“…there came after them generations who neglected prayer and were driven by their own desires. These will come face to face with their evil (Ghayya), but those who repent, who believe, who do righteous deeds, will enter Paradise. They will not be wronged in the least…” [Surah Maryam 19:59-60]
The meaning of ‘neglected’ here does not imply complete abandonment of the prayer but delaying it beyond it time.
It means not praying Zuhr until the time of ‘Asr; not praying ‘Asr until the time of Maghrib; not praying Maghrib until the time of ‘Isha; not praying ‘Isha until the time of Fajr, and not praying Fajr until the sun has risen. If someone dies persisting in this state without repenting, Allah has promised him Ghayy, which is a deep valley in Hell whose food is disgusting.
I asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ about ‘those who are forgetful of their prayer‘ (107:4-5), and he said, ‘It means delaying it’ – in other words, delaying it beyond its time.
After Shirk, there are no wrong actions greater than delaying the prayer beyond its time and killing a believer without right.
Whoever presevers in the prescribed prayers, Allah Almighty will grant him five honours:
- He will release him from straitened circumstances,
- protect him from the punishment of the grave,
- give him his book (of deeds) in his right hand,
- let him pass over the Sirat (The Bridge over hellfire) like lightning, and
- admit him to Paradise without reckoning.
May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and grant us the strength to worship Him in accordance with the Sunnah of our Master Muhammad ﷺ.
[Shams ad-Din adh-Dhahabi, al-Kaba’ir]
In this age of decadence where the moral fabric of the society is being ripped apart, there are some deluded people, sadly “scholars” too, who remain silent about falsehood and wrongdoings that surround them. In some cases, they endorse it, for whatever reason. And in many other cases, they conflate refutation and rejection of falsehood with “bad-adab”. As if Adab (propriety) entails accepting falsehood and wrongdoings and not speaking against them; handing out chocolates and gifts to the one who has slapped you; and overemphasising the Prophetic Jamal while neglecting the Prophetic Jalal.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“[Believers] you are the best community singled out for mankind: you enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah…” [Surah Aali ‘Imran 3:110]
‘Good’ in the Arabic language is ‘Khayr‘ and ‘Bad/Evil’ in the Arabic language is ‘Sharr‘. Why then are the words Ma’rūf and Munkar used? Ma’rūf literally refers to that which is known, because it is what the heart is familiar with. Munkar literally refers to that which is not known, as it is not known to the heart but the heart learns it. We don’t have the idea of ‘original sin’ or that children are inherently evil. They have to be taught that as their hearts are originally pure. The reason they begin doing bad things is because they are being taught that by humans or Shayātīn. [R Nsour, Sharh al-Akhdari]
It is interesting that Allah mentions “you enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” first and then mentions “and believe in Allah”. Whereas belief in Allah should come first and our actions should then follow. But if we look at the testimony of faith: “There is none worthy of worship except Allah”, we see, as our scholars have mentioned, it is negation (‘There is none worthy of worship…’) followed by affirmation (‘…except Allah’). So, we are negating all deities and refuting all types of falsehood before confirming the Truth; Godhood and Oneness of Allah. One enters the religion with a refutation because falsehood must first be obliterated and only then will true belief manifest. It is also evident from the biography of our Master Muhammad ﷺ that he preached Tawhid (monotheism) for a decade, before conveying anything else, for it is necessary to know the One we are submitting to, before knowing what it is he has commanded us to submit to.
Having said that, to now believe that one must be harsh in preserving the religious boundaries or that we must have a “soft spiritual approach” where transgressions are tolerated, is far from the truth. We discipline our ego, put it aside and love and hate for the sake of Allah only, as that is how our Master Muhammad ﷺ taught us to be. He placed his love and anger appropriately and never got angry for the sake of his own self but only when the rights of Allah were violated.
