Friday, 31 December 2010

In Honour of the most Honoured

A man hurried out into the street of Bakkah and announced " The start of Ahmed has risen ".
The praised one had arrived. The hypocrites of the world fell silent in their trepidation.
The once mighty candle of Persia suddenly was disbanded.

Whilst Aminah RA looked down at the light in her hands and smiled. She was glowing on earth but in celestial palaces she was decorated and elevated.

From this day forward neither the Sun nor the Moon shined a brighter light, then the light of his blessed face.
They followed the command of his blessed hands, shining their light upon him.
Even clouds foam from the seas, would shelter him by their faithful shade.
The stones would send peace upon him, quietly whispering his blessed name.
The blessed tree in Yahrib tree would weep her love for him. In turn it would be so graciously comforted by him with great solace.
Drops of water, splashed from his face, would fall into eager waiting hands. Like shimmering diamonds falling from the sky, and precious pearls falling in the night.

The poor, the rich, the Arab and the Persian came from vales and cities far and wide, just to catch a glimpse of him and his beauty.
They instantly praised his blessed name and lofty rank, hoping in turn to be eternally raised by his Beloved.
Through Love of him, Arabia and its tribes had finally united.
And in the end of days, mankind will come to know that it will be saved by his Prophetic brother and his genealogical race.
Muhammed (pbuh) is his blessed name. To honour is to love.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


This is the poem that gave Nelson Mandela solace when he was a prisioner in Robin Island.It gave him the power to belief that he controls his own fate and destiny.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Poetry of You

Poetry of you is praise of the tongue
From the heart of love inclining
As time goes by, on its horizon you stand
A moon amidst darkness, a star shining
A memory as fresh as fragrant flowers
Qualities of a garden, exhaling

And if, on a day, you travel fair wind
To a land most sacred and blessed
Then carry my Salaam to the garden in which
The blessed Prophet rests

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The gem that is Shaykh Samir an Nass

Lesley Hazleton Explains The Quran Most Beautifully

This video adddreses the misconception of the Quran in a very lucid and sophisticated manner

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

God-Man Relationship - A Disussion with Muhammed Asad

Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss) (1900–1992), an Austrian Jew who converted to Islam, was a 20th century journalist, traveler, writer, social critic, linguist, thinker, reformer, diplomat, political theorist, translator and scholar. Asad was one of the 20th century's most influential European Muslims

Historical Scholars - Muhammed Asad Interview from Afaun Mandol on Vimeo.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Cultural investment is the way forward

Shaikh Abdul Hakim Murad feels the Muslim world should promote healthy dialogue with the West

For a man who is apparently Britain’s most influential Muslim, Shaikh Abdul Hakim Murad has rather unorthodox views on the way Islam is presented in the Western media. “I don’t think Islam is ever covered,” he tells Weekend Review.

“I have never actually seen an article in a Western newspaper that covers the core aspects of Islamic religion that are of significance to Muslims themselves. The focus is exclusively on social, economic and political dimensions of the religion. I have done interviews with journalists who say they don’t want to talk about the religious dimensions of Islam. That’s just the nature of modern Britain, unfortunately — we are going through a very secular period.”

Is there an Islam fatigue in Britain? “I think it’s not just an Islam fatigue,” he says. “It’s that people have been told everything about Islam except what makes it significant to Muslims themselves, which is often why they are so mystified.”

I am sitting with Murad — also known as Dr Timothy Winter — in his office at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University. Around us on both sides are shelved an ocean of books, including many on Islam and religion with titles such as Ibn Batuta and Islam and Taoism, some in distant foreign languages (Murad speaks Arabic, Persian and Turkish).

While he is speaking, I wonder whether this rather bookish, almost quintessential scholar of the Oxbridge type could really be Britain’s most influential Muslim, as voted by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, based in Jordan. It has compiled a list of 500 most influential Muslims in the world.

Murad himself dismisses his lofty new title. “It’s a little bit of silliness, isn’t it?” he asks. “I don’t know how you could rank such people. I am sure if you would ask most Muslims in England they would certainly name other people. They wouldn’t have heard of me.

“My interests are rather abstract, philosophical and academic. Most Muslims in Britain are interested in more practical bread and butter issues. So I think it was probably a curious misunderstanding that led them to put my name on the list.”

A Muslim celebrity he may not be like the boxer Amir Khan or singer Yousuf Islam, but Murad is certainly a well-respected figure among Muslims, not only in Britain but also internationally, as a leading Islamic scholar. He holds a number of prestigious titles, including director of the Sunna Project, secretary of the Muslim Academic Trust and director of the Anglo-Muslim Fellowship for Eastern Europe.

Last year he helped set up the Cambridge Muslim College, which trains imams for mosques in the United Kingdom. Murad is also very active in the local community and is heading a new mosque-building project in Cambridge, set to replace the present one which is stretched to capacity, with worshippers being forced to pray on the street outside.

Born in 1960, Murad converted to Islam at the age of 19. Back then, many people in Britain did not know much about the religion. The reaction from others to his new faith was one of curiosity. “The main concern was that I might have joined a cult,” he says. “That I was being manipulated by some evil puppet master, which was a fear among middle-class parents at the time. It was an age when cults were spreading very fast in Western countries. But as soon as it became clear that’s not what I was interested in, I think their anxieties receded.”

Compared to Britain’s total Muslim population, estimated at 2.4 million, converts form a small percentage at an estimated 60,000 to 70,000.

However, one odd bit of fact about converts in this country is that they sometimes keep their Islamic faith a secret by not telling others, according to Murad.

He attributes this strange phenomenon partly to an English sense of reticence. “We call them submarines,” he explains. “People who are under the surface and are practising the religion, including praying and fasting. But their close friends and family don’t know.”

For instance, Murad knows one professor at Cambridge University who has been a Muslim for 30 years and comes to the mosque when he can but his colleagues at the university aren’t aware he is a Muslim. Then there is a Christian clergyman who converted to Islam but hasn’t told his wife because he is sure she wouldn’t understand and would divorce him and he would end up losing the children.

But while the case of some converts can at times be rather awkward, Murad himself has lived quite a colourful life as a Muslim. Since graduating from Cambridge University with a first-class honours in Arabic in 1983, he travelled to Egypt, where he studied Islam at the renowned Al Azhar University. He lived for three years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before returning to London to study Turkish and Persian. Murad is at present the Shaikh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge University.

Muslims are sometimes criticised for apparently having developed a “victim mentality” — and some prominent Islamic thinkers have also kind of agreed with this. Does Murad concur?
“I don’t find that particularly among Muslim communities,” he says. “The kind of Muslim leaders who the media notice may well think that Muslims are being unfairly singled out. That the West didn’t come to their rescue in Bosnia, the West has been indifferent to their fate in Palestine, the West did something to Iraq that it would never have done to, say, Spain under General Franco. That it is behaving in a cavalier fashion in Afghanistan. That it supports unpopular autocratic regimes throughout the Muslim world — and therefore the West is generically hostile to Muslims and victimises them. I think that is a ridiculous oversimplification.

“There are some Muslims who resent the fact that so many of the victims of Western foreign policy have been Muslims. But I don’t think that is the prevailing view of most mosque-going Muslims in the UK. They are more interested in immediate bread and butter issues of getting jobs, educating their children and finding their way into society.”

Alongside his passionate defence of Britain’s Muslim community, Murad is known for speaking eloquently about those who have gone to the extreme within the religion. I ask him how he would argue, using religion, against these people who find themselves at the radical fringe?

“Well, one has to do it using the traditional instruments of Muslim debate, which are Quran and Hadith quotations with reference to the past consensus of the scholars of the religion,” he says. “That debate is easily won because the radicals very seldom have a very proper religious education.

“Bin Laden is an engineer, Zawahiri is a medic. The typical profile of the radical Islamist is not that he is an expert on Islam, rather it is that he is somebody with a Western technical type of education who is sufficiently incensed by Western policies that he is using an Islamic language misunderstood to justify what is essentially a temper tantrum.”

