Looking for Laylathul-Qadr

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you all

I promised to blog about Laylathul Qadr. Layl means night in Arabic and Qadr is a word hard to translate. It can mean; power, destiny, highly valued, decree,  among other meanings, when used in this context. Laylathul Qadr, can therefore be rendered as ‘the extremely valuable or powerful night of divine determination’ or ‘the night of power’. It comes once in a year, in the month of Ramadan. The Quran was first revealed to the Messenger of God, Muhammed (peace and blessing of God be upon him) during Ramadan, and many believe laylathul Qadr is when it was first revealed.

We don’t know when the exact night is (and hence the title of this post :) ). There are valid scholarly opinions; it could be any of the nights of Ramadan, it could be in the last 10 nights of Ramadan or it could be among the odd numbered nights of the last 10 nights of Ramadan (i.e., 21st, 23rd, 25th night and so on). The majority favour the last two opinions. Scholars who do tafseer (=interpretation of the Quran) say these ayaath (=signs literally, but translated as verses in English) that open Surah Fajr (=chapter called ‘daybreak/dawn’) refer to laylathul Qadr. Again the English does not capture any of the rhyme or rhythm of the Arabic sadly…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of God, the most loving, the love-giving
 
By the dawn

 

And [by] ten nights

 

And [by] the even [number] and the odd

 

And [by] the night when it passes,

 

Is there [not] in [all] that an oath [sufficient] for one of perception?

[I have to say the scientist in me is fascinated by numbers and the methodology of numeracy. I find ayah number 3 - 'by the even and odd contrasted' deeply delightful and extremely intriguing. What is it about numbers and divisibility and what does this tell us about 'unity' - that 'one-ness' of God our whole deen or way of life, is so completely based on. So much to ponder on! subhahanallah = exalted be God]

 Reflecting on the fact that we don’t know when laylathul qadr is, there is divine wisdom in that ..for it makes us not lazy to seek it. As in, we don’t just flock to the mosque to remember God on that one night, but rather go everyday hoping to meet ‘her’. Also there is divine wisdom in that it is in the last 10 nights (majority view) as often after 20 days of fasting, the body is tired and the spirit sometimes can vain. But knowing lalthul qadr will come in the last 10 days gives us something very precious to look forward to and so we renew our efforts and rather than a tiring body we find new energy and drive.

 There are ‘signs’ that tell us it was laylathul qadr. Many Muslim cultures have their own pieces of hearsay or you could even say ‘folklore’ about the signs :)…I remember as a kid being told that you won’t see a leaf on a tree move nor hear a dog bark (!). Some say the night will be softly cloudy, some say it will be clear…etc. Of course the messenger of God, peace be upon him, was asked about its signs and he did reply. The most authentic scholarly opinion based on his (peace be upon him) reply is that the sun will rise the next day ‘as if with no rays’, i.e., serenely and it won’t be dazzlingly bright. And more importantly during the night itself every believer’s heart will feel an immense peace. I found this nicely worded reply from Sh. Uthaymeen

From amongst the signs of Laylatul-Qadar is that it is a calm night and the believer’s heart is delighted and at peace with it, and he becomes active in doing good actions, and the sun on the following morning rises clearly without any rays.

Much Quran is recited during these precious nights and the mosques are full of worshippers who stand often through the night in long units of prayer. There is something so tranquil about this ‘standing by night’ (literally what the night prayer is called ‘qiyam ul layl’ = standing by night). When one is joined to one’s sisters and brothers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, row upon row. The lights are dimmed and the voice of the qari (=reciter of Quran) sings the verses of the Quran in soft serenity. Sometimes children will be playing outside or they will come and stand with the older ones in prayer, or they will be sleeping, some baby falling asleep in the arms of the mother standing in prayer. It is very beautiful and a time I long for each year. Some people follow the sunnah (=way, of the blessed prophet) who used to go into spiritual seclusion during the last 10 days, and so they will stay in the mosque in that seclusion – fasting by day and reciting Quran or offering salat (=Muslim ritual worship) and making du’a (=supplications or prayers) by day and night. It is a much needed ‘cleanse’. And I love it that this type of annual retreat is part of the religion and accessible to any ordinary Muslim that wants to take it instead of being only something for a priestly class of people, which does not exist in Islam.

