Saturday, 27 July 2013

Seek the Greatest Night of the Year, Lailatul Qadr

The Last 10 days and nights of Ramadan
Seek the Greatest Night of the Year

Dr. Mozammel Haque

I still remember my childhood when an old man of 70 years, Abdul Jabbar, used to come from the district of Faridpur (now in Bangladesh) took the silent alleys of our village in the night, chanting and calling, to wake up Muslims for the last meal before another day of Ramadan fasting begins.  Abdul Jabbar reminds one of a character from the book The Thousands and One Nights. He is a strange person who comes out from the depth of the night to disturb the quietness by a shrill cry calling, Suhuoor…Suhoor.

Now that person is replaced in a big city like London by Muslim Community Radio (MCR) – Ramadan Radio – in East London, Kismat Radio and Islam TV Channel and now BBC is added to the list in 2013, calling Muslims to wake up for their breakfast. In Ramadan, all Muslims who want to fast should eat before starting to fast.

The Month of Mercy, the blessed month came and is passing away very fast. Today, Sunday, is the 19th of Ramadan. When the paper will be published, two-third of the blessed month has passed; still there is time to get our sins cleared, still there is time to ask for forgiveness from Allah the Almighty who is ready to forgive our sins. The remaining days and nights of the blessed month is full of Allah’s mercy and blessing. In this part of the month, specially during the last 10 days and nights, a night which is the greatest night of the year, the Lailatul Qadr. During these ten days and nights, Muslims spend in the Mosque for I’tikaf

I’tikaf means seclusion and staying in the Mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would perform I’tikaf for last 10 days every Ramadan. In the year that he died, he performed it for twenty days. (Related by Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, and Ibn-Majah). The next Friday on 2nd of August (24 Ramadan) will be the Jumatul-Widah, the last Friday of the Blessed Month of Ramadan.

As the month of blessings and mercy is coming to the end, similarly the recitation of the complete Qur’an is also coming to the Khatam which might be on the 29th night of Ramadan. The last ten nights are very important nights. Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to exert himself in night prayer especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree)
Lailatul-Qadr is the greatest night of the year like the Day of Arafah is the greatest day of the year. It is a night about which Allah revealed a full Surah, Suratul-Qadr (97:1-5) and the 3rd to the 6th verses of the Surat ad-Dukhan (44:3-6). Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an, “Indeed We have revealed it (Qur’an) in the Night of Decree. And what will explain to you what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit (Jibreel) by Allah’s permission, on every errand: (they say) “Peace” (continuously) till the rise of morning!” (97:1-5). A person who misses Lailatul Qadr is really a deprived person!

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The blessed month has come to you. Allah has made fasting during it obligatory upon you. During it the gates to Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are locked, and the devils are chained. There is a night (during this month) which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived (of something great). (Ahmad, an-Nisai and al-Bayhaqi).

Aishah said, “Allah’s Messenger used to practice I’tikaf in the last ten nights and say: ‘Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

The word Zakat in Arabic means purification. The giving of Zakat (obligatory charity) is the third pillar of Islam. There are two types of Zakat: Zakat-ul-Fitr (charity of Eid-ul-Fitr, given to the poor before Eid prayer) and Zakat Al-Maal (purifying charity, paid on one’s wealth).

It is to be noted that Zakat-ul-Fitr was declared by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a prerequisite for the acceptance of fasting. But when and whom to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr? First of all, who has to pay?  Each and every Muslim, regardless of his social status, is required to give a certain amount of charity usually in the form of food grains, barley, raisin etc. called Zakat-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan and before the Eid-ul-Fitr so that every member of the Muslim community, especially the poor, have something to eat on the day of Eid.  It is meant to cement the relationship between the members of the Muslim society, to alleviate the pain of the poor, to cultivate the sense of brotherhood and solidarity in the hearts of the Muslims, etc., said Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

Dr. Qaradawi also said, “If a person dies before Maghrib on the last day of Ramadan, Zakat-ul-Fitr would not be obligatory upon him even if he fasted all the other days of the month. Conversely, if a child is born after Maghrib on the last day of Ramadan, i.e. the first night of Shawwal, it would be obligatory to pay Zakat: Zakat-ul-Fitr on his or her behalf. This view is unanimously agreed upon by Muslim scholars.” The head of the household must pay for every member of the family, even for the newborn. The Muslim is supposed to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr (i.e., Zakah of breaking the fast) in the country where he or she spends the first night of the month of Shawwal.

So far as the Zakat-ul-Maal is concerned, it is also obligatory for a Muslim, who possesses the minimum wealth on which Zakat is applicable, to give out Zakat. In his Friday sermon at the Grand Mosque in Makkah al-Mukarramah, Imam and Khateeb Sheikh Dr. Saleh Bin Mohammad Aal-Talib, urged Muslims to be God-Conscious and give charity to the poor and the needy. He said Zakat removes miserliness and cleans the heart from cruelty. 

