairman and CEO of Mogahed Consulting, a Washington, D.C. based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim societies and the Middle East. She is former Executive Director of and Senior Analyst for the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies where she led the analysis of surveys of Muslims worldwide, including in the U.S. and Europe. With John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she is coauthor of the book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Dalia was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where she served on the Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force. Arabian Business magazine recognized her as the most influential Arab woman in the world, and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre included Mogahed in their list of the 500 most influential Muslims. Ashoka named her the Arab World’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010, and Mogahed received her alumni association’s prestigious Forward Under 40 award for outstanding contributions by a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She is a WEF Young Global Leader and serves on the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arab World.

 

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

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The past president of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America). I blogged about her here.

 

Anse Tamara Grey

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I mentioned this dear Shaykah in a previous post. Here is more about her

Anse Tamara Gray was born in 1966 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Soon after converting to Islam in 1984, she traveled to Damascus, Syria; where she lived for almost twenty years while studying core subjects of the Islamic tradition such as theology (aqīda), hadith, Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), and Islamic law. She also received a certification (ijāza) in Qurʾanic recitation from the late preeminent scholar of the Qur’an, Shaykh Abū al-Ḥasan al-Kurdī, in 1997. Anse Tamara Gray holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science and elementary education from Macalester College and a Master’s degree in curriculum theory and instruction from Temple University. Her career as an educational consultant includes curriculum design and implementation, administrative support, teacher training, and sensitivity training. Her speaking engagements encompass women’s issues in Islam and the Middle East, education, geographical issues, and other matters related to education, social issues, and Islam. She currently resides in St. Paul and serves as the founder of Rabata, which organizes educational activities for Muslim women in the form of online classes, workshops, and weekend intensives.

 

Dr. Feryal Salem

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Dr. Feryal Salem received her ijaza in Qur’anic recitation from the late Syrian scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Kurdi in 1998.  She has since then studied a number of related Islamic sciences including: Shafi’i and Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (aqida), the Prophetic biography, Arabic grammar, Muslim inheritance law, classical logic, Qur’anic sciences (ulum al-Qur’an), and Islamic legal methodology (usul al-fiqh).  In 2009, she received a degree in the hadith sciences from the Nuriyya Women’s Hadith Institute of Damascus attached to the ancient Umayyad Mosque complex and whose program of study includes studying various hadith texts and classical commentaries.  In addition to her traditional study, Dr. Salem has completed a PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on hadith methodology from the University of Chicago. She currently resides in Hartford where she is Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law at the Hartford Seminary as well as Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and Director of the Imam and Muslim Leadership Graduate Certificate Program.

 

Baronnes Warsi

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Voted Britian’s most powerful Muslim woman recently, she is a powerhouse. Here are excerpts from her bio here

A lawyer, a businesswoman, a campaigner and a cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet and the foremost Muslim politician in the Western world.

One of five girls born to immigrants of Pakistani origin in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Sayeeda studied law at Leeds University, going on to work for the Crown Prosecution Service before setting up her own legal practice. Her father, a former millworker and bus driver who set up his own business, instilled in her values of freedom, responsibility and aspiration.

 In 2007 she was elevated to the House of Lords aged 36, making her the youngest peer in Parliament. Later that year she travelled to Sudan and famously helped to secure the release of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was on trial for blasphemy.

In 2010 she was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as Minister without Portfolio, becoming the first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet.  In 2011 she provoked support and controversy when she famously declared that Islamophobia had ‘passed the dinner table test’. In 2012 she led the UK’s largest ever ministerial delegation to the Vatican, gaining global coverage for a speech which called on Europe to strengthen its Christian identity. Outspoken and challenging on the issues that many people seek to avoid, she has become an interesting and distinct voice on topics previously considered taboo. She led the government’s campaign to criminalise forced marriage and spoke out on the sexual grooming of children by gangs. Her business background and her passion for manufacturing have made her a champion for British business both at home and abroad, and as a result she has played a key role this government’s foreign policy priorities. Her campaign to ensure that Britain became the first western country to issue a Sukuk (Islamic bond) succeeded when Prime Minister Cameron announced the UK’s intention to implement this in 2014.

 

This young lady is no stranger to most of my readers I think. My inspirational little sister, Malala Yousufzai.

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Her courageous stand for what is right no matter the situation she is in, is such a powerful reminder of the personality of the women who were the vanguard of this Ummah (=nation, a word Muslims use to refer to the entire Muslim community. It has a more personal meaning than that, as Muslims do consider ourselves to be part of one very large very diverse and very old family). I won’t include a bio here, as she is so well known.

