Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Continuation of Divine Inspiration (Part 4)

This is the fourth part of the series ‘Continuation of Divine Inspiration’. In the previous entry we looked at the reality of the Muhaddath, and the confirmation of the existence of Muhaddathin within the Ummah as a critical proof that divine inspiration continues after the ‘Finality of Prophethood’ of sayyidina Muhammad . In this entry we shall look at specific instances of divine inspiration to the Ummah, particularly to the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). In a previous entry we examined the Ayat of the Holy Qur’an where visitation by a Messenger (Angel) is one of the three mediums through which Allah Most High communicates with a human being (Sura 42: 51). The Prophet said:

إِنَّ لِلشَّيْطَانِ لَمَّةً بِابْنِ آدَمَ وَلِلْمَلَكِ لَمَّةً فَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالشَّرِّ وَتَكْذِيبٌ بِالْحَقِّ وَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الْمَلَكِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالْخَيْرِ وَتَصْدِيقٌ بِالْحَقِّ فَمَنْ وَجَدَ ذَلِكَ فَلْيَعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللَّهَ
Indeed, Satan has an effect on the son of Adam, and the Angel also has an effect. As for Satan, it is by threatening evil repercussions and rejecting the truth. As for the effect of the Angel, it is by his promise of a good end and believing in the truth. Whoever finds that, let him know that it is from Allah, and let him praise Allah for it. (Tirmidhi Sharif)

An example of this happened to the companion Hudaifah b. al-Yaman (may Allah be pleased with him):

عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ بنِ الْيَمَانِ أَنَّهُ أَتَى النَّبيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، فَقَالَ : بيْنَمَا أَنَا أُصَلِّي إِذْ سَمِعْتُ مُتَكَلِّمًا يَقُولُ : اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ كُلُّهُ ، وَلَكَ الْمُلْكُ كُلُّهُ ، بيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ كُلُّهُ ، إِلَيْكَ يُرْجَعُ الْأَمْرُ كُلُّهُ ، عَلَانِيَتُهُ وَسِرُّهُ ، فَأَهْلٌ أَنْ تُحْمَدَ ، إِنَّكَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ ، اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي جَمِيعَ مَا مَضَى مِنْ ذَنْبي ، وَاعْصِمْنِي فِيمَا بقِيَ مِنْ عُمْرِي ، وَارْزُقْنِي عَمَلًا زَاكِيًا تَرْضَى بهِ عَنِّي ، فَقَالَ النَّبيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : " ذَاكَ مَلَكٌ أَتَاكَ يُعَلِّمُكَ تَحْمِيدَ رَبكَ
Hudaifah b. al-Yaman narrates that he came to the Prophet and said: While I was praying Salat I heard a speaker saying:

Allaahumma Lakal-Hamdu Kulluhu, wa Lakal-Mulkuhu Kulluhu, Biyadikal-Khayru Kulluhu, Ilayka Turja’ul-Amru Kulluhu, ‘Alaaniyatuhu wa Sirruhu, fahlun an Tuhmada, Innaka ‘alaa Kulli Shay’in Qadeer. Allaahummaghfirlee Jamee’a maa Madaa min Dhanbee, waa’simnee feemaa Baqiya min ‘Umree, Warzuqnee ‘Amalan Zaakiyan Tardaa bihi ‘Anee

The Prophet said: “That was an Angel who came to you to teach you Praise of your Lord.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Similarly, on the day of Khaibar, the Prophet’s companion Hassan b. Thabit was reciting poetry inspired to him by Angel Gabriel to lampoon the unbelievers, and this is confirmed when the Prophet said to him:

جِبْرِيلُ مَعَكَ
“Gabriel is with you”
(Bukhari & Muslim)

In fact, the Prophet prayed that his companion Hassan b. Thabit be strengthened by the Holy Spirit just as Jesus of Nazareth was (Sura 2: 87, 253; Sura 5: 110):

اللَّهُمَّ أَيِّدْهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ
“O Allah, strengthen him (Hassan) with the Holy Spirit”
(Bukhari & Muslim)

A magnificent companion, Abdullah the father of Jabir, told his son on the eve of the Battle of Uhud:

مَا أُرَانِي إِلاَّ مَقْتُولاً فِي أَوَّلِ مَنْ يُقْتَلُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم
“I see that I will be the first of the Companions of the Prophet  to be killed.”
And so this divinely inspired premonition of Jabir’s father was fulfilled and he was the first person to be martyred in that battle (Bukhari)

This is an example of Kashaf (vision of the unseen).