Allah has stressed on payment of Zakat, which appears in the Holy Qur’an more than 30 times. There are many verses of the Holy Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that urge Muslim to give charity for the sake of Allah. Sheikh Aal-Talib said charity is an act that attracts Allah’s mercy. He said giving charity secretly extinguishes God’s anger and it is a blessing for the person’s wealth. A person who does not give in charity will be punished by removal of the blessing (barakah) from his wealth.

Zakat-ul-Fitr is associated with the Eid and is meant to create happiness in such a way that includes the poor and the needy. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Make them (i.e., the poor) rich on this day (i.e. the day of Eid)”.

Charity in Ramadan
About charity and spending from the wealth in the Way of Allah or for the Cause of Allah, Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an, “The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is Al-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:261).

Allah also said, “Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Qur’an: 2: 262)

Ramadan is also the month of charity. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “...Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month), shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time; and whoever performs an obligatory deed in (this month), shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Paradise. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Hell-Fire, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” (Reported by Ibn Khuzaymah)

Spend more time with the Qur’an. Read the Qur’an every day. Try to finish at least one time the whole Qur’an during this month by your own personal reading. Pray on time and observe all the prayers. Do not ignore the Tarawih. Make more extra and voluntary prayers. Do as much worship as you can. Do more dhikr (remembering Allah) and du’a (supplication) for yourself and for others. Repent and seek forgiveness for yourself and for others as much as you can. This is the best time for devotion and seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Seek the Night of Qadr by special devotion during the last 10 nights of this month.

The month of blessing and forgiveness is passing away very quickly. Do not miss the remaining last ten days and nights. Let us clear our sins. Let us seek the Night of Qadr.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Divinity of the Qur'an

Divinity of the Qurán:
Read more and more The Qur’an
In its month of Revelation

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Allah revealed the Noble Qur'an, the Final revelation for all mankind of all times, to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through angle Jibrael. The Qur'an is the greatest miracle given to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Noble Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan (Al-Qur’an, 97:1-3.). The Qur’an was sent down in the month of Ramadan on the Night of Power Lailatul Qadr. (Al-Qur’an, 91:1-3.).

The Qur’an represents the culmination of all other earlier Revealed Books. The Qur’an is the last of the Revealed Books. The Qur’an is the first religious book in the world, which requires the belief in other revelations, a part of its Faith. This Sacred Book was revealed to the last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the month of Ramadan. Allah Himself said in the Qur’an: “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to Mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong).” (2:185). Allah the Most High has especially mentioned the exact date and month of the revelation: “We have indeed revealed This (Message) in the Night of Power.” (97:1) So the purpose of the revelation of the Qur’an was for guidance of Mankind.

The Qur’an is emphatic in proclaiming that Islam is the religion of Jesus, Moses, Abraham (peace be upon them all) and the Prophets Jesus and Moses were not Jews but Muslims. "Surely those who believe (in that which is revealed to Muhammad peace be upon him) and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabaeans – whoever believes in Allah, and the Last Day and does good, surely their reward is with their Lord, and there is no fear for them nor shall they grieve."(2:62). "A Guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and judgement (between right and wrong)." This is the most important characteristic of the Qur’an, the Book that Allah has revealed in the month of Ramadan. It is guidance for mankind. It is clear proof, clear proof of guidance and of judgement.

Divinity of the Qur’an
The Noble Qur’an is the heart and soul of Islam, the Wisdom of God. It is the Word of Allah, the Kalamullah. The Qur'an is the concrete tangible Word of God. It identifies itself to us and tells us that God is its Author, as God tells us: "God Most Gracious has taught the Qur'an.” (55:1-2).

The disbelievers used to allege that it was "Tales of the animals, which he (Muhammad) has written down and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon.” 25:5). The wicked persons went on ceaselessly putting on peoples' ears that the Qur'an was not a true revelation: "This (the Qur'an) is nothing but a lie that he (Muhammad) has invented, and others have helped him at it.”(25:4) They claimed: "It is only a human being who teaches him.”(16:103); they also raised many other baseless and superficial objections.

