The World is like Water – Imam al-Qurtubi [d. 671 AH]

Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says:

Tell them, too, what the life of this world is like: We send water down from the skies and the Earth’s vegetation absorbs it, but soon the plants turn to dry stubble scattered about by the wind: God has power over everything.” [Sūrah al-Kahf 18:45]

Commentary:


Imām Al-Qurṭubī says that Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, compares the world to water for five reasons:

  1. Water does not settle in any location, similarly this world does not remain with one person for life.
  2. Water does not remain in a single state, similarly this world is constantly changing.
  3. Water does not last, it disappears after some time, similarly this world disappears sooner or later.
  4. No one can enter water without getting wet; similarly anyone who enters this world will not be safe from its trials and tribulations.
  5. In certain limited amounts water is beneficial and causes plants to grow. But if it surpasses the beneficial amount it becomes harmful and destructive. Similarly, taking what is sufficient from this world is beneficial, while taking excess can be harmful.

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

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

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.

Steps to Acquiring knowledge – Imam ash-Sha’bi [d. 105 A.H]

Imām al-Sha’bī was once asked, ‘How did you attain all this knowledge?’ He replied:

بنفي الاعتماد و السير في البلاد و صبر كصبر الحمار و بكور كبكور الغراب

“By independency, by travelling through cities, by having patience like that of a donkey and by rising early like the rising of crows.”
[ ‘Uluww al-Himmah by Muhammad Isma’il al-Muqaddam]

Here are a few points of benefit that we can derive:

  • Be independent in your studies. Don’t rely on someone or something to always motivate you and push you to learn.
  • Learn how to motivate yourself! Be free from distractions and limitations.
  • Do not procrastinate.
  • Travel! Keep on the move! Go from A to B, then B to C! Don’t be stagnant in your life; always have a peak that you’re reaching for.
  • If knowledge is not in your immediate vicinity, seek it out and go to where it is!
  • Be patient. More patient than the donkey overloaded with cargo. Bear all the hardships on this path, bear the trials and tribulations.
  • Get up early! The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘My Ummah has been blessed in its early portion (of the day).’ Seek out the blessings of the morning. Tips for Time Management are in this hadith! You may not have time during the day, but you’ll always have time in the mornings.
  • Give yourself no excuses, because most of the time an excuse is a barrier that you place between you and your goals.

Source: Fajr Blog