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Hadith: Between Muslim Conviction & Western Criticism | Dr. Jonathan Brown

In fact, there is no kind of modern criticism of the content of a hadith, there is no type of criticism that I have come across in the modern world of the content of hadith that does not have precedence amongst Muslims. Even Sunni scholars who nowadays are seen as the kind of arch proto-salafis like  Shamsadeen ad Dhahabi or Ahmed ibn Hanbal or Bukhari, these scholars who are often seen as the archetypal or kind of, I don’t want to say..brainless hadith scholar, these were actually often times the most critical of the content of hadith.

So there’s one hadith, its actually in the Sunan of aTirmidhi where one of the companions describes the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), that one day he came out of his house and he had two books, one in each hand and in these books was written all the names of all the people, all the human beings from the beginning of time till the end of time, what tribe they’re from, where they lived, and whether they’re going to heaven or hell. So what does Ad Dhahabi – and anybody who knows anything about the famous scholar Shamsadin ad Dhahabi knows he hates logic, he hates philosophy, he hates these Asharis with their kalam, he hates anybody  who’s trying to use their brain too much..he doesn’t like them – what does he say about this hadith?

He says this is impossible because these books would be so big that no human being could possibly carry them. He’d have to have like donkeys, mule train or something to carry these books with you. So he rejects the hadith. But why is it that then it’s very rare that we see classical Muslim scholars engaging in that kind of criticism?

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They might find a problem with a hadith, like the hadith of the sun prostrating before the throne of God. They might look at it and say hmm, I don’t understand this, it seems to be problematic to me. Why is it that they don’t just throw it out like a lot of modern people do? Because their worldview, they place they came from was a world view of humility, of deference to God, of acceptance of prophecy and acceptance of the presence of a prophetic message in the world. What’s very interesting about Muslim scholars in the pre-modern period is that they wanted to believe hadiths, they wanted to believe hadiths. If you could come up with any decent argument why this hadith was reliable, they wanted to accept it. They wanted more information that might be traceable back to the Prophet. They wanted more connections to the Prophet.

Whereas today, Muslims, they’re reacting to the world around them, they’re reacting to the environment around them and it’s an environment that wants the world to be disenchanted, wants a disenchanted world, wants a world that’s emptied of God, wants a world where if you believe in God, you just believe that He created the world and it runs like a watch and there’s no miracles, there’s nothing that can ever change in the world it’s just totally material.

They don’t want the Prophetic presence interfering in their lives. They don’t want to find a statement from the Prophet that can give them guidance, that might have wisdom for them. and you see this so often, especially with hadiths dealing with gender, and I know this is a controversial topic.

One of the things that I was doing research on for this book that I’m almost done with now, is  you know these hadiths that talk about whether or not that there’s more women in hellfire than men, do you know that actually in the chapter of Sahih Muslim that deals with this issue, the first report in that chapter is an opinion of Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), it’s not a Prophetic hadith, it’s an opinion of Abu Hurayrah.

A group of muslims in Madinah, this is after the death of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him),  a group of muslims in Madinah are debating whether or not there’s more women or men in heaven. They come to him [Abu Hurayrah] and ask him what his opinion is and he thinks and he says there’s more women in heaven. Why? Because the Prophet said that this group of people who enter heaven, each man will have two wives. Therefore there are more women than men in heaven. And then you see but there’s other hadiths where the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says that the women are the smallest number of people in heaven, men are the greater number.

And this is very interesting, what does a great scholar like Ibn Hajr al Asqalaani, who’s a famous, probably the most famous kind of medieval hadith scholar -he’s from Cairo, he died in 1449- he says this person narrating this hadith probably made a mistake because this person thinks that if there is more women in hell, there have to be less women in heaven whereas if women are the majority of mankind. Ibn Hajr says, if women are the majority of mankind then even if you have exactly half of all men going to hell and exactly half of all men going to heaven and exactly half of all women going to hell and exactly half of all women going to heaven, you still have more women in both heaven and hell. He says this is my explanation for these hadiths.

He’s very flexible and in fact Muslim scholars were always very flexible when they were dealing with these issues because they knew they were dealing with the realm of the unseen, the afterlife, which none of us can ever possibly understand. That’s why they’d always use the famous saying of the companion Ibn Abbas, There’s nothing in this world that’s in the next world except names. The only thing we know in common is names. We can’t possibly understand the details or the exact nature of the afterlife. But why is this important? Because this is the kind of things that Muslims become obsessed with when they find these hadiths. “oh this is a misogynist hadith, this is a sexist hadith,” No, it’s not because the very people, not only the companions of the prophets but generations and generations of Muslim scholars after them never thought this was saying that actually there are more women in hellfire than men. They never interpreted like that. As I said most of them actually believe that there are more women in heaven than men. What were they interested in? They were interested in the wisdom that the second part of all these hadiths, no one ever talks about the second parts of the hadiths where the prophet says to the women he’s talking to, he’s trying to give them lessons to help them improve their lives. So he says you women you’re cursing a lot and you’re being ungrateful to your husbands. And he continues and he says..what is ungrateful? It means your husband is always good to you but one day he doesn’t do something good for you and you say to him “I’ve never seen anything good from you.”

And this is a very interesting phrase. I think maybe people in the room have heard the phrase before. Very good advice the prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is giving these women. He’s saying: be grateful when you have a good husband. And then in other hadiths he gives advice to men and yet we still are obsessed because of the world view from which we come, we’re obsessed with reading these hadiths through this kind of sometimes what people call a hermeneutic  of suspicion. We look at these hadiths and we’re suspicious of them, these are sexist hadiths, like the famous hadith that says that women was created from a bent rib and if you try to straighten her out you’ll break her. So you have to enjoy her as she is, if you try to straighten her out and break her you’ll be divorced from her. People look at this.. “oh this is sexist.” But why is it that we jump to that conclusion? We should actually just look at the meaning of the hadith first.