 Finally, chapter 97 in the Quran is entirely devoted to this night. It is a short chapter being only 5 ayath. Reading it tells us why we feel so much peace during this one night. It is the night the angels descend and the arch-angel, Gabrial himself (peace be upon them all) visits the earth. To those unfamiliar with the tafseer of the chapter, in verse 4 ‘the spirit’ is considered to be the arch-angel Gabrial who is called Jibra’eel in Arabic.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of God, the most loving, the love-giving
97:1
Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree.
97:2
And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?
97:3
The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.
97:4
The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.
97:5
Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.

 

I will leave you with a 45 second clip so you can enjoy listening to the recitation of this beautiful chapter. I especially love the last ayah. Anyone who has had the good fortune to witness a laylathul qadr in their lives will know exactly what this means. May we all be granted the felicity to witness or to have witnessed laylathul qadr

Peace be with you all

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Talks on Islam | 1 Comment

The miracle of water

Assalamu alaikum dear readers, peace be upon you all

Half of this blessed month has already left us, never to return, and one can’t help but be sad at that thought. But indeed then also still happy that the month is still in our midst and that the last ten days are soon to begin. Bi ithnillahi ta’ala (=with the permission of God, the Most High) I will blog about the last ten nights of Ramadan later on.

Many of my Muslim readers who have been fasting, and perhaps some of my non-Muslim friends who joined the fast this year, would have gotten a renewed appreciation for water the past few days. Here in Canada the days are long and where I live, we are having a spell of warm weather. There is nothing as delightful as that first sip of cool refreshing water at sunset when we break our fast. Indeed the du’a (=prayer/supplication) of the blessed beloved (peace of God be upon him) when he broke his fast is heartfelt by us as we also utter it. [He made other du'a when opening the fast, that we also say]

‘The thirst has gone and the veins are quenched, and reward is confirmed, if Allaah wills.’

While fasting has many esoteric benefits, one among them is  truly a deeper understanding of the suffering there is in the world. Some things just have to be felt to be understood! And yet, as I write this, I know it is true that the suffering of thirst and hunger we undergo is very different to that of people who really are suffering these tribulations. For we, we have some assurance in our heart of food and drink that will come at the end of the day. But for many thousands this is not an assured thing. Indeed this month reminds us that for many in the world, even in our post-modern context, starvation/malnourishment/lack of potable water is still a stark reality.

It is remarkable how much more energized I feel just after drinking that glass of water. It always strikes me how amazing it is, that this substance can bring about such a complete change in a matter of moments.

As a scientist-in-training I am mesmerized by water. It’s such a perfect molecule. I forget, but I recall reading that had not the bond angle between H-O-H (the two hydrogen atoms and the one oxygen atom) being the precise angle it is, all of life would not have existed. It is an amazing molecule – that when it is frozen, it weighs less than when liquid… one could go on and on about it.

So I looked up an old post that I want to share. It is taken from here. This was shared with us by one of my dear sisters, herself a post-doctoral fellow now mashaAllah (=by the grace of Allah). It was when we had been studying the water cycle as it is given in the Quran during our Quran study halaqa (=circle/group/class). It was blogged 4 years ago. A reminder of the 4th anniversary of our Quran study group and also of this blog, bi barakathiallah! (=by the blessing of Allah). A useful collection of ayaath (literally ‘signs’, meaning ‘verses’ in the Quran..as each verse is considered a sign of God)

 

“Also, since we were discussing the fact that Quran mentions that fresh and salt water do not mix. The reference to it is in the Surah 25 Al-Furqan: Ayat 53: “And it is He who has released [simultaneously] the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition”

It is also in Surah 55 Ar-Rahman, Ayat 19 & 20.

 

I think we were all fascinated by water and how it sustains life.
Ayat 54 of Al Furqan is the one that says that humans are created from water: It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power (over all things). 

Surah 21 Al Anbiya Ayat 30: “We made from water every living thing”

 

I wanted to share this video (http://videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/17265-the-water-cycle-where-fresh-water-comes-from-video.htm) about the cycle of water which is also mentioned in the Quran at several places:

- Surah 23 Al-Mumenoon Ayat 18: “And We send down water from the sky according to (due) measure, and We cause it to soak in the soil; and We certainly are able to drain it off (with ease).”

- Surah 30 Ar-Room Ayat 48: “It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until thou seest rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice! “

- Surah 7 Al-Araf Ayat 57: “It is He Who sendeth the winds like heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We drive them to a land that is dead, make rain to descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith: thus shall We raise up the dead: perchance ye may remember.”

