Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Culturing the Ruh

In order to light a fire you must first have a source of light, for example you must first strike a match; and the conditions for allowing the spark to ignite, must be present, such as the quality of the wood, the amount of moisture and oxygen present. When combined the little spark from the match will be able to ignite, spread and grow.

In every human being Allah has placed a tiny spark, like that which comes from the lighter, in the physical shell of the body. The mission of life is to prepare the conditions in that physical shell, so that the spark can increase in brightness and spread to all parts of the body.

The human personality comprises of a physical dimension and non-physical dimension. The body with the nafs is the physical and the soul or ruh is the non-physical. The ruh is the ‘spark of light’ Allah has put into human beings; and it is expected that every single person will make the conditions right so that it can increase in brightness and spread to every physical cell. The conditions which will permit it to grow and spread are called in the Holy Qur'an maruf. So, by upholding maruf, the soul will become brighter and brighter.

On the other hand, if a person instead of upholding maruf, does what is called munkar i.e. prohibited things, the ruh becomes soiled and will not spread. In reference to this Allah says:

Nay, but that which they have earned is rust on their hearts. (83:14)

Allah gives us the formula for our ‘spark of light’ to spread. He says in Surah Imran;

Enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong: (3:104)

Allah gives us a clear understanding of the do’s and don’ts in Islam. If we adhere to the do’s our ‘spark of light’ will be able to grow and spread because the conditions will be present. One of the best of actions which will cause the light of the soul to increase in brightness is the performance of Salaat. The Messenger of Allah (saw) is reported to have said, “Salat is the best of all that has been ordained by Allah.” In Salaat we are standing facing our Lord, in doing so the Light of Allah will have an impact on our light.

He also mentions in Surah Hijr;

“and serve Thy Lord until there come unto Thee the Hour that is Certain.” (Chapter 15, verse 99)

Some scholars are of the opinion that ‘certainty’ means death; others argue that it means ‘religious experiences’. Regardless of the philosophical debates Allah clearly indicates in the first part of the ayat that we must submit to Him, whole heartedly; and throughout our entire lives. When our beloved Prophet (saw) returned from the Mir’aj he still remained submissive and obedient to Allah, although he had the greatest of experiences. So we must continue striving on the right path; even when we believe that we may have had something of certainty in the form of religious experience.

Those who are generally against ‘spirituality’ or tassawuf may do so because of the lack of understanding of what is actually done in any one of the meditation sessions. This is because it is something that one has to experience and not simply read about from a book.

Imam Ghazali (ra) writes “those who choose to travel upon the path of Truth, know that it is essential for you to attach yourself to a Spiritual Guide and Teacher who, through his spiritual instructions, will purify yourself from evil tendencies and replace them with nobility of character. And the definition of this “spiritual instruction” may be likened to that of the husbandman who removes the thorns and plucks out the weeds from the young plantation so that it may grow to perfection.”

Spirituality is something that reason and logic cannot explain because it is outside the realm of space and time. Allah makes mention of those who are blind to the truth;

“Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: they have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for They are heedless (of warning).” (Chapter 7, verse 179)

In another ayat He says;

“and say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah "they are dead." Nay, They are living, though ye perceive (it) not.” (Chapter 2, verse 154)

How can you explain these things using scientific reason and logic? Or how can you learn about these matters from just picking up a book and reading? You can’t and it is indeed unfortunate that some people fall into the trap of using their limited knowledge to explain matters that can only be experienced through the Mercy and Grace of Allah . And then they argue “haram, bidah, shirk”. It is so unfortunate and we must sympathise with them and ask Allah to open their hearts.

Spirituality is truly a beautiful thing. It allows you to realise every second of the day how close and loving your Lord really is, and how He is always willing to bestow His compassion, mercy and forgiveness upon His devotees.

Let us make a conscious effort, every single day, to make right the conditions surrounding us that will allow our ruh to grow and spread. We beg Allah to make this exercise easy for us and may He keep us far away from the ‘heedless ones’ and the ones who understand not. May Allah bless us and protect us.

