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The Meaning of Tawba (Repentance from Sins)

This post is a translation of a classical book by Sayyidina al-Shaykh al-‘Arif bi-Llah Abū-Hāmid Muhammad al-Arabī bin Muhammad al-Sā’ih al-Sharqī al-Umarī. He was born in the ancient city of Meknes, Morocco, in 1229 (1814), to a family who were direct descendants of Sayyidinā Umar al-Fārūq ibn al-Khattāb, may Allah be pleased with him.

He was a renowned nineteenth-century Moroccan scholar of Hadīth, Maliki Fiqh, Tazkiyyah un Nafs and Arabic poetry. His teachers included men like al-Faqih al-Muhaddith Sidi Abd-al-Qādir al-Kawhan, al-‘Allāmah Muhammad al-Hādi Bādu, Shaykh al-Sharīf Walīd al-Irāqi and other savants. He also exchanged Ijāzahs with many famous North African scholars.]


Being protecting of matters of Sharīʿah is only possible for the Muslim by him/her being swift towards tawba from each wrongful action committed.  It is also necessary to refrain from persistence [doing repeatedly] in sin.  One can avoid being considered as someone who is persistently sinning,  by making tawba for every sin committed (meaning “persistence” does not mean repeating the sin, rather it is repeating sins without making tawba).  If one repeatedly sins, let him renew his tawba for such repetition, even if this process occurs many times; there is no sickness for which a cure does not exist [the cure for sins is repentance].

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It is related in the ḥadīth: “One who makes istighfār is not considered persistent in sin, even if this occurs seventy times in a day”[1].  It was once said to Al-Ḥassan Al-Baṣrī: “a man commits a sin, makes tawba, and then commits a sin again, and he makes tawba again, until when? He replied: I do not see such a behavior as being anything other than part of the good traits of character of the believers”.

Ḥujjatul-Islām [Imām Ghazālī] raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) explains: “Just as you have taken returning to sins as a habit, then also take returning to tawba as a habit, because through tawba you expiate your past sins, and it is very possible that you may have the fortune to die while in a state of tawba”.

The gist of the matter is that what is incumbent for the Muslim, is to comply to obedience and refrain from disobedience inwardly and outwardly.  What is required is to exert oneself and one’s capacity towards that, in accordance with the verse فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ “And fear Allah according to your capacity”[2].  This level of compliance to commands and refraining from sins can not occur except through one being particular about tawba from every sin that one commits, even if the [inevitable] decree of Allāh Taʿālā has determined that one repeats such sin several times in a day or night.  The servant is not ordained to do anything other than renew his tawba for that sin, or for repeating it if that happens to him; because this is a sin for which it is obligatory [wājib] to make tawba, and nothing other than tawba is obligated to the servant in relation to that sin.  One is not required to renew his pledge [of obedience to Allāh as a Muslim] as a result of sins, as one may mistakenly think.

This method of tawba is the way of the Kummal among the ʿĀrifīn [the gnostics who have attained a complete state of piety].

HOW DOES ONE MAKE TAWBA?

Tawba consists [first of all] of feeling remorseful [nadam]: meaning feeling pain in the heart and sadness from what originated from oneself, magnifying thereby the act of disobedience of Allāh Taʿālā, and out of fear of His retribution and anger.

Tawba also consists of having a strong and affirmed resolve not to repeat the sin committed.  However, this intent does not consist of going as far as giving an undertaking to Allāh Taʿālā that one will never disobey Him again.

Shaykh ʿAbdul-Wahhāb Al-Shaʿrānī raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him)  mentioned in his book Al-Ṭabaqāt that someone once said to a pious man: what do you think of me giving an undertaking or promise to Allāh Taʿālā that I will never disobey Him again? He replied: who could be more wrongful than you if you were to do that?  You would be challenging Allāh Taʿālā not to exert His decree on you…

Among the requirements of tawba is to utter istighfār [saying astaghfirullāh] with one’s tongue, at the moment of tawba.  It is in fact common [among the ʿulamā] to consider istighfār as being equivalent to tawba as in the previous ḥadīth “the one who utters istighfār is not considered as being persistent in sin”.  The ḥadīth is narrated by Al-Tirmidhī through Abū-Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

Imām Aḥmad raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) narrates in a ḥadīth of Ibn-ʿUmar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), that Nabī ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Woe to those who are persistent in sin, those who persist in their wrongdoings while they are well informed”.