- Surah 39 Az-Zumar Ayat 39: “Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colours: then it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then He makes it dry up and crumble away. Truly, in this, is a Message of remembrance to men of understanding.”

Let’s renew our appreciation of water, our thanks for it, and implement the sunnah (=way/habits/practices) of the beloved Messenger of God (peace be upon him) in how careful he was in using water and not wasting it.

Ramadan Kareem! (=May Ramadan be generous for you/wish you a generous Ramadan/God’s generosity be with you this Ramadan)

 

 

Posted in Interfaith, Quran | Leave a comment

‘Fathima Knight in shining armour’!

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you dear readers,

A few weeks ago, I was greatly delighted to ‘attend’ online, the first commencement ceremony of Zaytuna college. Zaytuna (=Olive/Olive tree) college is North America’s first academic Muslim liberal arts college. I believe it’s degree certification is from UC Berkeley. It was set-up by Sh. Hamza Yusuf Hanson, the scholar interviewed in the series I blogged recently.

I have been following the budding and growth of this institution keenly the past four years and it was  a proud moment to be able to witness its first commencement. The occasion was graced by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, one of the few remaining ‘giant scholars’ in the Muslim world. He is a master of many spheres, speaks fluent French in addition to a very high caliber of Arabic and has a CV I have no words to describe, so I won’t. Suffice to say, that in his demenour and service he has come to embody what a true scholar is, and he is one of the teachers of Sh. Hamza. It is a great compliment to Zaytuna college that Sh. Bin Bayyah made the trip out for the commencement despite his 80+ years and difficulty with travel. He did it due to his heartfelt support of the endeavor. And indeed, it is a desperately needed endeavor. You may catch a glimpse of him in the clip, the elderly gentleman in traditional garb with his scholars turban. Knowledge has always been a prized possession for the Muslim, and God bless Sh. Hamza and his likes, who are fighting hard to bring back the light of learning to the Muslim world.

Faatimah Knight is a shining example of what a young person schooled in such an environment of sound knowledge and real scholarship can produce. Imam Zaid Shakir, is a well known and well beloved figure in the North American Muslim world. He is an African American ex-US marine (if I’m not mistaken) who converted to Islam several decades ago, and then schooled in traditional Islamic scholarship, who is now a teacher at Zaytuna. Imam Zaid mentions that whenever he sees Faatimah walking down the aisle, he calls out to her as ‘Fathima Knight in shining armour’. A compliment this young lady well deserves. This young lady is just that – someone inspiring for her truthfulness, sincerity and determination to follow her true heart.

I was so inspired and ‘taken’ by the depth and wisdom of her commencement address, delivered with such obvious sincerity that I wanted to share it with you. It is a 9.5 min clip. I hope you will be able to listen and be as inspired as I was. I pray for this young lady and may there be many more like her. She is well named by wise parents, after the daughter of the beloved Messenger of God, Fathima az Zahra (=the resplendent one… a title given to her by the people out of love. The world’s second oldest continuously running university, Al-Azhar in Cairo is actually named after her)

May God protect and increase this beautiful young lady. I am happy to note she has been offered a full scholarship to grad school in the illustrious University of Chicago Islamic studies program. I believe she refused a full scholarship for undergraduate study in U of Chicago to go to Zaytuna. She is one of the 14 students of the class of 2014. May God bless them all, their teachers and all who have supported this difficult and challenging endeavor.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Current affairs, Interfaith, Talks -general, Talks on Islam | 5 Comments

Being Environment-friendly is so rewarding!

- Here is a Big joy jot for Ramadan 6th -alleviates some of the sadness that Ramadan is going by so quickly  Being Environment-friendly is so rewarding!. 200-golden-hadiths_34

 

Posted in Talks on Islam | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Give30 , sadaqa, zakat and Happy Canada day

Dear Readers,

I was informed of this wonderful initiative by one of my brothers and wanted to highlight it here. Ramadan is a month of charity. Many of us save a lot of money on our grocery bill and entertainment/excursion bills etc., which is then given in charity. The hunger pangs and bouts of thirst we experience by fasting, doing their job of softening the heart so we renew our empathy with the majority of the world’s population still suffering from hunger and thirst. And we thank Allah SWT for this, for had it not been for this strong annual reminder, who knows who heedless/negligent we would be of other’s suffering.