Allah challenged the disbelievers in various parts of the Qur'an. “And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur'an) to Our servant (Muhammad, peace be upon him), then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful. But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.”(2: 23-24)

Allah also said in Surah Al-Qasas, "Say (to them, O Muhammad, pbuh): Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these two (the Torah and the Qur'an), that I may follow it, if you are truthful.” (28:49)

Allah said in Surah Al-Isra, "Say: If Mankind and the Jinn were together to produce the like of the Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.” (17:88)

Allah again said in Surah Hud, "Or they say, "He (Prophet Muhammad, pbuh) forged it (the Qur'an). "Say: "Bring you then ten forged Surahs (chapters) like it, and call whatsoever you can, other than Allah (to your help), if you speak the truth.” (11:13)

In Surah Yunus, Allah challenged, "And this Qur'an is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it (i.e. the Torah and the Injil), and a full explanation of the Book (i.e. Laws decreed for mankind) - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of all that exists. Or do they say: "He (Muhammad - peace be upon him) has forged it?” Say: "Bring then a Surah (chapter) like it, and call upon whomsoever you can besides Allah, if you are truthful.” (10:37-38)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated that among the Prophets he was given a revelation, meaning, he was especially entrusted with the miraculous Qur'an that challenged mankind to produce something similar to it. The Qur'an is the greatest miracle given to the Prophet (pbuh). The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Every Prophet was given a miracle, the type of which brings mankind to faith. What I was given is a revelation that Allah sent down to me. Yet, I hope that I will have the most following on the Day of Resurrection.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:619 and Muslim 1:134).

The life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a historical event, a part of history. Every smallest detail of his life was recorded. It is a known fact that the Qur'an is not written by him, but rather revealed by Allah through His angle Jibrael. Angle Jibrael used to come to him with revelation. This fact of coming of Angel Jibrael with revelation was certified by no less a person than a very wise man of the time.

Aishah narrated an account of Prophet's first revelation, "Prophet was trembling with fear. At this stage, he came back to his wife Khadijah and said, "Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him until he restored security. He informed Khadijah of the incident of the Cave and added that he was frightened. His wife tried to soothe him and reassured him saying, “Allah will never disgrace you. You unite uterine relations. You bear the burden of the weak; you help the poor and the needy. You entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness.”

She took the Prophet (pbuh) to her cousin Waraqah bin Asad bin Abdul-uzzah, who had embraced Christianity in the pre-Islamic period, and a scholar with good knowledge of Arabic, Hebrew and the Bible. He was an old blind man. Khadijah said, "My cousin! Listen to your nephew!” Waraqah said, "O my nephew! What did you see?” Allah's Messenger told him what happened to him. Waraqah replied, "This is Namus,” i.e. (the Angel who is entrusted with Divine Secrets) that Allah sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Muhammad asked, "Will they drive me out?” Waraqah answered in the affirmative and said, "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive till that day, then I would support you strongly.”

This hadith is related in both of the two most authentic collections of the Prophet's traditions prepared by al-Bukhari and Muslim, and also related by Imam Ahmad in his collection.

This angel Jibrael used to visit Allah's messenger sometimes in the form of human being and speak to him directly. This would enable him to fully understand what the angel said. The Angel was sometimes seen in the form of one of the Prophet's companions.

When there was no revelation coming from Allah for few days, the Prophet (pbuh) became depressed and worried. Ibn Sa'd narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Revelation paused for a few days. The Prophet was caught in a sort of depression coupled with astonishment and confusion. In the Book of Dreams, Al-Bukhari recorded that the Divine inspiration paused for a while and the Prophet became so sad, as we have heard, that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains. Every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Jibrael would appear before him and say, "O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah's Messenger in truth,” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home.

Even a layman can find the difference between the language and linguistic style of the Noble Qurán, the Kalamullah and the Hadith, the traditions of the Prophet.

Read more and more the Qur’an
In its month of revelation
It is the month of Ramadan that Allah has honoured by revealing the Qur’an. Because of this strong relation between the Qur’an and the month of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to read the Qur’an to Archangel Jibreel every Ramadan. I think this is the right place to discuss the purpose and objective of the revelation of the Qur’an, its importance, the campaigns against it and the do’s and don’ts of the Qur’an.

First of all, Allah the Most High, created mankind and gave him the gift of expression. For the guidance of mankind Allah sent Prophets (peace be upon them all) to every single community. In the words of the Qur’an, "There has been no community to which God’s messengers have not come" and "Muslims should make no distinctions between them." So it is the duty of a Muslim to honour all the prophets equally. The Qur’an represents the culmination of all other earlier Revealed Books. The Qur’an is the last of the Revealed Books.

Before the revelation of the Qur’an, it was preserved and guarded from corruption in the "Mother of the Book". Allah Himself said: "Nay this is a Glorious Qur’an (inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved" (85:21-22). When Allah wanted to give this Trust to someone, the Heavens, the Earth, and the Mountains, i.e. other creatures of Allah, besides man, refused to undertake this Trust or responsibility. They preferred to submit their will entirely to Allah’s Will, which is All-Wise and Perfect, and which would give them far more happiness than a faculty of choice, with their imperfect knowledge. Allah says in the Qur’an: "We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it: He was indeed unjust and foolish." (33-72).

So it is the human beings who took the responsibility of the Trust without realising its importance. This Sacred Book was revealed to the last Messenger Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the month of Ramadan. The Qur’an is the revealed book of God which has been in existence for more than four hundred years and the Word of Allah is available in its original form. There has not been an iota of change in this unique historic record. Its originality and authenticity has been guaranteed by no other than Allah the Almighty who challenges in the Qur’an itself.