In Bombing Without Moonlight: The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism, Murad argues that an Islamist suicide bomber is very much a by-product of a Westernised mindset and is in fact an alien phenomenon to the religion of Islam when viewed from a historical context. In the book, he notes how many on both sides will furiously deny an “Islamism with Western roots”. Suicidal militancy is, he points out, entirely absent from the Islamic scriptures. But shouldn’t one be weary of labels such as “moderate” Islam because it gives the impression of some type of “Islam lite” that people should be following? In other words, it is as if there is something wrong with following the religion in its fullness.

“Yes, you may say we have two alternatives,” he says. “We have the alternative of being Muslim extremists or being extremely Muslim. And I don’t accept the category of moderate at all because it is far from clear. Because when it is used usually by Western pundits and politicians, what is intended is anything other than a form of Islam that politically doesn’t obstruct present Western policies. And I don’t think that is a helpful way of developing a meaningful sense of priorities within a religion. So I don’t use this category ‘moderate’ Muslims at all. I think the ongoing face-off between radicals and the mainstream is a face-off between heresy and orthodoxy. Those are the terms which are more indigenous and authentic than ‘moderation’ and ‘extremism’.”

This brings the discussion back to where this interview started: the great Islam debate in the media. Murad believes there is little point in expecting a more accurate account of Islam in the British tabloid press. Instead, he tells me what worries him is that among the educated classes in the UK, who, to some extent, conduct their conversation through the more respectable broadsheets, there is an unwillingness to acknowledge that non-Western cultures may have definitions of happiness and human flourishing which could be worthy of respect and have a right to exist.

“There is something implicitly totalitarian about the assumption that the value set esteemed by Westerners must alone be right,” he says. “This comes from the universalism of the Enlightenment, which thought that ‘man’ was a single sort of subject and about whom large generalisations could always be offered.”

More recently, he acknowledges, such thinking has come under a good deal of attack. “But that does not seem to have percolated to the public sphere,” he says, “where it is assumed that the West alone can define ‘universals’, such as ‘universal human rights’, even though philosophically Western thinkers have an increasingly hard time establishing any universals at all. Some thinkers, such as Gavin D’Costa, Geoffrey Stout — and, I think, Slavoj Zizek — are very aware of this paradox. D’Costa’s new book holds that everything Westerners say to other cultures can be reduced to variations on ‘Be like us’. That’s not entirely accurate, of course.”

Clearly, it would be wrong to put the entire burden of blame on the shoulders of the West. Murad believes part of the problem is the reluctance so far of Muslim states and agencies to encourage a broader and more thoughtful cultural discussion in the West which is rooted in a better understanding of Muslim culture.

He gives the example of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, whose Alliance of Civilisations at times seems to attempt such an effort. But if Middle Easterners really wish to be better respected in the West, he believes they need to engage in deep and extensive cultural investment. “The Arab League, or the OIC, should direct resources to creating something like the British Council,” he says, “or the Goethe Institute, with landmark institutions in Western capitals which promote a correct understanding and a healthy dialogue. At the forefront should be teaching the Arabic language. Unless the Muslim world engages in better public diplomacy on behalf of its culture, it cannot expect to be better understood and respected.”

Syed Hamad Ali is an independent writer based in Cambridge.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Interview with Shaykh Ibrahim Osi Efa In the Revival Mag

Shaykh Ibrahim was born and raised in Liverpool, England. Initially studying for three years in Syria and Mauritania he then had the opportunity to spend over six years in the city of Tarim, Hadramaut where he studied under the hands of many high calibre teachers of our time.

He was one of the founders of several Islamic initiatives including the Ibn Abbas Institute, Starlatch Press, Badr Language Institute and the Greensville Trust. He currently resides in Liverpool, England with his wife and two children.

The Revival Editor, Sajid Iqbal, met up with the Shaykh Ibrahim in Nelson where he was preparing for a talk. After trying to poorly imitate the Shaykhs scouse accent, he had a lengthy chat covering issues from Tupac to drugs and alcohol abuse, marriage to culture, purification of the soul to Mosques and many more. Here are some of the questions put to the Shaykh:

Ed: I think that also a lot of youngsters feel that Islam is kinda boring, it’s strict and it only deals with the rituals. We always say that Islam is a complete way of life. But why is it that a lot of youngsters don't feel that it is and they try to stay away from it and only go to the mosque every Friday and that’s it?

Shaykh: I mean that comes down to teachings. When the children or the youth no longer see Islam being conveyed in a holistic sense, then lo and behold they have some type of dis familiarity with the actual tenants of the faith and the broadness of the faith itself.

Ed: So what actually needs to be done to attract the youth to Islam?

Shaykh: We need to become people who represent the religion; we need to take on the tenants and live the actual tenants of the faith.

Ed: So if you’ve got youngsters who are into drugs or into alcohol abuse and into boyfriends and girlfriends and there’s no Islam that’s a part of their life... how can these youngsters be attracted to the mosques and invited into becoming practising Muslims?

Shaykh: There’s not a simple answer to that, because the youngsters who are into drugs, youngsters who are into illicit relationships... the youngsters who are into nightclubs or whatever it may be... they’re into that due to the environment they’ve been placed in. So the heart of the problem is how we change environments in order to facilitate a more... smoother transition into that which Allah (swt) and his messengers hold dear.

Ed: Youngsters nowadays, their role models are the likes of TuPac, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney etc. We always say that the Prophet should be our role model but the reality is for a lot of elders and youngsters, the Prophet is not our role model. So how can we transform the way the youngsters see the Prophet ?

Shaykh: The most powerful role models are those who are accessible. So therefore in an environment where the David Beckham’s of the world and TuPac who’s long dead, but he’s still sort of accessible, by virtue of the power of the media. When they are the accessible sort of figures for our youth then lo and behold they become role models, because every human being needs a role model.

Allah (swt) crafted in us that innate potency to follow others, to seek others as those who guide us unto whether we believe it to be or good or whatever. So human beings always follow and so the bottom line is that these are the ones that are accessible figures in the lives of many of our youth.

If we were to ask any of our youth to describe how the Prophet looked, the vast majority wouldn’t have a clue. Never mind the youth, likewise the adults. If they saw a picture of the Prophet in his various manifestations throughout his lifetime, they would be shocked.

As an example, we had an issue of the youth in the USA, in California, who liked to braid their hair and they were told, as Muslims, you can’t braid your hair; that’s the way of the disbelievers. And lo and behold the Prophet himself used to braid his hair. One of the greatest moments in Islamic history, when he entered Makkah, the conquest of Makkah, his hair is braided; it’s plated into four plaits. So it’s a sign that even us as adults are somewhat unaware of how the Prophet was, and how he looked.

With TuPac, I think the youth could describe TuPac pretty accurately. David Beckham- they could describe him pretty accurately and some of them could describe some of the private moments in David Beckham’s life. That’s a problem.

Ed: What a lot of people need to understand is why do they NEED the Prophet ? What does the Prophet offer us if we chose him as a role model?

Shaykh: The Prophet brings good, not just for youngsters and not just for the elderly, not just for the White or the Black, or for the Arab or for the Non Arab, not even just for the human being, but the Prophet Muhammad brings good for the entire creation. That’s why Allah (swt) says that: 'I have not sent you except as a mercy to the world.'

Everybody likes to be victorious so the Prophet is the one who told us, 'Through me victory is granted.' So Insha’Allah it’s victory not just in this life which, people who are short sighted, that’s all they see, but it’s victory beyond this life.

Ed: But can you give us an example. Say you’ve got a youngster whose role model is TuPac and we say to him, you know what TuPac is not the one who should be your role model; it’s the Prophet ...

Shaykh: What does he like about TuPac?

Ed: His music, his lifestyle, he’s a bad boy, he’s a big gangster... they wanna be a part of that. So we say to them, leave that, and take the Prophet as your role model. What do they get?

Shaykh: I think it’s not necessarily they like TuPac because he’s a bad boy and they wanna be bad boys. But something about TuPac maybe, the way he holds himself and I mean the definition of cool, as some would say, and every human being, especially the youth, wants to be cool. So we bring a new definition of cool, and the Prophet IS that definition.