Another well known modern highly influential Muslim woman; Tawakkul Karman.

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Most of my readers would likewise be familiar with her story I think. I never tire of hearing her speak. What is most striking about her when she speaks, is her honesty and simplicity. Another personal thing I love about her is something she had likely nothing to do with – her name :). For my non-Arabic speakers, it has a very special meaning. Something Muslims remind each other to do all the time. ‘Tawakkul’ means to have trust in God/rely on God/be God-conscious. Again, it comes from a grammatical derivation of a root word which is composed of the three letters ‘w k l’. From it is also derived one of the ‘names’ of God, Al-Wakeel, meaning ‘The Guardian’. As in it is only God who is the protector of all. A very beautiful hadith on this topic I have to share

  Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying, “If you all depend on Allah with due reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it to the birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with full bellies at dusk.” (At-Tirmidhi)

That tangent aside, here is an excerpt from an article in the Guardian about this remarkable lady, recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2011 and tireless campaigner for human rights and freedoms. And all of this within the fold of Islam. Fighting to bring justice back to so-called Muslim leaders who have forgotten that justice is a cornerstone of the way of the prophet (peace be upon him)

Known to some of Yemen‘s opposition movement as the “mother of the revolution”, Tawakkul Karman has emerged as a crucial figure among the youth activists who began camping out at Change Square in central Sana’a in early February, demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade rule. In Yemen, a 32-year-old mother of three may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the president, but Karman – a journalist and human rights activist – has long been a thorn in Saleh’s side and has been jailed many times. She was catapulted into the international spotlight this January after being seized from her car and slung into prison. Thousands of people poured on to the streets of Sana’a calling for her release. It was a key moment in Yemen’s uprising when the tide began to turn against Saleh

 

Here is someone I doubt many of you would have heard of, despite the fact that TheMuslim500 calls her likely the most powerful Muslim woman in the world.

Sheikha Munira Qubaysi

No picture is available of her as she like many Muslim women I know, prefer not to have their photograph circulated. Here is a bio of her and her movement. Taken from the above linked The Muslim 500 (chronicles top 500 influential Muslims) and other sources. She is given the title ‘Her Eminence’ in the Arab world

Munira Qubeysi is the head of the largest women-only Islamic movement in the world. It offers Islamic education exclusively to girls and women. Qubeysi commands around 80 schools in Damascus alone, teaching more than 75.000 students. She is one of the most significant Islamic scholars in the world; her movement focuses on learning the Qur’an and six Hadith collections by heart. Qubeysi is arguably the most influential Muslim woman in the world, albeit in great discretion. By training a new generation of female Islamic scholars, Sheikha Qubeysi has made Islamic knowledge widely accessible.

 

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser (Here sheikha does not refer to her religious standing but is simply a title)

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From her website; In Qatar, her home, her highness serves as Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), a private non-profit organisation founded in 1995. Its flagship project is Education City, which covers over 14 million square metres and houses branch campuses of renowned international universities and institutions. QF also is engaged in numerous scientific research and economic and social development projects. Sheikha Moza serves as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Council of Health and she also served as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Education Council from March 2006-February 2012. In these roles, she has helped enact major top-down reforms of Qatar’s public schools and healthcare system. Also, more recently, she chairs the Sidra Medical and Research Centre, a new training and research hospital that is envisaged to become a leading institution for women and children’s specialty care.On a regional and international level, Sheikha Moza has launched multiple projects including the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq, the Silatech initiative to address the growing challenge of youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa, and Education Above All, a policy research and advocacy organization concerned with a single policy area: protecting the right to education in conflict-affected areas.

I realize I can continue this post for quite a bit longer. So I will stop now. I think the above gives you a glimpse of the variety of prominent roles women play in the Muslim world. I suppose due prevalent misinformation and due to unfamiliarity with a foreign system, many in the West think of women in the Muslim world as subjugated and backward. It is true there is patriarchy in the Muslims world, but that is true in the Western world as well – it may only be not so open (e.g., look at salary scales for men and women for the same jobs). What is true in the Muslim world is that women are more modest in their dress – and this has always been considered a strength rather than the opposite. I don’t want to go into a hijab discussion in this post, so suffice to say that the headscarf is usually considered by Muslim women a symbol of empowerment and not otherwise. It has always traditionally allowed us to move freely in male dominated societies and be respected for our prowess and intelligence and allowed us to interact with men sans a superimposition of our sexuality. That said, let me close this post by highlighting a poster from MuslimScience.com; It is their list of top 20 Muslim women scientists globally. As a young scientist myself I was ecstatic to find it. I hope the names are readable, if not, link here