Many Muslims give their ‘zakat’ during this month. Zakat is third pillar of Islam, one of the 5 obligations upon a Muslim. It literally means ‘purification’ and is an obligatory tax Muslims must give to poor Muslims/wayfarers/and a few other categories of people who qualify. 2.5% of a person’s wealth, if he or she meets the threshold to be ‘zakat-able’ must be given. The calculations can get quite complicated. This is due annually and it is up to the person to decide when to pay it. Almost all the Muslims I know, pay it during Ramadan though. One – because the fasting person is beloved to God, and any good deed done during this month is more beloved to God than at other times. And two – perhaps this experiencing of mock-poverty we feel does indeed propel us to give. Allah subhahanawa ta’ala a’lam (=God the most Exalted and High, knows best – we consign the knowledge of our comments whose truths we don’t know, to God most High and say He knows better than we do. So only He knows if my statement is valid or not)

Apart from zakat, any other charity is called sadaqa. Sadaqa comes from a root word that means ‘truth’. Giving charity does free one’s soul to experience truth, as indeed giving zakat ‘purifies’ one’s wealth. Ramadan is a month of exaggerated charity. The prophet, peace be upon him, was the most generous of men. But during Ramadan, his charity people said ‘was like the wind’. Allah elevate and bless him and his beloved family and make all his followers like him!

BTW the prophet peace be upon him, would fast excessively and was almost always hungry. They say people would not see smoke rise out of his chimney for 3 months at a stretch. His diet was mostly bread and dates. Though he loved meat, he (peace be upon him!) would never eat meat and bread together…considering it too much a luxury. But this does not mean, as some Muslims erroneously believe, that he (peace be upon him) was poor. There were periods of poverty, but for the most part he (peace be upon him) ruled a vary large state. His hunger was due to his extreme generosity and due to his frugal habits. In fact in our tradition, poverty – the real kind – is considered an oppression and completely disliked. We must fight to eradicate poverty in the world. But poverty that is voluntary, that is a different matter and may indeed be a safeguard from the traps of materialism. May Allah elevate the soul of our beloved and grant us the supreme felicity of meeting him.

Give30 is a remarkable effort. It’s a very Canadian story. And its a very Muslim story. It’s a Canadian Muslim story :) – the kind I wish the news would cover more. But to be fair, they already have. I wanted to post it up on Canada day, but didn’t make it to do yesterday. However here is our brother who has been inspired by Ramadan, to organize the collection of money he saves by fasting so it may benefit local foodbanks. The blessed prophet said it was best to give charity locally. And though I know most of my Muslim brothers and sisters feel the strong pull to give to international organizations what with the horrendous global suffering contrasted to life in rich nation, still there is plenty of need here. So I hope you will share this initiative and promote it.

 

Website linked above and here it is again

www.give30.ca

 

Happy Canada day everyone and Ramadan kareem (=May Ramadan be generous for you!)

Posted in Current affairs, Interfaith | 2 Comments

The honored guest has arrived! and my attempts to sight hilal ur-Ramadan

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you!

My dear readers, Ramadan Mubarak! (= congratulations on Ramadan/wishing you a blessed Ramadan/Happy Ramadan…any of these will work, again its a phrase hard to translate). Thanks and praise to Allah for the felicity to meet another Ramadan. I pray you are all well and in good health to meet her, in happiness and ease.

Of the many things I am in love with in this way of life – deen ul-Islam (the religion or way of Islam) is the way our lives are tied to the natural phenomena. I love it that the five prescribed ritual worship cycles or salat (some call it prayer but prayer is what we do at anytime) are tied to the position of the sun in the sky. These are obligatory ritual acts of worship. The word ‘salat’ comes from a root that means to ‘do good’, ‘to align rightly’, ‘to recalibrate’. It has all these meanings. It is the daily 5-time reminder of who we are, where we came from, where we are going to, and who we belong to. It’s that one-on-one meeting of the slave with his or her Maker that is the most precious thing in the world.

And I love it that the way we count the months is tied to the phases of the moon. There is something very magical about the moon. And something more magical about how this moon and sun tie into each other. About the passage of day and night. About the light and dark. The Quran talks of these often in many many places. Again, I love these passages too much not to share, so here is one instance below. Where Allah SWT swears by these immense creations…and scholars of Quranic interpretation say, that whenever Allah SWT swears by something that is a mark of the greatness of that thing, and also a mark of the import of the message that is sworn upon – in this case, to have a pure upright character or soul or self.