And the reason I thought about this was because before I got married I was reading Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus book that everyone was telling me I had to read and what was it saying? It was saying don’t try to solve your wife’s problems for her, don’t expect her to be like you, you have to accept her for as she is. Don’t expect her to change, you just have to be there for her and sometimes she’s going to do things that don’t make sense, you have to accept that. This is because men are from Mars and women are from Venus. And then I realized when I read this hadith, this is exactly the same message. Here it’s talking to men. It’s saying men, and I guarantee you, if you get all the men in this conference in one room they’ll all start talking about how I wish my wife was more reasonable, why doesn’t she just think like I do, why doesn’t she just see it this way. If men sit around like this all the time, they’re going to be miserable and they’re going to end up with miserable marriages because you’re never going to get your spouse to be exactly like you. You’re never going to be able to straighten her out to be with you. You have to accept her for the person she is  and then if you do that, you can have a happy life together.

So the reason  I thought of this when I was reading this book on Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, I realized this is the same message in the hadith. when you see on discussion lists or when Muslims get together or when there’s a conference and some speaker comes and talks about hadith, there’s always someone who gets up in the audience and says, “But you know brother, what about the hadith of the crooked rib and isn’t this sexist?” Why is it that we always jump on that bandwagon? Why don’t we stop and say maybe the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) actually has teachings, has wisdom to offer us? And maybe it’s actually talking to men in this case and telling men that they have to change the way that they look at their marriages and their relationships.

When we are confronted with issues about hadith, and we often are, Muslims are always confronted with hadith that seem bizarre or unusual or that they reject or that they can’t accept as part of their religion or that seems stupid or vulgar, right. But ask yourself: Where’s the problem here? Is the problem really in hadith or is the problem with me? Why am I jumping to the conclusion I do? Why am I reading the hadith in the way I do? Why aren’t I willing to look at other interpretations that might actually find something valuable in this hadith? I think often times when Muslims have a skeptical or suspicious approach to hadith it’s because they’ve adopted a skeptical and suspicious approach to religion really and they need to look in their hearts and ask themselves whether they really want a world that’s filled with God, a world with a prophetic presence in it.

Because if you do, if you want to look for the wisdom in the prophet’s legacy then you’ll take on more of the mindset of those classical Muslim scholars and it’s not uncritical, it’s not irrational, its not fideistic or simplistic. Those classical Muslim scholars were just as smart, just as critical, often times just as scientifically aware as we are today. So when you look at these things, remember the words of Yoda, “Often times what you’re finding there and what you’re objecting to is really what you’ve taken with you.”

Thank you very much, Assalamu ‘alaykum.

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Jonathan Brown is the Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and he is the Director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding.He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006. Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Iran.His book publications include The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Brill, 2007), Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Oneworld, 2009) and Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011), which was selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf.His most recent book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (Oneworld, 2014), was named one of the top books on religion in 2014 by the Independent. He has published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Salafism, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and Pre-Islamic poetry and is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law. Dr. Brown’s current research interests include Islamic legal reform and a translation of Sahih al-Bukhari.

56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. Pingback: Rejecting Hadiths: The Fitnah of the Quranists | Islamic Students' Blog

    • Avatar

      Sheireen

      April 24, 2016 at 11:00 PM

      Assalamualaikum I think that the Quran is already complete without Hadith

  2. Pingback: Minaret of Freedom Weblog » News and Analysis (4/25/14)

  3. The Salafi Feminist

    The Salafi Feminist

    April 25, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Excellent talk, mashaAllah, and deeply appreciated.

    One question, if someone could fwd this to Dr. Jonathan Brown somehow:

    “In the chapter of Sahih Muslim that deals with this issue, the first report in that chapter is an opinion of Abu Hurayrah, it’s not a prophetic hadith, it’s an opinion of Abu Hurayrah. A group of muslims in Madīnah, this is after the death of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), a group of muslims in Madīnah are debating whether or not there’s more women or men in heaven. They come to him [Abu Hurayrah] and ask him what his opinion is and he thinks and he says there’s more women in heaven. Why? Because the prophet said that this group of people who enter heaven, each man will have two wives. Therefore there are more women than men in heaven.”

    Is there somewhere online I can find the exact wording of this opinion of his, as well as the opinion of Imam Ibn Hajr? I’d appreciate the exact wording as well as the exact source – jazaakAllahu khayran.

    • Avatar

      Sarah

      April 25, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      It’s funny – that hadith never really bothered me because we know that one of the signs of the Hour is that women will highly outnumber men on earth…so the logical conclusion for me is that there are more women in hell and heaven.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      April 25, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Me too.

      And also it’s possible some of those women in hell are there only temporarily ( as in case if believers) until they have paid for all of their sins. The sin being ‘ ungrateful to husband ‘ and backbiting . Which is why perhaps rasoolullah gave a very specific advice.

      • Avatar

        Bigmo

        March 19, 2015 at 6:05 AM

        He is not being honest about Quranist. Quranist don’t have problems with many hadiths because of Western influences as he claims, they have problems with many hadiths because they contradict the Quran and make binding what the Quran did not.

  4. Pingback: Critical Reading of Hadiths | WISDOM 2.0

  5. Avatar

    Reed

    April 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    This is an excellent article. I learned quite a bit. Still, I’d like to respond to one point, where he said:

    “They don’t want the prophetic presence interfering in their lives. They don’t want to find a statement from the prophet that can give them guidance, that might have wisdom for them. and you see this so often, especially with hadiths dealing with gender, and I know this is a controversial topic.”

    That’s undoubtedly true with many, perhaps most, people who reject hadiths. At the same time, it leaves out a portion of people who want the prophetic presence, but don’t believe that a particular hadith is really authentic despite it being in one of the six collections. They might be wrong about it’s not being authentic and they might not understand its meaning correctly. What they’re objecting to in this case is their own wrong understanding.