The conditions for enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong are mentioned by Ibn Rushd in al-Bayan wa’l-Tahsil:
Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong is obligatory upon every Muslim, subject to three conditions:
- He should know what ‘right’ is and what ‘wrong’ is. If he is ignorant of the ruling then there is a possibility that he will forbid something that is right and enjoin something that is wrong.
- The denunciation of wrong should not lead to a greater evil, such as if he tells people not to drink alcohol and that may result in murder and the like. In that case, it is not permissible for him to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.
- He should know or think it most likely that his denunciation of evil will put a stop to it, and that his enjoining good will be effective and beneficial. If he doesn’t know that or doesn’t think it (will be effective), then it not obligatory upon him to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.
The first two conditions are essential for it to be permissible, and the third condition is essential for it to be obligatory. If the first and second conditions are not met, then it is not permissible to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. If the third condition is not met, but the first and second ones are, then it is permissible for him to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, but it is not obligatory.
Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman bin Qudamah says in Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin:
Knowing that there is a certain evil in a market that can be reformed, one should rectify it. Every Muslim should reform himself first, keeping obligations and deserting sins. He should then do the same to his household and relatives, then comes his neighbours, then his fellows of his hometown, then citizens of his country. Finally come people of the world.
Lastly, Ustadh Amjid Mahmood mentions that Shaykh M.S. Ramadan al-Bouti said during a Dars he delivered on Jami’ al-Iman, almost a decade ago:
People often confuse using Hikma (wisdom) as being soft and gentle. But Hikma is rather to use the most effective method and treatment, which can sometimes be harsh and other times soft.
May Allah grant us the right understanding of our religion; forgive us for our shortcomings; and grant us ‘Afiyah (wellbeing) in religion, in our life in this world and in the world to come. Amin!
By Abdul Samad Ali
After every terrorist attack, a question is always on the mind of millions of people, Is Islam a violent religion?
If we look at the military expeditions (ghazawat) in which the Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings be upon him—took part in during the last two decades of his blessed life (27 being the largest number that has been narrated and fighting occurred in only 9 of them) then we will see that only 1,018 people were killed: 759 of them were non-Muslims and 259 were Muslims.
Before dispatching the military forces, Caliph Abu Bakr had the following commands for his army:
- Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path.
- You must not mutilate dead bodies.
- Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man.
- Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful.
- Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food.
- You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.
So, is Islam a violent religion? Well, let’s drop the apologetic tone and be clear about what Islam does say: Islam does not prohibit war, but it has regulated war. It has set down clear guidelines as to when war is right:
- To defend and protect.
- Collective defence-to defend the Muslim lands when attacked by other nations.
- To seek armed peace, where the two armies would meet before every battle and have peace talks.
How many people were killed in WWI? How many people were killed in WWII? How many people have been killed in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq, Levant, north Africa and several other places? Did Islam cause all of that? If Islam caused all of that, then were the Islamic regulations followed? Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed during the WW fighting for the British Empire. And 4-million have been killed so far in the US-NATO wars, wars with no regulations and clearly no accountability.
In Islamic polity, it is upon the Muslims to protect Muslims, as well as non-Muslims, from all external threats. The ruler and those in authority are bound to look after the interests of all subjects using all the resources at their command. The famous Maliki scholar, Imam al-Qarafi, quotes the statement of Ibn Hazm from his book Maratib al-Ijma’:
If enemies at war come to our lands aiming at a certain dhimmi (non-Muslim who lives under Islamic governance and enjoys the rights enshrined in the contract he makes under the Shariah), it is essential for us that we—Muslims—come out to fight the enemies with all our might and weapons since the dhimmi is under the protection of Allah and His Messenger. If we did anything less than this, it means we have failed in our agreement for protection.
The main emphasis of Shariah is the sanctity of the concept of due process to guarantee the life, liberty, property and honour of every human being. Therefore, Shariah has justly regulated the conduct of the believers in this world. It has sanctioned the private as well as the society’s public conduct.