As mentioned earlier, Allah said, "This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah: on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelation) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the Worlds." (10:37). In another verse of the Qur’an Allah challenges, "Or do they say, "He forged it?" Say: "Bring then a Surah like unto it; and call (to your aid) anyone who can, beside Allah if it be you speak the truth!" (10:38). "Or they may say, "He forged it." Say, "Bring you then ten Suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever you can, other than Allah! – if you speak the truth!" (11:13).

Allah said in the Qur’an, "And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant then produce a Sura like thereunto, and call your witness and helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if you are truthful." (2:23) Allah places many verses before you. Can you produce one like it?

The world is challenged to produce a Book like it and has not produced one. It is the only Revealed Book whose text stands pure and uncorrupted today. Allah said, "Say: "if the whole of mankind and jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support." (17:88)

Since the revelation of the Qur’an, the enemies of Islam have been trying to distort it. Firstly, they said, it is not revelation, it is written by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Then they started attacking its authenticity and originality. In spite of their conspiracy, the Qur’an has been preserved in its original form.

The Qur’an is the only Book in the world which has remained for the past fourteen centuries pure without any interpolation or change and will remain so till the Last Day as Allah has guaranteed its purity. (15:9).

Purity, preservation and propagation of the Qur’an
The purity, preservation and propagation of the Qur’an were maintained by two methods: memorization of Qur’an in Qur’anic schools and the recitation of the complete Qur’an in Ramadan. In the month of Ramadan every year the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by Archangel Jibreel to recite the whole of it twice. It was a Muzakira between the two. Abu Huraira reported that Jibreel used to repeat the recitation of the Qur’an with the Prophet once a year, but he repeated it twice with him in the year the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away. The Qur’an was recited in the Taraweeh for the first time during the era of Caliph Omar.

So far as the memorization of the Qur’an in Qur’anic schools is concerned, many Huffaz and Islamic scholars have been killed in different parts of the world at different times. But still there is no dearth of Islamic scholars who can recite the complete Qur’an from memory. Severe campaigns have been launched against the Qur’anic schools, which teach the study, recitation and memorization of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the main Book of the Muslims; it is the duty of the Muslims to learn Qur’an, which contains their code of life and ethical values whose benefits have been experienced by mankind throughout the ages.

I have already mentioned the objective and importance of the Qur’an and how its originality and purity have been maintained. Our Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions dedicated their days and nights for worship. Their lives revolved completely around the Book of Allah, the Qur’an, reciting it in and out of Salah.

The Qur’an is the basis of the religion of Islam, and on the preservation and propagation of the Qur’an depends the very existence of this Faith. Hence the virtue of learning and teaching the Qur’an is self-evident and does not need further elucidation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best amongst you is he who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” (Bukhari, Daud and Tirmidhi).

A great Islamic scholar wrote in his book entitled Toward Understanding of the Qur’an: “The present arrangement of the Qur'an is not the work of later generations, but was made by the Prophet under God's direction. Whenever a Surah was revealed, the Prophet summoned his scribes, to whom he carefully dictated its contents, and instructed them where to place it in relation to the other Surahs. The Prophet followed the same order of Surahs and verses when reciting during ritual Prayer as on other occasions, and his Companions followed the same practice in memorizing the Qur'an. It is therefore a historical fact that the collection of the Qur'an came to an end on the very day that its revelation ceased. The One who was responsible for its revelation was also the One who fixed its arrangement. The one whose heart was the receptacle of the Qur'an was also responsible for arranging its sequence. This was far too important and too delicate a matter for anyone else to dare to become involved in.”

“Not even the most skeptical person has any reason to doubt that the Qur'an as we know it today is identical with the Qur'an which Muhammad (peace be on him) set before the world; this is an unquestionable, objective, historical fact, and there is nothing in human history on which the evidence is so overwhelmingly strong and conclusive. To doubt the authenticity of the Qur'an is like doubting the existence of the Roman Empire, the Mughals of India, or Napoleon! To doubt historical facts like these is a sign of stark ignorance, not a mark of erudition and scholarships,” he added.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Greetings 2013

Ramadan Mubarak and
Ramadan Greetings 2013

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Greetings to all of you, especially to all the visitors and readers of Islamic Monitor blog: May this holy month bring barakah, and Allah's boundless mercy upon the believers and harmony and tolerance for the world.

This year Muslims almost everywhere welcome the coming of the month of Ramadan on the same day, on Wednesday, the 10th of July, 2013. Saudi Arabia, the heartland of Islam, the country of the Two Holy Mosques, the birthplace of Prophet Peace be upon him, is performing Ramadan on Wednesday. The Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to sight the crescent of the lunar month of Ramadan on July 8 (Monday) evening. But the lunar moon was not sighted at sunset Monday evening. So the holy month of Ramadan begins today, Wednesday, 10th of July, 2013. The UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore also announced that Ramadan will begin on Wednesday.

