Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

How can I become an Islamic scholar?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Salam, there is something that I’ve wanted to know but couldn’t really find any defined information on.
1- What is an Islamic Scholar? 2- How does one become an Islamic Scholar? 3- How many years does it take to become one? (how long) 4- What are the necessary college classes/courses and degrees necessary to be qualified as one? (i.e., PhD?) 5-Are there different types of Islamic Scholars(specializations)? If there are, what are they?

Becoming an Islamic Scholar is something that I am really interested in in the near future. I hope this is not a lot, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

An Islamic scholar is one who can study an Islamic text, determine its credibility and then deduce intent from it. Like any other field of scholarship, this requires acquiring knowledge as well as skills of logical analysis and critical thinking honed by discipline and methodology.

Such scientific approach is crucial for weeding out whimsical opinions! If you have listened to some fatwas (religious edicts) issued by unknown, self-appointed Muslim scholars on satellite TV and YouTube, you know what I’m talking about.

Prior to modern times, Islamic scholars were not many and they all had to learn and be licensed (Ijaaza) by a recognized scholar. This approach carried over to modern times in the form of colleges and universities where Islamic disciplines are formally taught by teachers of high repute and earned licenses. If you want to be a formal Islamic scholar, this is the proper way to go about it. Such study takes about four years in reputable learning institutions such as Al-Azhar and Darul-Uloom universities in Egypt, for instance.

That said, one can attend these places of learning and graduate from them without actually becoming a scholar! Why? Because a student who simply memorized what he or she has been taught and echoes the rulings he or she has learned is a copy, not a scholar. Such a person cannot handle new, controversial or challenging issues. You will notice right away that they do not have what it takes and that they will end up giving their personal opinion, which is often based on their likes and dislikes.

God has honored scholars a number of times in the holy Quran. For instance,
“Verily, those who truly fear God out of all His worshipers are the scholars” (35:28) and
“But if they had referred the matter back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who can deduce from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of God upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.” (4:83)

Thus, true Islamic scholarship can save Muslims from falling prey to Satan. It can also sort out what is religion and what is tradition. So many people mix the two.

Finally, you asked about disciplines and specialties. Disciplines are many. There are disciplines centered on the Quran, such as its language and syntax, its interpretations, how to deduce rulings from it. There are disciplines centered on the Hadeeth, such as authenticating it, knowing the biographies and credibility of its narrators, how to deduce rulings from it, how it and the Sunna explain the Quran, etc. There is also the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh, which I personally think is near the top of disciplines, because it teaches the foundations of deduction. It disciplines the mind to be rational, logical and methodical. That way, the many pitfalls that some fall into can be systematically avoided.

There is also the discipline of law (Sharee`a), history, comparative religions and more. You can specialize in any of it. You can study with the aim of becoming a preacher, for instance, or a judge. Your academic advisor can help guide you in this endeavor. Best wishes.

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.

Tests of faith are healing and guidance

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

I am on an adventure that I know has been sanctioned by Allah swt. My learning curve is off the charts.

I hold on to the precept after difficulties comes ease.

It would be good to address, yet again, how fortunate are the ones that Allah swt tests.

We often forget that our testing is a way to stay alive. We are kept young. We become resourceful. Often in our monotonous lives we become ungrateful of the favors of our Creator. We take things for granted. When the rug is pulled under our feet we become alive again.

We commence on a deeper esoteric journey. When it gets tough it seems the only door open is the door of the Mercy of Allah swt. The example of Yunus (Jonah) becomes alive. He was alone in the belly of the whale at the bottom of the sea. Not even a candle to give some light. Yet, the test was for him to call upon Allah swt.

We overlook the healing process after the ejection from the whale. Once the internal, the soul, is rescued then the body can recover.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

I am blessed too, as Allah has provided me with Believers that I can share my spiritual journey with

You bring up a very important point: that tests of life are nudges along the Straight Path. Picture a father teaching his son to ride a bike. We cannot be steady in life without God’s constant guidance and occasional nudges, because Satan would then have a field day with us. And the only way to avail ourselves of that infinite source of guidance and redirection is correct, true faith in God, recognition of His correction to us, acceptance of His tests of us and doing good deeds.

It is then that we got it. Only then do we understand why we’re here, what we’re supposed to do and not do.

This relates to the question I had regarding ridha. Trust me the term tranquil acceptance is not mine. I was listening to the Imam of Cambridge college. He is a revert. Brilliant mind. One who can think and be clear and precise. Here is a link: http://cambridgekhutbasetc.blogspot.com/.

It seems to be the case, and it is a difficult pill to swallow, that often the guidance of Allah comes at His Pace. When He guides us and wishes for us to purify our souls, for the fragile human ego it is a difficult period. Any metamorphosis requires a degree of what can be described as growing pains. Who wants to yield the warm bottle of milk and the comfort of mothers lap.

