The Forgotten Art of Listening

If a person starts telling you, whether you are alone or in the company of others, something that you already knew very well, you should pretend as if you do not know it. Do not rush to reveal your knowledge or to interfere with the speech. Instead, show your attention and concentration.

The honourable Tābi‘ī Imām ‘Atā Ibn Abī Rabāh said, “A young man would tell me something that I may have heard before he was born. Nevertheless, I listen to him as if I had never heard it before.”

Khālid Ibn Safwān al-Tamīmī, who frequented the courts of the two Khalīfas; ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz and Hisham Ibn ‘Abd al-Mālik, said, “If a person tells you something you have heard before, or news that you already learnt, do not interrupt him to exhibit your knowledge to those present. This is rude and ill-mannered.”

The honourable Imām ‘Abdullāh Ibn Wahab al-Qurashī al-Masrī, a companion of Imām Mālik, al-Layth Ibn Sa‘d and al-Thawrī, said, “Sometimes a person would tell me a story that I have heard before his parents had wed. Yet I listened as if I have never heard it before.”

Ibrāhīm Ibn al-Junayd said, “A wise man said to his son, ‘Learn the art of listening as you learn the art of speaking.’” Listening well means maintaining eye contact, allowing the speaker to finish the speech and restraining your urge to interrupt his speech.

Al-Hāfiz al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī said in a poem:
Never interrupt a talk
Though you know it inside out

Source: Islamic Manners, by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah

What is Manhood (Rujūlah)?

Image Courtesy of Time4Thinkers

The definition of manhood (Rujūlah) has been endlessly discussed and dissected in scholarly tomes. For many ancient cultures, manhood was rooted in being a warrior. But it was a battlefield-specific manhood ill-prepared for life during peacetime. In early American history, manhood was connected with being a yeoman farmer or independent artisan. But when the Industrial Revolution moved men from farm to factory, men wondered if true manliness was possible in the absence of the economic independence they once enjoyed. In the 20th century, manhood meant being the familial breadwinner. But during times of Depression and Recession, and when women joined the workforce in great numbers, men felt deeply emasculated.

When manhood is connected to such cultural, and ultimately ephemeral guideposts, and times change, a crisis of manhood results. Some men then cling stubbornly to a past that cannot be recreated while others seek to redefine manliness in ways that while well-intentioned, end up stripping manhood of its unique vitality. Thus, the definition of manhood clearly needs to be rooted in a firm and immovable foundation. One that works across time, place, and culture and is attainable for any man, in any situation.

So how do we define manhood (Rujūlah)?

For Aristotle and many of the ancient Greeks, manhood meant living a life filled with eudaimonia. What’s eudaimonia? It is living a life of “human flourishing,” or excellence. Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to take actions guided by rational thought that would lead to excellence in every aspect of his life. Thus, manhood meant being the best man you can be.

For the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue. In fact, the English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word virtus, which meant manliness or masculine strength. The Romans believed that to be manly, a man had to cultivate virtues like courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness. Thus for the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue.

For us, Muslims, the Prophet ﷺ is al-Insān al-Kāmil (The Perfect Man); manhood can therefore be defined as the imitation of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in ethical, spiritual and moral behaviour. A man should try his best to be what the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was, and those perfect characteristics and exalted qualities and magnificent ethics are innumerous:

  • His ﷺ Vigilance
  • His ﷺ Wisdom
  • His ﷺ Knowledge
  • His ﷺ Eloquence
  • His ﷺ Courage
  • His ﷺ Physical Strength
  • His ﷺ Generosity
  • His ﷺ Shyness
  • His ﷺ Loyalty
  • His ﷺ Patience
  • His ﷺ Perfect Resilience
  • His ﷺ Asceticism; Reliance upon God
  • His ﷺ Responsibility
  • His ﷺ Forgiveness
  • His ﷺ Military Leadership
  • His ﷺ Justice
    His ﷺ Integrity
  • His ﷺ Perfect Care for Cleanliness
  • His ﷺ Humility
  • His ﷺ General Manners and Etiquette
  • His ﷺ Kindness to His Family and Relatives
  • His ﷺ Kind way of Covering with Others
  • His ﷺ Excellent Way of Rebuking and Censuring
  • His ﷺ Perfect Way of Teaching and Guiding
  • His ﷺ Perfect Method of Directing People to Higher Aspirations
  • His ﷺ Mercy with Animals
  • His ﷺ Amiability in Social Settings

