Friday, 25 December 2009

The Buzz on Caffeine by Sam Murphy

The buzz on caffeine
by Sam Murphy
Confused about all the conflicting research on coffee and its effect on your health? Sam Murphy investigates the perks and dregs of your daily cup

Before you sit down to read this, why not go and get yourself a nice cup of coffee? You'll be in good company: 400 million cups of the stuff are drunk daily around the world. We Brits alone spend roughly £850 million a year on our morning cappuccinos, lattes and espressos. Aside from tasting good (and smelling even better), coffee is believed to have a number of health benefits. You may not need a man in a white coat to tell you that your daily dose of caffeine counteracts fatigue and improves alertness and concentration, but did you know that research suggests coffee can lessen the risk of heart disease, Parkinson's disease and gallstones as well as act as a powerful antioxidant and increase physical endurance? So is caffeine a health booster that actually tastes good? Well, not necessarily. For every researcher or health expert downing a double latte, there's another ordering green tea. What are we to think?

Coffee gets its kick from caffeine, one of a group of naturally occurring plant-derived compounds called methylxanthines. Caffeine is a drug, pure and simple. It's addictive - too much can be toxic (although no one has ever died of a caffeine overdose) - and withdrawal causes side effects such as headaches and dizziness. When ingested, caffeine has a 'global' effect, meaning it influences all body tissues, including muscle. Read about its effect on exercise. 'Drinking a cup of coffee stimulates the central nervous system and prompts the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, one of two hormones released in response to stress. Your heart beats faster, glucose is released into the blood stream and you feel energised,' explains Antony Haynes, a nutritionist at the Nutrition Clinic in London's Harley Street. 'In the short-term you feel revived, but over time this repeated stress response frazzles the adrenal glands, while the liver becomes conditioned to metabolise caffeine more quickly, meaning you'll need even more cups of coffee to get the same lift.'
In fact, even if you drink only one cup early in the day, caffeine is still at work on your system hours later. A recent study at the Duke University Medical Center in America, found that levels of adrenalin and noradrenaline remained elevated at night even when subjects had slurped their last cup of coffee at lunchtime - in effect, mimicking 24-hour stress. And that's not the only charge Haynes levels at the world's second favorite drink, after tea. 'Coffee is an anti-nutrient,' he says. 'It hampers the absorption of essential minerals including iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium, as well as the B vitamins.' So, for example, drinking a cup of coffee while eating a hamburger can reduce the amount of iron you absorb by 40 per cent, while zinc absorption is reduced if coffee is drunk within an hour after a meal.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ghazali's Last

A Common Word : A Christian-Muslim dialogue

Anomisty : Is a video made by Ali Imdad that I helped in the production of to clear sterotypes about Muslims

Eid al-Fitr 08 Khutbah (sermon) by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

A Time For Change by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The Light of India :Shaykh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya

In the last century, India has undoubtedly become an important center for the study of hadith, and the scholars of India have become well-known for their passion for religious knowledge. Upon them ended the era of leadership in teaching hadiths, codification of the special fields [funun] of hadith, and commentary upon its texts [mutun]. Such was their mastery of this science that Muhammad Rashid Rida mentions in the introduction of his book Miftah Kunuz al-Sunnah, “Were it not for the superb attention to detail in the science of hadith displayed by our brothers, the scholars of India in the present era, this science would have withered away in the eastern cities. And, indeed, mastery of this science has been waning in Egypt and Syria since the tenth century AH.”

There is no doubt that Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya was among the most distinguished hadith scholars of India and a great contributor in the service of the Sunnah. He was given the honorary title of Shaykh al-Hadith, or “Great Scholar of Hadith,” by his teacher, Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, who recognized his deep insight, clear-sightedness, and extensive knowledge of hadith and related sciences.

Lineage and Upbringing

He was born in the village of Kandhla (in Uttar Pradesh, India) on Ramadan 10, 1315 AH (February 12, 1898 CE). His full name was Muhammad Zakariyya ibn Muhammad Yahya ibn Muhammad Ismail, and his lineage continues all the way back to Abu Bakr, the great Companion of the Messenger (SallAllahu alaihi wasallam).

Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Nadwi said about him, “Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya was born into a household rooted in knowledge and passion for Islam. His immediate family and his predecessors were distinguished by firm resolve, perseverance, steadfastness, and adherence to religion…. His family included many notable scholars… and his grandmother memorized the entire Qur’an while nursing her son [Shaykh Zakariyya’s father].”

