Sunday, May 28, 2006

Meeting God: a few stray thoughts...

Peace, one and all...
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...
'My God, though the sins of Your servant are ugly, Your pardon is beautiful'; indeed, how could it not be otherwise, when You are nur al-samawati wa al-ard and when You guide to Your Light whom You will. You encompass me utterly; I am undone before You. Aalim al-Ghaybi wa al-shahadati wa huwa al-Rahman al-Rahim. My heart lies bare and I have neither escape, nor excuse. I am shattered before You. 'Would that I were dust'! 'A thing forgotten'! And yet, me being me, I hope for Your mercy. Ya Rabbi!
Astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik. Innaka anta al-Tawwab al-Rahim...
Abdur Rahman
('Servant of the Most Merciful')

A Treatise on Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)

Peace, one and all...
Here are some further examples of Imam Zayn al-`Abideen. In particular, this is his Risalat al-Huquq (or 'Treatise on Rights'). I was reading through it today and it's an inspiring piece. So, in a spirit of mutual benefit, I thought I'd share it with you all here.
I've posted the Introduction to the Risalat here. Insha Allah Ta'ala I'll post the rest in sections in the next few days. So, as Imam al-Haddad says, 'Learn and understand'...
Introduction

'KNOW - God have mercy upon you - that God has rights against you and that these encompass you in every movement through which you move, every rest through which you rest, every waystation in which you reside, every limb which you employ, and every instrument which you put to work. Some of these rights are greater and some less.

[A] [1] The greatest of God's rights against you is the right which He has made incumbent upon you for Himself and which is the root of all rights, then [2] those which He has made incumbent upon you in yourself, from your crown to your foot, in keeping with the diversity of your organs. He has given [3] your tongue a right against you, [4] your hearing a right against you, [5] your sight a right against you, [6] your hand a right against you, [7] your leg a right against you, [8] your stomach a right against you, [9] and your private part a right against you. These are the seven organs through which acts (af'al) take place.

[B] Then He gave your acts rights against you: He gave [10] your ritual prayer a right against you, [12] your fasting a right against you, [13] your charity a right against you, [14] your offering a right against you, and your acts a right against you.

[C] Then these rights extend out from you to others who have rights against you. he most incumbent of them against you are the rights toward your leaders (a'imma), then the rights toward your subjects (ra'iyya), then the rights toward your womb [relatives] (rahim). From these rights branch out other rights. [C1] The rights of your leaders are three: The most incumbent upon you is [15] the right of him who trains you through authority, then [16] of him who trains you through knowledge, then [17] of him who trains you through property. [C2] The rights of your subjects are three: The most incumbent upon you is [18] the right of those who are your subjects through authority, then [19] the right of those who are your subjects through knowledge for the man of ignorance is the subject of the man of knowledge then the right of those who are your subjects through property, such as [20] wives and [21] what is owned by the right hand.

[C3] The rights of your womb relatives are many; they are connected to you in the measure of the connection of the womb relationship. The most incumbent upon you is [22] the right of your mother, then [23] the right of your father, then [24] the right of your child, then [25] the right of your brother, then the next nearest, then the next nearest - the most worthy, then the next most worthy.

[D] Then there is [26] the right of your master who favours you [by freeing you from slavery], then [27] the right of the slave whose favours reach you [by the fact that you free him], then [28] the right of him who does a kindly act toward you, then [29] the right of the muezzin who calls you to the ritual prayer, then [30] the right of the imam who leads the prayer, then [31] the right of your sitting companion, then [32] the right of your neighbour, then [33] the right of your companion, then [34] the right of your partner, then [35] the right of your property, then the right of him who has a debt he must pay back to you, then [36] the right of him to whom you owe a debt, then [37] the right of your associate, then [38] the right of your adversary who has a claim against you, then [39] the right of your adversary against whom you have a claim, then [40] the right of him who asks you for advice, then [41] the right of him whom you ask for advice, then [42] the right of him who asks your counsel, then [43] the right of him who counsels you, then [44] the right of him who is older than you, then [45] the right of him who is younger than you, then [46] the right of him who asks from you, then [47] the right of him from whom you ask, then the right of [48] him who does something evil to you through word or deed, or [49] him who makes you happy through word or deed, intentionally or unintentionally, then [50] the right of the people of your creed, then [51] the right of the people under your protection, then all rights in the measure of the causes of the states and the occurrence of events.

Therefore happy is he whom God aids in the rights which He has made incumbent upon him and whom He gives success therein and points in the proper direction!

Subhanak Allahumma wa bihamdik ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik...
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(a faulty 'Servant of the Most Merciful')

The Supplications of Imam Zayn al-`Abideen

Peace, one and all...
I recently posted one of the supplications (du'a) of Imam Zayn al-`Abideen Ali b. al-Husayn (radi Allah anhu). See here for the original post. I wanted to post another selection for our spiritual edification here. So, here goes...
His Supplication in Seeking Asylum with God...
1
O God, if Thou willest, Thou wilt pardon us through Thy bounty and if Thou willest, Thou wilt chastise us through Thy justice.
2
So make our ways smooth to Thy pardon through Thy kindness and grant us sanctuary from Thy chastisement through Thy forbearance, for none of us has the endurance for Thy justice and none of us can reach deliverance without Thy pardon!
3
O Richest of the rich! Here we are, Thy servants, before Thee. I am the neediest of the needy toward Thee, so redress our neediness through Thy plenty and cut us not off from our hopes through Thy withholding, lest Thou makest wretched him who seeks felicity through Thee and deprivest him who seeks help from Thy bounty!
4
Then to whom would we return after Thee? Where would we go from Thy gate? Glory be to Thee! We are the distressed, the response to whom Thou hast made incumbent, the people from whom Thou hast promised to remove the evil.