Both genders are capable of and should strive for virtuous, human excellence. When a woman lives these virtues, that is womanliness; when a man lives the virtues, that is manliness. Which is to say that women and men strive for the same virtues, but often attain them and express them in different ways. The virtues will be lived and manifested differently in the lives of sisters, mothers, and wives than in brothers, husbands, and fathers.


References:

– Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawī al-Mālikī (2013). Muhammad ﷺ the Perfect Man. UK: Visions of Reality Books. Contents.
– Brett & Kate McKay. (2010). What is Manliness. Available: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/05/16/what-is-manliness/. Last accessed 12th Aug 2014.
– Harvey C. Mansfield (2007). Manliness: Yale University Press. 304.
– Image courtesy of Time4Thinkers.

The Pious “Drunkard” and “Fornicator”

Sultan Murad IV [d. 1640 CE]

Sultan Murad IV, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623-1640, would often anonymously go into the midst of the people and see their state. One evening, he felt an uneasiness in himself and the urge to go out. He called for his head of security and out they went. They came to a busy vicinity, and found a man lying on the ground. The Sultan prodded him but he was dead and the people were going about their own business. Nobody seemed to care about the dead man lying on the ground.

The Sultan called upon the people. They didn’t recognise him and asked him what he wanted. He said,

“Why is this man lying dead on the ground and why does no one seem to care? Where is his family?”

They replied,

“He is so and so, the drunkard and fornicator!”

The Sultan said,

“Is he not from the Ummah of Muhammad ﷺ? Now help me carry him to his house”

The people carried the dead man with the Sultan to his house and once they reached, they all left. The Sultan and his assistant remained. When the man’s wife saw his dead body, she began weeping. She said to his dead body,

“May Allah have mercy on you! O friend of Allah! I bear witness that you are from the pious ones.”

The Sultan was bewildered. He said,

“How is he from the pious ones when the people say such and such about him? So much so that no one even cared he was dead!”

She replied,

I was expecting that. My husband would go to the tavern every night and buy as much wine as he could. He would then bring it home and pour it all down the drain. He would then say, “I saved the Muslims a little today.” He would then go to a prostitute, give her some money and tell her to close her door till the morning. He would then return home for a second time and say, “Today, I saved a young woman and the youth of the believers from vice.”

Winter Rags by Richard Lithgow

The people would see him buying wine and they would see him going to the prostitutes and they would consequently talk about him. One day I said to him,

“When you die, there will be no one to bathe you, there will be no one to pray over you and there will be no one to bury you!”

He laughed and replied,

“Don’t fear, the Sultan of the believers, along with the pious ones shall pray over my body.”

The Sultan began to cry. He said,

“By Allah! He has said the truth, for I am Sultan Murad. Tomorrow we shall bathe him, pray over him and bury him.”

And it so happened that the Sultan, the scholars, the pious people and the masses prayed over him.

We judge people by what we see and what we hear from others. Only if we were to see what was concealed in their hearts, a secret between them and their Lord. If Allah knows, why does it matter who knows and who doesn’t know?!

“O you who believe, abstain from many of the suspicions. Some suspicions are sins. And do not be curious (to find out faults of others), and do not backbite one another. Does one of you like that he eats the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful.” (49:12)

ISIS and the End of Times

by Ustadh Abdul Aziz Suraqah

Understand that the bulk of apocalyptic literature is riddled with weak narrations and even forgeries. Nevertheless, if a narration with a weak chain speaks about a future event and that event plays out exactly as recorded in the narration, then the narration can be strengthened. Whether or not this narration is sound according to the standards of hadith-authentication can be left for the scholars to discuss, but read this narration and consider it in light of what is going on in the world today. Allah knows best.