His father, Shaykh Muhammad Yahya, was among the great scholars of India, whose primary teacher in hadith was Shaykh Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. Under him he studied Sahih al-Bukhari, Jami al-Tirmidhi, and others of the six famous authentic books of hadith [sihah sitta]. Shaykh Yahya went on to teach at Madrasa Mazahir Ulum, in the district of Saharanpur, but did not accept any payment for his services. He instead made his living through his own book-publishing business.

As a young boy, Shaykh Zakariyya moved with his father to the village of Gangoh, in the district of Saharanpur. Since his father and Shaykh Gangohi had a close relationship, Shaykh Zakariyya quickly earned the affection of his father’s teacher.

Growing up in this virtuous environment, he began learning how to read with Hakim Abd al-Rahman of Muzaffarnagar. He memorized the Qur’an with his father and also studied books in Persian and the introductory Arabic books with his uncle Shaykh Muhammad Ilyas (founder of the Tabligh movement). He stayed with his father in the company of Shaykh Gangohi until age eight, when the shaykh passed away.

At the age of twelve, Shaykh Zakariyya traveled with his father to Mazahir Ulum, There, under his father, he advanced his study of Arabic, tackling many classical texts on Arabic morphology, grammar, literature and also logic. But by the time he was seventeen, hadith became the main focus of his life. He studied five of the six authentic books of hadith with his father, and then he studied Sahih al-Bukhari and Sunan al-Tirmidhi (for a second time) with honorable Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri. Out of his immense respect for hadith, Shaykh Zakariyya was extremely particular about always studying the hadith narrations with wudu‘.

On Dhu ‘l-Qa’da 10, 1334 AH, when Shaykh Zakariyya was just nineteen, his dear father passed away. This event was extremely traumatic for Shaykh Zakariyya, as he lost not only a father but also a teacher and mentor. His deep sorrow remained with him for the rest of his life.


Shaykh Zakariyya was blessed to live and learn in an era considered by many to be one of great achievements in Islamic knowledge by scholars in the Indian subcontinent. He studied with few but select teachers who reached the highest levels of learning, research, authorship, and piety. In addition to his father (Shaykh Muhammad Yahya) and uncle (Shaykh Muhammad Ilyas), he studied under the hadith scholar Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, author of the Badhl al-Majhud, a commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud. Shaykh Zakariyya acquired a hadith authorization from him and remained his student until Shaykh Khalil’s death in Madina Munawwara in 1346 AH.

Before his death, Shaykh Khalil Ahmad expressed his desire to write Badhl al-Majhud, and he sought Shaykh Zakariyya’s assistance as his right-hand man. This experience revealed Shaykh Zakariyya’s gift of penmanship and, furthermore, expanded his insight in the science of hadith. He worked hard on the project, attained the pleasure and trust of his shaykh, and was even mentioned by name in the commentary. This indeed opened the door to Shaykh Zakariyya’s authoring many literary works and treatises over the course of his life.

Teaching Career

In Muharram 1335 AH he was appointed as a teacher at Madrasa Mazahir Ulum, where he was assigned to teach books on Arabic grammar, morphology, and literature, as well as a number of primary texts of Islamic jurisprudence. In 1341 AH he was assigned to teach three sections of Sahih al-Bukhari upon the insistence of Shaykh Khalil Ahmad. He also taught Mishkat al-Masabih until 1344 AH. Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Nadwi said, “Although he was one of the youngest teachers at the school, he was selected to teach works generally not assigned to those of his age, nor to anyone in the early stages of his teaching career. Nevertheless, he showed that he was not only able, but an exceptional teacher.”

In 1345 AH he traveled to Madina Munawwara, the city of Allah’s Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam), where he resided for one year. There he taught Sunan Abi Dawud at Madrasa al-Ulum al-Shar’iyya. While in Madina, he began working on Awjaz al-Masalik ila Muwatta Imam Malik, a commentary on Imam Malik’s Muwatta. He was twenty-nine at the time.

When he returned to India, he resumed teaching at Mazahir Ulum. He began teaching Sunan Abi Dawud, Sunan al-Nasai, the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad, and the second half of Sahih al-Bukhari. The school’s principle taught the first half of Sahih al-Bukhari, and after his death, Shaykh Zakariyya was given the honor of teaching the entire work.

In all, he taught the first half of Sahih al-Bukhari twenty-five times, the complete Sahih al-Bukhari sixteen times, and Sunan Abi Dawud thirty times. He did not just teach hadith as a matter of routine; the work of hadith had become his passion, and he put his heart and soul into it. Shaykh Zakariyya taught until 1388 AH, when he was forced to give up teaching after developing eye cataracts.