Reliance on Allah

Complete reliance in Allah

We cannot judge whatever happens to us and to others on the basis of reason and logic. We cannot fully comprehend the workings of Allah . He gives examples of man's lack of understanding when it comes to His workings. For example He makes mention of the meeting between Hazrat Musa (as) and Khidr in Surah Kahf. At that particular juncture in Musa’s life he assumed that he was the most knowledgeable person on the face of the earth. When Allah brought to Musa’s attention that there was someone (Khidr) who had more knowledge than him, Musa set out to meet and learn from Khidr. During their journey Khidr did certain actions that appeared to be harmful and ‘senseless’. For example he scuttled a boat that was owned by Masaakin (poor people). Musa (as) using reason and logic was of the opinion that Khidr intended to cause the owners of the boat to drown. However as Khidr would later reveal it was to safe guard their boat from the unjust ruler. The full story of Musa (as) and Khidr is recorded in Surah Kahf, ayats 65 to 82.

So Allah has means and ways that He takes care of His servants. Some of these may be apparent to us and others may not. Remember there is wisdom in whatever Allah allows to take place, even though we may not fathom it. As Allah mentions in His Holy Words;

                     
“but it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. but Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Chapter 2, verse 216)

When Prophet Muhammad was informed by Angel Jibriel that his grandson, Imam Hussain (ra), would have been martyred he didn’t pray to Allah to prevent it even though he was saddened. Prophet knew that he could not alter the plan of Allah .

Allah takes care of us whether we are aware of it or not. Our success is to put our faith in Him and submit humbly and whole heartedly. We need to try to develop this reliance on our Lord. No one will do it for us; as Allah says in Surah Ar Ra'd;
            
“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)”. (Chapter 13, verse 11)

Even the ability to ‘try’ comes from Allah . Whenever something happens that we may not understand just resign yourself to your Lord. This is what faith is. He is the one who protects us, sustains us and guides us. He has made Islam complete and perfect. Once Prophet Muhammad , while walking with his companions saw a mother being most loving to her baby. Upon seeing this he told his companions “Allah loves his servants more than this mother loves her baby.”

If Prophet says that Allah loves you and he is one that never told a lie, do you think Allah will cause you to be destroyed? What we have to do is to try to keep our covenant with Him and insha Allah He will take care of everything else. Remember if you go to Allah walking He will come to you running. So willing He is to help us that He says in Surah Ahzab that He and His angles send salaat on all of us so that we can move out of ‘darkness’ and into ‘light’;

              
“He it is who Sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of darkness into Light: and He is full of Mercy to the believers” (Chapter 33, verse 43)

If He is doing all of this for us then all we need to do is to put our faith and trust in Him. Yes we will experience challenges and difficulties but if we have faith in our Lord then He will never let us down.

Total reliance on Allah is something easier said than done, especially when the trials and tribulations come our way, and the ones who we would have expected to help us and ‘be there’ for us reveal their true personalities.

A beautiful example of faith in Allah was when Prophet Abraham (as) was ordered to leave his wife, Hajar and his son, Ishmael in a barren valley. Imagine Abraham (as), after so many years of begging Allah for a son finally got Ishmael, and soon afterwards he was commanded by His Lord to led them and leave them to an uncultivated valley having no fruit, no trees, no food, no water and no sign of life. Imagine how he would have felt. And what did he beg Allah for when he was leaving them? He didn’t ask Allah to provide food or water for them. Instead he made this beautiful plea;

                  ••     •     •                  
“O Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Thy sacred House; in order, O Our Lord, that they may establish regular prayer: so fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, and feed them with fruits: so that They may give thanks. O Our Lord! truly Thou dost know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or In heaven.” (Chapter 14, verse 37 – 38)

We are all dependant on Allah and He bestows His abundance of Mercy on whomever He wishes. When you understand this your outlook on life will change and you will demonstrate more humility, tolerance and patience. We have to strive and work hard in order to make our ruh shine and, insha Allah, Allah will elevate us in this life and the next.

We all aspire to improve our personalities and one way of achieving this is to have complete reliance on Allah . We are completely dependent on Him. This is why the 5th stage in spirituality is called ‘realization’. When you realize that you are nothing and that Allah is everything, you will understand that your importance is solely because of His Mercies on you, and that your success is because He has been gracious to you.