    • Avatar

      Mahmud

      April 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM

      Well, in case anyone was confused, hadith rejectors ARE kuffar. There are some people among this Ummah who come across a hadith and find their nafs’s object to it or it’s understanding.

      Islam is submission. It isn’t easy except if Allah makes it easy.

      • Avatar

        vhmcadmin

        April 29, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        chill bro, chill.

      • Avatar

        ZAI

        April 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

        Br. Mahmud,
        You need to be careful with your pronouncements.
        In Abu Hanifa’s madhhab, ahad hadith can be rejected or de-prioritized if it is seen to “restrict” a Quranic verse and in Maliki madhhab it can be rejected in favor of amal of Madinah. It’s not as simple as black/white position of submission or kufr unless you consider Abu Hanifa and Malik to be kafirs bro!

        • Avatar

          O H

          April 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

          Shaykh Saaalih Ibn Uthaymeen said the following regarding this in one of his fatawa:

          “Denying (the sunnah) could be of two types: a denial with regards to interpretation or a denial of rejection. If it is a denial of rejection, in the sense that one might say, “Yes, I realize that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said this, but I reject it and don’t accept it,” then the person is a kaafir (unbeliever) and has committed apostasy. Thus, it would be impermissible to pray behind him. If, on the other hand, it is a denial of interpretation, then he is granted a respite, if the interpretation is possible and warranted by the language, and he knows the sources of Islamic law and its resources. In this case, it is not an act of kufr, but rather under the category of those who innovate incorrect practices in the religion (if his interpretation is such).”

          May Allaah grant us all understanding of the deen, Ameen.

          • Avatar

            ZAI

            April 30, 2014 at 11:23 PM

            Brother OH,
            Have to keep in mind that many hadith are weak…and that includes some hadith found in the sitta. Further many hadith could have been abrogated by other hadith or even by Qur’an. It is on THIS basis that Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik prioritized other things over certain hadith. It is therefore not as stark a choice as denial of interpretation or denial of rejection.

            Whether the prophet even said it, whether the hadith was abrogated and both of those things weighed against stronger clear evidences in Qur’an, stronger hadith or, in Malik’s case, aml Madinah play a role.

            This is why weak ahad hadith are also not used for hukm, especially in the case of hadd and also why individual ahad hadith are not incumbment in determining kufr or imaan. These are the positions of recognized, valid schools of thought.People who prioritize or prefer the Hanbali and Sha’afi positions are free to disagree, but even in disagreement it is going too far to call it kufr.

            As for Shaykh Uthaymeen’s comment, some context is required: was he talking about mutawattir, qati that has unanimous ijma, sahih,weak or what? The quote doesn’t clarify. If it relates to the first two Hanafi and Maliki scholars would agree…but if relates to the other three it is more complicated than a stark choice of either/or and would have to respectfully disagree with the shaykh. There are other factors involved. He has a right to his opinion, but we are not all Salafis nor do we all follow sha’afi or Hanbali fiqh…and we don’t think our positions make us kafir.

          • Avatar

            O H

            May 17, 2014 at 3:07 AM

            Well obviously the Shaykh Uthaymeen statement is a general one to summarise the issue for the laymen where the denial of rejection is sort of highlighted and its danger. The reasons many muhadith & scholars may reject hadith are obviously plenty and are definitely not of the category of rejecting hadith knowingly without any valid shariah reason. A study in mustalah al- hadith, usool al hadeeth, usool al Fiqh, etc is needed for a more comprehensive & detailed answer. What we do have to be careful is knowing the grave danger of outright rejection of hadith without a valid shariah reason. For example if a person rejects the ahadeeth of hadd punishments because he/she feels its morally reprehensible.

  6. Avatar

    Umm.Esa

    April 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    It says, 5 comments. I only see two :(

    • Avatar

      Umm.Esa

      April 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      I really found this video/lecture highly informative and extremely beneficial. It is more crucial for our ummah to know this stuff than what Shaykh Yasir’s position is on Salafism. Question in the grave will be about the Messenger of Allah (SAW), not the strand/flavor of Islam. May we all find lessons, wisdoms and peace in the sayings of our beloved Muahmmad (SAW).

  7. Avatar

    Diah

    April 25, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    what an amazingly well researched and eloquently expressed talk. mashaALLAH!

    • Avatar

      Diah

      April 25, 2014 at 10:34 PM

      When I was in high school and was studying Islam, I came across all of the controversial hadiths and after a-lot of research, sleepless nights due to constant reflection and research, I concluded at the age of 17, “anything that sounds or seems weird in Islam is not because its lacking wisdom, but its because I LACK wisdom to comprehend it at the time. My intellectual capacity only allows me to understand as much Allah has permitted but people with slightly higher comprehension ability explain complex sciences and math like its a piece of cake. If that slight difference in comprehension can make such a huge difference in IQ level and comprehension ability, then how can the deen given to us by the “All Knowing, All wise” not make sense. Its only my intellectual short-coming that Its not making sense to me at the time but in due time I will learn and I will get the wisdom to understand. Even if I die not understanding the particular hadith, at-least I know its because of my own intellectual imperfection but this Deen is PERFECT”

      And that was always the case. I understood the wisdom behind many things with age and with time.

      You know how they say, “The more I know, The more I know that I DON’T KNOW!”

  8. Avatar

    gunal

    April 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Best lecture I have ever listened to. Very well written and very well delivered. I loved it! Took out a lot of of my frustration. I didn’t think it was possible to explain this problem of people reading, even, the Qur’an with critical minds. ..Well Done

  9. Avatar

    Tariq Ahmed

    April 26, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    How I love Dr. Brown for the sake of Allah! :)

    As I read the article that love really grew inside me. May Allah be pleased with him and protect him.

  10. Avatar

    Tariq Ahmed

    April 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Wish a link were added to skip down to where Dr. Brown begins to speak. But this is a great speech, walhamdolillah, and I am glad for the transcript.