Aḥmad Al-Qasṭalānī[3] raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him)  explains: meaning those who are aware that whoever repents to Allāh will undoubtedly find Allāh acceptor of his repentance, yet they do not utter istighfār; Al-Qasṭalānī quotes Mujāhid [mufassir] and others as having interpreted this verse as such.   The verse in question is: وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

“And those who, when they happen to commit a shameful act or wrong themselves, remember Allah, then, seek forgiveness for their sins-and who is there to forgive sins except Allah?-and do not persist in what they have done, knowingly”

It is essential that one does not leave the practice of uttering istighfār under the [false] pretense that his heart’s condition is not in accordance with his tongue’s utterance.  This is so because it is a fact that once the tongue is accustomed to a certain utterance, it is only a matter of time for the heart to become accustomed to that utterance and thereby align its condition with the tongue.

Note: some ʿulamā have specified the period of time after which one is considered to be persistent in sin [by not making tawba], as being the time before the next ṣalāh; others have mentioned other lengths of time.  It is narrated in a ḥadīth: “The angels-meaning those who record deeds-wait for the wrongful one for the length of a sāʿa [moment]”.  It has also been narrated by Al-Samarqandī that the angels wait for six or seven sāʿāt.  If the person repents to Allāh in that time period, no sin is written against him, otherwise a single bad deed [only] is recorded against him.

IS THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE SERVANT’S TAWBA BY ALLĀH-TAʿĀLĀ CERTAIN, OR IS IT JUST A POSSIBILITY?

The question of acceptance of tawba is a matter of khilāf [differing opinions] among the ʿulamā.  Is the acceptance of tawba by Allāh Taʿālā a matter of certainty [qaṭʿī] or is it only a matter of high likelihood [dhannī]?  The position of the majority among the ʿulamā [mashūr] is that the acceptance of tawba is a matter of certainty.  Tawba is also obligatory for repeating the sin, and it is also obligatory for intending to repeat the sin [even if one does not return to it after such intent], and this is a matter in which there is no khilāf .

There is also khilāf [difference of opinion] regarding whether it is valid to make tawba for certain sins only.  The correct position is that it is valid, even if what one makes tawba about is a minor offense, while one is persistent in committing numerous other offenses.

There is also khilāf [difference of opinion] about whether it is wājib [obligatory] to make tawba when one [simply] recollects a sin committed in the past or not.

The question is whether it is obligatory, or is it just praiseworthy [mustaḥab], except in the case where recollects it with happiness and contentment from having fallen into the sin, in which case it would be obligatory.  The correct position is that it is not wājib, and this is in accordance with Shaykh Aḥmad-Zarrūq[4]‘s statement in his book Al-Naṣīḥa: “Recollecting a sin does not make tawba obligatory, rather it is praiseworthy [mustaḥab] according to the most correct opinion, with the condition that one is not joyful in his recollection, in which case it would be obligatory to repent from such joy and contentment that one has fallen in the sin”.

Note: the one who finds it difficult to make tawba, let him abundantly read إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ وَالْفَتْحُ[5] , and the one who finds it difficult to control his ego, let him abundantly read حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ[6].  This has been mentioned by Shaykh Zarruq raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him).


[1]    Tirmidhī, narrated by Abū-Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him).

[2]    Sūra At-Taghābun, 64, verse 15.

[3]    Renown Muḥaddith, commentator of the Bukhārī [Irshād Al-Sārī]

[4]    Renown Māliki scholar, from Fes (Morocco); was an accomplished scholar who marked his time and whose works became a reference in Tazkiyyah all over the world up to this age.

[5]    Sūra Al-Naṣr.

[6]    Sūra Al-ʿImrān, verse 173.