5
That thing most resembling Thy will and that affair most worthy for Thee in Thy mightiness is showing mercy to him who asks Thee for mercy and helping him who seeks help from Thee.
So show mercy upon our pleading with Thee and free us from need when we throw ourselves before Thee!
6
O God, Satan will gloat over us if we follow him in disobeying Thee, so bless Muhammad and his Household and let him not gloat over us after we have renounced him for Thee and beseeched Thee against him!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

The Message...

Peace, one and all...
I'm currently sitting in my father-in-law's house, watching The Message with my young brother-in-law. This film holds a special place in my affections, as it was really the first coherent account of the Prophet's life (saw) that I saw as a new Muslim, back in rural West Wales.
Although, of course, watching the Message is no substitute for serious study and reflection, it certainly helped ease me into Islam. In these times, where film and TV are the predominant media, I suppose that it's also helpful in getting the message across.
O Allah! How the heart aches for You!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Secret Ways...

Peace, one and all...
Here's a short poem from Rumi for your inner nourishment. Enjoy!
'King, saint, thief, madman -
Love has grabbed everyone by the neck
And drags us to God by secret ways...
How could I ever have guessed
That God, too, desired us?
(Rumi, Odes)
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Mevlana Speaks...

Peace, one and all...
May the Lord bless you and keep you, all the days of your life...
Here's a further poetic offering. Again, as you can see, inspired by the words of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...
The Mevlana Speaks…

‘Your depression is connected to your insolence and refusal to praise’
The Mevlana speaks a word of truth.
O Soul! Is ignorance truly your delight?
Is depression the choicest garment you could find for God’s own Feast?
Should you not seek ‘entrance to that King’,
carrying the works of your heart upon your ragged sleeve?
Or dance in happy abandon for His overflowing Love?

O Unhappy One! Why do you eat at His Table (al-Ma’idah) with downcast face,
in insolent despair at the supposed paucity of His fare?
O Thief! Or do you steal from Him, who gives to all in freely offered gift?
Do you spurn His love, truly?
Do you argue the menu with the Owner of all,
when He has prepared dish, menu and ability to eat?

Again, the Mevlana speaks...
‘It's such an unnecessary foolishness, because just beyond the arguing
There's a long table of companionship, set and waiting for us to sit down’

Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(in the hope of His mercy)

'And God carries the Water'!

Peace, one and all...
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim wa al-salatu wa al-salamu `ala Rasul illah...
This poem was inspired by a line of poetry from Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.
‘And God carries the Water’…

‘And God carries the Water’ with which I pour out my shame, my weakness, my hope,

‘And God carries the Water’ with which I seek to wash away the stains of this world,

‘And God carries the Water’ which sustains me on my long journey Home,

‘And God carries the Water’ through which I ready my soul to face Him in prayer,

‘And God carries the Water’ which brings forth new life from the nightly intertwining of garment into garment,

‘And God carries the Water’ to wherever He so wills, bringing new life to dead earth,

‘And God carries the Water’ through which I swim, seeking the Safinah al-Din,

‘And God carries the Water’ I share with wife, children, family, in grateful reflection for the beauty of the Everlasting Sea,

‘And God carries the Water’ rushing from mountain brook, to river delta, carrying all things in its wake,

‘And God carries the Water’ in which I seek to drown, a thing forgotten, though I stand still upon the shore,

‘And God carries the Water’...

Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(faulty 'Servant of the Most Merciful')

Poetic Reflections...

Peace, one and all...
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim wa al-salatu wa al-salamu `ala Rasul illah...
I wanted to post some poetry. So, here goes...

'Ore in the mine of desire,
Awaiting the nar of God’s Mercy,
The nur of His Majesty,
To set me free.
Like ore, part iron, part rubble,
Hoping to become
A sword purified by the fire of Allah,
Beaten flat
By my need for Him.
‘I am burning’ sighs the Mevlana,
Ya Rabbi! Let me set Your flame amidst my own unworthy rubbish!
O Soul inclined to evil! Remember
‘And God carries the Water’!'

Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Corner Culture: Islamic Hip Hop?