Ramadan in Canada will start on Wednesday, 10th of July, 2013. On behalf of the Muslim community of Ottawa-Gatineau, the Council of Imams of Ottawa-Gatineau (CIOG) extended its best wishes to all Canadians and the Muslims upon the arrival of the blessed month of Ramadan. As instructed by our beloved Rasool (SAW) to begin and end the fasting of the month of Ramadaan based on the actual sighting of the new moon, we are pleased to inform our community that there were no confirmed moon sighting reports on the eve of Monday July 8 (29 Sha’ban). Therefore we will complete 30 days of Sha’ban and 1st day of Ramadan will be Wednesday July 10, 2013 insha-Allah.

British Muslims welcome Ramadan: the month of discipline, compassion and solidarity on Wednesday, 10th of July 2013. British Muslims will join over a billion Muslims all over the world in a month of fasting, charity and solidarity. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the umbrella organisation of the Muslim community of Britain, extended its warmest wishes to all for a blessed, spiritual and peaceful Ramadan, the MCB’s press release said. The governments of many countries issued Ramadan Message to Muslims in their countries and around the world (see below).

Ramadan Mubarak to You All
I welcome Ramadan, the month of Mercy and Repentance, the month of the Qur’an, of Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power) and of repentance and forgiveness. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Pillars of the Islamic faith. It was declared an obligatory duty (Fard) in the second year of the Hijrah upon each and every mukallaf (one capable of carrying out religious duties, i.e. a sane adult).

Allah the Almighty made Ramadan fasting compulsory for Muslims. Allah said, “O those who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as were enjoined upon those before so that you be God-fearing.’ [Surah Baqarah, 183]. Literally, Sawm means ‘to abstain’. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means ‘to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse: with the conditions that one abstains continuously from dawn to sunset, and that there is an intention to fast.’ Therefore, should one eat or drink anything even a minute before sunset, the fast will not be valid. Similarly, if one abstained from all these things throughout the day but made no intention to fast, there will be no fast here too.

Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an “…And eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread…” (Al-Qur’an, 2:187) Literally defined, fasting means to abstain “completely” from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year.

Fasting in Islam is based on the lunar calendar and is tied to the sightings of hilal, the crescent, or new moon. Allah the Almighty stated: “They ask you concerning the new moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time… (Al-Qur’an, 2:189). And the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Eat until you see the crescent and break not until you see the crescent. If it is cloudy calculate the period of the month.” (Muslim and others).

Fasting in Ramadan is compulsory upon every Muslim, male or female, who has these qualifications, e.g. mentally and physically fit, adult full of age which is normally fourteen and fairly certain that fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental, other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.

The said qualifications exclude the following categories: children under the age of puberty and discretion; men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and bear its hardships; sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast; travellers may break the fast temporarily during their travel;  pregnant women and women breast-feeding their children may also break their fast and women in the period of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days or of confinement (of a maximum of forty days. They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it.

The holy month of Ramadan is the month of mercy, forgiveness, and seeking release from the Hell-fire. It is the month of repentance and acceptance of prayers. It is the month when the devils are chained, the gates of Hell are looked and the gates of Paradise are opened.  That’s why; Muslims welcome Ramadan each year with energy and happiness, and are saddened only when the month departs. Fasting is for the living, not for mourning.

Ramadan is a month of worship. Muslims should welcome the month with repentance and seeking Allah’s pardon. We should keep away from committing sins; worship Allah sincerely and spending the night and day in prayer, supplication and recitation of the Holy Qur’an.

Fasting is a shield which helps prevent many sins and with which Muslim protects himself from Hell-fire. Fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also means to abstain from any falsehood in speech and action, from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing and quarrelling. Therefore, fasting helps to develop good behaviour.

Fasting inculcates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity, as a Muslim feels and experiences what his needy and hungry brothers feel. This gives Muslim a new sense of togetherness and association.

Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an: The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (between right and wrong). (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 185) As Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, every Muslim should prepare himself to welcome the blessed month of Ramadan by strengthening his relationship with the Qur’an. A Muslim is encouraged to complete one recitation of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan.

We should engage more and more in the recitation of the Qur’an, in dhikr (remembrance of Allah), perform extra Salah (ritual prayers) at night and renew identity with one another in our obedience to Allah.


King Abdullah’s Ramadan Message
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, greeted the people of Saudi Arabia and Muslims around the world on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.

In their Ramadan greetings, read out by Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, the King and Crown Prince reiterated that the Kingdom would follow its moderate policy with full conscience about its responsibility and message toward the Muslim world and the entire humanity as well.

“As such, the Kingdom would never allow extremists as well as mischievous people to misuse religion as a garb to hide behind it in order to serve their own interests. These people are doing harm to the sublime image of Islam through their overt practices and wrong interpretations,” the statement said.

The King and the Crown Prince emphasized that Islam rejects division in the name of one ideology or the other.

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s
Message for Ramadan
The British Prime Minister has marked the start of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, sending his warm wishes to Muslims in the UK and overseas. Prime Minister Cameron said, “As the holy month of Ramadan begins, I want to take this opportunity to send my warmest wishes to Muslims in Britain and across the world. During this hugely important time of prayer and fasting, we are reminded of the importance of charity and compassion. These are values and traditions at the heart of Islam but shared by those of all faiths in Britain.”

“So let me wish everyone peace, happiness and unity during this special time and say Ramadan Mubarak,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.

British deputy Prime Minister Nick
Clegg’s Ramadan Message
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sent Ramadan Message to Muslims. He said, “Salaam alaykum. As Muslims during Ramadan around the world fast for self-discipline and improvement, Spend time in prayer and contemplation, and come together, united in a spirit of sacrifice, generosity and hope, I know the thoughts of many will turn, again to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Deputy Prime Minister Clegg said, “The values of peace, empathy and charity are an essential part of this holy month of Ramadan. And evident within the invaluable contributions made by British Muslims to support and strengthen local communities across the UK. And this year I want to praise our Muslim communities for leading in a show of unity and support following the horrors of Woolwich.”

“Their committed voice for peace helps to make Britain the tolerant, open and wonderfully diverse country it is today. Ramadan Mubarak,” said deputy Prime Minister Clegg.

President Obama’s Ramadan
Message to Muslims
American President Barack Obama issued Ramadan Message on 8 July 2013, extending best wishes to Muslim communities in the United States and around the world. President Obama said, “With the start of the sacred month of Ramadan, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to Muslim communities here in the United States and around the world. For the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time for thoughtful reflection, fasting and devotion. It is also an opportunity for family and friends to come together and celebrate the principles that bind people of different faiths – a commitment to peace, justice, equality and compassion towards our fellow human beings. These bonds are far stronger than the differences that too often drive us apart.”

President Obama said, “In the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that millions of Muslim Americans enrich our nation each day – serving in our government, leading scientific breakthroughs, generating jobs and caring for our neighbors in need. I have been honoured to host an iftar dinner at the White House each of the past four years, and this year I look forward to welcoming Muslim Americans who are contributing to our country as entrepreneurs, activists and artists.”

President Obama also said, “I wish Muslims across America and around the world a month blessed with the joys of family, peace and understanding. Ramadan Kareem.”

Monday, 8 July 2013

Contributions of the Scholars of the Sub-continent to the Islamic learning

 Contributions of the Scholars of the 
Sub-continent to the Islamic Learning

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Knowing something is known the knowledge of that particular object, as for example, knowing an object ‘glass’ is the knowledge of that object ‘glass’. Similarly, Prophet peace be upon him said Allah the Almighty made five times prayer obligatory. So the knowing of this five times obligatory prayer is knowledge. But this knowing will turn into knowledge when it will be followed or when it will be acted upon. If one who has the knowledge of five times obligatory prayer and does not comply with or act upon it, then it means that knowledge is no knowledge at all.

Mufti Taqi Usmani was saying about knowledge while lecturing on the legacy of the scholars of the Sub-continent, particularly of Deoband. This reminds me of an incident. It was in late 50s of the last century. I would like to narrate that incident of a student of Deoband who graduated from that famous Islamic seminary. Just like this blessed month of Ramadan, that student, Maulana Ziaul Haque, my mother’s maternal grandfather, was praying Taraweeh behind a Hafez and then there was a lapse of a word in the recitation and Maulana Haque immediately corrected that. After the Taraweeh, the Hafez sahib asked Maulana Haque ‘you are not Hafez, how could you know a word was missing’. The Maulana replied, ‘I was following the meaning of what you were reciting.’ That was the depth of knowledge of a graduate from Deoband Islamic seminary.

Knowledge without action
Mufti Taqi Usmani argued that just having knowledge is not enough; it has to be in practice. He said, “Although I have knowledge, but because I am violating the principle that I know, I do not know. The knowledge of Shari’ah, the Fard, the Wajib, the Mustaheeb; this knowledge is not enough – try to observe, try to follow the Sunnah.”

After referring to Surah al-Baqarah where Allah has clearly pointed out the very important principle of knowledge referring to the Jews, Mufti Usmani argued, “Mere knowledge is not enough, unless it leads to some acts, attitudes and behaviour.”

Legacy of the Scholars of the Sub-continent
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani came from Pakistan to the United Kingdom recently. He came to a conference and book launch at the Edmonton Islamic Centre, Edmonton, London, on Saturday, 15th of June, 2013.

Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani is one of the leading contemporary scholars of today. After studying at Darul Uloom Karachi, Pakistan, the renowned institute established by his late father, Mufti Shafi Usmani, he has been teaching at the same institute over the last four decades and currently teaches Sahih al-Bukhari. Alongside his expertise in Islamic Law, Economics and Hadith, he has authored forty books in Arabic, Urdu and English on various topics.

Deoband – the Al-Azhar of India
Mufti Taqi Usmani mainly spoke on knowledge. But he begun by saying that the previous speakers discussed and introduced the great scholars of the Sub-continent, their services and accomplishments, different aspects of their accomplishments. Mufti Usmani also said that you have been listening about the services and accomplishments of the scholars of the Sub-continent, particularly the scholars of Deoband. He pointed out that people used to call Deoband – the great university – ‘the Al-Azhar of India’ in promoting and teaching of Islam.

Let me quote him about the Deoband Scholars from the preface of his book, “The Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary” launched on 15 June, 2013, “The scholars of Deoband were blessed with the exemplary characteristics of the Companions and Successors; not only in their speech and writings, but also in their deeds and behaviour. This fact becomes all the more significant when it is considered that the example set by these scholars arises from the recent, rather than the more distant, past.”

Mufti Taqi Usmani said, “We are just referring to them (scholars of Deoband); we are not following them because they have not invented a new brand of Islam or a new sect or a different brand. We are praising them because these great people have presented Islamic knowledge. It is not exaggeration to say that we are here it is only because of the efforts of the scholars of the Indian sub-continent.”

While elaborating what he meant by saying what he said, Mufti Usmani mentioned, “Allah created mankind. The basic objective to send the Prophet (peace be upon him) is this: ‘We have revealed the Qur’an to you so that you may explain to people and so that they may ponder.’ Allah expressed, identified the explanation of the revelation given to the Prophet (peace be upon him) through Jibrael. Holy Qur’an was revealed in Arabic. The Arabs knew Arabic. They were eloquent poets. When the Holy Qur’an was revealed to them, to the Arabs; they did know them. What kind of explanation was required for those people? All the Sahabis, Companions-they were knowledgeable. They did not need any literal explanation. Still, Allah sent Prophet.”

“Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to the people, to the Arabs, to explain more or above the literary meaning. The Prophet explained through his faith and through his Sunnah, the way, the path of the Prophet. The way the Prophet explained the Qur’an,” explained Mufti Usmani.

Mufti Usmani then dealt with Shari’ah. Speaking about Shari’ah, he said, “Now Islamic Deen is composed of two things - Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet said: ‘There will be a time when my Ummah will be divided into as many sects as 72. The question will be who will be right among those sects. The Prophet mentioned the criteria: The way one which I am and the way on which my Companions. But he did not mention a particular group or a particular sect.”

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned the criteria. But the Companions did not write book, nor compile book nor did give lecture at great length. But every Sahabi, Companion used to narrate what they have learnt from the Prophet. Tabeyeen, the companion of the Companion of the Prophet used to narrate what they have learnt from the Companion of the Prophet. So the knowledge of Shari’ah is transferred from generation to generation,” explained Mufti Usmani.

The point which Mufti Taqi Usmani wanted to make is knowledge. He said, “There are two different ways to acquire knowledge; to read from books; study and read without consulting any teacher or professor. It cannot give you expertise, skill. You cannot achieve a status – knowledgeable person.”

Mufti Usmani maintained, “Allah says the knowledge through this proper channel. We refer to the Ulema of the Indian Sub-continent or to these scholars of Deoband. It was based on the tradition of learning – Prophet, Companions, Shaykh Ahmad Zahed Kaushiri.”

Centre of Islamic learning
Then Mufti Taqi Usmani mentioned how the centre of learning changed throughout the centuries. He said, “Centre of Islamic learning have been shifting from place to place. First centre of Islamic learning was Madinah, Hejaz; then the time came when this centre shifted from Madinah to Syria; then the centre was transferred to Iraq, then the centre of Islamic learning transferred to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and lastly now the centre has been transferred to the Sub-continent because the scholars of Indian Sub-continent have proved that no other country has parallel to them.”

Scholars of Deoband
“Scholars of Deoband had the very deep insight into the different aspects of Islamic learning. This is one of the reasons. Indian scholars have exalted in explaining the texts and the Sunnah,” argued Mufti Taqi Usmani and added, “The second reason, according to kausori, was that knowledge, although literary means to know; the real knowledge is when his action conformed to his knowledge.”

Knowledge without action
Mufti Taqi Usmani maintained that just having knowledge is not enough; it has to be in practice. He said, “Although I have knowledge, but because I am violating the principle that I know, I do not know. The knowledge of Shari’ah, the Fard, the Wajib, the Mustaheeb. This knowledge is not enough – try to observe, try to follow the Sunnah.”

