October 31, 2005

Jihad versus Violence

The following excerpt comes from Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl's article, "Peaceful Jihad." Dr. Khaled is a Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law. He was recently in Singapore, and Inabah magazine, a publication of Masjid Khadijah, was given permission to publish a number of his articles. (To read the entire article, click on the Inabah button at the top of Masjid Khadijah's website, then click on the Issue 21 icon. The article, in PDF format, is on pp. 18-20.)

I've chosen this particular excerpt because I think Dr. Khaled provides a very good distinction between the concepts of jihad and qital. The concept of jihad is often confused by non-Muslims with what we Muslims call qital, or fighting. Jihad and qital, as Dr. Khaled shows, are quite distinct concepts from each other and jihad, which is a positive value, should not be confused with qital.

I've also included two additional paragraphs to this excerpt because it helps to illustrate some of the limitations that are placed on qital that we Muslims are to follow:

"Jihad is a core principle in Islamic theology; it means to strive, to apply oneself: to struggle, and persevere. In many ways, jihad connotes a strong spiritual and material work ethic in Islam. Piety, knowledge, health, beauty, truth, and justice are not possible without jihad - without sustained and diligent hard work. Therefore, cleansing oneself from vanity and pettiness, pursuing knowledge, curing the ill, feeding the poor, and standing up for truth and justice even at great personal risk are all forms of jihad.

"The Qur'an uses the term jihad to refer to the act of striving to serve the purposes of God on this Earth, which include all the acts mentioned above. Importantly, the Qur'an does not use the word jihad to refer to warfare or fighting; such acts are referred to as qital. While the Qur'an's call to jihad is unconditional and unrestricted, such is not the case for qital. Jihad is a good in and of itself while qital is not. Every reference in the Qur'an to qital is therefore restricted and limited by particular conditions, but exhortations to jihad, like the references to justice or truth, are absolute and unconditional. Consequently, the early Muslims were not allowed to engage inqital until God gave them specific permission to do so. The Qur'an is careful to note that Muslims were given permission to fight because they had become the victims of aggression. Furthermore, the Qur'an instructs Muslims to fight only those who fight them and not to transgress, for God does not approve of aggression.

"In addition, the Qur'an goes on to specify that if the enemy ceases hostilities and seeks peace, Muslims should seek peace as well. Failure to seek peace without just cause is considered arrogant and sinful. In fact, the Qur'an reminds Muslims not to pick fights and not to create enemies, indicating that it is a Divine blessing when one chooses to make peace. God has the power to inspire in the hearts of non-Muslims a desire for peace, and Muslims must treat such a blessing with gratitude and appreciation, not defiance and arrogance.

"In light of this Qur'anic discourse, Muslim jurists debated what would consitute a sufficient and just cause for fighting non-Muslims. Are non-Muslims fought because of their act of disbelief or only becase they pose a physical threat to Muslims? Most jurists concluded that the justification for fighting non-Muslims is directly proportional to the physical threat they pose to Muslims. In other words, if they do not threaten or seek to harm Muslims, then there is no justification for acts of belligerence or warfare. Similarly, relying on precedents set by the Prophet, classical Muslim jurists held that non-combatants - children, women, people of advanced age, monks, hermits, priests, or anyone else who does not seek to or cannot fight Muslims are inviolable and may not be targeted."

October 25, 2005

Now if you really want to emulate the Prophet (pbuh)...

Prior to the start of Ramadhan, my ustaz had asked me how many how many years I have fasted, and I said that this would be (is now) my sixth Ramadhan. He replied that I have almost caught up with the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who fasted for eight years. (The command for Muslims to fast during Ramadhan is located in verses 2:183-5. According to Maududi, "The greater part of Al-Baqarah was revealed during the first two years of the Holy Prophet's life at Al-Madinah.")

However, if we really wish to emulate the Prophet (pbuh) in his fasting, we need to fast a lot more than just eight Ramadhans. From Saiyid Sulaiman Nadwi's book, "Muhammad, The Ideal Prophet: A Historic, Practical, Perfect Model for Humanity" (translated by Mohiuddin Ahmad), page 101:

"The Prophet commended keeping of fasts throughout the month of Ramadhan. But, in addition to these, he punctuated every week with a fast or two. 'When he took to the keeping of fasts,' says 'Ayesha, 'it appeared as if he would never give them up.' The Prophet forbade his followers to prolong the voluntary fasts beyond a day at a time, but he himself used to fast continuously for days together without even taking anything during the night. If his companions tried to emulate him, he dissuaded them saying: 'Who amongst you is like me? My Lord provideth sustenance to me.' Normally, he kept fast for the whole of two months during Sh'aban and Ramadhan, the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month, the first ten days of Muharram, six days following the 'Id-ul-fitr, and on Mondays and Thursdays in every week. In this manner did the Prophet teach his followers how to keep fasts."