Peace, one and all...
Ma'as salama wa al-salatu wa al-salamu ala rasul illah...
I'm currently listening to some Muslim poetry, set to music. It's by Tyson and is entitled Mecca to Medina. Ma sha Allah, inspiring poetry, all in praise in of Allah and the noble Messenger.
I found this on Muslim Hip Hop.com. At first glance, this might seem a very odd combination. Personally, Islamic lyrics in Hip Hop was one of the primary means of drawing me to Islam (way back in the early '90s). Although, for sure, there's a lot of odd stuff out there, there are some jewels amidst the dust too.
In exploring Islamic hip hop, one also has to take account of the teachings of the 5% Nation of Islam (or the Nation of Gods and Earths as they are called now). Even a cursory understanding of rap vocabulary will illustrate the extent to which 5% teachings have filtered through into popular hip hop consciousness. Terms in rap, such as 'Word is Born', 'Knowledge Knowledge', 'Cipher', 'Peace God' are all drawn from the ideas of the Nation of Gods and Earths.
Now I certainly do not intend to rubbish anyone else's spirituality. It seems to me that everyone has the right to their own beliefs, even if I feel they're wrong. It has to be said, though, that the 5 percenters do not represent mainstream Islam; indeed, they would not generally use the term 'Muslim' in describing themselves.
The Nation of Islam has also been very influential in the development of 'Islamic' hip hop. Again, they have their own particular beliefs, which I do not share, but they have been very important in this area. Public Enemy and Ice Cube are their most famous proteges.
Rap has always been about poetry for me: lyrical expression set to music. So, on that level, Muslim hip hop seems to me a good thing - in that it turns a negative into a positive. On the other hand, these days I really can't stand pop rap, which seems to have nothing else to offer beyond 'I've got money and I've got a large gun, look at all the women I've got'!!! BORING! Indeed, this kind of (c)rap is positively dangerous, as it teaches people that material gain is the true aim of life. Moreover, given the importance of hip hop in popular culture, this kind of rap seems almost criminal.
Wa akhiru da'wana an il hamu lillah rabbil alameen...
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cornerstones: Hope & Trust in God...

Peace, one and all...
May the Blessings and Mercies of God be with you too!
I was recently reading Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani's Bashair al-Khariat ('Glad Tidings of Good Things') and was struck by its simplicity and its beauty. Consequently, I wanted to post an excerpt here. Or, rather, I wanted to post one its own excerpts from the Quran.
Amidst the worries and strife of this fleeting world, it's not always easy to keep hold of hope. Personally, I find that I can't help thinking of my own sins and so fear seems to predominate at present. Islam aims to develop the tension between fear and hope for a creative purpose and so, it's good to reflect on the mercy of God (the Glorified and Exalted).
The following extracts are one of many Quranic passages quoted by Shaykh Abd al-Qadir (may Allah sanctify his secret):
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...
'And give glad tidings to the believers,
wa bashshiri l-muminin.
(2:223)

And that Allah does not waste
wa anna llaha
the wage of the believers.
la yudiu ajra l-muminin'.
(3:171)
Allah! Allah! What beautiful words: everything we do is noted, and God doesn't allow our rewards to be lost.

'[There are signs for] those who remember Allah,
alladhina yadhkuruna llaha qiyaman
standing and sitting and on their sides,
wa quudan wa ala junubi-him
and who reflect upon the creation of the heavens
wa yatafakkaruna fi khalqi s-samawati
and the earth: Our Lord, You have not
wa l-ard: Rabba-na ma khalaqta
created this in vain. Glory be to You!
hadha batila: subhana-ka
So guard us against the torment of the Fire.
fa-qi-na adhaba n-nar.
(al-Quran al-Karim 3:191)

Glory to Allah indeed! Here's a couple of pictures of some of God's wonders. It was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (from the Great Images in NASA website):
Ma'as salama,
An awe struck Abdur Rahman
(the faulty 'Servant of the Most Merciful')

Speaking Truth to Power...

Peace, one and all...
I was recently reading Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti's Fatwa on Suicide Bombings and as this is such an important issue at present, I thought I'd include a link here (as well as some particularly important passages). Ma sha Allah, is about all I could say whilst reading it: a work of scholarship and insight. It's uplifting to know that our Sacred Law (Shariah) is still alive and that its scholars are still hard at work (may Allah support them in their labours).
The link given above will take you to the entire document (hats off to Masud.co.uk). Apparently, the original work was posted on the Living Islam website (run by Sheikh Gibril Haddad). However, I wanted to quote some of the latter stages of the fatwa here as they are of special importance (and also of an easily digestible length). Again, my intention here is also to add to the publicising of this important fatwa...
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...

