Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Islam at Brown: Dear Adam: In the Name of Allah, The All-Merciful, The Giver of Mercy This is a public appeal to Adam Gadahn, an American citizen who has allied him...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Great article in the Crimson

As Ramadan Ends, Muslim Students Reflect on Religion
Published: Monday, August 29, 2011

For the past four weeks, Rashid M. Yasin ’12 has folded back his covers around 4:15 a.m., rising to make a meal comprised of protein, grain and dairy, which he washes down with plenty of water to sustain him throughout the day. He then heads to a faucet to do wudu, the Islamic procedure for purifying oneself in preparation for prayer. Once he has washed his hands, face, mouth, arms and feet, Yasin performs the first of five daily prayers. He praises God and asks for forgiveness, concluding his prayer with personal supplication.

“I tend to pray for guidance and forgiveness and success in this life and the next,” Yasin says. “I pray to be able to incorporate consciousness of God and His will in all I do.”

Yasin’s morning ritual ends when he slips back under his covers again, still in the dark. After suhoor, his early meal, he will not break his fast for approximately 15 hours, going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset.

Yasin, the president of the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS), is observing Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting that ends Monday. This year he is doing so in Cambridge, but this is not the case for many Harvard students. Ramadan’s date is determined by the lunar calendar, and this year, the month does not overlap with the academic year as it has in the past. So Muslim Harvard students are showing their devotion to their faith all over the world, from Minnesota to South Korea, Senegal to Palestine.


Although Fatoumata B. Fall ’14 started the summer in her home nation of Senegal, she plunged into Ramadan in Seoul, South Korea, as a student in Harvard’s six-week summer school program at Ewha Womans University. She maintained her fast through studies and a two-week internship with an international development institute.

During what she considers a blessed month, Fall alters her daily schedule to practice her faith. Rising early, she prays five times throughout the day and reads the Quran after work. When dusk descends, she prepares for iftar, the evening meal when Muslims break their fast. Following her fill, she prays, meets with friends, and spends time on the Internet until she sleeps “after the morning.”

“Let’s just say there is lots of sleeping in on the weekend,” quips Nima Y. Hassan ’14, a Somali-American who is observing Ramadan in Ham Lake, Minnesota.

Like Hassan, Lena K. Awwad ’13, who observed Ramadan in Palestine this summer, also awakens to eat and pray before the sun rises.

For each student, pangs of hunger are a reality throughout the day. Awwad combats her cravings by avoiding salty foods and consuming enough water to “keep awake.” She fills her day with prayers until she breaks her fast with dates and cup of milk or water, which, she explains, was “how the Prophet used to do it.”


For Hassan, Ramadan is a dedicated time for believers to focus on getting closer to God. With constant demands on her time and the overwhelming presence of the Internet, she says it can be difficult to find the space and time to thank and praise God.

“We spend a lot of our time wired and moving onto the next activity,” Hassan says. “But in Ramadan, there’s a mindfulness that’s encouraged and expected of you which you don’t really make the time for otherwise. Ramadan is not just quieting the noise, but doing so with a purpose to hear God.”

Aside from being a religious and family-oriented month, Ramadan provides space for people to learn tolerance, Awwad says. She considers prayer on an empty stomach during Ramadan to be more reflective than prayer at any other time throughout the year.

“While fasting from sun-up to sun-down, it is important not to waste the day or the opportunity to get closer to your religion and the people around you,” Awwad says. “You see life as more than just in between the meals.”

Fall says that the most meaningful aspect of Ramadan to her is constantly evolving.

“We are young people and I’m restless. When Ramadan comes around I find a more peaceful side of myself,” Fall says. “As I grow, I enjoy getting more time and opportunity to practice my religion during Ramadan. This year, for instance, I did not devote a lot of time to my religion and spirituality with all the work at Harvard.”


Yasin was raised in Scituate, Mass., 20 miles south of Boston, a community where he knows no other Muslims. Raised by a Bangladeshi father and a white mother who converted to Islam, Yasin attributes his view of his faith as diverse—“not only comprised of Arabs or South Asians”—to his mixed background. While he expected to find diversity in the Harvard Islamic Society, he was unsure of what it would entail with respect to people’s practices.

“When I got to college, I would see the different cultural traditions that Arabs have and Caucasians have. It’s partially religious, partially cultural,” Yasin says. “I was oblivious to different trends and interpretations. I had an individualized non-communal background.”

Yasin says community-building happens most during Ramadan, the biggest event on the HIS calendar. Historically, the organization has celebrated the holy month with catered iftars daily in Ticknor Lounge, drawing more than 80 graduate and undergraduate students.

With fewer people in Cambridge this summer, the group held three iftars per week, but the society continued to draw a consistent group of people Yasin calls his “brothers and sisters.”

“As part of the only Muslim family in my town growing up in suburban Massachusetts, I missed having a strong Muslim community outside of my nuclear family and so I have really embraced HIS since coming to Harvard,” says Yasin.

Awwad fondly recalls Ramadan with HIS as the “perfect introduction” to the College, especially as a first-year international student searching for a niche. As classes began, the society co-sponsored interfaith dinners and dialogues with student groups. Dinners served as a forum to meet Muslims and non-Muslims, while sharing the traditions of Ramadan.

“We even held iftars with faculty and had the chance to meet people from different religions,” Awwad says. “The events helped me connect to home. HIS was helpful in ways I didn’t imagine.”


Shortly after Hassan was born in Saudi Arabia, her family bounced to the U.S. Midwest, ultimately landing in Minnesota. She moved to Ham Lake, where she practiced Ramadan this summer. While she says there a sizable Muslim community concentrated in the Twin Cities, her town lacks a Muslim presence.

“There are Muslim communities within reach, but where we live there are few Muslims and people of color generally,” Hassan says.

Growing up in Fridley, Minn., in a community of largely first- and second-generation immigrants, Hassan recalls fasting with five other students in her grade. The school provided accommodations for observing students in a separate room.

“We didn't want to go to lunchroom and watch everyone eat. Over 30 days, we grew close,” Hassan says.

Despite appreciating the individual attention accorded to her by the school administration, Hassan says there is a disconnect between the West and Muslim societies where most people fast.

By contrast, Fall has celebrated Ramadan in a Muslim-majority country, Senegal, where she was born. Despite hot and dry temperatures that mark Ramadan, inducing thirst early in the day, she says the Muslim community is strong. Radios announce the time for iftar, community prayers are held drawing hundreds, and skits are performed in honor of Eid, the Muslim holiday following the final day of Ramadan.

“Ninety-four percent of my country is Muslim so Ramadan is not just a small group celebrating their special holiday,” Fall says. “In Cambridge I felt more in an isolated world. In Senegal, after iftar we have community prayer. Everyone, I mean everyone, goes. Houses are empty.”

Observing Ramadan in South Korea this summer proved even more isolating. Instead of praying with a large community and family, she often led prayers alone.

“I can count the Muslims who live here,” Fall says, who noted Seoul has a community of predominantly Buddhists, Christians, and Agnostics. Her friend observed her pray once, she says, and noted it was the first time she had seen a Muslim pray.


For Hassan, fasting has taken on special significance in light of the drought in the Horn of Africa, which has struck her parents' native Somalia, leaving millions with limited access to food or water.

“Somalia is a place where droughts happen with frequency, but this is unprecedented,” Hassan says. “When there’s so much hunger we need to be even more dedicated to our fast during Ramadan to be even more cognizant of what it’s like for many people around the world and act accordingly.”

But Hassan mentioned that some malnourished may continue to fast. She draws a distinction between her observance, which includes minimal physical activity during the day, and that of people who continue strenuous activity—such as working in the fields—while experiencing hunger.

“Building empathy through actual experience for people who go hungry is a beautiful thing about Ramadan,” Hassan says. “Whether you’re a king or a poor person, you observe the same. Having felt that, it’s a lot easier to imagine what it’s like for someone else to understand hunger and thirst.”

Hassan says that this empathy inspires charitable acts, making Ramadan known as a month of giving. Yasin connects empathy to spirituality, explaining that Ramadan provokes God-consciousness whereby he is reminded of his faith when he feels affected by the fast. He calls fasting “a spiritual refocusing” which facilitates remembrance of the interconnectedness of God in his life.

But hunger is only part of the experience of Ramadan. Iftar—breaking the fast—remains an important element. In Hassan’s family, it includes preparation of almost two hours, after which relatives gather for a countdown as the sun sets.

“We say ‘Three minutes! Two minutes! Time to eat!” she says.

While meals vary, one of Hassan’s favorites includes a rare Somali food, which resembles a donut, accompanied with a mango watermelon salad. The table is set with a cucumber and tomato salad, dates and milk.

“It’s pretty colorful, and I’m pretty thankful,” Hassan says.


For Fall, last year’s Eid—her first in the United States—was strange. In the early morning of the day after Ramadan’s end, she gathered with other students in Roxbury to pray.

“After that I came back and went to class,” Fall says. “This was shocking, because all my life I had Eid as a holiday.”

On Eid this year, Yasin will go to prayers, accompanied with his friends from HIS, but he plans to skip out on the first day of classes. He will visit his family and celebrate in a week or two with HIS members again in the evening for an Eid banquet.