The continuity of Ilham (divine inspiration) in the Ummah was confirmed by the Prophet

إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدٍ خَيْرًا فَقَهَّهُ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَلْهَمَهُ رُشْدَهُ
“When Allah intends for his servant goodness, He gives him understanding in the Religion and inspires him with His guidance.” (Musnad al-Bazar)

Another form of divine inspiration is called Firasah (spiritual insight). The Prophet is reported to have said:

اتَّقُوا فِرَاسَةَ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَإِنَّهُ يَنْظُرُ بِنُورِ اللَّهِ
“Beware of the Believer’s Intuition, for indeed he sees with Allah’s Light.” (Tirmidhi)

Some people may object and say all the examples given thus far of the divine inspirations to the Prophet’s Companions (Allah be pleased with them) were during the Prophet’s own lifetime. They insist that it is only after the death of the Prophet that all forms of divine inspiration have ceased absolutely. But this idea too is baseless. The first divine revelation to have occurred immediately after the death of the Prophet was experienced by many of his Companions concerning how to wash the Prophet’s body:

سَمِعْتُ عَائِشَةَ، تَقُولُ لَمَّا أَرَادُوا غَسْلَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالُوا وَاللَّهِ مَا نَدْرِي أَنُجَرِّدُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْ ثِيَابِهِ كَمَا نُجَرِّدُ مَوْتَانَا أَمْ نُغَسِّلُهُ وَعَلَيْهِ ثِيَابُهُ فَلَمَّا اخْتَلَفُوا أَلْقَى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمُ النَّوْمَ حَتَّى مَا مِنْهُمْ رَجُلٌ إِلاَّ وَذَقْنُهُ فِي صَدْرِهِ ثُمَّ كَلَّمَهُمْ مُكَلِّمٌ مِنْ نَاحِيَةِ الْبَيْتِ لاَ يَدْرُونَ مَنْ هُوَ أَنِ اغْسِلُوا النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَعَلَيْهِ ثِيَابُهُ
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: When we intended to wash the Prophet , by Allah, we did not know whether we should take off the clothes of the Messenger of Allah as we took off the clothes of our dead, or wash him while his clothes were on him. When they (the people) differed among themselves, Allah cast slumber over them until every one of them had put his chin on his chest. Then a speaker spoke from a side of the house, and they did not know who he was: “Wash the Prophet while his clothes are on him.” (Abi Dawud)

This mysterious voice is a form of divine Revelation. In Judaism it is known as Bat Kol
The Rabbis teach that upon the death of the latter prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, “the Holy Spirit departed from Israel”; the prophets continued to be informed of God’s will, choice or judgment to humankind by means of a heavenly or divine voice — a bat kol. Bat kol literally means “daughter of a voice,” the word “bat” (daughter) suggesting that this was not a direct voice from heaven, but a derivative sound issuing from that voice, a sort of echo. The rabbinic statement implies that the classic prophetic experience of ruach hakodesh (the holy spirit) or gilui shekhinah (manifestation of God’s presence) could no longer be experienced in rabbinic times and that the experience of a bat kol was an entirely different phenomenon. As the sole means of communication between God and man after the cessation of prophecy, the bat kol was sometimes perceived as an external voice and at other times only in dreams.

In Islam, another form of divine inspiration is Sharh al-Sadr (lit. ‘opening of the heart’). This term is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an with respect to Prophets Moses and Muhammad (Sura 20: 25; Sura 94: 1). However, the Holy Qur’an informs us that Sharh al-Sadr is not exclusive to Prophets:

فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّـهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ
So whoever Allah wants to guide - He expands his chest to Islam
(Sura 6: 125)

أَفَمَن شَرَحَ اللَّـهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ
So is one whose chest Allah has expanded to Islam and he is upon a Light from his Lord
(Sura 39: 22)

And this form of divine inspiration was given to the Prophet’s first successor, sayyidina Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) immediately after the Prophet’s death. At that time, many of the Bedouin tribes became apostate and were in open rebellion against Islam by rejecting the Zakat and the succession of Abu BakrRA. Despite many other immanent challenges facing the nascent Muslim community, Abu BakrRA was determined to fight the apostate tribes. Initially, the rest of the Companions strongly discouraged him from doing so, but Abu BakrRA was adamant because he was being inspired by Allah to take that course of action:

قَالَ عُمَرُ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا هُوَ إِلاَّ أَنْ رَأَيْتُ أَنْ قَدْ شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ لِلْقِتَالِ فَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ

UmarRA said: “By Allah, it was nothing, but I noticed that Allah opened Abu Bakr’s heart towards the decision to fight, therefore I realized that his decision was right” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Does the Qur’ân Misrepresent the Trinity?

Christian apologists argue that the Holy Qur’an condemns the doctrine of the ‘trinity’ without accurately describing what it is. They assert that Muslims have been deluded into thinking that the ‘trinity’ means God literally took a consort, virgin Mary, impregnated her (God forbid) then she gave birth to Jesus because this is what the Holy Qur’an itself alleges about Christianity. It is quite similar to a legend of Greek mythology in which Zeus, the main deity of the Olympian pantheon, takes a human consort, Alcmene, who as a result gives birth to the ‘demigod’ Heracles. The ancient Egyptian trinity is Osiris the ‘father’, Isis the ‘mother’ and Horus the ‘son’ while the Hindu trinity is called ‘trimurti’ and is Brahma the ‘creator’, Visnu the ‘preserver’ and Siva the ‘destroyer’. Ancient Egyptian iconography depicts the ‘goddess’ Isis suckling her son Horus as a symbol of rebirth which is strikingly similar to Christian art which depicts the virgin Mary holding her infant Jesus. Christianity, like these pagan cults, expresses itself through fine arts.