  11. Avatar

    Mahmud

    April 26, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    I remember watching in NOVA that the Sun DOES actually move up and down through the galaxy……………………………………………………

    And since the throne is above is, maybe that is it’s form of Sajda.

  12. Avatar

    A reader

    April 27, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    Truly an excellent talk by Dr. Brown. He explained critical questions of how we deal with hadiths in a clear and almost poetic way. I really appreciated his insistence made that the point isn’t accepting *beyond all shadow of doubt* any specific hadith ‘really came’ from the Prophet (s).

    Rather, the point for us when dealing with hadiths is recognizing what baggage/word view we carry with us when we read hadiths (especially ‘disturbing ones’). The point is to assume the best about our Prophet (s), and take whatever wisdom and guidance we can from hadith in leading our lives.

    With all that being said, I don’t think the issues regarding (certain) hadith and gender has been fully dealt with: for those of us who are troubled by these hadiths, I don’t think the issue is that we don’t want Prophetic guidance in our lives, or even that these hadiths are bizarre.

    My reaction to a hadith that states that my (female) nature comes from being made of a ‘bent rib’ and therefore can’t be ‘corrected’ is far different from a hadith which says that the sun ‘goes down’ and prostrates to the throne of God.

    The bent rib hadiths (and others like it) ***hurt*** – they really hurt…while the sun hadith is simply an intellectual curiosity.

    My reaction would be very different if the hadith had said ‘women are made of a different essence than men. Therefore, women and men think/behave/act differently. Those who want happy marriages simply accept this, and don’t try to change their spouse to think/act like them.’ Excellent advice indeed!

    The question remains why certain hadiths regarding women have to be so painful. Why must women plow through hurtful messages which we see as demeaning our nature, or creation, in order to pluck bits of wisdom, profound as the wisdom is?

    I do not know of any hadiths specifically regarding the male gender which are so painful– no hadiths which specifically state that men’s nature/intelligence/creation/behavior etc (as compared to women’s) is deficient in any way. (Please correct me if I am wrong here!)

    Of course, Dr. Brown is probably right even here: that the fact these hadith hurt is also due to baggage that we carry. In Arabian society around the time of the Prophet (s), where females were given almost no rights until Islam, where girls were buried alive in graves, being told your creation is derivative (women created from a part of a man, while men were the original item) and your nature is crooked was probably less of a big deal than it is today, where we expect (rightly or wrongly) expect equality or equity between the genders.

    Anyway, just some food for further thought…certainly not issues that can be fully covered in a 30 minute lecture on hadith as a whole!

    • The Salafi Feminist

      The Salafi Feminist

      April 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      I think that the problem of us viewing various gender-related ahadith as ‘hurtful’ is not because of the wording of the ahadith themselves – but rather, how those ahadith have been translated, related, and explained to us by those who are the scholars/ du’aat of our regions (who in turn have been taught by the people of their era and regions, which include cultural connotations and attitudes that were not necessarily included by the original transmitters of the ahadith).

      The Sahabiyaat were the greatest of women, as well as incredibly intelligent, strong-willed, and determined… as well as being amongst those who transmitted huge numbers of the ahadith. If anyone was going to feel hurt by these ahadith, it would have been them – yet they did not express such hurt as we do today.

      We have our own cultural baggage and emotional hurts attached to these ahadith NOT because of the ahadith themselves but because of how these ahadith have been manipulated and wielded against women for so long, by so many people who clearly do not have a holistic understanding of the Sunnah.

      For myself, recognizing the emotional baggage we carry within ourselves has helped a great deal in how I approach these ahadith. Once again, it is NOT the ‘fault’ of the ahadith but rather of those who taught a warped understanding of them.

      • Avatar

        A reader

        April 28, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        Jazaki Allahu Khayran, Salafi Feminist!

        I need to more and more to be sure, but I think you are likely right right, for at least a majority of these hadiths.

        Even though only a day passed since my post above, I’m already getting a bit more clarity…

        1. As per the explanation of Sr. Amel regarding the ‘rib’ hadith below, it makes all the difference what words we use for translation (‘curved’ which has a neutral connotation, versus ‘crooked’ which definitely has a negative connotation).

        2. In certain instances, it seems that the Female companions (RA) did take into account ‘questionable’ hadith narrations from male counterparts (RA) with regard to gender…

        —–
        [Edited from http://www.islamic-life.com/forums/tafsir-sciences-hadith/understanding-hadith-women-dogs-nullify-prayer-2211%5D

        Abu Huraira reported: THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH (may peace be upon him) SAID: A WOMAN, A DONKEY AND A DOG DISRUPT THE PRAYER, but something like the back of a saddle guards against that. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1034)

        Narrated ‘Aisha: The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people).” I said, “You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away, for I disliked to face him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 9, Number 490)
        —–

        Anyway, much more for me to learn!

    • Avatar

      mamlukman

      August 29, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      “We have revealed the Qur’an in clear verses. God gives guidance to whom He will.” (Qur’an 22:14–there are other places it says the same thing.)

      OK, if you believe that the Qur’an is “clear,” then I think you have to ask yourself why it’s NOT clear: why do you need hadith to explain “clear” passages? Why do Muslims believe in abrogation (some verses have been declared null and void or replaced by other verses)? Why do you need an elaborate fiqh to explain “clear” directives???

      Either it’s “clear” (because the Qur’an is the infallible word of God) or it’s NOT “clear” and you need all this other stuff to explain it. To me–a non-Muslim–this is a logical contradiction.

      Brown’s lecture reveals something of his Anglican background, although he probably doesn’t see it and wouldn’t admit it even if he did. In other words, you need to go beyond the literal meaning of a passage and ask yourself what the overall message is. As a technique, I think that’s the correct way to do it. But Muslim try to turn black into white: for example, on the issue of women. It’s clear from multiple verses of the Qur’an and a lot more hadith that women weren’t exactly equal, or even close. Muslims weren’t too worried about that until they began to be criticized by the West; then they tied all sorts of contortions to justify Islam’s position on women. If you believe all the verbal gymnastics, good for you, but it’s just not logical. Women are inferior in Islam. That’s it. If you like that, remain a Muslim; if you don’t, leave.