“For Eid, I’ll be home with my family,” says Fall. But after spending half the holiday in her home, she will spend the other half on a plane, coming back to Harvard.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A gem from our fellow Chaplain and member of the Harvard Muslim community, Shaykh David Coolidge:

Islam at Brown: How I Understand Islamic Law: I have been studying Islamic law ever since I became Muslim almost 13 years ago. I don't have ijazas or a PhD, just a pile of books and a treasure trove of memories that inform how I make sense out of it all. Because my life experience and way of thinking aren't quite typical, I have often refrained from sharing my views more publicly. However, as a chaplain I get numerous inquiries about Islamic law, and I think it will be helpful to have a document which lays out my basic philosophy. I will try to articulate my views as clearly as possible, for the benefit of those with varying degrees of familiarity with the history and philosophy of Islamic law.
In short, I consider Islamic law to be the sum total of what intelligent, learned, and pious scholars say about Islamic law. They must be intelligent, because the intellect is the basis of understanding the law. They must be learned, because there are plenty of books one must read before one can begin to understand Islamic law. They must be pious, because Islamic law is meant to be practiced, not just understood. In history, those who fulfill these criteria are well known: Malik, al-Shafi'i, al-Ghazzali, Ibn Qudamah, Ibn Taymiyya, al-Marghinani, al-Shawkani, al-Qarafi, and many others. Whatever they said should be considered as part of Islamic law as a whole.
However, the books of the giants of the past don't always help us understand what we should do today. Sometimes they can even lead us astray, if we don't understand the context in which they were writing. So when it comes to contemporary concerns, preference is given to scholars who not only fulfill the 3 conditions already mentioned, but also understand the political, economic and social realities we are living in now. These scholars are capable of interpreting the writings of the Islamic legal heritage in light of our 2011 AD/1432 AH world. Such individuals include Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf, Yasir Qadhi, Muhammad Alshareef, Abdullah Ali, Yahya Rhodus, Intisar Rabb, Ikram ul Haq, Faraz Rabbani, Sherman Jackson, Tahir Anwar, Taha Abdul-Basser, Zaynab Ansari Abdul-Razacq, Suhaib Webb, and many others.
If you ask any of these scholars how to pray, they will be capable of giving you an answer that is valid. If you ask them about zakat, they will be sensitive to what a 401k entails. If you ask them to reflect on what it means to live in a secular, pluralistic democracy, they will have cogent thoughts to share. Each of them has earned the right to share their view, through hard intellectual work and a life of committment to God and God's Messenger (may peace be upon him). Much of what they say will be in agreement with one another, and where they differ, take what you think is best. Only the All-Knowing (al-Aleem) really knows which one of them is right, and only the Truly Just (al-'Adl) will judge between them and between us after all of our deaths.
All of these scholars encourage human beings to pray in more or less the same way. All of them highlight the importance of fasting. All of them can explain why God prohibited alcohol. All of them think it is best for Muslims to marry Muslim spouses with good character. All of them know the centrality of patient perseverance (sabr) when afflicted with trials and tribulations in one's personal, professional, or spiritual life. Similarly, they all understand the need for gratitude (shukr) for all of our myraid blessings. Most everything else is secondary or tertiary. If you want to learn the details, there are many different ways to do so, but never get so wrapped up in the trees that you forget the vast forest all around you.
The Straight Path (sirat al-mustaqim) is not this shaykh or that shaykh, this book or that book, this class or that one, this school of thought or that one. The inheritance of the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) is vast, and reaches into the nooks and crannies of this world. If the teacher in your particular nook doesn't inspire you or make sense, then go looking for better ones, and the Guide (al-Hadi) will guide you to her or him. But as you search, always be aware that your inner self will fight back, because it does not want to submit. It wants to convince you that you are the center of the universe. But the spiritual purpose of Islamic law is to remind you that God has more of a right than anyone else over what you do and say. When Islamic law seems like the interpretations of men and women, go deeper, and find the unchangeable bedrock which is God's clear command and prohibition. When one has found that unshakeable core, then there is nothing left to do but submit to the best of one's ability, and ask God to forgive all the ways in which we fall short, for we all fall short. In these last days of Ramadan, may the Forgiving (al-Ghafur) forgive all of us our shortcomings in sincerity, knowledge, and practice, amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For those of you interested in Islamic bioethics--that is, the application of fiqh to contemporary medical (and other biological) issues--here is a video recording of a session of a recent conference on the subject. I am moderating this session. The speakers include Prof. Sherman Jackson and Sh Musa Furber. May Allah reward Dr. Aasim Padela, conference organizer, for the invitation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flashback ma sha'Allah. Harvard Crimson coverage of the courtship, engagement and marriage of two students of mine--Ustadh Daniel Jou and Ustadhah Ola Aljawhary--while they were students at Harvard College. Daniel and Ola met at the Harvard Islamic Society, of which they were both leading members.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sh Suheil Laher's translation of the section entitled "The Pitfalls of [Sacred] Knowledge, and an Explanation of the Scholars of Evil and the Scholars of the Hereafter" from Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin, which is, as Sh Suheil describes it, "Ahmad al-Maqdisi's summary of Ibn al-Jawzi' abridgment of al-Ghazzali's Ihya' `Ulum al-Din." Al-hamdu li-llah, we have taught this text for years at Harvard Islamic Society.

The Scholars of Evil are those whose aim in [acquiring] knowledge is to obtain comfort in the world, and to attainment worldly rank in the eyes of people. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) has narrated that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said,
“Whoever learns knowledge by which the Countenance of Allah should be sought, yet learns it only to attain some worldly provision, will not find the fragrance of Heaven on the Day of Resurrection.” [Abu Dawud]
And in another hadith, [it is narrated] that he said,
“Whoever learns knowledge in order to vie thereby with the scholars, or to argue thereby with the foolish, or to turn people’s faces towards him [in admiration] thereof, shall be in the Fire.”[Tirmidhi, He clasified it as weak.]
There are many ahadith about this. Some of the salaf said, “The most regretful person at [the time of] death is a neglectful scholar.”

1. Know that what is required from the scholar is that he establish the commands and prohibitions [of Islam]. He is not required to be an ascetic, nor to relinquish the permissible. However, it is fitting that he curtail [his indulgement] in [things] of the world as much as he is able. People vary, and not every body is amenable to austerity. It has been narrated that Sufyan Thawri (may Allah have mercy upon him) used to eat well, saying,
“If a beast is not treated well fodder-wise, it will not [perform] work.” [On the other hand], Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy upon him) used to sndure a tremendously austere life. Physiques [indeed] differ.

2. Among the characteristics of the Scholars of the Hereafter is that they know that the world is paltry and that the Hereafter is noble, and that the two are like two co-wives, and so they give preference to the Hereafter. Their deeds do not contradict their words. Their inclination is towards the beneficial knowledge of the Hereafter, and they shun those fields of knowledge which are of limited benefit, giving prioity to those whose benefit is greater.

In this regard, it has been narrated Shaqiq Balkhi (may Allah have mercy upon him) asked Hatim,
“You have kept my company for a long time. What, then, have you learned?”

He replied, “Eight things.

Firstly : I looked at creation, and saw that every individual has a beloved [person or thing], but when he reaches his grave, his
beloved is separated from him, and so I made my beloved my good deeds in order that they could be in the grave with me.

Secondly : I looked at the words of Allah, the Exalted, (meaning), ”And he prevented the Self from caprice,”[Qur'an, 79:40] and thus I exerted [my Self] in eliminating caprice, until it settled upon the obedience of Allah.

Thirdly : I saw everyone who has anything of value guarding it, and then I looked at the words of Allah, the Flawless, the Exalted, (meaning),”That which you have shall perish, while that which is with Allah is enduring,” [Qur'an, 16:96]. and so whenever I obained anything of value, I turned it towards Him [by expending it in charity] in order that it might endure for me with Him.

Fourthly : I saw people referring back to wealth, lineage and nobility, although they are [worth] nothing. Then, I looked at the words of Allah, the Exalted, (meaning), “The noblest of you before Allah is the most pious,”[Qur'an, 49:13]. and so I practised piety so that I could be noble before Him.

Fifthly : I saw people envying one another, and then I looked at [Allah] The Exalted’s words, (meaning), “We have apportioned their livelihoods amongst them,”[Qur'an, 43:32] and so I forsook envy.

Sixthly : I saw them having enmity towards one another, and then I saw [Allah] the Exalted’s words, (meaning), “Satan is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy,”[Qur'an, 35:6] and so I gave up enmity to them and took Satan alone as my enemy.

Seventhly : I saw them expending their selves in pursuit of sustenance, and then I looked at [Allah] the Exalted’s words, (meaning),
“There is not any beast on the earth except that its sustenance is [binding] upon Allah,”[Qur'an, 11:6] and so I busied myself with His rights over me, and I relinquished [pursuit of] that which is guaranteed for me by Him.

Eighthly : I saw them placing their trust in their commerce and manufacturing and their bodily health, and so I placed my trust in Allah, the Exalted.”

3. [Also] among the characteristics of the scholars of the Hereafter is that they are ill-at-ease with the rulers, and wary of mingling with them. Hudhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Beware of the stations of sedition!”
They asked, “And what might those be?”
He replied, “The gates of the leaders. One of you enters upon the ruler and then corroborates him with lies and mentions [in his praise qualities] which he does not possess.”
Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, “When you see a scholar calling upon the leaders then beware of him, for he is a scoundrel (literally: a thief).”
One of the salaf said, “You will not attain any of their world without their taking something better [away] from your religion.”

4. And among the characteristics of the scholars of the Hereafter is that they are not hasty to pronounce religious verdicts, and that they pronounce verdicts based only on that [material] whose authenticity they are certain of. The salaf used to pass on [the task of pronouncing] a verdict until it returned to the first [of them]. `Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Layla (may Allah have
mercy upon him) said, “I met, in this mosque, one hundred and twenty of the companions of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and there was not one of them who, when asked about a hadith or for a religious verdict, did not wish that his brother would save him the task. Now, we have reached the stage where audacious people who lay claim to knowledge come forward to answer questions which, were they presented to `Umar ibn al-Khattab, he would have gathered the people of Badr and sought their counsel.”

5. And among their characteristics is that most of their investigation is into the knowledge of deeds, how to prevent the things which cause their corruption, cloud the heart and stir up devilish suggestions, for the form of deeds is simple and easy, the difficulty lying only in purifying them. The fundament of religion is to protect oneself against evil, and protection cannot really be achieved without recognising [the evil].

6. And among their characteristics is that they probe into the inner dimensions of the deeds of the Shari`ah, and take note of the wisdom therein. However, if they fail to discover the reason [for a religious ruling which is clear-cut, such as why prayer is 5 times daily rather than more often or less often], it suffices them to submit to the Law.

7. And among their characteristics is that they follow the [Prophet's] Companions and the best of the Successors, and guard against every newly-invented matter [in religion, i.e. heresy].

Monday, May 02, 2011

Harvard professor quoted in NPR article "Is it Wrong to Celebrate Bin Laden's Death

Impromptu celebrations erupted near the White House in Washington and ground zero in New York when news of Osama bin Laden's death was reported and tweeted.

Laura Cunningham, a 22-year-old Manhattan reveler — gripping a Budweiser in her hand and sitting atop the shoulders of a friend — was part of the crowd at ground zero in the wee hours Monday. As people around her chanted "U-S-A," Cunningham was struck by the emotional response. She told New York Observer: "It's weird to celebrate someone's death. It's not exactly what we're here to celebrate, but it's wonderful that people are happy."

Those mixed feelings get at the heart of the moral ambivalence of the moment: Of course there is relief that an evil mastermind cannot commit acts of terror in the future. But is it ever a good idea — from a spiritual or philosophical standpoint — to celebrate with beer and good cheer over the death of anyone, even a widely acknowledged monster?

Not 'Our Finest Moment'

The Roman Catholic Church responded to the news of bin Laden's death with this statement: "Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace."