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Finally I want to end by sharing a letter of appreciation written for a great teacher by her student, upon her death. I wanted to share this, as for me, it beautifully portrays the great place women and women-scholars have always had in our tradition. This letter has been translated to the English here, from where I take it. It was written notably, by a male student and given in the dignified and honorable Arabic style of presentation that I am coming to love more and more the more I study it. Most people are not aware of the movements of preserving knowledge going on in the Muslim world. Indeed I did not know either until recently. An unfortunate side-effect of my colonial education, albeit it was very good in many other ways.

Here is the letter, it is about Dr. Da’ad al-Husayni

al-Ḥāfiẓa al-Jāmiʿa Dr. Daʿad al-Ḥusaynī (1938-2009)

The people of Greater Syria have a beautiful quality, namely that they love the men and women of sacred knowledge.  With this merit also comes a shortcoming in that many of them do not become aware of their scholars until after they have passed.  Before our tears had yet to dry for our dear brother and teacher, al-Ḥāfiẓ al-Ustādh ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Ṭabbāʿ, God willed that another great and noble scholar, whose likeness is rare to find, be taken to the eternal abode.  The scholars of Damascus and the carriers of God’s book submitted their affairs to His divine will with the death of Dr. Daʿad al-Ḥusaynī (may God have mercy on her).

 Dr. Daʿad earned her PhD in mathematics from the Soviet Union and was one the oldest professors of mathematics in the Department of Science at the University of Damascus.  She was born in 1938 and her father was the late teacher and guide Muhammad ʿAlī Ḥusaynī al-Jazāʾirī.  She was an individual of many talents. During her youth she studied in Moscow and taught in Algeria before settling at the University of Damascus.

She became devoted to her faith and transformed both in heart and action.  She was a leader of the Islamic women’s movement in Syria and one of its most senior teachers.  She was certified (mujāza) in all ten recitations of the Qurʾān (acquiring the station of al-ḥafiẓā al-jāmiʿa li-l-qirāʾāt) at the hands of the blessed scholar of Syria, Shaykh Abū al-Ḥasan al-Kurdī—may God preserve him and continue to benefit the Muslims from him.

Hundreds of women graduated under her tutelage as certified reciters of the Qurʾān.  The students of these reciters then produced thousands of other women reciters of the Qurʾān.  She was rigorous in her precision and exactitude in Qurʾānic recitation.

She spent her life as an upright spiritual guide, a devoted wife, a dedicated mother, and a great scholar.  This is attested to by all who interacted with her and witnessed her qualities of distinction and leadership.  I was privileged to have been her student in mathematics at the university during the late seventies.  Later, I was honored to have met with her many times at the meetings of the board of directors of the Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī Foundation for Sacred Sciences.  She was an individual who possessed strength of character while maintaining a balance in her life that was further exemplified by her farsightedness.  Until now, I recall her firm command over a college lecture hall of hundreds of students whose eyes had never been exposed to a woman in a headscarf who was capable of instructing them in mathematics (keeping in mind that she was one of the rare women in the universities at that time who practiced Islam to this level).  I can also testify with all honesty that she was one of the most proficient professors with whom I had studied mathematics and to this day, I possess in my heart the greatest of respect and gratitude towards her.

While she published only a small booklet on the science of tajwīd, she engraved the Book of God on the hearts of thousands of our mothers, sisters, and daughters.  She also published books on mathematics, problem solving, and numbers.  She possessed—may God have mercy on her—the most lofty of good character, exceeding benevolence and had a luminous smile that encompassed both resolution and kindheartedness.

She is survived by her husband, Muḥammad Nadhīr al-Māliḥ, as well as a son and daughter.  Her funeral prayer was held on Thursday the 23rd of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, 1430 AH or March 19, 2009 CE at the Shāfiʿī mosque in West Mezze Damascus.  She was buried in the Najhā cemetery.  Her funeral was attended by an abundance of scholars of sacred knowledge and people of spiritual excellence.  It was also witnessed by thousands of men and women who are carriers of the Book of God in their hearts.

O Allah, have mercy on her in the grave and soothe her loneliness by the truth of Your Book that was her best companion, and make her and our brother ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Ṭabbāʿ of those who intercede on our behalf. O Allah, make those whom she has left behind from among her children, homeland, and students to receive the utmost of goodness and exchange this loss to the Muslim community with another bounty.  Indeed, God does not take or give except that everything is set in a balance. Innā lillāh wa innā ilayhi rājiʿūn.