Nu’aym b. Hammad records in his Kitab al-Fitan (The Book of Tribulations):

“It is related on the authority of ‘Ali (may Allah ennoble his countenance): ‘When you see the black flags, remain where you are and do not move your hands or your feet (It’s a common phrase meaning: “Stay put and don’t get involved in the fighting”). Thereafter there shall appear a feeble folk to whom no concern is given. Their hearts will be like fragments of iron. They are the representatives of the State (Ashab al-Dawla). They will fulfill neither covenant nor agreement. They will invite to the truth, though they are not from its people. Their names will be agnomens [i.e., Abu So-and-so], and their ascriptions will be to villages. Their hair will be long like that of women. [They shall remain so] till they differ among themselves, and then Allah will bring forth the truth from whomever He wills.'”


عن علي قال: إذا رأيتم الرايات السود فالزموا الأرض ولا تحركوا أيديكم ولا أرجلكم! ثم يظهر قوم ضعفاء لا يوبه لهم، قلوبهم كزبر الحديد، هم أصحاب الدولة، لا يفون بعهد ولا ميثاق، يدعون إلى الحق وليسوا من أهله، أسماؤهم الكنى ونسبتهم القرى، وشعورهم مرخاة كشعور النساء حتى يختلفوا فيما بينهم ثم يؤتي الله الحق من يشاء

1. Black flags: ISIS use black flags.
2. Feeble: They are newcomers to the fight in Syria and relative nobodies till they took swathes of land that was taken by other fighters.
3. Hearts like fragments of iron: Watch any of their videos and judge for yourself.
4. Ashab al-Dawla: They call themselves, the Dawla.
5. Breaking agreements: They broke agreements and refused Shariah arbitration.
6. Invite to the truth, though not from its people: Yes, they’re Khawarij (Separatists).
7. Their names will be agnomens: Of course, they’re a bunch of Abu Fulans.
8. Their ascriptions will be to villages: Villages here could be read as cities; most of them are al-Iraqi, al-Misri, al-Maghribi, al-Tunisi, etc.
9. Long hair: See Abu Ibrahim and the other assorted characters.

And Allah knows best.

Moon-sighting or Saudi-following?

Firstly, giving an *informed opinion* about an issue is not the same as “confusing the people”; it’s cognitive dissonance if anything. When ignorance is widespread, knowledge is what is needed; knowledge of Fardhul ‘Ayn because knowledge comes before action.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“So whoever from amongst you *witnesses* the month, let him fast.”
[Sūrah al-Baqarah, V. 185]

Ibn Abdul Barr comments on the above Ayah:

He means – and God knows best – whoever among you knows, with a knowledge that is certain, that the month has indeed begun must fast it.” And knowledge that is certain is (based on) either a clear and widespread sound sighting or the completion of thirty days of the previous month.”

Qur’an demands testimony of sighting as the Sabab (causation). Testimony must only be of factual presence, not based on possibilities.

“Sighting of the crescent is demanded by Sharī’ah”

[Hanafī: Hāshiyah Radd al-Mukhtār]
[Mālikī: Risālah ibn Abī Zayd]
[Shāfi’ī: Muhadhdhab of Shirāzī]
[Hanbalī: Mughnī of Ibn Qudāmah]

Imām as-Subkī says:

If a calculation shows that moon doesn’t exist on the horizon yet a Muslim claims to have seen it, then this testimony is to be *rejected*, due to the absence of evidentiary qualities.

As for “sighting”, there are two opinions:
1) Local Sighting: Various horizons at locality (points of rising).
2) Global Sighting: Single horizon globally.

There is no such thing as “Saudi sighting” or “Pakistani Sighting”. The formation and visibility of new crescent will never be at the same location, every month.