"I think that's on the mark," says Mike Hayes, a campus minister at the University at Buffalo. "As a Catholic Christian, I cannot celebrate the death of anyone, especially when it is done violently. Naturally, my human nature fights against that idealism, especially when I think of those who I lost personally that day and all those who lost their life on 11 September."

However, adds Hayes, who runs the Googling God blog for young adults, "I don't think that the celebrations in the streets were our finest moment as Americans, and reminded me much of the anger I felt at seeing Afghans dancing in the streets at the fall of the Towers on that dreaded day."

Hayes says: "We are called to forgiveness. And that is the only way that we can be truly free. Holding onto our hatred keeps us in slavery to bin Laden's madness and gives the terrorists continued power over us."

There is also a sense of false elation, he adds, "because many believe that the world is a safer place because of this death. That relief is probably misguided."

Is Rejoicing Morally Justified?

Still, some Americans are wrestling with the rightness and wrongness of the party-like responses. A popular status update on Facebook today is a quote attributed to Mark Twain: "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

On a practical level, some people are concerned that such public displays of elation — similar to those following a sports victory or a political election — will create more animosity and even greater danger. "This closes a chapter, but the most sobering aspect of this is that this is not the end," Jack Cloonan, a former FBI special agent, told The Huffington Post. "The reasons they hate us have not subsided, and this could reinvigorate things."

And the question remains: Is there moral philosophical justification for rejoicing over the demise of someone like bin Laden?

"Most people believe that the killing we do in war is justified as the only way to disable an enemy whose cause we believe to be unjust," says Christine Korsgaard, a philosophy professor at Harvard University. "And although it is more controversial, many people believe, or at least feel, that those who kill deserve to die as retribution for their crimes.

"But if we confuse the desire to defeat an enemy with the desire for retribution against a criminal, we risk forming attitudes that are unjustified and ugly — the attitude that our enemy's death is not merely a means to disabling him, but is in itself a kind of a victory for us, or perhaps even the attitude that our enemy deserves death because he is our enemy."

It is important, Korsgaard says, "not to confuse the desire for retribution with the desire to defeat an enemy. But because terrorism partakes of both crime and war, it is perfectly natural, and perhaps legitimate, to have both of these attitudes towards Osama bin Laden: to think that we had to disable him, and to think that he deserved to die."

The two sentiments should be kept apart, she says. "If we have any feeling of victory or triumph in the case, it should be because we have succeeded in disabling him — not because he is dead."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I am reproducing, in full, Sh Suheil Laher's excellent summary of the section on dissection in a contemporary work on Islamic medical ethics.


(abridged from Dr. Muhammad `Ali al-Barr, al-Tabeeb: Adabuhu wa-Fiqhuhu (The Physician: his Etiquettes and Jurisprudence), co-authored with Dr Zuhayr Ahmad al-Siba`i, Dar al-Qalam / al-Dar al-Shamiyyah, Damascus / Beirut, 1413 / 1993, pp. 165-183.)

1. Islam considers the human being to be noble, and the human body as subject to respect and sanctity.

“Verily, We have honored the Children of Adam…” [Qur'an, 17:70]

The Prophet has said, “Breaking the bone of a dead person is like breaking it when he is alive.” [Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Bayhaqi. Malik (who reported it as a saying of Ummul-Mu'mineen `A'ishah). Sh. Shu`ayb Arna'ut authenticated it (Sharh al-Sunnah (5/393)]

The Prophet also prohibited mutilation. [Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa'I, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Darimi]
2. Nevertheless, the study of medicine is considered a noble pursuit in the service of mankind, and that without which an obligation cannot be achieved can itself become an obligation. Imam al-Shafi`i is reported to have said, “[True] knowledge is of two categories: knowledge of religion, and knowledge of the body.” Qadi Abu’l-Waleed Ibn Rushd, also a philosopher and physician, said, “Anyone who undertakes dissection increases in faith in Allah.”
3. Physicians in the Muslim world have practised dissection, and written books on it, since earlier times. Prominent in this field were:

* Abu Bakr al-Razi (d. 311 AH), a prominent physician.
* al-Husayn ibn `Abdillah Ibn Sina (d. 428 AH), the famous philosopher and physician, known in the West as Avicenna.
* al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (d. 430 AH), the famous opthalmologist.
* Qadi Abu’l-Waleed Ibn Rushd (d. 595 AH), also a prominent Maliki jurist.
* `Ali ibn al-Hazm Ibn al-Nafees (d. 687 AH), also a Shafi`i jurist, he is credited with discovery of the lesser circulatory system before William Harvey.

1. Jurists of earlier times did not directly address the issue of human dissection. The closest issues which are recorded in the classical juristic literature are the following:

1. The permissibility of cutting open the belly of a deceased woman, if it should transpire that her womb contains an unborn infant who is expected to live.
2. The permissibility of cutting open the belly of a deceased person who had swallowed an object of value which either belonged to someone else who demanded its return, or belonged to the man himself but was demanded by his heirs.

1. The first jurist who is known to have written specifically about dissection and its permissibility, was the erstwhile Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar, `Allamah Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Mun`im al-Damanhuri (d. 1192 AH / 1778 CE, a highly educated man, he wrote profusely on jurisprudence, medicine, astronomy and surveying), in a treatise entitled al-Qawl al-Sareeh fi `Ilm al-Tashreeh (The Explicit Word on Dissection). He expanded on this treastise, in a commentary thereof entitled Muntaha al-Tashreeh bi-Khulasat al-Qawl al-Sareeh fi `Ilm al-Tashreeh (The Pinnacle of Dissection, the Quintessence of the Explicit Word on Dissection.) His successor at al-Azhar was Shaykh Hasan ibn Muhammad al-`Attar (d. 1834 CE), who had also had medical education, and who wrote a number of treatises on medicine and dissection. It was during his time (1827 CE) that a medical college was established in Cairo. When the head of this college, a Frenchman, began to dissect bodies before the students, they were outraged. Shaykh al-`Attar was instrumental in convincing this pioneering class of students of the importance of dissection, explaining that it contributes to the knowledge of medicine, which in turn is a communal obligation.

On 26 Sha`ban 1356 AH (31/10/1937 CE), Shaykh `Abd al-Majeed Saleem, erstwhile Grand Mufti of Egypt, issued a fatwa on the permissibility of dissection, based on the principle that Islamic regulations are based on preponderant advantages, and that a lesser harm can be borne for the attainment of a higher benefit, the loss of which would be more harmful. Shaykh Hasanayn Makhlouf of Azhar issued a fatwa in 1951 CE, reiterating the permissibility of dissection for justifiable purposes. Thereafter, fatawa came in succession from different parts of the Islamic world. Among the more recent of these was the research of the Permanent Committee for Academic Research and Fatwa in Saudi Arabia (21/7/1392 AH), the verdict of the Body of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia (20/8/1396 AH), and the verdict of the Rabitah Fiqh Academy (Safar 1407 AH / 10/1987 AH).

These fatawa held dissection to be permissible for the following purposes:

1 – Forensic medicine: Investigation of a criminal case, to determine cause of death, or the nature of the crime, where dissection is the only means for the judge (qadi) to obtain this information.

2 – Autopsy, Necropsy: Investigation of various diseases which call for dissection to cast light on what precautions and medications can be utilized for such diseases.

3 –Anatomy: Learning and teaching medicine, as is the case in medical colleges.

And Allah knows best.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Read, understand and reflect on Q 49:9-10 and then Imam Zaid Shakir's essay on the current attacks on Libya. Allah is the One Whose Aid is Sought.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

An inspirational talk by Prof. Sherman Jackson [Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland CA - (3/4/2011)] video
A noteworthy piece in Guardian (UK):

The US government is being accused of pumping millions of dollars into unregulated training schemes for local police officers and other law enforcers that give a distorted, dangerous and inflammatory picture of the Muslim faith.

Political Research Associates, a Massachusetts-based progressive thinktank, spent nine months investigating the burgeoning industry of counter-terrorism training. It concluded that in seminars and conferences across America, police, transit and other law-enforcement officers were being given an ideologically skewed impression of Islam that impugned the entire religion, presenting it as inherently violent and sympathetic to terrorism.

One training conference, which PRA investigators attended, was held last October by the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association, a body formed by New York police officers in the wake of 9/11. The conference was addressed by Walid Shoebat, a speaker used by several of the private training outfits.

Shoebat is a convert to Christianity, having formerly been a Muslim with links to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. In his presentation, called The Jihad Mindset and How to Defeat It: Why We Want to Kill You, he accused Muslim men of raping women, children and young boys. "They are paedophiles!" he shouted.

According to the report, Shoebat went on: "The Muslim beheads with a smile. You can see it on YouTube, on TV; the Afghan child trained to execute Christians. You say that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why? It hates the west."

He also said: "Islam is a revolution and is intent to destroy all other systems. They want to expand, like Nazism."

Another training firm that is highlighted is Security Solutions International, a Miami-based company that has worked with some 1,000 law enforcement agencies since 2004. It gives seminars with titles such as "The Islamic Jihadist Threat", "Jihad 2.0" and "Allah in America".

At one seminar, SSI's trainer showed footage of the 2002 beheading of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist, by his al-Qaida kidnappers.

The report is published as the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives is poised to open controversial hearings into the radicalisation of the American-Muslim community. Peter King, who chairs the committee, has been accused of launching a witch-hunt.

A third training outfit, the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, based in Alexandria, Virginia, uses experienced FBI, CIA and other former federal agents to conduct its training of about 8,000 national security employees a year. PRA investigators were not allowed to attend the centre's seminars, but based on its website and the writings of some of its key trainers, the report concludes that its course, Global Jihadist Threat Doctrine, uses the framework of the cold war to portray Islam as an existential threat equivalent to communism.

Walid Phares, who trains on behalf of the centre, argues in his writings that jihadists are infiltrating western organisations posing as civil rights advocates: "The most important mission is to further recruit and grow their numbers until the 'holy moment' comes."

Thomas Cincotta, the author of the PRA report, called on Congress and the Homeland Security department to begin an inquiry into the use of public money to provide training that he called dangerous and unhelpful. "Police officers and law enforcers who attend these causes will walk away with the impression that law-abiding citizens should be suspicious of the broader Muslim community. I'm deeply troubled by that – it impinges on fundamental freedoms to practise religion, and it jeopardises our safety and national security by potentially alienating Muslims at a time when we need to work together."

The report says that in the wake of 9/11 a huge sum of taxpayers' money had been invested in counter-terrorism training for law enforcers. Two federal grant programmes alone, led by Homeland Security, paid out $1.7bn to states across the country in 2010.