'It is truly sad that despite our sophisticated and elaborate set of rules of engagement and in spite of the strict codes of warfare and the chivalrous disciplines which our soldiers are expected to observe, all having been thoroughly worked out and codified by the orthodox jurists of the Umma from among the generations of the Salaf, there are today in our midst those who are not ashamed to depart from these sacred conventions in favour of opinions espoused by persons who are not even trained in the Sacred Law at all let alone enough to be a Qadi or a Faqih – the rightful heir and source from which they should receive practical guidance in the first place. Instead they rely on engineers or scientists and on those who are not among its ahl yet speak in the name of our Law. With these "reformist" preachers and da'i comes a departure from the traditional ideas about the rules of Siyar/Jihad/Qital, i.e., warfare. Do they not realise that by doing so and by following them they will be ignoring the limitations and restrictions cherished and protected by our pious forefathers and that they will be turning their backs on the Jama'a and Ijma' and that they will be engaging in an act for which there is no accepted legal precedent among the orthodoxy in our entire history? Have they forgotten that part of the original maqsad of warfare/jihad was to limit warfare itself and that warfare for Muslims is not total war, so that women, children and innocent bystanders are not to be killed and property not to be needlessly destroyed?
To put it plainly, there is simply no legal precedent in the history of Sunni Islam for the tactic of attacking civilians and overtly non-military targets. Yet the awful reality today is that a minority of Sunni Muslims, whether in Iraq or Beslan or elsewhere, have perpetuated such acts in the name of Jihad and on behalf of the Umma. Perhaps the first such mission to break this long and admirable precedent was the Hamas bombing on a public bus in Jerusalem in 1994 – not that long ago. (Ponder about this fact!) Immediately after the incident, the almost unanimous response of the orthodox Shafi'i jurists from the Far East and the Hadramawt was not only to make clear that the minimum legal position from our Sacred Law is untenable, but also to warn the Umma that by going down that path we would be compromising the optimum way of Ihsan and that we would thereby be running a real risk of losing the moral and religious high ground. Those who still defend this tactic, invoking blindly a nebulous usuli principle that it is justifiable out of darura while ignoring the far'i strictures, must look long and hard at what they are doing and ask the question: was it absolutely necessary, and if so, why was this not done before 1994, and especially during the earlier wars, most of all during the disasters
of 1948 and 1967?
How could such a tactic be condoned by one of our rightly guided caliphs and a heroic fighter such as 'Ali (may Allah ennoble his face!), who when in the Battle of the Trench his notorious non-Muslim opponent, who was seconds away from being killed by him, spat on his noble face, immediately left him alone. When asked later his reasons for withdrawing when Allah clearly gave him power over him, answered: "I was fighting for the sake of God, and when he spat in my face I feared that if I killed him it would have been out of revenge and spite!" Far from being an act of cowardice, this characterizes Muslim chivalry: fighting, yet not out of anger.
In actual fact, the only precedent for this tactic from Muslim history is the cowardly terrorism carried out by the "Assassins" of the Nizari Isma'ilis. Their most famous victim was the suicide mission in assassinating the wise minister and the Defender of the Faith who could have been alive to deal with the Fitna of the Crusades: Nizam al-Mulk, the Jamal al-Shuhada' (may Allah encompass him with His mercy!) on Thursday, the 10th of the holy month of Ramadan 485/14 October 1092. Ironically, in the case of Palestine, the precedent was set not by Muslims but by early Zionist terrorist gangs such as the Irgun, who, for example, infamously bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on the 22nd of July 1946. So ask yourself as an upright and godfearing believer whose every organ will be interrogated: do you really want to follow the footsteps and the models of those Zionists and the heterodox Isma'ilis, instead of the path taken by our Beloved may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!, who for almost half of the {twenty-three} years of his mission endured Meccan persecution, humiliation and insults? Is anger your only strength? If so, remember the Prophetic advice that it is from the Devil. And is darura your only excuse for following them instead into their condemned lizard-holes? Do you think that any of our famous Mujahid from history, such as 'Ali, Salah al-Din, and Muhammad al-Fatih (may Allah be well pleased with them all!) will ever condone the article you quoted and these acts today in Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cairo, Bali, Casablanca, Beslan, London and New York, some of them committed on days when it is traditionally forbidden by our Law to fight: Dhu l-Qa'da and al-Hijja, Muharram and Rajab? Every person of fitra will see that
this is nothing other than a sunna of perversion. This is what happens to the Banu Adam when the wahm is abandoned by 'aql, when one of the maqasid justifies any wasila, when the realities of furu' are indiscriminately overruled by generalities of usul, and most tragically, as illustrated from the eternal blunder of Iblis, when Divine tawakkul is replaced by basic nafs.

Yes, we are one Umma such that when one part of the macro-body is attacked somewhere, another part inevitably feels the pain. Yet at the same time, our own history has shown that we have also been a wise and sensible, instead of a reactive and impulsive, Umma. That is the secret of our success, and that is where our strengths will always lie as has been promised by Divine Writ: in sabr and in tawakkul. It is already common knowledge that when Jerusalem fell to the Crusading forces on 15 July 1099 and was occupied by them, and despite its civilians having been raped, killed, tortured and plundered and the Umma at the time humiliated and insulted – acts far worse than what can be imagined in today's occupation – that it took more than 100 years of patience and legitimate struggle under the Eye of the Almighty before He allowed Salah al-Din to liberate Jerusalem. We should have been taught from childhood by our fathers and mothers about the need to prioritize and about how to reconcile the spheres of our global concerns with those of our local responsibilities – as we will definitely not escape the questioning in the grave about the latter – so that by this insight we may hope that our response will not be disproportionate nor inappropriate. This is the true meaning [haqiqa] of the true advice [nasiha] of our Beloved Prophet may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!: to leave what does not concern one [tark ma la ya'nih], where one's time and energy could be better spent in improving the lot of the Muslims today or benefiting others in this world.
Yes, we will naturally feel the pain when any of our brothers and sisters die unjustly anywhere when their deaths have been caused directly by non-Muslims, but it MUST be the more painful for us when they die in Iraq, for example, when they are caused directly by the self-destroying/martyrdom/suicide missions carried out by one of our own. On tafakkur, the second pain should make us realize and feel insaf that missions of this sort when the means and the legal particulars are all wrong – by scripture and reason – are not only a scourge for our non-Muslim neighbours but a plague and great fitna for this mercied Umma, so that out of maslaha and the general good, it must be stopped.
To this end, we could sum up a point of law tersely in the following maxim: two wrongs do not make the second right [lA yaj'alu Z-ZulmAni th-thAniya Haqqan]. If the first pain becomes one of the mitigating factors and ends up being used as a justification by our misguided young to retaliate in a manner which our Sacred Law definitely and without doubt outlaws (which makes your original article the more appalling, as its author will have passed the special age of 40), then the latter pain should by its graver significance generate a greater and more meaningful response. With this intention, we may hope that we shall regain our former high ground and reputation and rediscover our honour and chivalrous qualities and be no less brave.
I end with the first ever Verse revealed in the Qur'an which bestowed the military option only upon those in a position of authority:
wa-qAtilU fI sabIli LlAhi l-ladhIna yuqAtilUnakum
wa-lA ta'tadU inna LlAha lA yuHibbu l-mu'tadIna

