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The Night of Power (Laylat’l-Qadr): Step by Step Guide

What do you do on Layla tul Qadr? Best way to spend the Night of Power.

As Muslims, we are blessed with countless blessings from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Among them is that He has prescribed fasting during the month of Ramadan and has favored us over any other faith group in the past by multiplying our deeds especially in this Blessed month. Another immeasurable blessing which Allah has favored us with is the night of power. Worshiping in this night sincerely and expecting the reward from Allah carries great reward for the servants. In an authentic narration from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), we read:

“Whosoever worshiped on laylat’l-qadr, with faith and with a sincere intention, all of his previous sins are forgiven.” [i]

This night is special for the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad . Worshiping Allah in it is equivalent to worshiping Him for 1000 months.

I do not wish to delve into the views and opinions of the scholars regarding the timing and date of this powerful and blessed night. There are a plethora of articles and books on these topics. The reader may wish to read the writings of Imam Ibn Rajab al Hanbali in his much-celebrated book Lataif al Ma’arif in the chapter of Ramadan.

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I wish to focus on how we can prepare ourselves to reap the rewards of this night and hopefully be granted the forgiveness of our Lord. Below is a step by step guide to achieving success during laylat’l-qadr inspired by the writings of Imam Ibn Rajab and others:

1. Start preparing for it at Fajr.

After Fajr salah, ensure you recite the morning adhkar (remembrance), especially:

لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له له الملك وله الحمد وهو على كل شيء قدير

‘La ila illahu wahdau la sharika lahu, lahul mulku walahul hamd wahuwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadeer’

There is no God but Allah; He is alone without any partner. To Him belong the dominion and to Him belong all praise and He is over all things able.

Repeat this 100 times. The Prophet ﷺ said whoever recites it 100 times in the morning and evening, 100 good deeds will be recorded for him and 100 evil deeds will be erased from his tab, and he will be protected from the Shaytan. An important note here is that he will be free from the whisperings of the Shaytan to prepare for the Night of Power.

2. Treat Iftar to a fasting person, either by inviting him to your house or by buying food for him and sending it to him. The Prophet ﷺ said that whoever gives food to break another person’s fast, he will receive the same reward as the person without his reward being diminished.

Yemeni food mutabaq sandwich

3. When the day breaks, make as much dua as possible that Allah helps you and makes it easy for you to worship Him during this night.

4. If you haven’t paid your Zakat money, pay it on this night as the rewards will be magnified. If you have, then prepare some sadaqah (charity) to give in the way of Allah. Remember charity burns our sins as fire burns wood.

5. During the course of the day, try and avoid people as much as possible (except those who need your support). This way you will not be harmed and will not be in a position to harm anyone, thus entering the night with a clean heart and mind.

Note: this also applies to the various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. You do not need to tell the whole world you’re going to the Mosque at Tahajjud! :)

6. Throughout the daytime make sure you perform the obligatory duties such as praying on time with the additional Sunnah and optional prayers. Repeat the phrases of adhan after the muadhin and make the necessary supplications.[ii]

7. When you break your fast, make sure you’re mindful that Allah may not accept your fasting, so you should yearn for and anticipate His mercy and reward. Supplicate with the following:

اللهم اعني و وفقني لقيام ليلة القدر

‘’Allahumma ‘ainni wa waffiqni li qiyami Laylatul qadr’

O Allah help me and facilitate for me to worship You in this Night’.

Due during Layla tul Qadr

8. Constantly make the chosen dua for this night:

اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عني

‘’Allahumma innaka ‘afuwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni’’

O Allah you the Most Forgiving, and You love to forgive, so forgive me’’[iii]

9. If you have parents, make sure you are dutiful towards them. Break Iftar with them and fulfill all their needs.

10.  If you are not in good terms with a family member, try and resolve it before the night starts.

11.  If you can, have a bath and perform wudu like the Prophet.

12.  Put on clean clothes and put on nice perfume on before going to the Mosque.

13.  When you enter the masjid perform all the etiquette of the masjid. Try not to speak to people too much, just focus all your energy on being alone with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

14.  Pray the prayers with khushu (humility) and try to cry. If tears do not come out, try and make them come (I don’t mean you should cut onions in the mosque. :) )

15.  When you return home, make sure you are still doing the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah.

16.  When you arrive at your house, eat and make dua, make wudu and take some rest (sleep) if you need to. Your sleep will be counted as ibadah (worship).

