Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

The Grace of gradual revelation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The style of the revelation of the Quran was gradual, over a period of 23 years. A command would initially be revealed in much general terms. This was done to ease Muslims into the new Divine regulations. When the initial command is absorbed by Muslims, God followed it with more details about it, such as how to implement it properly. Many scholars thought that subsequent commands were abrogation of the initial command! But that is incorrect, since abrogation means cancellation, and the initial command always remained in force.

A good example of that is the prohibition of drinking alcoholic beverages. The first command God sent down on this issue was,
“And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take for yourselves intoxicant and good provision. Verily, in that is a sign for a folk who reason.” (16:67)
Here is a very subtle indication that intoxicants are not a good thing. God leaves the word without an adjective to describe it, but He follows the word “provision” with the adjective “good.” Those who got the hint, Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (RA) was one, understood that God is not pleased with alcoholic beverages.

A subsequent command was then revealed,
“They ask you about intoxicants and easy gain (gambling). Say: In them is major sin and benefits for people. But their sin is bigger than their benefit.” (2:219)
So, those who did not notice before are now left with no doubt that alcohol is bad. Notice that this verse does not abrogate 16:67, because not describing something as being good is tantamount to describing it as more bad than good!

Then, a third command was revealed,
“O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying, ” (4:43)

Now the matter is getting serious; intoxication prevents a Muslim from even approaching a prayer! Still, many people thought that it was OK to drink outside prayer times! They still didn’t get the hint. You see why God is walking them those baby steps? It is very hard for a society used to drinking alcohol to quit that habit. They need training. That is what God was doing, out of His Grace, by the gradual revelation of these commands. Notice also that this verse does not abrogate either of the aforementioned verses, because not praying while drunk does not mean drinking is allowed.

Finally, the prohibition was revealed in no uncertain terms,
“O you who have believed! Verily, intoxicants, easy gain (gambling), [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that perhaps you may prosper.

Verily, Satan only wants to drop between you enmity and acrimony through intoxicants and easy gain (gambling) and to shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. So, are you ceasing?” (5:90-91)

It is of particular interest to notice that Chapter 5 was one of the very last chapters of the Quran to be revealed. That means that the prohibition of alcohol took the entire period of revelation between Chapter 16 and Chapter 5, almost a decade!

That is just one example of why the Quran may not start off a command with the clear statement outright.

Can we pray with hypocrites?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Let us suppose a person states they do not go to the masjid (mosque) because they do not want to pray with hypocrites. They would rather pray alone. I told the person that we do not go to pray with the hypocrites but go to pray to Allah. And I continued stating that our prayer may soften the heart of others.

What does one say to a person whose heart is hardened against fellow Muslims? These are serious questions. This person does not take well much hadeeth. This person does not trust scholars.

I honestly believe some of us are given the gift of joy in this life under all conditions. I feel this is one of my blessings. On the bleakest of moments I find something joyful in it. Even if it is the benefit of the experience in its darkest depths.

What a beautiful way you finished your question! A blessed person sees blessings in the bleakest moments, while a deprived person sees deprivation in the most opulent moments.

From the other things you wrote to me about this person, I’m getting the impression that they have grown cynical or depressed. I’m not surprised, given their illness, may God heal the sick as only He can and save us all from similar afflictions.

You are right in approaching this delicately. God teaches us in the holy Quran that the call to Him must always be done gently, even with an enemy. You recall how He instructed Moses and Aaron to call upon Pharaoh: “Then say to him a soft uttering perhaps he will remember or fear.” (20:44) Remember or fear, see? That is what you and I hope for your friend.

So, when you get a chance, remind your friend that they have an excuse to pray sitting down and explain how this is done if they don’t know how. Don’t press it. Let them sleep on it and keep praying for them. Also assure them that they can always make up for all missed prayers, and should, unlike what many fatwas have ruled.

Life is too short to waste on cynicism, apathy or despair. A true believer never despairs, “Verily, they do not despair of the grace of God but the disbelieving folk.” (12:87) Life can end at any time, and suddenly, and be replaced by the sobering reality of the Hereafter and Judgment. Cynicism would not be of any help then. Cynicism is an escape from unpleasant reality, but it achieves nothing but ill mood. Optimism and positive activity on the other hand, warm the heart and set the mind to find solutions to problems and fixes for what is wrong.

As for your other question, none know who is hypocrite and who is not. A fellow Muslim is not a hypocrite just because one doesn’t like what they say or do! God told the Prophet (PBUH) that there are hypocrites around him, that He will tell him the names of some of them but will withhold the names of others! (see 9:101). And the Prophet (PBUH) did likewise when Huzhayfa ibn Al-Yamaan (RA) asked him to tell him who were hypocrite. The Prophet (PBUH) made him promise not to tell anyone.

Why is that? Because being a hypocrite many not be the end of the story. A hypocrite may become a good, committed believer later. Affairs of the heart constantly change and God is the “turner of the hearts.”

Can faith go up and down?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Brother, I pray this finds you in high eman (faith) and good health.

Here is one of my serious questions. I did not know where to start the research.
I pray. I believe in prayer. I try not to miss my salat (prayer).

I got sick. I could not pray. I do not mean physically. There arose the problem. I could not make myself pray. I put it off. I blamed the physical lethargy. I could not understand nor rationalize the blockage.
The inability to pray ran down to my soul. I could not find an answer.

To try and sum it up in words: Why do we have periods of such low eman (faith) that prayer becomes difficult? It is not the total abandonment of prayer but a temporary inability to pray. Does this even make sense? I understand that the body hurts but the soul hurts more when prayer is ignored. It was as if I felt I was abandoned.

Point the passages in the Quran for me to ponder on this one. I know others who have the same blockage. It is not that you do not want to pray..but something prevents you from praying.

You’re asking why is this happening to you. The answer is simple: Satan got to you. Don’t panic; it happens to everybody. Satan never tires of trying to get to people so that they may follow him instead of following God. In the holy Quran, God quotes Satan challenging Him and saying, “I will come to them before them, behind them, at their right sides and at their left sides, and You will not find most of them thankful!” (7:17)

What do you do about it? You show Satan who’s boss! You fight him on it. You drag yourself to pray if necessary and cry to God in your prayer to help you win that fight. It is not an easy fight, it’s a jihaad (struggle). And if you just start it, God promises He will be on your side, “And those who struggle in Us, We shall surely guide them to Our ways.” (29:69)

Prayer is the second most emphasized notion in the Quran, after the oneness of God. Why? Because once you understand who God is, you certainly want to find out how to communicate with Him.

Prayer is an audience with God that He invites you to five times everyday. It is a privilege given to every believer, similar to the privilege God gave to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on his Mi`raaj (ascension journey to heaven). Unlike audiences with human dignitaries, you don’t make an appointment first, you don’t need intermediaries, you can stay as little or as long as you want, and you can ask for anything and be sure that an answer will be given right away and in the way that fits you best.

Prayer, therefore, is much more than a duty upon every believer toward His Maker, it is a fabulous opportunity; like a freebie you get five times a day and all you have to do is open the door to get it. No strings attached.

Prayer is a chance to thank God five times a day for the many more than five favors He has given you that day.

Belief does not go up and down, but faith does. Belief is binary :-), you either believe or you don’t. Faith, on the other hand, is the practice, cordially, mentally, verbally and manually, that proves the belief and affirms it. Since all of these can go up and down, that’s why faith can go up and down. God defined believers as follows, “Verily, believers are only those who, when God is mentioned and His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith, and upon their Lord they rely.” (8:2)

To make your faith go up, you increase the rate at which you affirm your belief. Cordially, you contemplate God’s love and grace often. Mentally, you reflect on God’s creation and bounties often. Verbally, you do Zhikr often, and manually, you perform the rituals, charity and good deeds often. The more you commit yourself to that, the easier it gets, because Satan will find you a tough nut to crack and will look for an easier prey, just like a car thief doesn’t bother with cars that have a powerful alarm.

The Prophet (PBUH) often said this supplication, “O turner of hearts, steady my heart on Your religion! O diverter of hearts, direct my heart to obeying You!”

And he always said this supplication after ending each prayer, “Allahumma a`inni `ala zhikrika wa shukrika wa husni `ibaadatika” (“O God, help me to remember You, thank You, and comply well with your ordinance.”)

Does Islam prophesy an Anti-Christ?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

What do you know and what do you believe about this person whom some people claimed that Prophet Muhammad prophesied as Mahdi and this event called Dajjal Fitnah. I’m not sure but I think these are unfounded claims as far as the Qur’an is concerned. I don’t know but some people relate these things to what is happening in Syria.

There are several authentic hadeeths, reported in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim’s compilations and narrated by Al-Khudri, Ibn Umar and others, which mention Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal (the luring messiah). In these hadeeths, the Prophet (PBUH) forewarns Muslims of the coming of the Anti-Christ, a man who will possess great powers, even power to resurrect people from the dead, and succeed in luring most people away from true faith to follow him instead. He will claim to be God. The Prophet (PBUH) said that the Dajjaal Fitna (test of faith) is the greatest and that every prophet had forewarned his people against it.

While the Quran does not mention Ad-Dajjaal, there is no reason to doubt the story. It would be a different matter if the Quran has contradicted the story. One authentic hadeeth I know of is reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she relates that the Prophet (PBUH) used to say in his supplication during prayer, “O God, I seek refuge in You from the trying times of the Luring Messiah.”

Several authentic hadeeths also mention the coming of the Anti-Christ as one of several grand signs of the approach of the Hour (the Day of Judgment). Most of the signs mentioned in those hadeeths are also mentioned in the Quran, such as the second coming of Jesus Christ, the release of Gog and Magog, and the animal which will preach to people. Thus, there is no cause to deny the story about the Anti-Christ while the other, equally spectacular stories are confirmed by the Quran.

There is no evidence that the war in Syria has anything to do with the Anti-Christ.

As for Al-Mahdi (the guided one), the hadeeths about him are far less authentic. Neither Al-Bukhaari nor Muslim have reported any hadeeth about him, to the best of my knowledge. Whether he will exist has no bearing on your or my faith, since we already have all we need to be true believers: the holy Quran and the authentic Sunna.

Celebrating Israa’ and Mi`raaj

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Got a simple question for you. I was reading that many Muslims are going to celebrate the Isra and Miraj of the Prophet, swas, today. I was unaware of the celebration until yesterday. What is your take. I know I have missed the boat on several things in life, but what is going on. It appears there are masjids in the US that will have special prayers. I kinda feel as I am Rip Van Winkle. When did this start?

Happy Israa’ and Mi`raaj to you. There is no official celebration of the occasion; it’s a new practice of many mosques. The more strict Muslims frown on such practice and call it a Bid`a (novelty), and they would be technically correct, but it’s harmless. A get-together of fellow Muslims to commemorate a seminal event in Islam, the highest honor God has given to any creature, and the launch of the prayer, cannot be a bad thing. Besides, my mosque has a program for the kids. They learn and they play.

Supplication during the night

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Assalaamu ‘alaikum WR WB brother.

Is there any specific Du’a recorded in the Sunnah which should be recited
specifically during night prayers (Qiyaamul Layl)
If so , please do share them Insha Allah

The first time God ordered the Prophet (PBUH) to stay up at night praying was in Chapter 73 (Al-Muzzammil), very shortly after revelation started. In this chapter, God only tells the Prophet to recite the Quran.

Later, in Chapter 17 (Al-Israa’), God tells the Prophet two things about night prayer: (a) that it is voluntary (Naafila) and (b) to say in it this supplication, “Rabbi adkhilni mudkhala sidqin wa akhrijni mukhraja sidqin waj`al li min ladunka sultaanan naseera” (17:80) which means, “Lord, make me enter an entrance of truthfulness and make me exit an exit of truthfulness, and set for me, from Your Own, a supporting authority.” Followed by, “Jaa’a-l haqqu wa zahaqa-l baatilu. Inna-l baatila kaana zahooqa” (17:81), which means “Truth has come and falsehood has passed away. Indeed, falsehood is always passing away.”

The Prophet (PBUH) did that and much more. He was committed to night prayer even after he was told it was voluntary. And he added other supplications, such as this one reported by Al-Bukhaari in his authentic compilation,
“O God, to You is praise; You are the Caretaker of the heavens and the earth and whomever is in them. To You is praise; You are the King of the heavens and the earth and whomever is in them. To You is praise, You are the Truth. Your promise is truth. The meeting with You is truth. What You say is truth. The Garden (Al-Janna) is truth. Hellfire is truth. To You I have submitted. In You I have believed. Upon You I have relied. Back to You I have returned. With You I have argued. For Your sake I have judged. So, forgive me what I have put forward and what I have put behind, what I have kept private and what I have made public. You are the Advancer (Al-Muqaddim) and the Regresser (Al-Mu’akhkhir). There is no god but You and there is no capacity nor strength except by You.”

Losing weight

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know three things: (a) That the way to do it is simple and well known, albeit easier said than done, (b) that it requires discipline and self control and (c) that when it succeeds, you feel unencumbered and happy. You know you’ve done the right thing for yourself. The same can be said about stopping any addiction, such as smoking or gambling. Even spring cleaning is the same way.

And so is soul cleaning. The Prophet (PBUH) commented one day on verse 83:14 of the holy Quran. The verse said, “Nay! Rather, what they have been earning [of sin] has formed a stain on their hearts.” (83:14). He said, “A person’s heart gets blotted every time he sins. If he repents, it is polished out. If he does it again, the blot gets bigger. Until his heart is blocked. That is the stain.”, narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by At-Tirmizhi who rated it soundly authentic.

Cleaning of the heart is probably the hardest component of soul cleaning. It all starts with cleaning of the faith, such that no hint of “shirk” (associating others with God in worship) taints it. Then comes mind cleaning: cleaning of thoughts, such that you assume good until you see otherwise and when you do you forgive. Change negative thoughts to positive ones promptly and seek refuge in God from the whispers of Satan. Think twice before saying or doing things. Never act impulsively or on negative emotions. Stay away from negative people. Keep up prayer, supplication and charity. Read the Quran and reflect on it. Say good words and do good wherever you go and to whomever you meet. Clean your attitude, such that you deal with all with equal respect and courtesy.

When you boycott sin, it works for your soul like boycotting cigarettes works on your lungs and boycotting gambling works on your pocket book. The more you practice, and ask God to help and strengthen you, the easier it will get and the more likely it will be to succeed.

Waiting for a blessing

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

What about someone that is waiting for a particular blessing and it does not come? I know dua (supplication) and qadar (precision) meet and whichever is the stronger manifests. Yet, a blessing is a gift isn’t it? A sweet chocolate kiss from Heaven.

Is it the ego that prevents blessings from flowing?

This may not seem like a serious subject but it is…give me a good Sura (Chapter of the Quran) or ayat (verse) that defines blessings.

Ego, sin, impatience, doubt (including self doubt), etc. In other words: lack of true submission.

Picture an airplane full of food and medicine for victims of a disaster but is unable to land because of lack of runway. Blessings are kinda like that. Remember the hadeeth in which Gabriel told the Prophet (PBUH) when Laylat-ulk-Qadr is, and the Prophet (PBUH) went out to tell Muslims but because two Muslims were arguing loudly he was made to forget it? (Narrated by Abu-Saeed Al-Khudri and reported by Muslim). The scene was not welcoming to the blessing even though the Prophet (PBUH) himself was there.

One of my favorite verses is this, “He knew what is in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility upon them and rewarded them with a nigh victory.” (48:18) It always starts with us submitting, hoping and waiting without hurrying and with full faith that good will happen. Only then does it happen.

Your statement that dua and qadar meet and the stronger of them wins, needs discussion. I addressed a misunderstanding about this in a previous blog post. Qadar comes with or without dua and it can be a reply to a dua. It does not meet dua nor fight with it. Qadar does not mean fate; it means precision in measure and timing.

I read your response..you have a way of making things easy to understand. There is a youtube video that someone posted on a forum I follow. The young scholar discusses “the dua meeting the qadar”. The viewer gets the impression that supplication overrides destiny. I think you need to explain in your discussion that we can not mold the dua. We can not have dua be wishful thinking. I can not make dua and wish only for my knight in shinning armor. I can not have the mold. That is my shortsightedness and ego. Am I correct?

Contemplation is a part of reviewing the blessings. In hindsight, we see what Allah subhana wa taala has sent to us. And it makes sense. Trust me the past two years have been full of blessings yet I have felt as if I were in a dark wilderness, alone. When I take time to reassess I realize it could not have transpired any other way.

Yes, He is full of Mercy and He sends His Blessings. We are so scared of the blessings. There is accountability in accepting blessings. That is a part of submission. The runway in your example would be accountability in my words, correct?

You need to write on true submission. Honestly, we are so busy trying to be super-Muslims we forget the simple things. There is a fine line. We have to be busy with life while we wait for the guidance of Allah subhana wa taala. That is not easy.

I understand self-doubt to be an instrument of Shytan (Satan). I know dhikr (remembrance of God) and dua and salat (prayer) are cures as is the biggie sabr (patience).

Actually, we can mold the dua. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Let any of you ask his Lord all of his needs, even ask Him to replace the lining of his shoes that was torn!”, narrated by Anas ibn Maalik and reported by Assuyooti who rated it authentic. Most scholars, however, have doubted its authenticity. The point of this hadeeth is that nothing is too small or too big to ask God for. When you really think about it, you will find that most of what we wish for in our prayers is rather trivial and that what is really important God is already taking care of. He is Al-Qayyoom (The All-Caretaker).

That said, your point is well taken. I understood it to be that a believer should not insist on an outcome. However God chooses to reply to his request should be reason for the believer to rejoice. That requires that the believer be in tune with what God sends his way. Otherwise he will not recognize the reply when it comes. That is the lesson of Salaat-ul-Istikhaara (consultation prayer). You are torn between two decisions and honestly cannot decide, so you ask God to decide one for you. How do you know what God decided and when? You will see it and feel it if you are tuned in.

The belief many Muslims have that supplication preempts destiny is a false doctrine which sadly most Muslims do not even review. It is a harmless false doctrine, though, so I don’t fret over it. Destiny never changes because God knows it already. He does not shape it for us. We shape it with our words and deeds out of our free will. He simply knows it already. It’s kinda like watching a recorded football match with your son who hasn’t yet seen it but you have and he made you promise not to spoil it for him. He can cheer his team till he’s blue in the face, but you know his team lost. They lost because they didn’t play well and didn’t listen to their coach. You had nothing to do with it! I can excuse non-Arabic speakers who do not know what the word Al-Qadhaa’ means, but what is the excuse of the Arabs? The word does not mean destiny and never did.

The “runway” in my previous example is the space in the heart that we leave open to receive God’s gifts. It’s what Rumi spoke of all the time. That space widens when we accept and narrows when we question. That is what true submission is about. After you read the Quran and recognize its truth, you let God in. Easier said than done though.

Tuning in…that is never explained enough and people run from pillar to post trying to understand how they know they are tuned in. It seems that we have a paucity of vocabulary or descriptors to help us understand when we are tuned in. I know in prayer there is a physical change when you are tuned in. Yet, there are not universal words to define the “tuned in” stage. Similar to the Zen. The area of the spiritual real and the physical real is fuzzy. You mentioned self-doubt. It is overwhelming for the psyche to live in the tuned in state for long periods of time. I am still trying to comprehend this one. Maybe that is what I was alluding to in terms of becoming reclusive; not that you do not wish to interact with the world but the need to be ” tuned in” is greater and you do not want to risk the goodness.

Your runway made me think…our trials are the shovel that make the path wider. Our trials are what makes us dependent upon Allah subhana wa taala. Rumi’s Love is so deep it is too simple. Once again it is the inability of our language to communicate to us what we have.

Salaat-ul-Istikhaara is the salaat for guidance when you have to make a decision. What about when you are in the wilderness looking for guidance?

As for understanding the Quran…there are times when Allah swt gives you a response as if you are slapped in the face and at other times one ayat takes months and months to comprehend.

Let me end with this: There comes a point in one’s life when you see the blessings. You become sure that the end of any given is going to be good; you become so used to this that the ordinary stressors disappear. You know from past experiences what the anticipated result will be. It is almost too much to take in. I guess this is being “tuned in”.

The reason why I am hung up on this is simple. I post on a forum I follow and often the responses become so obtuse that we forget in the wording, life is to be lived. We are ordinary people and Islam is a faith for the common man.

You really ought to give a kuthba (sermon) on this. Tell the imam (preacher) of your masjid (mosque) you need to speak to the youth. We are missing that in our masjids. The use of language to an audience that is real and meaningful.

Zhikr is the best way to achieve the tuned-in state, especially if it is done with mindfulness. But even when it is done by force of habit, provided the heart is sound, the believer will be eased into things. If you ever wondered why Zhikr is so lauded in Islam, that’s why IMHO.

Mindfulness is also the best way to understand the Quran. When you read the Quran mindfully, no word passes by without reflection. You ask yourself what does this word really mean? Why did God choose this word and not any of its synonyms in this particular verse and context? How is this verse related to the one before it and the one after it. That is the method taught by the late Sheikh Shaarawi, may God bless his soul. Suddenly, the Quran relates to your life intimately. You feel clued in.

A person in the wilderness looking for guidance will find it if he is really looking for it, because God says in the holy Quran, “And upon God is the orientation of the road” (16:9) You just walk the road and earnestly look for the way and God will show it to you. It’s a promise from Him.

Spiritual balance

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Assalaam alaikum,

I have been active in reading the Quran. It is becoming a little easier.

Have many things on my mind. I believe there comes a point in life where all our decisions are made to please Allah subhana wa taala. I have developed a great love for the Prophet Nuh. I can not image living to 950 years. I do not have the patience for humanity that he did. Yes, all prophets and messengers are of the same cloth of sabr.

