Sunday, 29 July 2018

Where is Islam?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

وعلى آله واهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين


The variation in how Islam is understood and practiced based on the geographic expanse of the worldwide Muslim umma leads one to ask where exactly can a more authentic and pure Islam be found. It is natural to expect that a religion is strongest and most dynamic in the place it originally appeared. The region of Hijaz, where the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina are located, is naturally considered the nerve center of our religion by virtue of it being the homeland of the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and the place where Islam was initially established. Thousands of students from across the world enroll and study at the Islamic University of Medina, and after completing their studies return to their respective homelands to disseminate among their local communities the Salafi persuasion. The Salafis often point to the fact that their understanding and practice of Islam being firmly established in the Hijaz, especially in its mosques, and the fact that their senior Ulama are based in the Hijaz, as one of the proofs that their particular approach to Islam is the most authentic and faithful to the original. Some of them point to the tradition:
إِنَّ الدِّينَ لَيَأْرِزُ إِلَى الْحِجَازِ كَمَا تَأْرِزُ الْحَيَّةُ إِلَى جُحْرِهَا وَلَيَعْقِلَنَّ الدِّينُ مِنَ الْحِجَازِ مَعْقِلَ الأُرْوِيَّةِ مِنْ رَأْسِ الْجَبَلِ إِنَّ الدِّينَ بَدَأَ غَرِيبًا وَيَرْجِعُ غَرِيبًا فَطُوبَى لِلْغُرَبَاءِ الَّذِينَ يُصْلِحُونَ مَا أَفْسَدَ النَّاسُ مِنْ بَعْدِي مِنْ سُنَّتِي
“Indeed the religion will creep into the Hijaz just like a snake creeps into its hole, and the religion will cling to the Hijaz just like the female mountain goat cling to the peak of a mountain. Indeed the religion began as something strange and it will return to being strange. So Tuba is for the strangers who correct what the people have corrupted from my Sunna after me.” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #2630)
But this Hadith is extremely weak due to the narrator Kathir bin Abdillah, decidedly a liar and fabricator. Other, authentic traditions extoll the virtues of Yemen, the Holy Land (Sham/Levant) and the people of Persia, as being blessed with having a firm grasp of the Faith. However, with regard to Sham, the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) did say:
إِذَا فَسَدَ أَهْلُ الشَّامِ فَلاَ خَيْرَ فِيكُمْ
“When the people of Sham become corrupt then there is no good in it for you.” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #2192)
This corruption of Sham, particularly modern-day Syria, which is the greater part of Sham, is especially evident now as a brutal civil war winds down and the Baathist, fascist and secularist government has displaced its traditionalist Sunni Muslim population. Indeed, one can argue that Sham was corrupted fairly early on in the history of Islam, going back to the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty. Just as Damascus was the seat of the vile Yazid son of Mu’awiya, today it is the seat of the fascist, Baathist regime of Assad. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said that the Messiah shall descend to the east of Damascus, near the White Minaret, for it is the flashpoint of the conflict between the forces of good and evil at present. As for the Hijaz, while it remains dynamic in the sense that the pilgrimages continue to be performed with great vigor, at present there is no great, charismatic religious leader who can be said to be based there. Instead, the Salafi Ulama of the Hijaz are under the firm control of the central Saudi state, which has now embarked on a new programme of liberal reform, including the opening of cinemas and beaches in that sacred land.

1 comment:

  1. Although the Hadith reported by Imam al-Tirmidhi about the Religion clinging to the Hijaz is extremely weak (due to the liar Kathir b. Abd Allah), nevertheless an authentic Hadith from Sahih Muslim in which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said:
    إِنَّ الإِسْلاَمَ بَدَأَ غَرِيبًا وَسَيَعُودُ غَرِيبًا كَمَا بَدَأَ وَهُوَ يَأْرِزُ بَيْنَ الْمَسْجِدَيْنِ كَمَا تَأْرِزُ الْحَيَّةُ فِي جُحْرِهَا
    "Verily Islam started as something strange and it would again revert to being strange just as it started, and it would recede between the two Mosques just as the serpent crawls back into its hole."
    Therefore, Islam will continue to be present in the most sacred land, the Haramayn where the two sacred Mosques are (Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi).

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