Composed by one of her students and sons in knowledge, upbringing, and virtue: Aḥmad Muʿādh al-Khaṭīb al-Ḥasanī.

 

Peace be with you all

 

 

 

 

 

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Joyjot for the day :-)

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A little note-to-self I found tucked away in my wallet, that fell out while riffling through :-)

Al-wadud is one of the names of beauty (in Arabic, ism-jamal) of God. It means the source of all love put simply. Though it is deeper than that. There are several words in Arabic that mean love…each to communicate different types of love. Not all can be used as a ‘name’ of God. This one, Al-Wadud, (= The Love) means a type of love that never tires or dries-up that, like Allah, is all sustaining but not sustained (in Muslim theology God is One in His essence as well as His attributes).
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Women Scholars and the forbidding of being sad :)

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you) dear readers,

Tonight I have been doing some joyful (not sure this is a right way to use this favourite word of mine, I mean that I have been enjoying the task very much, and surely that can be said to be ‘joyful’) research on modern day influential Muslim women, in order to respond to a request by ‘genometalk’ commenting on the post about famous Muslim women I shared. Genometalk – Thank you for spurring me to do this!

Now I have a lot to say about this and inshaAllah (=God willing) tomorrow I will complete the post, but for tonight I want to highlight one woman. A ‘shaykha’ in her own right. BTW ‘sheikh’ literally means ‘old man’ and sheykha is the feminine form of that word. It is often given to a scholar as a title to convey the fact that they are learned. But if you walk on the streets in an Arab land, you will find people addressing the elderly as ‘ya sheikh’ (= O’ sheikh ) or ‘ya sheikha’ as a term of respect. And such is Arab colloquial custom that some times kids are called the same way as a term of endearment. [Having said that I can't but help point out that it is strange idiom or language usage customs like these, that lead to so much confusion and error when translations are undertaken by those not familiar with 'the other'. The orientalist movement contributed its fair share to this misunderstanding of the Muslim world due to this. Unfortunately the same types of misunderstanding are still prevalent].

Anse Tamara Grey (with thanks to W.B Abdullah, wbabdullah.wordpress.com, ‘Anse’ is an affectionate title given to sister Tamara. It is used in Syria and means sometime like Shaykha, but as in an educational-nurturer) is a highly respected scholar. Here is a bio from her website. Do read more about her. For now, what I will share is something she wrote about what the Quran says about being sad. She is actually bringing to light a teaching by one of Islam’s best known scholars of yore, Ibn al-Qayyum al-Jawziya a polymath, who wrote vast amounts in many fields of religious sciences, especially to do with the heart, and in other sciences such as astronomy and medicine. I have one of his books on medicine actually, some remedies there I have used as well and they’ve been very effective keeping the sick-bugs away. Allah have mercy on him!

Taken from ‘The Sandal’ blog at this post – Journeying to places: the secret of joy and rest (II). [According to what I have understood from the share buttons there, I do not believe it is wrong to post it here with the above citation] -

“The word joy is one of my favorite words.  We can use it to say things like, “She cried tears of joy.” Or “At the moment she was soaking in the joy of being alive.” In its verb form we say, “Rejoice!” As an adjective, “She uttered a joyful noise!” and as an adverb, “The children giggled joyfully.”
 Sometimes I think we come to Islam thinking it is better to be miserable. We carry around a ‘martyr’s attitude.’ This is not the martyr who struggles and fights, and is killed in the way of God. No, this is the whining and complaining ‘poor-me’ martyr.  Poor me I have to live in a small apartment; poor me I have to live in (and clean) a big house; poor me I’m not married; poor me I’m married; poor me I have only one child; poor me I don’t have any children; poor me I have to do the dishes every day; poor me I have to work; poor me I can’t work… and it goes on and on and on.
Every life in essence is the same. All have great and wonderful moments and all have trials.  The only difference is in our ‘rida’ (N.B – my translation rida=contentment, being pleased with a the state one finds oneself in) of this life, this stage of life, this moment.
Ibn al-Qayyim tells us that there is no mention of huzn (grief/ sadness/ sorrow) in the Qur’an except in two places. It is forbidden in the verse: {Do not weaken and do not grieve} (3:139), and it is rejected in the verse, {No fear shall afflict them, nor shall they grieve} (2:274). The secret behind this is that ‘huzn’ (grief/ sorrow) is of no benefit to the heart. It is most beloved to Shaitan (N.B my translation = satan) that the believer suffers in grief and depression so that it throws him off course and stops him in his tracks.
Indeed, the Prophet (s) sought refuge from grief, saying, “O Allah, I seek refuge in you from worry and grief.”
It is thus that Ibn al-Qayyim says, “Depression/grief weakens the heart, dampens one’s resolve and erodes one’s will, and there is nothing more pleasing to Shaitan than the sorrow of a believer. So rejoice! Spread cheer! Be positive and think good of Allah (z).  Trust in Him and rely on Him. Indeed you will find happiness and deep contentment in all circumstances.”
This is an awesome, joyful faith. Every day should have a joy jot – or something that brings you enough joy that it needs to be written down.  Bring joy to others, rejoice, spread joy. You are a Muslim. That is a joyful word in and of itself.  Let it be your first joy jot. “I am a Muslim… alhamdulilah!” :D