I am seeking a balance in life. Need your input on spiritual balance. What does a believer do when you feel so alone in the duyna.

Wa Alaykum Assalaam. Being active in reading the Quran is being active in getting closer to God, for the Quran is the word of God. It is the memento God has graciously given us to remember Him by and to remind us that He is always there (As-Samad)), always alert (Al-Hayy), always listening and watching (As-Samee`, Al-Baseer), always welcoming (At-Tawwaab), anxious to forgive us (Al-Ghafoor) and eager to make our wishes come true!

When one realizes that fully, how can one then feel alone? It is only when we let our dark side win over the good side, even briefly, that the feeling of loneliness creeps in, because the light of God does not cohabit with the darkness of ego in the same heart.

One of the repeatedly taught principles of Islam is balance. Extremes on either side are rejected by God and His Messenger (PBUH). And within every aspect of life, balance is also required. One day three people asked about the worship style of the Prophet (PBUH). They were not impressed with the answer! They thought that he did not do much worship because he could afford to; because he has been forgiven all his sins already. So, one of the three said, “I will stay up every night praying.” The second said, “I will fast everyday.” The third said, “I will vow chastity and never marry.” The Prophet (PBUH) heard about that and got upset. He said, “By God, I am the most observing of God among you and the most watchful of Him. But I fast some days and eat some days. I pray part of the night and sleep the rest of it. And I marry women. He who desires a way (Sunna) other than mine does not belong to me.” Narrated by Anas ibn Maalik (RA) and reported and rated authentic by Al-Bukhaari.

When our decisions in life are aligned with God’s teachings, we sail through life. We feel as if we’re under a protective wing. We weather storms. Tumult and confusion that often lead people astray or desperate do not dent us. And we can recognize blessing when it comes. God says in the holy Quran, “Whoever does righteously, male or female, and is a believer, then We shall give them a good life.” (16:97) Otherwise, it’s an uphill battle that makes the world seem to us like a lawless jungle. God says in the holy Quran, “And whoever turns aside from My remembrance, then verily for him is an arduous living.” (20:124)

Did you notice in the story of Prophet Nuh (Noah), peace be upon him, that God told him one day that there will not be any more people who will believe in him? (11:36) That is when he instructed him to build the ark. Noah didn’t stop preaching until God told him to! And even then, he kept hoping against hope that he may be able to save his son who hasn’t accepted God. As the flood waters were rising and the ark was about to sail out, he called upon his son, “O dear son, ride with us! Don’t be among the disbelievers.” (11:42) He knew the son will not believe, because God said so. Yet, he still tried. It wasn’t second guessing God; it was a desperate human effort of a loving father. It didn’t work of course and could not have.

We do not have the privilege that Noah had. We do not know when to stop calling for God with our words and deeds. Therefore, we must keep trying.

Specificities meant for generalities

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In a previous post, you mentioned the hadeeth which instructs us to make up for missed prayers by praying them later. Most scholars who read this hadeeth agreed that it is specific for unintentional missing of prayers, such as due to sleep or forgetfulness, and that it does not include intentional missing. That is why they have ruled that prayers intentionally missed cannot be compensated, but that the repenting Muslim should offer a lot of nawafil (extra) prayers and hope that God will forgive him. Isn’t it true that the hadeeth is specific?

Scholars of Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction) have noticed many examples in the Quran and the Hadeeth of statements using a specificity but whose coverage is clearly general. They coined this style خاص أريد به العموم (a specificity meant for generality). This Arabic style is an alternative way of quoting examples to illustrate a point which is general.

Let me give you an example. In verse 6:151, God says, “…and do not kill your children because of poverty; We provide for you and them.” Here God cites a specificity, namely, poverty, as the reason some people killed their children. Does that mean that killing one’s children for other reasons is OK? Obviously not. The reason given was only an example to illustrate the point that there is no cause for one to kill one’s children, as God is in control and provides.

One simple way to figure out if a specificity is meant for a generality is absence of the generality! And that is why the prayer expiation hadeeth was meant for generality, because we do not have any statement in the Quran or the Hadeeth that tells us what do with a person who purposely missed his prayers. It is that lack of direct evidence that forced scholars to conjure up an expiation. Some scholars even said that there is no expiation and that a man purposely neglecting his prayers is an apostate and must be killed! An opinion that is totally without merit.