[And fight for the sake of God those who fight you: but do not commit excesses, for God does not love those who exceed (i.e., the Law)] (al-Baqara, 2:190).
Even then, peace is preferred over war:
wa-in janaHU li-s-salmi fa-jnaH la-hA wa-tawakkal 'ala LlAhi
[Now if they incline toward peace, then incline to it, and place your trust in God]
(al-Anfal, 8:61).
Even if you think that the authority in question has decided wrongly and you disagree with their decision not to war with the non-Muslim state upon which you wish war to be declared, then take heed of the following Divine command:
yA ayyhuhA l-ladhIna AmanU aTI'u l-LAha wa-aTI'u
r-rasUla wa-uli l-amri minkum
[O believers, obey Allah, and obey the messenger, and those with authority among you!] (al-Nisa', 4:58).
If you still insist that your authority should declare war with the non-Muslim state upon which you wish war to be declared, then the most you could do in this capacity is to lobby your authority for it. However, if your anger is so unrestrained that its fire brings out the worse in you to the point that your disagreement with your Muslim authority leads you to declare war on those you want your authority to declare war on, and you end up resorting to violence, then know with certainty that you have violated our own religious Laws. For then you will have taken the Shari'a into your own hands. If indeed you reach the point of committing a violent act, then know that by our own Law you would have been automatically classified as a rebel [ahl al-baghy] whom the authority has the right to punish: even if the
authority is perceived to be or is indeed corrupt [fasiq]. (The definition of rebels is: "Muslims who have disagreed [not by heart or by tongue but by hand] with the authority even if it is unjust [ja'ir] and they are correct ['adilun]" [al-Nawawi, Majmu', 20:337].)
That is why, my brethren, when the military option is not a legal one for the individuals concerned, you must not lose hope in Allah; and let us be reminded of the words of our Beloved may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!:
afDalu l-jihAdi kalimatu Haqqin 'inda sulTAnin jA'irin
[The best Jihad is a true (i.e., brave) word in the face of a tyrannical ruler]. (From a Hadith of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri may Allah be well pleased with him!) among others, which is related by Ibn al-Ja'd, Ahmad, Ibn Humayd, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa'i, Abu Ya'la, Abu Bakr al-Ruyani, al-Tabarani, al-Hakim, and al-Bayhaqi, with variants.)

For it is possible still, and especially, today to fight injustice or zulm and taghut in this dunya through your tongue and your words and through the pen and the courts, which still amounts in the Prophetic idiom to Jihad, even if not through war. As in the reminder [tadhkira] of the great scholar, Imam al-Zarkashi: war is only a means to an end and as long as some other way is open to us, that should be the course trod upon by Muslims.

Masha-Allah, how true indeed are the Blessed words, so that the latter Mujahid or activist will be no less brave or lacking in any courage with his or her campaign for a just cause in an oppressive country or one needing reforms than the former Mujahid or patriot who fought bravely for his country in a just war.

fa-t-taqillaha wa-raji' mufatashata nafsika wa-islaha fasadiha wa-huwa hasbuna wa-ni'ma l-wakil wa-la hawla wa-la quwwata illa billahi l-'aliyyi l-'azim! wa-salawatuhu 'ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa-alihi wasallim waradiyallahu tabaraka wa-ta'ala 'an sadatina ashabi rasulillahi ajma'in wa-'anna ma'ahum wa-fihim wa-yaj'aluna min hizbihim bi-rahmatikaya arhama r-rahimin! Amin!

May this be of benefit'.

Notes: the section quoted here comes from the of the Shaykh's fatwa (and, I suppose, could be called the conclusion).
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(the faulty 'Servant of the Most Merciful')

Praising Manners...

Peace, one and all...
I haven't posted anything from Rumi for a couple of weeks and so I thought I'd present another of his interesting poems for our spiritual nourishment.
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...
'We should ask God to help us towards manners. Inner gifts
do not find their way
to creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, he not only
smashes his house,
he burns the world down.
Your depression is conneted to your insolence
and refusal to praise. Whoever feels himself
walking
on the path, and refuses to praise - that man
or woman
steals from others every day - is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of
itself.
Angels only began shining when they achieved
discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of
not-praising comes.
The moment the foolish angel felt insolent, he
heard the door close'
(Taken from The Rumi Collection, ed. Kabir Helminski, p. 11)
This is a profound poem (as is usually the case with the Mevlana's writings). The title is similarly suggestive (though I suspect that this is the translator's title). Praising manners can either mean that manners (adab) is being applauded, or else it can refer to the manner in which one praises. Indeed, I suspect that both meanings are intended. At any rate, enjoy!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
PS - the picture comes from Muslim Cultures

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

19th Century Messianisms...