But what is the actual Christian doctrine of the ‘trinity’? It is defined in the Athanasian Creed: “That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one.” However, this is the ‘official’ formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity which was formulated centuries after the death of Jesus by the church fathers through various councils. The earliest mention of the term ‘trinity’ in Christian history was by Theophilus of Antioch (d. 183 CE). He defined it as God, His Logos ‘Word’ and His Sophia ‘Wisdom’. The Christians argue that the Qur’an has misrepresented the trinity as meaning God, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, whereas no Christian denomination or sect in history has ever understood the trinity in this way. Rather, the trinity with them is God ‘the father’, God ‘the son’ and God ‘the Holy Spirit’, and the virgin Mary is neither part of the trinity, nor is she deified or worshiped.

Now what is the reality of this allegation against the Qur’an about misrepresenting the trinity? The Holy Qur’an explicitly mentions the doctrine of the ‘trinity’ twice:
وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ
And do not say ‘trinity’
(Sura 4: 171)

لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّـهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـٰهٍ إِلَّا إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ
They have certainly disbelieved who say “Verily, Allah is the third of three.” There is no god but One God
(Sura 5:73)

As the reader can see, while the Holy Qur’an has mentioned this Christian doctrine and condemned it as polytheism, it has not defined the other two ‘persons’ of the trinity apart from God. Rather, the Holy Qur’an is asserting that the one whom the Christians call God ‘the father’ is the only God (Allah) and the other two are not divine. Nowhere has the Holy Qur’an stated that the Virgin Mary is one of the three persons of the trinity. So from where did the Christians derive this misunderstanding about the Qur’an misunderstanding their trinity?

وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّـهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَـٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ
And when Allah will say: O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people ‘take me and my mother as two deities besides Allah’
(Sura 5: 116)

Regarding this Verse, the Christians object that it wrongly accuses them of believing that Virgin Mary is a person of the trinity and that they worship her as a deity. As for the first objection, it is false because there is no mention of the word ‘trinity’ in this Verse. Rather, the Verse says that Christians have taken Mary and her son Jesus as Ilâhain ‘two objects of worship’ Min Dûn-Illâh ‘besides’ or ‘apart’ from the One True God (Allah). The word dûn clearly demonstrates that in this Verse Allah is not speaking about the trinity, because the trinity includes God ‘the father’, but rather He is speaking against the fact that the Christians worship two persons besides Himself, namely, Jesus and his mother. So this conclusively demolishes the specific Christian allegation that the Holy Qur’an has misrepresented or misunderstood their ‘trinity’.
As for the second objection that the Holy Qur’an accuses the Christians of worshiping Mary as a deity or ‘goddess’, keep in mind this is an issue that is totally separate from the condemnation of the trinity. The Christians have several doctrines and practices which the Holy Qur’an opposes apart from the trinity.

The first answer to this objection is that the word Ilâh ‘deity’ means object of worship. Hence, even if people do not officially call those to whom they offer acts of worship as ‘God’, in the Islamic terminology they are still considered (false) ‘gods’ or ‘objects of worship’. Islam emphasizes that all acts of worship, such as prostration, supplication, etc., are to be offered to God alone and no one else. Now it is well known that most Christians, particularly the Roman Catholics, worship the Virgin Mary by offering to her acts of worship despite the fact that they do not officially call her a ‘goddess’. Take for example the well known Catholic prayer ‘Hail Mary’ in which it is said “Hail Mary, full of grace” and “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen”. According to Islam, only the One True God is ‘full of grace’, and saying of ‘Amen’ is only to beseech Him in supplications that are addressed only to Him. Furthermore, Islam teaches that the deceased are unable to hear. To give the attribute to a deceased woman of being able to hear everyone in the world from beyond the grave is to make Virgin Mary someone who shares in the attribute and power of God Who alone is ‘All-Hearing’. Furthermore, the Catholics, the largest denomination of Christianity, which just over half of all Christians belonging to that church, carve idols of Virgin Mary which they call ‘icons’, and kneel and prostrate before them. This is indisputably idolatry, especially from the Islamic perspective, hence the Holy Qur’an cannot be objected to when it says that the Christians worship Mary as an Ilâh ‘object of worship’ besides Allah. The Protestants too refer to their approach to Virgin Mary as ‘Mariolotry’. Elsewhere, the Holy Qur’an refers to the objects of worship of the polytheists and unbelievers as Âlihat ‘gods’ (Sura 11: 101, 25: 3, 37: 91), despite the fact that obviously the Qur’an isn’t teaching that they are ‘gods’ in actuality. The creed of Islam is Lâ Ilâha illa Allâh ‘there is no god except Allah’. They are only called Alihat ‘gods’ because they are objects of worship of the unbelievers. It is in this sense too that the Holy Qur’an has said that the Christians take Virgin Mary as a ‘goddess’ meaning object of worship besides Allah.