17.  Wake up in due time and pray Tahajjud (many Mosques pray Tahajjud in a Jama’ah), eat and then pray Fajr. After Fajr, read the Qur’an, make constant dua and plead to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to forgive you. Do that and the morning dhikr until sunrise, all the while being mindful of the presence of the angels.

Remember this is the night in which Allah decrees your rizq (provisions) for the coming year, so implore Allah; cry your heart out as they say so that He may give you what you desire. Don’t think what you’re asking for is too much for Allah, nothing you ask will decrease His dominion. You want money, ask Him, you want a wife/husband, ask Him, you want a job, ask Him, you want children, ask Him, you want peace of heart, ask Him, anything you desire ask. Remember that you must focus and concentrate when you pray and make dua.

pray on Layla tul Qadr

18.  When you make dua, remember that there is certain etiquette you have to follow:

a) Praise Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) first,
b) then send salutations upon the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him),
c) then make dua for your yourself,
d) then make dua for your family and the rest of the Ummah.
Try and follow this order as much as you can.

19.  Remember when you supplicate you should have certainty and expect the best from Allah. Pray with humility and fear in front of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings and implore and beseech Him alone to forgive you. Also, supplicate to Allah quietly – there is no need to raise one’s voice.

20.  And finally, please do not forget to make dua for this poor servant who is in need of your prayers.[iv]

period in Ramadan pray

Important note for sisters:

Many sisters who are on the monthly menses ask what they can do during this night. They feel left out from the blessings of this night.

Although she is not allowed to perform the prayers and recite the Qur’an by touching it. The scholars have stated that she may perform as much dua as possible, remembering and praising Allah. They also state that she is allowed to recite the Qur’an from her memory. And finally, if her intention and ardent desire are to worship her Lord in this night but due to the valid excuse in the Shari’ah she is not able to perform the normal prayers; she should be certain that Allah will reward her fully according to her sincerity and intention.

Allah knows best.


[i] Bukhari and Muslim

[ii] See Hisnul Muslim. Alternatively visit: http://www.makedua.com/

[iii] Please watch a short video clip explaining briefly the meaning of this dua: http://youtu.be/QU1jDhW64ak

[iv] Please refer to Ibn Rajab’s Lataif al Ma’arif for discussion on the virtues and some actions of this night.

 

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Sh. Abdullah Hasan graduated with an Imam Diploma, BA and Ijaza Aliyah in Islamic Studies [Theology & Islamic Law, taught completely in Arabic] from a European Islamic seminary. He holds a diploma in Arabic from Zarqa Private University (Jordan), studied at the faculty of fiqh wa usuluhu (Jurisprudence and its principles) at the same university while receiving training in various disciplines privately with some of the leading Scholars of Jordan and the Middle East. He studied Chaplaincy at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education (MIHE). He is a Licensed Islamic Professional Counsellor (LIPC), specialising in youth and marriage therapy. In addition, he is a specialist in Zakat and Islamic philanthropic studies.He served, as an Imam, several Muslim communities in the UK.Sh. Abdullah Hasan has enormous interest and passion in the field of community and people development. He has over 10 years of management, leadership and training experience within the third sector. He is the founder of British Imams and Scholars Contributions & Achievement Awards (BISCA), which is a national platform to celebrate, support & nurture positive leadership within the community. The Founder of British Institutes, Mosques & Association Awards (BIMA), which is national platform celebrating the achievements of mosques and Islamic institutions. He also founded Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA), an international coalition of leaders to end domestic abuse, and is a member of the National Council of Imams & Rabbis, UK.,

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Avatar

    feint

    August 9, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    I pray that you recieve Firdaus and get more happiniess than you can handle!

  2. Avatar

    seeker

    August 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    You said, ”
    They also state that she is allowed to recite the Qur’an from her memory.” I thought recitation of the Qur’an (with one’s tongue), even from memory without touching the scripture, is impermissible during menses. Could you please clarify?

    • Avatar

      L.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:26 PM

      yes brother, a woman in menses is allowed to recite Quran from memory.