Travels to the Two Holy Cities

Allah blessed him with the opportunity to visit the two holy cities of Makka and Madina. He performed hajj several times, and his multiple trips had a profound personal effect on him, both spiritually and educationally. He made the blessed journey with Shaykh Khalil Ahmad in 1338 AH and with him again in 1344. It was during the second trip that Shaykh Khalil completed Badhl al-Majhud; he died shortly thereafter and was buried in the Baqi’ graveyard in Madina. May Allah have mercy on him and put light in his grave.

Sincere Love for Allah and the Prophet (SallAllahu alahi wasallam)

Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya inherited piety, honesty, and good character from his father (may Allah be pleased with him). He aspired to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah in all matters, big and small, with a passion not found in many scholars. He had extreme love for the Prophet (SallAllahu alahi wasallam) and the blessed city of Madina. His students have related that whenver the death of the Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam) was mentioned during a lecture on Sunan Abi Dawud or Sahih al-Bukhari, his eyes would well up with tears, his voice would choke up, and he would be overcome with crying. So evocative were his tears that his students could do nothing but weep with raised voices.

He was often tested with regard to his sincerity. He was offered many teaching jobs at two or three times the salary that was customarily given at Mazahir ‘Ulum, but he always graciously declined the offers. For most of his teaching career, Shaykh Zakariyya never accepted any money for his services at Mazahir ‘Ulum; he did the work voluntarily, seeking Allah’s pleasure. Although he did accept a small salary at the beginning of his career, he later totaled up the amount and paid it back in its entirety.


Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya was married twice. He first married the daughter of Shaykh Ra’uf al-Hasan in Kandhla. She passed away on Dhu ‘l-Hijja 5 1355 AH. He then married the daughter of Shaykh Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlawi in 1356 AH. Allah blessed him with five daughters and three sons from his first wife, and two daughters and one son from his second marriage.

Daily Routine

Shaykh Zakariyya organized his time meticulously. He would rise an hour before dawn and occupy himself in tahajjud and recitation of Qur’an before performing the Fajr prayer in the masjid. After Fajr, he would read his morning supplications and litany until sunrise. Thereafter he would go to meet with some people and drink tea (but never ate anything with it). He would then return to his quarters to read. During this time he would also research and compile his literary works, and, with few exceptions, no one was allowed to visit him at this time. When it was time for lunch he would come out and sit with his guests, who were from all walks of life; he would respect and treat them well, irrespective of who they were. After Zuhr prayer, he would take a siesta and then spent some time listening to his correspondence (which amounted to around forty or fifty letters daily from different places) and dictating replies. He also taught for two hour before ‘Asr. After ‘Asr, he would sit with a large group of people, offering them tea. After performing Maghrib, he would remain devoted in solitude to optional prayer and to supplication. He did not take an evening meal except to entertain an important guest.


Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi says about his characteristics, “He was extremely vibrant, never lazy; light-hearted, smiling, cheerful, friendly; and he often jested with his close friends and acquaintances. We saw in him good character and forbearance with people, as well as a rare humilty; and above all, his personal qualities were always governed by his deep faith and sense of contentment.”


He had always hoped to meet Allah while in the city of the Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam); Allah granted his wish. He died there on Monday Sha’ban 1, 1402 AH (May 24, 1982 CE) and was buried in Jannat al-Baqi’, in the company of the Companions and the noble family members of the Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam). His funeral procesion was followed by a large number of people and he was buried in the Baqi’ graveyard next to his teacher Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri. May Allah forgive him, grant mercy, and elevate his status. Amin.

Scholars’ Praise of Him

Many scholars, both Arab and non-Arab, have praised him and recognized his knowlege and excellence. ‘Allama Muhammad Yusuf Binnori relates,

Indeed there are some remnants of the scholars of past generations living today among the scholars of todays generation. They have been guided to praiseworthy efforts in multiple religious sciences, such as jurisprudence; they are on par with the previous generations in their knowlege, excellence, fear of Allah, and piety; they stir up memories of the blessed golden age of scholarship. Among these scholars is a unique figure envied for his excellence in knowlege and action, the author of outstanding, beneficial works and of beautiful, superb commentaries: Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi Saharanpuri.

Shaykh Sa’id Ahmad, the head of Islamic studies at the University of Aligarh, UP, relates,

It is evident to one who take a look at his works that he had a brilliancy, both in knowlege and with the pen, like that of Ibn al-Jawzi and Imam Ghazali. Of the scholars of his era I know of no one comparable to him in this regard, except Imam ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Farangi Mahalli (of Lucknow).

Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi relates that Shaykh ‘Alawi al-Maliki said,

When he reports the ruling and evidences of the Maliki school [in his writings], we Malikis are astonished at the accuracy and integrity of the report…. If the author had not mentioned in the introduction of [his] book that he was a Hanafi, I would not have known that he was Hanafi, but would have definately concluded that he was a Maliki, since in his Awjaz he cites by-laws and derivatives of the Maliki school from there books that even we have a hard time obtaining.


Shaykh Zakariyya had numerous students who spread around the world and continue, to this day, to serve Islam, particularly establishing traditional Islamic schools in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, Canada, America, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and other countries. Some of his more prominent students in the field of hadith were Muhaddith Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi (d. 1384 AH), author of Amani ‘l-Ahbar Sharh Ma’ani ‘l-Athar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jabbar A’zami, author of Imdad al-Bari (Urdu commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari), and Mufti Mahmud Hasan Gangohi (d. 1417 AH). Many other scholars and students also acquired authorizations in hadith from him, including Dr. Mustafa’ al-Siba’i, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda, Dr. Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki and Shaykh Muhammad Taha al-Barakati.

Written Works

Shaykh Zakariyya wrote many works both in Arabic and Urdu. A number of them treat specialized subjects intented for scholars, and the rest have been written for the general public. His works demonstrate his deep knowlege and intelligence; his ability to undertand the issue at hand, research it thoroughly, and present a complete, clear and comprehensive discussion; his moderation, humility, patience, and attention to detail. His respect and awe for the pious predecessors are evident in his works, even when he disagrees with their opinions on any particular aspect.

His first written work was a three volume commentary of the Alfiyya ibn Malik (on arabic grammar), which he wrote as a student when he was only thirteen. His written works amount to over one hundred. He did not withhold any rights to his works and made it publicly known that he only published his works for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. Whoever wished to publish them was permitted to, on the condition that they were left unaltered and their accuracy maintained.

Hence, his books have gained overwhelming acceptance througout the world, so much so that his work Fada’il al-Qur’an [Virtues of the Qur'an] has been translated into eleven languages, Fada’il Ramadan [Virtues of Ramadan] into twelve languages, and Fada’il al-Salat [Virtues of Prayer] into fifteen languages. He wrote four books on Qur’an commentary [tafsir] and proper recitation [tajwid], forty-four books on hadith and its related sciences, six books on jurisprudence [fiqh] and its related sciences, twenty-four historical and biographical books, four books on Islam creed [aqida], twelve books on abstinence [zuhd] and heart-softening accounts [riqaq], three books in Arabic grammar and logic, and six books on modern-day groups and movements.

Some of His Hadith Works

One can find a complete list and description of his books in the various biographies written on him. Here is a brief description of a few of his more popular works on hadith:

Awjaz al-Masalik ila Muwatta’ Imam Malik: One of the most comprehensive commentaries on the Muwatta of Imam Malik in terms of the science of hadith, jurisprudence, and hadith explication. Shaykh Zakariyya provides the summaries of many other commentaries in a clear, intellectual, and scholarly way, dealing with the various opinons on each issue, mentioning the differences of opinions among the various scholars, and comparing their evidences. This commentary, written in Arabic, has won great acclaim from a number of Maliki scholars.

Lami’ al-Dirari ‘ala Jami’ al-Bukhari: Written in Arabic, a collection of the unique remarks and observations on Sahih al-Bukhari presented by Shaykh Rashid Ahmad Gangohi. These life-long acquired wisdoms were recorded by his student Shaykh Yahya Kandhlawi (Shaykh Zakariyya’s father) during their lessons. Shaykh Zakariyya edited, arranged, and commented on his fathers compilation, clarifying the text and adding a comprehensive introduction at the beginning.

Al-Abwab wa ‘l-Tarajim li ‘l-Bukhari: An explanation of the chapter headings of Imam Bukhari’s Sahih al-Bukhari. Assigning chapter headings in a hadith collection is a science in itself, known among the scholars as al-abwab wa ‘l-tarajim [chapters and explanations]. In it, the compiler explains the reasons for the chapter heading and the connections between the chapter headings and the hadiths quoted therein. It is well known that the commentators of Sahih al-Bukhari have paid special attention to the titles therein, in tune with the Arabic saying: “The fiqh of Bukhari is in his chapter headings” [fiqh al-Bukhari fi tarajimihi]. Shaykh Zakariyya not only quotes and compiles what has been mentioned by other scholars like Shah Wali Allah al-Dehlawi and Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, but also correlates and clarifies these opinions and presents findings from his own research in many instances.