The second answer to this objection which is also worthy of consideration is that historically there have indeed been Christians, such as the Collyridians who officially viewed the Virgin Mary as a ‘goddess’ and did not shy away from openly worshiping her as such. Although the rest of Christendom may consider this a heresy, the fact that they ascribed themselves to Christianity is sufficient for us in considering them as such. And Allah knows best!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Does Islam Promote Terrorism?

بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

والعاقبة للمتقين

وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين

Does Islam Promote Terrorism?

Terrorism is defined as: “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The accusation of the adversaries of Islâm that our beautiful Religion promotes terrorism has only gained traction in recent years due to the rise of extremist and militant groups among the Muslims who invoke religion to attain otherwise political goals. Yet the adversaries claim that Islâm, in its very essence, is a violent religion that condones the use of violence against civilians. In this entry I shall present the proofs from the Islamic scripture, the Holy Qur’ân, and the Sunna of the Prophet Muhammad to demolish this malicious libel. Let the reader bear in mind that many groups guilty of terrorism have and continue to invoke the name of religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and even Buddhism to justify their unlawful violence. The activities of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in Sri Lanka, and the ongoing genocide and religious persecution of Muslims in Myanmar by Buddhist radicals and communal forces has laid waste to the claim that Buddhists are absolutely peaceful and non-violent people. How ironic is it that these violent, terrorist, anti-Muslim campaigns in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar are actually spearheaded by Buddhist monks and religious leaders. Likewise, there are many Jewish terrorists who invoke Judaism as a religious justification to murder non-Jews, particularly Palestinians. Radical Zionists engaged in acts of terrorism against the British government and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the lead up to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Countless Hindu ultra-nationalist groups exist in India which have a history of inflicting violence and terror against Muslims and other minorities in that country. All of these, like al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIL), Hamas, etc., are examples of violent, terrorist groups which invoke religion as justification for their violence in advancing an otherwise political objective. Then of course there is the scourge of ‘State terrorism’ meaning acts of terrorism conducted by the State itself usually against its own people. This is even worse than the terrorism of non-state actors as it represents naked oppression of the weak by the powerful. The victims have no one but God Himself to turn to when they are being terrorised by the very entity (the State) that is entrusted with their protection, and to whose authority they are subject to.
Addressing the issue of unlawful and unjustified violence and bloodshed, the Holy Qur’ân lays down an emphatic principle:
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption done in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely
(Sûra 5: 32)
Of course, Islâm does not enjoin pacifism or ‘turning the other cheek’ upon its followers, but rather authorises them to defend themselves if attacked:
وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.
(Sûra 2: 190)
أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ
Permission (to fight) has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.
(Sûra 22: 39)
In fact, the Holy Qur’ân encourages peace not conflict, and lays down another important principle in this regard which is the antithesis of terrorism:
وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
And if they incline to peace, then incline to it also and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.
(Sûra 8: 61)
Another lofty principle of Islâm is the protection of religious freedom, especially the freedom to worship and the preservation of places of worship:
الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِم بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَن يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّـهُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّـهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّـهِ كَثِيرًا
Those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned.
(Sûra 22: 40)
An integral part of the definition of terrorism is violence against civilians. Islâm absolutely and unequivocally prohibits violence against the innocent and the idea of ‘collective punishment’:
فَنَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ قَتْلِ النِّسَاءِ وَالصِّبْيَانِ
Allah’s Messenger () forbade the killing of women and children
(Bukhâri Sharîf)
لاَ تَقْتُلُوا وَلِيدًا
“Do not kill children”
(Muslim Sharîf)
The Prophet’s first successor, Abu Bakr (May Allâh be pleased with him) gave the following instructions to a general he intended to send on an armed expedition:
وَإِنِّي مُوصِيكَ بِعَشْرٍ لاَ تَقْتُلَنَّ امْرَأَةً وَلاَ صَبِيًّا وَلاَ كَبِيرًا هَرِمًا وَلاَ تَقْطَعَنَّ شَجَرًا مُثْمِرًا وَلاَ تُخَرِّبَنَّ عَامِرًا وَلاَ تَعْقِرَنَّ شَاةً وَلاَ بَعِيرًا إِلاَّ لِمَأْكُلَةٍ وَلاَ تَحْرِقَنَّ نَحْلاً وَلاَ تُفَرِّقَنَّهُ وَلاَ تَغْلُلْ وَلاَ تَجْبُنْ
“I advise you with ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.”
(Muwattâ Imâm Mâlik)
The Prophet severely condemned terrorism and indiscriminate killing:
مَنْ قَاتَلَ تَحْتَ رَايَةٍ عُمِّيَّةٍ يَغْضَبُ لِعَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَدْعُو إِلَى عَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَنْصُرُ عَصَبَةً فَقُتِلَ فَقِتْلَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ عَلَى أُمَّتِي يَضْرِبُ بَرَّهَا وَفَاجِرَهَا وَلاَ يَتَحَاشَ مِنْ مُؤْمِنِهَا وَلاَ يَفِي لِذِي عَهْدٍ عَهْدَهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَلَسْتُ مِنْهُ
One who fights under the banner of a people who are blind (to the cause for which they are fighting, i.e. do not know whether their cause is just or otherwise), who gets flared up with family pride, calls people to fight for their family honour, and supports his kith and kin (i.e. fights not for the cause of Allah but for the sake of this family or tribe) - if he is killed (in this fight), he dies as one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya. Whoso attacks my Ummah indiscriminately killing the righteous and the wicked of them, sparing not even those staunch in faith and fulfilling not his promise made with those who have been given a pledge of security - he has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with him.
(Sahîh Muslim)
And there is vastly more material from the Islamic sources which make it explicitly clear that terrorism is unconditionally forbidden. But the adversaries of Islâm claim that there are certain Verses in the Qur’ân which condones terrorism, such as “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.” (Sûra 8: 12)
Regrettably, they usually quote this Verse partially thus depriving the reader from knowing the full context and giving them a false impression that the Holy Qur’ân advocates terrorism. So I will reproduce the Verse in full for the reader to judge for themself:
إِذْ يُوحِي رَبُّكَ إِلَى الْمَلَائِكَةِ أَنِّي مَعَكُمْ فَثَبِّتُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۚ سَأُلْقِي فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ فَاضْرِبُوا فَوْقَ الْأَعْنَاقِ وَاضْرِبُوا مِنْهُمْ كُلَّ بَنَانٍ
When your Lord inspired to the Angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”
Now let the readers see for themselves that in this Verse Allâh is addressing only the Angels. This is not a general command to the Muslim Umma to indiscriminately kill every disbeliever and strike terror into their hearts. Furthermore, this Verse is recounting the historical event of the Battle of Badr, in which two opposing armies met in combat and the Muslims emerged victorious by the Help of Allâh through the agency of His Angels. Rabî’ b. Anas narrates:
كَانَ النَّاسُ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ يَعْرِفُونَ قَتْلَى الْمَلائِكَةِ مِمَّنْ قَتَلُوهُمْ , بِضَرْبٍ فَوْقَ الأَعْنَاقِ وَعَلَى الْبَنَانِ مِثْلِ سِمَةِ النَّارِ قَدْ أُحْرِقَ بِهِ
In the aftermath of Badr, the people used to recognize whomever the Angels killed from those whom they killed, by the wounds over their necks, fingers and toes, because those parts had a mark as if they were branded by fire.
(Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr & Dalâ’il al-Nubuwwa lil-Bayhaqi)
In other words, this command of Allâh to His Angels to strike the necks and fingers of the disbelievers was literally fulfilled during the Battle of Badr. In the aftermath of the battle, the slain corpses of some of the polytheist warriors were examined to have burn marks on their necks and fingers indicating that they were killed by the Angels and not human beings.
What then is the reality of the various terrorist and militant groups among the Muslims who undoubtedly engage in acts of terrorism and indiscriminate killing while invoking Islâm as their justification? Indeed, this is not a new phenomenon in the history of Islâm. The ancient Khawârij, Azâriqa, Qarâmita, and Hashâshîn (‘Assassins’) all engaged in acts of violence and terrorism, virtually always directed against other Muslims, just like in modern times the majority of the victims of so called ‘Islamic’ terrorism are ironically Muslims themselves. Mainstream Muslims have consistently, throughout history, disassociated themselves from the Kharijites and other extremist groups and in fact consider them as heretics and deviants from true Islâm. We find that similar tendencies have existed in other religious traditions. For example, the ancient Zealots among the Jews of antiquity and the terrorist group called the Sicarii because they used to carry concealed daggers, assassinate a political opponent through stealth, and then blend back into the crowd to escape detection. These militant Jews invoked religion as their justification for terrorising their fellow co-religionists and assassinating Jewish leaders during the armed insurrections against the Romans. Likewise, in the Christian tradition one cannot ignore the bloody history of the Crusaders and the Spanish Inquisition, and in more recent times, the Ku Klux Klan which invoked Christianity as justification for its terrorising of Black people in the United States. The Nazis too appealed to Christianity as a justification for their ethnic cleansing of European Jews. If it is argued that these are isolated and extreme examples, but otherwise Christianity is an entirely peaceful religions in its essence, one only need examine the Bible:
Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. (Numbers 31: 17 – 18)
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. (1 Samuel 15: 3)
Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalm 137: 9)
“Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” (Ezekiel 9: 4 – 6)
And there are countless other similar violent passages in the Bible which not only justify terrorism but outright genocide and slaughter of innocent children. Compare this to the peaceful teachings of the Holy Qur’ân and Ahadîth of the Prophet strictly forbidding indiscriminate violence, terrorism, particularly killing of unarmed civilians, women, children, elderly and even animals.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Rising of the Sun from the West