    • Avatar

      Maha

      August 10, 2012 at 6:42 PM

      actually according to Imam Abu HAnifa RahmatULLAH ALAIH a woman CANNOT recite the HOLY QURAN, with her tongue, even from her memory… I, ALHUMDULILLAH, am an Islamic Scholar…

      • Avatar

        AbdulAleem Khan

        August 11, 2012 at 5:41 AM

        that’s the Hanafi viewpoint, but the authentic Hadith points out that a woman can recite from her memory during her menses.

      • Avatar

        jj

        August 25, 2012 at 9:49 PM

        you, alhamdulillah, are a moron.

      • Avatar

        Zaujihsan

        June 29, 2016 at 2:57 PM

        So are you saying that Allah would leave a sister unprotected?

  3. Avatar

    AJ

    August 9, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Could you clarify the note for females during the menses -can they read other dua’s mentioned on these holy nights? And read the Quran without touching it?

    • Avatar

      Maha

      August 10, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      actually according to Imam Abu HAnifa RahmatULLAH ALAIH a woman CANNOT
      recite the HOLY QURAN, with her tongue, even from her memory… and the Dua’s that are Ayaats of the Quran, like the Dua for travelling, can be recited during these days, but with this intention, that I’m making Dua, and am not reciting the Quran… I,
      ALHUMDULILLAH, am an Islamic Scholar…

    • Avatar

      TripleChocholate

      August 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM

      Salaam. I’m not a scholar. I took a women’s fiqh course and it seems that the majority opinion is that she is allowed to “read” the Qur’an in her menses and this is the opinion of Imam Malik and one opinion narrated from Imam Ahmed; the opinion of Ibn Hazm, Al Bukhari, and other Ahl al Hadeeth scholars. Also Ibn Taymiyya and Ash Shawkani believed this opinion is correct.

      Also according to Sheikh Waleed Basyouni she can read dua’s even the ones that have ayat of the Qur’an in them.

      • Avatar

        um Abdullah

        August 14, 2012 at 11:36 PM

        I agree with you. I have only heard of one hadith in which Prophet Moahmmed (peace be upon him) wrote a letter and said that anyone who has the greater impurity (from menses and junaba) can not touch the Quran. But there is no hadith that says that one who has menses can not read the Qur’an. Also if there is any other writing in the Qur’an – for example, if one has a book of tafsir – one can touch it even if one has menses, as it is then not considered a mushaf. Sorry, if anyone says otherwise, please give an authentic hadith to support their view. For most things in the religion, the basis is that it is allowed unless there is an authentic proof that states otherwise.

      • Avatar

        A Soliman

        June 29, 2016 at 3:19 AM

        Any sound hadith overrides any of the 4 schools of thought as stated by our 4 imams (schools of thought) also being a scholar doesn’t subject you to perfection. Allah knows best.

  4. Avatar

    Aziza

    August 10, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    This is very helpful, JazakAllah Khair.

  5. Avatar

    saleh

    August 12, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    This helped me understand so much about the nice night of ramadan

  6. Avatar

    Suhana

    August 12, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Subhanallah :)

  7. Avatar

    mehraj

    August 16, 2012 at 5:11 AM

    alhamdulilah thank you for the info,it helpd us to us sday

  8. Avatar

    Aneeq UR Rahman Khan

    August 1, 2013 at 5:34 AM

    Write ALLAH’s “A” capital @suhana

  9. Avatar

    Me

    August 2, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    can women read Qur’an from apps during menses?

  10. Avatar

    Ahmad

    August 2, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    This is great. thank you for the guide. May Allah guide you and bless you.

  11. Avatar

    sonscare

    June 29, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    Do not be mislead. Woman on their menses are allowed to memorize verses frm Qur an. Only by not touching it. May Allah protect us.

  12. Avatar

    Ehliyet Soruları

    July 6, 2016 at 12:14 AM

    Maşallah.Allah’u Ekber.

  13. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 2:29 AM

    The night of Laila-tul-Qadar is very important night.

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#Islam

Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

Group belonging

One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

  1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
  2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
  3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
  4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth gets (attaches) attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group. As Miller points out: 

Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

Identity scholarship

Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

Slip into demagoguery

When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

Creating a strawman

Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

Condescending discrediting

One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

Discrediting due to inexperience

Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

Victimization and Victimology

Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likeable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

Disregarding Nuance

“Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

Scholarly discourse

Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

How to have productive discourse

Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

“I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 16: The Best of You

Now that we have learnt about fruit out of season, let’s now talk about the best of you.

I want you all to think about your closest friends and how you treat them. 