Yes, I understand that part of the tests are we give up our misconceptions and notions of what ought to be in a perfect world for ourselves. However, it is not our world. We are participants in His Creation. What I have come to understand is the Truth of the Quran. It is absolute. There is not one lie in it.

This is an earth-shattering experience. It is scary. When we read Allah is sufficient unto me…we have to believe in that 100%. He has told us so. And we are tested to understand the meaning of that. One of the blessings of the test is the ridha. But, in the midst of the chaos of the test we have to stop and count our blessings. This is where we need the strength of community. Almost a reinforcement of enjoining good and forbidding evil.

As life is a new experience each day, is that not a definition of striving, we are in constant change.

Maybe, I am blessed.

He is indeed successful who “gets” the Quran before they die, because back to its author they are going.

Why are they leaving Islam?

Friday, August 24th, 2012

An excellent article by Mathew Longacre,
http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/dawah/why-are-they-leaving-islam/

I’d add that the spread of lies, half-truths, bad translations and scare tactics and confusing traditions or culture with religious tenets by Islamophobes, as well as the spread of misinterpretations, misconceptions and flawed fatwas (religious rulings) by fundamentalist Muslims as well as portraying terrorism, mass murder and suicide as Jihaad (!!), all leave the vulnerable and the gullible Muslims in confusion and doubt. It is the responsibility of parents, friends, preachers, scholars and media to rush to help those who have unanswered questions about Islam and answer them! We are all responsible for each other and will be questioned by God on the Day of Judgment if we have failed that responsibility. The Prophet (PBUH) made that quite clear when he said, “All of you are caretakers and all of you will be questioned about those you were to take care of!”, narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

Learning the Quran by learning Arabic

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Salam,

I just want to ask if perhaps you could help me to understand the Qur’an better. The thing is I know how to read and write Arabic. We have that as a subject from first to sixth grade although my school was a Catholic school. So I can read the Qur’an but I can not understand Arabic save for some words. I end up relying on the English translation. But I still want to read, write and understand. Can you suggest any website or anything where I can learn to understand Arabic? I know it would take a long time but it will be a great help to me. Thank you.

You are fortunate that you can read and write Arabic. Most Muslims don’t!

While learning Arabic is not necessary for being a good Muslim, or for understanding the Quran, since there are many good translations of it, knowledge of Arabic adds a dimension to understanding the Quran that no other tool can approach.

The Quran is the undisputed masterpiece of Arabic language and literature. Even non-Muslims who have mastered the Arabic language agree. The sheer beauty of the Arabic words, expressions and style that God uses in His Quran has mesmerized the polytheists of Mecca, who were themselves masters of Arabic literary avenues. The Quran challenged them to come up with a book like it. They did not even try. Then the Quran challenged them to come up with ten chapters like any of its chapters, some of which are as short as three verses (11:13). They did not even try. Then the Quran challenged them to come up with one chapter like any of its chapters (2:23). They did not even try. Finally, the Quran declared its superiority, “Say: Verily, if mankind and the sprites combine in order to bring about the like of this Quran, they will not, even if they backed each other!” (17:88)

The Most Read Book discussion board attempts to translate the Quran into English in a way that preserves the Arabic style and literal meaning of each word as much as the English language permits. Take a look at it and you will get a sense of why that is important and why knowing the Arabic can make a significant difference in learning the Quran.

I take it that you really want to master the Arabic language as it is used in the Quran. I know of a school in the USA whose mission is to do just that. It is called Al-Bayyinah Institute and it was founded by a gentleman whose native language is not Arabic, but he was determined to master it and he did. His name is Nouman Ali Khan, may God bless his effort.

About bullying

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

What does the Quran and Sunnah say about bullying? This is a big issue in schools lately with kids killing themselves for many reasons. What does Islam say about this, because I care alot alot about trying to pervent bullying. Thanks!

Bullying is strictly prohibited by the Quran and the Sunna. God says in the holy Quran,

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other [offensive] names. How wretched an attribute is deviance after faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
O you who have believed, avoid much of [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother dead? You would detest it. And watch for God; verily, God is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (49:11-12)

In those verses, God calls a believer who engages in bullying and the other obnoxious acts mentioned in the verse, God calls such a believer a deviant! And he calls him or her to repent at once, or count themselves among the wrongdoers!

If any believer entertains the thought that bullying is cool, or will give them importance they badly crave, or that it demonstrates his or her virility, those verses ought to scare the daylights out of them.

The Prophet (PBUH) said in an authentic hadeeth, “A Muslim is the brother of every other Muslim; he does not wrong him, he does not fail him and he does not demean him… It is enough evil for anyone that he demeans his Muslim brother…The whole of a Muslim is forbidden to another Muslim: his blood, his property and his honor.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported by Muslim.

Did you notice the words, “It is enough evil for anyone?” Make no mistake about it; bullying is evil and as such must be fought by authorities, from teachers and principals to law enforcement. It is also something that must be repelled by the bullied, in self defense. Words can hurt as badly as weapons, or worse, since their effect can last a lifetime. It is truly a sad state of affairs that in the West, especially in the US, bullying is tolerated, considered masculine or assumed to be normal as in “boys will be boys.” Educators who believe that, put up with it or turn a blind eye to it are derelict in their primary obligation: Raising well adjusted, productive citizens.

Bullies will also see the consequences of their bullying in the Hereafter, when it will be too late to mend their ways. God says in the holy Quran,

“Indeed, those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed.
And when they passed by them, they would exchange derisive glances.
And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting.
And when they saw them, they would say, “Indeed, those are truly lost.”
But they had not been sent as guardians over them!
So Today, those who believed are laughing at the disbelievers,
On adorned couches, observing.
Have the disbelievers been “rewarded” for what they used to do?” (83:29-36)

Notice how God first calls them criminals (in this life) then disbelievers (in the Hereafter)? And He mocks them by saying that they will be “rewarded” for their bullying in the Hereafter, just like they mocked others in this life?

My father wants me to cheat

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

My dad wants me to get a good education. But he’s doing it the wrong way. He’s making me skip a year without doing all the college work and pushing me to university with a passable grade. I’m so conflicted since I highly disagree with this method. I insisted I attend classes and rightfully earn the marks needed, but he flat out said “No.” I’ve tried to talk with him, but he keeps pushing away my thoughts and says it’s for my future. I’m so depressed because this method is unfair to other students and is against my principles. To me, it feels like cheating. You can’t suggest to attempt talking to my dad or using Quranic sources because I know he knows it’s wrong, and he has a temper. My dad loves me, but this isn’t the way.

I’m applying for every college I can get, hoping they’d accept me and that I needn’t follow my dad’s way, that I’d go through the whole year. But then he says I shouldn’t because he already has a seat for me. I cry and cry and ask Allah for help. I know this is not halal. I’ve asked help from people, but they can’t help. I’m so scared my education won’t be halal. I’m so scared of punishment. And it’s not even my fault.

Your dad found a shortcut afforded by the educational system and he is taking advantage of it so that you’d graduate sooner. That’s NOT cheating. It is not unfair to the other students, because they too can do the same thing, if they want to. If it would ease your soul, tell all your friends about this shortcut, so that they too can peruse it should they decide to.

Taking a shortcut on the highway is not cheating other drivers. It is available to all drivers. They can know about it if they call the highway ministry. Get it?

Your dad indeed loves you and wants the best for you. Obey his wishes.

Does Islam prohibit women from education and careers?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Does Islam prohibit women from getting an education, working outside the home, playing sports, etc., or is that a culture thing?

Everything in Islam is allowed until proven not. It is not the other way around as many Muslims think. This is the consensus of Islamic scholars and one of the foundations of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Thus, the short answer to your question is no! You can pursue a career, get an advanced degree, play in sports and go places as long as you observe Islamic teachings about dress, conduct, the company you keep and the places you go to.

Abdullah ibn Umar, may God have been pleased with him and with his father, put it beautifully when he said, “Work for this world as if you live forever and work for your hereafter as if you die tomorrow!”

Do Muslims worship a moon god?

Monday, April 9th, 2007

You make Islam sound all good, but if you live in America, it isn’t. My parents constantly tell me that Islam is a pagan religion and that Allah is really a moon god.

I am so confused. Is Islam the True Religion? I don’t know. I read somewhere on beliefnet.com that a young girl said that she tried to read the Quran, from a prospective convert view, and thought that it wasn’t from God.

To me, Islam seems sort of like a cult, no offense to anyone.

None taken. You did right by asking. Only by finding out for oneself can one truly obtain the truth.

The experience of reading the Quran will be different for different people. God tells us clearly that some people will hear the Quran and get nothing out of it or stray even more because they have chosen to close their hearts and minds to it, while some will hear the Quran and their eyes will overflow with tears as they recognize the Truth in it. Another girl’s experience with the Quran should not influence your own.

“Allah” is the Arabic word for God. He is the creator of the moon and everything else. Ask your parents why they think that Allah is a moon god. A pagan religion is one where God is objectified such as being the sun, the moon, an animal, etc. Since God in Islam is not objectified and He tells us that there’s none like unto Him and that He created all then Islam is not pagan. Ask your parents why they think that Islam is pagan. Their answers will reveal their little and mistaken knowledge about Islam (sorry) and can open the door for all of you to learn the truth about it.