Some of the training schemes are closely monitored by the Homeland Security department, but much of the money, the report says, is filtered through a host of largely unregulated training schemes, some of which are conducted by private security bodies.

SSI's president, Henry Morgenstern, defended his company's track record. "We have a very good reputation training law enforcers. We are not a kooky organisation." He said of the report's authors: "These people are out to weaken the anti-terrorism effort and it's clearly politically motivated."

He added: "You cannot whitewash radical Islam – they really do cut people's heads off, they do carry out honour killings, so we are trying to show law enforcers that this is what they are up against. We are not saying that all Muslims chop people's heads off."

The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies declined to comment.

The involvement of anti-Muslim groups in federal and state training has caused consternation in the past. Last August Reverend Jesse Jackson protested to the FBI after it was discovered that Robert Spencer had been used as an official trainer on counter-terrorism for police offers.

Spencer is a founding member of Stop the Islamisation of America, a group that virulently opposed the building of a Muslim community centre near Ground Zero in New York and that has links with the far-right English Defence League.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Kazemi and Abdul-Qaadir: Recognizing the Courage of Muslim Athletes," (HUFFPo) Dave Zirin, Sports correspondent, The Nation Magazine.

In one of the most astounding polls I've ever seen, Gallup reported earlier this month that 69 percent of Americans were "following the events in Egypt closely," and 83 percent of them "sympathized with the protesters." When you consider the kind of rampant Islamophobia that's infected the body politic of this country over the last decade, this level of identification with the Egyptian masses is nothing short of, well, revolutionary.

We now have a sports equivalent to this Gallup poll, revealing that we don't need Sam Cooke to tell us that "a change is gonna come." The U.S. Basketball Writers Association just named men's player Arsalan Kazemi of Rice University and women's player Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir of the University of Memphis as the co-winners of their "most courageous award." They are being recognized explicitly for challenging Islamophobia, bigotry, and ignorance. No one will ever confuse the USBWA with the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But their recognition of what these two players have faced is a smack-down to every Peter King (the U.S. Congressman, not the sportswriter) and Fox News hack who thinks Arabs and Muslims exist only to be demonized.

The sophomore Kazemi is the NCAA Division I's first Iranian-born athlete. An NBA fanatic in his youth, Kazemi was a hoops prodigy in the Middle East but turned down offers to play professionally so he could take his chances in the States. Because Iran was ensconced as part of the "axis of evil," he had to journey 500 miles to Doha just to get his visa -- but it was all worth it if it meant playing in the same country as Kobe and LeBron.

Kazemi, however, received a rude education on being Muslim in the United States and ironically -- or appropriately -- enough, it happened at George W. Bush International Airport in Houston. After de-boarding his plane and stretching his six-foot-seven-inch body, Kazemi was greeted by three officials who took him into the bowels of the airport to question him for six hours. "I'm not a terrorist," he told them. "If you don't believe me, deport me."

Kazemi then took to hiding the fact that he was born and raised in Iran, just telling people he was from the Middle East. Then an incident at a gas station taught him that hiding wasn't an option. Kazemi told the New York Daily News, "[This guy walked up to me and] said, 'I am going to kill you.' Then he said he was joking. At first, I was scared. If you are me, wouldn't you be, too?"

After that, Kazemi came out of the ethnic closet, out and proud about his heritage. He also went public about his experiences off the court as an Iranian national. Now Kazemi leads Conference USA in rebounds and in field goal shooting. I don't know what's a more amazing feat: his journey, or that he's doing it at Rice University. Either way, it should inspire anyone who thinks Islamophobia needs to be challenged.

As for first-year guard Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, she is the first Muslim woman in history to play Division I basketball with her arms, legs and hair covered. The USBWA praised Abdul Qaadir for having to "deal with anti-Muslim sentiment."

"In high school, someone called me Osama bin Laden's daughter," she told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "It was at Holyoke Catholic. We beat them every time we played them."

As personally and politically confident as Abdul-Qaadir is off the court, she's even better with the ball in her hands. A blur baseline to baseline, Abdul-Qaadir was the 2009 Massachusetts Player of the Year, becoming the first player in the history of the state, male or female, to score 3,000 points. In her debut as an eighth grader, Abdul Qaadir dropped 43 points and never looked back. In her last high school game, she scored 51 of her team's 57 points. Yet still many people could only judge her appearance and not her game. By all accounts, Abdul-Qaadir displays a remarkable patience when questions about her appearance are raised. But she's very clear that they need to be raised with respect.

As she told Sports Illustrated during her senior year, "When some people come at me with, 'Oh, is that a tablecloth on your head?' -- it's like, really, don't. If you're going to have that kind of question, don't ask me. But some people are truly honest in asking a question, like, 'Oh, I don't want to be rude, but why do you wear that?' That's the kind of question I'd rather answer."

Kazemi and Abdul-Qaadir have shown a stunning maturity and perseverance. But even more stunning is the fact that the USBWA has chosen to recognize them for their courage. It's a sign that the Islamophobes may have had their day in the sun, but there are those much more suited to the light of day.

First run in thenation.com.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A heartfelt essay Has Egypt’s Hour of Reckoning Come? | IslamToday - English by the popular Sa`udi Arabi`an religious scholar, Sh Salman Oudeh.

These past few nights, I have been unable to sleep. Instead, I have been watching the news, captivated by the events that are unfolding in Egypt. At times, I am overjoyed by the understanding exhibited by the young people who exercise self-restraint and patience while proclaiming their demands, who are aware of the importance of being disciplined and who know they have to preserve their gains by not responding to any provocation.

At other times, I am saddened to watch the paid trouble-makers hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at their brothers, who break up peaceful crowds with horses and camels. They show the baseness of their morality as well as the cruelty of those who sent them, since such riff-raff do not act on their own initiative.

I also feel anxiety. Egypt is moving into unknown territory. Anything is possible right now. We are witnessing something truly unprecedented in the Arab world.

The long-suffering Egyptian people have moved ahead of their political parties, intellectuals, and leaders. They have gone beyond the long-winded accounts and incessant weighing of pros and cons, seeking a better future for their country and their countrymen so they can go forward with the other nations of the world in the quest for knowledge, freedom, development, and cultural advancement.

The protesters deserve better treatment than what the corrupt powers – who fear having to account for themselves – are meting out to them, hoping to distract them from their demand for immediate change by busying them with their own injuries and woes.

They have done everything they can to spoil the people’s positive energies and turn their spirit of optimism and celebration to one of grief and despair. It is as if they are saying: “The road is long, and the challenges are far greater than you anticipated. Turn back and rejoin the ranks of the desperate and frustrated.”

It seems like the corrupt powers simply want to say to the world: “Look at how these people fight among themselves. They do not deserve democracy!”

The fact that the protesters were abandoned and all military and security personnel were withdrawn at a particular critical time is proof that the move was strategically decided at the highest level. This warns us of the dangers that might be faced later on.

It takes vigilance and determination to keep things under control. Egypt is not a commodity that any individual or political party can sell off or break over the heads of its people if it does not get what it wants.

What is happening right now in Egypt – and what just recently took place in Tunisia – is reason to pause and think. This is especially true for those who are in strategic positions and the rulers who think they are immune to change, imagining that this kind of thing always happens somewhere else.

Tahrir Square – or “Liberation” Square – is not a new name. Today, however, it has become a rallying symbol and will remain so whenever there is a political emergency.

Demonstrations are an old idea. They have taken place over and over again during political crises in Arab states, Muslim countries, and throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of people came out into the streets on account of Gaza, Iraq, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and a host of other causes. Those protests always subsided. The participants went their separate ways without even making a dent in government policy. The demonstration would be featured as an urgent news flash on one of the networks, and that was it – as if it were all just a way for people to vent off steam.

The sorry state of Arab politics is lamented over and over again by intellectuals, reformers, and analysts. The political leaders themselves have started to talk like this, bemoaning political backwardness, but of course without ever identifying who is to blame for it!

Poverty, unemployment and misery are the common talk on the streets of our neighborhoods. Meanwhile, repression and the iron-fisted security apparatus is growing day by day, employing an ever larger cadre of personnel. This is something the rulers are quite proficient at, and which the population knows well to fear. Fear alone is the master of the situation.

Yes, foreign plots are an old thing – but internal conflicts are older still!

The scare tactics that have always been used to keep people from political organization are not working any more. People are seeing regular faces, using spontaneous language, demanding nothing other than freedom, justice, and respect for all human beings.

The miracle is coming in plain, simple speech, not in sophisticated double-talk or words used to promote the particular interest of one or another party or faction.

The major question is: What has changed? What is new in the lives and circumstances of the people that they are willing to act and put themselves at risk, but at the same time do not let their anger to turn them to violence and destructive acts?

We must realize that we are entering into a new phase of public awareness and a growing sense of the rights that other people around the world enjoy. It has become the right of each person to ask: Why am I excluded from these rights? Why am I the exception?

A human being is, after all, a human being. Everyone around the world has the same basic aspirations, needs, and hopes. This is the “revolution of hope” where people, after truly becoming aware of the what others enjoy, have begun to demand the same for themselves. They see their rulers as actively obstructing them from their aspirations, or at the very least not leading them faithfully in the right direction.

This growing awareness coincides with monumental changes in the technological landscape. It might be safe to say that communications technologies have exceeded the control of the world powers which created them. It is not a certain thing that the one who creates a tool will be able to control it.

Global communications networks, the video culture, the Internet, twitter, Facebook, YouTube... all these new media resources have facilitated the growth of new social groupings, of sharing and consolidating opinion, and connecting between people. Political association is no longer limited to the forming of a political party.

With the new media, eager young people can entertain ambitions that few before them could imagine: to have the solidarity of millions behind them, sharing a common outlook and strategic vision.

Withholding technology from the people or restricting their access to it is an old way of doing things, and it does not work. It merely inflames the people and makes them all the more resolved. It also makes them feel contempt for those who need to suppress them and curtail their freedom.

They are what I call the “Republic of the Marginalized”. There is a new spirit enlivening the hearts of the Arab peoples. We must acknowledge this – and rejoice in it. This is an historic opportunity for all those who wish well for the Arab world, a truly historic moment.

None of this comes as a real surprise. This did not happen by pure chance. All the critical factors have been in place and developing for a long time. It is just that we might not always be able to see the where things are headed until after they have unfolded. Then there are those who will use any fraudulent means to make the status-quo seem inevitable, so that when events begin to unfold, the gullible are taken aback.

I have noticed that there is a serious lag in the understanding of developing situations and appreciating of what they entail. This causes political players to hesitate too long in doing what needs to be done. They might finally offer a few concessions, but then it will be a case of too little, too late. The popular momentum will have gone too far to accept what might have once been sufficient. Nothing but meeting the people’s full demands will then suffice.