Juz’ Hajjat al-Wida’ wa ‘Umrat al-Nabi (SallAllahu alahi wasallam): A comprehensive Arabic commentary on the detailed accounts of the pilgrimage [hajj] of Allah’s Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam). It includes the details of any juridical discussions on the various aspects of pilgrimage, giving the locations, modern-day names, and other details of the places the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu alahi wasallam) passed by or stayed at.

Khasa’il Nabawi Sharh Shama’il al-Tirmidhi: Composed in urdu, a commentary on Imam Tirmidhi’s renowned work al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya, a collection of hadiths detailing the characteristics of the Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam). This commentary explains the various aspects related to the different characteristics and practices of Allah’s Messenger (SallAllahu alahi wasallam). It has been translated into English and is widely available.

Adaptation from the Arabic biography on Shaykh Zakariyya Kandhalawi by Wali al-Din Nadwi. Taken from The Differences of the Imams by Shaykh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi –p.123]

Al-Attas’ Concept of Ta‘dib as True and Comprehensive Education in Islam - Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud

Al-Attas’ Concept of Ta‘dib as True and Comprehensive Education in Islam

Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas (b.1931)1 is the first thinker in the contemporary Muslim world, for the last two centuries, who has systematically defined the meaning of education and has coherently articulated a system to actualize it, starting, strategically, at the university level. Deeply imbedded in the sufi metaphysical and ethical tradition, he has also consistently argued and clarified that the purpose of education in Islam is not merely to produce a good citizen, nor a good worker, but a good man. In one of his most important and influentional works he underlines that:

it is man’s value as a real man, as the dweller in his self’s city, as citizen in his own microcosmic kingdom, as a spirit, that is stressed, rather than his value as a physical entity measured in terms of a pragmatic or utilitarian sense of his usefulness to state, society and the world.2
He argues that a good citizen or worker in a secular state may not necessarily be a good man; a good man, however, will definitely be a good worker and citizen.3 It is obvious that if the employer or state is good as defined from the wholistic Islamic framework, then being a good worker and citizen may be synonymous with being a good man. But an Islamic state presupposes the existence and active involvement of a critical mass of Islamically-minded men and women. In a later work, al-Attas emphasizes that stressing the individual is not only a matter of principle, but also “a matter of correct strategy in our times and under the present circumstances.”4 He further argues that stressing the individual implies knowledge about intelligence, virtue, and the spirit, and about the ultimate destiny and purpose. This is so because intelligence, virtue, and the spirit are elements inherent in the individual, whereas stressing society and state opens the door to legalism and politics.5

However, al-Attas asserts that Islam accepts the idea of good citizenship as the object of education, “only that we mean by ‘citizen’ a Citizen of that other Kingdom, so that he acts as such even here and now as a good man.”6 The primary focus on the individual is so fundamental because the ultimate purpose and end of ethics in Islam is the individual.7 It is because of this notion of individual accountability as a moral agent that in Islam it is the individual that shall be rewarded or punished on the Day of Judgement.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Biography of Ibn Ata’illah as-Sakanda (God bless him)

Taj ad-Din Abu’l-Fadl Ahmad b.Muhammad b.Abd al-Karim b. Ata’illah as Sakandari, al-Judhami ash-Shadhili, known simply as Ibn Ata’illah as-Sakandari, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, as his family tree (nisbah) indicates, about the middle of the seventh [AH] /thirteenth [CE] century. His family were renowned Maliki scholars from the Banu Judham tribe, originally from Arabia. His grandfather, Abd al-Karim (d. 612 AH/1216 AD) had distinguished himself as an expert in Fiqh, usul (principles of jurisprudence), and Arabic, having studied under the famous Abu’l-Hasan al-Abyari. He had written several books, among which were al-Bayin wa’t-Taqrib fi Sharh at-Tahdhib, Mukhtasar at-Tahdhib, and Mukhtasar al-Mufassal, and had been very hostile to Sufism.

On the other hand, Ibn Ata'illah' s father Muhammad (death date unknown) seems to have been of a different mind and although a Faqih (scholar), he was also the disciple of the great Sufi Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili (593-656AH/1197-1258AD), the founder of the Shadhili Sufi order.

As a youth, Ibn Ata'illah received a traditional Islamic education in such disciplines as Qur’anic recitation, Hadith (Prophetic tradition) , Tafsir (Qur’anic commentary), grammar, usul, philosophy, belles-lettres, and Fiqh (jurisprudence) under some of the best and most illustrious teachers of Alexandria, in addition no doubt, to the instruction given him by his own family.