Allâh Azza wa Jall says:

يَوْمَ يَأْتِي بَعْضُ آيَاتِ رَبِّكَ لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا ۗ قُلِ انتَظِرُوا إِنَّا مُنتَظِرُونَ
The Day that some of the Signs of your Lord will come no soul will benefit from its faith as long as it had not believed before or had earned through its faith some good. Say, “Wait, indeed, we also are waiting.”
(Sûra 6: 158)

The Prophet said:

لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا فَإِذَا طَلَعَتْ وَرَآهَا النَّاسُ آمَنُوا أَجْمَعُونَ، وَذَلِكَ حِينَ لاَ يَنْفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا ‏
“The Hour will not be established till the sun rises from the West; and when it rises (from the West) and the people see it, they all will believe. And that is (the time) when no good will it do to a soul to believe then.”
(Bukhâri Sharîf)

مَنْ تَابَ قَبْلَ أَنْ تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا تَابَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ
“He who seeks repentance (from the Lord) before the rising of the sun from the west (before the Day of Resurrection), Allah turns to him with Mercy.”
(Muslim Sharîf)

The rising of the sun from the west is a grand prophecy of the Prophet Muhammad that when it actually occurs all of mankind will suddenly be forced to believe in the truthfulness of Islâm, but of course, adapting faith at that time will not avail anyone who wasn’t faithful before. It’s worth mentioning that this is a unique Islamic prediction as no other religion or religious figure has predicted that one day the sun will actually rise from the west. Many adversaries mock this prophecy, saying it is impossible and unscientific. It is particularly the atheist and secular minded people who will therefore be the most dumbfounded and speechless when this event actually occurs, but as mentioned before, it will be too late for them to repent at that time. Some Muslim apologists have attempted to interpret this prophecy figuratively. According to them, the rising of the sun from the West symbolises the ascendancy of ‘Western’ power of Europe and America. However, this interpretation is inconsistent with the implication of the Prophecy that when the sun rises from the West repentance will no longer be accepted, just as the repentance and faith of Pharaoh was rejected at the moment of his destruction (Sûra 10: 90 – 91). Although Pharaoh was forced to acknowledge his error and wanted to announce his faith in the Lord of the Israelites, he was prevented from verbalising the testimony of faith by the Angel Gabriel:

إِنَّ جِبْرِيلَ كَانَ يَدُسُّ فِي فَمِ فِرْعَوْنَ الطِّينَ ، مَخَافَةَ أَنْ يَقُولَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ
Verily Gabriel was shoving clay in the mouth of Pharaoh out of fear that he would say ‘there is none worthy of worship except Allâh’
(Musnad Ahmad)

However, this was only to illustrate the power and weight of the Kalima ‘Lâ Ilâha illa Allâh’ as it is the testimony that guarantees salvation from Hell. Otherwise, Pharaoh’s mere verbalisation of accepting faith at the moment of his destruction did not save him from damnation. Faith requires sincerity of heart in believing in the Ghâ’ib (unseen), and is not accepted when it’s too late, i.e., at the time when the Truth becomes visually obvious.

Coming back to the prediction of the sun’s rising from the West, another group of Muslim apologists claim this will literally happen when the planet rotates or spins on its axis in the opposite direction (retrograde motion) like the planet Venus, thus resulting in a sunrise from the West and sunset in the East. However, this theory of theirs has no scientific basis and they cannot point to any rational explanation or natural cause that would explain a sudden change in the direction of the Earth’s rotation upon its axis. On the other hand, a natural cause that will indeed occur in the future which will result in the sun rising from the West in our perspective is magnetic pole reversal:

“Scientists understand that Earth’s magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to ‘south.’ This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth’s poles. The N-S markings of a compass would be 180 degrees wrong if the polarity of today's magnetic field were reversed…Reversals are the rule, not the exception. Earth has settled in the last 20 million years into a pattern of a pole reversal about every 200,000 to 300,000 years, although it has been more than twice that long since the last reversal. A reversal happens over hundreds or thousands of years, and it is not exactly a clean back flip. Magnetic fields morph and push and pull at one another, with multiple poles emerging at odd latitudes throughout the process. Scientists estimate reversals have happened at least hundreds of times over the past three billion years. And while reversals have happened more frequently in ‘recent’ years, when dinosaurs walked Earth a reversal was more likely to happen only about every one million years… The last time that Earth’s poles flipped in a major reversal was about 780,000 years ago, in what scientists call the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal…The science shows that magnetic pole reversal is – in terms of geologic time scales – a common occurrence that happens gradually over millennia. While the conditions that cause polarity reversals are not entirely predictable – the north pole’s movement could subtly change direction, for instance.”

In short, in the event of a magnetic pole reversal, north will literally become south, and therefore east will become west. The sun will continue to rise from the same direction, but the name of that direction will necessarily be changed and redefined.