We should note that the most likely time for a revolution to happen is not when things are at their worst, but just when things begin to improve. The French Revolution was preceded by twenty years of the best political and economic success the country had witnessed for centuries. When things start to get better, people begin asking themselves: Where was all this yesterday? Why are we only seeing it now? This is an historic moment if it is accompanied by the right spirit, the right communications, and that “spark” which sets it off.

I therefore address all the Arab countries. I declare that I wish the best for all of them, every last citizen. I even wish the best for those who have up to now been oppressive and dictatorial… but they should realize that no state of affairs lasts forever.

These countries need to look where their feet are treading. They need to realize that the particular motives of each revolution are different, but the destructive consequences are the same. As Dr. Sa`d al-Otaybi said: “We need to revolt against the causes of revolution.”

None of the leaders can afford to delude themselves into thinking they are special, saying: “That is going on over there” or “We are not Egypt or Tunisia.” No one can go on thinking that Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, or the Gulf States are different than anywhere else.

Before you hear the outcries and demands being proclaimed on the streets in these countries calling for the fall of the regime – before you go rushing off to your security apparatus that may or may not help you – please proclaim your commitment to substantial and radical reform. It is not enough to throw a few crumbs at the people.

There will be those who will have to leave office and some others who will be able to stay on in honorary positions so that the people will be able to choose new leaders who are prepared to be accountable, responsible, and subject to the law.

We must learn this lesson well before it is too late. We have witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt that a spark set off in one place can catch fire elsewhere in an instant.

We need a new relationship between the ruler and the ruled, one that is not based on fear and coercion, but on recognition, partnership, and respect.

Security measures are appropriate for use only against violence. However, with those who are unarmed and who have shrugged off fear with forbearance and resolve, a different approach is required.

We read in the Qur’an: “Then, when We decreed (Solomon’s) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have continued in despised toil.” [Sūrah al-Saba`: 14]

The Earth has been eating away at the stick of intimidation, and the people have begun to wonder why they have been so long patiently enduring the domination of those who have been leaning all the while upon a big rotting stick on the verge of collapse.

In the Arab world, totalitarian regimes provide people with no means to live, work, and earn a livelihood except through its channels. This means that when the regime falls, it takes the masses of people down with it.

This is why we say: It is best for all people to rise above their hatreds, animosities, and grudges. They should refrain from prosecuting people for their past policies or political connections. Our Prophet’s example still applies, like when he gave amnesty to Quraysh upon his taking power in Mecca, saying: “Go. You are free.” This is the ideal solution which allows everyone to get beyond their past, change their convictions and allow for things to be established in a new way.

We should remind each other to pray to Allah to protect the Egyptian people, keep them secure, and safeguard their future. May He bless them with what is best and restore them to their position of leadership and precedence in the Muslim world, and in the Arab region particularly. We ask Allah to safeguard all the Muslim lands and guide their leaders to what is in the best interests of the people. May Allah protect the countries from instability, civil strife, and dissention. Allah is indeed the best Lord and Protector.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The New York Times published an op-ed by Essam El-Errian, a leading member of the Egyptian Islamic revivalist organization know as the Muslim Brotherhood. Among the interesting points that he makes in the essay, the following caught my attention:

As our nation heads toward liberty, however, we disagree with the claims that the only options in Egypt are a purely secular, liberal democracy or an authoritarian theocracy. Secular liberal democracy of the American and European variety, with its firm rejection of religion in public life, is not the exclusive model for a legitimate democracy.

In Egypt, religion continues to be an important part of our culture and heritage. Moving forward, we envision the establishment of a democratic, civil state that draws on universal measures of freedom and justice, which are central Islamic values. We embrace democracy not as a foreign concept that must be reconciled with tradition, but as a set of principles and objectives that are inherently compatible with and reinforce Islamic tenets.

Monday, February 07, 2011

An interesting article.

Apostate Politics: How Some Recanted Muslims Have Bolstered Militarist US Policies

By Samer Araabi, January 10, 2011

Originally published in Right Web

One of the more infamous cases is that of Ahmad Chalabi, the darling of the neocon crowd during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq who, after his return to Iraq, leveraged his wealth and connections to become a major political figure there, often to the embarrassment of his erstwhile comrades.

More recently, there has emerged a cadre of high-profile individuals from the Greater Middle East who, unlike Chalabi, have turned against Islam and embraced their lives in the West. In doing so, they have adopted views strikingly similar to some of the more hawkish factions in U.S. politics. Notable examples include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Nonie Darwish, all known for their vociferous condemnations of Islam, their affiliations with prominent neoconservative organizations, and the anger they have aroused from both Arabs and Muslims worldwide. Though the research and analysis produced by these self-styled “apostates of Islam” often has limited scholarly value, they have played an important role in providing a purportedly moral justification for Western military campaigns in Muslim countries.

Adopting the Clash of Civilizations

The background of many of theses apostates, including the three mentioned above, follow a common pattern. As natives of Arab or Muslim countries, they have each experienced pivotal events that shaped their perspectives on their countries of origin and religion. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali emigrant who once served in the Dutch House of Representatives and now works as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was raised in war-torn Somalia, where she was subjected to the appalling practice of female genital mutilation. Wafa Sultan, the Syrian-American author of A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam, grew up in Syria where, in her words, “the tentacles of the Saudi octopus” had nurtured religious fanatics who murdered her university professor. For Nonie Darwish, the Egyptian-American founder of Arabs for Israel, it was the death of her father, killed by an Israeli parcel bomb while organizing Palestinian resistance in Gaza, and the pressure put upon her to take revenge.

These traumatic experiences helped convince these women that Islam was immoral and dangerous. They abandoned what they perceived to be a “backward culture” in favor of the “enlightened values” of the West. Hirsi Ali abandoned religion altogether. Darwish converted to Christianity. And Sultan asserts that “I even don’t believe in Islam, but I am a Muslim.”

These “crusaders against Islam” are also often characterized by a Manichean worldview pitting the West against Islam. They tend to broadly portray Islam as a homogenous system of highly conformed practice, wherein singular experiences can be extrapolated to explain the broader culture. All three borrow language from Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilizations thesis to depict the collision between these “opposing forces.” Sultan has stated that “the clash we are witnessing around the world is … a clash between freedom and oppression.” Hirsli Ali describes “the clash of values between the tribal culture of Islam and Western modernity." And Darwish refers to Islam as “an attack on civilization itself by haters of civilization.”

These apostates also frequently adopt a certain presumptuous arrogance in their statements about Islam and its adherents that non-Muslim westerners would likely find difficult to pull off. Hirsi Ali, for example, has spoken repeatedly of “the tragedy of the tribal Muslim man” who has fallen prey to “the grip of jihad,” claiming that “the only difference between my relatives and me is that I opened my mind.” Sultan has claimed that the Crusades were simply the logical reaction to “Islamic religious teachings.” And Darwish has frequently spoken of the “culture of death” in the Middle East.

Adopted by the Right

The hawkish right in the United States has heavily promoted the writings of these women, who have subsequently joined the ranks of neoconservative organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, and the Middle East Media Research Institute. Unsurprisingly, these groups share many of the views of their new pundits: an unapologetic defense of all things “western,” a perceived moral duty to protect the civilized West against Islam, and a willingness to use all means necessary to achieve this objective. Commenting on this pattern, Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald has pointed out that those keenest to “help” the oppressed people of the Middle East are also those most eager to bomb countries in the region.

These apostate Muslims and their neocon colleagues have developed tight, symbiotic relationships. Rightwing institutions provide platforms and legitimacy, allowing otherwise little known individuals to rise to positions of international prominence. None of these so-called experts have produced serious scholarship or careful analysis of actual political effects, aside from personal or anecdotal experience. And their main value, at least in terms of political discourse in the United States, appears to be that, as former insiders, they can provide a sheen of legitimacy to the Islamophobic tendencies of their rightwing supporters.

A similar phenomenon can be seen with the growing prominence of Western-born Muslims who, although not apostates, promote hawkish U.S. policies toward the Middle East. One such figure is Zuhdi Jasser, a Wisconsin-born practicing Muslim who is a member of the neocon-led Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) and founder of the group American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser is quoted on the CPD website, saying: “Only freedom-loving devotional American Muslims can lead an effective counter-jihad from within the Muslim community. The future of American liberty and the free world as we know it depends upon the moral courage of anti-Islamist Muslims.”

The Militarist Agenda

The views expressed by these apostates tend to bolster some of the more hawkish U.S. Mideast policies. For example, Hirsi Ali’s August 2010 article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “How to Win the Clash of Civilizations,” advocated a “divide-and-rule” strategy to protect “our civilization” from destruction. She goes on to praise “The greatest advantage of Huntington's civilizational model of international relations … [is that] it reflects the world as it is—not as we wish it to be. It allows us to distinguish friends from enemies.” In earlier article, she called for a continued military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, implying that any withdrawal would have “jihadis dancing in jubilation.”

Nonie Darwish has railed against the willingness of Western countries to “appease … and assimilate” Muslims, since “all mosques have an anti-American and an anti-peace message” based in a “culture of jihad, tribalism and terror.”

Even more alarmingly, Wafa Sultan has publicly stated that “1.3 billion Muslims … have to realize they have only two choices: to change or to be crushed,” implying that the “pressure” may have to take the form of “atom bombs.”

Comments like these are given more weight because of the identities of the sources. By vilifying the aspirations of the societies they’ve left behind, their discourse takes on an air of “truth to power,” safe from charges of neo-colonialism or western exceptionalism. Their hyperbolic pronouncements have consistently been used to buttress conservative arguments for war by creating a pretense that “people from the region” support such actions. Publications advocating tougher, more aggressive policies in the “war on terror” often rely on narratives provided by these figures, in ways reminiscent of Chalabi’s “intelligence” on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Amir Abbas Fakhravar’s claims of impending Iranian collapse.

There is a certain paradox in the effort to rely on indigenous opinions to justify policies, while ignoring the overwhelming condemnation of such perspectives by the vast majority of the indigenous people themselves. And yet, these figures are repeatedly held up to mirror and confirm the predetermined opinions of war-hungry organizations eager to validate their destructive agendas.

The New Face of Orientalism

Early this year, David Frum, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who famously coined the “Axis of Evil” phrase, hosted a posh gathering in northwest Washington D.C. to honor Ayaan Hirsi Ali for her “strength,” “courage,” and “intelligence.” Though attendees were limited for “security reasons,” Hirsi Ali was surrounded by fellow neocons, discussing topics from the “liberation of Iran” to the “religious extremism” behind the Gaza flotilla. The respect afforded by militarist ideologues to Hirsi Ali and her compatriots is palpable, based almost solely on the ability of these figures to validate simplistic perceptions of the Muslim world as violent, backward, and dangerous.

Just as diehard Cold Warriors viewed all socialist countries as a single, threatening entity, these apostates and their rightwing supporters have reified the Islamic world into an undifferentiated mass. They conveniently lump the disparate strains of Islam, the competing visions of Muslim identity, and the blurred and fluid boundaries of the Middle East, into a single—and threatening—unit. But in reality, the “Muslim world,” if such an entity can be said to exist, would encompass not only the Deobandis of Pakistan and the Wahhabis of the Gulf, but also Sufi mystics in Konya, Druzes in Lebanon, Shafi’i in Indonesia, and countless others.

Additionally, this monolithic view leaves little room for positive developments, such as the creation of democratic institutions in 23 Muslim countries. And it seems to have blinded these apostates to the injustices that have resulted from U.S. military interventions. This view also fails to account for the many actors and organizations throughout the Greater Middle East who may disagree with Western policies for reasons not derived from religion or culture, such as the secular PFLP in Palestine or the Free Patriotic Movement in Lebanon.

As The Economist notes in its review of Hirsi Ali’s autobiography Infidel (Free Press 2007), the lives of “Muslims [are] more complex than many people in the West may have realized. But the West’s tendency to seek simplistic explanations is a weakness that Ms. Hirsi Ali also shows she has been happy to exploit.”

The Irony of Demonization

There is an irony underlying the careers of these recanted Muslims—namely, that the very same western policies they refuse to condemn often spur the resentment they ascribe as cultural backwardness or religious fervor. The anger and protestations of Muslims are often more rooted in rational considerations than Western militarists are willing to admit. Muslims, like any other group, possess layered identities, any aspect of which can be aroused in anger. As M. Junaid Levesque-Alam of the Crossing the Crescent blog explains, “When three planes hurtled into national icons, did anger and hatred rise in American hearts only after consultation of Biblical verses?”

Indeed, the very existence of icons such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Nonie Darwish falsifies to a great extent the notion of a monolithic Muslim world. Their ability to react and rebel against their environment, as well as the variety of Muslim responses to their work, demonstrate the diversity of thought and opinion within Muslim society. Portraying Muslims in a simplistic and negative light may be a useful tool to build popular support for military campaigns. But in the long term, ignorance and stereotyping will only serve to undermine any policy objectives in the region. A more thoughtful foreign policy would be one that is grounded in dialogue, interaction, and the drive for understanding—not demonizing and finger-pointing. The sooner the U.S. public confronts this reality, the sooner peace can be achieved in the Middle East.

Samer Araabi is a Right Web research assistant and a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reciting the Word: the science and art of tajwid

led by Hafidh Na'eel Cajee
Sunday 2-4pm @ Harvard's Canaday Musulla(3 mins from Harvard T stop)
Looking to improve your recitation and have Sunday afternoon open? Trying to memorize Juz Amma, but need direction? 
Learning Tajwid provides you with the opportunity to draw near to the Divine through the articulation of His Word. The two hours will be divided between theory (25%) and practice (75%). Each class will begin with a 30-minute plenary session covering the theory of tajwid (A soft copy of Tuḥfa al-Aṭfāl will be provided in English and Arabic). For the remaining hour and a half, the teacher will sit with each student and help them work at their pace toward their goals(to memorize Yaseen, Juz Amma, or to simply read fluently)

Regular attendance is a given. You just can't climb stairs without all the steps.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact:  Na'eel Cajee ncajee@gmail.com 

This event is free and open to all interested brothers. Sisters' tajwid classes TBA shortly.

Please join us and forward widely!

LECTURE: "Allahu Jamil: Reclaiming Beauty as an Islamic Value" by Mr. Abdur-Rahman Syed (Harvard College '97, Harvard Islamic Society Member, Fmr Harvard Islamic Society Graduate Advisor)
(Saturday Jan 29, 2011)
186 Chestnut Hill Ave. Brighton, MA 02135

Monday, January 24, 2011

A well-done article in the National (UAE) profiles the Muslim Urban Professionals group (MUPPIES). Harvard connections abound. Go Muppies!

At age 21, Farhan Syed, then a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, started a new job at Accenture, the giant consulting firm. Almost immediately, he was confronted with an enviable problem. The enviable part: his superiors took him and his newly-hired colleagues out to lunch constantly over their orientation period. The problem: Mr Syed was fasting. His start date fell during Ramadan, and as a Muslim he could not partake of any of the lavish, corporate-sponsored meals.

"How was I going to explain this to the executive sitting next to me?" he remembers. "Here I was surrounded by people who not only didn't share my faith, but most of them knew nothing about it whatsoever. I promised myself that if I made it, I wouldn't let anyone else face that kind of awkwardness." Now 34, Mr Syed has made it. He works in Palo Alto, California, as a consultant at Bain and Co., a top-tier management consulting firm that accepts few of the legions of pedigreed hopefuls who apply. To his Berkeley degree, Mr Syed has added an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution. And he has succeeded in helping younger Muslims navigate the worlds of high finance and consulting through his involvement with Muslim Urban Professionals, a service organisation with a two-pronged mission: to help Muslims maintain their religious identities in these heavily Judeo-Christian professional environments, and to provide advice about the fiercely competitive schools and firms to which all ambitious business types - Muslim and otherwise - aspire.

Known by its absurdly endearing nickname of Muppies, the organisation was founded in 2006 by three men scarcely out of school themselves. Faisal Ghori, now 27, Hassan Jaffar, 28, and Umair Khan, 28, formed the group after comparing notes on experiences such as that which Mr Syed describes. "When I started at an investment bank" - where hours are notoriously long and the workload Sisyphean - "I found the culture to be really homogenous," recalls Mr Ghori, now an associate at Emerging Markets Management, an asset management firm based in the US capital. "Was I going to be able to leave in the middle of the day for Friday prayer?"

Mr Jaffar brings up another challenge, one he experienced as a young management consultant at McKinsey & Co. (he is now an associate at Seneca Capital, a hedge fund) "Drinking was a big deal," he says. "Whenever there was a social event, or if people from work went out on Friday nights, it was always at a drinking venue. As a practicing Muslim, I can't drink, and I can't be in a place where people are drinking. I didn't want to be antisocial, because I'm inherently friendly and I enjoy meeting people and going out."

Mr Jaffar says his choice to forego the social outing led to alienation and exclusion from the camaraderie of his colleagues. Then, he says, it occurred to him to "step in and be an organiser", and he started planning group brunches and daytime meet-ups in the park. Problem solved. These tactics, born of workplace anxiety, are just the kinds of solutions that Muppies offers its members, who now number more than 600. Mr Ghori points out that many Muslims in finance and consulting are the children of immigrants who have spent their careers in different professions. Parental guidance is therefore, he says, not helpful.

"My parents came to the US from Pakistan in the 1960s," he explains. "A lot of Pakistanis in that wave of immigration were engineers and physicians; they weren't in the professions that we are. If I were looking for a residency in dermatology, then I would be all set." Mr Ghori and his Muppies associates believe that there is "perhaps a half-generation" of Muslims ahead of them in their fields, but that Muslims are essentially new to the finance and consulting professions. He is hard-pressed to identify any well-known role models for Muslims in these fields, mentioning "the head of quantitative trading at Citigroup, and the head of strategy at Merrill Lynch", without naming them. Mr Syed self-deprecatingly calls himself "an elder statesman" at the age of 34. After cogitating, he does, however, nominate some Muslim stars on the US business scene: Omar Hamoui, the CEO and founder of AdMob (recently sold to Google for US$750 million), and Kamal Ahmed, a managing director of Morgan Stanley.

In addition to its US chapters, Muppies has recently launched a Gulf chapter in Dubai, a move Mr Jaffar, who is originally from Oman, attributes to the recent development of the United Arab Emirates as a business hub. "If you grew up Emirati, what do you or anyone in your family know about investment banking?" There is a similar lack of accumulated familial and cultural knowledge about finance and consulting in the Gulf as there is among Muslim families in the US, he maintains.

The Dubai chapter, which currently has between 20 and 30 members, will take its lead from the other chapters, says Mr Jaffar. "We have an informal presence in Dubai. However, we are planning on launching a formal chapter soon." The last Muppies "event" was the TEDxDubai conference, which was organised, supported and attended by Muppies members. The primary modality in which Muppies works reflects its post-millennial date of origin. Many of the organisation's activities take place virtually, either through its website and e-mail blasts, or on sprawling conference linking scores of members to a moderator who leads discussion. During a teleconference last year, the Muppies co-founder, Umair Khan, answered questions from young Muslims seeking admission to Harvard Business School (Mr Khan is a second-year MBA candidate at Harvard). Most queries could have come from believers of any faith: What is the best strategy for answering the essay questions on the application? How important is the interview portion of the screening process? But Mr Khan's answers sometimes took a distinctly Islamic twist, peppered with insha'Allahs.

A moderator of another Muppies teleconference, also regarding admission to Harvard, advised listeners that they should not shy away from referencing their faith in their application essays "if it's an important part of who you are as a person". The moderator, Sofina Anne Qureshi, an American who is studying at the Harvard, then recounted her own admission essays, in which she told the committee of her work as a chairperson of Ramadan dinners at her undergraduate university. "Just be careful of the Arabic-to-English translations," she cautioned.

"Give the essay to someone who isn't Muslim, and let them read it through. If they say, 'What the heck does that mean?' then you know you need to explain better." Although Muppies relies on female members such as Ms Qureshi to help conduct its operations, the founders concede that the leadership is, for now, entirely male. "At some of our events, the majority of participants are women," Mr Jaffar says, explaining the absence of women at the top by saying that Muppies came about as a collaboration between friends. One of Muppies' partner organisations, the Muslim Finance Professionals Association, is headed by a woman, Dahlia Mahmoud, and Mr Jaffar says that Muppies is actively seeking to place women in leadership positions.

As part of its goal to aid those seeking advice about professional opportunities, Muppies often visits universities, where the organisation is hosted by Muslim student associations. Information sessions offer students the chance to quiz accomplished bankers and consultants about their path to success. (All are welcome at these sessions, regardless of faith, Mr Ghori notes). Thus far Muppies has paid visits to Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Harvard, and the University of Texas.