Question: Would anyone like to share how they try to treat their closest friends?

That’s wonderful! You try to be thoughtful and considerate of their feelings. You bring snacks to share with them, you may buy or make them a gift.

Question: Now, I want you to close your eyes and think of the way you treat your family members. Is it the same?

Question: Why do you think that there is a difference between the way we treat our friends and the way we may treat our siblings or parents?

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Yes, we do spend a lot of time together. We see each other when we’re cranky or frustrated. Sometimes we want our own space to think, or we don’t want someone interfering with our things. Those are all valid reasons. But, do you know that it is more beloved to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that you treat your family members better than you even treat your friends?

It’s true! In a hadith, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِي وَإِذَا مَاتَ صَاحِبُكُمْ فَدَعُوهُ

“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” 

Question: What are some ways we can be the best to our family members? I’m going to share with you a hadith that may help you get some ideas: 

وعن أبى أمامه الباهلى رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ “أنا زعيم ببيت في ربض الجنة لمن ترك المراء، وإن كان محقاً، وببيت في وسط الجنة لمن ترك الكذب، وإن كان مازحاً، وببيت في أعلى الجنة لمن حسن خلقه” ‏(‏حديث صحيح رواه أبو داود بإسناد صحيح‏).‏

“I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

If we work on these three things: less arguing, no lying, and good manners, alongside all of your other suggestions, we will be rewarded with Jannah, inshaAllah

Question: Do you think we can all work hard to be the best to our family members?

 

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Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas | Book Review

In the second decade of the 21st century in America, Muslims consider themselves “as American as apple pie,” don American-flag hijabs, and consider their presence and participation in American politics as a crowning achievement. There is little to no resemblance between the majority of the American Muslim population today, and the very first Muslims who landed in America – not as privileged individuals, but as enslaved people at the hands of vicious white colonizers who had already decimated the Indigenous population and who had no qualms about destroying the lives of their slaves. Dr Sylviane A. Diouf’s book “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” tracks the journeys and experiences of African Muslims who found themselves shipped aboard slave-trafficking vessels and taken to the other side of their known world. From their induction into the Transatlantic slave trade, to their determination to uphold the five pillars of Islam – regardless of their circumstances – to the structure of the enslaved Muslim community, their prized (and dangerous) literacy, and their never-ending resistance against slavery, Diouf illustrates in incredible detail the powerful and painful experiences of enslaved African Muslims, and the legacy that they left behind in the Americas.

This review of “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” will focus on the unique qualities and formidable faith of the very first Muslims in the Americas, and the legacy that they left for Muslims in the Americas today.

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In Chapter One, Diouf begins by answering the very first question that arises when considering the path of enslaved African Muslims: how did they end up enslaved in the first place? Slavery already existed as an institution in Africa, though vastly different from the horrifying standards of the European slavers. Between the existing slave trade, military conflicts that created prisoners-of-wars who were then sold as slaves, and the European propensity for kidnapping innocent people, many Muslims found themselves swept into the Transatlantic slave trade. These same Muslims were the ones who provided us with much of the knowledge that we have today regarding the American slave experience. Most African Muslims were literate, due to the religious and cultural importance of education; of those enslaved, many were religious scholars or students of knowledge. They described how they were captured, the torturous journey of the slave caravans across the continent, and the even more horrific experience of the slave ships themselves. These men also documented their lives as slaves, and indirectly, provided deep insight into their own inner nature. 

Despite the intense pressure and demands on African enslaved people to renounce their ‘heathen faith’ and be inducted as Christians, African Muslims demonstrated a commitment to Islam that should cause modern Muslims today to feel deeply ashamed in comparison. The very first words that Job ben Solomon (Ayuba Suleyman Diallo) uttered, after running away and then being discovered in Pennsylvania, were the shahaadah; Omar ibn Sa’id wrote numerous Arabic manuscripts, in which the shahaadah was always found (Diouf, 2013, p. 72-73). When Catholic priests tried hard to educate slaves about Christianity as part of the conversion process, the African Muslims were both resistant and unimpressed; they were already familiar with many Biblical stories, thanks to their Qur’anic education. Of those who seemed to have accepted Christianity, many did so only outwardly, while confirming their belief in Allah and His Messenger in every aspect of their lives. Indeed, in Brazil and other areas where there were large concentrations of Muslim slaves, the Muslims established underground madaaris to maintain and pass on their Islamic knowledge and education. Muhammad Kaba Saghanughu was a man whom the missionaries had thought was successfully converted when he provided all the right answers to their pre-baptismal questions – eleven years later, in a Baptist Missionary Society notebook, he wrote a 50-page fiqh manual in Arabic that encompassed the rulings of salaah, marriage, and other topics. 