Does the Sun set in Dark Water? (Sura 18:86)

One of the more absurd objections lobbed against Islâm and the Qur’ân al-Majîd is that they teach self-evidently unscientific ideas such as that the sun sets in a spring of dark mud, based on the proceeding Ayat:
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوْمًا
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people
(Sûra 18: 86)
So the opponents of Islâm, rather maliciously and deceptively, claim that the Qur’ân says that the sun actually sets in a spring of dark mud.
The first answer to this false allegation is that the fact that the sun doesn’t actually set in a spring of dark mud was quite evident at the time the Qur’ân was revealed. Hence it cannot be said that the Qur’ân is a manmade text which confirmed a scientific error that was commonly held to be true at the time. For example, the Bible literalists and Christian fundamentalists believe the Earth is some six thousand years old. In ancient times it was not yet discovered that the Earth is in fact some 4.5 billion years old, and that the oldest anatomically modern humans date back to some two hundred thousand years. However, the Holy Qur’ân, which is a divinely revealed Text kept safe from manmade interpolation, does not replicate the error of the Bible regarding the age of the planet Earth and humanity.
According to the New Testament: “The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” (Matthew 4:8) “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.” (Luke 4:5) Now it is known that there isn’t a single mountain in the world which is so high that a person can see, from its peak “all the kingdoms of the world”. Even if a person climbs to the peak of Mt. Everest he will not be able to see “all the kingdoms of the world”. Furthermore, these statements in the New Testament suggest that the author considered the world flat and not spherical. Of course the author can be excused for this error as in his time it was not yet common knowledge that the Earth isn’t flat.
Returning to our discussion of the Ayat wherein it is stated that Dhul-Qarnayn travelled in a particular direction until he reached a place where he saw the sun setting in a spring of dark mud; the very wording of the Ayat makes it explicitly clear that the point of view of Dhul-Qarnayn is being described, and that the sun setting in a spring of dark mud isn’t meant to be an objective statement of fact. Hence the Ayat has the word وَجَدَ ‘He found’. Furthermore, the very context of this passage regarding the story of Dhul-Qarnayn is for the purpose of giving the reader a sense of the geography and extent of Dhul-Qarnayn’s travels. So it is understood that by reaching a place where one will see the sun as though it is setting in a spring of dark water is a geographic reference to the Black Sea and the fact that Dhul-Qarnayn was travelling in the direction of the west. This is why none of the classical Tafâsîr (exegesis) of this Ayat suggest that the sun literally sets in a spring of black water. For example it is stated in Tafsîr al-Jalâlayn: “until when he reached the setting of the sun the place where it sets he found it setting in a muddy spring ‘ayn hami’a a spring containing ham’a which is black clay its setting in a spring is described as seen from the perspective of the eye for otherwise it is far larger in size than this world.” As for our view that the dark muddy spring is the Black Sea: Why the Holy Qur’an has interpreted the water of the ocean as “aineen”? Mufassereen have explained it in this way: The word “aine” has seven meanings and one of them is “more water” and another is “the place where water falls.” Since the water is more in seas and oceans and rivers, canals, streams and big seas generally fall into this and the water of the seas also adjoin with the water of the oceans. Therefore the Holy Qur’an has interpreted it with his word “aine” as plenty of water and delta of water.
Now if the opponents of Islâm, who allege the Qur’ân teaches the sun actually sets in dark water, were consistent they would likewise claim that the Qur’ân teaches that the sun rises out of the heads of a people!
حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ لَّمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتْرًا
Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had not made against it any shield.
(Sûra 18: 90)
And this is sufficient to prove how absurd their objection is, and the fact that it is made out of extreme bias and not actually the spirit of fairness in approaching and understanding a text.

Continuation of Divine Inspiration (Part 3)

بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
والعاقبة للمتقين
وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين

The third part of this dynamic series on the continuation of divine inspiration within the Umma of Prophet Muhammad will focus on the discussion surrounding the Muhaddath. In the previous entry it was made apparent that a Muhaddath is technically not a Prophet, yet receives divine inspiration from Allâh and is conversant with Him (Subhânahu wa Ta’âlâ). The Prophet said that if there was to be a Muhaddath in his Umma, as there were in the previous Ummam, then his mighty companion ‘Umar b. al-KhattabRA would be one of them. Some skeptics, such as Ghâmidi and Eng. Muhammad ‘Ali Mirzâ, claim that this Hadîth is couched in hypothetical phrasing and so it is not a proof that ‘UmarRA actually was a Muhaddath. They in fact deny that he was a Muhaddath on the basis that the Prophet said that if there was to be a prophet after him it would be ‘UmarRA. So when it is conceded that ‘UmarRA was not a Prophet, then likewise, it has to be conceded that he wasn’t a Muhaddath either. The problem with this argument is twofold; 1. The Qur’ân and Sunna already make it clear that there is no prophet after sayyidinâ Muhammad  , whereas there is no explicit text in the Qur’ân and Sunna that the office of Muhaddath has likewise been terminated, 2. There is a slight difference in the wording of these two narrations which yields a blow to the validity of any analogy between them. The Deobandi elder, Mawlânâ Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi has clarified this point:

یہ تمام اشتباہ آپ کو لفظ ان و لفظ لو میں میں فرق نہ کرنے سے ہوا، اتخاذ خلیل اور کون نبوت لفظ لو ہے جو امتناع کے لۓ موضوع ہے، اور محدثیت میں لفظ ان ہے جو اکثر احتمال وقوع اور کبھی اثبات وقوع کے لۓ مستعمل ہوتا ہے۔ جیسے ہمارے محاورہ میں بھی کہا جاتا ہے کہ اگر دنیا میں میرا کوئی دوست ہے تو تم ہو

Translation: All of these doubts are because you don’t make a distinction between the word اِن and the word لَو. ‘Taking a Khalîl’ and ‘Becoming a Prophet’ are with the word  لوLaw’ which is used for negating the possibility, and ‘Muhaddathîn’ is with the word انIn’ which is mostly used for the possibility of occurrence and sometimes for the affirmation of occurrence. Like in our own idiom it is said ‘If I ever had a friend in this world it is you.’

Reference: Imdâd-ul-Fatâwâ; v. 5, p. 121

Now the objective of both these Hadîth is to illustrate the virtue and excellence of sayyidinâ ‘UmarRA. However, if it is conceded that ‘Umar is not a Prophet since Prophethood has been sealed, yet ‘UmarRA possessed something of a potential for Prophethood, then it would have to be admitted that ‘UmarRA is at least a Muhaddath. If ‘UmarRA being a Muhaddath is negated it would be redundant to negate Prophethood for him too.

The Muhaddath, though technically not a Prophet, shares some characteristics with the latter such as having been raised up and sent by Allâh. The Holy Qur’ân says:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ إِلَّا إِذَا تَمَنَّىٰ أَلْقَى الشَّيْطَانُ فِي أُمْنِيَّتِهِ فَيَنسَخُ اللَّـهُ مَا يُلْقِي الشَّيْطَانُ ثُمَّ يُحْكِمُ اللَّـهُ آيَاتِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he had a desire, Satan interfered with that desire. But Allah eradicates that which Satan throws in and strengthens His Signs. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.
(Sûra 22: 52)

It is narrated from ‘Amr b. Dînâr that sayyidinâ Ibn ‘AbbâsRA used to read it as:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ وَلَا نَبِيٍّ وَلَا مُحَدَّثٍ 
And We did not send before you any Messenger or Prophet or Muhaddath…

Reference: Tafsîr al-Qurtubi v. 12 pp. 79 – 80

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalâni likewise mentioned it in his Fath-al-Bâri, and authenticated it in Taghlîq al-Ta’lîq v. 4 p. 65:

This does not mean that Ibn ‘Abbâs had an alternate recitation of this Verse of the Holy Qur’ân, but rather he recited the Ayat in this way to illustrate his understanding that the Muhaddath is included in the category of Messengers and Prophets who are sent by Allâh. Furthermore, this reading is attributed to Imâm Abu Ja’far Muhammad al-BâqirRA by the Twelver Shî’a in Asûl al-Kâfi p. 125:

Shâh Ismâ’îl Shahîd of Delhi (1779 – 1831) wrote that the Muhaddath is included in the rank of Prophets:

حدیث کے بعض علماء نے یہ بھی کہا ہے کہ رسول اللہ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم سے انبیاء کی تعداد کے متعلق جو روائت نقل کی جاتی ہے اس میں انبیاء کے لفظ سے صرف نبی ہی مراد نہیں ہیں بلکہ محدثین بھی اس میں شامل ہیں۔
محدثین کو بھی رسول کہا جاسکتا ہے
Translation: Some of the ‘Ulamâ of Hadîth have said that in the narration concerning the number of Prophets from Rasûl Allâh the word ‘Anbiyâ’ does not only mean Prophet, but the Muhaddathîn too are included within it…Muhaddathîn can also be termed as Rasûl (Messenger).

Reference: ‘Abqât, p. 402

In conclusion, the office of Muhaddath has not ceased within this Umma, and this is a proof for the continuation of divine revelation and inspiration despite the ‘Finality of Prophethood’. In fact, the Muhaddath, though technically not a Prophet in the real sense, is nevertheless included within the count of Prophets, and like the Prophets, is raised up and sent by Allâh. In Biblical terminology, a Muhaddath is called ‘Seer’, like Daniel and the minor Prophets of the Tanakh. Likewise, the Holy Qur’ân refers to some of the Muhaddathîn who were in fact Disciples of Jesus of Nazareth as Mursalîn or Messengers. In the terminology of the Sûfis and mystics of Islâm and also linguistically a Muhaddath is sometimes referred to as a Prophet.

To be continued ان شاء الله

Sayyidatuna Aishah (RA): Say He is Seal of Prophets But Don't Say 'No Prophet After Him'

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