      • Avatar

        Gunal

        August 30, 2015 at 10:50 AM

        Dear mamlukman, with your citation of the Qur’an at the beginning of your comment you have already answered yourself but you do not see it. God indeed gives guidance to whom He will. I believe He gave me guidance through your citation… an insight really, to your (a non-muslim person’s) thoughts about our religion. Your problem isn’t and cannot be with our holy book. Because I fear Qur’an already dismisses you in revealing itself to you. However, that is only my opinion God knows your heart best. You might understand Qur’an better than I do. That is not an issue I want to point out in my comment.

        You said “Brown’s lecture reveals something of his Anglican background, although he probably doesn’t see it and wouldn’t admit it even if he did.” I think you are right. That might be why it had appealed to me so greatly. And having an Anglican take isn’t a bad thing. After all that is part of our history; our own religion.

        But you are wrong about your implications that Islam is the only religion unequal towards women. Why do you think your so called “West” had their fair share of problems with Women’s Rights Movement…Feminism… ! Gender discrimination is global. Yes there are people who hide behind the scriptures and claim it is their God-given right to dominate women and treat them the hell they want. I liken those people to the people who goes around saying God’s words ” Thou shall not kill”, yet draws an overall conclusion that it is all right to kill perhaps sometimes. Well we will all see on the judgement day!

        May God prevent us all from hatred, anger, and wanting to dominate one another.

  13. Avatar

    Amel

    April 27, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    As-salamu Alaykum,

    I’m not exactly qualified to interpret hadeeths, but I thought I’d weigh in on the specific hadeeth you mentioned (the “bent rib” hadeeth).

    I am a professional translator and have seen many times how easy it is to mistakenly convey a meaning that was not necessarily intended by the original author or speaker.

    In English, the words “crooked” and “bent” have negative connotations because they are words we use to describe people who are dishonest or evasive. If you look into this hadeeth, however, you will see other translations of the same hadeeth using the word “curved.” I don’t know about you, but I feel that “curved” is more about the shape of a rib and not about whether it is defective. It is a statement of fact that a rib is curved, bent, or even “crooked,” if one wants to use that word in translation…just like a road can be curved or crooked without making an assumption about whether this is positive or negative.

    One version of the hadeeth reads:

    “Treat women kindly, for they were created from a rib, and the most curved part of a rib is its uppermost. So, treat women kindly.”

    Like you, I have seen the various explanations, even scholarly ones, saying that the hadeeth refers to a woman’s deficiencies or shortcomings.

    However, I do not take from this hadeeth that women are crooked or deficient in any way. What I understand from these words is that women are created with a specific nature, and putting undue stress on them may cause them to break. A rib is curved by design, and you would not try to manipulate its shape because it would then cease to maintain its proper function. I don’t think we think of ribs as deficient due to being curved; rather they are evidence of Allah’s perfect creation.

    As I stated at the beginning, I am not qualified to interpret hadeeths and would not want to mislead anyone, but I actually think that this hadeeth is quite lovely and comforting if you think about it on a deeper level.

    • Avatar

      Amel

      April 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      I just wanted to clarify that my post was in response to “A Reader” above and not to the author of the article, who addressed the matter of this hadeeth on the second page of his article (which I did not realize when I wrote my post).

    • Avatar

      gunal

      April 27, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      I think there are so many words in religious texts that are chosen very carefully. Most convey more than just one simple meaning. And what is magical about it is the fact that they all can be interpreted negatively. I say magical, because, whatever your mood is when you are reading, you will be supported in your ideology. For example, if you read them with scepticism in mind, you can see almost everything contradictory and supporting your scepticism. And if you read them with dark mind, with no respect for women, you will be supported in those claims too. I noticed this when I was reading the Qur’an (and the Bible). I have noticed that I was reading them as if they were written directly for me. So if I am told I am made from a bent/curved rib. I would question how I might relate to that statement? I have respect for my God and I know with that statement He is trying to help me. Some days I interpret it as ‘I can be unbearable’, some days I interpret it as ‘I am vulnerable and fragile (need extra special protection from Him)’, and some days I feel ‘very precious, unique’… If a man, however, tells me viciously I am made from a bent rib, I will never change and I am inherently bad… this to me is nothing but someone who read the text when in a bad mood and trying to take it out on me. I will seek refuge in God.
      You might ask; why then, God made everything with negative meanings? Because, the religious texts are so magical that every individual can relate them into their own personal lives. And all of us lead different lives. And not every day is ever the same. And, most importantly, we all are given a choice in how we practice the things we learn.

      • Avatar

        A reader

        April 28, 2014 at 12:28 PM

        Jazaki Allahu Khayran Sr. Gunal for your very thoughtful answer. Definitely something for me to reflect on…

        I guess the only issue (baggage?) that comes up for me is that it seems that texts regarding women specifically seem to be capable of being interpreted negatively. As you mention, they can also be interpreted positively or neutrally, but the negative interpretation seems to be right on the surface for most. Its the neutral/positive interpretations that we have to struggle to get at more.

        Texts regarding men just do not seem to have the similar issues.

        Again, perhaps this is more my cultural baggage, or our shared cultural baggage as a human Muslim society more than what is in the texts themselves?

        • Avatar

          gunal

          April 28, 2014 at 7:55 PM

          A reader, when you are reflecting could you ask this question to yourself: Why is it important for you that there are no such texts regarding men? Vengeance? Unfairness in a religion you desperately want to trust? … If you haven’t found any such texts, this might indicate that you mean well, otherwise you would have found a lot of them by now…

          I apologise, I must have sound like someone who feels positive most of the time. When it comes to me I am my own worst enemy (if I may say, I feel you are no different). I don’t think it is just the baggage that affects our thoughts. Even the weather can make us feel negative and make us see our glass half empty. It can help the baggage to surface.