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Mukhtar Ba is a Muslim man in his early forties, who hopes one day to become among the Ṣāliḥīn. He has a strong interest in continuously acquiring and perusing Islamic knowledge. An Industrial engineer by profession, he has strived to assiduously seek sacred knowledge along with his professional activities since the early 2000s. This interest has led him to study with contemporary senior scholars in Mauritania and Senegal, his home countries. He has studied mainly the following subjects: Māliki Fiqh, Arabic grammar, Seerah Nabawiyya, Hadith, Aqeeda and Tasawwuf. He takes a particular interest in Tafsir of Quran, and has translated one volume (out of 6) of a classical Tafsir by a Senegalese scholar of the 20th century, organized in a similar fashion to the Jalalayn. One of his areas of interest is analyzing the intersection between modern issues and traditional sources of Islamic knowledge. He currently resides in Canada.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Yasmin

    February 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very important and informative post!

  2. Avatar

    Umme Hadi

    February 15, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Masha Allah, Takabbal minna wa min kum.

  3. Avatar

    sajid

    February 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Thanks for these sayings it really ignites our iman…

  4. Mukhtar

    Mukhtar

    February 16, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    Salaam to all.
    The web admin forgot to mention that this article is a translation of a few pages on tawba, from a book of Tasawwuf by a Moroccan scholar and pious man: Sidi Muhammad Al-Arabi Ibn Saih 1813-1892.
    I have only translated. May Allah make many benefit, amine.

  5. Abu Aaliyah

    Abu Aaliyah

    February 16, 2013 at 7:30 AM

    Jazakallahu khayran for this translation; a much needed reminder and booster.

  6. Avatar

    Maijiddah

    February 16, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Assalamu Alaykum. You did a good job of translating it as it is really informative. Jazak Allahu khairan may Allah make us among those who seek his mercy and forgivenesss at all times.

  7. Avatar

    Nii

    February 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Jazakallahu khayr for this translation — it is from Allah’s SWT mercy that it came at such a needed time.

  8. Avatar

    LQ

    February 19, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    Thank you so much for your kind and generous guidances and very useful content for all people.God bless.

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      February 19, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Dear LQ

      Our Comments Policy asks that a name or Kunyah be used while commenting and not a “statement”. Since your “name” was advertising (coupled with the URL) it has been changed. You are requested to use your name or Kunyah while commenting.

      Regards
      Comments Team

  9. Avatar

    Zeeshan

    February 19, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    JazakAllah Khlairen for sharing this, it is a much needed reminder. May Allah SWT bless the person who wrote this Ameen.

  10. Avatar

    Sheryf

    February 21, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    Jazaakumullaah khayr!
    May Allaah forgive our sins and accept our tawba..til jannah. Ameeeen

  11. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    February 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Awesome post!

    di.

  12. Avatar

    Anees

    March 1, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Alhamdulilah, great piece of information.
    But I am not fully satisfied or hearing the hadith for the 1st time that: There is a WAIT TIME for our sins being registered.

    Can you please give more insight on that.

    thanx

  13. Avatar

    moni

    May 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    Alhamdulillah! It’s one of the best meal for a sinner like me. Inshallah, I will repent and refrain from my sins.

  14. Avatar

    Istighfar

    September 13, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Repent to Allah again. Into tawba again. Same ole trip it was baaack the en. So I made a big mistake. Try to seek Allah’s Mercyyyyy.

    To truly repent again is only sincere. True humility is only here. Honor is only in Allah’s commands and the hereafter. Subhan’Allahi amma yasifoon. To seek Allah’s Forgiveness again is better than to not cause of the same sin. Yes it is or no it’s not? Eheheh. To believe or not to believe. That is the question. Shame over sin is tawba. Feel ashamed to make Istighfar but still truly seek Allah’s Forgiveness. How much does your heart truly mean well for Allah’s commands? Tawba does not have limits except if it’s not truly within our hearts. The Truth is in your heart. Still, Allah’s Mercy and Justice is Greater than we don’t think. To go back to Islam is to accept Islam the first time. Repeating sin is not as bad as doubting Allah’s Forgiveness because of that. Wisdom has depths without a mere surface. So does sincerity, faith, humility, etc. The opposite of virtue is a mere surface or ego/shallow focus. We have to consider that true faith is deeply in the heart. Our heart is what counts. Though our flesh has to be disciplined by Allah’s Commands as well. Til Judgment Day. After the end of this life.

  15. Avatar

    milkias mieso

    March 10, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    jazaa kallaahu khaayral jazaai yaa ustaaz. because I see it very important things for muslim ummah

  16. Avatar

    kam

    March 18, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    thanks for allah

  17. Avatar

    dfggfgf

    February 1, 2016 at 1:53 PM

    Mashallah great piece of information

  18. Avatar

    hgfhgfgyhgh

    February 1, 2016 at 1:54 PM

    Mashallah very intresting info …

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Torment And Tears: The Emotional Experience of Tawbah

Have you ever had that moment where, all of a sudden, you remember something that you said or did in the past, the severity of which you only realized later on?

That sharp inhalation, shortness of breath, the flush of humiliation, the sick lurching in the pit of your stomach as you recall hurtful words, or an action that was so clearly displeasing to Allah… it is a very physical reaction, a recoiling from your own past deeds.

It may not even be the first time you think about those actions, it may not even be the first time to make istighfaar because of them… but sometimes, it may be the first time that you really and truly feel absolutely sickened at the realization of the gravity of it all. It might not even have been a ‘big deal’ – perhaps it was a cruel joke to a sensitive friend, or not having fulfilled a promise that was important to someone, or betraying a secret that you didn’t think was all that serious.

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And yet… and yet, at this moment, your memory of that action is stark and gut-wrenching.

It is a deeply unpleasant feeling.

It is also a very necessary one.

The Act of Tawbah

Tawbah – seeking forgiveness from Allah – is something that we speak about, especially in Ramadan, the month of forgiveness. However, it is also something that we tend to speak about in general terms, or write off as something simple – “Just say astaghfirAllah and don’t do it again.”

In truth, tawbah is about much more than muttering istighfaar under your breath. It is a process, an emotional experience, one that engages your memory, your soul, and your entire body.

The first step of tawbah is to recognize the sin – whether seemingly small or severe – and to understand just how wrong it was. Each and every one of our deeds is written in our book of deeds; each and every deed will be presented to us on the Day of Judgment for us to be held accountable for. There are times when we say things so casually that it doesn’t even register to us how we could be affecting the person we’ve spoken to.

As RasulAllah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once told A’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her),

“You have said a word which would change the sea (i.e. poison or contaminate it) if it were mixed in it.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

The second step is to feel true remorse. It’s not enough to rationally acknowledge that action as being sinful; one must feel guilt, remorse, and grief over having committed it.

Tawbah is to feel that sucker-punch of humiliation and guilt as we recall our sins: not just the mildly awkward ones, like a petty fib or mild infraction, but the genuinely terrible parts of ourselves… ugly lies, vicious jealousy, violations against others’ rights, abuse.

Some of us may be actual criminals – others of us may seem presentable on the outside, even religious, maybe even spiritual… and yet have violated others in terrible ways. Abuse comes in so many forms, and some of us are perpetrators, not just victims.

Facing that reality can be a gruesome process. 

It is a necessary process. Token words, glib recitation of spiritual formulae, those do not constitute tawbah in its entirety. Rather, it is a matter of owning up to our violations, experiencing genuine emotion over them – true humiliation, true regret – and striving not to be that person ever again. 

Much as we hate to admit it, we have our own fair share of red flags that we create and wave, even before we get into the nasty business of committing the worst of our sins. Tawbah isn’t just feeling bad for those Big Sins – it’s to recognize what led us to them to begin with.

It requires us to acknowledge our own flaws of character, of the ease with which we fall into certain behaviours, the way we justify the pursuit of our desires, the blindness we have to the worst parts of ourselves. Tawbah is to sit down and face all of it – and then to beg Allah, over and over, not just to forgive us and erase those specific actions, but to change us for the better. 

This experience is so much more powerful than a mere “I’m sorry,” or “omg, that was awful”; it is an act that embodies our submission to Allah because it requires us to make ourselves incredibly emotionally vulnerable, and in that moment, to experience a deep pain and acknowledge our wrongdoing. It is to hold your heart out to Allah and to beg Him, with every fiber of your being, with tears in your eyes, with a lump in your throat, wracked with regret, to please, please, please forgive you – because without it, without His Mercy and His Forgiveness and His Gentleness and His Love towards us, we have no hope and we will be utterly destroyed.

Surah Araf Verse 23

{Rabbanaa thalamnaa anfusanaa, wa illam taghfir lanaa wa tar’hamnaa, lanakunanna mina’l Khaasireen!}

{Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers!} (Qur’an 7:23)

This experience of tawbah is powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking. It is meant to be. It is a reminder to us of how truly dependent we are upon our Lord and our Creator, how nothing else in our lives can give us joy or a sense of peace if He is displeased with us. It is a reminder to us of how deeply we crave His Love, of how desperately we need it, of how His Pleasure is the ultimate goal of our existence.

Finally, there is the step of resolving never to commit that sin again, to redress the wrongs if possible, and to follow up the bad deed with a good one.

The vow is one we make to ourselves, asking Allah’s help to uphold it – because we are incapable of doing anything at all without His Permission; the righting of wrongs is what we do to correct our transgression against others’ rights over us, although there are times when we may well be unable to seek another individual’s forgiveness, whether because of distance, death, or otherwise; and the good deeds to undertake as penance are numerous, whether they be sadaqah or increased ‘ebaadah.

But it doesn’t end there. And it never will.

Tawbah is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It is not even a once-a-year event, or once a month, or once a week. It is meant to be a daily experience, a repeated occurrence, in the earliest hours of the morning, in the depths of the last third of the night, during your lunch break or your daily commute or in the middle of a social gathering.

Tawbah is a lifelong journey, for who amongst us doesn’t commit mistakes and errors every day?

All we can do is beg of Allah not only for His Forgiveness, but also: {Allahumma ij’alnaa min at-tawwaabeen.} – O Allah, make us amongst those who are constantly engaging in repentance!

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#Islam

Moonsighting Gone Wrong, Again.

Moonsighting is just not working out.

Atleast not for our community here in the Toronto area. As I speak to my friends in other large (read: fragmented) communities, such as those in the UK, I hear similar tales of confusion, anxiety and horror. The problem in these communities stems from the fact that there are numerous moonsighting organizations in the same area, all following different methodologies for declaring Eid and Ramadan. This naturally results in a catastrophe and Muslims from the same family living in the same city are forced to celebrate the holidays on different days.

To give you a taste of how (and why) things went wrong in this year’s Ramadan declaration, here’s a summary highlighting the series of events as they unfolded. (Reminder: Ramadan was expected to start on Friday, April 24th or Saturday, April 25th 2020 in North America)

  • Wednesday, April 22, 10: 13 pm EST: Crescent Council of Canada (CC) declares Ramadan to start on Friday, 24th April based on the fact that it received no reports of moonsighting sighting on Wednesday night. This committee follows global moonsighting and it declared Ramadan so early because it was already the 29th of Shaban based on the lunar calendar it follows (for most of North America, the 29th of Shaban was to be on Thursday). So, starting Ramadan on Saturday was simply not an option for the group (as it would have meant observing 31 days of Shaban). Also to note is that this group gives precedence to official declarations from authorities from Muslim-majority countries, even if these declarations conflict predictions of visibility charts and astronomical calculations. It argues that testimony of witnesses takes precedence in the sharia over astronomical data.
  • Thursday, April 23rd, 7:27 pm EST : The Hilal Council of Canada (HC), another committee in the area that follows global sighting, states that there has not been any sighting of the moon in any country, including South and Central America (it is past sunset in most of the Muslim world by now). The committee decides that it will wait till sundown in California to receive the final reports before making a declaration. Confusion starts spreading in the community as one organization has already declared Ramadan while another claims no one in the Muslim world saw the moon. Note that HC does not accept moonsighting reports if they contradict astronomical data.
  • 8:39 pm: Confusion continues. The CC claims that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Turkey and a host of Muslim countries have declared Ramadan. The committee thus feels validated in its original declaration which it made on Wednesday night.
  • 8:48 pm: More confusion: California-based CrescentWatch.org also claims that moonsighting reports from the Middle-East and Africa are all negative. People naturally start wondering how so many countries supposedly declared Ramadan if there were no positive sightings.
  • 9:40 pm: The Hilal Committee of Toronto and Vicinity, the oldest moonsighting group in the city, declares Ramadan to start on Saturday the 25th of April. Since the committee did not receive any positive reports by sunset from areas in its jurisdiction, it declared Ramadan to commence on Saturday. This committee follows local moonsighting and doesn’t rely on reports from the Muslim-world. Two of the three major moonsighting groups in the city have declared Ramadan on different days at this time. Residents are confused whether to fast the next day or pray tarweeh as its almost Isha time.
  • 11:11 pm: The HC finally declares Ramadan to start the next day, i.e. Friday, based on confirmed reports from California. Mosques following the HC advice to pray tarawih – an hour after Isha time had already entered. After an anxiety filled and frustrating evening, residents finally know the positions of the various moonsighting groups in the city. Now they just have to decide which one to follow!
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This baffling circus of contradictory declarations is nothing new; it has become a yearly occurrence. Last year we saw the exact same series of events unfold and the same confusion spread throughout the community; it is entirely expected that the same will happen again in future years.