Allah says in the Qur’an
“There is no coercion into the religion. Right guidance has become clearly distinct form error.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:255]
Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi comments on the above verse:
“There is no coercion into the religion” means that the religion of Islam is at the furthest limit of clarity with the most obvious proofs of its authenticity, such that there is no need to coerce anyone to enter into it, but on the contrary every person possessing a sound intellect will enter into it voluntarily without coercion, and this is shown by His saying, “Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error,” i.e. it has become clear that Islam is right guidance and disbelief is error so that after this clarity there is no need for coercion.
[At-Tashil li’Ulum at-Tanzil, passage translated by Abdassamad Clarke]
Hadith on the virtue of this night:
Muʿaẓ ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“Allah pays special attention to his entire creation on the fifteenth night of Shaʿban and forgives all of them except one who ascribes partners to Him and one who harbours enmity in his heart.” [Al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr vol.20 pg.108-109]
— Ibn Ḥibbān has classified this narration as Ṣaḥīḥ (authentic) [Ṣaḥīḥ ibn Ḥibbān Vol.12 pg.482; Ḥadīth: 5665]
— Ḥāfiẓ Al-Haythamī has mentioned that all the narrators of this ḥadīth are reliable. [Majmaʿ al-Zawā’id Vol. 8 pg. 65]
ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar related that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“There are five nights on which duʿa is not turned back: Friday eve, on the eve of Rajab, the 15th night of Sha‘ban, Laylat al-Qadr, and on the eve of the two Eids.” [Muṣannaf ʿAbd ar-Razzāq, Ḥadīth 7927; authenticity unverified]
Statements of the Scholars:
Imam ash-Shafiʿi states in al-Umm:
“It has reached us that it is said that there are five nights when the duʿas are accepted; the night of Friday, the night of Eid al-Aḍḥa, the night of Eid al- Fiṭr, the first night of Rajab and the 15th of Sha‘ban.”
Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Jilani states in Ghunya al-Ṭālibīn:
“Malik ibn Anas reports from ʿUrwah, from ʿAisha (may Allah be pleased with her) who said she heard the Prophet ﷺ state that: ‘There are four nights in which the gates of righteousness are opened; the night of Eid al-Aḍḥa, the night of Eid al-Fiṭr, the night of ʿArafa (9th Dhu ʾl-Hajj) and 15th of Shaʿban.'” [pg. 448]
Al-Ajhuri al-Maliki records in Ḥusnul Bayān:
“‘Aṭā ibn Yasār—the great Tabiʿi of Madinah—said: ‘After Laylat al-Qadr, there is no other night in the year that is more virtuous than the middle (15th) night of Shaʿban.’” [pg.11]
Ibn al-Ḥajj states in al-Madkhal:
“This night has great virtue and abundant good.” He further says, “The salaf (pious predecessors) would sanctify this night and prepare themselves for it in advance.” [1/299]
Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi states in Mukhtaṣar Minhāj al-Qāṣidīn:
“The most virtuous nights, that the devout servant of Allah should observe Qiyam al-Layl therein, are:
—The odd nights from the last ten nights of Ramaḍan,
—1st and 10th of Muharram,
—1st and 15th of Rajab,
—15th of Sha’ban…”
Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī states in Laṭāʾif al-Maʿārif:
“…There is nothing established from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ nor from his companions with regard to spending the 15th night of Shaʿban in worship. But it is established that a group of Tābiʿūn —who were senior jurists of Shām—used to spend this night in worship.” He further says, “…It is thus the duty of every believer to free himself on the night for the remembrance of Allah and supplicating to Him for the forgiveness of sins, concealment of faults, and removal of hardships. And he should precede all this with repentance because Allah Almighty turns to the one who repents to Him on this night.” [pg. 264-265]
All of the above sufficiently confirms the significance of the 15th night of Sha’ban. As for a list of optional acts that can be performed on this night, see:
Optional Acts for the Night of Emancipation—15th of Sha’ban
May Allah ﷻ guide us all, and may He ﷻ allow us to maximise our benefit from the auspiciousness of this night.