The Etiquette of Punctuality

Aniversario“Muslim Standard Time” has become something of an accepted custom amongst Muslims – viewing it as acceptable to be late to appointments and other arrangements.

This is something that goes directly against the etiquettes of a Muslim, as it displays open disrespect towards those transgressed against, and also shows a lack of appreciation of the value of time. During the closing du‘ā’ of Rihla 2014, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf repeated thrice: “Oh Allah, protect us from wasting our time.”

Unfortunately, this has also become commonplace amongst students of knowledge and often scholars of religion. So let this be a reminder to us, one & all.

Being late is a form of stealing. When you make others wait for you, you rob minutes from them that they’ll never get back.

Being late is arrogant and shows an overestimation of ones worth. Being on time shows your respect for others.

Being late is essentially breaking a promise. Being on time shows others that you are a man of your word.

In the first verse of Sūrat al—Mā’ida, Allah called upon the believers, O you who believe! Fulfil your promises (Quran, 5:1). Allah also praised Prophet Ismā‘īl, He was true to his promise, He was a Messenger and a Prophet (Quran, 19:54).

Keeping appointments is vital to our lives. Time is the most precious commodity. Once wasted, it can never be recovered. If you made an appointment, whether with a friend, colleague or for business, you should do your utmost to keep this appointment. This is the right of the other persons who, despite other commitments, favoured you with a part of their valuable time. If you do not come on time, not only have you disrupted their schedule but you have also marred your image and reputation. If your punctuality becomes poor, you will lose people’s respect. You should keep all your appointments whether they are with an important person, a close friend or a business colleague. You will then be responding to the call of Allah, And keep the promise; the promise is a responsibility (Quran, 17:34).

Never make a promise while intending not to keep it. This is forbidden as it falls within lying and hypocrisy. Bukhārī and Muslim narrated that the Prophet said,

“Three traits single out a hypocrite, even if he prays or fasts and claims to be Muslim:
If he speaks, he lies.
If he makes a promise, he does not keep it.
If he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.”

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.

Will I be punished even if I believe in the Divine?

hopeThe answer can be found in the following verse of the Qur’an, Surah an-Nisā 4:147, in which Allah says:

{ مَّا يَفْعَلُ ٱللَّهُ بِعَذَابِكُمْ إِن شَكَرْتُمْ وَآمَنْتُمْ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ شَاكِراً عَلِيماً }

Why would God punish you if you are thankful and believe? God is ever Thankful, Knowing.

Imam al-Qushayrī [d.376 AH] comments:

This verse is among the verses which engenders beautiful hopefulness and powerful optimism because He has made two things: “Thankfulness” (Shukr) and “Belief” (Īmān), among the signs of protection (amān) in what is to come; and these are easy and light qualities…

It is said that if you are thankful and believe, you confirm the truth that your salvation is through God, not because of your thankfulness or your belief.

It is said, Allah is thankful to his servant because He knows his weakness, and it is said He is thankful to him because He knows that his servant is not disobedient and that his aim is not to oppose His Lord. Rather, he sins because of the overwhelming cravings that are among the states of being human.

It is said [the servant] is thankful to Him because he knows in the state of his sins that he has a Lord who pardons him.

[Latā’if al-Ishārāt [Subtleties of the Allusions] by Imām Abu’l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī].

If you look for the words “most people” in the Qur’an, you will find that most of mankind:

 “do not know” [7:187],
“do not give thanks” [2:243]
“do not believe” [11:17].
“defiantly disobedient” [5:59],
“ignorant” [6:111],
“turning away” [21:24],
“do not reason” [29:23], and
“do not listen” [8:21].

So be of the “few”, whom Allah says about them:

“And few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13)
“But none had believed with him, except a few.” (11:40)

May Allah forgive us all and make us amongst those who believe and are thankful.

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)

“O infidels, kill the evil-doers!”

The Qur’an tells us that when Sayyidnā Mūsā (Moses), peace be upon him, met with Sayyidnā Khidr, peace be upon him, Khidr said to him:

“You will not be able to bear with me patiently. How could you be patient in matters beyond your knowledge?”

So Mūsā – peace be upon him – promises to be patient and not to question the actions of his teacher, but cannot stop himself from doing so when he sees what the man that Allāh had sent him to learn from does. First he makes a hole in a ship that they were on, and removes two of its wooden planks, and then when they are back on the land, he sees a young boy playing with other boys, and decapitates him.

The Prophet Mūsā is shocked and appalled at these apparently evil acts, but is later told the wisdom behind them. The ship belonged to poor people who needed it for their living. But there was a King who was in an urgent need of ships and was seizing every good ship and adding them to his fleet. When he would find a hole in that ship, he would decide that it would not be of any help for the urgent matter. The poor people will keep the ship; which they can fix later on.

As for the young boy, his parents were pious, and the child would have grown up to be very evil, oppressing them with rebellion and disbelief. So Allāh, Most Wise, had him killed and gave the parents a better offspring instead: He gave them a daughter that was very merciful to them, and that married a Prophet. Her child was also a Prophet and Allāh guided through him one of the nations of mankind. [Some of the details are from the Qur’anic commentaries].