          ‘Cultural baggage’. I can see this affecting me. Most of us are concerned too much about what everyone else thinks and what everyone else does. It is wonderful that you are reflecting. Try and reflect on yourself only. Yes, baggage! See what baggage you have and how they are affecting your thoughts and behaviour. Are your thoughts and behaviour unattached to the thoughts of others? No one can understand you better than God, and then your own self. Therefore, my reflections are between God and I. The rest is irrelevant.

          ‘Shared cultural baggage’. You should not share the cultural baggage. Because everyone is in the same position as you (at least they ought to be) –trying to sort the baggage out. No one can sort any of it out for others but only for themselves.

        • Avatar

          O H

          May 3, 2014 at 9:04 PM

          In a Hadith Qudsi Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said
          Allah, the Exalted says, ‘I am just as My slave believes me to be and I am with him when He remembers Me’. This is part of a bigger hadith.

          Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have Mercy upon him) said: “Most people – in fact, all of them except those protected by Allah – assume other than the truth, and assume the worst. Most people believe that they are deprived of their rights, have bad luck, deserve more than what Allah gave them, and it is as if they are saying: ‘My Lord has wronged me and deprived me of what I deserve,’ and his soul bears witness to this while his tongue denies it and refuses to openly state this. And whoever digs into his soul and comes to know its ins and outs will see this in it like fire in a triggered explosion…And if you dig into anyone’s soul, you will see that he blames fate and would rather have something else happen to him than what actually did, and that things should be this way or that…So, dig into your own self: are you protected from this? If you are safe from this, you have been protected from something great. Otherwise, I do not see that you have been saved.” [Zad al-Ma’ad]

          We have to be extremely careful when it comes to what assumptions we have with regards to Our Lord, His commandments and every other aspect of the Deen.

          “This is because they hate what Allah has sent down, so He made their deeds fruitless.” [47:9]”

          Allaah Subhana wa ta’ala has mentioned in His book a quality of the disbelievers and an attitude which could render all our deeds vain-a nullifier of the shahada as scholars have commented on this ayah!

          I am not saying that any such thing has occurred with your statements but it is an advice to myself and others that assuming good of Allaah & his Verses plus assuming good of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and his ahadeeth/narrations is an absolute necessity for the contrary could lead to misery in this life and the next, Allaahu’l Musta’an!

          • Avatar

            Reed

            May 4, 2014 at 11:04 AM

            @ O H. I agree with all that you said. There is still an issue, however, in determining (1) what the Prophet (pbuh) said (is this hadith authentic or not), (2) the meaning of what was said, (3) the context in which it was said, and (4) its applicability (is it generalizable or specific to the context). It’s not impossible for someone to assume good of the Prophet (pbuh) and still have problems with a translation or interpretation of an authentic hadith or problems believing (based upon one’s understanding of the Quran) that a particular hadith is authentic.

          • Avatar

            gunal

            May 5, 2014 at 5:30 PM

            I don’t think the problem is that we cannot justify the authenticity of some Hadiths, (or even particular texts from Qur’an). Everything is written for the very best intentions. All tries to make us understand something that our physical minds cannot easily grasp… On top of that there is the problem of some negative schools of thoughts giving their own negative thoughts on the matter. Naturally you doubt and reconsider your own thoughts on the matter. All this is normal. How can we even consider a thought without two opposing or different arguments?

            However, if you have and show a genuine curiosity in getting answers to your questions, Qur’an promises that even the fishes in the sea will be made to answer your questions.

            What Ibn al-Qayyim said sounds correct OH, however, you cannot ignore the verse about asking questions and Qur’an’s promise in helping you getting the answers. If you asked Ibn al-Qayyi;m; I believe I fall into the category of those people who thinks ‘I am deprived of my thoughts, my Lord has wronged me…’ are you suggesting I should just give up and accept my damnation? Do you think he will say yes? Unlikely! Yet, you are suggesting that is the case. If he did answer yes would that not nullify the verse from Qur’an?… A responsible religious leader would tell you the possible consequences of your thoughts and also help and encourage you to change those thoughts, would give you hope that each day is a present from our God and a wealth of knowledge out there to be gained if you are willing… Not just confirm your wrong path and let you carry on in that wrong path. I cannot believe you can even suggest this therefore, I am beginning to think what you meant in your comment is not what I understood. And this would confirm what Reed pointed out ‘each person might derive different meanings to any given text’.

          • Avatar

            O H

            May 7, 2014 at 12:53 AM

            @gunal: What I meant was quite straightforward, nothing sinister. We have to assume good about Allaah, His Messenger, the Ayaat of the Qur’an and ahadeeth. I have reservations with comments such as the texts for females looking negative on the surface and being susceptible to negative interpretation whereas incase of the texts relating to men this isn’t the case as mentioned by ‘A reader’. Such comments don’t seem fitting and in my initial post I have not condemned reflection and analysis but such rash conclusions. It’s a continuation of the point made by the author of this article that it’s issues in our understanding and approach which may lead us to doubt or have ill understanding of texts.

          • Avatar

            gunal

            May 7, 2014 at 11:11 AM

            I am glad you have replied OH. I didn’t think you meant anything sinister. I would like you to notice something that I have observed. When I listen to people who are claiming to do Dawa, with the first inclination of my wrongdoing they take the position of ‘the judge, the jury and the executioner all in one’.

            If I said ‘I hate something’, with the ayah you have cited: “This is because they hate what Allah has sent down, so He made their deeds fruitless.” [47:9]”, they (so called Dawa people) are quick to condemn me. This type of Dawa or consultation of Qur’an does not serve any benefits. The best way would be; the person (I) should be encouraged to think on this verse whether he/she personally hate what Allah sent. If so, in what ways (as there are millions of ways; they might love some of the things and not love some other things therefore may have not realized that they do hate some of the things).

            You mentioned the scholars’ points of view on this ayah: “Allaah Subhana wa ta’ala has mentioned in His book a quality of the disbelievers and an attitude which could render all our deeds vain-a nullifier of the shahada as scholars have commented on this ayah!” This did sound to me as if you may be prosecuting in the same way. My apologies!

    • Avatar

      A reader

      April 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      Jazaki Allahu Khayran, Sr Amel!

      I had two main ‘concerns’ about hadiths which mention women’s creation from the rib, and you clearly answered one of them.

      My first issue was indeed the translation of our nature being ‘crooked’ as we are made of a bent rib. You clearly addressed that the Arabic word does not have to be translated in a negative fashion such as ‘crooked’ but could potentially be translated in a neutral sense ‘curved.’

      I especially took your following statement to heart:

      “A rib is curved by design, and you would not try to manipulate its shape because it would then cease to maintain its proper function. I don’t think we think of ribs as deficient due to being curved; rather they are evidence of Allah’s perfect creation.”

      Right on :D! As a person with extensive training in biology, I agree it would be inefficient and inelegant if the heart/lungs were protected with bones that were straight. In fact, it would look ludicrous (like a robot!!).

      My other issue, does not have to do with being created from a rib per se, as much as that women are stated to be created (from a rib) of a man.

      My interpretation has been as follows: men are the original creation, the archetype of the species, while women are sidekicks/after thoughts.

      After reading Dr. Brown’s article, I realize that much of my interpretation maybe due to my own baggage more than anything else – but this has always been the way I interpreted these hadiths

      Would appreciate any help in ‘unloading’ my baggage :D!

      • Avatar

        gunal

        April 28, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        Only you can ‘unload’ your own baggage A reader. Carry on reflecting… Another important question to think over: What does sidekick means to you? Is it hundred percent a bad thing? Being an after thought? I can find a lot of good things about being an after thought. Imagine the improvements God must have done on us… It is you seeing the glass half empty.If you cannot think positively about your own self then think of an ideal woman. God’s intention perhaps?And then try to be like one. It does seem impossible but nevertheless, God’s intention cannot be bad right?

      • Avatar

        Saliha

        April 30, 2014 at 8:04 AM

        @a reader,
        “Men are the archetypes, while women are the sidekicks.”
        I def can see where you’re coming from, but ask yourself why Hawa(Eve)news created in the first place. Adam was in the best of places, but he still felt deficent/ a lack without a companion. So if anyone was originally deficient, it would have to be man. So that the only ever Being that’s not deficient is Allah (swt). It’s a sexist reinterpretation but just trying to get you to see another side.

      • Avatar

        june

        April 30, 2014 at 9:20 AM

        “men are the original creation, the archetype of the species, while women are sidekicks/after thoughts.”

        I do not want to speak without knowledge but it would seem to me that while it may seem men are “the original, the archetype” Allah, in all His Wisdom, already knew the nature of man when He created him and so already knew He would create the female too. Thus she is not an “afterthought.” And while it may seem women are “derivative” because they were created from a part of man it seems more to me like it makes it so that one is not complete without the other. We compliment and complete each other. I think there is something in the Qur’an about women being like clothing for men AND LIKEWISE men are like clothing for women.

        Your interpretation sounds an awful lot like Anita Sharkesian’s interpretation she made in her “Mrs. Male Character” video in her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. While I appreciate her working to bring awareness and change to the misrepresentation and mistreatment of women in media I certainly thought she was…. wrong when she essentially said Hawa was a trope. It presents a fundamental misunderstanding of how men and women are to be viewed (and function) within Islam.

        While she claims the “Mrs. Male Character” sets up Male as normal and Female as essentially abnormal, this is not the case with creation of man and woman and she was way out of bounds to make that claim/comparison. Unlike in video games, where a female character is often created only to try to appeal to the demographic the industry has systematically shut out over the past few decades or to reinforce certain stereotypes, in Islam women are not (supposed to be) seen as abnormal, derivative, or inferior.

        As for the “sidekick” comparison, think of man and woman as more like the Wonder Twins than as Batman and Robin. Once again, it was already planned to have a male and female, the woman was not an afterthought. She is not a sidekick but an absolute necessity since their powers do not work if they are out of range of each other.

      • Avatar

        mamlukman

        August 29, 2015 at 3:48 PM

        I think you’d have to go back to a classical dictionary, maybe Lisan al-Arab, to see the possible definitions: “curved” or “crooked.” Are both possible? Is one used 90% of the time and the other 10%? Did the author of that hadith use the same word elsewhere? If so, what did it mean there? This is simply “Western” scholarship–not assuming some divine meaning, but simply looking at the facts. If you start by saying “This is the divine word of God,” you automatically rule out any other possibilities. You can do this, of course, but it’s not scientific.

  14. Avatar

    fmarwan84

    April 27, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    SubhanAllah the analysis on the hadiths about “misogyny” really refuted the simplistic claims of non-hadith laymen like Myriam Francois Cerrah and Adam Deen.

  15. Avatar

    archerofmusings

    April 28, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    Mashallah very good article!

    Does anybody know Dr.brown if he is a muslim…if he isn’t I make dua that Allah gives him tawfeeq. Ameen

    • Avatar

      Irfan

      April 28, 2014 at 3:21 AM

      He is. You will notice at the beginning of the transcript that he starts off with the Basmalah. Dr. Brown also delivered a khutba in a Bay Area masjid sometime back.

    • Avatar

      mamlukman

      August 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM

      He’s been a Muslim since he was 20, in 1997. Like all other converts, he never bothered to learn anything about his own religion.

  16. Avatar

    Saliha

    April 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    Amazing lecture mA! Can’t wait to read his book.