Our leadership has decided that it is acceptable to put the average Muslim through this nerve-racking experience every year. For Eid declarations, the experience is far worse as thousands are often waiting till midnight to decide whether to go work the next day or send their children to school. The stress and anxiety this decision causes for the average person year after year is simply unacceptable.

Popular advice in these situations has been to ‘follow your local masjid’. However, this idea is impractical for large communities where there are numerous local mosques, all following various opinions. It is also impractical for the thousands who simply don’t frequent the mosque and are not tied to a particular organization. The layperson just wants to know the dates for Ramadan and Eid; it is an undue burden on them to research the strength of various legal opinions just to know when to celebrate a religious holiday with their families.

Only one way forward: astronomical calculations

There have been numerous sincere attempts to solve these long-standing problems associated with moonsighting over the past 50 years – all have failed. I have documented in detail these attempts, the reasons for their failure and argued for the only viable solution to this problem: astronomical calculations.

Since its introduction in 2006, Fiqh Council of North America’s calculations-based lunar calendar has proven to be the definitive solution for communities struggling to resolve the yearly moonsighting debacle. An example of such a resolution is the 2015 agreement by some of the leading mosques in the Chicago area who put aside their differences and united behind FCNA’s calendar. This approach has brought ease and facilitation for the religious practice of thousands of Muslims in that community.

While the use of calculations has been a minority position in Islam’s legal history, it has a sound basis in the shariah [1] and has been supported by towering figures of the past such as Imam Zakariya al-Ansari and Imam Ramli. Given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in now, it is incumbent on scholars of today to revisit this position as a means of providing much needed relief to the masses from this lunar quagmire.

References:

[1]  From SeekersGuidance: Scholars upholding this can be traced all the way back to the first Islamic century. The textual basis for this opinion is the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, “When you see it [the new moon of Ramadan] then fast; and when you see it [the new moon of Shawwal], then break the fast. If it is hidden from you (ghumma ‘alaykum) [i.e. if the sky is overcast] then estimate it (fa-qdiru lahu);” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1900). The last verb, fa-qdiru, can be validly understood to mean calculation. Of the scholars who held this, are Abu al-‘Abbas b. Surayj (d. 306/918), one of the leading founders of the classical Shafi‘i school, the Shafi‘i scholar and renowned mystic Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072), the leading Shafi‘i judge Taqi al-Din al-Subki (d. 756/1355), the Shafi‘i legal theorist al-Zarkashi (d. 794/1392), the renowned Maliki legal theorist al-Qarafi (d. 684/1285), and some Hanafi scholars. The late Shafi‘i commentator al-Qalyubi (d. 1069/1659) held that all sighting-claims must be rejected if calculations show that a sighting was impossible, stating, “This is manifestly obvious. In such a case, a person may not fast. Opposing this is obstinacy and stubbornness.” See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 31-4. The leading scholar of the late Shāfi‘ī school Muhammad al-Ramli (d. 1004/1596) held that the expert astronomer was obliged to follow his own calculation as was the non-astronomer who believed him; this position has been used by some contemporary Shafi’i scholars to state that in the modern world, with its precise calculations, the strongest opinion of the Shafi’i school should be that everyone must follow calculations; see ‘Umar b. al-Habib al-Husayni, Fath al-‘ali fi jam‘ al-khilaf bayna Ibn Hajar wa-Ibn al-Ramli, ed. Shifa’ Hitu (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), pp. 819-22. See also the fatwa of the Hanafi scholar Dr Salah Abu al-Hajj (http://www.anwarcenter.com/fatwa/معنى-حديث-لا-تصوموا-حتى-تروا-الهلال-ول) last accessed 9/5/2016) which states, after arguing against relying on calculations, “However, the position of [following] calculations is the position of a considerable group of jurists, so it is a respected disagreement in Islamic law, whereby, if a state were to adopt it, it is not rejected, because the judgment of a judge removes disagreement, and the adoption of a state is [as] the judgment of a judge.