Ironically, in spite of his father’s attachment to the Shadhili master Abu’l-Hasan, Ibn Ata'illah was initially rather hostile to Sufism much like his grandfather, as he himself admits in his book Lata’if al-Minan, but not for any definite reason. In fact, what precipitated his meeting with Shaykh Abu’l-Abbas al-Mursi, the successor of Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan was an argument with one of al-Mursi’s disciples. Consequently, Ibn Ata'illah decided to see for himself who this man was after all, ‘a man of Truth has certain signs that cannot be hidden’. He found him holding forth on such lofty spiritual matters that he was dazzled. Ibn Ata'illah states that at that moment GOD removed whatever objections he previously had. Something had obviously touched his heart and mind, so he went home to be alone and reflect.

That was apparently the turning point for him, for shortly thereafter Ibn Ata'illah returned to visit Shaykh Abu’l-Abbas al-Mursi who received him so warmly that he was embarrassed and humbled. Ibn Ata'illah states, ‘The first thing that I said to him was “O Master, by GOD, I love you”. Then he answered, “May GOD love you as you love me”. Then Ibn Ata’illah told him of various worries and sadness he had, so the Shaykh told him: There are four states of the servant, not five: blessings, trials, obedience, and disobedience. If you are blessed, then what GOD requires of you is thankfulness. If you are tried, then what GOD requires of you is patience. If you are obedient, then what GOD requires of you is the witnessing of His blessings upon you. If you are disobedient, then what GOD requires of you is asking forgiveness.

After leaving Shaykh al-Mursi, he mentions that he felt that his worries and his sadness were like a garment that had been removed. From that time in 674 AH/ 1276 AD when Ibn Ata'illah was initiated into the Shadhili order until the death of Shaykh al-Mursi twelve years later, he became his devoted disciple and says that in all those years he never heard his Shaykh say anything that contradicted the Shari'a.

What spiritual fruits he must have received cannot be known, but his development into a Sufi master capable of guiding and teaching others took place within the lifetime of his Shaykh, i.e., well within e twelve-year period before 686 AH/1288 AD. His discipline and progress in the path coupled with his great learning made him renowned as a religious authority.

Ibn Ata'illah’s virtue, majestic presence, eloquence, and spiritual insights were such that he had many followers. He even performed miracles, some of which have been recorded, such as speaking from his grave to one Kamal ad-Din b. al-Hamam who had gone to the Shaykh's tomb to recite Surat Hud. As a result, Ibn al-Hamam was counselled to be buried there. Another miracle attributed to Shaykh Ibn Ata'illah is his having been seen in Mecca at three different places by one of his disciples who had gone on Pilgrimage. When the latter returned, he asked if the Shaykh had left the country in his absence and was told no. Then he went to see him and Ibn Ata'illah asked him, ‘Whom did you see on this trip of yours?’ The disciple answered, ‘O Master, I saw you’. So he smiled and said, ‘The realized sage fills the universe. If he summoned the Qutb (Spiritual Pole), verily he would answer.’

Still another miracle recorded is the story of three men on their way to attend Shaykh Ibn Ata'illah’s public lecture (majlis). One said, ‘If I were free from the family, I would become an ascetic’; the second one said, ‘I pray and fast but I do not see a speck of benefit’; and the third said, ‘Indeed, my prayers do not please me so how can they please my Lord?’ After arriving, they heard Ibn Ata'illah discourse and in their presence he said, ‘There are among people those who say…’ and he repeated their words exactly.

Ibn Ata'illah taught at both the al-Azhar Mosque and the Mansuriyyah Madrasah in Cairo as well as privately to his disciples. However, it is not known where his Zawiyah was located.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah died at around sixty years of age in the middle of Jumada II 709 AH/November 1309 AD. As befitting an eminent and learned teacher, he died in the Mansuriyyah Madrasah. His funeral procession was witnessed by hundreds of people and he was buried in the Qarafah Cemetery in Cairo in what is today called the City of the Dead, at the foot of Jabal al-Muqattam. His tomb became famous as the site of homage, visitation, prayer, and miraculous occurrences. To this day this is still the case.

This pious and extraordinary contemplative figure left behind a spiritual legacy no less impressive than those of his own beloved Shaykh, and the eminent founder Shaykh Abu’l-Hasan ash-Shadhili. All the biographers refer to Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah with illustrious titles and reverence and mention how marvellously he spoke and how uplifting his words were. In spite of the fact that he followed the Maliki madhbab, the Shafi’is laid claim to him, most probably because some of his earlier teachers had been Shafi’i scholars, not to mention some of his students.