 

To my dear Anse Tamara Grey, if you do ever read this, please know I send my salam to you and to all your students and that I am delighted joy is one of your favourite words, it is mine too! Allah have mercy on my dear grandfather who named me. May he be in the highest heaven and we be there to greet him!

This is my ‘joy jot’ for today! And what a great big joy jot it is. Hey, I love that phrase – “joy jot”! Thank you Sr. Tamara and thank you to W.B Abdullah, the author of ‘The Sandal‘ for sharing this with a global audience.

 

 

 

 

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15 Important Muslim Women in History

Dear readers,

Peace be with you all, I just came across this and  I couldn’t but share it :)

Sometimes, one gets rather tired of the misconception of women in Islam…not just from non-Muslims. I have heard silly things said by Muslim women themselves…notably who come from patriarchal societies devoid of much islamic education. Here’s the article, do read. Nice pictures too :)

15 Important Muslim Women in History.

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By this Book We Rise or Fall

joymanifest:

On the Quran, and it’s place in the life of a Muslim….we say that ‘when a Muslim leaves the Quran, he is an easy target to be humiliated…’ It is true, look at the Muslim nation today and where the Quran is in Muslim homes and Muslim hearts. May God grant the book is written again in the hearts of the Muslims and is the wellspring of our hearts, as our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) so eloquently made du’a (given at the end of this post).

Originally posted on The Humble "I":

photo_matic_zorman_gaza_3070_copy_largeRecently, it seems that a number of pious people and a few eminent Muslim spiritual leaders have had premonitions and dreams about the quickening of the Hour and the imminent appearance of the Dajjal. Every generation has its warners proclaiming the End of Days being nigh and the doors of Dajjal, the Antichrist, being flung open. So in that respect, ours is no different.

Where our age does differ from others that have passed is that we live in times where all (or almost all) the signs spoken of in the hadiths that foretell the appearance of the Dajjal have now come to pass. The advice from these spiritual authorities, therefore, is to increase in seeking Allah’s forgiveness (istighfar), and to read the first and last ten verses of surat al-kahf (the 18th chapter of the Qur’an), daily or frequently. One hadith says about the Dajjal: ‘Whoever among…

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Al-Latif

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Al- Latif is one of the ‘names’ of God that I most love. It is another word hard to translate into English. I have a very beautiful Arabic-English dictionary of the Holy Quran (linked for your reference) that is essential for any one from an English language background hoping to read and understand the original Arabic of the Quran. And indeed, we Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God. It has been preserved without a single change since its revelation to that most blessed of Messengers, Muhammed (peace be upon him). BTW on this I recently realized most people are not aware of how Muslims view prophets or messengers, peace be upon them all. Briefly we do not elevate them to divinity, believing they are human beings, but neither do we consider them ordinary people, rather we consider them the best of mankind, who were great lights upon the earth, who had the most beautiful comportment, manners and daily transactions – and this for all of them, without reservation or question, peace be upon them all. The Quran is very clear in this and addresses this special noble people in the most beautiful salutary terms. Surah (=chapter) 21 in the Quran, is called ‘The prophets’ and gives the stories of some of them. It is one among many other places in the Quran they are mentioned. I am going off on a tangent so I will stop, but inshAllah (God willing) I will post about this more later on. I actually had no idea people could think badly of any of them (peace be upon them all), i.e., that they would commit major sins such as tell lies etc. until recently and that was shocking to me.