Peace, one and all...
I had an interesting conversation today about the Baha'i faith. As it happens, or rather as God willed it, the Baha'i faith is an area I'm interested in (as an outgrowth of Twelver Shiism). As we were talking, it occured to me that the 19th century saw the emergence of quite a few Islamic messianic religious movements. For a start, the Bab and Baha'ullah both emerge in mid-19th century Persia (during the Qajar period). In contemporary India, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad began preaching the message of Ahmadiyya. Then, over in Sudan, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Mahdi was also a prominent force at this time. Although not exactly in the same category, one might even include the Sanusi movement of Libya.
Why should the 19th century have witnessed so many messianic movements? Well, quite apart from purely religious answers (which lie within the realm of faith), perhaps the impact of colonialism can also offer some insights. That is, looking at the above list, every messianic movement began in a land colonised by a European power or else heavily influenced by it (as with Persia). Perhaps these movements can be seen as related to wider Islamic reform movements of the time: Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahab in what was to become Saudi Arabia; Muhammad al-Shawkani in Zaydite Yemen; the Deobandi movement in India; the Shaykhi movement within Twelver Shiism. Interestingly, only two emerge from a broadly Shii milieu; the other examples cited here all arose with Sunni Islam.
The list can be lengthened, but I think the general point is clear. If nothing else, there is room for an interesting research topic here insha Allah.
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

A Blessing...

Peace, one and all...
My sister-in-law is soon to be married, insha Allah, to a good brother and friend of mine. He comes from the land of Bosnia (hence the picture). I wanted to say mabruk to both of them: ibn Sifet and bint Ahmad. May Allah bless your marriage; may He grant you both all that you could wish for, in this world and the next; may He help you both to walk along life's road, hand in hand.
Ameen!
Abdur Rahman

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Post 100...

Peace, one and all, wherever you may be...
Post 100 eh? Well, as this is something of a milestone, I thought I'd mark the occasion with a passage from the Quran. After all, this is muslimcorner.blogspot.com!

'The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course' (2:285, trans. Shakir)
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
Or (faulty) 'Servant of the Merciful God'

A Vision of Paradise...

Peace, one and all...
When I feel the need for something uplifting, I imagine what it would be like to be in Paradise. The aim is to attain God's pleasure, without thought of reward (easy to say, hard to achieve) but it's nice to think about it...
These pictures seems like a vision of paradise: children happily playing...
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
PS - the pictures come from Muslim Cultures

All Praise is Due to God...

Peace, one and all...
Al hamdu lillah, my teaching went well on Saturday and the class were relaxed, inquisitive and ready to discuss. Insha Allah, the class will proceed in the same fashion.
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Credit Where Credit is Due...

Peace, one and all...
As a Muslim, it seems to me that one of my most sacred duties is to 'stand up for justice, even if it be against your own selves'. As such, I'd just like to say ma sha Allah to Rolled-up Trousers for the steady stream of news and information. Keep up the good work bro'
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

An Opening Du'a...

Peace, one and all...
It's 9:15am and in 45 minutes I start my new course (Islamic History: the First 150 Years, also see here too). As such, I just wanted to post a quick du'a:
Ya Allah! Help me to speak clearly and well, for Your sake alone; Ya Rabb! Help me to speak the truth, for Your sake alone; Ya Allah! Grant me a friendly, lively, interested class and help me to be a worthy teacher and guide. Help me to show them the profundity and depth of Islam.
Wa akhiru da'wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen...
Abdur Rahman
PS - the picture comes from Muslim Cultures (so credit where it's due)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Banned MTV Advert...

Peace, one and all...
These hardhitting adverts were apparently pulled by MTV after complaints; but truth is truth. Anyway, judge for yourselves (hats off to Mujahideen Ryder)...

Ma'as salama,


Abdur Rahman

Thinking of Hackney...

Peace, one and all...
As I mentioned in my opening post, I'm originally an East End lad. In fact, I'm from Hackney. In fact, I'm a third generation Hackney geezer: my father and grandfather both hail from Clapton (where I lived until 22). I grew up on the Clapton Park Estate and went to Mandeville Primary School, before moving on to Hackney Downs (before it was closed of course). Hats off to anyone who went there.
Although Hackney's got it's problems (being one of the poorest boroughs in the entire UK), I still regard as my home; insha Allah, I'll return there one day. The best thing about Hackney is its people; you can people from every part of the earth, speaking every one of the many tongues of man. In many ways, growing up in Hackney opened my eyes to different cultures and viewpoints (other than my own white British background) and thus was directly responsible for my Islam. Incidentally, the picture given here is of the tower blocks on my old estate being blown up in the mid-90s (I was there at the time).
Anyway, more thoughts to follow soon, insha Allah ... It's time for Jumuah
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Muslim Cultures

Peace, one and all...
I just wanted to say what a good site Muslim Cultures is! Ma sha Allah. It's a really nice and simple site and eloquently reveals the diversity of Muslim culture. Check it out for yourself; if you haven't you're missing a real treat!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

What Should We Be Teaching Our Children

Peace, one and all...
I've just read Imam Zaid Shakir's article on education. Ma sha Allah, brilliant! Check it out!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Islam is a Hidden Treasure...