October 19, 2005

'Adi bin Hatim

A few months ago, I purchased Saiyid Sulaiman Nadwi's book, "Muhammad, The Ideal Prophet: A Historic, Practical, Perfect Model for Humanity" (translated by Mohiuddin Ahmad), and had promptly lost it. (Meaning, it had disappeared somewhere in my tiny flat. :) ) The other day, I found the book hidden by some bigger books in one of my bookcases, and I started reading it for the first time. The book, a series of lectures given in India in 1925, has been a great read so far. The following paragraph (from p. 82) is one of the book's many gems. When I first read this paragraph, I gasped (twice) and felt the start of tears forming, I was so touched by the beauty of this passage:

'Adi, the son of Hatim, the famous chief of the tribe of Tay, was still a Christian when he called upon the Prophet in Madina for the second time. He saw, on the one hand, the deference paid to the Prophet by his devoted companions and, on the other, the preparations being made for the holy war. Unable to decide whether Muhammad was a prophet or a king, he was still in two minds when he saw a slave girl coming to seek the Prophet's advice in private. "Come on," he heard the Prophet replying, "I'll go wherever you want." 'Adi at once saw that no king could be so modest and unassuming. He threw away the cross hanging from his neck and embraced Islam."

October 17, 2005

A Reminder for Ramadhan

A reminder for fellow Muslims about just how good life is for us, even while we fast during this holy month of Ramadhan:

"Abu Talha relates that once he saw the Prophet [pbuh] lying in the mosque. He was, at the time, hungry and restless. Some of his companions, on another occasion, complained of hunger to the Prophet and showed him the slab of stone each had tied to his stomach to mitigate the aching void. They found the Prophet [pbuh] still more famished for he had tied two slabs of stones to his stomach. At times his voice showed that he was starving. Another time, when he had had nothing to eat for quite a few days, he went to see Abu Ayyub Ansari who immediately brought some fresh dates and got some meals cooked for him. Before taking anything brought to him, he sent a bread with some meat to Fatima who had also not taken anything for the last two days."

-- Saiyid Sulaiman Nadwi, "Muhammad, The Ideal Prophet: A Historic, Practical, Perfect Model for Humanity," Translated by Mohiuddin Ahmad, p. 104

October 10, 2005

The 9/11 Terrorists and Shirk

The following is a comment I've made on Lost Budgie's blog. I felt that this topic (shirk) was an important one to discuss, both for the education of non-Muslims and to warn any forgetful Muslims not to engage in that most foolish of behavior, one that they would ultimately regret.

Lost Budgie wrote: "So, how about it? In as unequivocal a manner as possible, and with no weasel words, please clearly state that those Muslims who crashed the airplanes on 9/11 were NOT martyrs to Islam and that they are burning in hell."

I had been asked to respond to certain of your comments on this thread and, originally, I was going to do that; however, I then decided not to because I felt your post and comments were just too silly and islamophobic to argue with. Plus, it's Ramadhan and I would rather keep to the theme of the month; namely, practicing self-restraint. Still, this last comment of yours deserves a response, if only to educate you and other non-Muslims on an important point of Islam.

What you've asked us to do, in the above quotation, is - quite simply - extremely sinful behavior. In Arabic, the sin is known as shirk, or the association of others with Allah (swt). This is the one sin Allah (swt) has told us that he will never forgive. The fact of the matter is that we cannot say one way or another whether *anyone* (let alone the 19 highjackers of 9/11) is or will be in heaven or hell. We cannot even say whether a person is in or out of Islam. These decisions are Allah's (swt) alone; we do not have the prerogative, authority nor ability to make such pronouncements. To think that we can is to think that we have some of the powers of Allah (swt), and that is shirk, because we are setting ourselves up as Allah's (swt) equal - and that, of course, can never be. After all, no human being is a god. Astagfirullah!

October 05, 2005

Study: Unwed Mothers 'Tend to Not Marry Well'

In Islam, zina, or sexual intercourse between a man and woman who are not married to each other, is strictly forbidden. Of course, in Western society today, the sin of zina is rampant; however, the following news item may be of interest. Published by livescience.com, a recently published study shows some of the negative consequences for women who conceive children after having committed zina:

Women who have children out of wedlock are about 30 percent less likely to get married than childless single women, according to a new study.

When unwed mothers do marry, they are more likely to land husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of women who don't have children.

"It's more difficult for unwed mothers to get married, and if they do, they tend to not marry well,"
said Zhenchao Qian, associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University.

More than a third of female-headed families with children live in poverty compared to only 6 percent of married couples with children, Qian said. Marriage may not help unwed mothers economically, however, because their partners tend to lack education and are less likely to have opportunities for good-paying jobs.

The study drew from data collected in the Current Population Survey between 1980 and 1995. The sample included 102,722 women aged 18 to 34.

Their results are detailed in the current issue of the journal Social Forces.

(Emphasis mine.)

One more reason to follow Islam!