Hence, his disciples could only be all the more devoted in their attachment to and love for him. Of the untold numbers of followers that Shaykh Ibn Ata’ Allah had, both in Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere, only very few names are known. That is, doubtless, due to the fact that the Shadhilis did not advocate withdrawing from the world or wearing special clothing to distinguish themselves. They were ‘in the world but not of the world’, so to speak.

Biographical sketch taken from 'The Key To Salvation'.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

On Protecting knowledge

Abu al Hasan Abd al Aziz al Jurjani said :


They say to me that you are withdrawn, but they saw a man more humiliated and withdrawn.

I saw people who belittle any humble soul who drew near to


anyone who was exalted by pride they received with honour.

I gave not knowledge its due,

And every time a craving for the world came to me,

I used my knowledge as a staircase to attain it.

When it was said, “This is a fountain.” I said, “I see”.

I strove not in the service of knowledge,

Nor as a servant of the needy souls I met.

I sought, instead, to be saved.

Am I to be made wretched by the seedling I planted,

Harvesting only humiliation?

If this is so, it would have been better to have sought ignorance!

If only the people of knowledge had protected it,

It would have protected them.

If they had magnified it in their souls,

They would have been magnified.

To the contrary, they belittled it,

And thereby became despicable.

They disfigured its face with their craving for the world, leaving it frowning and dejected.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Advice for Arabic Study by Shaykh Suhayb Webb with comment by Gibril F Haddad

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

I'm a student in the UK and have learnt enough nahu to read irab etc. But I find it hard to understand - vocab, meanings etc. What advice or methods (time-saving) would you give so I can read Arabic books with understanding? What Arabic literature would you recommend for beginners?

Reply by Shaykh Suhayb Webb (Shukran jazilan!):

I. This is the language of Revelation.

Understand that his is the language of Revelation. Thus, its study should be taken very seriously. The signs of this understanding are the following:

1. A checked intention. Meaning, constantly observe your inner state. I've seen a lot of Western students show off their latest understanding of Tamyeez, Haal and 'Alam. Beware of this quality because the Prophet MHMD said about this person, "The Fire! The Fire."

2. Have a lot of Sabar. Ibnu Malik (rad.ia-LLahu `anhu), the great scholar of grammar, began his famous Alfiyah with the line, "Kalamun Lafthun Mufedun Kastaqim."

"Kastaqim" means to be firm and upright. He opened his blessed poem with that line to say to the student, "Istaqim [Straighten yourself] upon the learning of this language." In other words Arabic, if you really want to grasp its secrets, is not hard, but takes time. The Ulema used to say, "The entrance to Arabic is hard and its exit is easy." Thus, don't try and overdo things. Once a man had studied for 19 years. He said, "I've failed to become a scholar? What have I learned?" Finally, he decided to leave being a student of knowledge and went back to his village. He sat on a stone well and noticed the rope that held the bucket had worn its way through the stone well. Suddenly he realized something and said to himself, "Seeking knowledge is like this rope. It takes time, but with sabar and focus, a rope can rub through stone."

3. A lot of supplication: Allah says, "(Allah) He taught men expression." Thus, you must beg Allah to give you this language. Remember that learning this language is a means of improving your servitude to Allah. Thus, implore Allah to give it to you.

II. Learning Arabic has a few components:

1. Nahu, Balagh and Sarf (these are the internal organs of the language), however, know, may Allah have mercy on you, that learning these sciences will give you a technical understanding of the language. Especially if you learn from the Mutuun in the beginning. Thus, most teachers advise a student to start with more basic books, which are current in content, and then later move on to the Mutun.

2. Speaking, writing and expression: This is usally the last thing to come. But, once one has it, they should praise Allah in abundance because they are expressing themselves in the language of the Qur'an, the language of the Prophet MHMD and the language of Ahl-Janna.

I would advise our brother to begin and communicate with others as often as possible. Although you'll make mistakes, and we all do, keep trying. Once, I was sitting with a group of Malaysian students from Al-Azhar. They were very strong in the Arabic and I noticed that they only spoke Arabic. I asked one of them, "Mashallah, what is going on with you brothers?" He told me, "We love to make mistakes in Arabic more than speaking our own language correctly." Thus, you must practice practice practice. What you fail to use, will fail you when you need it.