Peace, one and all...

As part of my teaching commitments, I was recently looking for some pictures of early Quranic manuscripts and codices and I have the following picture (courtesy of Islamic Awareness, so a hat tip is due). The picture is interesting in academic terms, of course, but what struck me is that this Quran looks like a hidden treasure, waiting for right moment to shine forth! Much like Islam itself at the moment. May Allah hasten the day of our recovery!

Anyway, here's the picture...



Thursday, May 18, 2006

Come My Selecta!

Peace, one and all...
If you've been trawling the Muslim Internet in recent days you may well have seen a flurry of activity caused by Yvonne Ridley's criticisms of 'Islamic Boy Bands'. In fact, regular corner cats will know that I've also given my own opinions on Ridley's article.
Mecca II Medina, one of the bands accused by Ridley of being a 'boy band' have responded to her comments in their own inimitable style. This comes courtesy of Deen Port. Ma sha Allah guys, I can't think of a better response.
Being from Hackney myself, I think I've gotta say 'Come my selecta'!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Spring Cleaning, but not in Spring!

Peace, one and all...
I've been refurbishing the Corner! I wanted to give it a spring clean. So, even though it's not spring, here's the all new and improved Corner!! I've also re-named it slightly too!
Yaaay!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Indifference to the World

Peace, one and all...

I wanted to post a Tradition of the Prophet. The text is taken from
fortyhadith.com. So, here it is...

'On the authority of Abu al-'Abbas Sahl bin Sa'd al-Sa'idi, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said:

A man came to the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, and said: "O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and people to love me." He, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, answered: "Be indifferent to the world and Allah will love you; be indifferent to what people possess and they will love you." [A fine hadith related by Ibn Majah and others with good chains of authorities]

Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Where are the Tyrants?

Peace, one and all, wherever you may be...

I wanted to post another passage from Imam al-Tabari's Tarikh al-rusul wa'al-muluk (History of Prophets and Kings), as it speaks to me at present. The central issue of the passage is the fleeting nature of life and the speedy arrival of death.
'God only accepts those works through which His countenance was desired; so strive for God in your works. Know that whatever you sincerely direct to God is among your [good] works: obedience you have rendered, or a sin you have overcome, or taxes you have paid, or a good work you have sent forward from ephemeral days to others that endure, to the time of your poverty and need. Servants of God, be forewarned by whoever among you has died, and think on those who were before you. Where were they yesterday, and where are they today? Where are the tyrants, and where are those who were renowned for fighting and victory on the fields of war? Time has abased them, and they have become decayed bones upon whom have been perpetuated gossip - "loathsome women for the loathsome men, and loathsome men for the loathsome women' [Quran 22:46]. Where are the kings who tilled the earth and cultivated it?
They have perished, and mention of them is forgotten, and they have become as nothing; but God has preserved the consequences [of their evil deeds] against them and cut them off from the desires [of this world], and they have passed away. The deeds [they did] are [still reckoned] their works, but the world is the world of others. We remained after them; and if we take warning from them, we will be saved, but, if we are deceived by them, we will be like them.
Where are the pure ones with beautiful faces, captivating in their youthfulness? They have become dust, and what they neglected to do before has become a source of grief for them. Where are those who built cities and fortified them with walls and made in them wondrous things? They have left them to those who follow after them; those are their residences, empty, while they [themselves] are in the darkness of the grave. "Do you perceive any one of them, or hear a sound from them?" [Quran 19:98]
Where are those sons and brethren of yours whom you know, whose appointed times have elapsed? They have arrived according to what they sent forward, alighting upon it and abiding for misery or happiness after death. Between God, Who has no associate, and between [any] one of His creatures there is no means of access by which He may grant him grace or divert evil from him - unless it be through obedience to Him and following His command. Know that you are required servants and that what is with Him is only attained through obedience to Him. What seems good is not good if its consequence is [hell]fire, and what seems evil is not evil if its consequence is paradise'
(al-Tabari History of Prophets and Kings, translated by F. Donner, I. 1847)
Subhan Allah, what else need be said?
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Islamic Heritage

Peace, one and all...
I'm once again waiting for the train: it's almost 6pm and I'm still at work! Today, however, I've been preparing materials for my Islamic History: the First 150 Years course which starts on Saturday. As such, I've been putting together some material on non-literary sources for the study of early Islam. In other words, I've been finding lots of photos of Islamic coins, inscriptions and archaeological stuff!
I wanted to include one of the pictures here...
The coins are from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge
Image: The obverse (front) of an early Umayyad coin (post-reform)

Odds and Ends...


Peace, one and all...
I wanted to add a couple of interesting quotes. Both come from Annemarie Schimmel's Mystical Dimensions of Islam. So, here goes...
'Shari`a: yours is yours, mine is mine
Tariqa: yours is yours, mine is yours too
Ma`rifa: there is neither mine nor thine'
'The nafs has a rosary and a Koran in its right hand,
and a scimitar and a dagger in the sleeve'
(Rumi, Mathnawi III:2554)
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Feeling the Need...

Peace, one and all...

May Allah bless you and guide you to the Truth.