The youth of today are no different from the youth of Makkah and Madina, and when we look at the actual life and times of the Prophet , his movement was a youth movement. The YOUTH followed him, and just as we have an issue with elders today, there were the issues with elders THEN, and the Prophet said that: 'when I came, the elders denied me and the youth gave me victory; they were the ones that supported me.'

So there’s something in the Prophet that forced or compelled the youth to take HIS way as the way to lead their lives, a definition of cool. If we look at the sahabah, the early youth that were sat around the Prophet , they had families; there was a dominant culture, a dominant way of life, but they PREFFERED something different that was more appealing to lead into the actual reality of who they were at that point in time.

That does not change regardless of place, regardless of gender, regardless of time, but something that holds true to our day and that’s why Ali (ra) who was a youth, gives us a really compelling description of the Prophet .

He said that those who met him suddenly feared him but the ones who intermingled with him without knowledge fell in love with him.

So here, what we’d try to summon the youth onto is to know the Prophet and as a rule that holds no exception that they will fall in love with the Prophet and the definition of cool becomes apparent.

Ed: Jazakallah. I think one of the reasons why people are away from the Deen, going into drugs and so on is that they want that peace of mind, they want that buzz...

Shaykh: It doesn’t give it. I mean, I grew up in that drug culture. I grew up in a city that is one of the highest drug cultures today, which is the city of Liverpool - that is a drug culture. Many of the friends that I grew up with and people inside my own family are people who took to it in every possible way imaginable. And one thing that is clear from them is that Subhana’Allah, it DOESN’T.

You see, it’s a false hope It doesn’t deliver what it promises. So what they want, they’re not going to find in the drug culture. I don’t think what they want, they’re going to find in illicit relationships with women. They’re not gonna find it. I don’t think that what they want, they’re gonna find in that type of lifestyle.

They’ll see in television or MTV or the magazines that promote the ideal lifestyle; it’s a false promise. And they will find that out sooner rather than later. The problem is once they’re in the midst of it, it’s difficult to get out, in not that it’s failed to deliver but that which they thought it would deliver.

Ed: An issue that some people bring up is that alcohol in Islam is crystal clear that it is haraam however the Quran and sunnah is kind of silent about weed and coke and drugs... so because its silent it should be allowed... could you clarify?

Shaykh: Quran and Sunnah aren’t silent about it, nothings been abandoned in the book and nothings been abandoned in the Sunnah which is an interpretation of the book. So therefore we see that the great Imams of the religion can clarify the rulings regards to all of those matters. Islam promotes and nurtures the Intellect. Religion was sent for that.

So anything that compromises on that great universal, the law will always consider it to be haraam… consider it to be unlawful. So cocaine is something which clouds the intellect. Ganja which is something which clouds the intellect. Weed is something that clouds the mind.

Ed: I was actually speaking to someone who smokes weed and their argument was it doesn’t cloud my mind. I can think clearly, it doesn’t tamper the way I think, its not an intoxication; alcohol intoxicates but weed doesn’t so its al right innit?

Shaykh: I would say to them behave… behave... be true to yourself that’s what I would say.

Ed: Is there no clear cut text which can be quoted that the Quran and sunnah has openly said intoxicants including drugs are haraam?

Shaykh: When Allah (swt) says in the Quran He(sw) refers to intoxications they don’t refer to alcohol per say and not to drugs per say. So they relate to anything that intoxicates so that’s clear enough for any intelligent person... they don’t need details. I mean I lived in a generation where there was no crack cocaine and then there was so therefore we saw a new drug entered into a field.

You have human beings with emptiness in their soul and are always trying to craft new ways to filling that void through things called drugs and there will always be new drugs and alcohol. The beauty of the Quran is that it can take care of all that with a few words- anything that intoxicates, anything that clouds the intellect is considered unlawful.

Ed: OK. But when I speak to a lot of youngsters that are into drugs or into alcohol, they all seem cool and chilled out and happy. So what I’m saying is if we want them to leave that lifestyle, how will Islam give them that peace of mind?

Shaykh: We offer that to them through 1400 years of the transformation of what the idea of ‘peace of mind’ really is, that comes with the Prophet . And peace of mind, which is really peace of heart. That can only come through adherence of the way of the one who crafted the heart, and the one who knows how peace, or tranquillity, or serenity ultimately develops in that heart.

That’s why they say 'Verily, my Lord is on a straight path.' The methodology for the true tranquillity and true serenity can only come, again, regardless of age, regardless of colour, regardless of deviant creed when somebody attaches to the way of Islam and the way of the Prophets.

Ed: A lot of the time when we speak to scholars, they say you need to purify your heart and purify your soul. What does that mean and how do you achieve it?

Shaykh: The purification of the heart or the purification of the soul means liberating the soul, which is the essence of the human being. We are mind, body and soul. But ultimately we are soul. We’ve existed as creatures who are spiritual without form, before we were caste into form 120 days inside of our mother’s womb. So it’s the spiritual essence that we are and it’s through liberating that spiritual essence that is an essence that has an affinity with Allah, an affinity with God.

So our humanity is in our spiritual liberation, our spiritual realisation. How is that realised? Through morals, through virtues, through cleansing the self of blameworthy qualities and adorning the self with the higher qualities.

Ed: So if I’m struggling to connect to Allah (swt), I’m performing my prayers but getting distracted by the Dunya... what are the steps that I can take to get closer to Allah?

Shaykh: The first thing to understand is that the struggle is where the reward lies. That’s why Allah says: ‘...Those who struggle for our sake, We will guide them to Our paths’. So sometimes the struggle sends the wrong message. We interpret the struggle in the wrong manner.

So first and foremost, struggle is good and the nation of youth LOVE struggle. Why would you get up at seven o’ clock in the morning of the coldest day of the year and you wear shorts up to the mid parts of your thighs just to try and get a ball and kick it between two wooden posts? The youth love struggle! Why do youths get into fights? Why get into a fight when you know you can be hurt? They love struggle! And the Prophet says in the hadith ‘reward is the portion of the struggle, the portion of the difficulty’. So the struggle is good. So we should engage with the struggle or embrace it thereafter.

As for HOW do I get closer to Allah? Company. That’s the most important thing for the youth to understand. The human being is environmental in nature- we are as good as our environment. In more beautiful terms, the Prophet said ‘A human being is upon the religion of his friend’. So therefore, we struggle because our friends are struggling, our environment is struggling. And lo and behold when we change our friends, we start to see that suddenly you see a different type of struggle.

Ed: So the first step is to get rid of your friends which are an obstacle in becoming a good Muslim? Because I can remember when I was young (a looooong time ago!) everyone was messing about so I started messing about. Once you’ve found the right company, then what?

Shaykh: Well there are two types of people: there are people who, in bad company, can negate the badness. Either they are influences or they are influenced. And there are many youths who are influences that are not influenced. I remember my youth: I sat in the company of people who did bad things, really bad things, and I mean NAUGHTY things! And I never did anything naughty and that was my company. When I looked at myself, regardless of the company that I was with, I was not going to be influenced by them. I was going to make my own decisions and be in control of how my life was going to turn out.

There are those that are like that, i.e. there are youth that are leaders and when you go to any group of people, there are leaders, and there are amongst the youth that are setting the standard. THEY’RE the most important people and that’s why the Prophet would seek them out. So the appeal is that if you are one of those, then it’s you, first and foremost, who has to change, because on the basis of YOU changing, you change a lot of people who are situated around you. The Prophet would seek them out and even designate financial rewards for such people, because once they change then everybody else changes.

Good company attaches you to the Prophet . Good company renders you wanting to be just like the Prophet . If he had long, cool hair, then you want long, cool hair. If the Prophet used to walk with force, walk with determination, you wanna walk JUST like him.

The Prophet had a different type of swagger- it was a divine swagger; a definition of cool. When you become privy of that, you wanna walk like the Messenger, you wanna talk like the Messenger, you wanna pray like the Messenger. If the Prophet said ‘the coolness in my eyes is through prayer’ then you want the same.

When the prophet fasted, you wanna fast just like him. The sahabah would say we want to fast just like, the Prophet would respond with DON’T; they said, but YOU do it, we WANT to! That’s a sign of love. That’s a sign of a desire to imitate. The Prophet said, the only thing that can convince the sahabah NOT to do it is to tell them, ‘I’m not like you, I sleep with my Lord; he feeds me and he’s the one that nourishes me with drink.'

If you have that, then continue fasting in that manner. Otherwise, stick to Ramadan, stick to Mondays, stick to Thursdays, stick to White Nights, stick to Black Nights, do those things that are in the capacity of each and every one who loves me.

So how do we become religious? Religious beings have religious etiquettes, will have religious morals, will have religious virtues, will have religious practises and when you’re amongst them, lo and behold it becomes infectious. Believe me, religion is a sweet thing. When a human being tastes something sweet, by nature he falls in love.

Ed: One really big issue that a lot of people find is that they don’t wanna date, they don’t wanna go back 'home'.... they don’t wanna marry their cousins, how do they go about finding a practising compatible life partner? I

Shaykh: There are a few things and I think the issue is a bit more complex and what I mean by its more complex is part of it, as quickly as were marrying, were divorcing. So a lot of times if its left to the actual choice of the youth; they haven’t lived long, not experienced long enough to know what makes a successful marriage.

Usually what drives the youth is issues which relate to the lower gut, the lower self : sexual desires, desires based on lust, desires maybe based on the outward appearance of the female/male so they aren’t the necessary ingredients that make a long marriage.

Ed: What are those ingredients?

Shaykh:The point I’m tryna make is that its a combination of reasons, the one I just mentioned cannot be ignored. I mean the prophet said that a woman is married for four reasons: the first thing he said was ‘for her beauty’ ; that’s the first thing so there are issues of attraction that are very important.

But the issue of attraction... the youth have that but there are other reasons which the youth don’t necessarily have.

The second is 'her family'; the youth don’t necessarily know the nature of her family, her parents, her grandparents, where they came from? What etiquette they were raised upon? They don’t know that parents may have a greater eye on that regard. Issue of wealth, occupation... what occupation she has, the youth aren’t clear on that. Maybe its a combination of different sources.

Likewise her religion the prophet said ‘take the one with religion or your hands will be worn will perish’. The ulema say you shouldn’t take religion exclusively, the other three are also reasons in how you choose a successful wife (partner) to have a successful and blossoming marriage. They all play a part but religion must govern all of those. It should be the primary reason why you marry a woman or a man.

So there's the point I’m trying to make... the project for us is how do the parents as well as the youth come together on this project in a successful way. Its not like the parents should be the one to decide nor is the youth to decide on their own way, that’s disastrous but its how do we come together as a community in order to create successful marriages.

Ed: Just a quick point on that... if its my life! I’m getting married not you, its not my mum and dad who have to live with my wife, so why do I have to ask my dad 'is it okay if I get married to her?' It’s my choice, it’s my right, my obligation... it doesn’t concern anyone else who I get married to as long as I’m happy, she’s happy... jobs a good un yeah?

Shaykh: So did you give birth to yourself yeah?

Ed: No... what I’m actually saying is.... if I find some attractive, someone who is compatible to myself.... I’m happy, she’s happy then the parents should say: 'if your happy, were happy!'

Shaykh: If you gave birth to yourself its okay, so long as somebody else gave birth that somebody else also has a role to play in that important decision, a very important role.

We have to understand that the bad part of our attitude is an attitude just like we take drugs, just like we take alcohol, just like we're in an illicit relationship. We adopted things which are probably more dangerous than that...that attitude, the understanding of the world. How do we understand our relationship with our parents, how do we understand our relationship with our neighbours, our environment etc.

That's a very individualistic, egotistical attitude. It's an attitude which in Islam is totally anti-ethical too.

So this is about a sort of effort and the most important people in that effort, communal effort, are the parents okay. Because after all they are parents, they are married...they were married long enough to give birth to you and to raise you and to still care enough about you to want to make a decision inside of your life. I think it also can be problematic if you had parents who didn’t care who you married.

You see at one level when a parent is still sort of wants to be involved in who you marry, that is a declaration of love. We may not agree with their choice but we got to understand what is their motivating factor ultimately... these are parents that have a profound love for their children and love for their soon to be grandchildren that’s why they want to be involved inside the process

Ed: In this day and age what advice can you give to young couples on what is the best way to raise kids in an Islamic way... because its quite hard cos of the TV and the environment. When I was young if I spoke to my dad, whatever he said I would just do it but now these youngsters would say Why? Who are you? It’s the attitude of the times were living in. So what's the best way to make sure a youngster is brought up correctly and Islamically?

Shaykh: I mean you have to look at the things that influence human being and the Lord tells us human beings are influenced by three things. He’s influenced by himself and that’s a powerful influence. He’s influenced by his family and his environment. The most powerful of them is the environment, after the environment comes the family and after the family comes the individual.

The objective of Islam is to ensure that the environment as well as the family are congruent with what is dictated by the faith so that the individual is naturally lined with ALLAH (swt).

The Prophet says every newborn is born upon fitra, they are born on the primordial way, an innate attraction and desire to know and worship ALLAH (swt). Its the parents who alter that situation and render him Christian and change the archetype to the messianic way i.e. the deviant way or the Judaic or even Zoroastrian.

So it’s the parents that by extension create a family which is the environment that is going to alter the nature of how our child is. So when we speak about how do we raise Muslim children properly we have to take into account that we have to have Muslim families. Muslim households.

We have to have fathers who pray, mothers who pray, fathers who fast, mothers who fast, fathers who smile and mothers who smile, fathers who have the great lovely attributes of the prophet ... come with compassion and mercy etc. and likewise mothers who also do that.

The household has to be a loving and beautiful household, if you look at the youngsters from the sahara... if you look at Abdullah Ibn Aamr, what family did he come from? Look at Ayesha Siddiqa- youngster- what family she was raised amongst? Look at Anas Ibn Malik, what family was he raised amongst? Abdullah ibn Abbass- what family was he raised amongst?

So... all of the great second generation of the sahaba... you will find they were raised in beautiful households where their parents were beautiful people. So those beautiful attributes were thereby imprinted upon the children and lo and behold when they stepped outside their doors, they found the society.

Likewise that also re-enforced those great divine and lofty principles. So this is the challenge... the challenge is really to create smaller private environments and likewise public environments also that are conducive towards the practising faith.

Ed: Lastly one final question is that every one asks about Imams and mosques. What is the real and true role of the mosque in this day and age because I always say it should be like a community centre, with games, pool tables, weights... where kids enjoy going and also learn the Deen but then I get the fatwas... then I shut up....

Shaykh: The nature of the mosque in the name itself means 'a place of sujood' and where people bow and prostate to Allah (swt) and in Islam we have a broad sense of what bowing and prostrating is unto Allah (swt). As we said the sahahba (ra) can sit in the mosque in a social sense and joke and laugh and they can wrestle inside of the Masjid and they are bowing and prostrating.

They can dance with spear and Aisha (ra) can be on the shoulders of the Prophet and they are bowing and prostrating to Allah (swt). And this was the area of the formal Salah and prayer and we should understand worship in its broadest sense.

The mosques have to relive the Prophetic experience in the sense that the mosque of the prophet did. It embraced all different types of people even non-muslims, killers and criminals and even prisoners of wars and its embracing of them was an act of worship to Allah (swt).

So we need a greater definition of that. One of the problems is that when was it that we last have articles or conferences or meeting on what is the true role of the mosque in British contemporary society. You see its like we're gonna complain about the issue, but do nothing to bring about the solution of the issue, and we perpetuate the problem by not solving it.

Ed: Jazakhallah and thank you for your time and answers. It has been an amazing session and I'm sure our readers will benefit from what you have said

Kinza Academy With Shaykh Hamza Yusuf


Race to Nowhere Screening by Kinza Academy with Hamza Yusuf from nabila hanson on Vimeo.

al-Hayat al-Dunya (The Life of This World)

By Abobakr Mohammed

al-Hayat al-Dunya (The Life of This World) from Abobakr Mohammed on Vimeo.

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Letter by Malcolm X, may Allâh have mercy upon him

A Letter by Malcolm X, may Allâh have mercy upon him
Quoted from The Autobiography of Malcolm X printed by Penguin Classics

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Makkah, I have made my seven circuits around the ka'bah, led by a young religious guide (mutawaf) named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam-Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. as-Safa and al-Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behaviour, and the white from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man - and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their 'differences' in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called 'Christian' white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster - the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities - he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the walls and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth - the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.

Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel more humble and unworthy. Who would believe the blessings that have been heaped upon an American Negro? A few nights ago, a man who would be called in America a white man, a United Nations diplomat, an ambassador, a companion of kings, gave me his hotel suite, his bed. Never would I have even thought of dreaming that I would ever be a recipient of such honors - honors that in America would be bestowed upon a King - not a Negro.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.


Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Poem by Sultan Murad III of Turkey

I like this poem by Sultan Murad III of Turkey (r. 1574-1595). He wrote it one morning after finishing Fajr. It’s become a famous song and apparently he wrote the tune too.


Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.
Azrail’s intention is your soul to take.
Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.

Dawn hears the birds when early they stir and wake,
Hear from their tongues all the sweet praises they make,
Mountains and trees and the stones their worship make,
Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.

See how they open God’s heaven’s gates so wide,
Raining his mercy as the faithful abide;
Robing with high honour those who sleep denied.
Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.

This world is not your home, soon it melts away.
Even were all seven climes under your sway
Throne and dominion and glory pass away
Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.

Here is Murad your slave, all his sins erase!
Forgive my errors and all my burden raise,
Raise me in the shade of Ahmad’s flag of praise.
Wake from your heedlessness O my eyes awake
Long you have slumbered so now my eyes awake.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Timothy Winter: Britain's most influential Muslim - and it was all down to a peach

It was the sight of peach juice dripping from the chin of a teenage French female nudist that led a Cambridgeshire public schoolboy to convert to Islam. Thirty-five years later, Timothy Winter – or Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, as he is known to his colleagues – has been named one of the world's most influential Muslims.

The hitherto unnoticed Mr Winter, who has an office in Cambridge University's Divinity Faculty, where he is the Shaykh Zayed Lecturer of Islamic Studies, has been listed ahead of the presidents of Iran and Egypt, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Mahmoud Abbas. "Strange bedfellows," he concedes.

Tall, bookish, fair-skinned and flaxen-haired, a wiry beard is his only obvious stylistic concession to the Islamic faith.

To the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC), which is based at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Winter is "one of the most well-respected Western theologians" and "his accomplishments place him amongst the most significant Muslims in the world". Winter is also the secretary of the Muslim Academic Trust, director of The Anglo-Muslim Fellowship for Eastern Europe, and director of the Sunna Project, which has published the most respected versions of the major Sunni Hadith collections, the most important texts in Islam after the Qur'an.

He has also written extensively on the origins of suicidal terrorism.

According to the RISSC, the list highlights "leaders and change-agents who have shaped social development and global movements". Winter is included because "[his] work impacts all fields of work and particularly, the religious endeavors of the Muslim world".

In the 500 Most Influential Muslims 2010, Mr Winter is below the King of Saudi Arabia – who comes in at number one – but ahead of many more chronicled figures. He is ranked in an unspecified position between 51st and 60th, considerably higher than the three other British people who make the list – the Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi; the UK's first Muslim life peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, who was briefly jailed last year for dangerous driving; and Dr Anas Al Shaikh Ali, director of the

International Institute of Islamic Thought – making him, at least in the eyes of the RISSC, Britain's most influential Muslim.

"I think that's very unlikely," says Winter, seated in front of his crowded bookshelves. "I'm an academic

observer who descends occcasionally from my ivory tower and visits the real world. If you stop most people in the street they've never heard of me. In terms of saying anything that makes any kind of sense to the average British Muslim I think they have no need of my ideas at all."

The son of an architect and an artist, he attended the elite Westminster School in the 1970s before graduating from Cambridge with a double first in Arabic in 1983. His younger brother is the football correspondent Henry Winter. Tim says: "I was always the clever, successful one. Henry just wanted to play football with his mates. I used to tell him, ‘I'm going to make loads of money, and you'll still be playing football with your mates.' Now he's living in a house with 10 bedrooms and married to a Bond girl." (Brother Henry insists on the telephone later: "She was only in the opening credits. And it's not as many as 10.")

If this seems an improbable background for a leading Muslim academic, his Damascene moment on a Corsican beach is unlikelier still.

"In my teens I was sent off by my parents to a cottage in Corsica on an exchange with a very vigorous French Jewish family with four daughters," Winter recalls. "They turned out to be enthusiastic nudists.

"I remember being on the beach and seeing conjured up before my adolescent eyes every 15-year-old boy's most fervent fantasy. There was a moment when I saw peach juice running off the chin of one of these bathing beauties and I had a moment of realisation: the world is not just the consequence of material forces. Beauty is not something that can be explained away just as an aspect of brain function."

It had quite an effect on him: "That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. It was an unpromising beginning, you might say.

"In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist."

After graduating, Winter studied at the University of al-Azhar in Egypt and worked in Jeddahat before returned to England in the late eighties to study Turkish and Persian. He says he has no difficulty reconciling the world he grew up in with the one he now inhabits. "Despite all the stereotypes of Islam being the paradigmatic opposite to life in the west, the feeling of conversion is not that one has migrated but that one has come home.

"I feel that I more authentically inhabit my old identity now that I operate within Islamic boundaries than I did when I was part of a teenage generation growing up in the 70s who were told there shouldn't be any boundaries."

The challenge, he feels, is much harder now for young Muslims trying to integrate with British life.

"Your average British Asian Muslim on the streets of Bradford or Small Heath in Birmingham is told he has to integrate more fully with the society around him. The society he tends to see around him is extreme spectacles of binge drinking on Saturday nights, scratchcards, and other forms of addiction apparently rampant, credit card debt crushing lives, collapsing relationships and mushrooming proportions of single lives, a drug epidemic. It doesn't look very nice.

"That is why one of the largest issues over the next 50 years is whether these new Muslim communities can be mobilised to deal with those issues. Islam is tailor-made precisely for all those social prolems. It is the ultimate cold turkey. You don't drink at all. You don't sleep around. You don't do scratchcards. Or whether a kind of increasing polarisation, whereby Muslims look at the degenerating society around them and decide ‘You can keep it'."

It is not this, though, that contributes to some young Muslim British men's radicalism, he says, since their numbers are often made up of "the more integrated sections".

"The principle reason, which Whitehall cannot admit, is that people are incensed by foreign policy. Iraq is a smoking ruin in the Iranian orbit. Those who are from a Muslim background are disgusted by the hypocrisy. It was never about WMD. It was about oil, about Israel and evangelical christianity in the White House. That makes people incandescent with anger. What is required first of all is an act of public contrition. Tony Blair must go down on his knees and admit he has been responsible for almost unimaginable human suffering and despair."

He adds: "The West must realise it must stop being the world's police. Why is there no Islamic represenation on the UN Security Council? Why does the so-called Quartet [on the Middle East] not have a Muslim representative? The American GI in his goggles driving his landrover through Kabul pointing his gun at everything that moves, that is the image that enrages people."

Is there a similar antagonistic symbolism in the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero?

"If the mosque represented an invading power they would have every right. Muslims in America are there as legitimate citizens with their green cards, with jobs, trying to get by. They are there in humble mode.

"Would you oppose the construction of Shinto Shrines at Pearl Harbour, of which there a number? How long must the Muslims of lower Manhattan have to wait to get a place to pray five times a day? With Islam there are certain liturgical requirements. It's not like a church that you can build on the top of a hill and say, we've only got to go once a week and it looks nice up there. Muslims need to pray five times a day, they can't get the subway out and back. It should be seen as a symbol of reconciliation not antagonism."

Last year Winter helped set up the Cambridge Muslim College, which offers trained imams a one year diploma in Islamic studies and leadership, designed to help trained imams to better implement their knowledge and training in 21st-century Britain. This year's first graduating class have recently returned from a trip to Rome where they had an open audience with the Pope.

In an increasingly secular Britain, sociologists suggest with regularity that "football is the new religion". Winter understands the comparison. "Football has everything that is important to religion," he says. "Solidarity, skill, ritual, the outward form of what looks like a sacred congregation. Except it's not about anything." Just don't tell his brother.

Converts to Islam

Muhammad Ali

Cassius Clay, widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers, shocked America when he revealed in 1964 that he had converted to the Nation of Islam (becoming a Sunni 11 years later) to discard the name of his ancestors' enslavement.

Yusuf Islam

Born Steven Demetre Georgiou in London, the singer, best known as Cat Stevens, converted to Islam at the height of his fame in 1977. Two years later he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes.

Yvonne Ridley

The British journalist was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September 2001 having crossed the border anonymously in a burqa. After her release 11 days later, she explained that she had promised one of her captors that she would read the Koran and it changed her life. She converted to Islam in the summer of 2003.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Shaykh Yusuf Al Nabahani

The scared hair of the Prophet Peace and Blessing Be Upon Him.

Tabarruk with the Prophet’s hair and nails. There are countless hadiths on this:

Bukhari narrates in his Sahih in the Book of Clothing, under the chapter entitled "What is mentioned about gray hair," that `Usman ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said: "My family sent me to Umm Salama with a cup of water. Umm Salama brought out a silver bottle which contained one of the hairs of the Prophet, and it used to be that if anyone came under the evil eye or ill health they used to send her a cup of water through which she would pass this hair (for drinking). We used to look into the silver bottle: I saw some reddish hairs."

Anas said: "When the Prophet shaved his head (after pilgrimage), Abu Talha was the first one to take of his hair." Bukhari.

Anas also said: "The Prophet threw stones at al-Jamra, then sacrificed, then told the barber to shave his head right side first, then began to give the hair away to the people." Muslim.

He said: "Talha was the one distributing it." Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud.

He also said: "When the Prophet shaved his head in Mina, he gave me the hair from the right side and he said: Anas! take it to Umm Sulaym [his mother]. When the Companions saw what the Prophet gave us, they began to compete to take the hair from the left side, and everyone was getting a share from that." Ahmad narrated it.

Ibn al-Sakan narrated through Safwan ibn Hubayra from the latter’s father: Thabit al-Bunani said: Anas ibn Malik said to me (on his death-bed): "This is one of the hairs of Allah’s Messenger, Allah’s blessings and peace upon him. I want you to place it under my tongue." Thabit continued: I placed it under his tongue, and he was buried with it under his tongue."

Abu Bakr said: "I saw Khalid [ibn Walid] asking for the Prophet’s forelock and he received it. He used to put it over his eyes and then kiss it." It is known that he then placed it in his qalansuwa (head cover around which the turban is tied) and never faced battle again except he won. al-Waqidi (Maghazi), Ibn Hajar (Isaba). Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani relates that Imam Malik said: "Khalid ibn al-Walid owned a qalansiyya which contained some of the Prophet’s hair, and that is the one he wore the day of the battle of Yarmuk.

Ibn Sirin (one of the tabi`in) said: "One hair of the Prophet in my possession is more precious to me than silver and gold and everything that is on the earth and everything that is inside it." Bukhari, Bayhaqi (Sunan kubra), and Ahmad.

In Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 784: `Uthman bin `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said, "My people sent me with a bowl of water to Umm Salama." Isra’il approximated three fingers indicating the small size of the container in which there was some hair of the Prophet. `Uthman added, "If any person suffered from evil eye or some other disease, he would send a vessel (containing water) to Umm Salama (and she would dip the Prophet’s hair into it and it would be drunk). I looked into the container (that held the hair of the Prophet) and saw a few reddish hairs in it."

Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari, Volume 10, page 353, said: "They used to call the silver bottle in which the hair of theProphet was kept jiljalan and that bottle was in the home of Umm Salama." Hafiz al-`Ayni said in `Umdat al-Qari, Volume 18, page 79: "Umm Salama had some of the hairs of the Prophet in a silver bottle. When some people got ill, they would go and obtain blessings from these hairs and they would be healed by means of their blessings. If a person were struck by the evil eye or any sickness, he would send his wife to Umm Salama with a mikhdaba or water-pail, and she would pass the hair through that water and then drink the water and he would be healed, after which they would return the hair to the jiljal."

Imam Ahmad narrates in his Musnad (4:42) from `Abd Allah ibn Zayd ibn `Abd Rabbih with a sound (sahih) chain as stated by Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (3:19) that the Prophet clipped his nails and distributed them among thepeople.

Verily I serve the image of the Sandal of Mustafa.
That I shall live under its shadow in both worlds.
[Sa’d] Ibn Masud was in the service of His Sandal.
And I am fortunate by serving its image.
I dust the Sandal image with the whiteness of my beard.
Since the Prophet SalAllahu Alaihi Wasallam fastened the band that passed between His toes.
It is not for the image that my heart is longing.
Yet it yearns for the one who wore this Sandal.
We are lowered by awe to honour this Sandal.
And whenever we lower before it we are raised.
So place it on the highest shelf!
For indeed in reality it is a crown and only outwardly a Sandal

Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani

The final section as the same link above elaborates on the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam’s Mubarak Sandals, also known as ‘Na’lal-Nabi’ in Arabic, and has a slightly different translation to the Shaykh Yusuf al-Nabhani verse.

And an except from And Muhammad is His Messenger:

(the above Sandal also from this book, from the Dhakhira of the Sharqawa)

The Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam wore a special kind of sandal, the two strings of which were drawn betweenthe blessed toes. These sandals na’l, became likewise an amulet full of baraka, particularly strong against the evil eye. Were they not worthy of all admiration and veneration, for the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam had touched the Divine Throne with them during his heavenly journey, so that they became "the vertex of the crown of the Throne" (other poetic references in the notes include: ‘Your sandals are the crown of the Throne’s seat’, and ‘The Divine Throne gained honour from kissing his sandals.’ SubhanAllah!)

Our master Hazrat Abdur Rahman Jami for example further writes that all heavenly beings rubbed "forhead of their intention" on RasulAllah’s SallAllahu alaihi wasallam "Throne rubbing Sandals" He also writes that the heavenly tree ‘Tuba’ had rubbed its head at the Prophet’s SallAllahu alaihi wasallam sandal and thus reached highest honour, and he repeatedily expresses the feeling that ‘the thread of the soul is nothing but the string of RasulAllah’s SallAllahu alaihi wasallam sandals and that cheek of the longing lover resembles the fine Ta’ifi leather of which these sandals were made: do the lover’s cheeks not hope to be touched by the Prophet’s holy feet thus to obtain every conceivable bliss.

The poets, many of them from North Africa and Spain, described these blessed sandals or expressed their longing for them. Thus an Andalusian poetess, Sa’duna Umm Sa’d bint Isam al Himyarriya begins one of her poems with thewords;

I shall kiss the image if I do not find

A way to kiss the Prophet’s sandal.

Perhaps the good fortune of kissing it

Will be granted to me in Paradise in the most radiant place,

And I rub my heart on it so that perhaps

The burning thirst which rages in it maybe quenched.

The following illustrations are from Imam Ahmad al-Maqarri al-Tilimsani’s book “Fat’h al Muta’al fi madh al Ni’al” deatiling the Radiant Sandal of the Prophet SallAllahu alaihi wasallam, briefly referred to here. Insha’Allah I intend to post more from this book in the future, currently awaiting some translations from the Arabic as ths book is rich in prose, poetry and diagrams. I have included these to show how the shape varies and so that you can print these outlines and decorate them. A family beautiful exercise!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Friday, 25 June 2010

Part 2 Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Imam Al Ghazali

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on Hujjatul Islam Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali,

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf discusses in an interview the greatness of hujjatul islam imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, his emphasis on the importance of internal aswell as external reformation of a beleiver. Very important to learn in an age of self indulgence, as shaykh explains.

This interview was conducted following the completion of 'alchemist of happiness' a documentry about Imam Abu Hamid Al Ghazali

The Sunnah and Health

By Shaykh Hamza Hanson

“We raised them up from their sleep so that they might question one another. A speaker from among them said, ‘How long have you tarried?’ They said, ‘We have tarried a day or part of a day.’ Another said, ‘Your Lord best knoweth what you have tarried.’ Now send one of you with this sliver coin into the city, and let him see (yanzuru) what food (ta’aama) is purest (azkaa) and bring you nourishment (rizq) from it. And let him be courteous in order not to inform others about his presence” (Qur’an 18:19).

Food is the foundation of our material existence. During our life in the womb we were sustained materially by our mother’s nourishment through the umbilicus. We left the wombs and the umbilicus was severed to begin another stage of nourishment, the breast. Upon being weaned, we began to eat foods of various textures and tastes, acquiring lifelong preferences during this stage, some good, and others bad.There is a relationship between food and language that is quite revealing. Our metaphors are often derived from our necessary relationship with food. We talk about sweet talk and bitter words, being hungry for love and thirsty for knowledge, of the “milk of human kindness” and “one man’s meat being another’s poison.” When speaking of the need for change, we say things like, “I need to wean myself from this,” or “I’m going to abstain from vain talk.”All of our metaphors that relate to food and drink, hunger and satiety, indicate the central role that food plays in our lives and how profound its experience is to us.

Few people think of the relationship that food has to their health. Before we speak about food, let us ask the question “what is health?” Most people believe that health is an overall state of well-being, the absence of pain, and the relative vitality of the body. A physician will give a person a “clean bill of health,” with almost no understanding of the overall state of the person as a spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical being. Each of these dimensions has a healthy status and an unhealthy one. For most people, spiritual health is given almost no consideration. If one goes to Church every Sunday, or the Synagogue on Saturday or the Mosque on Friday, given the respective faith, he or she may consider themselves spiritually well. Little attention is paid to the spiritual heart’s diseases such as greed, covetousness, pride, envy, vanity, arrogance and anxiety. All of these are symptoms of pronounced spiritual disease. When mental health is considered, people tend to focus on emotional health and not intellectual health. However, can we call a man who spends his days developing more sophisticated ways of killing people for the government, healthy? If a man develops napalm with his intellectual gifts and finds out that Vietcong villagers are building lakes so that when the napalm is dropped and their skin begins to burn from the assault they can flee to the lake and submerge themselves in the water thus preventing serious burns, which causes that same man to enhance his napalm by making it insoluble in water so that people can no longer find relief from the pain by immersing themselves in water. Is that man healthy intellectually? When people consider their emotional states they rarely see subtleties in their overall emotional health. If they are not depressed or grief-stricken and their overall mood is balanced they feel emotionally healthy. They might be surprised at the idea of lack of concern for others less fortunate than they are being an emotional disease resulting from a lack of compassion; or that excessive love of money, not greed but actual emotional attachment to one’s wealth, whereby if the stock market goes down, I have an emotional downturn also, is a sign of serious emotional disease.

People often believe that because they are fine at a given moment they think that they are generally well. But we must realize that when disease is dormant, and the right circumstances can cause a flare-up, one is still considered suffering from a disease, chronic and dormant perhaps, but still disease.

There are those also who believe their bodies are physically well in the absence of pain and yet hypertension, which is often undetectable without medical tests, is one of the major causes of midlife mortality in America. What then is health? When is a person healthy?

The Latin word for health is Sanitas, which is where we get our word sanity, i.e. well-being of the mind. The Romans had a phrase sans mensus; sans corpus: a healthy mind in a healthy body. The Arabs call health sihhat from a root meaning “to be sound or strong, a sahih hadith is a healthy hadith that has no ‘ilal or diseases, as is known from the Islamic science of prophetic traditions. A “healthy” hadith had to have five qualities before it was determined to be sound by the doctors of the hadith science. If any were lacking then the hadith was determined to be “sick.” Depending upon the number of criteria missing, the hadith was: very weak, weak, or in “good health” but not excellent. If we look to the human, what criteria would we use to determine the health of that person?

In Islam, health is actually not seen to be of the body, but rather the state of the heart. There is a hadith in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “There is a lump of flesh in the body, if it is sound the whole body is sound. Is it indeed the heart.” He was not talking primarily of the physical body or the physical heart but of the spiritual body and the spiritual heart. A man can be suffering from a terrible disease and considered to be in excellent health in Islam, while another can be in perfect bodily health but determined to be sick according to the Qur’an. In fact, a hallmark of hypocrites is the excellent appearance of their bodies, “Their outward forms are pleasing to you.” But the Qur’an says of them, “In their hearts is a disease.” True health is the state of one’s heart with God. The heart is healthy when it is filled with trust, love, charity, compassion, lack of material desire, patience, hope, awe of God, and most importantly, gratitude.

It is diseased when filled with suspicion, envy, hatred, anger, pride, anxiety, hopelessness, and ingratitude. But the health of the body is also important and Islam prohibits its neglect for many reasons, the least of which is one does not function well in the world when handicapped by ill health.

What is the role of food in our basic well-being, in the state of the spirit, intellect, emotions and body? Is food only related to the state of ones body and is there a connection between the body and the other integral elements of man? There has been a concern about food from the very early period of Islam. Al-Qushayri in his Risalah says that the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were more concerned about their food than about the night prayer (qiyaamul-layl). The reason being, because if they were eating food that was not good or lawful, there wouldn’t be any night prayer! One of the early generations (salaf) said, “I heard a word of backbiting and as a result of it I was denied the night prayer (tahajjud) for 40 days.”

In relation to food, whenever the Qur’an mentions the word halal, which indicates what is permissible, it mentions tayyib, which means pure, immediately after it. What is meant by permissible and pure is that the food is not simply good to eat but it is a morally sound food, its source was ethically sound. It also has the meaning in the Arabic language of “lawful”, “pure,” “esteemed.” A person who is cheery and of good disposition is called Tayyib. Something that is pure and innocent is also Tayyib. The Prophet’s son, peace be upon them, was known as both Tayyib and Tahir, both meaning pure. Thus, the Qur’an commands us to eat “pure and permissible food.”

Until recently, the majority of food was pure at its most primary level by nature because there was very little that people could do to food to contaminate it. With the resources available today, people change the chemical structures of food, and the study of Dietary Science is a burgeoning field of increasingly serious implications concerning the health of our planet.


warns us not to change His creation but to leave it in its natural state. That’s what fitra means. There is a beautiful hadith in Sahih Muslim in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by a group of people who were pollinating and he thought it was a strange, unnatural practice. The Ansar stopped doing it after the Prophet questioned it and they had a bad crop that year. So they complained to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said that they knew better about their worldly matters than he did, for his remark about the pollination, was not based on revelation and was never meant to be. While it was not wahy, his comment is indicative of how he viewed the world, peace and blessings be upon him.

We are all electro-magnetic resonances at the most basic level. We are vibrating at a certain resonance. Food has a resonance and when you eat it, it either nourishes or harms, although the food itself is neutral. If you eat in its right proportions, and if you eat good food, then it is going to be beneficial to the body. The opposite is also true. The worst thing you can do is to completely fill the body with food. In a sahih hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The worst vessel that the son of Adam can fill is his stomach.” And he also said: “It is enough for the son of Adam to have just morsels (of food) to keep his back upright. But if you have to eat more than that [and everybody thinks this is part of the Sunnah] then one third for food, one third for water, and one third for air.”

The Sunnah is to consume enough morsels to keep our backs straight, while filling one third of the stomach with food, one third air and one third with water, is the dispensation (rukhsa) given to us by the Prophet (peace be upon him). At the same time, we know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not encourage asceticism and he did not like going to extremes.

Imam Busayri said, in this regard, “it may be that too little food is worse than too much food.” This is because the nature of the nafs is such that the excessive extreme is safer than the deficient extreme. A diabetic is not in danger when his sugar levels get high, but he is when it falls precipitously low. An overeater can go on for a long time but someone who under eats can eat into serious health problems very quickly. So Imam Busayri is saying that those of excessive zuhd (doing-without) are worse than people who are indulgent, because the former can end up killing themselves.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) never liked pointing out people’s mistakes publicly but there are a few examples when he did. There is a very interesting hadith where the Prophet said to a man with a large stomach: “Had this been on somebody else it would have been better for you.” Meaning that the food you are wasting by overeating would be better if someone else was eating it.

In the Kitab Al-Raqaa’iq of Ibn Mubarak, Sayyiduna ‘Umar sees Yazid making tawaf around the Ka’bah and his stomach was coming out over his loin cloth (izaar), so he took his stick and lifted his devotional cover (ihram) saying: “Is this the stomach of a little kafir?” ‘Umar was making a reference to the well-known sahih hadith, which says that the kafir eats from seven intestines and the believer eats from one. The circumstance of the hadith is that a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to learn about Islam, so the Companions brought him some milk and he drank seven bowls. The next day he came and took shahadah and the Prophet offered him milk again and this time he only drank one bowl. The Prophet (peace be upon him) then asked him if he wanted more and he said that he was now full. The meaning of this is that the kafir’s appetite for the dunya is more than the true mu’min.

Food is our essential connection with the world. One of the early pious Muslims said that he would prefer to stop eating before he became satiated so that he would be able to perform the night prayer.

When Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari went to Mecca to find out about the Prophet and his message, he stayed at the sanctuary of the Ka’bah for one month and he used to only drink the water of zamzam, and he said that he gained weight in that month.

If you look at the diet of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Shama’il of Imam At-Tirmidhi, it says that he used to eat barley (sha’eer), which has proven to be the most nutritious of all the grains. He also used to eat dates. However, they did not drink cow’s milk, but rather goat, sheep, and camel’s milk. They also made a type of yogurt, as well as butter (zubda), from it. He liked pumpkin, cucumber, grapes, which came from Ta’if, and he also liked melons. The Arabs would also bring dried fruits from
Syria such as apricots, but they were expensive and thus only affordable for the well-to-do.


Meat was rarely eaten in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In the language of the age we now live in, the Companions would be considered semi-vegetarian. In those days you had to personally sacrifice an animal before you had meat and so meat was usually only eaten when people were invited somewhere as guests. Meat is a ‘na’eem’ or a “luxury” food. The Arabs call somebody who loves meat or is carnivorous a ‘qarim.’ Once ‘Umar saw a man buying meat everyday in the market and asked him why. He replied that he was So ‘Umar told him that he was afraid that he would become like those who lose all of their good deeds in this world by taking too much na’eem from the dunya. ‘Umar, during his khilafah, prohibited the eating of meat everyday. This is permissible for the Khalifah to do because it is only mubah (permissible) to eat meat everyday.

With this said, it is mentioned that al-Hasan Al-Basri, in his time, used to eat a small amount of meat everyday. But no one has considered this to affect his status as a zahid (one who does without the excesses of dunya).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Meat is the master of food.” It is like the aristocrat of food. Imam Malik has a chapter called Bab Al-Lahm (The Chapter about Meat) in his collection of hadith entitled the Muwatta. The following are two hadith from this chapter and they are both warnings about eating meat:

1. “Beware of meat because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.”

To this day, in some parts of
Yemen, they call meat “khamr al-mu’mineen” (the wine of the believers). People who eat meat constantly must have meat in their food because they get addicted to its taste or flavor. In many places in the Muslim world, meat was not readily available, and for most, extremely expensive. Do to its cost, most Muslims rarely ate meat and one of the benefits of the Feast of the Sacrifice after Hajj is that poor people get to eat meat for a day.

Another aspect that has changed is refrigeration. In the past, people ate meat that was freshly slaughtered and thus the decomposition was minimal. Now, meat is kept for days, weeks, and even months. Meat consumption is much higher today than it was in the past. Also there is a danger in the unnatural growth hormones and estrogen [a female hormone] used in modern meat production as well as in the dairy industry. Immigrant parents who are of average height are now finding that their children are much taller than them or anyone in their families. Many think it is a good thing and attribute their children’s size to the “good food” they are eating (as if they didn’t get good food back where they came from).

Wherever American beef has gone there has been an increase in the size of the people. This has happened in
Japan and in Asian countries such as the Philippines. The average height of an average person is five feet, eight inches. In the Muslim world that’s the average height. If you are six feet and you go on Hajj you will tower over everyone else.

The other hadith in the Muwatta is:

2. ‘Umar used to see someone who buys meat all the time, so he said: “It would be better if you tucked your stomach in a little bit and let other people eat.”
This is a very profound insight from the Second Caliph, ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. Starvation is very real and one of the tragedies of modern food shortages is directly related to meat production in general and cattle consumption in particular. It takes several pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat and reducing one’s meat consumption is in fact a political act that, if done on large scales, would have excellent benefits for both the environment and the less fortunate.

In the Muslim world today, lamb, rather than beef, is the dominant meat eaten. Lamb was the traditional meat eaten by the Prophet (peace be upon him), although he did sacrifice a cow on the Hajj, which was for his women folk. There is a sahih hadith that says: “The meat of the cow is a disease and its milk is a cure.” Today we are seeing evidence that cow’s meat is the number one reason for cardio-vascular disease. Saturated fats found in animals are the main cause for one’s arteries becoming sclerotic, which leads to strokes and heart attacks. We see that bypass operations are very common for people who have a habit of eating a lot of cow meat. It is tragic because if people would just follow the Sunnah, they would rarely need such common and preventable operations. Allah says, “Eat and drink but not to excess, Allah does not love those who are excessive.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best of my Ummah are my generation, then the second generation, then the third generation, then they start getting plump.”

In most cases, it is our own appetite (nafs) that leads to heart conditions and we should really only blame ourselves. The body is designed to live over 120 years. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the ages of his Ummah would be between 60–70 years. The Prophet passed away when he was 63 and it is said that his stomach was completely flat, that he had only 17 grey hairs in his beard and that he had the strength of 40 men.

The body has rights over us. The right of the body is that it has to be fed properly and it has to be given exercise and rest. The great Imam Al-Ghazali said that the maximum amount of sleep that the body must be given is eight hours. Sleep is nourishment; it is food for the ruh (spirit).


Protein, carbohydrates, and lipids feed the body, while the ruh is fed by the remembrance of Allah (dhikr) and sleep (nawm). Another thing that is notable is that the more dhikr you do the less sleep you need.

If you sleep before
midnight (meaning halfway between Maghrib and Fajr), after ‘Isha, then that sleep is worth up to twice as much as the sleep that occurs after midnight. The Sunnah of the Prophet is to go to bed right after ‘Isha, and sleeping after Fajr, before sunrise (shuruq), is considered negative sleep. So, if you slept for two hours it is as if you were deprived of two hours of sleep. It is negative sleep. If you sleep before Zuhr or before ‘Asr, then that is positive sleep and it is worth twice in terms of the rejuvenation of the body. According to Imam As-Suyuti in Tibb An-Nabawi, “Whoever sleeps after ‘Asr and wakes up mad let him blame only himself.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to sleep after Zuhr and he said: “Take an afternoon sleep (qaylula) because Shaitan does not take one.” This practice helps you get up at night for the night prayer (tahajjud). When you take the afternoon rest it literally brings you back to the freshness of the morning. It is like starting the day all over again.

Sickness is not a bad thing because it is a form of taharah for the members of this great Ummah; it is purification. You get sick when your immune system deteriorates. This happens when you don’t give the body its right. You should not consume too much sugar because it will compromise your immune system. Drinking all these sugared drinks is bad for your health.

The Prophet did not drink with meals. If you drink a sugared liquid with a meal then it creates a type of fermentation inside your stomach, especially if you’ve eaten carbohydrates and meat.

By drinking a cold fluid you weaken the digestion and put out its “fire.” It is better to drink a warm fluid after your meals.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us how to eat, sleep, and worship. He reminded us that our bodies have a right over us. Only recently have scientists discovered that one’s health in later years is enhanced by a lifelong commitment to certain basic principles including moderation in food, drink, rest, and exercise. Western scientists have also clearly found that people who are in healthy marriages and practice prayer on a regular basis have longer and healthier lives. Islam provides immense guidance in the area of health and hygiene and this is an area sorely neglected among many Muslims today. We should all commit to healthier lifestyles including changing our diets to be more consistent with our beliefs and closer to our beloved Prophet’s practice.