Here are some statistics for countries that relied on *calculation* for Ramadhan:

– Saudi Arabia: From 1961-2004, went with the *wrong* day 64% of the time, when the crescent was *not* even present on the horizon; 23% possible and 13% definite.

– Syria: From 1950-2001, went with the *wrong* day 59% of the time, when the crescent was *not* even present on the horizon; 33% possible and 13% definite.

– Morocco: From 1963-2004, went with the *wrong* day 1% of the time, when the crescent was not even present on the horizon; 74% possible and 25% definite. They relied on accurate calculations *with* local (naked-eye) sighting.

Saudi Arabia is *not* the Muslim Vatican, so if you really want to follow the sighting of a particular country, it should be obvious (based on the above) which one you should really be following.

Imām al-Bājī said:

If anyone did rely on calculations (for moonsighting) I opine that he should *not* consider his fasting sound based upon calculation and return to sighting (the crescent) or the completion of thirty-days. If that results in him having to make up any days, he should…

The damage of pseudo-scholars in corrupt times – Abdullah ibn Mas’ud

By Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks

Imām Bukhārī narrates in his Sahīh Collection that the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said:

اصبرو فانه لا يأتي عليكم زمان الا و الذي بعده اشر منه

“Be patient, verily a time will not come upon you except that the time after it is eviler than it.”

Ibn Mas’ūd said about this hadīth:

ما ذاك بكثرة الامطار و قلتها و لكن بذهاب العلماء ثم يحدث قوم يفتون في الامور برأيهم فيثلمون الإسلام و يهدمونه

”That is not due to abundance or depletion of rain, but it is due to the disappearance of the ‘Ulamā [educated scholars] then the occurrence of a “people” [not ‘ulamā!] who give fatwā [verdicts] according to their own opinions [meaning unqualified opinions] corrupting/bending [the meaning] of Islām and destroying it”.

The fact that Ibn Mas’ūd used the word “a people will come” shows that they are not scholars but pretenders; which is inferred from the fact that he referred to the first group as “scholars”, whereas the second group, he referred to them as merely “people”. It also indicates that such people will be mistaken by the common folk to be scholars, since they “give fatwā” and because they are assumed to be scholars by the common folk, their opinions are respected; although they are contrary to the practice of  Islam. In this way the pretenders distort and help in destroying a true representation of Islam, as Ibn Mas’ūd mentioned.

Much of what we see happening today under the claim of “contextualisation and reform” is a result of what Ibn Mas’ud is talking about. Anyone will notice that those who are consistent in such claims, tend to focus on issues that conflict with societies whose moral compass is dictated by godless people; who openly disregard religion as a premise altogether and openly show disregard towards Islam as a religion. Much of it is done as a desperate attempt  to convince such societies that “our religion” is suitable for their standard of life, or to make permissible what is known to be forbidden in search for desirable ease.

There is no doubt some type of contextualisation must apply in the modern world when it is necessary, which is embodied by jurisprudence.

To “contextualise” means to take the foundations of something and make it applicable to the times in a meaningful way, or to grant dispensations in areas recognised by the Sharī’ah. Some of what we see today is not that, but rather unwarranted and unqualified reasoning by those who wish to change the rules and regulations of matters well established in Islam.

Refuting the Heretics (Ahlul Bid’ah) – Mālik bin Anas [d. 179 A.H]

Abu l-‘Arab al-Tamīmī has related on the authority of Ibn Farrukh that he wrote to Mālik bin Anas,

“Our land has much innovation (بدعة), and I have compiled a work refuting them.”

Imām Mālik wrote to him, saying:

“If you think that about yourself [i.e. that you are able to refute them], I fear that you will slip up and perish. Only one who is well-grounded and knows what to say to them should refute them, for they will not be able to be devious with him: there is no harm in that. As for anyone other than that, I fear that he will address them and err, so they will pursue his error or succeed in scoring points over him. Thus they will transgress and increase in their obstinacy upon their innovation.”