Monthly Archives: March 2013

Imām Rabbānī Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thānī Shaykh Aḥmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī on the Priorities of the Sharī‘ah

The acts which bring us close to God are obligatory (far) as well as supererogatory (nafl). But (in the order of merit) the latter stand no comparison to the former. To perform a far at one time is better than performing a nafl act for a thousand years, even if it is done with an absolutely pure motive, no matter whether it is prayer, charity, fasting, dhikr, meditation (fikr) and the like. To engage in a non-obligatory act hallowed by the practice (sunnat) of the Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم], or to observe a rule of decency or morality (adab) at the time of a duty (far) is in the same category.

 

It has been reported that one day Amir al-Mu’minīn ‘Umar offered the morning prayer in assembly, turned to the people, and did not find a certain person. He enquired as to what would have possibly detained him from praying in assembly. They said that he was in the habit of waking up at night to offer prayers; perhaps he might have slept on after night prayers and could not wake up in time. Thereupon, ‘Umar said: ‘If he had slept the whole night and joined the morning prayer in assembly that would have been far better for him.’

 

Hence to obey an adab and avoid that which is undesirable (makrūh) in some degree, let alone that which is prohibited, is better than remembrance, contemplation and meditation. If one can do these things along with observing rules and avoiding the undesirables, that would certainly be a great achievement, otherwise it would be a great loss. To spend, for instance, a penny of zakāt is many times better than giving mountains of gold in supererogatory charity; similary, to mind an adab of the Shar‘ in spending that penny, such as to give to it to a poor relative, is better than spending it without minding that adab.

[Maktubāt, Vol. I:29. English translation by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari in Sufism and Shari‘ah, Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1986 p. 234]

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Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti (رحمه الله) on the Madinan Constitution

We will not include the entire text of the agreement, which is quite lengthy. However, we have selected those articles which are of particular importance in shedding light upon the constitutional significance of the Islamic community and its newly founded state in Medina. What follows is a list of these articles presented in the order in which they appear in the original text:

 

One: The Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib [Medina], and those who have followed them and fought together with them, are a single nation.

 

Two: All of these Muslims, regardless of their tribes of origin, shall retain their prior rights and commitments with respect to the payment and exaction of blood money, and they shall ransom their prisoner of wars in a manner which demonstrates a spirit of justice and equity among believers.

 

Three: The believers will be certain to provide anyone among them who is burdened with debts and who has many dependents with the ransom or blood money (which he is unable to pay).

 

Four: Those believers who hold God in awe shall stand opposed to anyone among them who commits an outrage or an injustice, or who seeks to obtain advantage for himself through wrongdoing, iniquity, aggression, or corruption among the believers; they shall stand opposed to such a  person even if he is one of their own offspring.

 

Five: No believer shall slay another believer on behalf of an unbeliever, nor shall he support any unbeliever against a believer.

 

Six: The peace agreements at which believers arrive shall apply to all of them without exception; if fighting is taking place for the sake of God and His religion, no believer shall conclude peace with the enemy without all other believers being included on an equal, fair basis.

 

Seven: God’s covenant of protection applies to all believers, from the least to the greatest, and the believers are, likewise, protectors and allies of one another.

 

Eight: It shall be unlawful for any believer who has acknowledged the validity of this agreement and who believes in God and the Last Day to support, protect, or provide lodging to a criminal; anyone who does so shall be under God’s curse and suffer His wrath on the Day of Judgement, with nothing to mitigate his guilt.

 

Nine: The Jews shall be responsible for their own expenses if they go to war (on their own) for any reason.

 

Ten: The Jews of Banī ‘Awf shall be considered a separate nation alongside that of the believers, with the Jews having their religion, and the Muslims theirs. Moreover, if anyone is guilty fo some crime or injustice, only the offender and his family shall perish.

 

Eleven: The Jews are responsible for their own upkeep, and the Muslims for theirs. However, they shall be committed to supporting one another should anyone wage war on those who have entered into this agreement.

 

Twelve: Should the parties to this agreement encounter any conflict or disagreement as a consequence of which they fear that their unity will be threatened, then the conflict shall be brought before God Almighty and Muhammad, the Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

 

Thirteen: Whoever leaves Medina and whoever stays therein shall be safe, except for those who committed some crime or injustice.

 

Fourteen: God Almighty is the Source of all truth and righteousness contained in this agreement, and He is the protector of all who are righteous and fear Him…

 

This constitution which the Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه وسلم) laid down by inspiration from his Lord, and which he dictated to his Companions, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then made the agreed-upon basis for relations among the Muslims and between the Muslims and their Jewish neighbours. Moreover, this provides clear evidence that from its earliest inception, the Islamic community was based upon comprehensive constitutional foundations, and that similarly, the Islamic state consisted, from the very start, of all the constitutional and administrative components which a state might require. These components form an essential foundation for the application of the rulings of Islamic law in society, since, as a whole, this law is based on the notion of the unity of the Islamic nation and on all organisational provisions with relevance thereto. There is no substructure upon which the rule of Islam and its relevant laws can be based unless the constitutional organisation established by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is, at the same time, part of the legal rulings of Islam itself.