We beg Allah to increase us in tawakkul and may He, out of His Grace and Mercy, look after our affairs and provide for us a ‘way out’ in times of need.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed

Some Muslims are confused as to what they should do in the up coming General Elections of Trinidad and Tobago. The reason for being uncertain as to whether they should vote or not, is because of the opinion of some scholars that Muslims should not put a woman in a leadership position.

Those who are propagating this belief base their authority on the Hadith of Prophet (pboh) as is reported by Abu Bakrah, and is recorded in Sahih Bukhari, Hadith No. 4425. According to this Hadith, the Prophet (pboh) is reported to have said: A nation which placed its affairs in the hands of a woman shall never prosper.

Those who claim that the leadership of women is un-Islamic rely on this Hadith for so doing. It is interesting to know that there was never unanimity on this matter among the scholars, past and present, regarding the authenticity of this Hadith; as the disenfranchisement of women in politics is suspicious.

Upon close examination of the Hadith, it is found that, even those who rely on it as guidance, are not clear regarding the position of the part of it which says: placing the affairs in the hands of women.

Some scholars prohibit women to hold any public office. However, Imam Abu Hanifa is of the view that a woman can hold any public office including that of a judge on all cases except where fixed penalties (hudud and qisas) are to be prescribed.

There are scholars that permit women to hold any office including that of the head of the State. Hafiz Ibn Hajr indicates in Fathul Bari that Imam Ibn Jarir al Tabari, that not only can a woman be appointed as a judge, but can also be appointed as the Head of the State. A similar view is expressed by Imam Malik and adopted by some of the Maliki Scholars.

From what has been said so far, one can conclude that there is no unanimity regarding the position taken by even the earlier scholars on this matter. It is not true to believe that leadership in politics is a recent western inclusion, as, in the past there were many Muslim women who became the Head of State and they were accepted by all, including the Muslim scholars of the time.

In recent times there were a number of Muslim women voted in power by their respected people either as president or prime minister. All these women had the blessings of even the renowned scholars of their respective countries. Some of these women are:

• Fatima Ali Jinnah: Prime Minister was selected by the Scholars of Pakistan in 1965 to contest the election for President against Ayyub Khan.
• Benazir Bhutto: Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-90; 1993-1996
• Tansir Ciller: Prime Minister of Turkey 1993-1996
• Hasina Wajed: Prime Minister of Bangladesh 1996
• Khaleda Zia: Prime Minister 1994 and 1996

Ibn Batuta writes in his book that the Maldives were ruled by queens, for many years, the first being Sultana Khatija. There were similar situations in Indonesia for many years. (Art. Women and Political Leadership in Muslim Thought. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi: Taken from the internet).

The permission to allow women to be leaders in Islam seems to oppose the Hadith reported by Abu Bakrah. Some of the reasons for doing so are as follows:

1. Abu Bakrah was a former slave who accepted Islam because he was promised to be set free.
2. He fought along with Hazrat Ayesha against Hazrat Ali, in the battle of the camel, and did not narrate the Hadith all the time he was fighting under the leadership of Hazrat Ayesha.
3. It was only when she lost the battle that he reported the Hadith to Hazrat Ali.
4. He reported that he heard the Hadith from the Prophet (pboh) many years before but never narrated it to anyone.
5. He was hopeful to be appointed as a Governor of province by Hazrat Ali.
6. Abu Bakrah had a questionable past, as he was ordered to be flogged by Hazrat Umar for false testimony. (The Veil and the Male Elite: Mernissi)
7. Some scholars (Justice Aftab Hussain) are of the view that Abu Bakrah did not really understand the Hadith narrated, otherwise he would not have accepted Hazrat Ayesha as his leader in battle.
8. The particular Hadith was a prediction relating to the Kingdom of Persia and not a general prediction; as the Prophet (pboh) was predicting that the Chosroe's dynasty will not prosper.

Allah endorses the capability of some women to successfully rule their people in the Holy Qur'an. One example given is the Queen of Sheba, the female ruler who was very successful and prosperous. He says:

I found a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite, and she has a magnificent throne. (27:28-44)

It will be seen from the above presentation that the issue of having a woman as a political leader is acceptable in Islam; and the basis of authority by those who oppose it may have some amount of uncertainty attached to it.

Muslims are required to: Help one another in righteousness and piety; and not to help one another in sin and rancour. (5:2)

Therefore if something appears to be unjust and corrupt it should not be supported.