These are the first 11 ayat (=signs) from surah Shams (=sun). Unfortunately the English does not capture the cadence, rhyme or rhythm of the Arabic. Also there is no ‘neuter’ gender in Arabic. Everything is either male or female.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of Allah the most Loving, the One showing Love

91:1
By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour;
91:2
By the Moon as she follows him;
91:3
By the Day as it shows up (the Sun’s) glory;
91:4
 By the Night as it conceals it;
91:5
 By the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure;
91:6
 By the Earth and its (wide) expanse:
91:7
 By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
91:8
And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-
91:9
 Truly he succeeds that purifies her (meaning one’s soul)
91:10
And he fails that corrupts her (meaning one’s soul)!

Now the fact that it is the moon that determines the count of the months is significant also for religious reasons. Since the third main pillar of the deen is the obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan. So much has been said about this that I won’t repeat anything here, except to say briefly that during this month Muslims are obligated to fast from dawn to dusk. The fast entails keeping away from all usual pleasures – definitely of lawful eating, drinking and marital relations and also (though less strictly observed) of too much of the sensual pleasures such as movies, music, TV etc. even if lawful. It is a time one removes the ‘creature-pleasures’ to free the soul to experience divine realities. The spiritual masters say that a too satiated body is heavy on the soul and so cannot be tuned into the call of the Creator. So then, removing those creature comforts paves the way for those heart-valves to open. In addition to this there is exoteric cleansing of course and much charity and feeling for the poor is an outcome.

One of the results of this tying between the deen ul islam and the natural phenomena was the necessitated great feats in astronomy and mathematics that were part of the Islamic golden age. Precise calculation of time became increasingly more important as the Muslim world expanded. There is divine wisdom in action.

So I went out to see if I could sight the hilal ur Ramadan (=crescent of Ramadan). It is a magical experience. Something very special about seeing that new moon during the few minutes it appears before it sets close upon the heels of the sun. I was not blessed with that sight this month though, as it was too cloudy. But I caught a mesmerizingly beautiful sunset instead.

While some Muslims rely on astronomical tables to determine the month, other opinions favour the need to sight the moon with naked eye. Some scholars hold a local sighting is necessary and others say a global sighting suffices. Two witnesses are required. I was tracking crescentwatch.org that tells when there is a chance to see the moon (as in astronomical possibility) and tracks user sightings. I felt greatly elated to hear that the moon was sighted in Sydney that morning and so waited to see if I too would catch a glimpse of her that night. Being in Western Canada we were among the last to see her, except for Hawaii which would be much later. Also for my non-Muslim readers to know – for us, the ‘day’ begins with the night. So when the hilal ur Ramadan is sighted thus marks the first ‘day’ of Ramadan. Great joy then! as mosques began the special night prayers and people gather to celebrate this most special of special times.

May her stay with us this year bring much peace and tranquility to all people, especially in those Muslim lands torn apart by bloodshed and hatred. God have mercy upon us all.

Here is a screen capture from crescentwatch tracking the crescent’s march across the globe.

Image

And here is a image of the crescent announcement

Image

And finally the beautifully peaceful sunset I encountered, though I did not see the hilal ur-Ramadan

Image

Posted in Current affairs, Interfaith, Musings, Talks on Islam | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A chat among scholars

Dear Readers,

I came across this ‘chat’ on youtube. It is an obviously an old recording. But it was delightful to me and I thought to share it. Why? because it is a chat between two of the greatest scholars of Islam, in the English language, today. Both these men (Allah ihfidhuma = Allah preserve them both) have had a great impact on my life. They are extremely well schooled in the classical or traditional Muslim scholarly tradition and both individuals who converted to Islam in the 70s (independent of each other).

A few words on the Muslim scholarly tradition. There is a well known hadith from the beloved Muhammed (peace be upon him). He is reported to have said

“Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” [Related byTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others] Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Zayla`i, Ibn Hajar, and others seemed it sound (hasan) or rigorously authentic (sahih)]

Please see here for a nice commentary on this hadith by another one of my beloved teachers, Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. Gems from there are

A sure sign of having this knowledge & inheritance is that one upholds excellence of character, as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The weightiest thing on the Scales on the Day of Judgment is good character.” [Abu Dawud] And he said, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character, and the best of you are those best to their spouses.” [Tirmidhi]

The best of good character is restraint and forbearance (hilm), for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Forbearance (hilm) is the best of character.” The most beautiful of character and conduct was the character and conduct of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

True inheritors of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reflect some of this excellence and beauty in their character and conduct. This character emanates from making Allah one’s true concern; being conscious of Allah; and true love for Allah.