In addition to the access to seminars, conference calls and job listings, Muppies members have a powerful tool at their fingertips - a database of all Muppies searchable by employer and alma mater. Mr Ghori encourages members interested in, say, Goldman Sachs to call up fellow Muslims with experience at the bank and ask for advice on applying. True to their ambitious natures, the founders of Muppies aren't content to be idle. They have recently expanded the group's outreach to include Muslim professionals in the governmental and non-profit sectors.

There is also talk of a Muppies capital fund, which Mr Jaffar says will take investment from interested members and channel it to community-level businesses relevant to the Islamic faith; he cites a start-up halal meat processing plant as an example. Investments would be sharia compliant, with investors seeking only their principal in return. That body would grant scholarships to Muslims seeking to study business and make a bid for success in the growing list of professions under Muppies' remit.

Although many American Muslims may feel the need to educate non-Muslims about the realities of Islam, Muppies does not concern itself with that particular task, though their "experiences are very much framed by September 11," Mr Ghori explains. He tells the story of one friend who was advised by an older Muslim to shave his beard when applying to an investment bank, while another used his middle name rather than his Muslim-sounding first name when seeking jobs. Mr Ghori himself was once asked in a job interview for his opinion about the Danish cartoon controversy. "Totally inappropriate," he says, shaking his head.

Yet if Muppies seeks in any way to control stereotypes, it is by advising members to remain true to themselves and visibly succeed in their chosen fields. "Be communicative about the functional things like taking Eid as a holiday and fasting during Ramadan," Mr Syed tells his patrons. "You don't need to explain the entire faith of Islam.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A worthwhile summary of an unpublished study by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah in which he calls for a renewal (tajdid) of the traditional Islamic discipline of usul al-fiqh (ethico-legal methodology) has been posted on his official site. In sha'Allah, I will translate portions (particularly the summary of Sh Bin Bayyah's "suggestions") and annotate them in the future. No time now.

في بحث غير منشور يقدم العلامة عبدالله بن بيه -نائب رئيس الاتحاد العالمي لعلماء المسلمين- لملحق (الرسالة) مقدمة مشروعه الخاص في تجديد أصول الفقه؛ حيث يعكف الشيخ على بلورة رؤيته الخاصة لتجديد علم أصول الفقه. وكان الشيخ قد قدم لمشروعه في محاضرة ألقاها بالدار البيضاء تحت رعاية “مؤسسة مسجد الحسن الثاني” على جمع من المتخصصين والباحثين والمهتمين بالشأن الشرعي.

التجديد مصطلح لايعرف

ابتدأ العلامة ابن بيه رؤيته بتعريف التجديد حيث أكد أن "التجديد مصطلح يكثر في الكتابات تناوله وعلى الألسنة تداوله؛ ولكنه غير محدد المعالم ولا محدود المدلول، فهو من تلك المصطلحات المعروفة جدًا إلى حد أنه لا يمكن أن يعرف؛ لأنه في أصله عبارة عن فعل متعد تظهر تجلياته في متعلقاته، فبقدر ما يتسع متعلقه وتتعقد علاقته وتتشعب أدوات الفعل وإمكانات الانفعال تنفسح مساحات المدلولات".

وأشار إلى أن التجديد من المفاهيم المتمددة أو المشككة أو ما يسمى بكلمات التذكير والإثارة غير المحددة يصعب حصره بحدود الحد والرسم وإن كان يسهل التعاطي معه من خلال المثال والعد والسرد والتقسيم والسبر؛ لأنه حالة وعلاقات بين مؤثر ومتأثر ينشأ عن التأثير انفعال ليتشكل من جراءه الأثر أو النتيجة.
ثم سرد في بحثه بعض الاستدلالات والتعريفات للتجديد من السنة ومن بعض كتب التراث، وذكر العلامة ابن بيه أن التجديد يتجلى في خمس صور: الأولى: تجديد ما اندثر من الأحكام في حياة الناس. والثانية: تجديدٌ بإنشاء طرائق من شأنها أن تخدم الدين، ولا يبعد أن يكون إنشاء منهج في أصول الفقه من هذه السنن. الثالثة: تجديدٌ يتعلق بمستجدات حياة الناس لوصلها بحبال الدين. الرابعة: اختراع وإبداع وليس ابتداعًا، ومنه ما أحدث السلف من تدوين الدواوين والجمع للتراويح وإحداث السجون، وقد يكون منه ما أحدث الخلف من الاجتماع للذكر وتلاوة القرآن على خلاف في ذلك. الخامسة: تجديد يتعلق بالاجتهاد في الأحكام إنشاءً في قضايا لم يسبق فيها نظر للعلماء، أو قضايا سبق فيها نظر للعلماء وظهر ما يعارضه إما لضعف مستند الأول طبقًا للبرهان أو تغير زمان أو اجتهاد في كيفية تطبيق الأحكام، وهذا موضوع أصول الفقه.

ثم تساءل ابن بيه عن الحاجة إلى تجديد أصول الفقه قائلًا: هل التواصل بأصول الفقه في الوقت الحاضر مفضٍ إلى إنتاج الأحكام في مستجدات الوقائع؟ وهل هناك مستجدات تفتقر إلى استنباط؟ نافيًا إجابة السؤال الأول، مثبتًا الثاني؛ مضيفًا أن الحاجة داعية إلى مراجعة عملية الاستنباط التي كانت مدعاة لإنشاء أصول الفقه وهي وظيفتها الأساسية، وعملية الاستنباط ضرورية لوجود مستجدات، وسوق الاستنباط كاسدة لوجود طلب لا تقابله بضاعة صالحة بل يقابله عرض كثير لا يستجيب للحاجات ولا يلبي الاحتياجات.

فالحديث عن التجديد في أصول الفقه هو بالضرورة تجديد في الفقه ذاته؛ لأنه هو المستهدف في الأصل والنتيجة المتوخاة. مؤكدًا ضرورة التجديد الذي يختلف عن معنى الإحياء والإصلاح وحتى التنوير في الفكر الغربي الذي يعني تفكير بلا سقف.

دعاوى التجديد

وبعد أن أكد الحاجة إلى التجديد في أصول الفقه عرض إلى ما أسماه (دعاوى) تجديدية لأصول الفقه لها خطورتها -بتفاوت بينها- على أصول الفقه بل والشريعة، وهذه الدعاوى بحسب ابن بيه تتمثل في ثلاثة اتجاهات، الأولى: دعوى الحكمة والمصلحة غير المنضبطتين بضوابط التعليل ووسائل التنزيل مما سيحدث ارتجاجًا في بناية الاجتهاد وزلزلة لأسسه. الثانية: الدعوى المقاصدية مجردة عن مدارك الأصول وعارية عن لباس الأدلة. الثالثة: دعوى تاريخية النص وظرفيته.

واتهم ابن بيه هذه "الدعاوى" بأنها هروب من ديمومة النصوص، وقفز في المجهول، وخروج من العلم إلى الجهل، وبحث عن الوداعة والسهولة دون تجشم سبل البحث الجاد وتقحُّم عقبات علوم الشرع بالعدة والعتاد. ووصف هذه الدعاوى بأنها أقرب إلى التبديد منها إلى التجديد.

أصول الفقه والعلل الأربع

ثم شرع في طرح رؤيته من خلال صورة تقريبية تعرف عند المناطقة بالعلل الأربع التي تمثل الماهية ولوازمها، وهي: المادة، الصورة، الغاية، الفاعل. وكما تتجسد فلسفة الأشياء الحسية من خلال هذه العلل يرى ابن بيه أنه يمكن أن تتجسد فلسفة القضايا الذهنية من خلال ذات العلل. لذا فقد حاول فلسفة أصول الفقه وتفكيكه من خلال هذه العلل؛ فقد عرض "لمادة" أصول الفقه التي يكون منها استمداده وهي سبعة أصول: القرآن، والسنة، واللغة العربية، والفقه، وفتاوى الصحابة وقضاؤهم، وعلم الكلام، والمنطق الأرسطي، ويمكن الاستعاضة عن الأصلين الأخيرين بالعقل باعتباره مرجعيتهما.
وكان البحث في "الصورة" طبقًا للمفردات التي وضعها تحت عنوان "دلالات الألفاظ" مرتعًا خصبًا –كما يرى ابن بيه- وميدانًا فسيحًا للتجديد من خلال إعادة التركيب والترتيب والتبويب، وكان لمبحث مدلول الدليل نصيب وافر ارتكز على مسألة: الوضع والاستعمال والحمل التي انبثقت الدلالات بألقابها المختلفة واشتبكت المعاني بشياتها المتعددة بين وضوح وغموض منها. واقترح ابن بيه تضامن علوم اللغة من جديد في عملية التعامل مع الظاهرة اللغوية على مستوى المفردة أو دلالة الإسناد ووضع مقدمة عن اللغة تشتمل على الاشتقاق بأنواعه، وعن أنواع المجاز والكنايات والمعاني الأصلية والثانوية في الإسناد –في علم المعاني- ومعهود العرب في الخطاب لإبعاد ظاهرية التفسير التي سماها الباجي بدعة الظاهرية لأن من شأن ذلك أن يساعد على اكتشاف مكنونات النص وإمكاناته واحتمالاته.

الاستفادة من علم "اللسانيات" الغربي

وطالب العلامة ابن بيه بإضافة ما توصلت إليه المعارف البشرية في اللسانيات والهيرمينوطيقيا لتقريب صورة العلاقة بين اللفظ والمعنى، وما يعنيه المتكلم وما يفهمه المتلقي. وأكد أن تلك إشكالية لا تزال أصول الفقه وعلم الكلام والتفسير تعاني منها.

وشدد في بحثه على ضرورة مراجعة الأدوات؛ لأن "للتجديد أدواته، كما لكل بناء أدوات، فقبل الشروع في البناء علينا أن نخترع الأدوات أو نفحص ما لدينا من أدوات؛ لنرى "صلاحها وصلوحيتها". ومعنى ذلك أننا سنتعامل مع الكليات التي تمثل أساس البناء ومادته. والتجديد بمعنى التوليد -الذي يعتبر الغاية- هو الوصول إلى التصور الجزئي وهو في حقيقته متردد بين اتجاهين: الكلي والجزئي ولهذا فإنَّ القسمة الأرسطية المتمثلة في الانتقال من الكلي إلى الجزئي وهو القياس المنطقي، ومن الجزئي إلى الكلي وهو الاستقراء، ومن الجزئي إلى الجزئي وهو قياس التمثيل تظل صالحة. وأشار ابن بيه إلى أن تحديد الغاية أمر ضروري في كل عمل واع وتصرف هادف، إذ إنه يجيب عن سؤال لِـمَ؟ في حين أن المادة في محل التجديد، تشير إلى جواب: عن أي شيء؟
أما الصورة فهي البناء الذهني الذي يجيب على ثلاثة أسئلة هي: ماذا؟ لماذا؟ كيف؟ فدلالات الألفاظ في الصورة تجيب عن ماذا؟ والتعليل يجيب عن لماذا؟ والتنزيل يجيب عن كيف؟

إنه كالسرير طبقا لمثال أبي حامد رحمه الله تعالى في "معيار العلم" فإنَّ الغاية من السرير أنْ يكون مستقرًا صالحًا للاعتماد عليه اضطجاعًا ونومًا وجلوسًا، والمادة من الخشب. أما صورته فهي أن يكون في وضع وكيفية تلبي الغاية التي يطلب لها، كأن تكون له قوائم يثبت عليها وطول وعرض وجلد وثير.
وأكد على أن التجديد مفتاحٌ لتغيير أوضاع الأمة في كل مناحي الحياة وميادين العلوم ليكون انطلاقًا من القوى المعنوية والتاريخية للأمة عبر معادلات ومرتكزات جديدة تنشئ فكرًا خلاقًا مستوعبًا ومضيفًا ومتجاوزًا الاستجابة والتكيف إلى الاختراع والإبداع، والأخذ والعطاء، والشراكة الحضارية والندية.
ويضيف: "إن التجديد تطور نابع من عبقرية الأمة وحاجتها، شامل لكل ميدان، مبلورٌ للمشروع الحضاري الواعد الواعي، مدمجٌ القيم والتاريخ في بوتقة الحاضر والمستقبل، في تناغم وتناسق، في خطاب قديم في مضامينه، جديد في طروحاته، أصيل في مقارباته، ولهذا فهو الجديد بالنوع، القديم بالجنس الذي يجعل من التراث حافزًا، ولا يقيم منه حاجزًا، إنه سيكون بمثابة التنوير للغرب مع فارق المرجعية".

مقترحات في التجديد كما يطرحه العلامة ابن بيه

ويقترح الشيخ عبدالله بن بيه في بحثه لإعادة التركيب والترتيب والتبويب:
1- في المادة: إبدال عنوان التحسين بمكانة العقل في التشريع.
2- في مدلول الدليل: وضع مقدمة عن اللغة تتضامن فيها العلوم اللغوية، لغةً ونحوًا وبلاغةً وصرفًا، بالإضافة إلى الأصول، بما في ذلك دراسة مقارنة عن المنهج الغربي في اللسانيات والهيرمينوطوقيا انطلاقًا من ثلاثي الوضع والاستعمال والحمل لتوليد الدلالات في ثلاثة محاور.
3- في منظومة التعليل: مقدمة عن الأقيسة الثلاثة الشمولي والاستقرائي والجزئي تؤصل للتعليل.
4- مقدمة عن المقاصد وضبط التعامل مع المقاصد بخمسة ضوابط لإدماجها في الأوعية الأصولية، وهي:
- التحقق من المقصد الأصلي الذي من أجله شُرع الحكم.
- أن يكون ذلك المقصدُ وصفًا ظاهرًا منضبطًا؛ لأنه إذا لم يكن كذلك فلا يمكن التعليل به.
- أن نحدد درجة المقصد في سلم المقاصد هل هو في مرتبة الضروري أو مرتبة الحاجي لأن التعامل معهما ليس على وتيرة واحدة، وهل هو مقصد أصلي أو تبعي ووسيلة؟
- النظر في النصوص الجزئية المؤسسة للحكم لأنه من خلالها يمكن ضبط التصرف في ضوء تأكيد الشارع على الحكم أو عدمه للتعرف على المقصد ومكانته وضبط التعامل معه إلغاء أو إثباتًا لما يعارضه من الضرورات الحاقة أو الحاجات الماسة.
- هل المقصد المعلل به منصوص أو مستنبط؛ في الحالة الأولى يرتفع الحكم بزواله وفي الثانية لا يرتفع لكنه يمكن أن يخصص.
5- في التنزيل: وضع جملة من أبواب أصول الفقه في أربعة مؤطرات تدرس فيها علاقة الأحكام بالواقع والمتوقع (الحال والمآل)، والمصالح والمفاسد، والأعراف والعوائد، والاستعانة بعلم الاجتماع في هذا المجال، ودراسة الواقع الدولي وتأثيره على النظم والتشريعات المحلية، ومسألة الحريات الفردية والجماعية المنوه عنها في الدساتير ومواثيق حقوق الإنسان، ومدى ملاءمة ذلك لنظام العقوبات في الشريعة المطهرة.
بالإضافة إلى إحداث باب في هيكل الأصول بعد باب الاجتهاد لتمرين الباحثين على تطبيق القواعد الأصولية على المسائل الجزئية على غرار كتب التخريج.
6- في الفاعل: أن يكون التجديد في الشريعة جماعيًا تماشيًا مع روح العصر، يشترك فيه الخبراء مع الفقهاء.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A nice lesson about laziness Sh Abdullahi Adhami < SeekersGuidance (Sh Faraz Rabbani)

Lecture transcript re-posted from here with slight modifications. Please forgive any formatting and phonetic spelling mistakes.

Posted with confirmation from Shaykh Abdallah Adhami. To listen to more of Shaykh Abdallah Adhami’s insightful and refreshing lectures please visit Sakeenah

bismillahi al-rahman al-rahim

Laziness, or lethargy can come from running low on “spiritual reserves,” from being in uninspiring settings — but, you know, I really believe that for the mu`min the center of tranquility, the sakina, the inspiration, all of that, is within. I know it is very hard — but by the grace and mercy of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala), it is in there. Sometimes what appears to be laziness could also be misinterpreted as “burnout” or exhaustion because we’re too hard on ourselves. May Allah (jalla thana`uhu) bless us with vision and wisdom to see the difference. The du`a that’s specifically against laziness is in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) on the authority of sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (radiyallahu’anhu):

“… Allahumma inni a’outhu bika {Oh Allah I seek protection in you}
mina al-hammi wa al-hazan, {from anxiety and sadness}
wa al-’ajzi wa al-kasal,* {and inability and laziness}
wa dhala’i al-dayni, {and the burden of debt}
wa ghalabati al-rijal …” {and the “humiliation” of men}*

The word “‘ajz” is not just inability or incapacity. It indicates a certain “lack” to act that comes from inner weakness. As in the hadith of Tirmidhi (rahimahullah), our beloved messenger (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “al-kayyisu man dana nafsahu wa ‘amila lima ba’da al-maout. wa al-’ajizu man atba’a nafsahu hawaha, wa tamanna ‘ala Allahi al-amani.” - the intelligent or, vigilant servant is ever blameful of himself, and works for what comes after death; the ‘ajiz is the one who lets himself follow his whim, and then wishes for good things from Allah. Notice how the one who “follows his whim” is attributed to “weakness.”

Abu al-Hasan al-Mada`ini related the following (du’a): ”Allahumma la takilna ila anfusina fa na’jaz, wa la ilan-naasi fa nadi’” — Oh Allah! do not leave us to our own selves for we would weaken. And, do not leave us to the whims of people for we would be lost.” When one is always concerned with how people think, that would ultimately affect her sincerity. Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “Whoever purifies his intention to be sincere to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala), Allah would take care of what would be between him and people.”

This is reminiscent of the hadith of Zayd ibn Aslam (rahimahullah) that I related to you from the Muwatta` where he said: “Fear Allah (have taqwa), and people would respect or, have an affinity toward you — even if they hated to.” ‘Ajz comes from being low on spiritual reserves and from the ghaflah — or, absent-mindedness, that comes from being content with little deeds. Al-imam al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah) said: “the righteous ’salaf’ were as fearful of their good deeds being squandered or not being accepted as the present generation is certain that their neglect would be forgiven.” Please remember that al-Hasan passed away 110 A.H.

In this capacity, Rabi’ah al-Qaysiyah al-’Adawiayh (rahimahallah) said: “We need to repent to Allah (ta’aala) for the way that we repent to Him.” In this capacity, sayyiduna Sa’id ibn al-Jubair (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said: “The reward of a good deed, is a good deed after it. The ‘reward’ or, jazaa` of a bad deed is a bad deed after it. May Allah (’azza wa jall) save us from ghaflah here, and humiliation in the akhira– amin. ‘Ajz is also synonymous to dha’f, as in Sura al-Nisa`: “wa khuliqa al-insanu dha’ifan.” Some scholars of language distinguish between dha’f — with a fatha; and dhu’f — with a dhamma. The former is weakness in body or in intellect or opinion; the latter is weakness in body only. In Surat ar-Rum, Allah (jalla thana`uhu) said: “He created you from dha’f, and provided you with strength after it …”The word kasal implies a certain “heaviness” or, tathaaqul to do something, rather than inability. Since the ‘ajz is the more complex inner dynamic associated with defeatism, we are taught to seek refuge from it first, because it is the inner weakness that leads to outer laziness and lethargy. Likewise, we are taught to seek refuge from anxiety because it leads to sadness.

Therefore, in the Sunan of Abu Dawud (rahimahullah), our beloved messenger (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “. . . Allah judges for ‘ajz, so be “mentally vigilant” - - ‘alayka bi al-kays - - and if something overwhelms or overcomes you, then say: ‘hasbiyallahu wa ni’ma al-wakil’.” Allah (jalla thana`uhu) describing the believers who were tested in Surah al-’Imran: “fa ma wahanu lima asabahum fi sabili Allahi wa ma dha’ufu wa ma istakanu…” — and they did not “act weak” in the face of what befell them in the path of Allah, and they neither exhibited inner weakness, nor acted as if humiliated…” Our beloved messenger (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) warns: “He is not among us — i.e. does not embody our adab, who willingly agrees to humiliate himself, without being coersed.” When this happens on a communal level, you have a prevalent wahn, or defeatism. It means “weakness of the sort that no longer enables its bearer to stay ‘upright’.”

And, so Allah (jallah thana`uhu) gives the believers the proper perspective and focus in Surat al-’Imran: “wa la tahinu wa la tahzanu wa antum al-a’laouna,” — do not become “weak,” do not grieve, for you will be dominant (i.e. high) — with the catch, however, “in kuntum mu`minin,” — if you would be believers. Surrender to Allah (’azza wa jall) first, and you rise, you transcend the need for anything, truly. This yearning to be with Allah (jalla thana`uhu) is what begets the inner sakina referred to in the beginning. Yahya ibn Mu’adh (rahimahullah) said: “The servant who is ‘aware’ of Allah (ta’aala) leaves this world not having done enough of two things: crying over himself — and yearning to be closer to His Lord (subhaanahu wa ta’aala).”

May Allah grant us awareness. Ameen.