So Sayyidinā Khidr was , so-to-speak, the “hand of God” in doing things that on the outside appear absolutely evil or outrageous, but in reality will lead to a good outcome that is hidden from our eyes. It is interesting that we find some rare accounts of the Mongol invasions of the Muslim world, scattered in different books of history, literature, and Sufi hagiographies, that understand that event in the same light, and even place Sayyidinā Khidr there, with the same role that he played in the Qur’ān.

Ibn Karbala’i, who wrote in the 16th century a compendium of hagiographies of the Sufis buried in Tabriz, has an entry on a  13th-century Sufi known as, Baba Hamid, who came from a little village near Tabriz that came to be named after him.

Ibn Karbala’i says that it is widely reported that “at the time when Genghis Khan came out upon the land of Iran” some of the awliya of that era saw Sayyidinaā Khidr, “who was running ahead of that band of obstinate apostates and was helping them; he was saying:

“Kill, O infidel people, these evildoers!” (uqtuloo ya qawm al-kafara, haadhihi al-fajara).”

Baba Hamid, he says, was one of those who recognised Sayyidinā Khidr, so he said to him:

“Even you?!”

So Sayyidinā Khidr replied:

“Even He!”

This account is interesting because more than a century earlier, the Indian Sufi, Sayyid Ashraf Jahangir Simnani, wrote two letters in which he said that the wealth and luxury of the Khwarezmian dynasty made the people there forget about worship and to do wicked things. But he said, the saints who remained devoted to Allāh and His worship, began to hear voices from the unseen world, coming from all sides, saying:

“O infidels, kill the evildoers!” (Ya ayyuhal kafara, uqtulul fajara!)

These voices, he said, began to arise in those regions in the year 591 AH/1195 C.E.

Likewise in the 15th century, Dawlatshah Samarqandi, in his anthology of poetry and poets Tadhkirat al-Shu’ara, wrote of a dialogue between the Khwarizm Shah and his son Jalal al-Din that is said to have been recounted by one of Khwarizmshah’s poets. He says that the son asked his father why, being a great King who ruled Iran unchallenged for 20 years, and famous for his bravery and power, he was now fleeing from a band of infidels (the Mongols) and allowing the Muslims to fall into their hands. The father said:

“My son, you do not hear what I hear.”

The son insisted on an explanation, so the father said:

“Every time I arrange my ranks for battle, I hear a group of the men of the unseen world (rijaal al-ghayb) saying: “O infidels, kill the evildoers!” (ayyuhal kafaratu’uqtulul fajarata); fear and terror and dread overcome me. Forgive me, my son.” (Khwarizmshah then fled to an island on the Caspian Sea, where he died).

Dawlatshah continues:

“And it is related by those to whom hidden realities are unveiled (ashaab al-kashf) and by the saints of the faith that they saw the men of God (rijaal Allah) and Sayyidinā Khidr in front of the army of Genghis Khan, guiding that army. The discernment of the intelligent is struck dumb by this phenomenon, and the wisdom of the wise is rendered weak by this fact; but ‘God does what He wishes and commands what He wills’”.

The oldest story of them all, only 50 years after the Mongol destruction of Baghdad, comes from one of the discourses of the famous Indian Sufi Nizam ud-Din Awliya. In the year 708 AH/ 1308 CE, he talked about the famous Qalandari Sufi Qutb al-Din Haydar. He says:

“When the emergence of Genghis Khan was underway, the infidels turned toward Hindustan; and during that time, [Qutb ad-Din Haydar] one day turned to his companions and said, “Flee from the Mongols, for they will prove to be overpowering.” They asked how this would be. He said: “They are bringing a dervish along with them, and they are under the protection of that dervish. In my inmost being (sirr), I wrestled with that dervish; he threw me to the ground. Now the reality is that they will be victorious; you must flee!” After that he himself went into a cave and disappeared; and in the end it happened as he had said.”

What’s interesting is that most of these accounts (and there are a few more scattered about), are unconnected to each other, and there is no evidence that their transmitters had knowledge of each others’ works. Whether or not they are true, Allāh only knows. But when we see great catastrophes that we don’t understand in life, we must remember that Allah does what He wills, and that there is always a hidden reason that we don’t understand.
As  Muhammad Iqbal said in his poem Jawāb-e-Shikwā:

It is evident from the story of the Mongol invasions
that the Ka’bah found new protectors in the people of the temples.

References:

– DeWeese, Devin, “Stuck in the Throat of Chingiz Khan: Envisioning the Mongol Conquests in Some Sufi Accounts from the 14th to 17th Centuries”. History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East: Studies in Honor of John E. Woods, ed. Judith Pfeiffer and Sholeh A. Quinn in collaboration with Ernest Tucker (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), pp. 23-60.
– Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani (al-Khatm): Taaj al-Tafaaseer li-Kalaam al-Malik al-Kabeer.
– Hulago Khan’s letter to the Mamluks where he claims to be sent by God against those who have incurred His anger: riyada.hadithuna.com/looking-back-at-history/ )

Taken from: http://nuruddinzangi.blogspot.com/2013/07/o-kaafirs-kill-faajirs.html

والحمد لله رب العالمين على نعمه كلها
اللهم صلّ وسلم وبارك على سيدنا ومولانا محمد خير البرية
وعلى آله في كل لمحة ونفس عدد ما وسعه علم الله