Complete Book “Quraner Sogat” in Bangla (PDF)

Quraner Sogat2

By: Syed Basheeruddin-Zamani

A review of the major Themes and Guidance contained in the Holy Quran in an easy to follow commentary in Bangla language. Originally translated from “Zalikal Kitab” published in Urdu in 1997 by Syed Basheeruddin-Zamani (RA).

Full Text is attached as PDF above.

Credits: Late Behrouze Isphanai for financing the original publication in Dhaka (now out of print) and Brother Zahid for translating text from Urdu to Bangla.

There is no restriction on the free distribution of the contents of the book.

Reflections on Innovation in Deen (Bidaa)

Syed Sharfuddin

1. What is Bidaa?
Bidaa is a thoughtless addition or removal of certain things of worship or actions from the authorised rituals of Islam, which may have good intention to start with but which have devastating impact on the Ummah in the long run. Bidaa includes everything which sounds and looks good but which is unsupported by the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Bidaa also comprises social practices which are popular with certain Islamic communities but which are not endorsed by the majority of eminent scholars and Aimmah of Islam.

2. Is Bidaa mentioned in the Quran?
In the holy Quran, Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala mentions the position of Ahle Kitaab who unwittingly added more burden on themselves in following their deen such as introduction of the institution of monastery and the oath of celibacy for Christian priests but they could not do justice to it and failed to carry out what they had themselves innovated in their deen in good faith.

ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَى آثَارِهِم بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَاهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاء رِضْوَانِ اللَّهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا فَآتَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ
Translation: Then We sent following their footsteps Our messengers and followed [them] with Jesus, the son of Mary, and gave him the Gospel. And We placed in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy and monasticism, which they innovated; We did not prescribe it for them except [that they did so] seeking the approval of Allah . But they did not observe it with due observance. So We gave the ones who believed among them their reward, but many of them are defiantly disobedient. [Surah Al-Hadeed 57:27].

Two things become clear in this verse. One that if someone wants to do additional worship and be more devotional than required, he will get its reward; but if after adding the innovation he fails to carry it out he will be considered as disobedient because he added to the original commandment and then failed to carry it out in fulfilment of his covenant with Allah.

3. How Bidaa starts?
Bidaa always starts with good intentions and positive thoughts but it’s cumulative effect on society in the long run causes confusion. After the passage of a few generations, Bidaa loses its original meaning and causes a collusion with the fundamentals of the faith itself. For instance the early inhabitants of Makkah who followed the deen of Abraham and Ishmael were monotheists. Many centuries later the wandering Arab pilgrims brought the statues of pious people from Syria and around the Arabian peninsula to the Kaaba. The placement of the statues of Laat, Manaat, Uza, and Hubul around Kaaba was meant in the beginning to remind people to do good deeds and follow the example of these good men and woman of faith. After a few more years, the message got lost in what became a meaningless tradition. The next generations of Arabs started revering these statues and took them as symbols of blessings and good luck. A few more generations down the line people raised the level of these statues to that of gods and started worshipping them. Thus a pure and clean monotheistic faith was transformed into polytheism and idol worship because of Bidaa. It took our beloved Prophet to repeat what our forefather Abraham did; to revive monotheism and remove all other false partners people had joined with God. That’s why making and keeping statues of heroes or celebrities and mounting these in prominent plazas in cities or adorning these as objects of art at home etc is not allowed in Islam. You may have all the good intentions in the world and be a hardcore monotheist but following a few generations your innovative practices will cause confusion and conflict with the basic tenets of faith. That’s what Bidaa does to society and faith in the long run.

4. Isn’t hypocrisy and non obedience to Allah greater evil than Bidaa?
Actually, the answer is No because hypocrisy and being sinful are individual acts and despite the damage they cause, these are still limited to the concerned individual. When such people die they take away with them their lifestyle and practices and their hisab is between them and God. Bidaa, on the other hand, goes beyond the concerned individuals even after they die. It affects the whole society in a major way. When a person who introduced Biaa dies, his Bidda does not die with him because it has been passed on to the society. If a person who innocently introduced a Bidda in deen was resurrected 500 or 1000 years after his death he would be absolutely gob smacked and literally shocked to find out what became of his innocent Bidaa at the hands of his great grand children. This explains how near the final hour Islam will be very different from its original spirit. We are already witnessing the signs of the end of time which are quite shocking to be honest. May Allah Taala save us all from the trap of Shaitaan and the big fitna of maloon anti-Christ, Dajjal. Ameen.

6. So shall we not organise any activity, or pray any salat or do any good deed in the modern world if it is not supported by Hadith?
Again, the answer is No. No one stops you from doing nawafil and additional good deeds or prayers or zikr but don’t advance it as a part of deen which the Ummah must follow collectively as a sign of being Muslim. As individuals, we must try to excel others in doing good deeds but let us not get too excited about forcing our community to do things which if they cannot do, they feel left out and embarrassed. And then to add insult to injury we reject their membership of our faith on grounds of being suspect or lacking in demonstration.

7. So why are we not warned against Bidaa?
We are constantly reminded by our religious leaders that Bidaa is not to be pursued in any form or action. In the Friday Sermons delivered in thousands of mosques worldwide, the Imam reads out, among other things, the following excerpt from Shahih Muslim (hadith 867) and Sunan Nisai (hadith 1579):

أَمَّا بَعْدُ فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ وَخَيْرُ الْهُدَى هُدَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَشَرُّ الأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا، وكل بدعة ضلالة، وكل ضلالة في النار

Translation: “The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is a misguidance and all misguidance leads to the Hellfire.

Thanks and Jazakallah for reading

The Significance of Hajj: A New Perspective

by Syed Sharfuddin

Hajj is a pagan ritual which existed even before the advent of Islam in Arabia. The circumambulation of the Kaaba was done by the tribes of Arabia long before the birth of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, whose belief system comprised a plethora of superstitions and worships of multiple gods.

Why Continue a Pagan Ritual?
When Islam was introduced to the people of Makkah, many pagan practices were outlawed, the Kaba was emptied of idols and certain cultural practices such as gambling and drinking alcohol were gradually discouraged and finally forbidden for the followers of the new religion. But the ritual of Hajj was not only retained but was made simple and compulsory for every Muslim once in his/her lifetime, subject to Halal financial means. Even in the pre-Islamic days the pagans of Makkah considered it unlawful to perform Hajj using money from stolen goods or looted property from passing caravans.

The First House of Allah
It is therefore reasonable to enquire what is so special about Hajj that it was continued in Islam and became one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. Even in this day and age when so many things have changed, and every aspect of faith has been given a certificate of scientific backing, what is so peculiar about this worship which keeps millions of Hajis travelling to Makkah from all parts of the world and yet desiring to come back again. Here is my attempt in answering this question. Islamic belief includes the notion that the Kaaba was the first House of Allah built by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham from its foundations after its original edifice succumbed to the wear of rough weather and time.

Focus of Worship
The five pillars of Islam comprise Shahadah (declaration of faith); Salat (prayer); Zakat (payment of charity on personal wealth); Saum (fasting during the month of Ramadan); and, Hajj which is visiting Makkah and performing certain prescribed rituals in Mina, Arafat, Muzdalifa and Makkah on the specified dates of the Islamic month of Dul Hajjah every year.

Every Worship is Different
Four of these five pillars are single-focused, which means that each of these is associated with one specific aspect of worship. Shahadah is an oral declaration of faith affirmed by heart. Salat is concerned with the glorification and remembrance of Allah requiring concentration and peace of mind. Zakat is about purifying one’s wealth and fortune. Saum is a physical and mind worship about piety and denying oneself from food and water for a specific period of time.

A Complete Worship
Hajj on the other hand is a worship which involves all the individual aspects of the other four pillars in one form or another. It is about making a declaration in the form of glorification of Allah through the loud recitation of Talbiyah whose wordings are: Labbayk Allahumma labbayk (here I am, O Allah, here I am). Labbayka la shareeka laka labbayk (here I am, O Allah there is no partner with you, here I am). Innal hamda wal nemata laka wal mulk (truly, the glorification and bounty belong to you and all the land and its sovereignty is yours), la shareeka laka (there is no partner with you).

Hajj Signifies Return to Allah
Before departing for Hajj all debts must be paid, all severed relationships must be restored and a will must be drawn in the event a Haji passes away during the pilgrimage. This reinforces the relationship between Hajj and the hereafter in which a Haji prepares himself to return to Allah.

Requirements for Hajj
The requirements for performing Hajj are intention, as in any other worship; the financial means to undertake the journey to Makkah; physical strength and agility; and, looking ahead to one’s final destination after death. Hajj requires spending Halal money to travel to Makkah. Hajj involves a great deal of physical activity during the specific days of the pilgrimage. Hajj also requires full attention and concentration. Hajj has multiple attributes and is focused on the life of the hereafter both symbolically and in terms of the meaning of its various rituals.

A Different Perspective
Those lucky ones who have already had the opportunity to perform Hajj and have enjoyed this unique experience and those who intend to do so at least once in their lifetime in the coming years Insha’Allah will appreciate the association of Hajj with the various aspects of afterlife. Every act of Hajj carries a deeper symbolic meaning, as explored below.

Reminder of the Day of Judgement
Hajj is an orientation to the Day of Judgement. Everything that is done in Hajj has a significance and a deeper meaning for the afterlife.

Everyone’s Hajj is Different
People usually go to Makkah in groups. The group organisers charge their clients a fixed amount of money per person for their travel, boarding and lodging during Hajj. Each member of the group receives the same hospitality and same facilities. Yet the Hajj experience of each Haji is different. This will be the same on the Day of Judgement. There will be tribes and communities who would have come from same traditions and similar lifestyles and yet the destiny of each individual will be different on Judgement Day. This will include family members who enjoyed the same comforts and shared the same tragedies, ate the same food and spent time together in the same company. Yet the outcome for each person will be different.

Jannah has Different Levels
Those who will go to Jannah will receive different gradings and allocation for their eternal abode. Some will be allotted secure mansions. Others will have penthouses and high rise apartments as their residences.

Jahannam has Different Levels
Those who will be sent to Jahannam (hellfire) will also receive different levels of punishment.

Hajj is by Invitation and Approval of Allah
Not everyone who goes to Hajj makes it to all stages of Hajj. Some people fall sick and are unable to stay in Mina, or travel to Arafat or perform jamarat. It is a reminder that although the journey of all mankind is toward the hereafter through the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, not everyone in the next life will be rewarded with Jannah. Even if someone thinks that he/she is following the right path, it may not be so if his faith is convoluted like the owner of the two gardens or like those who think that they are bringing justice in land but in fact they are the ones who undermine peace.

Access to Kaaba is Protected
Those of us who have frequently been to Makkah Alhamdulillah must have observed that it is not always easy to reach the inside of the Haram to view the Kaba. In fact, with increasing numbers of Hajis performing Hajj and Umrah now, it is becoming more difficult to reach Kaba easily than it was in the past years. The Haram security places barriers randomly in the Grand Mosque and blocks walkways at different times for crowd control. Pilgrims are asked to follow alternate passages to find a place to sit down or offer prayers.

In such situations any Haji who manages to reach inside the Haram without being stopped by security staff ends up directly in front of the Kaaba. Such a person is indeed lucky to have been given the honour to come that close to Allah’s House. It is like someone knowing all the passwords to a protected website where he/she can roam without any restrictions.

Gates of Jannah and Jahannam
Just as there are over 100 doors of the grand mosque in Makkah, there are reportedly 8 gates of Jannah and 7 gates of Jahannam. The people who will be assigned the various grades of heaven or hell will be processed through these gates to reach their destination.

Compare this now to an imaginary scene in the hereafter when mankind will march after resurrection to its final abode and encounter angels on duty at various barriers and checkpoints. Only those lucky ones who have been awarded Jannah will find no barrier or closures on their smooth walk to Jannah.

All mankind will walk through Siratul Jannah. Those who are not rewarded Jannah will be turned away to other routes by the Heavenly guards in order to reach their places in Jahannam

The Cost of Jannah
Hajj is an expensive worship. Similarly, Jannah is also not cheap. Commitment of Allah and his apostles requires steadfastness and patience. There are many trials and tribulations in this mortal life before Jannah can be earned.

Answer to an Awkward Question
People often wonder why certain things which have been promised in the afterlife such as luxurious living, company of women, drinking alcohol and other things of pleasure are forbidden for Muslims in this world. Hajj has an answer to this question. In the state of Ihram which is a pre-requisite of Hajj, many things which are allowed in normal daily life are forbidden such as clipping nails, shaving or cutting hair, killing an animal for food or sleeping with one’s partner. This is not because there is something intrinsically wrong with these things but it is a part of the protocol of Hajj.

As in the fasting month of Ramadan, during Hajj Muslims learn that what is forbidden in this world, whether temporarily or in the entire lifetime is a part of a Musalman’s discipline to prove that he/she is a true slave of Allah and is willing to submit his/her desires to the commandments of Allah.

Meaning of Ihram
Ihram itself is a symbol of leaving everything in the world to meet the Lord. Irrespective of the social status of a person, everyone is clad in an unstitched two-piece cloth very similar to the white shroud in the grave. Hajis usually carry a small bag on the shoulders tied to their neck where they keep their identity documents and few essential items. On the Day of Judgement each individual will also carry a scroll attached to his/her neck which will contain an account of their deeds. This parallel between Hajj and the Day of Judgement is most striking.

Similarity between Kaaba and Arsh
The Kaba attracts Muslims from all parts of the world. It is a kind of magnet which does not please a worshipper to depart even after he/she has seen and touched it personally. Every Haji who makes the final rounds of the Kaba before departure from Makkah has only one wish, which is to come back to this blessed venue again. This is how the Throne of Allah will be in Jannah. The residents of Paradise would find nothing more satisfying in their life of luxury and opulence than being closer to the Throne of Allah.

Reason for Prayers
It is said that the obligatory prayers are only for the worldly life and there will be no such requirement in Jannah because its inhabitants will get a chance to see their Lord directly. Prayers facilitate remembrance of Allah and provide the essential link between man and his Creator. A glimpse of this is observed on the plain of Arafat where Hajis are required to shorten their Zuhur and Asr prayers and offer them in one combined session after the meridian. The obligatory Maghreb prayer is not performed in Arafat and Hajis are required to move on to Muzdalifa and perform another set of shortened combined prayers for Maghreb and Isha there. This gives a glimpse of the state of affairs on the Day of Judgement which will not be the occasion to worship Allah but find out one’s result of the trials and tribulations in this mortal world and how one has fared being good to other beings, kind to animals and aware of one’s place in the universe.

The Night Stay in Muzdalifa
The sleeping over in the plain of Muzdalifa by Hajis the night after the large gathering in Arafat signifies how after death everyone will have an everlasting deep sleep six feet down under until the clarion for the resurrection has sounded. What happens in that sleep no one knows but as Hajis experience the night in Muzdalifa, those who have been tired glorifying Allah and praying for their forgiveness in the day sleep peacefully because they exhaust themselves in the remembrance of Allah. There is a sign in this ritual that if you spent your life serving and obeying Allah your death will be easy and your grave-sleep will be sweet and comfortable Insha’Allah. Those who do not sleep, spend the night praying and remembering Allah under the starry sky wondering how they will be raised when the clarion is called and hoping they will meet their Lord in a happy state.

Return to Mina
The return to Mina after Muzdalifa for two or three days signifies the wait the people of Al-Araaf will experience waiting in fear and hope for their names to be called out and learn whether they have been allocated a place in Jannah.

Stay in Mina
The stay of Hajis in Mina is a reminder to them that man’s next big gathering after life will be on a similar earth. Their walk towards Mount Arafat and gathering on 9 Dul Hajj in the plain of Arafat will be like the Day of Judgement where the sun will shine with all its might and there will be no shadow except the shadow of the Throne of Allah and everyone will be on his own, worried about his/her final destination.

Most of the time of Hajj is spent by Hajis is in Mina. They arrive in Mina on 8 Dul Hajja and after their journey to Arafat and Muzdalifa on 9 Dul Hajja, they return to Mina on 10th and stay there until 11 or 12 Dul Hajja. The days after the Udhiya are called Ayyamul Tashreeq. The one-day stay in Mina before proceeding to Arafat symbolises the wait man will experience between the day he/she dies until the Day of Resurrection; the 2 to 3-day stay in Mina during Ayyamul Tashreeq symbolises the period every human will go through from

Significance of Udhiya
The Udhiya is a symbolic commitment of the Haji to sacrifice everything for the sake of Allah and the Jamarat is to show the Haji’s deliverance from the influence of Shaitan who is man’s sworn enemy and ill-wisher. The symbolic stoning of the Shaitan using the 70 pebbles picked up the previous night from Mashar on returning from Arafat signifies the continuous war between good and evil and the effort of a Muslim to always seek the refuge of Allah against Shaitan.

Significance of Tawaf and Saee
Tawaf-e-Ifada is followed by Saee. In this worship there is a multitude of crowd but in this multitude everyone is alone. Everyone is responsible for himself. This Tawaf signifies Allah’s acceptance of Adam and Ibn Adam’s return to Paradise and granting him/her the permission to come to His throne of Majesty and Noor.

An Important Warning
After Hajj, a Haji should be extra careful about the attacks of Shaitan because he is free from all sins. Those who are not strong in their faith succumb to his attacks soon after Hajj. That’s why one finds some people still indulging in unlawful activities after returning from Hajj. Hajj is also a catalyst. It brings out the real person inside you.

A Humble Prayer
May Allah give all Muslims the opportunity to perform Hajj with its full meaning and significance and those who have already performed this great worship to have a second, third or more occasions to repeat this blessed experience and enrich their understanding of the universe and the purpose of creation, Adam’s birth and his fall from grace, the purpose Ibn Adam’s life on the earth and the final destiny of re-joining the great and glorious Allah in Paradise forever. Remember that when you make the intention to perform Hajj you should be firm in your mind that Allah will accept your Niyah and facilitate its fulfilment.

End Notes

فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّـنَاتٌ مَّقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا وَلِلّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلاً وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ الله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
There are clear signs in the place whereon Abraham once stood; and whoever enters it finds inner peace. Hence, pilgrimage unto the House of Allah is an obligation from your Lord for those believers who are able to undertake it. And as for those who deny the truth – verily, Allah is free from any need in all the worlds. [Surah Al-Imran 3:97]

رَّبَّنَا إِنِّي أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِي بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِي زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ الْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ فَاجْعَلْ أَفْئِدَةً مِّنَ النَّاسِ تَهْوِي إِلَيْهِمْ وَارْزُقْهُم مِّنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ (14:37)
Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So incline the hearts of believers toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. Surah Ibrahim 14:37].

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيْتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِي بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكًا وَهُدًى لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
The first Temple ever set up for mankind was indeed the one at Makkah; rich in blessing and a source of guidance for all the worlds. [Surah Aal-e-Imran 3:96].

لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُواْ فَضْلاً مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ فَإِذَا أَفَضْتُم مِّنْ عَرَفَاتٍ فَاذْكُرُواْ اللّهَ عِندَ الْمَشْعَرِ الْحَرَامِ وَاذْكُرُوهُ كَمَا هَدَاكُمْ وَإِن كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الضَّآلِّينَ
You will be committing no sin if you seek to obtain any bounty from your Sustainer. And when you surge downward in multitudes from Arafat, remember God at the holy place, and remember Him as the One who guided you after you had indeed been lost on your way. [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:198].

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
O my servants who have transgressed against your own selves, despair not of Allah’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace. [Surah Az-Zumar 39:53].

وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا وَوُضِعَ الْكِتَابُ وَجِيءَ بِالنَّبِيِّينَ وَالشُّهَدَاء وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ
And the earth will shine with the light of its Lord, and the record (of deeds) will be placed, and the prophets and the witnesses will be brought, and it will be judged between them in truth, and they will not be wronged. [Surah Al-Zumar 39:69].

وَمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُم بِالَّتِي تُقَرِّبُكُمْ عِندَنَا زُلْفَى إِلَّا مَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ لَهُمْ جَزَاء الضِّعْفِ بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَهُمْ فِي الْغُرُفَاتِ آمِنُونَ
For, it is neither your riches nor your children that can bring you nearer to Us: only he who attains to faith and does what is right and just (comes near Allah); and multiple recompense awaits for all that they have done; and it is they who shall dwell in the secure mansions in paradise. [Surah Saba 34:37].

لَكِنِ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ لَهُمْ غُرَفٌ مِّن فَوْقِهَا غُرَفٌ مَّبْنِيَّةٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ لَا يُخْلِفُ اللَّهُ الْمِيعَادَ
Those who fear their Lord shall [in the life to come] have lofty mansions built on top of each other beneath which running waters flow: this is Allah’s promise – and Allah never fails to fulfil His promise. [Surah Al-Zumar 39:20]

وَفُرُشٍ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ
And on couches or thrones, raised high [Surah Al-Waqia 56:34].

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ فِي الدَّرْكِ الأَسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ وَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُمْ نَصِيرًا
Verily, the hypocrites shall be in the lowest depth of the hellfire, and you will not fine anyone who could succour them. [Surah Al-Nisa 4:145].

وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّدِدتُّ إِلَى رَبِّي لَأَجِدَنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهَا مُنقَلَبًا
And neither do I think that the Last Hour will ever come. But even if it came were I brought before my Sustainer, I will surely find something even better than this as my resort. [Surah Kahaf 18:38]

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ
And when it is said to them, do not cause corruption on the earth, they say, We are but reformers. Indeed, it is they who are the corrupters, but they don’t see it. [Surah Baqarah 2:10-11].

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنَّا مِن بَعْدِ ضَرَّاء مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ هَذَا لِي وَمَا أَظُنُّ السَّاعَةَ قَائِمَةً وَلَئِن رُّجِعْتُ إِلَى رَبِّي إِنَّ لِي عِندَهُ لَلْحُسْنَى فَلَنُنَبِّئَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِمَا عَمِلُوا وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ
And if We let him taste mercy from Us after an adversity which has touched him, he will surely say, “This is (due) to me, and I do not think the Hour will occur; and [even] if I should be returned to my Lord, indeed, for me there will be with Him the best.” But We will surely inform those who disbelieved about what they did, and We will surely make them taste a massive punishment. Surah Fussilat 41:50].

وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ إِلَى الْجَنَّةِ زُمَرًا حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا وَفُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ طِبْتُمْ فَادْخُلُوهَا خَالِدِينَ
But those who feared their Lord will be driven to Paradise in groups until, when they reach it while its gates have been opened and its keepers say, “Peace be upon you; you have become pure; so enter it to abide eternally therein. Surah Al-Zumar 39:73.

وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ زُمَرًا حَتَّى إِذَا جَاؤُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَابُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ رَبِّكُمْ وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَاء يَوْمِكُمْ هَذَا قَالُوا بَلَى وَلَكِنْ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ
قِيلَ ادْخُلُوا أَبْوَابَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا فَبِئْسَ مَثْوَى الْمُتَكَبِّرِينَ .

And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups until, when they reach it, its gates are opened and its keepers will say, “Did there not come to you messengers from yourselves, reciting to you the verses of your Lord and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?” They will say, “Yes, but the word of punishment has come into effect upon the disbelievers. [To them] it will be said, “Enter the gates of Hell to abide eternally therein, and wretched is the residence of the arrogant. [Surah Al-Zumar: 39:71-72].

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
Do people think that if they say ‘we have embraced the faith’, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to a test? [Surah Al-Ankaboot 29:2].

الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلاَ رَفَثَ وَلاَ فُسُوقَ وَلاَ جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ وَمَا تَفْعَلُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللّهُ وَتَزَوَّدُواْ فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ
Hajj is (during) well-known months, so whoever has made Hajj obligatory upon himself therein (by entering the state of Ihram), there is (to be for him) no lewd speech, no disobedience and no disputing during Hajj. And whatever good you do – Allah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allah. And fear Me, O you of understanding. [Surah Al Baqarah 2:197].

وَكُلَّ إِنسَانٍ أَلْزَمْنَاهُ طَآئِرَهُ فِي عُنُقِهِ وَنُخْرِجُ لَهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كِتَابًا يَلْقَاهُ مَنشُورًا
And every human being’s destiny have We tied to his neck; and on the Day of Resurrection We shall bring forth for him a record which he will find wide open. [Surah Al-Isra: 17:13].

الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْمًا فَاغْفِرْ لِلَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَاتَّبَعُوا سَبِيلَكَ وَقِهِمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ
Those (angels) who carry the Throne and those around it exalt Allah with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, saying ‘Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire’. [Surah Al-Ghafir 40:7].

وَبَيْنَهُمَا حِجَابٌ وَعَلَى الأَعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ يَعْرِفُونَ كُلاًّ بِسِيمَاهُمْ وَنَادَوْاْ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَن سَلاَمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ
And there will be persons who (in life) were endowed with the ability to distinguish right from wrong, recognising each by its mark (but were indifferent). And they will call out unto the inmates of paradise, ‘Peace be upon you!’. They would not have entered it (Jannah) themselves, but would long (for it). [Surah Al A’raf 7:46].

يَوْمَ تُبَدَّلُ الأَرْضُ غَيْرَ الأَرْضِ وَالسَّمَاوَاتُ وَبَرَزُواْ للّهِ الْوَاحِدِ الْقَهَّارِ
On that Day the earth will be replaced by another earth, and the heavens (as well), and all creatures will come out before Allah, the One, the Prevailing. [Surah Ibrahim 14:48].

وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللّهِ إِنَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
And if it should happen that a prompting from Satan stirs thee up [to blind anger], [164] seek refuge with God: behold, He is all-hearing, all-knowing. [Surah Al Araaf 7:200].

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
Indeed, Safa and Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs Umrah, there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers to do good, then indeed Allah is appreciative and Knowing. [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:158].

وَكُلُّهُمْ آتِيهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَرْدًا
And everyone will appear before Him alone on Resurrection Day [Surah Maryam 19:95].

أَلَّا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى
No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another person’s burden [Surah An-Najm 53:38].

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
And how man is inspired by wickedness and righteousness. [Surah As-Shams 91:8].

وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِ اللّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلاَ تَنقُضُواْ الأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ
And be true to your bond with Allah whenever you bind yourselves by a pledge, and do not break oaths after having [freely] confirmed them and having called upon Allah to be witness to your good faith: indeed, Allah knows all that you do. [Surah Al-Nahl 16:92].

Does Islam have Enemies.

Syed Sharfuddin

Disclaimer. This article is a reaction to a fake and anonymous chain letter which was received in March 2018 though second class UK post by several members of the public, including British Muslims which said “April 3 would be “Punish a Muslim Day,” and points would be awarded for acts of violence: 25 points for pulling off a woman’s head scarf, 500 points for murdering a Muslim and 1,000 for bombing a mosque.” This article does not in any way consider Jews, Christians and persons or other faith or no faith as enemies of Islam. However, it identifies the radical elements within these communities as the enemies of Islam who openly hurl abuses against Islam and Muslims and do not have any respect for the Quran and the prophet of Islam.

The mega popularity of an individual, country or religion automatically generates controversy and in the process produces its critics and enemies. Having critics is in fact a positive thing because critics hold a mirror to the principals and show them a way to correct and adjust to what is acceptable behaviour in society. However, having enemies is a different ball game altogether, because enmities are created from jealousy and their main object is to destroy the fame on which the principal stands or to undo it in such a way that it falls from grace and is unable to stand on its own ever again.

Going by this definition, Islam as a popular and living religion also has its enemies. These enemies consist of two groups. One group is internal which, because of its lack of knowledge of Islam and harmful actions, undermines the very religion its seeks to promote foolishly. The other group is external, mainly comprising non-Muslims which does not believe in diversity and cohabitation with Muslims and seeks to drown them in the sea once and for all. The victims of both these groups of enemies of Islam are ordinary Muslims who have no political or religious manifestos to implement as part of a divine plan to establish a global Khilafa or Ummah in the world. Their main preoccupation is to work hard for themselves and their families, be good to others and stick to their roots and identity. In Europe and the US, the emerging Far Right groups are stirring this unsettled pot further to drive out the Muslim communities from their societies by reverse migration or reduce them into ghetto communities by scare mongering and intimidation.

So who is the enemy of Islam? Apart from the fire-born devil Shaitan who is mankind’s biggest enemy, there is also an exclusive group of people who are the enemies of Muslims. This group comprises the extremely radical Jews who are not content with the establishment of a sovereign independent Israel to practice their religion and repent for their sins which resulted in the loss of the coveted treasures of King Solomon. Their aim is to reclaim all the lands which once belonged to the Biblical kings, judges and prophets and rule the world according to Yahweh (Jehovah), the God of Israel. In doing so, they earnestly believe they are fulfilling a biblical prophecy.

Why is this enmity? The ultra-right Jewish radicals see Islam as the only credible obstacle to achieving their aim because it is the fastest growing religion today. With a decline in Jewish and Christian populations, they worry that the law of demographics will favour Muslims in the coming years and might prevent their mission of ruling the world to seek the pleasure of the God of Israel. They are as much politically motivated to implement this objective as they are religiously committed to see it through within a couple of generations.

Where are they based? These radical Jews live not only in Israel but also in the United States and Europe. They are enemies of Islam for a good reason. It was Islam which acclaimed their apostles, their holy places and their religious icons. It was Islam which said that the Torah had been corrupted by rabbis which necessitated the arrival of Jesus who give a New Testament to the Scripture of Moses. They call Islam a fake religion and a cut and paste faith because everything they find in Islam is already in Judaism and Christianity. But Islam is not tailored to their wishes. In fact, it says the Jews were the chosen people but because they disobeyed and rejected Allah’s commandments they were exiled from the holy land. Yahweh took away their special status from them and gave it to the children of Ismail who were the new Jews, named Muslims. So it is mainly family rivalry, jealousy and the fear of losing their religious heritage which makes them the enemies of Islam. But underlying this jealousy is also the fear that Islam has the motivation, power and capacity to defeat them if there is ever a show of power play.

Who else is with the Enemy? Not every Jew falls in the category of Islam’s enemy just as not every Jew is bothered about Israel or the prophesy of prophets being fulfilled about the future. Only the radical Jews are the enemy of Muslims but for tactical reasons they have made friendship with Christian Evangelists, Neo-Conservatives and Alt-Right Groups which are against Muslims for a number of other reasons such as growing Muslim populations, higher Muslim numbers in refugee movements and the rise of mosques and practicing Muslims in Europe and the US. In this climate of fear and mistrust, the radical Jews find a fertile ground to plant their hatred of Muslims by pointing out the horrible acts of terrorism committed globally in both Muslim and non-Muslim states by people purporting to be Muslims, as well as political conflicts in Muslim lands against the occupying armed forces, and also against their governments which are seen as oppressors or vessels of foreign powers. The radical Jews have the natural advantage of claiming Jesus and the followers of Jesus on their side because of the synonymous nature of the Old and New Testaments. For tactical reasons, the radical Jews, their Jewish organisations and groups do not find Christians as a threat. In fact, they use them as facilitators to implement their grand design of dominating the resources of the world through covert hands.

What do they want? The aim of radical Jews, their client organisations and groups is to confuse and divide Muslims into radical Muslims and good Muslims. They define radical Muslim as anyone who understands Quran and practices Islam. The define good Muslims as Muslims who don’t know Islam apart from the fact that they are born in Muslim families, participate in Muslim festivals and rituals and occasionally attend prayers in a language that they do not understand. The former are called Islamists, the latter are called moderates.

How do they oppose? The opposition of radical Jews to Islam is not covert. These fellows are open and direct in calling Islam a false religion. They call the prophet of Islam a possessed person, who was a peaceful man until he became powerful and that he and his followers used power to kill non-believers. They call archangel Gabriel as a demon who told Muhammad parts of Jewish and Christian history which became stories of prophets in the Quran. They call Quran a radical book which preaches nothing but hatred of Jews and Christians and obliges Muslims to take to sword. They say Ismail was not part of the house of Abraham. He was not part of the Plan of God who chose Abraham and his offspring to go to different places and discover the land for the children of Israel. Armed with such highly provocative narrative these radical Jews hope to provoke Muslims into anger, and create a fear of Islam among the non-Muslim people, and stop its global reach and popularity. May Allah always protect us from the doubts inspired by the devil.

What is their methodology? The methodology employed by these enemies of Islam is threefold: time money and resources. The spread hatred of Islam through formal and informal channels of communication, especially social media. They have set up Anti-Islam websites and chat groups who turn out loads of hate speech against Islam under the guise of freedom of expression and opinion. But they are careful never to threaten or abuse anyone online. They use agents who know the languages and cultures of people living in the target countries. An important part of this methodology is ganging up. They don’t argue a point on one on one basis. They crowd and become a group so that the target is inundated by many and believes that he has been relying on incomplete or incorrect information and must change his views because so many people can’t be wrong.

What kind of Muslims are acceptable to them? Radical Jews have no issues with ‘cultural’ Muslims who do not know Quran and are unlikely to read it because of their busy lifestyle or lack of education or knowledge of Arabic language. A cultural Muslim is perfectly acceptable because he poses no threat to their global mission of total control and domination. Such a Muslim is always warmly welcomed; even described as a good model Muslim so that his foundation remains weak on Islam but strong in the community he engages with. The people who have the knowledge of Quran and Hadith are the main problem. They are taken for granted to be ‘extremists’ and ‘radicals’ because the radical Jews believe that the message of Quran is essentially a radical message where there is no room for moderation. To them, a Muslim who reads the Quran and follows Muhammad, peace be upon him is automatically prone to be ‘radicalised’ and become a ‘terrorist’. The radical Jews have done extensive study of the Quran and taken out of context verses which talk about war and retribution and if they have their way, they will be happy with a Muslim Quran which expunges all such verses and defangs the ‘snake’ whose bite they fear most. One popular method employed by them is to separate the Quran from Hadith; promote the former and reject the latter. After they have succeeded in convincing someone to do this, they introduce the cancelled verses (ayat-e-tanseekh) and verses which have multiple meanings (ayat-e-mutashabihat) to create doubt and confusion in the Muslim mind about the message of the Quran.

What is their final aim? The final aim of radical Jews is to create the second coming of Israel and occupy almost all the Arab lands where there are footprints of biblical prophets and archaeological sites. This makes the whole of Palestine, a great part of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States a target area where a greater Israel must be established to fulfil the prophesy that Yahweh will once again empower His chosen people, the children of Israel to inherit the earth.

Where do we go from here for finding a solution? The solution to counter the hatred and anti-Islam project of radical Jews joined by their like-minded Evangelists and Alt-Right groups presents a major dilemma for Muslims. Should they give up and get out of the way or resist this hard attitude with a counter-narrative of their own? If they give up, they are fulfilling their own prophesy that close to the end of times Muslims will be overpowered by Christians and Jews and the only place where they will be safe will be in Makkah and Madinah. If they resist, then they are doing the right thing to exercise their duty to defend Islam against a barrage of disinformation and the negative propaganda which is being heaped on it to misrepresent it and deform its message of peace and compassion for mankind.

How can one go about correcting Islam’s faux image? The important thing for the Muslims is to first know their internal and external enemies but not to fall in the trap of taking them on individually. They should form think tanks and join organisations which promote Islam’s message of peace and tolerance and dispel the misplaced fears that it is a threat to any faith or community. They should know that the biggest trap they can fall into is the trap of provocation and repetition of false propaganda which can work them up mentally and force them to react and fall in the category of extremism. Muslims have a tendency to use the f words and become aggressive even in conversation. That is their biggest folly. Nor should they give up and start doubting their faith and its foundations. The secret of success is: remain cool and always be reasonable.

13 March, 2018

Does Privacy Matter? The Other View

Syed Sharfuddin

(A phone rings in a room in a lighted building somewhere in a city in the middle of the night. The call is answered and a conversation follows).
Caller: Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza?
No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza.
Caller: Did I dial the wrong number?
No sir, Google bought the pizza company and its shops.
Caller: Oh, alright – then I’d like to place an order please.
Okay sir, do you want the usual?
Caller: The usual? You know what my usual is?
According to the caller ID sir, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage, and thick crust.
Caller: Okay – that’s what I want this time too.
May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice pizza with ricotta, arugula, and tomato instead?
Caller: No, I hate vegetables.
But your cholesterol is not good.
Caller: How do you know?
Through the subscribers’ guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years.
Caller: Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol.
But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from La Drug Network a box of only 30 tablets.
Caller: I bought more from another drugstore.
It’s not showing on your credit card sir.
Caller: I paid in cash.
But according to your bank statement you did not withdraw that much cash.
Caller: I have another source of cash.
This is not showing on your last tax form, unless you got it from an undeclared income source.
Caller: To hell with Pizza. Enough. I’m going to an island without internet, where there’s no ISP, no Wi-Fi signal and no one to spy on me.
I understand sir, but you’ll need to renew your Passport before you fly. Your passport expired 5 weeks ago.
Caller: I will complain to the authorities for intrusion of my privacy. What’s your name?
Sir I don’t have a name. I have a number – KV238509P.
Caller: Why do you have a number and not a name?
Sir I am an Android Robot programmed for Google Customer Services. I hold information about you, your family and friends from your loyalty cards and shared profiles, as well as from your FB, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon Prime, Tumbler, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat, Google+, Skype, Viber, Sina Weibo, VKontakte, Pinterest, Reddit, Myspace, flicker and Flixter contacts. Did I miss anything in the list sir?
(There is a loud sound of the caller falling down on the floor. The phone line is active but there is no response. The Google Pizza android calls 911 and sends an ambulance to the caller’s home for A&E assistance).

The above is a short skit meant for light entertainment. But in reality it is a scary because it means everything we do or share by way of sending or receiving a medium or by entering a chatroom is uploaded from our location in the form of audio, video and data and is archived on some unknown server in cyberspace. What we are watching, buying, selling, sharing, ordering, saying and paying is all recorded with evidence. No one can deny that it is not true because we are seeing it happen in front of our own eyes. But when the prophets of Allah came to previous nations in their time in all corners of the world to warn them about the Day of Judgement when the deeds of the everyone will be brought before him/her in the form of a replay to account for them, those people did not believe these prophets. They ridiculed the apostles and rejected the divine message except those who understood it as the word of God and said “we heard and we obeyed”.

Until a few decades ago before YouTube and videos became a common household feature, this verse from the holy Quran was hard to visualise even though every single Muslim believed it the true word of God.
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ
Translation: “On that Day (of Judgement), We shall set a seal over their mouths but their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will bear witness to what they used to do (when they were living)”. [Surah Ya’Seen 36:65].

حَتَّى إِذَا مَا جَاؤُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَارُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
وَقَالُوا لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُوا أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِي أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
Translation: “Till, when they come close to it, their ears, their eyes and their skins will bear witness against them, speaking of what they were doing (on earth). And they will ask their skins: ‘Why did you bear witness against us?’ These will reply: ‘God, who gives speech to all things, has given speech to us (as well) for He has created you in the first instance, and unto Him you are (now) brought back.” [Surah Fussilat 41:20-21]

It is now an open secret that a complete record of most individuals is available on government and commercial servers and those who are left out of it are being brought into the net because of the rapid digitalisation of data about property records, educational data, passports, identity cards and bank accounts. It should not be hard now, in this day and age to accept that our information is also being constantly updated on the divine servers to be presented to us when we are brought before Allah on the day of Judgement. The only saving grace is that we may not be held to account for our thoughts until we act on them, although even those are not hidden from Allah and he alone knows best.
أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ سِرَّهُمْ وَنَجْوَاهُمْ وَأَنَّ اللّهَ عَلاَّمُ الْغُيُوبِ
Translation: “Don’t they know that Allah knows their hidden thoughts and their private conversations, and that God knows fully all the things that are beyond the reach of human perception”? [Surah Tauba 9:78]

There is a difference between the archiving of information about citizens on government or google servers and the archiving of information about us on divine servers. While the acquisition and filing of personal data in this world is for security and commercial (advertisement) reasons, the accumulation and updating of our data which is performed by the two angels assigned to each living soul is for presenting evidence, lest a person denies the charges and claims he never did any evil deed for which he was being charged.

It is not necessary that the charge against a person will come only from Allah. It can also come from other people who may have been wronged by the person being held accountable for his deeds. In such cases when it is proved that he did wrong to another person, the aggrieved person will be given the virtues/good deeds of the aggressor as compensation. If the accused runs out of good deeds and still there are other claimants, the sins/bad deeds of the aggrieved persons, after presenting the evidence will be transferred to the account of the aggressor. No one will receive a verdict without evidence and no one will be able to say I was wrongly judged. This is the perfect justice of our Lord.

May Allah give us the understanding to be conscious that there is nothing hidden from our Creator whether we are in the company of others or in the complete privacy of the most inner sanctums of our private homes. This is because wherever we seek to hide we will carry with us our ears, eyes and skin which will testify against us before Allah. [41:22]

February 4, 2018

Monday is not the New Friday

Syed Sharfuddin

In a modern brass and glass multi-story shopping-mall, a group of Muslim tourists decided to perform the afternoon prayer in the lobby. A person who was sporting a beard and wearing the traditional turban was requested to lead the prayer. The congregation even found a small glass cubicle for the Imam to stand and lead the prayer. When the prayer started they noticed that the Imam disappeared from their eyes and after a few minutes appeared again. The men standing in the front row also noticed that even the prayer-mat of the Imam disappeared and appeared again.

When the prayer concluded, the people gathered around the Imam to get his blessings with a handshake because they thought he must be a very spiritual man who had the extraordinary power to disappear and appear in the prayer in front of their eyes. One of the men who had actually seen the Imam ascend toward the sky asked the Imam how had had achieved this level of spiritual excellence. The Imam replied: “I realised after I went up and down a couple of times that you had pushed me into an empty elevator to lead the prayer but I carried on anyway because there was nothing else I could do.”

This story is good for a laugh but if you dig deep it is an example of how most people take their faith today. They think whatever they are doing is the right way and the right thing and everyone else is wrong. When a mistake is made (and it is but human to err) it can always be corrected but to ignore it and assign it explanations of the extraordinary kind is not only naive but dangerous. Allah says in the holy Quran about a person who is given to his whims: “Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good.” [35:8].

Shaitan is a sworn enemy of man [17:53]. Shaitan makes all peoples’ actions appealing to them. Shaitan made the evil deeds of the people of Aad and Thamud look fair to them and turned them away from the right path, even though they were intelligent. [29:38]. He also made the sun worshipping people of Queen Sheba before she accepted Islam pleasing to their eyes. [27:24]. Shaitan also tempts those who turn away from Islam after the guidance has appeared to them and fills them with false hopes [47:25].

It is therefore important to always do an internal audit one’s own faith and actions. Don’t get carried away by the new prophets of faith who short-change people with the promise of quick Paradise with such sayings as Monday is the new Friday or Orange is the New Pink. In Islam, Monday is Monday and Orange is Orange. It is that simple. Obey Allah and obey his prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and do good deeds. Good deeds include giving charity, helping humanity, looking after the poor and needy, earning an honest living, raising kids as educated and responsible citizens, observing limits, fulfilling obligations, and exploring God’s universe to discover your real abode which is not the earth but heaven.

May Allah guide us and always make us see the truth like the good Imam who knew he was stuck in a situation but he persevered and at the end of the prayer was honoured as a great man of God, albeit by the mistake of others.

March 2, 2018

The Charter of Madinah: Arabic Text and English Translation


(Photo Credit @The_MuslimTimes)

Syed Sharfuddin

The Charter of Madinah in two parts, the first part dealing with the rights and obligations of the Mohajirs and Ansaar of Madinah (Clauses 1-24) and the second part dealing with the rights and obligations of the Jews, their clients and friends, pagans, polytheists and other inhabitants of Madinah. The original Arabic text of the Charter has been translated in different ways and versions. The version I have selected for analysis in this essay consists of 49 clauses. The date of the Charter is not confirmed but it is generally believed to be 623 ADS, before the Battle of Badar.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

* * *
هذا كتاب من محمد النبي (رسول الله) بين المؤمنين والمسلمين من قريش وأهل يثرب ومن
اتبعهم فلحق بهم وجاهد معهم إنهم أمة واحدة من دون الناس1
1. This is a document from Muhammad, peace be upon him, the Messenger of Allah, to the believers and Muslims from Quraysh (Makkah) and Yathrib (Madinah) and all those who followed, joined and laboured with them. They constitute one Ummah distinct from other people.
المهاجرون من قريش على ربعتهم يتعاقلون بينهم وهم يفدون عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.2
2. The emigrants of the Quraysh, according to their former condition, shall pay the blood-wits (compensation for the shedding of blood) within their number and each clan shall redeem their prisoners with kindness common among the believers
وبنو عوف على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.3
3. Banu Auf, according to their former condition, shall pay the blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وبنو الحارس (من الخزرج) على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.4
4. Banu Harith from Al-Khizrij, according to their former condition shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وبنو سعادة على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.5
4. Banu Saidah, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وبنو جشم على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.6
6. Banu Jasham, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وبنو النجار على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.7
7. Banu Najjar, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وبنو عمرو بن عوف على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.8
8. Banu Amir-bin-Auf, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness common among the believers.
وبنو النبيت على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.9
9. Banu Nabith, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness common among the believers.
وبني الأوس على ربعتهم يتعاقلون معاقلهم الأولى، وكل طائفة تفدى عانيها بالمعروف والقسط بين المؤمنين.10
10. Bani Al-Aus, according to their former condition, shall pay the previous blood-wits within their number and each sub-clan shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among the believers.
وأن المؤمنين لا يتركون مفرحاً بينهم أن يعطوه بالمعروف في فداء أو عقل.11
11. The believers shall not leave any one destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or his blood-wit in kindness.
وأن لا يخالف مؤمن مولى مؤمن دونه.12
12. A believer shall not take as an ally the freedom of another Muslim without his consent.
وأن المؤمنين المتقين أيديهم على كل من بغى منهم أو ابتغى دسيعة ظلم أو إثماً أو عدواناً أو فساداً بين المؤمنين، وأن أيديهم عليه جميعاً ولو كان ولد أحدهم 13
13. God-fearing believers shall be against anyone who rebels or seeks to spread injustice or sin or enmity or corruption amongst the believers; they will be against him jointly, even if he were the son of any one of them.
ولا يقتل مؤمن مؤمناً في كافر ولا ينصر كافراً على مؤمن.14
14. A believer shall not kill a believer for the sake of an unbeliever nor he shall support an unbeliever against a believer.
وأن ذمة الله واحدة يجير عليهم أدناهم، وأن المؤمنين بعضهم موالي بعض دون الناس.15
15. Allah’s protection is one and is equally extended to the humblest of the believers. The believers are friends to one another to the exclusion of others.
وأنه من تبعنا من يهود فإن له النصر والأسوة غير مظلومين ولا متناصر عليهم.16
16 Whosoever of the Jews follows us, he shall have our help and equality: He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be sided against him.
وأن سلم المؤمنين واحدة لا يسالم مؤمن دون مؤمن في قتال في سبيل الله إلا على سواء وعدل بينهم.17
17. The peace of the believers is indispensable. No believer shall make peace to the exclusion of others in a fight in the way of Allah except on equality and justice among them.
وأن كل غازية غزت معنا يعقب بعضهم بعضاً.18
18. In any military expedition made with us the parties shall take turns with us.
وأن المؤمنين يبئ بعضهم عن بعض بما نال دماؤهم في سبيل الله.19
19. The believers shall avenge the blood of another shed in the path of Allah.
وأن المؤمنين المتقين على أحسن هدى وأقومه.20
20.The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and the most upright guidance.
وأنه لا يجير مشرك مالاً لقريش ولا نفساً ولا يحول دونه على مؤمن.21
21.No polytheist shall take the property or person of Quraysh under his protection nor shall he intervene in his favour against a believer.
وأنه من اعتبط مؤمناً قتلاًَ عن بينة فإنه قود به إلا أن يرضى ولى المقتول (بالعقل)، وأن المؤمنين عليه كافة لا يحل لهم إلا قيام عليه.22
22.Whosoever kills a believer without a just cause shall be subject to retaliation, unless the representatives of the murdered are satisfied with blood-wit. The believers shall be against the murderer as one, and nothing is permissible to them except to take action against him.
وأنه لا يحل لمؤمن أقر بما في هذه الصحيفة وآمن بالله واليوم الآخر أن ينصر محدثاً أو يؤويه، وأنه من نصره أو أراه فإن عليه لعنة الله وغضبه يوم القيامة ولا يؤخذ منه صرف ولا عدل. 23
23.It is not permissible for a believer who approves what is written in this document and believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement to help an evil-doer or shelter him. On the Day of Judgement, the curse and anger of Allah shall be upon him who helps and shelters him.
وأنكم مهما اختلفتم فيه من شئ فإن مرده إلى الله وإلى محمد.24
24. Anything which you may disagree upon is to be referred to Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him).
* * *
وأن يهود بني عوف أمة مع المؤمنين لليهود دينهم وللمسلمين دينهم مواليهم وأنفسهم إلا من ظلم أو أثم فإنه لا يوتغ إلا نفسه وأهل بيته.25
25. The Jews of Banu Auf are an Ummah with the believers. The Jews have their own religion and the Muslims their own. This applies to their clients and to themselves with the exception of anyone who does wrong or acts treacherously, he brings evil on himself and his family members.
وأن ليهود بني النجار مثل ما ليهود بني عوف.26
26. For the Jews of Bani Najjar the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf.
وأن ليهود بن الحارث مثل ما ليهود بني عوف.27
27. For the Jews of Bani Harith the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf.
وأن ليهود بني ساعدة مثل ما ليهود بني عوف.28
28. For the Jews of Bani Saidah the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf.
وأن ليهود بني جشم مثل ما ليهود بني عوف.29
29. For the Jews of Bani Jasham the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf.
وأن ليهود بني الأوس مثل ليهود بني عوف.30
30. For the Jews of Bani Al-Aus the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf.
وأن ليهود بني ثعلبة مثل ما ليهود بني عوف إلا من ظلم وأثم فإنه لا يوتغ إلا نفسه وأهل بيته.31
31. For the Jews of Bani Thalabah the like of what is for the Jews of Bani Auf with the exception of anyone who does wrong or acts treacherously, he brings evil on himself and his family.
وأن جفته بطن من ثعلبة كأنفسهم.32
32. Jufta, who are a sub-clan of Thalabah are like themselves (Bani Thalabah).
وأن لبنى الشطبية مثل ما ليهود بني عوف وأن البر دون الإثم.33
33. For Bani Shatbah the like of what is for the Jews of Banu Auf. Piety and loyalty stand in the way of treachery.
وأن موالى ثعلبة كأنفسهم.34
34. The clients of Bani Thalabah are like themselves (Bani Thalabah).
وأن بطانة يهود كأنفسهم.35
35. The close friends of the Jews are like themselves (Jews).
وأنه لا يخرج منهم أحد إلا بإذن محمد.36
36. None of them are to go to war (military expedition) without the permission of Muhammad peace be upon him.
وأنه لا ينحجز على ثأر جرح، وأنه من فتك فبنفسه وأهل بيته إلا من ظلم وأن الله على أبر هذا.37
37. He shall not be prevented from seeking vengeance for wrongdoing when this involves him and his family members except where a man has been wronged. God will guarantee this agreement.
وأن على اليهود نفقتهم وعلى المسلمين نفقتهم، وأن بينهم النصر على من حارب أهل هذه الصحيفة، وأن بينهم النصح والنصيحة والبر دون الإثم. 38
38. The Jews shall bear their own expenses and Muslims their own. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation. And loyalty is a protection against treachery.
وأنه لا يأثم أمره بحليفه وأن النصر للمظلوم.39
39. A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped.
وأن اليهود ينفقون مع المؤمنين ما داموا محاربين.40
40. The Jews shall contribute to the expenditure of war as long as they continue to fight alongside of the believers.
وأن يثرب حرام جوفها لأهل هذه الصحيفة.41
41. The interior of Yathrib shall be sacred for the people of this document.
وأن الجار كالنفس غير مضار ولا آثم.42
42. A protected neighbour is as sacred as the protector himself as long as he does not harm and does not act treacherously.
وأن لا تجار حرمة إلا بإذن أهلها.43
43. A woman shall not be given protection without the consent of her family.
وأنه ما كان بين أهل هذه الصحيفة من حدث أو اشتجار يخاف فساده فإن مرده إلى الله44 وإلى محمد رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم)، وأن الله على أتقى ما في هذه الصحيفة وأبره
44. If any dispute or controversy is likely to cause problem or trouble among the people of this document, it must be referred to Allah and Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. Indeed, Allah will guarantee the observance of this document.
وأن لا تجار قريش ولا من نصرها.45
45. The tradesmen among the Quraysh should neither be given protection nor support.
وأن بينهم النصر على من دهم يثرب.46
46. Between them is help against whoever suddenly attacks Yathrib.
وإذا دعوا إلى صلح يصالحونه ويلبسونه فإنهم يصالحونه ويلبسونه، وأنهم إذا دعوا إلى مثل ذلك فإنه لهم على المؤمنين إلا من حارب في الدين.47
على كل أناس حصتهم من جانبهم الذي قبلهم.
47. When they are called to make peace, they conclude and accept it; they, in turn, call for reciprocity. It is for them upon the believers whosoever fights for religion. Everyone shall have his portion from his side.
وأن يهود الأوس مواليهم وأنفسهم لأهل هذه الصحيفة مع البر المحض من أهل هذه الصحيفة، وأن البر دون الإثم لا يكسب كاسب إلا على نفسه وأن الله على أصدق ما في هذه الصحيفة وأبره. 48
48. The Jews of Aus, both their clients and they themselves, are in the same position as belongs to the people of this document in pure loyalty from the people of this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires it for himself should do so. Allah is the most upright and trust fulfiller of what is written in this document.
وأنه لا يحول هذا الكتاب دون ظالم أو آثم، وأنه من خرج آمن ومن قعد آمن بالمدينة إلا من ظلم أو آثم، وأن الله جار لمن بر واتقى، ومحمد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم). 49
49. This written document will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes out for fighting is safe and the man who stays in the city is safe, unless he has been unjust or has sinned. Allah is the protector of him who is good and God fearing and Muhammad, peace be upon him is the Messenger of Allah.

[Arabic Text credit:“Al Wasaq Aldoliyah Al Moaiyena bey Huqooq al Insan”, Arabic, Volume 2, Dar Ul Shurooq Publications, Cairo 2003]

Also see related essay: Muslim Ummah and Minorities

February 25, 2018

Muslim Ummah and Minorities


Syed Sharfuddin

(This essay developed out of a discourse on the nature of Muslim Ummah and the rights of minorities).

Ummah أُمَّةً is an Arabic word which means community. But because of its Arabic origin it has acquired an association with the predominant faith of the people of Arabia. When someone uses the word Ummah, its meaning almost always is understood to be a community of Muslims. Furthermore, because of the Quranic commandment that all Muslims share a bond of fraternity with each other, the application of Ummah is not confined to a specific country or region but all over the world. Is this the correct approach to understand the meaning of Ummah or should one see it in the context in which this word is used and for what purpose?

This essay attempts to answer the question in the light of the teachings of the holy Quran and the Sunnah of prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala be on him, as well as the underlying question that if there is such a thing as a global Muslim Ummah, how do other communities of non-Muslim minorities sit in this Ummah? Is there any place in the Ummah for non-Muslim minorities to be equal citizens with full rights and responsibilities as those of the majority Muslim Community? There is also a related question of what is the status of a Muslim minority in a non-Muslim country and can one still call them Muslim Ummah?