III. As for your study I would do the following:

1. Leave the classical books until you can understand them and read them with a teacher. The best books I've found for learning how to talk are, believe it or not, children's books. Their language is always great and there are a lot of conversations which will serve as great assistance for you in the future.

2. Use a common text book that teaches Arabic such as Kitabul Asassi, the University of Madina series and many others.

3. Try to study in a center in an Arab country. It is very important to remember that a language is a culture. Thus, while living in the culture you will learn the expression of the language in its natural state.

4. Work hard.

Finally, I would try and memorize some Qur'an and Hadith. Both, and the Qur'an more so, are a means of giving you Fasaha.

Allah knows best.

SDW June 11, 2005

Comments by GFH: The last statement echoes Dr. Sa`id al-Buti's reply when asked how come he spoke Arabic with such clarity although he never studied it formally. He replied: by reading the Qur'an. The statement by the Malaysian students: "We love to make mistakes in Arabic more than speaking our own language correctly" is `Ibada and Ikhlas. (It beats what Yahya ibn Ma`in said to Imam Ahmad after one of their teachers, al-Fadl ibn Dukayn, tripped Yahya to the ground to teach him adab. Yahya said: "That he tripped me was lovelier to me than our entire visit to him.") Add to this that `Ajams may get more reward for making mistakes in Arabic (and indeed Qur'an-recitation) than Arabs in speaking it correctly - depending, of course, on Intention.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

How to Identify the Four Types of Sentences Declarative, Imperative, Interrogative, and Exclamatory Sentence

By Tracey Carter

Sentences can be identified in two ways: purpose and structure. This article will explain how to identify sentences based on their purpose.

Sentences can be identified as having one of four purposes:

  • Declarative
  • Imperative
  • Interrogative
  • Exclamatory

While these four types of sentences have similarities, they are more easily identified by their differences. Each type of sentence serves a different purpose.

Declarative Sentences

Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence in English literature. A declarative sentence states a fact. (Interestingly, the preceding sentence, and this sentence also, are declarative sentences.)

In addition to making a statement or sharing a fact, declaratives always end with a period.

Examples of declarative sentences:

  • The bus arrived late.
  • My pink sweater needs to be washed.
  • The book, while thought-provoking, was challenging to read because of its advanced vocabulary.

As the examples above show, declarative sentences can be simple, compound or complex sentences. Sentence structure does not effect the basic purpose of the sentence. Although it should be noted that using a variety of sentence structures increases reader engagement and decreases reader boredom.

Declarative sentences may be short and simple, getting straight to the point, or declarative sentences may be lengthier and include prepositions, objects of prepositions, direct objects, and indirect objects.

Don't let a sentence's structure or length fool you! A declarative sentence states something. A declarative sentence does not command, question, or proclaim. A declarative sentence states a fact.

Imperative Sentences

Like the declarative sentences discussed above, imperative sentences also end with a period. Imperative sentences give a command or ask someone to do so something.

Imperative sentences may appear to lack a subject:

  • Shut the door.
  • Clear the table.
  • Stop right this instant.

It is common for imperative sentences to have an implied subject. In all three examples of imperative sentences above, the implied subject is "you." Each imperative sentence above is commanding or requesting that "you" do something.

Imperative sentences, like declarative sentences, may be short and simple or long and complex, however, imperative sentences are typically short simple sentences. Again however, don't be fooled by the sentence structure. An imperative sentence can have any style of sentence structure and still be an imperative sentence.

An imperative sentence commands, requests, or orders someone to do something.

Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentences have different terminal punctuation than declarative sentences and imperative sentences. Interrogative sentences always end with a questions mark.

  • Where are you going today?
  • Will you hand me the red paintbrush, please?
  • I don't know; which train do you think we should take?

An interrogative sentence asks a question or requests information and ends with a question mark.

Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory sentences have different terminal punctuation than declarative sentences, imperative sentences, and interrogative sentences. Exclamatory sentences always end with an exclamation mark.

  • I'm so angry!
  • Get away from me!
  • It's so beautiful; I love it!

It is important to note that simply placing an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence does not automatically create an exclamatory sentence. An exclamatory sentence must also convey strong emotion(s).

An exclamatory sentence uses strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark.

Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory sentences have different terminal punctuation than declarative sentences, imperative sentences, and interrogative sentences. Exclamatory sentences always end with an exclamation mark.

  • I'm so angry!
  • Get away from me!
  • It's so beautiful; I love it!

It is important to note that simply placing an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence does not automatically create an exclamatory sentence. An exclamatory sentence must also convey strong emotion(s).

An exclamatory sentence uses strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark.