Archive for the ‘Misconceptions’ Category

The role of intention

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I read this somewhere that we will be judged by God because of our INTENT (نیتنا). Do you believe that INTENT نية is more important than performance? (as reported by Ali and Ja`far As-Saadiq, may God have been pleased with them).

If you’d agree with me then should I keep going? I still haven’t made a decision. If I choose not to, it won’t be because of my situation (calamity). I swear to my dear Lord that it’s not about misfortunes of my life. Maybe everyone hates me, even my family, all people except kids.

I just wanna see the truth, wanna see God, wanna see my Dear Lord because I believe that it would be enough for me, I’ll endure those flames just for that sight of Him. Then I’ll rest even in hell.

That will be the INTENT behind my action, so tell me as a man of God, not personal answer, as someone who knows the truth (Allah) and have a task to share that, is this forbidden too to make such a decision?

I’ve nothing to contribute, because of your perfect site, but pray. May our Dear Lord bless your soul.

Thank you for you kind words about the blog and for your prayer for me. May God accept it and give you same.

How do you know that you will see God? There is no evidence that this will happen except for the people of Paradise. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “When the people of Paradise enter Paradise, God will say to them, ‘Do you want more I can add for you?’. They will say, ‘Did You not admit us to Paradise and save us from the Fire?’. Then the veil will be uncovered. They would never be given anything more beloved to them than looking at their Lord.” Narrated by Suhayb ibn Sanaan and reported by Muslim who rated it authentic. In another narration of the same hadeeth, he subsequently recited, “For those who did good is the best reward and more.” (10:26)

Thus, you assumption that you may see God either way has no basis. If what you are talking about is committing suicide, God forbid, then you should know that it is the only terminal sin in Islam. All other can be remedied in time.

It is also unforgivable, regardless of the intention behind it. One day, in a battle, a man was quite the warrior. His fellows were praising his valor, but the Prophet (PBUH) surprised them by saying, “He is in the Hellfire!” Shortly thereafter, the man was so badly wounded and in so much pain that he killed himself. Now the Sahaba understood the Prophet’s prophesy about him. The Prophet (PBUH) also said that a man from the prior nations had a painful open wound, so he committed suicide. Then God said, “My servant preempted Me with himself; I have forbidden him Paradise.” (Narrated by Jandab ibn Abdillah and reported by Al-Bukhaari). If, God forbid, you should commit suicide, you would lose both this world and the Hereafter. I pray that you come to your senses and expel Satan who is whispering such delusions into your ears.

The reality of this world can certainly be hard. God made that clear to Adam, “So, We said, ‘O Adam, verily this (Satan) is an enemy to you and to your spouse, so do not let him evict you from the Garden lest you should suffer.'” (20:117)

But does that mean we should abandon living and renounce the world? If that were true, how come the Prophet (PBUH) and all his noble companions were fully engaged in the world, in spite of all its trials, tribulations and unpleasantness? The Prophet (PBUH) had uncles who cursed him and even plotted to kill him. And what did he do? He kept friendly relations with them to the end. As a matter of fact, he practiced forgiveness, largess and graciousness.

If renouncing the world was a teaching of Islam, don’t you think that God, or His messenger, would have told us so?

This world was meant to mix the good and the bad, the wholesome and the filthy, the right and the wrong, guidance and loss. How else would the free will that man took on be exercised or tested? Why do you think God keeps telling us in the holy Quran to endure, keep the faith and do good? It is precisely because human nature would lead man to despair, lose faith and detach from the world otherwise. Maybe even drink to forget. Satan is counting on it!

Life is a finite opportunity to gain God’s approval and earn His reward. This can only be done if we maintain the right faith, remain steadfast on the Straight Path, fulfill our obligations, accumulate good deeds, expiate sins and call upon God to accept what we do right and pardon what we do wrong.

Finally, the role of intention is to validate good deeds. A charity could be intended for show-off. It may still be beneficial but it ceases to be a good deed – the kind that gets recorded in one’s book of deeds. A sin remains a sin regardless of the intention that preceded it. Intention is what differentiates the sincere from the hypocrites. That is why God judges by it, and only He fully knows it.

Is Islamic inheritance law unfair?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The British newspaper The Telegraph published today an article with the heading “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”. The author, John Bingham, alleges in the article that British lawyers will now for the first time be able to write wills for their clients that “deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.”

Is that true? Have testators never been able to exclude from their wills heirs they resented, or wished to penalize, and given some heirs more than others and even given people who were totally unrelated to them a large portion of their estate? I doubt that, since the English law, as far as I know, regards the testator as the sole owner of his or her estate and therefore the only one who has a say in how the estate is to be distributed. Probate courts only interfere when a litigator contests the will as being contrary to common standards of fairness.

One article I found, written by a lawyers group, spells out how a testator can disinherit some heirs. I’m sure you can find many other.

However, is Bingham’s Islamophobic allegation true about Islamic law? Does Islamic law of inheritance deny women an equal share of inheritance and exclude unbelievers altogether?

Not quite as stated. The reason women inherit half of what men inherit is because Islamic law requires men to financially support women! If this requirement is not found in a Muslim community, then the division becomes invalid. I hope that the legal guidance the article refers to has taken into consideration that important proviso. Bingham really should have asked about it before he published his article.

And what about non-Muslims, can they possibly inherit from a Muslim? While some schools of thought do not allow it, there really is nothing in the Quranic verses that makes that ruling. A Muslim testator certainly can specify a bequest in his will, not to exceed one third of the estate, to be given to any one person or group who is not a regular heir.

The questions and answers page of this software may answer more of the readers questions about Islamic law of inheritance. God says in the holy Quran “Verily, God does not wrong even the weight of a speck.” (4:40) Don’t let Islamophobic writers give you the wrong impression about God.

Bingham also reports in the article that the legal guidance documents will exclude out-of-wedlock children and adopted children from inheriting. Is this true? Apart from the fact that any British testator can probably do that already under British law, Islamic law does not deprive out-of-wedlock children. The Quran does not say they are excluded! As for adopted children, they are not regular heirs for the reasons we explained in previous posts, but they can inherit by way of a bequest.

Next Islamophobic allegation in the article is the exclusion of people married in a church or in City Hall! Where is that written exactly in the Quran? If the reader can point to the verse, I’d appreciate it.

Is that guidance document “the first step on the road to a parallel legal system” for British Muslims, as the article quotes some campaigners? My humble answer to this question is that it can be, but never has to be. It all depends on how Islamic law is defined. If the definition is made by a school of thought, or some influential person, then the fears expressed in the article are legitimate. But that does not qualify as Islamic law. Islamic law is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth, properly interpreted according to universally recognized logic, called in Islamic disciplines Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction). Anything else is somebody’s opinion.

This whole issue of fear of “Sharia”, which resulted in several American states banning Sharia altogether, mixes two things which are not always related: Islam and Muslims! What Islam teaches is not necessarily followed by Muslims, and what Muslims do is not necessarily taught by Islam. To ban unfair laws is a good thing regardless of who wrote those laws. But to ban something based on misunderstanding it, or on mixing it with something else, is unwarranted.

If I were to advise the Law Society of Britain, I would only say that what they are told is Sharia may not be. It could simply be a tradition, or somebody’s refutable interpretation, and therefore should not overrule British law. They and the detractors and even many Muslims may be surprised to learn that much of British law has always been Sharia-compliant. In fact, the beginnings of the English Common Law were much influenced by Islamic law.

Moral atheists?

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

As-Salaam-Alaikum,
I would like to know, what is the Islamic response to those people (atheist, agnostics, etc.) who say that you can be moral without religion?

They say this because since they don’t believe in God or any religion for that matter that that you can be a good moral person without God or religion. In a way I kind of understand where they are coming from but then I kind of feel like something is wrong with their statements.

What is the Islamic response to people who say things like this?

Thanks!

Morality cannot be forced on people but it can be enforced by law. That is, a society can arrange itself such that certain values it considers paramount are upheld and others it considers harmful are stopped by force of law. But that is a different question altogether from people committing themselves willingly to certain moral values. We see all parents raising their children to certain moral values they believe in, but the children may not observe them when they grow up. And we also see the flip side: parents neglecting moral teaching of their children, yet the children acquire moral attitudes when they grow up!

Islam teaches us that non-Muslims can be moral and furthermore can do good. The Quran says, “And verily, among the people of the Book are those whom if you entrust with a Qintaar (a heap of money), he would deliver it to you” (3:75). God also tells us in the Quran that “whatever good they (non-Muslims) do, they will not be denied it” (3:115).

That is why, when non-Muslims do good to us, we are required to reciprocate with good. Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr had migrated to Medina, but her mother, Qateela bint `Abdil-`Uzza, remained in Mecca and remained polytheist. Then one day, Qateela traveled to Medina to see her daughter and brought her a gift. Asmaa’, however, wary that she must sever her relationships with polytheists, refused to let her in the house and would not accept her gift! The Prophet (PBUH) heard of this and told Asmaa’, “Accept her gift and be good to your mother.” Narrated by Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (Asmaa’s son) and reported by Al-Haythami and has been rated well by Ibn Hubbaan.

So, if religion is not a pre-requisite to morality, then why is religion necessary? Religion’s purpose is not only to establish a moral code, but also to establish a bond between man and God, a bond man feels very strongly. A bond that atheists cannot explain away. That affinity is ingrained in all of us since before we were born. God says in the holy Quran, “And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their backbones – their offspring and had them testify of themselves, [saying to them], ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said, ‘But yes. We have testified.’ [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘We were of this unaware.'” (3:172)

Besides, moral values vary with people. What is immoral to some may not be to others. And what is moral to some may not be to others. God has given us in the Quran the true moral code to live by. And He had His Prophet (PBUH) teach it to us in the authentic Sunna.

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.

What is Sunna and what is not

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

An article I read suggests that a congregational supplication after a prayer is discouraged, because neither the Prophet (PBUH) nor the Sahaba (his fellows) have done it.

They may not have done it, but the Prophet (PBUH) never said we couldn’t do it. There is a difference between “not practiced” and “forbidden.”

The problem with issues like that one is that the people who rule in such a way, do so out of concern that something which is not Sunna becomes a regular part of Islam in the minds of the masses. That would establish a Bid`a (novelty) in religion, which the Prophet (PBUH) warned us not to do. The solution to this problem, IMHO, is not to forbid what is not forbidden, but to ensure that it doesn’t become a novelty, by deliberately not doing it on a consistent basis.

Scholars have differed on what constitutes a Sunna (Practice of the Prophet). That’s because following the Sunna is a requirement of Islam. Therefore, knowing what is Sunna and what is not becomes of religious essence.

The Sunna is not simply everything that the Prophet (PBUH) said or did or approved or did not disapprove, but rather what he consistently said and did and encouraged us to follow him on. The scholars have attempted to differentiate between the two by classifying the latter as Sunna Mu’akkada (Emphasized practice). That’s fine. Then, what we are required to follow is the emphasized Sunna.

As usual you gave me the words to clarify the issue. Not practiced and forbidden. A world apart. It opens a new universe.

You may already know this hadeeth, but it illustrates the point very clearly. One day, Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed (RA) invited the Prophet (PBUH) and others to dinner. His aunt, Maymoona, had prepared for them a grilled porcupine! Everyone stretched their hands to grab a bite of it, except the Prophet. Khalid’s face paled like he saw a ghost. He said to the Prophet (PBUH), “Is it forbidden, O Messenger of God?” He answered, “No, but I find myself not agreeing with it!” Narrated by Khaalid and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

So, just because the Prophet didn’t do something is no reason for us not to do it. Only if he told us “don’t do it!”, then we will have to stay away from it. It seems obvious, but in these days of massive confusion and disinformation, the obvious needs to be stated!

That is why the world always needs teachers. They are know to excel in one thing: to repeat and repeat and repeat.

We have so much confusion. Our faith is ripe not with bida but cultural and nationalistic nonsense. Yet, the hadeeth of the simple woman who kept repeating her question to the embarrassment of the Prophet (swas) helps us. She wanted an answer, although it was intimate, she would not give up until she gained knowledge.

We need to simplify Islam. We have so much on the agenda. Let’s forget trying to save the universe and remember how to make salat.

On a personal note: Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward you immensely for your kindness to me. I have been given a trial which in turn seems to be a blessing. It has made me reach deep into my being. Kinda sorta letting go of a lot of pretenses in life, too. I heard a sheik relate a hadeeth about the Prophet (swas) telling some Sahaba (ra) sometimes our deen is like a hot coal in our hands. (I have always been the princess who felt the pea at the bottom of ten mattresses). Your kindness is akin to the cool of the fire for Prophet Ibrahim.

A blessed and happy Eid to you and your loved ones.

Thank you for your kind words.

How do you simplify something which both God and His Messenger have repeatedly said was already simple? By removing the fluff and pork that accumulated on it over the centuries. My blog is my humble way of doing that.

Brother,

All I can respond is to write “Blog on baby blog on!” It takes wisdom to understand simplicity. When endeavoring to resolve a complex problem the walls are everywhere. Once we have the solution it is so simple.

Likewise, our faith has been mingled with politics and men of various ambitions. The simple laity is lazy. We want the ends and care little about the means. For those of us who are foolish, we seek the means. It makes for a lonely road. (Cf. Zen/Sufism).

Your blog serves the purpose of giving the readers solutions without having to do all the homework. Blog on baby blog on.

(Trust me, I do take advantage of your wisdom…I am all over the universe in my thoughts and it helps to have some notion of being grounded).

There is no problem in taking a voyage in a hot-air balloon, as long as you can always land safely on earth 🙂

I guess I have a license, then, to keep blogging? LOL.

Evolution of Islamic laws

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Thank you, Aapa, for the blog you referenced in your recent question. I particularly like the author’s post on Islamic law. I like to second the the idea he stressed: that Islamic law evolved and was flexible and took in diversity of opinions, people and circumstances. I humbly think that this is also the case with executive government, economics, etc. Any student of Islamic history who read the writings of the Salaf (Muslim antecedents), can easily notice that evolution of thought, discipline and rulings.

What the Quran and the Sunna did was not ordain a rigid set of rules, but rather a framework within which a judge, ruler or businessman may work safely. Like a parent teaches their children how the world works so they make it and not get into trouble.

I watched a YouTube video with that brother interviewing Hamza Yusef. They were discussing the fact due to internet access to translations of hadith i.e Bukari and Quran many youths make judgments. They forget that many hadiths are contextual and it takes wisdom to understand. They joked that in the old days the elders/scholars would literally give them 20 lashes for the rash judgments.

Unfortunately, nationalism has erased the words of the tribal elder. And it is easiest to control the greatest number of people with the most rigid standards. George Orwell comes to mind in 1984. As nationalism spreads we have a loss of deep understanding of our faith. We have lost the sense of compassion that was a trait characteristic of the prophets.

We forget that we need forgiveness from Allah swt. We also need to be in the mode of forgiving. Our laws today are not the Laws of Love.

We forget our history. How can we forget what happened to us in Spain?

We need a basic class in why understanding sharia helps us to be the best of moral character. We are distanced from each other not by nationalism but our ignorance of the laws that unite us.

Islam is wide, but some want it narrow. It is easy, but some want it cumbersome. It is open, but some want it strict. It welcomes diversity and history has proved it, but some want it exclusive. It is adaptable, but some want it rigid. The problems Muslims have are not the result of Islam, as some Islamophobes want you to believe, but are the result of misunderstanding Islam. Hopefully, this blog may put a dent into that misunderstanding.

Is supplication futile?

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Please, what is the relationship between dua (supplicating to God) and the Hadith which says that after 120 days of a fetus development in its mother’s womb that four things will be written for the baby, and nothing will be added and subtracted from the four things? In other words, can dua change the four things? If it can, then there is a misconception of what the Hadith says about nothing will be added or subtracted.

The hadeeth you refer to is reported by Muslim and rated authentic. It was narrated by `Aamir ibn Waathila. What the hadeeth says is that an angel is commissioned by God, after a fetus is 42 nights old, to fashion its form, hearing, eyesight, skin, flesh and bones. Then the angel asks God, “O Lord, male or female?” God tells him. Then the angels asks God, “And its lifespan?” God tells him. Then the angel asks God, “And its provision?” God tells him. Then the angel leaves with the paper in his hand, having added nothing else to it nor left out any of it.

Thus, what the hadeeth tells us is that four things are ‘written” for each human before he or she is born: His or her physical appearance, his or her gender, his or her lifespan and his or her provision and sustenance.

Writing these things means they are already known to God. People have changed their birth gender, for example. But it is the new gender that was written. God has already known about the change.

It is also important to realize that this “paper” is withheld from us. Only God and the angel who wrote it down know its content. People keep trying to change their financial situation and believers are encouraged to ask God to bestow on them wealth. God instructs us in the holy Quran, “And ask God from His bounty, for God is of everything Knowledgeable” (4:32). Whatever financial situation we end up with is foreknown to God. It is what was written down before we were born. We simply don’t know it. By not knowing, we have to work for it! By not knowing, we may keep asking God to change it. If we were to know it, we wouldn’t even try to change it, would we?

People keep trying to extend their lives. In doing so, they pursue methods which will keep them healthy, fight deceases and avoid risky behavior. By not knowing how long each of us will live, we can do all that. If we were to know, we would give up trying any of it.

The lesson learned from the hadeeth is the wisdom of the Beyond (Al-Ghayb); why it is kept hidden from us. It is precisely because we don’t know it that we supplicate to God to grant us what we hope for. It is precisely because we don’t know the Beyond that we keep trying to improve our lives. Supplicating to God and working hard for our goals are two things that God loves for us to do. Neither would be practical if we already knew the outcome.

God says in the holy Quran, “And say [to people], ‘Work! For God will observe your work, as well as His Messenger and the believers. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Beyond and the Presence then He will inform you of what you have been doing.'” (9:105).

And He also says, “And your Lord has said, ‘Supplicate to Me; I will answer you.'” (40:60) His answer is a fulfillment of what He has already written, but He wanted us to ask for it. This way, we keep remembering that He is the Source and He keeps showing us His Grace and that He listens.

To clear up any misconception, please go through the previous posts in the Fate category.

The perils of the wrong mindset

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Brother,

I understand that riba (usury) is wrong. I understand that riba is like gambling. I understand that there are many views on insurance.

But, I need to have a fundamental understanding of why speculation is wrong. I know we have to work for our money.

I need to have the sin explained to me. Trust me I have done my share of reading on the matter. Yet, I do not have the basic definition of the sin of riba and gambling and it seems that they share the same root.

Indeed they do, and the Quran calls it Al-Maysir. The word means tools for easy gain.

It is not the ease that is wrong though. It is the belief in it. The central point, IMHO, is what you alluded to when you said that we have to work for our money. The biggest problem with all games of chance, and speculation is one of them, is that they set the wrong mindset. They entice people to believe that there is a shortcut out there. That is contrary to the laws of God which state that means, not gimmicks, lead to results. Gimmicks may work sometimes, or else no one would have ever tried them. But they are short lived and cause more harm than good.

Even Wall Street knows that, or at least they used to. When you open a trading account, you have to sign forms that can fill a book. Forms to explain to you the risks involved, some may even exceed the value of the entire portfolio! When you open an investment account, on the other hand, there are far fewer forms to sign. That is because, even though investments too carry risk, they are natural risks, whereas speculative risks are random. The difference between the two is that investments involve an asset: property, product or service, while speculation is a bet on how such investment will do. In financial circles this is called a derivative. We all know from the global financial crisis of 2008, the extent of harm speculative derivatives can do.

That is the peril of the mindset that is convinced that there is a shortcut to riches that requires no work, no sweat, and no asset. There is no such thing, but speculators won’t accept that disappointing conclusion, just like a gambler keeps telling himself that the next time he will recoup all his losses.

Investments can be win-win affairs, while speculation is always a zero-sum game.

Usury fits that profile too. It stems from the wrong mindset that treats money as a commodity and thus finds what it thinks is a great business model: buy money cheap and sell it for more. That’s right; economists actually call interest the price of money! Money is price, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t have a price.

While you did not ask it, other readers may be wondering: how else can an economy run? How can banking be done without interest? How does an Islamic system finance start-up companies or real estate purchases, etc.?

The answer is quite simple: partnerships. A financier may decide to finance a project in return for a percentage of its equity and profits. But that also means sharing the risk. That is a natural mechanism in the law of God that makes a financier scrutinize the project like his networth depends on it. The result is that frivolous projects won’t find financing, but quality ones will. Mortgage lenders would never lend money to home buyers whom they are almost sure cannot repay the loan, which is what caused the foreclosure crisis of 2008. On the flip side, rich people will still put their money in worthwhile and promising projects, which by their nature benefit a lot more people than the stakeholders.

That, in a nutshell, is Islamic finance. It brings wealth to investors and far reaching benefits to society, advancement of the economy and, most important of all, the right perception of money and finance. It is not a game for clever quants to play, it’s life enhancement for millions of people.

I apologize for not having a MBA. Your response was detailed, as usual. However, I need to go to a simpler and deeper understanding.

My question thus becomes this: How does interest oppress those who are the meek and poor. How is usury a tool of the oppressor.

In other words how is this haraam (forbidden). On a grand scale I see the consequences of poor decision making, giving loans to those who do not have the means of paying back thus leading to bankruptcy. But break it down for me.

For example the issue of adultery is simple to understand as it does destroy the fabric of the family.

I am not trying to be stubborn or argumentative. I need to be able to place my finger on the essence of the sin of interest.

Many people question why adultery is a sin. If the reason is, as you stated, that it breaks up families, then divorce should also be a sin, because it too breaks up families. But it isn’t. It is only strongly discouraged.

Many scholars, past and modern, have attempted to find material reasons why adultery is a sin. Some postulated that it results in paternity uncertainty. If that’s the reason, then modern science can solve this problem with a DNA test. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

Some suggest that the reason is unwanted pregnancies. If that’s the reason, then foster homes can solve this problem. Does that make adultery OK. Of course not.

Some guess that the reason is sexually transmitted diseases. If that’s the reason, then immunizations and other protections can take care of this risk. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

The interesting thing is that God already told us why adultery is a sin. He says in the holy Quran, “And do not approach fornication; it is a debauchery and a wretched path.” (17:32). It sets a wrong mindset. It makes people view sex, women and marriage differently from God’s moral law. That is what makes it a sin. Sin is violation of God’s law. God designed His laws for maximum benefit to mankind. When man breaks God’s law, it is an objection to God. Adultery sets the sinner on an evil path because he is deviated from the Straight Path and is distanced from God and becomes an easy prey to Satan.

You will observe the same about other sins prohibited in the Quran. Intoxication and unearned gain are prohibited in 5:90. God explains why in the next verse, “Satan only wants to sew between you enmity and hatred with intoxicants and unearned gain, shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Are you ceasing?” (5:91)

God doesn’t say that intoxication can ruin your liver, or that it may endanger other people when you drive drunk. God doesn’t say that gambling can wipe out one’s life savings. God doesn’t mention that both are addictions that are very hard to be free from. God’s reasons are moral. Other material reasons may apply, but they are not why something is a forbidden sin. Intoxication sets a wrong mindset. It makes a person “drink to forget” his problems, instead of heading them on and solving them, gaining strength of character and wisdom in the process. Unearned gain sets the wrong mindset. It makes a person view others as “marks”, to borrow from con artists vocabulary. The right mindset that Islam encourages is that others are fellow human beings, dignified, worthy of respect and care, and having full capacity to be good and contribute to positive human progress.

The sin of interest is that it sets the perception and belief that you can have your money work for you instead of you working for your money. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “None of you would eat better food than food he earned by the work of his hands. God’s prophet David, upon him be peace, did.”, narrated by Al-Miqdaam ibn Ma`dikarib and reported and rated authentic by Al-Bukhaari.

I find it fascinating that God quotes people who have argued that usury is like trading. He does not refute their argument! Instead, He states unequivocally that He made trading lawful and usury unlawful (2:275). God doesn’t want us to be distracted by arguments why something He forbade is bad for us.

I beg you to help me with this. Where do trust funds find themselves. And what is the difference in Islam between a trust fund and inheritance?

Trusts are called Waqf in Islam. The word means holding an asset from being sold or donated and dedicating its income and facilities to designated people or purpose.

Waqf has two types: (1) Waqf Khayri (charitable trust/endowment) and (2) Waqf Ahli (familial trust). The first type is very highly praised in Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) has famously said, “All the work of a child of Adam ceases with his death, except three: an ongoing charity, a knowledge that benefits and a righteous child who prays for him.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported and rated authentic by Muslim. This has motivated multitudes of Muslims throughout the ages to found thousands of charitable projects and endowments. The result was that nearly all needs of society were taken care of without the government having to do any of it! A stranded traveler knew that he can find a hostel where he could stay the night, warm and safe, at no cost. Orphans and widows didn’t have to be scared or hungry. Desert travelers knew there would be plenty of water wells they could drink from.

Waqf Ahli, on the other hand, has been controversial for a good part of a century now. It is banned by many Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Syria and Egypt. The reason is that they saw much abuse of it. They saw it as a way to concentrate wealth in a family, instead of letting it into the economy. Many people used it as a way to circumvent inheritance law. With familial trusts, they could favor some relatives over others, whereas inheritance law fixes heir eligibility and distribution amounts of an estate.

IMHO, abuse of a system is no reason to ban it, but rather is reason to regulate it. Waqf Ahli has been allowed, even suggested, by the Prophet (PBUH) when one has needy relatives, as has been reported about Abu-Talha dedicating his best garden to his poor relatives after he heard this verse, “You shall not attain godliness until you spend from what you love” (3:92). It is a good way to take care of one’s poor relatives while one is still alive, as well as after he, the trustee, dies. That is the difference between trusts and inheritance. The other difference is what I mentioned above about allotment of shares and designation of beneficiaries.

Nobody ever owns the asset under Waqf and the trustee’s heirs are supposed to carry on the upkeep of the trust. Perhaps that’s why many Waqf assets were neglected to the point of deterioration. That was another reason governments moved to ban them. It would’ve been better IMHO if governments took over the maintenance.

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.

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.