In the holy Quran the word Ummah has been used in different contexts. Ummah is mankind. Ummah is plural communities with different faiths, value systems and leaders or apostles. Ummah can be used to describe a community of unbelievers, sinners and evil doers. Ummah also means a community of the faithful who believe in Allah and Muhammad as His messenger.

Ummah as Humanity

كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً
“All mankind was once a single community.” [2:213]

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ فَإِذَا جَاء أَجَلُهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً وَلاَ يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ
“And for all communities a term has been fixed and when (the end of) their term approaches, they can neither delay it by a single moment nor can they hasten it.” [7:34]

وَمَا كَانَ النَّاسُ إِلاَّ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَاخْتَلَفُواْ وَلَوْلاَ كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ
“All mankind was once a single community, and only later did they begin to hold divergent views. And had it not been for a decree- that had already gone forth from your Lord, all their differences would indeed have been settled (from the outset).” [10:19]

قُل لاَّ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي ضَرًّا وَلاَ نَفْعًا إِلاَّ مَا شَاء اللّهُ لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ إِذَا جَاء أَجَلُهُمْ فَلاَ يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً وَلاَ يَسْتَقْدِمُونَ
“Say (O Prophet) ‘It is not within my power to avert harm from, or bring benefit to myself, except as Allah may please.’ A term has been fixed for all communities, and when the end of their term approaches they can neither delay it by a single moment nor hasten it”. [10:49]

وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ
“And had your Lord so willed, He could surely have made all mankind one single community but (He willed it otherwise, and so) they continue to hold divergent views”. [11:118]

وَإِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاتَّقُونِ
“And, verily, this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all: remain, then, conscious of Me.” [23:52]

وَتَرَى كُلَّ أُمَّةٍ جَاثِيَةً كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ تُدْعَى إِلَى كِتَابِهَا الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
“(On Judgement Day) you will see all communities kneeling down (in humility): all of them will be called upon to (see) their record: Today you all shall be requited for what you ever did.” [45:28]

Ummah as Plural Communities

تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ وَلاَ تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
“Now those people have passed away; unto them shall be credited what they have earned, and unto you, what you have earned; and you will not be judged on the strength of what they did.” [2:141]

وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَآ آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
“…And if Allah had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but (He willed it otherwise) in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good deeds. Unto God you will return. He will then make you truly understand all that on which you differed.” [5:48]

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لأكَلُواْ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ سَاء مَا يَعْمَلُونَ
“And if they would but truly observe the Torah and the Gospel and all (the revelation) that has been bestowed on them from their Lord they would indeed partake of all the blessings of heaven and earth. A community among them does pursue the right course; but as for most of them what they do is indeed vile.” [5:66]

وَلاَ تَسُبُّواْ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ اللّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
“But do not revile those whom they invoke instead of Allah, lest they revile Allah out of spite and in ignorance; We have made the deeds of every community pleasing to it. In time, (however) they will all return to the Lord and then He will make them (truly) understand all that they were doing.” [6:108]

وَمِن قَوْمِ مُوسَى أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ
“And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.” [7:159]

وَإِذَ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِّنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا اللّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا قَالُواْ مَعْذِرَةً إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
“And when a community among them said (to their prophet), ‘Why do you advise (or warn) a people (Sabbath breakers) whom Allah is (about) to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?’ They [the advisors] said, ‘To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him’.” [7:164]

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولٌ فَإِذَا جَاء رَسُولُهُمْ قُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْقِسْطِ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ
“Every community has had an apostle; and only after their apostle appeared (and delivered his message) a judgment was passed on them in all fairness; and they are never wronged.” [10:47]

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
“And indeed, within every community Allah sent an apostle (entrusted with His message which said): ‘Worship Allah and shun the powers of evil. And among those (past generations) were people whom Allah graced many with His guidance just as there were many among them who strayed away from the right path. Travel the earth and observe what happened to them in the end who falsified the truth.” [16:36]

وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا ثُمَّ لاَ يُؤْذَنُ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَلاَ هُمْ يُسْتَعْتَبُونَ
“On Judgement Day We shall raise up a witness out of every community whereupon they who were bent on denying the truth will not be allowed to plead (ignorance) and neither will they be allowed to make excuses.” [16:84]

وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَى هَـؤُلاء وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“On Judgement Day We shall raise up within every community a witness against them from among themselves. And you (Prophet Muhammad) will bear witness regarding those (to whom your message may reach). We have bestowed upon you this Divine Scripture, step by step to make everything clear and to provide guidance and grace and a glad tiding to all who surrender themselves to Allah.” [16:89]

وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ كَالَّتِي نَقَضَتْ غَزْلَهَا مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنكَاثًا تَتَّخِذُونَ أَيْمَانَكُمْ دَخَلاً بَيْنَكُمْ أَن تَكُونَ أُمَّةٌ هِيَ أَرْبَى مِنْ أُمَّةٍ إِنَّمَا يَبْلُوكُمُ اللّهُ بِهِ وَلَيُبَيِّنَنَّ لَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ
“And do not be like the woman who untwisted her spun thread after it was strong (by) taking your oaths as (means of) deceit between you because one community is more plentiful (in number or wealth) than another community. Allah only tries you thereby. And He will surely make clear to you on the Day of Resurrection that over which you differ.” [16:92]

وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلكِن يُضِلُّ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَلَتُسْأَلُنَّ عَمَّا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
“For, had Allah so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community; He lets go astray him who wants (to go astray), and guides him who wants (to be guided). And you will surely be called to account for all that you did”. [16:93]

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا لِيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَإِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَلَهُ أَسْلِمُوا وَبَشِّرِ الْمُخْبِتِينَ
“And (thus it is) unto every community (that has ever believed in Allah) We have appointed (sacrifice) as an act of worship, so that they might extol the name of Allah over whatever heads of cattle He may have provided for them. And (always bear in mind:) your Allah is the One and Only God: hence, surrender yourselves unto Him. And give thou the glad tiding (of God’s acceptance) to all those who are humble.” [22:34]

لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا هُمْ نَاسِكُوهُ فَلَا يُنَازِعُنَّكَ فِي الْأَمْرِ وَادْعُ إِلَى رَبِّكَ إِنَّكَ لَعَلَى هُدًى مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
“Unto every community We have appointed (different) ways of worship which they observe. Hence, (O believer) do not let those (who follow other worship) draw you into disputes on this score but invite them all to your Lord; for, behold, you are indeed on the right way.” [22:67]

وَيَوْمَ نَحْشُرُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ فَوْجًا مِّمَّن يُكَذِّبُ بِآيَاتِنَا فَهُمْ يُوزَعُونَ
“And on that Day We shall gather from within every community a host of those who lied about Our messages; and they will be grouped (according to the gravity of their sins).” [27:83]

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَإِن مِّنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ
“Verily, We have sent you (Muhammad) with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner: for there never was any community where a warner (lived and) passed away in its midst.” [35:24]

كَذَّبَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ وَالْأَحْزَابُ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ وَهَمَّتْ كُلُّ أُمَّةٍ بِرَسُولِهِمْ لِيَأْخُذُوهُ وَجَادَلُوا بِالْبَاطِلِ لِيُدْحِضُوا بِهِ الْحَقَّ فَأَخَذْتُهُمْ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ عِقَابِ
“The people of Noah falsified him and after them all those (others) who leagued together (against God’s messengers) and each of those communities schemed against the apostle sent unto it aiming to lay hands on him; and they contended (against his message) with false arguments, so as to render void the truth thereby: but then I (Allah) took them to task – and how awesome was My retribution.” [40:5]

وَلَوْ شَاء اللَّهُ لَجَعَلَهُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَكِن يُدْخِلُ مَن يَشَاء فِي رَحْمَتِهِ وَالظَّالِمُونَ مَا لَهُم مِّن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
“Had Allah so willed, He could surely have made them all one single community; He admits into His grace him who wants (to be admitted); whereas the evil doers shall have none to protect them and none to succour them (on Judgment Day).” [42:8]

Ummah as a Community of Evil Doers

قَالَ ادْخُلُواْ فِي أُمَمٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مِّن الْجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ فِي النَّارِ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَتْ أُمَّةٌ لَّعَنَتْ أُخْتَهَا حَتَّى إِذَا ادَّارَكُواْ فِيهَا جَمِيعًا قَالَتْ أُخْرَاهُمْ لأُولاَهُمْ رَبَّنَا هَـؤُلاء أَضَلُّونَا فَآتِهِمْ عَذَابًا ضِعْفًا مِّنَ النَّارِ قَالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ وَلَـكِن لاَّ تَعْلَمُونَ
“Allah will say ‘Enter along with the communities which had come before you of jinn and mankind into the Fire.” Every time a community enters, it will curse its predecessor until, when they have all overtaken one another therein, the last of them will say about the first of them: ‘Our Lord, they had misled us, so give them double punishment of the Fire’. Allah will say, ‘For each is double, but you do not know’.” [7:38]

وَلَئِنْ أَخَّرْنَا عَنْهُمُ الْعَذَابَ إِلَى أُمَّةٍ مَّعْدُودَةٍ لَّيَقُولُنَّ مَا يَحْبِسُهُ أَلاَ يَوْمَ يَأْتِيهِمْ لَيْسَ مَصْرُوفًا عَنْهُمْ وَحَاقَ بِهِم مَّا كَانُواْ بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِؤُونَ
“And if We hold back from them the punishment of a community for a limited time, they will surely say: ‘What is preventing it?’ Unquestionably, on the Day when it will come to them, it will not be averted, and they will be overwhelmed by what they used to ridicule.” [11:8]

يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ مَّا تَسْبِقُ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلَهَا وَمَا
“No community can ever forestall (the end of) its term – and neither can they delay it.” [15:5]

مَا تَسْبِقُ مِنْ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلَهَا وَمَا يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ
“No community can ever forestall (the end of) its term – and neither can they delay (its coming).” [23:43]

وَنَزَعْنَا مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا فَقُلْنَا هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ فَعَلِمُوا أَنَّ الْحَقَّ لِلَّهِ وَضَلَّ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ
“We will call forth witnesses from every community and will say (to the sinners): ‘Bring the evidence for what you have been claiming. And so they will come to understand that Allah is the Truth and all their false imagery will forsake them.” [28:75]

وَلَوْلَا أَن يَكُونَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً لَجَعَلْنَا لِمَن يَكْفُرُ بِالرَّحْمَنِ لِبُيُوتِهِمْ سُقُفًا مِّن فَضَّةٍ وَمَعَارِجَ عَلَيْهَا يَظْهَرُونَ
“And were it not that (with the prospect of boundless riches before them) all people would become one (evil) community. We might indeed have provided for those who (now) deny the Most Gracious, roofs of silver for their houses, and (silver) stairways whereon to ascend.” [43:33]

Ummah as a Community of Muslims

وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلاَّ لِنَعْلَمَ مَن يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّن يَنقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ وَإِن كَانَتْ لَكَبِيرَةً إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمَا كَانَ اللّهُ لِيُضِيعَ إِيمَانَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle path so that (with your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind, and that the Apostle might bear witness to it before you. And it is only to the end that We might make a clear distinction between those who follow the Apostle and those who turn about on their heels that We have appointed (for this community) the direction of prayer which you (O Prophet) have formerly observed: for this was indeed a hard test for all but those whom Allah has guided aright. But Allah will surely not lose sight of your faith; for, behold, He is most compassionate towards humanity, a dispenser of grace.” [2:143]

رَبَّنَا وَاجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَا أُمَّةً مُّسْلِمَةً لَّكَ وَأَرِنَا مَنَاسِكَنَا وَتُبْ عَلَيْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
“Our Sustainer, make us surrender ourselves unto You, and make from our children a community that shall surrender itself unto You, and show us our ways of worship, and accept our repentance: for, verily, You alone are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Dispenser of Grace.” [2:128]

وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“And that there might grow out of you a community (of people) who invite unto all that is good, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong: and it is they who shall attain success”. [3:104]

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُم مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for (the good of) mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah. Now if the followers of earlier revelation had attained to the faith, it would have been for their own good; (but only few) among them are believers, while most of them are iniquitous.” [3:110]

وَمِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا أُمَّةٌ يَهْدُونَ بِالْحَقِّ وَبِهِ يَعْدِلُونَ
“Now, among those whom We have created there is a community of people which guides (others) in the way of the truth and acts justly in its light”. [7:181]

كَذَلِكَ أَرْسَلْنَاكَ فِي أُمَّةٍ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهَا أُمَمٌ لِّتَتْلُوَ عَلَيْهِمُ الَّذِيَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِالرَّحْمَـنِ قُلْ هُوَ رَبِّي لا إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ مَتَابِ
“Thus We have raised you (Muhammad) as Our Apostle amidst a community (of unbelievers) before whose time (similar) communities have come and gone so that you might propound to them what We have revealed to you; for (in their ignorance) they deny the Most Gracious Lord. Say: ‘He is my Provider. There is no god except Him. In Him I have placed my trust and unto Him is my recourse’.” [13:30]

إِنَّ هَذِهِ أُمَّتُكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَأَنَا رَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُونِ
“O you who believe in Me, this community of yours is one single community and I am the Lord of you all; worship Me.” [21:92]

Commentary

The above verses mentioning the word Ummah in various meanings present a very clear picture of the how a community of people may want to live in a plurality of faiths, ideas and races around the globe. The different communities in the present, and those which preceded us and are yet to come, will always be free to choose their faith and way of life. Only those who follow Allah and His messenger will belong to the community of Muslims. Those who are not Muslims follow other belief systems and form their own Ummah. Each of these communities with their sub-groups, clients and friends is distinct and to the exclusion of other communities. The reason why Allah has made different communities is to test them for their actions. Only the unbelievers, sinners and evil doers among them are warned that they will be held to account for their deeds on the Day of Judgement. Having given every one the freedom of belief and thought, Allah has named the Ummah of believers the best community because it forbids evil and enjoins the good.

Because the world is not homogeneously slotted into separate communities, Quran introduces tolerance and mutual cohabitation in a pluralistic society where many communities can live together with each according to its faith and social practices. According to Quran, Muslims are one community united in faith and having a fraternity of common ideas and way of life.

The first formal structure governing a pluralistic society was designed by prophet Muhammad soon after Hijrah in the year 622 Ad when he moved from Makkah to Madinah to practice Islam with his followers. The early Muslims were breakaway individuals and tribes from pagan Arabs and Jewish and Christian communities. They had crossed a major ideological and cultural barrier and needed a new code of social conduct under Islam. Prophet Muhammad’s first act in Madinah was to introduce the institution of brotherhood (Muwakhat) which was aimed at creating a fraternity of Muslims as one single community comprising the immigrant Muslims of Makkah, the settlers of Madinah and other tribes into one nation. This community was the precursor of Muslim Ummah.
وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ وَاذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَةَ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاء فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىَ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا كَذَلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
Translation: “And hold fast, all of you to the bond with Allah, and do not be divided. And remember the blessings which Allah bestowed upon you. When you were enemies He brought your hearts together. Through His blessing you became brothers. And (when) you were on the brink of a fiery abyss He saved you from it. This is how Allah makes His signs clear to you, so that you receive guidance.” [Al-Imran 3:103]

After uniting a heterogeneous group of people from different social backgrounds and tribes who became Muslims, prophet Mohammad took the second important step of defining the relationship between the Muslims and other non-Muslim communities in Madinah. These included Arab Jews, Arab Christians, Pagan Arabs and Polytheists. Two years after Hijrah, he managed to get the agreement of ten Muslim tribes of Madinah and an equal number of Jewish tribes who were settled in Madinah to agree to a ‘Charter of Governance’ which defined the rights and obligations of each community as Muslims and non-Muslims. This was the first written constitution of the first Islamic state which settled the intricate issue of how Muslims living in a State where they were going to be an overwhelming majority were to behave with the minorities.

The Charter of Madinah

The Charter of Madinah which precedes the Magna Carta of Europe and the American Declaration of Independence is the oldest document in the history of mankind which defines the social and economic relationships between the majority population and minorities, dived by religion, ethnic identity and language. Unfortunately, Western scholars have not given it the importance it deserves because they see it as a document of exclusivity, favouring the majority and providing little or no minority rights. In examining this document from the modern perspective of citizens’ rights and the global human rights principles which have developed after the two world wars and the rise of multi-ethnic, multi-faith and culturally diverse societies, the fact is often overlooked that in the year 623 AD when this Charter was adopted, slavery was widely prevalent, women had no rights and the vanquished adopted the religion of the victor or were wiped off, irrespective of whether they were the indigenous people of the conquered land or were outsiders.

The Charter of Madinah laid down the foundation of an Islamic state and regulated relations between the immigrant and settler Muslims of Madinah on the one hand and between the Muslims and the Jews of Madinah on the other hand. The Charter also formally established the Muslim Ummah as a community “distinct and apart from the rest of the people and comprising the Messenger of Allah, the believers, the Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib, and all those who followed, joined and laboured with them.” It also recognised the Jews of Madinah as a community (Ummah) of their own with their separate faith and practices.

The participants of the Charter included twelve Arab tribes mostly from Aws and Khazraj clans and many Jewish tribes who are mentioned in the document by name as Bani Auf, Bani Nabith and Bani Al-Aus and their sub-tribes known as Bani Harith, Bani Saidah, Bani Jasham, Bani Najjar, Bani Thalabah and Bani Shatbah.

Socio-Political Background

The background of the Charter of Madinah was the rising threat from the Quraysh of Makkah against the new Muslims who had migrated to Yathrib (Madinah) in order to set up a socio-political order governed by the holy Quran and the Sunnah of prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. In those days, there was no central political authority in Yathrib. The various tribes, clans and sub-clans were further divided by religion as Jews, Christians, Pagans and Muslims. This made Yathrib an unstable and diverse society which required some sort of socio-political order to maintain peace and guarantee the safety and security of all its inhabitants. Indeed, soon after the adoption of the Charter, the Quraysh of Makkah launched the Battle of Badar followed by two more battles to destroy the first Islamic state in Madinah. It is against this background that the clauses related to financial collections for self-defence, considering an attack on one community as an attack on all the participants of the Charter and not supporting and protecting the Quraysh can be better understood in the text.

Key Points of the Charter

The Charter gives recognition to believers, Muslims of Quraysh (Muhajirs) and Yathrib (Ansar) and all those who followed, joined and laboured with them as one Ummah (community) distinct and apart from the rest of the people. (Clause 1). It was important to do so because although they had embraced Islam they still had their deep conflicts of interest. They were after all friends and family members who were divided on religion but closely bound to each other by ethnicity, tribal affiliation and commercial and clan interests. In the Quran Allah says: “verily, this community of yours (believers) is one single as community, for I am your Lord; worship me. [21:92 and 23:52].

The Charter also recognises the Jews of Yathrib (Madinah) as an Ummah (community) of their own which shall enjoy freedom of religion and civil rights. It also guarantees freedom of religion to their sub-tribes, clients, friends and associates. (Clause 25). By defining the Jews as a distinct community with freedom of religion the Charter dispels any fears that the minorities will be forced to convert to Islam in Madinah and will not exercise their civic rights. In the Quran Allah says: “unto every community We have appointed (different) ways of worship which they ought to observe. Hence, (O believer) do not let those (who worship in a manner other than you) draw you into disputes on this score but summon them to your Lord; you are indeed on the right way [22:676].

Freedom of religion also required that those who had become Muslims should be guaranteed security of life and property against their powerful and more established friends and family members who had not accepted Islam. The Charter guarantees the safety of life and property of new Muslims by declaring that whosoever kills a believer without a just cause shall be subject to retaliation. (Clauses 20 and 21). The Charter also declares them friends of one another to the exclusion of all others to mould a community out of a heterogeneous group of people belonging to different tribes and families. The Charter also forbids believers to kill one another for the sake of an unbeliever or support an unbeliever against a believer. (Clauses 14 and 15).

The Charter introduces a system of communal fundraising for payment of compensation for unlawful murders through the concept of blood-wit and advises kindness and justice in all settlements. (Clause 40).

The Charter promotes peace by taking away the authority of tribal chiefs to declare war and empowers only Muhammad, peace be upon him, to make such a declaration. To create a deterrence, the Charter says that an attack on any one will be considered an attack on all the people of the Charter. It does not impose a war levy on the Jews but requires them to meet the expenses on war for their own community, similar to the Muslims who are required to pay for the expenses on war for their own community. The Charter also requires all the people mentioned in the document, whether Muslims or non-Muslims to seek mutual advice and consultation for self-defence. (Clauses 17, 36 and 38). Two important points underlined in the Charter about minority rights are: consultations with the minority community on matters of defence when Madinah is attacked (Clause 38) and the right of the minority to seek justice when one of their member or family is wronged (Clause 37).

The Charter declares human life as sacred. Safety of neighbours and families, irrespective of religion is emphasised in the Charter for those who go to war, as well for those who stay behind. It also declares the interior of Yathrib as sacred land. (Clauses 41, 42 and 49). Women are provided additional protection as the Charter forbids anyone offering protection to a woman outside his clan without the consent of her family. (Clause 43).

The Charter declares Muhammad, peace be upon him, as the adjudicator of disputes (chief justice) and head of state with the authority to declare war (Clauses 23 and 36). It also provides a dispute resolution mechanism both for the Muslims and Jews. (Clauses 24 and 44).

Conclusion

In later times when Islam spread to different continents and regions, the concept of Muslim Ummah gained further strength. It was easy to belong to Muslim Ummah as long as a person declared himself Muslim and agreed to follow the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of prophet Muhammad. Even when the political institution of Caliphate weakened and broke up in different governorates, autonomous regions and nation states, the institution of Muslim Ummah survived because it was not based on nationality or ethnic or linguistic bonds; anyone could still be a part of the Muslim Ummah as long as he called himself a Muslim and practiced Islam.

In modern times where states are governed by democratic constitutions and the rule of law is enacted by parliaments, the place of Muslim Ummah as defined by the Quran and Sunnah holds ground. The Ummah co-exists with other communities both in a Muslim-majority country which declares Islam as its official religion, as well as in a secular Muslim country where there is a division of state and religion, or in a non-Muslim country where Islam is one of the many faiths allowed to be practiced in accordance with the fundamental rights written into the laws of that state.

In a Muslim state, the Muslim community has an obligation to recognise other non-Muslim communities as fellow citizens and grant them equal rights. However, the Muslim community retains its distinction to the exclusion of other communities in matters of Muslim faith. For example, in religious matters the obligation of five-times prayers, paying zakat and fasting in the month of Ramadan and application of Quranic laws specific to Muslims cannot be imposed on non-Muslim communities. The latter are also entitled to freely observe their religious freedoms and practices according to their faith and custom. In socio-economic interaction and civil and criminal jurisdiction, both Muslim as well as non-Muslim communities are subject to the constitution of the Muslim state which applies to all the citizens.

In a secular state where Muslims may be a majority, or in a non-Muslim country where Muslims are a minority, the role of Muslim Ummah is one of practicing its faith freely and safeguarding its rights as a religious community. In these countries the Muslim Ummah is an active participant in the development and progress of the country where it lives but ensures that its religious freedoms and interests, as a distinct community of Muslims in matters of faith, are adequately safeguarded and protected.

The world has moved on from empires to nation states and from having a central governing authority to devolved administrative units empowering local communities and grassroots representative institutions to protect their rights and decide their affairs. Likewise, the Muslim Ummah has moved on from the golden era of Caliphate to twenty-first century Muslim states comprising the members and observer states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In whatever form global politics might evolve in the future, only time will tell. But for all religious purposes Muslims are and remain one Muslim Ummah.


(Photo credit OIC)

Also see: The Charter of Madinah

February 25, 2018

Encounter with the Shaitan

Syed Sharfuddin

A man woke up early in order to offer his morning prayer in the neighbourhood mosque. He got dressed, set on his way to Allah’s house. On his way to the mosque, the man accidentally set foot on a loose stone and fell down. His clothes got dirty. He got up, brushed himself and headed home to change his clothes. He changed his dress and walked to the mosque again. On his way, he again stumbled on a slippery surface and fell down. He got up, went home, changed his clothes and went out to offer prayer in Allah’s house. On his way to the mosque he met an old man holding a lamp. He asked the man of his identity and the man replied ‘I saw you fall twice on your way to the mosque, so I brought a lamp in order to light your way’. The first man thanked him profusely and the two went on their way to the mosque.

Once they reached the mosque, the first man asked the man with the lamp to come in and offer prayer with him. The old man who had brought the lamp refused. The first man asked him a couple of times to come in but the old man’s answer was the same.

The first man asked him why he did not wish to come in and pray. The old man replied, ‘I am Satan’. The man was shocked at this reply. Satan went on to explain, ‘I saw you on your way to the mosque and it was I who made you fall. When you went home, changed yourself and went back on your way to the mosque, Allah forgave all of your sins’.

‘I made you fall a second time, and even that did not encourage you to stay home, but rather, you went out again to offer your prayer in the mosque. Because of that, Allah forgave all the sins of the people of your household’.

‘I was afraid if I made you fall one more time, Allah will forgive the sins of the whole neighbourhood so I made sure that you reached the mosque safely,’ said the Shaitan.

Shaitan is keen to prevent man from doing good deeds to go to heaven. Instead, he wants to take man to hell because he holds Adam responsible for his downfall. He is viciously committed to taking revenge from mankind for his expulsion from heaven. After he was condemned for not prostrating before Adam, He told Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala: “I will approach them (Adam, Eve and their progeny) from their front, their back, their right, their left, and You (Allah) will find most of them ungrateful.” [Surah Al-Araaf 7:17]. In reply to his boasting, Allah said: “I will surely fill up hell with you and whoever follows you from among them, all together.” [Surah Saad 38:85]. Shaitan also knows what hell is like and has probably been there already. He does not want to go there alone. He wants company. He wants to take revenge from mankind for his condemnation and also have company of mankind in hell. His most effective weapon to attack us is through nudity and sex. Allah warns us in the Quran about it: “O children of Adam! Do not let Satan deceive you as he tempted your parents out of Paradise and caused their cover to be removed in order to expose their nakedness. Surely he and his tribe watch you from where you cannot see them. We have made the devils allies of those who disbelieve. [Surah Al-Araaf 7:27].

Now that we know Shaitan’s evil plan and his methodology to implement it, we should watch out for the things that help him achieve his objective. One of the best defences against his attack is to say I seek refuge in Allah from the evil design of Shaitan. Allah says in the Quran: “And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is all hearing and knowing.” [Surah Al-Araaf 7:200]. Quran also advises us to pray to Allah to keep us away from the whispers of Shaitan. “And say: “My Lord! I seek refuge in You from the whisperings (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils).” [Surah Al-Muminoon 23:97]

If you get a direct encounter with Shaitan like the man who met Shaitan on his way to the mosque you should say to him: “Mate, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I shall neither be beguiled by you, nor give you company. So, get lost. To hell with you and your caboodle.”

Do not put off the good you intended to do as you never know how much reward you might receive from the hardships you encounter while trying to achieve that good.

February 25, 2018

Also See Related Essay:Instruments of Shaitan

Five Qiblas

Syed Sharfuddin

Imam Fakhr al Din Al-Raazi, in his commentary of Surah Fatiha in Tafseer Al-Kabeer identifies five components of a few things both known and unknown to the faithful. These are: the five pillars of Islam, five senses, five obligatory prayers, five key components of Surah Fatiha, five types of self and five stages of Qibla. Of these, I found his account of the five Qiblas little known to most Muslims. According to Al-Raazi, these are: Bait al-Maqdas, Al-Kaaba, Bait al-Mamoor, Al-Arsh and Hadara Jalal Allah. Although Imam Raazi does not elaborate on them, it is important to recognise them as symbols of Allah which have inspired billions of Allah’s slaves to seek the Light (Noor) of their Creator both in this world and in the hereafter.

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
Translation: “Verily, (the mountains of) As-Safa and Al-Marwah (in Makkah) are the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or Umrah of the House (the Kaaba) to make rounds between them (Tawaf). And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah rewards good deeds and knows everything.” [Surah Al Baqarah 2:158]

We know from our study of the Seerah of prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah Subhanuhu wa Taa’la be on him, that even before five time prayers were made obligatory for the believers, the direction of Qibla was Bait-al-Maqdas in Jerusalem which today comprises the area of the Sacred Mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Muslim part of Temple Mount from where prophet Muhammad ascended the heavens in the night of Ascension.

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلاً مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ البَصِيرُ
Translation: “Exalted is He (Allah) who took His servant by night from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of our signs. Indeed, He (Allah) is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Surah Al-Isra 17:1]

However, about two years after prophet Muhammad moved to Madinah (623 AD) the Qibla was changed from Bait al-Maqdas to Al-Kaaba in Makkah.

قَدْ نَرَى تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاء فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّواْ وُجُوِهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوْتُواْ الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
Translation: “Indeed, We (Allah) see you O Prophet turning your face towards heaven. Now We will make you turn towards a direction of prayer that will please you. So turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque in Makkah—wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Scripture certainly know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is never unaware of what they do.” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2;144]

The Kaaba in Makkah is a pre-Islamic structure which was for years a hallowed place of worship for the various tribes of Arabia. It succumbed to natural calamities like fire and flood and was destroyed and rebuilt several times in the past. However, throughout history, it remained Allah’s sacred house. A few years before the birth of prophet Muhammad who eventually de-idolised the Kaaba in the tenth year of Hijrah, an elephant army which came from Yemen under the command of a king named Abrahah Al-Ashram intending to destroy the Kaaba at Makkah was destroyed by a swarm of flying birds sent by Allah. [Surah Al-Fil 105 1 to 5].

In the historical accounts of the Kaaba it is said that the very first Qibla built by prophet Adam was located on the same foundations as its present day site in Makkah. The Kaaba was rebuilt by prophet Abraham and his son Ismail and remained a place of worship for all until prophet Noah when the flood overtook every dry piece of land on earth and the Kaaba was raised up to the heavens where it now exists as Bait al-Mamoor. A reference to Bait-al-Mamoor appears in the Quran very briefly in Surah Al-Tur.

وَالْبَيْتِ الْمَعْمُورِ
Translation: “And consider the long standing sacred House in the heavens”. [Surah Al-Tur 52:4]

In describing Bait al-Mamoor, a Hadith from Shahih Bokhari and Muslim informs readers that when prophet Mohammad was taken to the heavens by archangel Gabriel on the night of Ascension, he was shown Bait al-Mamoor. According to this Hadith, 70,000 angels perform prayers and circumbulation around this Sacred ouse and every night they are replaced by a new group of 70,000 angels who have never been to Bait al-Mamoor before. Commentators have added that Bait al-Mamoor is located directly on top of the Kaaba on the seventh heaven.

When the blowing of the Trumpet will cause the skies and earth to be rolled up like a scroll [21:104] يَوْمَ نَطْوِي السَّمَاء كَطَيِّ السِّجِلِّ لِلْكُتُبِ and every grave will throw up men and women who will come out with humiliated eyes to return to their Lord for judgement [54:7]
خُشَّعًا أَبْصَارُهُمْ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ كَأَنَّهُمْ جَرَادٌ مُّنتَشِرٌ everything on earth including Bait al-Maqdas in Jerusalem and Al-Kaaba in Makkah will be destroyed [كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ [55:26.

The next Qibla after Bait al-Mamoor is Al-Arsh which is the Throne of Allah. It has existed even before the creation of the universe and will be the focal point of everyone’s attention on the Day of Judgement.

وَالْمَلَكُ عَلَى أَرْجَائِهَا وَيَحْمِلُ عَرْشَ رَبِّكَ فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ ثَمَانِيَةٌ
Translation: “The angels will be on all sides of it and, on that Day, eight of them will bear the Throne of your Lord above them.” [Surah Al-Haaqah 69:17]

وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Translation: “You [Prophet] will see the angels surrounding the Throne, glorifying their Lord with praise. True judgement will have been passed between them, and it will be said, ‘Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds.” [Surah Al-Zumar 39:75]

It is learnt from Ahadith that on the Day of Judgement every soul present for accountability will be eager to come under the shadow of Al-Arsh which will be the most sought after place for receiving the mercy and blessing of Allah.

The fifth and final stage of Qibla is Hadara Jalal Allah (presence before the good and gracious Lord) which will be allowed to only those whom Allah will please. But they will be among the residents of Jannah. These lucky and successful people who will have everything available to them in paradise will still be hungry for a look of Allah, which will be the highest reward for them both spiritually for their hearts and minds and sensually for their eyes. The light (Noor) of Allah will be a source of their happiness and energy which will keep them fresh in paradise without fatigue or any weakness.

إِلَى رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ . وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَة
Translation: “On that Day some faces will glow bright with happiness, looking at their Lord.” [Surah Al-Qiyamah 75:22 and 23]

After the change of Qibla which took place during the life of prophet Muhammad, Muslims no longer face toward the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem to offer prayers. However, it remains an important part of their religious experience which started from the prophethood of Muhammad until about 2 Hijra when the Kaaba in Makkah was made their Qibla. It is therefore important to remember that after the Trumpet has blown and the world has come to an end, the Qibla for the Muslims will not be the Kaaba but Bait-al-Mamoor or Al-Arsh itself, if in His infinite Wisdom and Plan Allah keeps it reserved only for the use of the angels. Allah knows best, for we are given only limited knowledge of the heaven and afterlife.

February 22, 2018