I was reading Annemarie Schimmel's Mystical Dimensions of Islam on the train this morning. As I was reading through it, I became aware of my own need. I need to follow the path, I need to turn to Allah, I need to return home. This is what I've been feeling for quite some time now. It feels like something I can't quite express - a need, a longing. It's connected with feeling that I want/need to know more; it's also connected with a sense of frustration; I am not as I should be and yet, I want to be all that I can be. It's just beyond my reach at present, just beyond my ability to express in words. Tantalising, difficult, needed!

Hmmm...I'm not making much sense at the moment (what's new?). Ya Allah, help me to get beyond; help me to find You amidst the deceptions of this world.

Ma'as salama,

Abdur Rahman

Monday, May 15, 2006

Supplication in Worrisome Tasks


Peace, one and all...
I just wanted to post a du'a I recently came across (see here). This text is from al-Sahifa al-Kamilah (the 'Complete Scroll'), a collection of prayers attributed Ali b. al-Husayn (known as Zayn al-Abideen), the fourth Imam of the Shia community. This one is entitled: His Supplication in Worrisome Tasks . Enjoy!
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...

1
O He through whom the knots of detested things are untied!
O He through whom the cutting edge of hardships is blunted!
O He from whom is begged the outlet to the freshness of relief!
2
Intractable affairs yield to Thy power, means are made ready by Thy gentleness,
the decree goes into effect through Thy power, and all things proceed according to Thy desire.
3
By Thy desire they follow Thy command without Thy word and by Thy will they obey Thy bans without Thy prohibition.
4
Thou art the supplicated in worries and the place of flight in misfortunes; none of them is repelled unless Thou repellest, none is removed unless Thou
removest.
5
Upon me has come down, My Lord, something whose weight burdens me and upon me has fallen something whose carrying oppresses me.
6
Through Thy power Thou hast brought it down upon me and through Thy
authority Thou hast turned it toward me.
7
None can send away what Thou hast brought, none can deflect what Thou hast
turned, none can open what Thou hast closed, none can close what Thou hast opened, none can make easy what Thou hast made difficult, none can help him whom Thou hast abandoned.
8
So bless Muhammad and his Household, open for me, my Lord, the door of relief through Thy graciousness, break from me the authority of worry by Thy strength, confer the beauty of Thy gaze upon my complaint, let me taste the sweetness of benefaction in what I ask, give me from Thyself mercy and wholesome relief, and appoint for me from Thyself a quick way out!
9
Distract me not through worry from observing Thy obligations and acting in accordance with Thy prescriptions.
10
My capacity has been straitened, my Lord, by what has come down on me, and I am filled with worry by carrying what has happened to me, while Thou hast power to remove what has afflicted me and to repel that into which I have fallen. So do that for me though I merit it not from Thee, O Possessor of the Mighty Throne!
Ya Rabb! That's exactly how I feel at the moment. It has to be said, though, that my sufferings are as nothing when compared to Zayn al-Abideen's
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Corner Culture...

Peace, one and all...
I received an interesting flyer in the post today from The Makers Guild in Wales concerning a forthcoming exhibition of Islamic Art. Event Information can be obtained by following the link. I have to say that it looks excellent and insha Allah, I'll be attending. If Islamic Art is your thing, come along and have a look (assuming that you're based in South Wales of course).
Ma'as salama
Abdur Rahman

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Islamic Conduct of War...

Peace, one and all, wherever you may be...
I'm currently in the process of putting together a course on early Islamic history. As I was reading Imam al-Tabari's Tarikh al-rusul wa'al-muluk (History of Prophets and Kings), I came across a report of Abu Bakr's injunctions to the Muslim army which was sent to avenge the defeat at Mu'ta. Reading this reminds me of just how utterly alien the current idea of 'Islamic Rage' (what a naff title) is to our Tradition. So, I thought I'd post it here: it's useful food for thought...

'Oh army, stop and I will order you [to do] ten [things]; learn them from me by heart. You shall not engage in treachery; you shall not act unfaithfully; you shall not engage in deception; you shall not indulge in mutilation; you shall kill neither a young child nor an old man nor a woman; you shall not fell palm trees or burn them; you shall not cut down [any] fruit-bearing tree; you shall not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel except for food. You will pass people who occupy themselves in monks' cells; leave them alone, and leave alone what they busy themselves with. You will come to a people who bring you vessels in which are varieties of food; if you eat anything from [those dishes], mention the name of God over them. You will meet a people who have shaven the middle of their head and have left around it [a ring of hair] like turbans; tap them lightly with the sword. Go ahead, in God's name; may God make you perish through wounds and plague!'
(I.1850)

A couple of brief notes are in order here. Firstly, 'tap them lightly with the sword' is a rendering of a difficult passage, which seems to refer to a rebuke at such behaviour. It also means, in other words, 'don't kill them'. 'May God make you perish through wounds and plague' is a backhanded way of saying 'May God make you martyrs' and seems to refer to an actual Tradition of the Prophet (saw): 'My community will vanish through wounds and plague', though Allah knows best.
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

Context and Religion...

Peace, one and all...

I've recently been travelling through the blogosphere and have encountered a number of articles on 'jihad' and other assorted chestnuts. I think I need to address this topic and so, insha Allah, I'll do so in the next few days.

Ma'as salama,

Abdur Rahman