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#Current Affairs

COVID19: Calling The Conscientious

Violating borders, scaling every wall and traveling faster than a rumor, COVID19 is now around nearly everywhere. It has reduced nations and societies, low and mighty, to their knees, demoted all preoccupations to insignificance and is threatening to torch everyone in its path.

The imperial hubris of nations, with and without nuclear weapons has crumbled. Mighty militaries have been reduced to mere spectators. Borders are closed. Markets have tumbled. Even the gods amongst humans – rulers, monarchs, dictators, religious heads, generals, billionaires, movie stars, icons of sports and music –have been forced to recede from the limelight. Neither they are in control nor can they perform. All of them are forced to surrender by an unseen microscopic speck with an insatiable appetite to devour humankind, bit-by-bit, part by part.

A pre-COVID19 world is now a blurred memory. It was not long ago that we were a different planet and a different people. Neither hand-sanitizers nor masks were precious enough to purchase let alone hoard, or even think about. YouTube was popular but not so much for videos on how to wash hands or what to do when self-quarantined. And, shaking hands were a norm and we used to respond with a “bless you” to our neighbor’s cough or sneeze.

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That was pre-COVID19.

Places of worship are already shut down and airports, train stations and shipping ports are shutting down. Boulevards and avenues are eerily silent. Shopping malls and theaters stand abandoned.

This is post-COVID19.

Yet, there are flashes of hope and inspiration. Medical professionals and health care workers are fighting to save mankind, a patient a time. Our ill equipped and fatigued hospitals are abodes of our new heroes and true patriots. And no less are trash collectors, grocery workers, truck drivers, postal workers, fruit pickers among others whom we took for granted all along.

Covid-19 is not just the biggest story of our time, it is the only story.

Amidst a piercing cacophony of politicians’ press conferences and public interest advisories, we cannot afford to miss out the soft whispers of COVID19.

It is telling us to pay more attention to the under-estimated meaningful over the hyper-marketed mundane. Its whispers remind us to remember that we are but a mere mortal. We are reminded in the Quran that God made us from a mere speck (40:67).

Not, too long ago, we seldom had to remind ourselves that we are human. Not too long ago we could afford to be enemies of ourselves. Humans were enemies of humans, fighting and taking life of those considered ‘others’. We fostered division … “them” and “us,” “citizens” and “illegals.” COVID19 has spoken: no more. We stoked exclusion … “black, brown and white,” “conservative and liberal,” and “urban and rural.” COVID19 has spoken: no more.

In its sweeping trail of destruction, COVID19, is imploring us — harness my power to cause dread in each one of you, across borders, across genders, across races — and unite. COVID19 is challenging us: find a common cause against me. When any of you find an antidote against me, may that be a reason for your coming together, even if right now I have forced you to stay away from each other – six feet part.

COVID19 is an equal opportunity and a non-discriminating enemy, which will kill no matter how we worship, what we eat, where we live. One touch strikes all with equal precision.

Today, as we face an existential threat from a mortal molecular foe, we must remind ourselves about what matters most, our humanity and not our race and nationality.

The truth is that long before COVID19 struck us, we were sick. We spread viruses; hate and bigotry, we held thoughts of xenophobia for those who did not deserve it. We wallowed in bias and built echo chambers. COVID19 exposed all of our pre-COVID19 shortcomings.

Coronavirus will kill us for a while, but then in the end, we will overpower it. But before that happens, all the human deaths would be in vain if we don’t realize that in a world of such threats, we never needed to have been at each other’s throats.

In fear and panic, people resort to extreme behavior, it amazes us with their capacity for wisdom and kindness, or stupidity and cruelty. COVID19 is beseeching us to reclaim and regain our humanity of compassion and kindness. It is telling us to come together to fight our common battles. It is forcing us to wash our hands of all sins of our past and then lock our hearts and hands and build a world where meaning must matter more than the mundane.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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