To get back to my topic, so I opened the dictionary to look up the best way to translate this word for you, my dear readers, and found something very special that I will share further down. Especially my Muslim brothers and sisters who are reading this, I think if you did not know it, you will feel happy to know it. The word ‘latif’ comes from the root ‘latufa’ meaning to be delicate, graceful, elegant, gentle, kind, fine. ‘Lateef’ means to be Gracious, Kind, Gentle, Subtle, Sharp-sighted, Acute (the dictionary capitalized each word so I am doing the same, I think this is on the intensive form of the word so that is why). As the name of God, ‘Al-Latif’ = The ‘Latif’, it means roughly, ‘The All Subtle Being’, ‘Unfathomable’, ‘Incomprehensible’, ‘The Gentle’ and so on. We say the Arabic can never really be translated, only interpreted. Actually Muslims don’t consider the Quran in any other language other than the Arabic as the Quran. That is, while we are obligated to be in a state of purity, having taken wudu (see here for a description of this ritual washing) before touching the Arabic Quran, this rule does not apply to it in any other language. This is what I specially wanted to share about what I found in the dictionary;- The word that appears at the very middle of the Quran (and remember when I say Quran, I am talking about it in Arabic) is ‘Walyatalattaf’ (this is a complex form derived from ‘latif’, in arabic you can get a whole sentence just by using the rules of derivation upon a triliteral root word). It means ‘And let him be courteous, let him behave with great care, conduct himself with caution’. In Arabic, there are 8 letters to this word, exactly 4 belong to the first half and the rest to the second half! Isn’t that amazing! Subhahanallah (=exalted is God). It comes in ayat 19 of sura 18. As if a central admonition to us Muslims is to be gentle!

I just looked up Surah 18, it is actually Surah ‘Kahf’ (=the cave). And the passage is about the sleepers in the cave. I am not sure, but I think the Bible has this story as well? BTW I got to visit this cave which is in present day Amman, Jordan. InshAllah I will share more about that later on. Surah Kahf is a surah the prophet peace be upon him, used to recite every Friday and told us to recite every Friday too. My Muslim readers will know the specialness of this surah. It contains many stories, in addition to the ‘sleepers in the cave’ full of wise meanings and messages.

I wanted to write about this word, ‘latif’ as it denotes a trait I love. And Muhammed, peace be upon this most strong yet most gentle of human beings had many wise sayings about how to be gentle. I wanted to post because of these ahadith (saying, narration from the blessed prophet) that I love;-

He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.

(Muslim)

Keep to gentleness and avoid harshness and coarseness. Gentleness is not found in anything without adorning it, and is not withdrawn from anything without shaming it.

(Muslim)

And on this note, here is a story from the traditions of the prophet peace be upon him, that I do love. It shows the gentleness of his approach toward teaching people religion. As you may know, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast. It is not just an external fasting (abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations) from dawn till dusk, it is also an internal one (abstaining from telling lies, gossip, backbiting, slander, being careful to not look at unlawful images etc). How much we are able to adhere to this is another story. But indeed the month is meant to train us and to help us regulate ourselves. It is like an annual cleanse you could say. A most special time (it’s only 4 months away! so excited looking forward to it. May Allah grant I have the felicity to meet another Ramadan!). I took this story from an article in the Baltimore Examiner, referenced here. However the story itself is well known and found in a many places, it is considered a very ‘authentic’ narration. The way ahadith (plural of hadith) are graded is a science itself, and there are Muslim scholars who specialize in this. Unfortunately these days due to the dearth of sound Muslim scholars, there are many deviant or fallacious ahadith floating around and many Muslims who don’t know a sound narration from a bad one, who would end up following the falsified ones. Before I go off on another tangent, albeit it is an important topic, here is the story. It is about this man who couldn’t keep his fast and came and confessed to the prophet (peace be upon him) and wanted to know what he could do to compensate -

“A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! I am ruined!’

The Prophet said, ‘Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you)!’

The man said, ‘I have done sexual intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.’

The Prophet said, ‘Manumit a slave.’

The man said, ‘I cannot afford that.’

The Prophet said; ‘Then fast for two successive months.’

The man said, ‘I have no power to do so.’

The Prophet said, ‘Then feed sixty poor persons.’

The man said, ‘I have nothing (to feed sixty persons).’

Later a basket full of dates were brought to the Prophet and he said (to the man), ‘Take it and give it in charity.’

The man said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I give it to people other than my family? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, there is nobody poorer than me in the whole city of Medina.’

The Prophet smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and said, ‘Take it.’”

(Bukhari, Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 185)

Peace be upon you all my dear readers. Al-Latif be with you!

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