 

Such considerations belie the arguments put forth by those who allege that Islam is nothing but a religion between the individual and his Lord which has nothing to do with the components of a state or a constitutional organisation. Such claims are an old trick, one to which the opponents of Islam and the chattels of Western imperialism resorted in the hope of circumscribing Islam lest it do its work in the various Islamic societies or gain sufficient power and influence to gain control over other corrupted societies. After all, the only means to achieve this aim is to ensure that Islam is not a state, but a religion characterised by abstract rites of worship rather than legislation and ordinances. Hence, although Islam is, in fact, both a religion and state, it must be turned into an entity incapable of fulfilling the latter function, even if the only way to do so is through lies and distortions. However, unfortunately for such foes of Islam, this ruse was soon foiled, and talk of it came to be viewed as unveiled, malicious nonsense.

[Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti (r), فقه السيرة النبوية مع موجز لتاريخ الخلافة الراشدة (Fiqh al-Sīrah al-Nabawīyyah ma‘a Mūjaz li Tārīkh al-Khilāfah al-Rāshidah), English Translation: The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography & A Brief History of the Orthodox Caliphate, Dar al-Fikr, Damascus, 2006, pp. 301-304]

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Imām Rabbānī Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thānī Shaykh Aḥmad al-Farūqī al-Sirhindī on Dhikr and the Sharī‘ah

Engage yourself all the time in the dhikr of God. Remember that everything you do according to the Shar‘ is dhikr even if it is so ordinary an act as buying and selling. Observe, therefore, the rules of the Shar‘ in all activities so that the whole of life becomes dhikr. In fact dhikr means to avoid forgetting; so when you obey the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of the Shar‘ in all your behaviour, you do not forget the Giver of the Shar‘ and remember Him perpetually.

This perpetual remembrance (dhikr dā’im) is different from the perpetual awareness (yād dāsht) of our (Naqshbandī) masters (may God bless their souls). The latter is only a matter of the heart (bāin), whereas the former embraces the inner heart as well as the outer behaviour; hence it is difficult. May God help us to follow the way of the Prophet, and shower His blessings upon him!

[Maktubāt, Vol. II:25. English translation by Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari in Sufism and Shari‘ah, Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1986 p. 233]

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Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi on Knowledge

Allah’s salutations be upon Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم), the Chief of all the Prophets and Apostles, the one bestowed with the distinction of interceding for the sinful, and the one sent as a mercy and blessing to mankind. Allah had chosen him, before the creation of the Pen and the Preserved Tablet, to lead all Prophets and Apostles. And selected him for conveying His message to mankind. He was selected to describe His bounties and boundless treasures that were beyond human comprehension.

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) endowed him with those branches of knowledge, relating to His Magnificent Self, which were never unfolded to mankind. Allah revealed to him such of His glorious and illustrious attributes, which none knew before; neither a close angel nor an Apostle. His chest was opened and he was empowered with the capability to comprehend all the hidden qualities placed in man – qualities by means of which man can achieve proximity to Allah, and seek guidance in the affairs of this world and the Hereafter.

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) taught RasulAllah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) the means of correcting the deeds of human beings, which are continually stemming from them with every passing moment. The correction of deeds forms the cornerstone of success in this world and the Hereafter, just as improper deeds result in deprivation and failure in both worlds.

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) be pleased with the Sahabah. They acquired knowledge – knowledge which is more numerous than the leaves of trees and the drops of rain – that continually stem from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Then they committed it to their memory and preserved it in the most befitting manner. They accompanied the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) on journeys and at home, and participated in all his pre-occupations: Da‘wah, Jihād, ‘Ibādāt, Mu‘āmalāt (transactions) and Mu‘āsharāt (social affairs). Then they learned to practice these deeds according to the Sunnah of RasulAllah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in his presence.

Blessed are the Sahabah, who acquired knowledge and its application directly from RasulAllah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), without any intermediaries. Furthermore, they did not restrict these branches of knowledge to themselves; rather they conveyed this knowledge and wisdom, which was preserved in their hearts and the deeds that they performed, to others. Thus illuminating the Universe with Divine knowledge and spiritual Prophetic deeds. As a result of their endeavours, the whole world became a cradle of learning and scholarship. Men became fountains of light and guidance; and their lives became firmly grounded on ‘Ibādah and Khilāfah.

[Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi, Preface, اماني الاحبار في شرح معاني الآثار (Amānī al-Abār Fī Shar Ma’ānī al-Āthār)]

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