Slavery did not stop the African Muslims from maintaining their salaah in whatever manner they could manage, considering their circumstances. Some did so in secret, while others insisted on upholding their salaah in public, to the extent that these incidents were recorded by the descendants of slaves and slaveholders alike. In Brazil, the African Muslim community – both enslaved and freed – held together so strongly that they were able to secretly establish Salatul Jumu’ah and attend gatherings of dhikr, even in the face of intense scrutiny (Diouf, 2013, p. 88-89). 

Perhaps one of the most greatly moving examples of enslaved African Muslims’ dedication to their Islam was that even in the midst of the utter poverty of slavery, they found a way to uphold zakaah, sawm, and Hajj. In Brazil, it was recorded that the Muslims would end Ramadan with the exchanging of gifts, no matter how simple they were; in truth, these gifts were zakaatul fitr and zakaatul maal.

In other areas, the descendants of Muslim slaves recalled that their parents and grandparents would make rice cakes called saraka at least once a year – saraka was a corruption of the Arabic word sadaqah, and the rice cakes were a Jumu’ah tradition in West Africa. (Diouf, 2013, p. 92-94) In Ramadan, many Muslims sought to fast; indeed, despite the incredible hardship and lack of nutritious food that the slaves already endured, there were those who fasted voluntarily outside of Ramadan as well, often by pretending to be ill. They knew that their situation meant that fasting – in Ramadan and outside of it – was not obligatory on them, and yet, to them, no circumstance was bad enough to warrant not even attempting to observe Ramadan. Hajj was another pillar of Islam that was both impossible and no longer obligatory on the enslaved Muslims; yet in Brazil, in a house that was used as a masjid, there were illustrated depictions of the Ka’bah – demonstrating the emotional bond that the African Muslims had with the Sacred House. 

Throughout Diouf’s book, the overwhelming theme that arises is the fierce commitment that enslaved African Muslims had to Islam. It was not superficial, shallow, or easily shrugged away in the face of difficulty. Instead, the African Muslims held onto their belief in Allah and their daily, lived practise of Islam, even when they had every excuse to relax their obligations. They upheld their Islamic and cultural dress code, not just at its minimum standard of modesty, but in a way that clearly demonstrated their religious identity (Diouf, 2013, p. 101-110). They found ways to make prayer mats and dhikr beads; they gave their children Muslim names in secret, when they were expected to present themselves as Christians; they even strove to observe whatever they could of the Islamic dietary code, by refusing to drink alcohol or eat pork – Ayuba Diallo went so far as to only eat dhabiha meat that he himself slaughtered (Diouf, 2013, p. 119-122). The enslaved African Muslims valued their Islamic identity above all. Even in slavery, they knew that their ‘izzah came from their Deen – and so did those around them, who noted their unique bearing in the face of the horrors of slavery. 

The story of the African Muslims who were enslaved and brought to the Americas is not merely a history lesson, or a token homage in honour of Black History Month. It is a story that echoes the persecution of the earliest Muslims in Makkah, and applicable to Muslims today. Muslim minorities in the West are often all too eager to complain of our difficulties and to seek religious exemptions for our minor inconveniences. Yet who are we in comparison to the earliest African-American Muslims, who endurable the unspeakable? Who are we, with our privileges, with our very freedom, in comparison to those Muslims who were stripped of everything and everyone they knew and loved, and who still held ever tighter to the Rope of Allah? One may say that it is unfair to compare us and them; that to recognize their struggles should not mean invalidating the challenges we face today. Certainly, we face numerous different fitan that are very different from what they experienced, but the truth is that we should compare our attitudes with those of our predecessors. We should be ashamed of our own weaknesses in times of privilege compared to their strength in times of oppression. More importantly, we must learn from them what it means to have such a relationship with our Creator and our Deen that we are capable of surviving and thriving in even the worst of circumstances. 

May Allah have mercy on the enslaved African Muslims who endured one of this Ummah’s historic tragedies, and may He make us of those who demonstrate their strength of love for Him through every tragedy of our own.

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