Archive for the ‘Vocabulary’ Category

What does Zikr mean?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

God has vowed to preserve the Quran Himself. He says, most emphatically, in verse 15:9,
“Verily, it is We who sent down the Zikr and verily, We surely shall be of it Preservers.” (15:9)

The word Zikr (with a fricative Z as in this or that) means mention, remembrance or reminder. The syntax and context are what determines which semantic is meant. The scholars have been unanimous that the Zikr mentioned in 15:9 is the Quran. What they did not agree on is whether it is only the Quran. The reason they thought other items may be included in the Zikr in 15:9 is the apparent implication of other verses. For instance,
“And We sent down to you the Reminder that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might reflect.” (16:44).

In this verse, if the Zikr is only the Quran, then what is “what was sent down to them”? Isn’t that the Quran also? That is why many scholars have opined that the Zikr here refers to the Hadeeth.

But if the Zikr includes the Hadeeth, then it too must have been preserved by God. While the strict Muslims take that position, historical evidence begs otherwise. While the Quran was written down before the death of the Prophet (PBUH), and committed to memory by thousands of people, the Hadeeth was not written down for two hundred years after the Prophet’s death. It was only then that the Hadeeth was meticulously authenticated and less than one in ten narrations have been found to be authentic. This means that the Hadeeths evaluated as authentic can be relied on in matters of the religion, but it also means that the Hadeeth was not preserved, or else it would not have required such massive effort to authenticate.

Therefore, I respectfully disagree that the Zikr refers to the Hadeeth, or includes it. So, how can we explain 16:44?

The key to understand 16:44 is to notice the word “people” in it. People include non-Muslims! Thus, what this verse is saying is that one of the functions of the Quran is to clarify to non-Muslims the scriptures which were sent to them, e.g., the Torah and the Gospel.

This conclusion is backed up by a later verse in the same Chapter,
“By God, We did certainly send [messengers] to communities before you [, O Muhammad], then Satan embellished for them their works, so he is their ally Today and for them is a painful torment.

And We have not sent down upon you the Book [, O Muhammad], but so that you may clarify to them what they differed about and as guidance and mercy for a folk who believe.” (16:63-64)

16:63 makes it clear that the pronoun “them” in 16:64 refers to followers of prior scriptures.

A reader may jump in here and quote,
“And We certainly did write in the Zaboor (Psalms), after the Remembrance (Torah), that the land – shall inherit it My righteous worshipers.” (23:105)
and argue that the Torah has been described as the Zikr. It was. But then, it was humanly altered thus it ceased to be Zikr. Only the original, pure revelation from God qualify as Zikr. The only scripture that God has vowed to preserve Himself is the Quran.

Is the word “Allah” exclusive to Muslims?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

A court in Malaysia ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah”,
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/14/us-malaysia-court-allah-idUSBRE99D01J20131014

Is this proper?

No. To begin with, one cannot censor the use of words that other people use unless the usage is defamatory, slanderous, libelous or profane.

Secondly, the word “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God. God uses it in the Quran to refer to Himself because the Quran is revealed in the Arabic language, not because that is His name. God does not have a name. He does not need one. You and I have names because there are many creatures that are just like us, so a name is necessary to distinguish us from others. But there is only one God.

Arab Christians and Jews call God “Allah.”

It is true that many Islamophobes have been abusing the word “Allah”, but these folks do not realize that, by doing so, they are abusing the same God they believe in!

When God says in the holy Quran that He has beautiful “names” that we should use when we call upon Him (7:180), He is referring to His attributes, such as Ar-Rahmaan (The Beneficent), Al-Ghafoor (The Much-Forgiving), At-Tawwaab (The Oft Accepting of repentance). One of those attributes is Allah, which means The God.

On destiny and supplication

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

AssalaamuAlaikum akhi.

Hope you and your family are doing well by the blessings and mercy of Allah(SWT). I have a question on destiny and dua’a. I understand it is a very confusing topic. But, well I believe, we humans can sure speculate and understand a pattern of the same. InshaAllah.

My question is, 1. Do really Dua’a change the destiny of believers? If yes, then What about the dua’a(prayers) of disbelievers? Does Allah(SWT) accept their prayers also and change their destiny akhi?

2. Are their any factors that make our dua’s to be accepted soon by Allah(SWT)? I understand it is a matter which Allah(SWT) knows about and not us. BUt considering the limitations of our human mind, are their factors?

3. This is a bit off the topic, I have heard that we should not judge people by their appearances, as their imaan lies in their heart & Allah(SWT) knows the best what sort of person he/she is? But isn’t it that if imaan is there in our heart, it would be shown/seen out in our actions, behavior, our appearance? What is the Islamic & also your view point on it?

You can take one question at a time and answer it akhi. At your leisure. JazakAllah Khair.

Peace.

Wa Alaykum Assalaam, brother.

Destiny is not a confusing subject. It is quite simple. Only God knows where each of us will end up. Nobody else. He says in the holy Quran, “Say: None in the heavens and the earth knows the Beyond but God.” (27:65). Very straightforward.

Perhaps the confusion comes from the many opinions and theories people have formed about fate over the centuries. I’d suggest that you read the previous posts in this blog in the Fate category.

I think you are referring to the hadeeth, “Nothing holds back a Divine Decree except supplication.”, narrated by Salmaan Al-Faarisi and reported by At-Tirmizhi who rated it “sound but strange.” The authenticity of this hadeeth is suspect. But even if it were authentic, the word “Al-Qadhaa'” that appears in it is wrongly translated as destiny or pre-destination. This is a very common error that most Muslims fall into. Al-Qadhaa’ simply means Divine Decrees. What the hadeeth means is that God may suspend a Decree of His when the affected believer supplicates to Him. This does not change the believer’s destiny. God knew all along that His servant will call upon Him. He sends down His Decree then holds it. Why? In order to convey to us how much He loves supplication! This teaches us that if we want to be saved from afflictions and hardship, our best chance is to call upon God to save us from them. Amen.

God may reply to your supplication immediately or may defer the reply. He does that because He is the only One who has the whole picture. He grants everything in precise measure and timing. That is what the word Al-Qadar means. Another word that is wrongly translated as fate.

As for appearance, it can, as we all know, be deceiving. Some people look pious but are wicked inside. God says in the holy Quran, “And among the people is one whose utterance in this world you admire and he holds God a witness to what is in his heart while he is the fiercest of adversaries!” (2:204).

And the flip-side is also true. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “There may be a man, dusty and uncombed, whom people pay no attention to, but if He swears upon God for something, God will fulfill it!”, narrated by Anas ibn Maalik and reported by At-Tirmizhi who rated it it soundly authentic.

What do the words Fatwa and Fitna mean?

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Excuse my ignorance, but I confuse the two words Fatwa and Fitna, which I’ve been hearing a lot. What do they mean?

Fatwa is an opinion about a religious matter, that is obtained by following rules of Usool-ul-Fiqh, the Islamic juristic discipline of Foundations of Deduction, and given by qualified licensed scholars.

Fitna, on the other hand, is an Arabic word that originates from heating iron to remove its impurities. Concepts such as seduction, sedition, persecution, tumult, and tests of faith are all given the name Fitna because they all test the strength and quality of faith.

Please tell the story of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raaj (The Night and Ascension Journey)

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raaj (The Night and Ascension Journey)

Stated by the Quran (17:1 and 53:13-18), Islam’s holy scripture, and by the authentic Hadeeth (quotes of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), the Night Journey, Al-Israa’ and the Ascension journey (Al-Mi`raaj) are the two parts of a journey that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took in one night around the year 621. While some Muslims consider it a spiritual journey made in a vision, the majority believes it was a physical journey, evidenced by the fact that the Prophet named all the caravans that were travelling between Mecca and Jersulam that night and he described Jerusalem accurately though he had never been there.

After reaching Jerusalem, the Prophet met with and lead in prayer, at the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, all the other Prophets and Messengers of God, from Adam to Jesus, peace be upon them. Hadeeths report that he described some of the prophets. He said that he looked a lot like Abraham, that Adam had a dark skin and that Jesus had very oily hair.

Starting off on a rock in the site of the Dome of the Rock, the Prophet was ascended to heaven. He was accompanied by archangel Gabriel. As he visited each heaven, he would see sites and people and would ask Gabriel about them and Gabriel would tell him what the sites mean.

Then, at the last heaven, Gabriel said to Muhammad, “You can ascend farther up but if I try, I’d burn.” No creature has ever been there before. The Prophet ascended up and saw God. God greeted the Prophet, blessed him and gave him the mandate of the formal, ritual prayers of Islam.

Scholars have offered several purposes for that miraculous journey. Some said it was consolation for the Prophet, who in that year had lost his beloved wife, Khadeeja and his uncle Abu-Taalib, who was his protection from the violent opposition of his tribe, Quraysh, and his mistreatment at At-Taa’if, a close-by city he went to calling them to Islam. Others said the purpose of the trip was to highlight the paramount importance of prayer and to give all Muslims a chance to have a similar experience to that of the Prophet. Several scholars have described prayer as the “ascension of the believer.”

The event is commemorated each year on the eve of the 27th of the seventh lunar month, Rajab. It is regarded as one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar. Though not required, many Muslims bring their children to the mosques, where the children are told the story, pray with the adults, and then afterward food and treats are served.

In a sermon I attended recently, the imam (preacher) mentioned three more lessons we can learn from that wonderful event,

  • No matter how hard times are, there is good news reserved for us from God. Good times ahead.
  • The connection between Mecca and Jerusalem is solid and was never severed as many Jews claim when they said that Hagar and her son Ishmael were “outcast” to the desert. Even today, Islamophobes and adversaries of Islam keep trying to isolate and alienate Islam and reject that it is part of the family of monotheist religions and Muhammad (PBUH) is part of the family of Prophets.
  • The quick move from Mecca to Jerusalem is a good omen to Muslims that Islam will reach Jerusalem and will spread fast and wide.

Do we know anything about the burak, the vehicle of the  journey, which I’ve read somewhere described as a winged horse? Is that true, or is it a wrong translation?

I found only one reference to Al-Buraaq in Al-Albaani’s book which he rated Hasan (OK). It describes it as a white, tall beast of burden. That’s all. All other references are either weak or fabricated.

I can’t find any authentic mention of it anywhere in the six acknowledged books of Hadeeth. If someone can, please reply.

The word Buraaq comes from the Arabic verb برق (bariqa) which means to appear suddenly and brightly and quickly disappear, like the English verb to flash. That is why lightning is called Al-Barq in Arabic.

What does the word Islam mean?

Friday, November 6th, 2009

According to the Arabic dictionary, The word Islam means:

  1. To follow or comply,
  2. To accept, obey, agree to or submit,
  3. To yield, surrender or allow control,
  4. To deliver intact, and
  5. To delegate out of trust.

What do these words mean, often used by Muslims?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

What do the words, “Kaafir”, “Inshallah” and “Mashallah” mean? I hear Muslims say them quite often.

Kaafir (plural Kuffaar) is an Arabic word that means one who covers something. In Islam, it refers to a person who is ungrateful to God. He or she covers the in-born nature which acknowledges God and is grateful to Him. The contrary word is Shaakir (plural Shakiroon) meaning grateful or thankful.

As for the words Masha-Allah and Insha-Allah, they both relate to the will of God. Masha-Allah means “What God has willed.” Muslims say it when they admire something as they recognize the will of God in bringing to being the admirable thing. Insha-Allah means “if God wills.” Muslims say it before anything that will happen in the future because it won’t happen if God doesn’t will it to.

Why does God refer to Himself in the Quran as “We”?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Queen Elizabeth II refers to herself as “we!” Most royalties throughout history have done likewise. This is not unique to Arabic that the plural is used for aggrandizing the first person single pronoun.