29 August 2010

Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.

The Prophet also said: "Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity." - Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 589

"They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever wealth ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, - Allah knoweth it well." 2.215

After a long time in exile, I went back to Somalia in 2005 to see my father for the first time in fourteen years. It was a heartfelt reunion: I had grown up; he had grown older. But there was nothing much I could find to say to him. I had mixed emotions: I was frightened yet excited to meet and get to know relatives who I did not know before.
My father often had visitors in the afternoon, most of them long term friends. Some of them were internally displaced and had no income. Although not in a great position to help others financially, my father always shared the money sent to him by his children (us). I noted my father's particular care to his old friends as much as his relatives.

There was one man who would never ask for help but came to my father's house each week. He was pleasant. He had lost his family in the war and later remarried. He had two young sons. I got to know him better. As there were other people asking for financial help, I hardly had any money left, so was incapable of providing him with any financial support. I got back to London. But his face stuck out in my memory. Subsequently, I sent him $50 through my father. My father took it as a gesture of genorosity. No, I did it for myself ---to lift my sadness about the man‘s plight. Yes, selfish (we help others to help ourselves in whatever way you look at it).
A year later I went back to Somalia again. I saw the man, charming as ever. He visited just as we (my father and I) were about to depart to the airport. I had $20, which I divided between him and a cousin of mine, Abdullahi. The man informed me that he was recently diagnosed with Hipatius, and that he would insha'Allah be cured if he purchased the medication. He said the $10 would do it. I wished him all the best.
I made a promise to myself that I would send some money to the man and to my cousin Abdullahi as soon as I got back to London and started working. In February 2007 news reached me that my cousin had been killed in the outskirt of Kismayo. Sadness overtook me for a while, but life had to go on. I never stopped wanting to send money to the man. I had to save it. Meanwhile, my father fled the country to Nairobi, Kenya. Although I kept telling my mother that I saw so and so man ( she knew him) and that I would like to send him $100 for medication, I barely made a concious effort to find him...until one day. I telephoned my father and asked the whereabouts of the man. He replied: ’I will enquire about him’. It took him about a month to find out any information. Sadlly, the man had passed away a few months earlier.

Had I tried harder to send him the money, I would not have felt so guilty about not acting quickly enough. Had I not bought that expensive perfume, perhaps I would have been able to save the $100 earlier.

While I cannot turn the clock back, I learnt to act quickly and timely. I may not be able to help everyone but I try to be charitable in my voice.

‘’Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. Allah is free of all wants, and He is Most Forbearing.’’

Al-Baqara ( The Cow) 2:263.

17 August 2010

Sometimes I miss my prayer...

Sometimes I miss my prayer, Fajr or Isha, but though I pray it afterward or even at days lone feel troubled to let the last go, I know that it is through prayer that I take comfort in Almighty Allah. Its absence, the Prophet, peace upon him, reminded has a clear symptom:
He whom prayer preventeth not from wrongdoing and evil, increaseth in naught save in remoteness from the Lord.
Much of the time I contemplate. And how sweet and sad is contemplation! The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "An hour's contemplation is better than a year's adoration", and "One hour's meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer". But I know the reflection would be stronger if I missed no prayer at all!

14 August 2010

Knowledge & Apostasy

This is the most excellent essay I have yet read on the subject of apostasy. Those of us who have sought to cultivate our conscience through the Book of God may have experienced cognitive dissonance when God's Word is disregarded in favour of historical interpretations.
It is unfortunate that we give greater importance to certain ahadith conflicting with the Qur’anic values and thus bring bad name to Islam. Commitment to these values is far more important than to opinion of the ‘Ulama based on medieval ethos.
The only problem with this article though is that while correcting Mawdudi's weird thesis on apostasy the author expresses his surprise at "how an Islamic scholar of Mawdudi’s status can confuse things to such an extent...." Any right-minded Muslim who has researched Mawdudi's worldview, notably critiqued in a study by Sheila McDonough, will only have loathing for him. Mawdudi was merely a Muslim version of V.R.Savarkar, and viewed Islam as a political state programmed to express its frustration at colonialism by oppressing others. Another similarity they share is a zest for revolutionary beliefs after the withdrawal of the British Empire.

It is my view that Muhammad Asad's critique of the concept of revolution from the Islamic standpoint in his 1948 work The Principles of State and Government in Islam, which would be revisited in his future projects, is the earliest of its kind and is an indirect reference to Mawdudi's thesis. Asad would also live through the so-called Islamic revolution in Iran, witnessing the growth of the movement. "Islamisation" here was nothing short of intellectual dishonesty, a form of cultural realisation and of authoritarian control over Muslims. In these states women were invisible and difference of opinion was not tolerated. In short, Islam itself was curtailed in the name of Islam. The irony was impossibly crude.

In contrast, Islam inspires God's unceasing teachings and mercy, uplifting man to a level which he attains through His belief in the One God accompanied by good works which rescinds the first and only response of the angels to Almighty Allah on His declaration to "establish upon the earth one who shall inherit it" (The Second Chapter, Verse 30):
They said: "Wilt Thou place on it such as will spread corruption thereon and shed blood - whereas it is we who extol Thy limitless glory, and praise Thee, and hallow Thy name?"
Almighty Allah answers:
"Verily, I know that which you do not know."
In the thirty-third verse of the tenth chapter of His Book, Almighty Allah says unto man:
It is God [alone] who guides unto the truth. Which, then, is more worthy to be followed - He who guides unto the truth, or he who cannot find the right way unless he is guided? What, then, is amiss with you and your judgment?
May we believe so, and may He save us from the fitnah of group-thought and cult worship and open us to critical intelligence and the Light we merit. Also, the Prophet repeated thrice that "the worst of men is a bad learned man...." May He grant us religious scholars at whose death the Ummah is poorer, those who seek to benefit the Ummah by being true to the message of Allah and are/were true in their opinions. This also means avoiding the invention of ethnocentric commentaries on Islam. On a Ramadan night four years ago, the Yemeni Muslim historian Al-Shaiba issued a lecture in which he pointed out such flaws.
He added that among the best companions of the prophet (PBUH) were Bilal (Ethiopian), Salman (Persian), Suhaib (Roman)—and the list goes on. Al-Shaiba criticized Arab historians for perpetuating stereotypes and writing boring narratives. They wrote some legends, according to their sectarian and/or political backgrounds. Jarallah added that most of Arab historians limit themselves to their geographical locations, giving only a partial sense of the whole heritage. “Many Arab historians wrote about the life-story of the prophet (PBUH) almost similarly, but they have clear differences when they write about the aftermath.
"That’s why the Islamic history did not develop,” al-Shaiba said. “All of that passed through us as a sacred heritage, to which Arab and Muslim historians remain bound even today.” Arab and Muslim historians and researchers should be able to question that heritage, making use of what is useful and ignoring the rest, said the Sana’a University professor in a bombshell statement. “We should believe in dialogue and respect others’ opinions,” he said.
In the words of the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace:
Verily God doth not taketh away knowledge from the hands of His servants; but taketh it by taking away the learned; so that when no learned men remain, the ignorant will be placed at the head of affairs. Causes will be submitted to their decision, they will pass sentence without knowledge, will err themselves, and lead others into error.