What Islam uniquely brought (as per my limited knowledge) in the field of religious scholarly tradition is the ‘sanad’ system. Loosely translated as ‘chain’, the sanad is the living link between generations. In this system, knowledge is transmitted teacher to student, teacher to student and so on and on all the way up to the first teacher, the prophet of God, Muhammed (peace be upon him). For the westerner, the easiest way to understand it is the apprentice system. In the apprentice system, traditions are handed down generation to generation, without change and the knowledge is most authentic because the training of the student is not only in theory but in practice. In the context of an apprenticeship in ‘religious knowledge’, the student often lives with the teacher (or sheikh) and imbibes characteristics, mannerisms, ways of life that no book can hold. Students do not ‘graduate’ after a few years of study, nay, rather they are moulded over decades until they finally take their place as a full-fledged scholar. Usually this place is cemented upon the consensus of the populace. Being a trainee in scientific academia, I see so many parallels between that system and my own training. For example, how many a PhD student comes out of the long doctoral ‘apprenticeship’ imbibing their advisor’s method of thinking, writing, or  methodology of deducing arguments! Anyone who has been through this track will know what I mean.

So then an authentic scholar does have a sanad all the way to the prophet, peace be upon him. And so they really are inheritors of the prophets. The greatest catastrophe (as I’ve said often before, sorry for the repetition) upon the Muslim nation nowadays is the widespread dearth of such scholars. Worse, even the Muslim population is no longer able to distinguish a real scholar from a weak one or a poorly trained one, even from an imposter (and oh don’t we have plenty of those!). Once the population is unable to hold the scholarship to a high standard, then that results in poorer scholarship which leads to a more dummed-down population. It is a spiral downward.

This catastrophe is a result of the colonial period it is true, but still no point looking back and blaming others, it is time for us to revive authentic knowledge in our nation. Only so that we Muslims are aware of what happened, we should know, that there were scholars assassinated en masse in places like Turkey during the colonial era (targeted assasinations also took place in Iraq as recently as the American occupation of that country, not just of religious scholars but also of the secular academia – but this leads to another topic). There was also a systematic denigration of religious education in the minds of the common man by the colonial powers in the countries they ruled. I once listened to a well-researched talk on this from a visiting doctoral student from the USA. And indeed, I then could put two and two together and understand the poor estimation my own grandfather (Allah rest his soul) used to view the Ulema (=Muslim scholars) with. At the same time, their caliber was so poor that they were known for many lapses in good character and no honest person could admire them.  An example of that downward spiral.  That period was truly a colonization of the mind, for the remains of it still exist and many Muslims of today from those countries still reject religious scholarship. May God grant our hearts and minds are opened from this imperial domination and grant us sound scholars, as well as protect us from the sin of imposing such injustice upon another, no matter even if in our own home!

So here are two luminaries, both ‘signs’ of Allah :). An American convert from California and an English convert, who both independently journeyed, sought and found, and lived with authentic Muslim scholars and learned copiously as well as obtained license (=ijaza) to transmit Muslim scholarly works and who are now back in their respective homelands doing a great deal of good in spreading sound knowledge. My Muslim readers will know them well, for my non-Muslim readers – they are Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson (who has founded the first Islamic seminary in the USA – at UC Berkeley) and Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad or Tim Winter who is a professor of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University and is building a truly unique mosque/community center there. Apart from their very high caliber of Islamic scholarship, they are both masters of the English language, and as such are rare gems indeed.

Albeit their amazing stories, there conversation is more enjoyable. I felt this was a treat, so I hope you enjoy it too. I do believe one of the greatest lawful pleasures of life in this world is the gaining of sound beneficial knowledge (no matter the field) and being among the erudite. May God grant the latter pleasure in the hereafter as well!

BTW the Arabic word for discovery ‘kashf’ has a root that is shared by the word ‘ecstasy’! Indeed a true discovery is true ecstasy. I leave you then, to hopefully, experience some of that here.

May Allah preserve and increase them both and to you all the same!

Peace be with you all

 

 

Posted in Current affairs, Interfaith | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments