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Fiqh of Love: O You Who Are About to Marry, Any Last Words? Any First Words?




It was my pleasure to write this article at the request of Shaykh Waleed Basyouni for distribution to students in his upcoming course, Fiqh of Love, which will be taught in mid-May in Toronto, ON (sold out online, but there may be availability onsite).  In addition to reviewing the article before publication, he graciously suggested that it be shared here with all of you, too.  May Allah increase in ‘ilm and hiqmah Shaykh Waleed and others of His slaves who contributed, and may He overlook the faults of this piece and its author, and may He be pleased with all of us who seek His Pleasure in our marriages and married lives.

Bismillah walhamdolillah.

Allah Created. And among His unique qualities is that He Creates without precedent.

Before Allah Decreed it, there had never been a “pair” of anything.  What He made could never have been imagined by any of His Creations, and what He Created was something wonderful, walhamdolillah.

He has described the husband and wife as garments for each other.  Think about that — if you are unmarried something about you is fundamentally incomplete.

Allah has decreed that man and woman each has free choice.  So how will you choose to complete the pair?

When you ‘shop’ for your spouse, what will you look for, who will you ask, and what questions or discussions will follow?  Length?  Width?  Color?  Perhaps.

The sunnah in Islam is to find out the information that will cause you to know whether to propose to someone or accept that person’s proposal.  And when you have what you need to know, then you should proceed with the proposal or else stop.

This differentiates Islamic practice from other courtship rules in as much as other rules would permit courting as entertainment, ie, dating.

If you want to take your spouse on a date, bismillah.  If you want to go on a date with someone to whom you are not married, beware the evil into which shaytan would lead you.

The same discretion should enter your questions and conversations before marriage.  It is perfectly reasonable to have conversations whose only purpose is to establish that you two can have an easygoing and light conversation.

Yet too many open-ended conversations might lead to affections developing, and at that point many commentators have pointed out that people’s brains switch off: at that point they see only good in the other person.  One writer even said that the person in love is as unreasonable as a drunk person.

Indeed Allah does not hold us accountable for our feelings: just as the pen is lifted for the intoxicated person — but the person who is intoxicated now may find tremendous punishment for his actions while he was sober: when he had the aql to avoid drink.  And in the same way, Allah may hold us to account for indiscretions committed before we fell (intoxicated) in love — blameworthy actions that led us to a state of love, actions committed when we still had the aql to avoid them.

At the same time, how the other person makes you feel is important.  Indeed when the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam found out from Jaabir that Jaabir had selected a woman to marry, the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam did not first ask Jaabir if she were a pious woman.  He asked if Jaabir had seen her, looked upon her.  And he advised doing so until Jaabir saw what would cause him to marry.  Implying that it would have been possible he might not see it, and thus might not marry.  And Allah’s Decree was that he saw, and they did marry, alhamdolillah.

So we know looking is allowed and that implies that other investigation is, too, because when you observe a person you do not see them posed or on a runway, naudhobillah, like clothes in the store.  You see them in life, and you observe their interactions so inquiries into those are like what you would see, permissible at least as to what could be seen.

With so many warnings in mind, you may imagine that the only conversations and questions should be about deen: “How many verses have you memorized and of how many of them have you studied the tafseer?”  “What are your favorite adhkaar — in salaat — before the basmallah?”  “Do you read Muslim more often, or Bukhari?”

Those questions are… odd.  Let’s face it — if you are starting out with conversations like those…  Who are you marrying?  Your shaykh?  Shaykh Waleed is already married, folks. :)

So which questions then should come first?  Indeed, Imam Ahmed, RahimAllah, advised that questions about deen should be the very last ones a person asks.  Why?  For a beautiful reason: good deen beautifies a person and it is better to reject a physically beautiful woman for her ugly deen, than to reject a woman whose deen is beautiful to you for any other reason.

This principle is so strong that it may help explain why the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam re-married the daughter of Omar, Umm al Mumineen Hafsa, radi Allaho anhumaa.  Jibreel alayhis salam conversed with the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam about her taqwa and ibadat after their initial divorce, and it was some time after that conversation that they remarried, alhamdolillah.

Interestingly, from the sunnah, there is also the case of Umm Salamah, also Umm al Mumineen, walhamdolillah.  She was widowed and had children from her marriage.  And after her iddah the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam came to her to propose marriage.  And clearly no one had more beautiful deen than him, sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam.

And yet, knowing that, she was prepared to reject him — not for his qualities, subhanAllah, but for her own issues that needed reconciliation.  Her children — that they should have a father who loves them.   Her age — that she avoid a situation whereby her husband find her at all lacking.  And her jealousy of other women — including the other wives of the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam.

And mashaAllah, this case shows us one of the keys to a successful courtship — indeed a successful courtship by the way, is one that ends in a marriage that pleases Allah.  The nikah is just one moment, the exchange of a few words.  And what follows the nikah is much more than just one night.

Keep that in mind: the success was more likely to come in marriage because the qualities the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam showed in his responses to her were qualities of a successful husband.  Her children he promised would be just like his own to him.  As for age he compared theirs as reassurance to her.  And he prayed to Allah for an easing of her jealousy, walhamdolillah.

Three beautiful qualities (at least) are easy to see in the responses: accommodation, empathy, dua/taqwa/tawakkol.  Okay i squeezed three qualities in there for the last example, but alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal, it is difficult to pick only a few traits from his example.

We know that Umm Salamah was a perceptive and intelligent woman — witness her advice to the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam at Hudaybiyyah.  Thus she must have seen in his answers what she needed to know to accept his proposal, alhamdolillah.  And indeed it was a successful marriage.

Before embarking on advice about specific questions or conversations you could have when looking for your wife or husband, reflect again on the example of Umm Salamah’s proposal and what followed: how could she have asked such good questions?  She was aware of her own needs.  And she knew the difference between her needs, and her wishes.

A Messenger of Allah for a husband?  A wish.  Her questions reflect that she knew, too, her needs.  And you should, too, before you propose or respond to a proposal, wAllaho’Alim.

Otherwise, if you merely read to each other from a list of questions or conversation-topics — at best you are throwing darts in the dark wondering if you will hit something that yells out in surprise.  And at worst you are ignoring the concerns that should be addressed.

Specific topics and questions to consider — an outline to build on:

Air and Water

–What are the roles of a husband?
–What are the roles of a wife?

This is a separate category because no other topic was so identified in research by Muslims and non-Muslims as a cause of divorce.  Huh?  Divorce?  Yes, couples that have completely different ideas about these roles, and lacked the ability to concede or compromise — they often end their marriages.

“Air and Water” are essential for life, but we hardly ever have to talk about them.  You might have additional topics that are “air and water” for you, but these two are different: they will affect everything else.  If you are honest with each other now about your expectations, and if you can both breathe easily (accommodate each other), then later on, bi’idhnillah, you will only talk about these roles when you need to clear the air or get through murky waters.  You can start the conversation in the abstract, what is the role of “a” husband and “a” wife, but you’re talking about each other.

Bread and Butter

–Finances including expectations of income and spending, who will work, what kind of work/income you would seek or refuse.
–Kids including how many and when, and how to raise them.
–Parents (ie., your kids’ grandparents, bi’idhnillah), other family, friends, socializing.
–Living arrangements including with or without parents and city/neighborhood and expectations of how big and how much.

Unlike “air and water” you can have as many bread and butter topics as you want.  All of these things are important, and they may become the subject of arguments in a marriage if you do not discuss your expectations before marriage.  But one thing that makes this category different from the others is that all the items are material or external in some fashion.  Numbers, sizes, other people, stuff: how much of it do you want, by when, where, and does it even matter to you — assuming the other person has the same answers as you would be a mistake.

Veiled Gems

If you pay close attention to the discussions you and your potential spouse have during bread and butter topics, you will not only address each other’s expectations, bi ‘idhnillah, but also learn a lot about each other’s character.

For the same reason have conversations about goals and accomplishments, past and future — find out how each of you defines an accomplishment.  See how much your goals, expectations, and priorities match with each other.

Have conversations about people in need — to find out whether the person cares about others or is more self-interested.  Also to find out whether the person really listens to you, or is just waiting for his/her turn to speak.  Finally, remember that marriage will have challenges, too, and these conversations will help you figure out whether you are talking to someone that you can rely on if times are tough.  Or naudhobillah, someone who would run at the first sign of trouble.

Note: see “poison pills.” When it comes to any conversation, but especially for a veiled gem, you are not digging for faults, but searching for genuine understanding.  Allah is ar Rahman nir Raheem — you can be forgiving and merciful to each other without being judgmental, while thinking seriously about your compatibility.

Poison Pills

Anything at all about which you yourself do not care while you speak.  Even a noble subject, if you talk about it when you do not care what you or the other person are saying could become ghafla.  There is also the disastrous possibility that the other person will see you do not care about the conversation and believe you do not care about them — (perhaps) mistaking your attitude.

Immodest conversations in general.  Imagine the two of you were sitting in a room with the woman’s father, and the man’s mother.  if you think the topic would cause the mother to look away or the father to pull out a sword, then you’re probably thinking of a topic that should not be discussed.  Maybe the problem is only that immodest words are being used to discuss a topic that is permissible for you — so exercise good judgment.

What Happened to Deen?

Fasabrun jameelun.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) praised the quality of deen in a future spouse above wealth, beauty, family, and nobility.

Yet, you should realize that finding a religious person is not enough.  You should have other things in common before marriage.  Do look for a religious spouse, and choose one who is more compatible with you.

And a word of wisdom from past TDCs spoken by multiple shuyukh and advocates: when you search for a religious spouse, ask yourself if she would be happy with your religiosity, too!  As Shaykh Yaser puts it, “Would you marry you?” — in this context would you be satisfied with a spouse who was only as religious as you?

Specific sources used in developing this handout: Fiqh of Love and (with Shaykh Yaser Birjas), 10 Conversations You Must Have Before Marriage by Dr. Guy Grenier, 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married by Monica Mendez Leahy, Article posted in the Al Maghrib forums by Rabbi Mordecai Rottman, MA, “Four things to look for in a spouse.”

Bismillah walhamdolillah. May Allah accept my repentance and yours. I am an attorney, a stepfather, a husband, a son, and a Muslim. Studying Islam is a means, reflecting what I have learned is a must, and to Allah is the inevitable return. If you would like my help, know that Allah is the source of all aid. If you would like to contact me, try tariqnisarahmed at Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, or add me as a friend on Facebook.



  1. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    Assalamu Alykum, The article is great, especially liked this part “ask yourself if she would be happy with your religiosity, too! “

  2. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    would you marry you? lol…. never.

    great article jazak Alllahu kheiran.

    salam alaikum

  3. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    Mashaallah .Great article.Jazakumallahu khairaa brother.

    During a tafseer class my teacher explained the verse of libas very nicely.She said that libas [garment] always hides the faults of our skin, protects the skin from heat, cold etc, beautifies us, very intimate to us.That`s how a couple should be.


    • Avatar

      MM Associates

      May 14, 2009 at 2:47 AM

      Wa eeyakum wa alaykumus salam to everyone. (reply by abu abdAllah)

      Allah’s examples are the best in their beauty and appropriateness. Jazak Allah khayr: I wanted to recount what I remembered from similar tafseer of the ayat, but could not nail down where I had heard it.

  4. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    From the title it suggests the marriage is a suicide mission..

    • Avatar

      MM Associates

      May 14, 2009 at 2:48 AM

      Bismillah. (reply by abu abdAllah)
      LOL. I remember when my parents first asked me to talk to a woman they wanted me to consider marrying. Gallows humor seemed appropriate for the title.

    • Avatar


      October 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

      beautiful Article .. Alhamdullila ..

      I am nervous just .. thinking about it .. :(

  5. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    May 11, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    That was, ma sha Allah, a refreshingly novel article! Wouldn’t expect anything less from you Tariq. :)

    And now that you’ve written the article … ;)

    • Avatar

      MM Associates

      May 14, 2009 at 2:50 AM

      Bismillah. (reply by abu abdAllah)

      Am working on it, Shaykh Yasir. :)

  6. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 10:07 AM

    And now that you’ve written the article … ;)

    Hehe, my thoughts exactly. Glad to see this will be included at FoL in Toronto, JAK Tariq.

  7. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    Very nice article!

  8. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 11:15 AM

    JazakAllah khair.

    Side note: you should follow the professional college level way of citing sources. :-D

    • Avatar

      MM Associates

      May 14, 2009 at 2:51 AM

      Wa eeyakum. (reply by abu abdAllah)
      There were a few places in the article where citations would have been particularly appropriate — these were specific ideas that I got from specific sources. All of the article was a synthesis of ideas I saw in most if not all of the sources, so I just punted when it came to blue-booking the article. InshaAllah, several years from now, MM may be absorbed by the Fiqh and Society Review of the Jamia AlMaghrib, Houston, Texas. Then eager fiqh and aqeedah students will be able bi ‘idhnillah to extract more rigorous citations from authors. Till then, though, keep up the reminders. ;)

  9. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    jazakallahukhair for that excellent article bro.

  10. Avatar

    Umm Fulaanah

    May 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM

    maasha-Allaah… i loved the article from the very start…. and i agree with Hassan… when i saw the a tittle, i had suicide in my mind…!
    Insha-allaah we’ll expect more articles of these kinds….

  11. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    May 11, 2009 at 1:27 PM

    Interesting article mashAllah

  12. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 5:02 PM

    A question…….
    why are they having so many speakers and what is the set up. How is it going to be different from the others.
    anyone from here going?
    P.S. Nice Post mashAllah.

  13. Avatar


    May 11, 2009 at 6:33 PM

    Asalam alaykum

    Mashallah nice post… very informative and very different from the ‘usual’ marriage articles. Definately something i’ll be keeping for future reference.

    one of the most difficult topics to discuss with a prospective spouse (in my opinion) is finances… it’s such a delicate area. It’s no wonder its one of three main reasons for divorce in muslims in the west.

  14. Avatar

    marry halal

    May 11, 2009 at 8:44 PM

    Well written, but why does it all have to be SO difficult?
    May Allah make it easy on all the unmarried couples feeling around in the dark (especially me).

    • Avatar

      MM Associates

      May 14, 2009 at 2:19 AM

      Bismillah was salamu alaykum. (reply by abu abdAllah)

      I actually found from my research that Islam makes every aspect of finding someone and getting married easy. Trust me, every difficulty you find has its source with people.

      If I may rephrase your question, “Why do people make things SO difficult?” For the same reasons that man needs Guidance to worship Allah properly.

      We could re-write the question again, “Why do people make things SO difficult (for people seeking to marry) even after receiving Guidance from Allah in the Qur’an and Sunnah?” For the same reason that mankind and the jinn will deserve to be Judged by Allah — to varying degrees: we forget and are easily distracted, we prefer our own whim and reason to Guidance, and we simply disobey Allah.

      May Allah Forgive me, you, and all the Muslims, and have Mercy on us, and may He Guide each of us and everyone we care for to that understanding of Him which brings us to submit to Him fully and without reservation.

      • Avatar


        May 22, 2009 at 1:44 AM

        Beautiful article and this was a beautiful reply!

    • Avatar

      Sirnucy ibn Bakr bn Salih

      October 20, 2014 at 2:58 AM

      It’s such an enlighten and fascinating piece. May Allah make it easy for us for nothing is easy except that which Allah makes easy. Marriage is really kinda tough. Jazakhallah!

  15. Avatar


    May 12, 2009 at 11:49 PM

    Asalamu Alaykum,

    MashaAllah this was a great aritcle. I’m glad I came across this article, because I’m thinking about getting married soon, and i’m currently talking to someone. But I have one main concern, I’m older than him five years even though mashaAllah he is I think mature for his age. Should I be worried?

  16. Avatar


    May 13, 2009 at 12:43 AM

    AGE is a matter of perspective. IF it doesn’t bother you and you are compatible with each other than it really doens’t matter.
    Many of my relatives are married to men that are younger than them and they are MashAllah very happy and have been married for many many years.
    Its all a mind set :)

    • Avatar


      May 13, 2009 at 12:17 PM

      Walaykum Salam, sister Algebra

      Thanks for replying, may Allah make the marriage process easy for myself and all other Muslims out there.


  17. Avatar


    May 15, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    Make lots of dua …. tell everyone you know to make dua for you..

    go out do dawah and ask those ppl once they embrace this deen – to also make dua for you.

    lessons learned from a recently married.

  18. Avatar


    July 4, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    Although I am too late to follow up, but I must thank you for this nicest set of advices, jazkallah khair, and may Allah SWT bless you for your efforts, inshAllah. Asalamalaikum.

  19. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    August 29, 2009 at 7:11 AM

    For some people, love comes one day in February. For Muslims in Houston, love comes this Fall.

  20. Avatar


    October 15, 2009 at 5:07 AM


    Please All duva for me – I am in the same situation like loads of brothers and sisters who are on the verge to take Next Step ..

    ALLAH hafiz.

  21. Avatar

    Umm Saara

    April 14, 2010 at 5:59 AM

    beautiful article mash’Allah.

    One thing that i want to emphasise on is DUA, DUA and more DUA. Allah, the most High, knows what is in your hearts and hears your duas and will accept them. when? we don’t know. Allah, Glory be to Him, is the best of planners. He alone knows whats best for you and when. Put your trust in Allah and know that as long as you continue to be a good muslim – one who is gaining knowledge and trying to correct yourself at all times, KNOW that your prayers will be answered.
    I got past the age of 28 and was constantly bombarded with my AGE…getting past it and all that. It got to the point that a relative suggested an asylum seeker – he needed stay and i needed to get married. Subhan’Allah. My father soon put a stop to that! Allhamdullilah. dua in sujood is one of the best times – open up your heart. say what you want. I refused alot of people based on religion and as i got older, i gained more knowledge mash’Allah, i became more practising, Allhamdullilah and for someone who was at one time in my life ‘disgusted’ with beards…got to the point that i had to marry someone who had a beard. Allhamdullilah. why? because i knew the ‘beauty’ of it, i knew the reasons behind it and above all i wanted someone who was aspiring to be like our beloved prophet (peace and blessing be upon him).
    So whatever your situation, think about yourself – as it states in the article mash’Allah – WOULD YOU MARRY YOU? strive to make yourself a better muslim. if you are getting hassle from others – because perhaps they think you are being too fussy, choosy etc… then SEEK REFUGE FROM SHAYTAN do not fall in the trap of feeling depressed and know that Allah, the most gracious the most powerful is on your side
    May Allah ease the path to marriage and bless all of our marriages. ameen.
    May Allah swt reward the sheikhs and their families for their time, effort and knowledge that they share with us. ameen.

  22. Avatar

    A Muslim in search for an answer!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    Just recently my mom introduced me to a few prospective girls that she wanted me to consider for marriage.

    I did istikhara and my thoughts kept going on one of these and I conveyed my decision to my parents. Then they asked a shaikh to do the istikhara. He said that his answer to the istikhara was a no.

    I can’t understand why after doing istikhara my heart would tend to go towards a specific person and this shaikh says that he does istikhara and its a no. So much so, that my parents say that since the shaikh says no they will not consider the girl even……

    Can you guide me on what to do in this situation??????

    • Avatar


      May 24, 2010 at 4:22 PM

      You may want to consult with a proper scholar of Islam rather than some possibly unqualified “Shaikh”. The reason I say this is because I was told by a knowledgeable person that you cant do Istikhara for someone else…can someone please correct me if I am mistaken here?

      Also, what are the qualifications of this Shaikh? Is he a scholar? Has he studied abroad or in the country under qualified shuyookh? Or is he a so called peer/murshad/sajjada etc. – its best to stay away from the likes of these…

      In any case, the parents have to be respected and one should not strain relations with them.

    • Amad


      May 25, 2010 at 12:32 AM

      I am no sheikh, but I can tell you that istikhara is personal, and the sheikh is not in a position to do the istikhara for you as nothing like this is proven from the Sunnah. You should find some literature online for istikhara and share with your parents, showing them that we do not go to the sheikh to ask him to check out “signs” for us.

    • Avatar

      Umm Saara

      May 25, 2010 at 6:58 AM

      All praise and thanks is to Allah, peace and blessings be upon our beloved final prophet.

      I agree with the posts about ‘checking out the shaikh, as well as the post of doing the istikhara yourself.

      Please read the following:
      The correct view is that when Allaah makes something easy for you – after having decreed it and accepted your du’aa’ – this is a sign that it is good to go ahead and do it. The existence of obstacles and difficulties is an indication that Allaah is pushing His slave away from doing it. This meaning will be very clear when one ponders the meaning of the hadeeth of Jaabir concerning al-istikhaarah, where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
      “… O Allaah, if You know this affair – [and here he should mention it] – is good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.”
      There is a difference between making feeling happy the only sign and making it one of several signs. There is no set time period for salaat al-istikhaarah; it is permissible to repeat it more than once, but there is no limit to how many times. The person may offer the du’aa’ before or after saying the salaam. And Allaah knows best.

      Ref: Islam Q&A
      Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

      I pray Allah makes things easy for you and your family. our families always mean well and think that they are doing the right thing. we have to respect that to a point – but if it is going against the qur’an and sunnah then we have to gently guide them to what is right. Allah make this easy for us. ameen

      Things will be difficult – this is your test. I know certainly when i was intended to marry someone – i did my istikhara regularly. i felt okay about the situation but i put my whole heart in that dua – which made me cry at times – as it is amazing mash’Allah. i went through 3 whole months of hanging on to this proposal – and one day i just made the decision to put a stop to it all – what a weight lifted off of my shoulders! Alhamdullilah. the best decision of my life.


      • Avatar

        A Muslim in search for an answer!!!

        May 26, 2010 at 2:44 AM

        Jazakallah for your answer!!

  23. Avatar


    July 14, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Salaam wa laykum!

    my name is firdous and im 15 years old. all my life i always new islam treated muslim women fairly and justly but i reasently discoverde some hadith which stated the following:

    I were to order anyone to prostrate to other than Allah, I would have ordered the woman to prostrate to her husband. even if he were to request her for herself (i.e. to have intercourse with her) whilst she was sitting upon a camel’s saddle, she should not refuse him.”
    (Sahih, reported by Ibn Maajah and Ahmad from Abdullah ibn Awfaa)

    The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
    By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if from his foot the crown of his head there was a wound pouring forth with pus, and she (his wife) came and licked that,
    then she would (still) not have fulfilled his right.” (Good, reported by Ahmad and others)

    The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,

    “If the woman knew the right of the husband, she would not sit when his morning and evening meals were presented until he finished.” (Reported by al-Bazzar and others)

    reading this i felt like i am nothing! i felt as though im not really free and i have no right or place ..its just REALLY CONFUSING AND IM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THAT WAY! SOME ONE PLS HELP ME UNDERSTAND THESE HADITH AND MY STATUS AS A WOMAN. for example in another hadith it says somthing like women are broken or bent and if men try and straited them they will break! WHAT DOUES THIS MEAN ABOUT ME..THAT IM BENT THAT IM BROKEN.SOME ONE PPPPPLLLLEAAASSSSEEE HELP ME MAKE SENCE OF ALL THIS WITH A REALLY REALLY GOOD ANSWER



    please email me a responce

    • Avatar


      August 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

      Walaikum salaam,

      You have to understand the big picture whilst looking at the details. In Islam we are told of numerous stories where people are given some sort of authority, i.e. Pharoah, ‘Ad and Thamud, certain leaders of Quraish, Banu Israel at the time of Isa (alayhi salam) etc, and these are the people who did not fulfill the responsibilities they had in relation to their power, resulting in them suffering horrible and unimaginable punishment in this life and the Hereafter.

      To put it simply, authority = responsibility = accountability = more things to worry about on the Day of Judgement (which is the last thing you want on that day). The Sahabah understood this, and they feared taking positions of authority.

      Coming back to the husband and the wife:

      …And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. (2:228)

      Ideally, when a man realizes he has been given a degree of authority in the relationship, it would send a shiver down his spine. All of the stories of the past and fear of standing before Allah on the Day of Judgement would come to him – and he would have a degree of authority,responsibility, and fear that women do not have to worry about at the same level.

      There are a ton of things in the family that a man could potentially receive sin for which a woman would not. Essentially what’s being asked of the woman is to love, help and support her husband as her wife so that he could fulfill this sacred trust of epic magnitude, and so that he could do a good job of loving, helping and supporting her as her husband.

      From the last sermon of the Prophet (sual Allahu alayhi wasalam):

      O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission.

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        August 5, 2010 at 7:02 PM

        Right right…. i totally get you:) besides its a wisdom frm Allah and we shouldnt always question it..makes alot more sence bro



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          August 5, 2010 at 7:27 PM

          It’s super important to ask critical questions to get a clear picture of things – just stay away from the CAPS button lol

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    August 5, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    salamu alaikum my dearest sister Firdaus. I am a male. I nearly cried when i read your article.may Allah grant us understanding & guard us agaist shaitan.
    Let us cast our minds back to where Rasul(SAW) says ‘the best of you are those who are best to their wives.’By bearing in mind all that you have mention above with respect to the relation between you & your husband, it will be the key to letting you have all the love, respect, protection etc from him.
    How many times do we hear people say to a couple that the kady haq bewitched the man? Thats just it. I hope ive helpedyou al

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      August 5, 2010 at 5:25 PM

      Jezzakllah bro, i’m not actually married i just came across the hadith and didnt know what to make of it… i can imagine non- muslims grilling us with these types of hadiths if we dont know how to respond and i want to be able to explain it to others in a way that they can understand it as well as my self….

      to be honest im kinda feel scared to get married in the future, im just wondering how much of a responsiblilty as a wife i would be carrying….and making sure my husband isnt angry or i get curesd by the angels….i dunno….. thank you anyway for replying i’ve been waiting for someone to help me out with this for a while and all the shiekhs and scholers seem to be dodging these kind of questions……

      to be honest, by Allah i woun’t lie to you…, i still don’t really get it ..but thank you very much bro…

      pls forward my Q to anyone else u no that can help me make sense of these…i’m quite desperate

      salaam walaykum!


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    August 5, 2010 at 6:52 PM


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    November 29, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    I take offence to this statement:

    “He has described the husband and wife as garments for each other. Think about that — if you are unmarried something about you is fundamentally incomplete.”

    I never had the chance to get married. I am 40 years old and I never received any proposals, nor did my parents try to help because they didn’t know how. So I lived my life. I wasn’t allowed to “date”, and, I had no one to help me find a muslim spouse. So that’s that.

    Am I fundamentally incomplete? I would like to think that I am not fundamentally incomplete, that Allah has made me complete. If I am unmarried, it is because God decided that a husband was not to be; so God has made me incomplete?

    As idealistic as this article is, the reality is that in North America, muslim women have a very difficult time getting married, and as my parents always tell me, many of us women do not get married and are not destined to. The men, apparently, have no problem.

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      Tariq Nisar Ahmed

      April 11, 2011 at 3:39 AM

      I apologize twice, sister. Once because I did not see your comment until just now, and second because my words caused you some bad feeling.

      Reflecting on what I wrote I feel I should put my words in perspective. I stand behind what I wrote in as much as marriage is as Allah and His Messenger sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam described it, and I believe the conclusion I reached was reasonable.

      However, I should have made it more clear that pleasing Allah by a good marriage is only one means of pleasing Him, and that Allah may be well pleased with people who delayed marriage or who never married. And we can all think of examples of such people, alhamdolillah.

      And the measure that most matters in this dunya is how close we will have come on the day of our death by our deeds and actions to pleasing Allah. So I apologize sincerely for the defects of my article. And I pray for your success in pleasing Allah in this dunya and akhirah, and likewise for myself and the Muslims.

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Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera



Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf And The Question of Rebellion In The Islamic Tradition

Dr Usaama al-Azami



Sepoy rebellion, Shaykh Hamza

In recent years, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a notable Islamic scholar from North America, has gained global prominence by supporting efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deal with the fallout of the Arab revolutions. The UAE is a Middle Eastern autocracy that has been the chief strategist behind quelling the Arab revolutionary aspiration for accountable government in the region. Shaykh Hamza views himself as helping prevent the region from falling into chaos by supporting one of its influential autocratic states. However, more recently, he has become embroiled in another controversy because of comments he made regarding the Syrian revolution in 2016 that surfaced online earlier this week and for which he has since apologised. I will not discuss these comments directly in this article, but the present piece does have a bearing on the issue of revolution as it addresses the question of how Islamic scholars have traditionally responded to tyranny. Thus, in what follows, I somewhat narrowly focus on another recent recording of Shaykh Hamza that has been published by a third party in the past couple of weeks entitled: “Hamza Yusuf’s response to the criticism for working with Trump administration”. While it was published online at the end of August 2019, the short clip may, in fact, predate the Trump controversy, as it only addresses the more general charge that Shaykh Hamza is supportive of tyrannical governments.

Thus, despite its title, the primary focus of the recording is what the Islamic tradition purportedly says about the duty of Muslims to render virtually unconditional obedience to even the most tyrannical of rulers. In what follows, I argue that Shaykh Hamza’s contention that the Islamic tradition has uniformly called for rendering obedience to tyrannical rule—a contention that he has been repeating for many years—is inaccurate. Indeed, it is so demonstrably inaccurate that one wonders how a scholar as learned as Shaykh Hamza can portray it as the mainstream interpretation of the Islamic tradition rather than as representing a particularly selective reading of fourteen hundred years of scholarship. Rather than rest on this claim, I will attempt to demonstrate this in what follows. (Note: this article was sent to Shaykh Hamza for comment at the beginning of this month, but he has not replied in time for publication.)

Opposing all government vs opposing a government

Shaykh Hamza argues that “the Islamic tradition” demands that one render virtually absolute obedience to one’s rulers. He bases this assertion on a number of grounds, each of which I will address in turn. Firstly, he argues that Islam requires government, because the opposite of having a government would be a state of chaos. This is, however, to mischaracterise the arguments of the majority of mainstream scholars in Islamic history down to the present who, following explicit Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, opposed supporting tyrannical rulers. None of these scholars ever advocated the removal of government altogether. They only opposed tyranny. For some reason that is difficult to account for, Shaykh Hamza does not, in addressing the arguments of his interlocutors, make the straightforward distinction between opposing tyranny, and opposing the existence of any government at all.

A complex tradition

Rather than support these tyrannical governments, the Islamic tradition provides a variety of responses to how one should oppose such governments, ranging from the more quietist—opposing them only in one’s heart—to the more activist—opposing them through armed rebellion. The majority of later scholars, including masters such as al-Ghazzali (d. 505/1111), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795/1393), and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) appear to have fallen somewhere between these two poles, advocating rebellion only in limited circumstances, and mostly advising a vocally critical posture towards tyranny. Of course, some early scholars, such as the sanctified member of the Prophetic Household, Sayyiduna Husayn (d. 61/680) had engaged in armed opposition to the tyranny of the Umayyads resulting in his martyrdom. Similarly, the Companion ‘Abdullah b. Zubayr (d. 73/692), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13/634), and son of al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam (d. 36/656), two of the Ten Companions Promised Paradise, had established a Caliphate based in Makkah that militarily tried to unseat the Umayyad Caliphal counter-claimant.

However, the model of outright military rebellion adopted by these illustrious scholars was generally relinquished in later centuries in favour of other forms of resisting tyranny. This notwithstanding, I will try to show that the principle of vocally resisting tyranny has always remained at the heart of the Islamic tradition contrary to the contentions of Shaykh Hamza. Indeed, I argue that the suggestion that Shaykh Hamza’s work with the UAE, an especially oppressive regime in the Arab world, is somehow backed by the Islamic tradition can only be read as a mischaracterisation of this tradition. He only explicitly cites two scholars from Islamic history to support his contention, namely Shaykhs Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1493) and Abu Bakr al-Turtushi (d. 520/1126), both of whom were notable Maliki scholars from the Islamic West. Two scholars of the same legal school, from roughly the same relatively peripheral geographic region, living roughly four hundred years apart, cannot fairly be used to represent the swathe of Islamic views to be found over fourteen hundred years in lands as far-flung as India to the east, Russia to the north, and southern Africa to the south.

What does the tradition actually say?

Let me briefly illustrate the diversity of opinion on this issue within the Islamic tradition by citing several more prominent and more influential figures from the same tradition alongside their very different stances on the issue of how one ought to respond to tyrannical rulers. Most of the Four Imams are in fact reported to have supported rebellion (khuruj) which is, by definition, armed. A good summary of their positions is found in the excellent study in Arabic by Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Dumayji, who is himself opposed to rebellion, but who notes that outright rebellion against tyrannical rule was in fact encouraged by Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767) and Malik (d. 179/795), and is narrated as one of the legal positions adopted by al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855). As these scholars’ legal ideas developed and matured into schools of thought, many later adherents also maintained similar positions to those attributed to the founders of these schools. To avoid suggesting that armed rebellion against tyrants was the dominant position of the later Islamic tradition, let me preface this section with a note from Holberg Prize-winning Islamic historian, Michael Cook, who notes in his magisterial study of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong that “in the face of the delinquency of the ruler, there is a clear mainstream position [in the Islamic tradition]: rebuke is endorsed while [armed] rebellion is rejected.”

But there were also clearly plenty of outliers, or more qualified endorsements of rebellion against tyrants, as well as the frequent disavowal of the obligation to render them any obedience. Thus for the Malikis, one can find Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi (d. 543/1148) who asserts that advocating rebellion against tyrants is the main position of the madhhab; similarly among later Hanafis, one finds Qadi Abu Bakr al-Jassas (d. 370/981); for the Hanbalis, one may cite the positions of the prolific scholars Imam Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 513/1119), Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201), and in a more qualified sense, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Among later Shafi‘is, I have found less explicit discussions of rebellion in my limited search, but a prominent Shafi‘i like the influential exegete and theologian al-Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1210) makes explicit, contrary to Shaykh Hamza’s claims, that not only is obeying rulers not an obligation, in fact “most of the time it is prohibited, since they command to nothing but tyranny.” This is similar in ways to the stance of other great Shafi‘is such as al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who notes concerning tyrannical rulers (umara’ al-jawr) that the ulama state that “if it is possible to depose them without fitna and oppression, it is an obligation to do so. Otherwise, it is obligatory to be patient.” It is worth noting that the normative influence of such a statement cited by Ibn Hajar transcends the Shafi‘i school given that it is made in his influential commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Once again, contrary to the assertions of Shaykh Hamza, there is nothing to suggest that any of the illustrious scholars who supported rebellion against tyrannical rulers was advocating the anarchist removal of all government. Rather they were explicitly advocating the replacement of a tyrant with a just ruler where this was possible.

Al-Ghazzali on confronting tyrants

A final example may be taken from the writing of Imam al-Ghazzali, an exceptionally influential scholar in the Islamic tradition who Shaykh Hamza particularly admires. On al-Ghazzali, who is generally opposed to rebellion but not other forms of opposition to tyranny, I would like to once again cite the historian Michael Cook. In his previously cited work, after an extensive discussion of al-Ghazzali’s articulation of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong, Cook concludes (p. 456):

As we have seen, his views on this subject are marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism. In this Ghazzālī may have owed something to his teacher Juwaynī, and he may also have been reacting to the Ḥanafī chauvinism of the Seljūq rulers of his day. The duty, of course, extends to everyone, not just rulers and scholars. More remarkably, he is prepared to allow individual subjects to have recourse to weapons where necessary, and even to sanction the formation of armed bands to implement the duty without the permission of the ruler. And while there is no question of countenancing rebellion, Ghazzālī is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands and rebuke unjust rulers in harsh and uncompromising language.

Most of the material Cook bases his discussion upon is taken from al-Ghazzali’s magnum opus, The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Such works once again demonstrate that the Islamic tradition, or great Sufi masters and their masterworks, cannot be the basis for the supportive attitude towards tyrannical rule on the part of a minority of modern scholars.

Modern discontinuities and their high stakes

But modern times give rise to certain changes that also merit our attention. In modern times, new technologies of governance, such as democracy, have gone some way to dealing with challenges such as the management of the transition of power without social breakdown and the loss of life, as well as other forms of accountability that are not possible in absolute autocracies. For their part, absolute autocracies have had their tyrannical dimensions amplified with Orwellian technologies that invade private spaces and facilitate barbaric forms of torture and inhumane degradation on a scale that was likely unimaginable to premodern scholars. The stakes of a scholar’s decision of whether to support autocracy or democracy could not be higher.

Modern scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1345/1926), someone who Shaykh Hamza’s own mentor, Shaykh Abdullah b. Bayyah (b. 1353f./1935) considered a teacher until fairly recently, has advocated for an Islamic conception of democracy as a possible means to deal with the problem of tyranny that plagues much of the Muslim world. He is hardly the only scholar to do so. And in contrast with some of the scholars of the past who advocated armed rebellion in response to tyranny, most contemporary scholars supporting the Arab revolutions have argued for peaceful political change wherever possible. They have advocated for peaceful protest in opposition to tyranny. Where this devolved into violence in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this was generally because of the disproportionately violent responses of regimes to peaceful protests.

Shaykh Hamza on the nature of government

For Shaykh Hamza, the fault here appears to lie with the peaceful protestors for provoking these governments to crush them. Such a conception of the dynamics of protest appears to assume that the autocratic governmental response to this is a natural law akin to cause and effect. The logic would seem to be: if one peacefully calls for reform and one is murdered in cold blood by a tyrannical government, then one has only oneself to blame. Governments, according to this viewpoint, have no choice but to be murderous and tyrannical. But in an age in which nearly half of the world’s governments are democracies, however flawed at times, why not aspire to greater accountability and less violent forms of governance than outright military dictatorship?

Rather than ask this question, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf appears to be willing to defend autocracy no matter what they do on the grounds that government, in principle, is what is at stake. Indeed, in defending government as necessary and a blessing, he rhetorically challenges his critics to “ask the people of Libya whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Yemen whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Syria whether government is a blessing?” The tragic irony of such statements is that these countries have, in part, been destroyed because of the interventions of a government, one for which Shaykh Hamza serves as an official, namely the UAE. This government has one of the most aggressive foreign policies in the region and has been instrumental in the failure of representative governments and the survival of tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East.

Where do we go from here?

In summary, Shaykh Hamza’s critics are not concerned that he is “supporting governments,” rather they are concerned that for the last few years, he has found himself supporting bad government and effectively opposing the potential for good government in a region that is desperately in need of it. And while he may view himself as, in fact, supporting stability in the region by supporting the UAE, such a view is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the evidence. Given his working relationship with the UAE government, perhaps Shaykh Hamza could use his position to remind the UAE of the blessing of government in an effort to stop them from destroying the governments in the region through proxy wars that result in death on an epic scale. If he is unable to do this, then the most honourable thing to do under such circumstances would be to withdraw from such political affiliations and use all of his influence and abilities to call for genuine accountability in the region in the same way that he is currently using his influence and abilities to provide cover, even if unwittingly, for the UAE’s oppression.

And Allah knows best.

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Raising A Child Between Ages 2-7 | Dr Hatem Al Haj

Dr. Hatem El Haj M.D Ph.D



children drawing crayons

This is called a pre-operational period by Jean Piaget who was focused on cognitive development.

Children this age have difficulty reconciling between different dimensions or seemingly contradictory concepts. One dimension will dominate and the other will be ignored. This applies in the physical and abstract realms. For example, the water in the longer cup must be more than that in the shorter one, no matter how wide each cup is. Length dominates over width in his/her mind.

Throughout most of this stage, a child’s thinking is self-centered (egocentric). This is why preschool children have a problem with sharing.

In this stage, language develops very quickly, and by two years of age, kids should be combining words, and by three years, they should be speaking in sentences.

Erik Erikson, who looked at development from a social perspective, felt that the child finishes the period of autonomy vs. shame by 3 years of age and moves on to the period of initiative vs. guilt which will dominate the psycho-social development until age 6. In this period, children assert themselves as leaders and initiative takers. They plan and initiate activities with others. If encouraged, they will become leaders and initiative takers.

Based on the above, here are some recommendations:

In this stage, faith would be more caught than taught and felt than understood. The serene, compassionate home environment and the warm and welcoming masjid environment are vital.

Recognition through association: The best way of raising your kid’s love of Allah and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is by association. If you buy him ice cream, take the opportunity to tell them it is Allah who provided for you; the same applies to seeing a beautiful rose that s/he likes, tell them it is Allah who made it. Tell them stories about Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Statements like: “Prophet Muhammad was kinder to kids than all of us”; “Prophet Muhammad was kind to animals”; ” Prophet Muhammad loved sweets”; ” Prophet Muhammad helped the weak and old,” etc. will increase your child’s love for our most beloved ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Faith through affiliation: The child will think, “This is what WE do, and how WE pray, and where WE go for worship.” In other words, it is a time of connecting with a religious fraternity, which is why the more positive the child’s interactions with that fraternity are, the more attached to it and its faith he/she will become.

Teach these 2-7 kids in simple terms. You may be able to firmly insert in them non-controversial concepts of right and wrong (categorical imperatives) in simple one-dimensional language. Smoking is ḥarâm. No opinions. NO NUANCES. No “even though.” They ate not ready yet for “in them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people.”

Promote their language development by speaking to them a lot and reading them books, particularly such books that provoke curiosity and open discussions to enhance their expressive language. Encourage them to be bilingual as learning two languages at once does not harm a child’s cognitive abilities, rather it enhances them.

This is despite an initial stage of confusion and mixing that will resolve by 24 to 30 months of age. By 36 months of age, they will be fluent bilingual speakers. Introduce Islamic vocabulary, such as Allah, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), masjid, Muslim, brothers, salaat, in-sha’a-Allah, al-Hamdulillah, subhana-Allah, etc. (Don’t underestimate the effect of language; it does a lot more than simply denoting and identifying things.)

In this pre-operational period, their ability of understanding problem solving and analysis is limited. They can memorize though. However, the focus on memorization should still be moderate. The better age for finishing the memorization of the Quran is 10-15.

Use illustrated books and field trips.

Encourage creativity and initiative-taking but set reasonable limits for their safety. They should also realize that their freedom is not without limits.

Between 3-6 years, kids have a focus on their private parts, according to Freud. Don’t get frustrated; tell them gently it is not appropriate to touch them in public.

Don’t get frustrated with their selfishness; help them gently to overcome this tendency, which is part of this stage.

Parenting: Raising a Child from Age 0 to 2 | Dr. Hatem Al Haj

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