Posted by: ali | March 29, 2010

Some words of motivation

Life is full of trials and tribulations.  The economy is not in great shape, work is never easy, and school is always tough.  In such times people often get caught up in things and forget about the big picture

2:155 – 2:156

And most certainly shall We try you by means* of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labour’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity – who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.”

*lit. “with something”

Being a student, I can relate; as the semester comes to a close students stress like crazy about exams, papers and finals.  But again, we must never forget who to turn to in times of difficulty.

2:152

so remember Me, and I shall remember you; and be grateful unto Me, and deny Me not

Posted by: ali | January 30, 2009

I’m back

Ever since I started school at a university, there just hasn’t been enough time to blog unfortunately.  I have a few drafts from 6+ months ago that I will post as they come, I just posted one on Tarawih, which I wrote in June 2008, so there may be some spelling errors.

Posted by: ali | January 30, 2009

Tarawih

Throughout my life I have noticed that during Ramadan the attendences in the masjid increase, which is undoubtibly a good thing. But I also noticed that it was mostly during ‘Isha prayer time, perhaps to pray Tarawih. I remember being part of the minority that left after 8 rakats, most people stayed for the full time. There were many things I found peculiar about how we prayed Tarawih. It seemed we could only leave after 8 rakats, otherwise we would have to stay until the end. But after each ‘As-salamu-alaikum-wa-rahmatullah’ a prayer is over, so why couldn’t I leave after 2 rakats? or 4 rakats? I found out later that I could. Furthermore, I found out that actually, tarawih in its present form did not occur during the time of the propeht (s)

Here is an article that provides sufficient evidence regarding the issue.  I am not saying to stop praying tarawhih, but to explain that it is not the way we think it is.

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Why do the Shi’ah avoid Tarawih congregations?

17:79 And rise from thy sleep and pray during part of the night [as well], as a free offering from thee, and thy Sustainer may well raise thee to a glorious station [in the life to come].

Prophet Muhammad (s) said regarding the month of Ramadan:

“Whoever establishes the night prayer (Qiyam al-Layl) in it out of sincere Faith and hope for reward from Allah, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 3, book 32, number 226]

Why do the Shi’ah avoid Tarawih congregations?

The Ahl al-Sunnah generally consider it a sunnah to offer specific evening prayers – the Tarawih – in congregation during the holy month of Ramadan. The Shi’ah, while being commended to offer similar nawafil (recommended prayers), are not allowed to offer them in congregation. This practice of the Shi’ah is in accordance with the orders and sunnah of the Prophet (s).

Brothers and sisters from the Ahl al-Sunnah come together in Tarawih congregations during the early evenings of the month of Ramadan. They stand in prayer and recite the Qur’an, and may Allah (swt) reward them for their sincere intentions and actions. However, the word Tarawih was never mentioned by the Qur’an or the Prophet (s) to describe these extra congregational prayers during the evenings of the month of Ramadan. It is a term developed later amongst Muslims. Linguistically, the word “Tarawih” is the plural of the word ‘tarwiha’ referring to the short period of rest between every four units of the prayer. Later, the entire congregational prayers in the nights of Ramadan were called by this term.

Origins of Tarawih as a Congregational Prayer

It is a well-established fact that the Tarawih, as a congregational night prayer of Ramadan, owes its existence to the order of the second caliph, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab.

q Narrated Abu Hurayra: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, “When Allah’s Apostle died, the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as such during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of ‘Umar’s Caliphate.” ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Abdul Qari said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups – a man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. Then, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (reciter) [i.e. let them pray in congregation!]’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubayy bin Ka’b. Then, on another night, I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent bid’a (innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but rather sleep at its time, is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 3, book 32, number 227]

q “It was called bid’ah because the Prophet (s) did not use to pray it in congregation, and neither was it prayed like that in the time of al-Siddiq (referring to the first Caliph), nor in the early part of night or with these number of units.”

[al-Qastallani, Irshad al-Sari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 5, page 4]

[al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, volume 6, page 287]

q “‘Umar was the first who set the example of the night prayer of Ramadan, the Tarawih, and gathered people for it, and instructed different regions regarding it. This was during the month of Ramadhan of the year 14 (hijri). He appointed for the people reciters of the Qur’an who led the Tarawih prayer for men and women.”

[Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat, volume 3, page 281]

[al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa’, page 137]

[al-‘Ayni, ‘Umdat al-Qari fi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 6, page 125]

Congregation in Mosque or Individually at Home?

Offering the optional prayers individually inside the home and away from congregation in mosque is highly recommended by the Prophet (s) as it brings more blessings for the home and family and helps in the Islamic upbringing of children.

q The Prophet (s) said: “O people! Perform your prayers at your homes, for the best prayer of a person is what he performs at his home, except the compulsory (congregational) prayer.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 9, book 92, number 393]

[al-Nasa’i, Sunan, volume 3, p. 161, p. 198]

q Once Abdullah bin Mas’ud asked the Prophet (s): “Which is better; to pray in my house or in the mosque?” The Prophet (s) replied: “Do you not see how near to the mosque my house is? To pray in my house is more beloved to me than to pray in the mosque except for the obligatory prayers.”

[Ibn Majah, Sunan, volume 1, page 439, number 1378]

q Narrated Zayd bin Thabit: Allah’s Apostle (s) made a small room (with a palm leaf mat). He (s) came out (of his house) and prayed in it. Some men came and joined him in his prayer. Then again the next night they came for the prayer, but the Prophet (s) delayed and did not come out to them. So they raised their voices and knocked the door with small stones (to draw his attention). He came out to them in a state of anger, saying, “You are still insisting (on your deed) that I fear this prayer might become obligatory on you. So, O you people! offer this prayer at your homes, for the best prayer of a person is the one which he offers at home, except the compulsory (congregational) prayer.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari, volume 8, book 73, number 134]

Didn’t the Shi’ah Imams Pray Tarawih ?

Imam al-Baqir (‘a) and Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) were asked about the permissibility of praying optional prayers in congregation during the nights of Ramadan. They both narrated a tradition of the Prophet (s) where he said:

q “Verily, the offering of nafila (recommended prayers) in congregation during the nights of Ramadan is an innovation… O people! do not say nafila prayers of Ramadan in congregation…. Without doubt, performing a minor act of worship which is according to the sunna is better than performing a major act of worship which is an innovation.”

[al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, volume 8, page 45]

This view of the Imams from the Prophet’s progeny is confirmed by a scholar well-known amongst the Ahl al-Sunnah who writes:

q “The progeny of the Prophet (s) say that congregation in Tarawih is an innovation”.

[al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar, volume 3, page 50]

What do Sunni scholars say about praying Tarawih at home ?

q “The scholars agree on its merit, but they differ on whether it is better to pray it in one’s home individually or in congregation in a mosque.” Al-Nawawi, the famous commentator of Sahih Muslim, then goes on to list scholars who support the second and dominant view. He then writes: “Malik, Abu Yusuf, some Shafi’i scholars, and others say that it is better to pray it individually in the home”.

[al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, volume 6, page 286]

Conclusion

The Shi’ah always aspire to pray the night prayer – called the Tahajjud or Qiyam al-Layl or Salat al-Layl – in the last part of the nights of every month, particularly during Ramadan. They are also commended to offer additional nawafil prayers during the nights of Ramadan. However, they offer these optional prayers mostly in their homes and never in congregation. By doing so they abide by the Qur’an and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s).

Posted by: ali | April 13, 2008

Thanks!

Salam,

I would like to convey my thanks to all who have commented on my blog so far! I humbly request you to please spread my link around the internet. Thanks once again, and I look forward to your comments!

Posted by: ali | April 11, 2008

Hijab

This topic always goes well with people (note the sarcasm). I brought this up at my school MSA when the president gave her speech on gender roles in Islam, and of course, the headscarf (hijab) came up. I stated that in my view, the headscarf is not required in Islam, and that the Qur’an commands Muslims to dress modestly. Furthermore, I mention that modesty is relative to the time and place that you are living in.

For example, here in the United States, there was a time when men would wait on street corners and watch the women as they stepped over the curb, so they could catch a glimpse of their ankles. At that time women could not wear pants, or knee length skirts, all had to be ankle length. This is obviously not the case now, but it illustrates the point that modesty changes over time. Similarly, if my family goes to Saudi Arabia, the women would probably wear headscarves due to the culture/social norms of the country. Well they still didn’t listen, stating that it is in the Qur’an.

Well it actually isn’t. The Qur’an simply tells woman not to display their beauty beyond what is socially acceptable.

They then say that there are hadiths about the issue.

Wrong again, no authentic hadith mentions the Prophet (s) telling women to wear a headscarf.

They respond again, stating that scholars say such and such. Personally, I go directly to the sources of knowledge in our religion: the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah. And all that I have stated above is in the Qur’an, and the Qur’an is infinitely more reputable than any scholar or even hadith.

So take a look for yourself:

All Qur’anic verses in this post are from the MUHAMMAD ASAD translation of the Holy Qur’an

24:31

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof; [37] hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms. [38] And let them not display [more of] their charms to any but their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ Sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or those whom they rightfully possess, or such male attendants as are beyond all sexual desire, [39] or children that are as yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing their legs [in walking] so as to draw attention to their hidden charms [40] And [always], O you believers – all of you – turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state! [41]

Now before looking at the tafsir/commentary, we see the phrase:

“…and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof…”

Indicating that a woman should not display her beauty except that which may be decently shown.

This is further clarified in the tafsir/commentary

Note 37 (Quran Ref: 24:31 )

My interpolation of the word “decently” reflects the interpretation of the phrase illa ma zahara minha by several of the earliest Islamic scholars, and particularly by Al-Qiffal (quoted by Razi) as “that which a human being may openly show in accordance with prevailing custom (al-adah al-jariyah)”. Although the traditional exponents of Islamic Law have for centuries been inclined to restrict the definition of “what may [decently] be apparent” to a woman’s face,hands and feet – and sometimes even less than that – we may safely assume that the meaning off illa ma zahara minha is much wider, and that the deliberate vagueness of this phrase is meant to allow for all the time-bound changes that are necessary for man’s moral and social growth. The pivotal clause in the above injunction is the demand, addressed in identical terms to men as well as to women, to “lower their gaze and be mindful of their chastity”: and this determines the extent of what, at any given time, may legitimately – i.e., in consonance with the Quranic principles of social morality – be considered “decent” or “indecent” in a person’s outward appearance.(Quran Ref: 24:31 )

Note the segments “that which a human being may openly show in accordance with prevailing custom (al-adah al-jariyah)” and “we may safely assume that the meaning off illa ma zahara minha is much wider, and that the deliberate vagueness of this phrase is meant to allow for all the time-bound changes that are necessary for man’s moral and social growth”, as well as the source being a number of very early Islamic scholars. So this is not some crazy new idea.

Note 38 (Quran Ref: 24:31 )

The noun khimar (of which khumur is the plural) denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam. According to most of the classical commentators, it was worn in pre-Islamic times more or less as all ornament and was let down loosely over the wearer’s back; and since, in accordance with the fashion prevalent at the time, the upper part of a woman’s tunic had a wide opening in the front, her breasts cleavage were left bare. Hence, the injunction to cover the bosom by means of a khimar, (a term so familiar to the contemporaries of the Prophet) does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such but is, rather, meant to make it clear that a woman’s breasts are not included in the concept of “what may decently be apparent” of her body and should not, therefore, be displayed.(Quran Ref: 24:31 )

Note the segments “The noun khimar (of which khumur is the plural) denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam”, and “does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such”

Upon reading it, I personally think it is pretty clear: social norms of one time (headscarf at the time of the Prophet (s)) ≠ rules for other/all time.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not by any means look down on those who wear the scarf, I simply see it as a different point of view.

Posted by: ali | April 11, 2008

“bidah” – real life examples

Funny that this came up today, considering I just wrote about the loose use of bidah less than 24 hours ago.

Quick review: Bidah is anything new that is added to Islam regarding religion.

So I went to the mosque today for Juma’ prayer, and for once I was actually there before the Khutbah started. The khatib came and started his khutbah, speaking about hadith and fiqh and mny other things.

But then he says

“Did you all know that there are many hadith within Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that came from Ahl Bidah?”

‘Ahl Bidah?’ I think to myself, who could be this ‘Ahl Bidah’ he is referring to? Especially considering how early in Islamic history these events occurred…

He continues

“So who is this ‘Ahl Bidah?'”

Pause

“The Shi’a and the Khawwarij”

I sit there in shock and disappointment. How can a khatib say such a thing on Juma’ prayer? Did he think before he spoke? What if there were Shi’a brothers and sisters there in the mosque?

I personally do not know much about the Khawwarij, but I will do some research before I comment on that part of the statement.

He then elaborates that a Shi’a is someone who believes that Ali (r) was supposed to be the first Khalifah of Islam as opposed to Abu Bakr (r). At least he got that part right.

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So let’s do some anaylsis:

Ahl Bidah: ‘People of Bidah’

Shi’a: A group of Muslims who believe that Ali (r) was supposed to be the first Khalifah after the Prophet’s (s) death.

Taking a side on a political issue such as rightful succession is obviously not bidah, since this is not a matter of religion. Our religion is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, both of which are completed with the death of the Prophet (s). So believing that Ali (r) was a rightful successor as opposed to Abu Bakr (r) is in no way a religious matter, and hence cannot be bidah.

I would have said something, but considering that the khatib even said such at thing in his khutbah indicates that I would have made no progress. But here is a perfect example of how the term ‘bidah’ can be used the wrong context.

Posted by: ali | April 11, 2008

“bidah”

This is my first entry, and considering the time of day during which I am writing this, I will keep it short and sweet.

Upon becoming vice president of the school MSA, I gained access to the MSA’s email account and recieved numerous messages from people stating that our MSA was ‘bidah’ due to it being a co-ed gathering of students with no partition (which I will also discuss later).

So we shall look at the definition of ‘bidah’

‘Bidah’ is defind as ‘innovation’, which is defind on dictionary.com as “something new or different introduced“. In the Islamic sense, this would be introducing something new to the religion which was not part of it before, especially in worship. Examples would be pretty much anything that the Prophet Muhammad (S) did not do in the form of worship. We can’t perform three sajdas (prostration) during a prayer thinking we will get more rewards, for this would be introducting something new to the religion, and hence would be bidah.

So when someone claims that our MSA is ‘bidah’, how accurate is that, considering that we are simply a group of people discussing things, and it is not something new added to the religion regarding worship.

I am not writing this only regarding the emails, but the fact of the matter is, many Muslims nowadays use the term ‘bidah’ so loosely, without thinking about what they are actually saying. It’s actually more of an insult to the speaker since they don’t know what they are talking about; but to all of us, there is a simple definition to remember: bidah is anything new added to the religion regarding worship. Simple as that.

Posted by: ali | April 3, 2008

Hello world!

Finally got this thing to work. My first post should be up in a few hours hopefully.

After numerous arguments on various discussion boards, I decided to make my own blog page; now I can post all my views on various issues without having to go back to email drafts that I use for copy+paste.

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