After referring to Surah al-Baqarah where Allah has clearly pointed out the very important principle of knowledge referring to the Jews, Mufti Usmani argued, “Mere knowledge is not enough, unless it leads to some acts, attitudes and behaviour.”

Mufti Usmani said, “Majority of the scholars of the Indian sub-continent reflecting the true knowledge. They give full importance to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They had the deep knowledge of the discipline, they reflect their act.”

Official Book Launch
Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary
Mufti Taqi Usmani gave the above lecture on the occasion of the official Book launch of “The Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary” written by Mufti Taqi Usmani. The publisher, Taurah publishers & Ebrahim College, presented The Legacy of the Scholars of the Sub-continent incorporating the official Book launch.

Among the speakers at the Conference were Shaykh al-Islam Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Shaykh Shams Ad Duha spoke on ‘Lessons from India under the leadership of the Scholars of the Subcontinent”;  Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam al-Kawthari spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Science of Jurisprudence/Fiqh’; Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf spoke on ‘Contributions of the Subcontinent Scholars to the Qur’anic Studies’; Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq spoke on ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Hadith Sciences;’ Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Sciences of heart/Tazkiya.

Shaykh Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf
Shaykh Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf spoke on the “Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Qur’an Sciences”.  He mentioned about Shah Waliullah and his three sons and said, “They have done translation, Tafsir and Tajweed. Qur’an was written by Osmani script, it was without dots. There was no dot, just the letter. The Sub-continental scholars were dealing with that,” he said.

Shaykh Ibn Yusuf mentioned about the seven scholars of the Subcontinent who worked on the Qur’an and said, “Scholars of the Sub-continent was able to preserve the Qur’an. Maulana Taqi Usmani has the translation of the Qur’an in Urdu as well in English.”

Then Shaykh Ibn Yusuf mentioned about the six most authentic books of Hadiths. Muslims view these six major Hadith collections as the most important. Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sahih Abo Dawood, Tirmidhi, An-nasai and Ibn Majah.

“We have at least 15 major Fiqh collections in the Sub-continent. That rich heritage has to be brought to this country, England, great heritage into English language,” he said.

Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq
Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq spoke on ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Hadith Sciences.’ Shaykh Riyadh ul-Haq said, “How do we understand the Qur’an? To learn the Qur’an; to know the Qur’an through the Prophet (peace be upon him). He teaches the Book – the sacred duty that we find in the Sunnah and that Sunnah is contained in the Hadiths. And what is Hadith? Hadith is his (Prophet) utterances, his explicit approval, his manners, his eating etc.”

“Muslims have devoted themselves to the study of the Prophet (peace be upon him). What was the Khuluq? It is Prophet’s character, manners, conduct and personality.  Ummehatul Mumeneen Hazrat Ayesha was asked about the Prophet, she said he is the Qur’an, the living embodiment of the Qur’an. One has to study the Qur’an, Hadith has that. To abandon the Hadith, one cannot understand the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). Hadith without the Prophet; impossible. That’s why, Hadith was always the focus of the Ulema,” he explained.

Shaykh Riyadh ul-Haq spoke at great length on the collection of the Hadiths. How the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) travelled a long distance in order to collect, listen and search one word of Hadith. He mentioned how scholars from Spain in the third century travelled to Baghdad. They travelled from Cordova to Baghdad on foot – the whole North Africa.

“Hadith was introduced in the very early days of the very beginning of Islam. Hadith is an integral part of Islam. Each century has unprecedented works on the commentary on Hadiths by the scholars of the Indian sub-continent. There are numerous commentaries,” said Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul-Haq and added, “Scholars of the Subcontinent have made a remarkable contribution to the Hadiths through learning, preserving, memorizing and teaching.”

Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada
Shaykh Abdur Rahim Limbada spoke on the ‘Contributions of the Scholars of the Subcontinent to the Sciences of heart/Tazkiya/Spirituality.

Shaykh Abdur Rahim first defined Tasawwuf. According to him, “Tasawwuf is to turn away from the world and turn towards Allah. Tasawwuf is the name of highest Adab – good behaviour.”

Abdur Rahim said, “Tasawwuf is the name of excel in Adab; Tasawwuf is the preaching of Shari’ah in utmost throughout with sincerity. Tasawwuf is keeping lustful desires under control. Tasawwuf begins with correcting your intention; learn how to correct your intention; you should be sincere in your road to Tasawwuf; you are constantly remembering Allah, worship Allah as if you are seeing Him.

He enquired who is Sufi.  And said, “Sufi is he whose heart is clean from all dirtiness; who detaches himself from creation and turns towards the Creator, to Allah. He is not concerned with Dunya.

Speaking about the good side of Tasawwuf, Shaykh Abdur Rahim said, “Humbleness, generosity, denouncing the pleasure of this world; loving Hereafter, Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him). “