  17. Avatar

    Zaytuna Staff

    April 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Can you please give proper attribution to the fact that this was at Zaytuna College which was hosting the event! Thank you.

  18. Pingback: Hadith: Between Muslim Conviction & Western...

  19. Avatar

    Reed

    May 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    “The difference between that approach and a classical Islamic approach was that classical Muslim scholars, they believed that the Qurʾān contained the truth. They believed that the message of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), if it’s preserved accurately, it also contains truth. And that anything outside the scriptures that’s true, can be reconciled with the Qurʾān and the authentic sunnah.”

    The key question, then, Is a particular hadith “authentic”?

    “So if you discover that the sun actually doesn’t go below the earth and disappear from human sight, that it’s actually always up somewhere in the world, then what do you do with that hadith I just told you about? You just interpret it figuratively, just interpret it figuratively.”

    With a hadith that touches upon a reality that science deals with, you can interpret it figuratively. But with those that don’t, what does one do when the hadith is obviously not in accordance with the Prophet’s (pbuh) character?

    “What’s very interesting about Muslim scholars in the pre-modern period is that they wanted to believe hadiths, they wanted to believe hadiths. If you could come up with any decent argument why this hadith was reliable, they wanted to accept it. They wanted more information that might be traceable back to the Prophet. They wanted more connections to the Prophet.”

    In other words, the scholars had a tremendous amount of confirmation bias that allowed non-authentic hadiths to be classified as authentic.

    “They don’t want the Prophetic presence interfering in their lives. They don’t want to find a statement from the Prophet that can give them guidance, that might have wisdom for them. and you see this so often, especially with hadiths dealing with gender, and I know this is a controversial topic.”

    Again, I imagine that most “don’t want the Prophetic presence interfering in their lives.” But just as that’s true of those who reject hadiths, it’s even more true of those who accept them uncritically because they prefer to conform to their group understanding instead of seeking truth. Rejecting a hadith because one has the wrong understanding of it means that one is really rejecting an understanding that does not accord with the Quran or the Prophet’s (pbuh) character. (Of course, one needs to acknowledge that a hadith might be authentic and that one’s understanding of it is possibly wrong.) Similarly, accepting a hadith with a wrong understanding of it means that one prefers his/her group’s wrong interpretation to what is known of the actual character of the Prophet (pbuh) or of the Quran.

    • Avatar

      mamlukman

      August 29, 2015 at 3:53 PM

      This is a great technique: reject any evidence you think doesn’t support your position; accept as authentic any evidence you agree with. Scientific? I don’t think so.

  20. Avatar

    Muhammad

    June 22, 2014 at 6:43 AM

    Reed, great comment!

    Please speak out and write to the Muslims more!

  21. Pingback: Creation from a crooked rib: Does Islam deride women? | ICRAA

    • Avatar

      mamlukman

      August 29, 2015 at 3:57 PM

      I would be a lot happier with the Qur’an and hadith if:
      1) women could marry 4 men at a time.
      2) women could divorce men by repeating a sentence three times.
      3) women had a straight rib and men had a crooked rib.
      4) women’s testimony were two times as acceptable as a man’s.
      5) women had 72 male sex slaves in Heaven.
      6) get the idea? Women are ALWAYS in the inferior position in Islam. ALWAYS. If you’re a female masochist, Islam is for you.

  22. Pingback: Rejecting Hadiths: The Fitnah of the Quranists | The Thinking Muslim

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#Islam

Help! I Can’t Make Dua For More Than 30 Seconds On The Day Of ‘Arafah

Much emphasis has been given on the importance of fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, but don’t forget, this was a day the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) “made du’a from the time of Dhur til the time of Maghrib on the day of ‘Arafah while STANDING.” (Sahih Muslim)

He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “The best du’a is that which is made on the day of ‘Arafah.” (Sahih Muslim)

If we can develop the capacity to binge watch on Netflix 5-6 for hours a day, we can develop the capacity to make du’a longer than 30 SECONDS on the day of ‘Arafah.

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I used to be a person who couldn’t make du’a longer than 2 minutes.

3 things changed

1. I started writing my personalized du’as on a mini-notebook

2. I started reading du’as using Hisnul Muslim (The Fortress of the Muslim)

3. I started following the etiquettes of making du’a.

As an Imam, I have numerous meetings with members of my community. Sometimes, at the end of my meetings, I asked the community member to end our meeting with a du’a. It is surprising that many of them do not know the etiquettes of making du’a. By following the above etiquettes of making du’a, you can make du’a longer than 2 minutes inshAllah!

Here are 16 etiquettes of making du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah

1) Have 100% conviction that Allah will answer you

2) Find a way to praise Allah before making your request

3) Use the proper names of Allah

4) Send salutations upon Muhammad (upon him be peace)

5) Raise your hand like a beggar

6) Face the qibla

7) Be in a state of wudu

8) Cry

9) Be a lone wolf (Be alone)

10) Ensuring that your food is pure

11) Acknowledge your sins (Privately)

12) Repeat the du’a 3 times

13) Start the du’a by praying for yourself

14) Expand your heart, pray for everyone (in particular those Muslims in China who wish they could fast on the day of ‘Arafah, but they are prohibited from doing so.)

15) Say Amin after making du’a.

16) Make du’a during the “prime-times” (From Dhur till Maghrib on the day of Arafah is primetime!)

Bonus tip: If you’re like me, you may get stuck when making du’a. An excellent tip given by our master Muhammad (upon him be peace) is to use the “filler du’a”. This “filler du’a” was actually what Muhammad (upon him be peace) and all of the Prophets made on the day of Arafat!

He said, “The best invocation is that of the Day of Arafat, and the best that anyone can say is what I and the Prophets before me have said:

Lā ‘ilāha ‘illallāhu

wahdahu lā shareeka lahu,

lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu

wa Huwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadeer.

Translation:

None has the right to be worshipped but Allah

Alone, Who has no partner.

His is the dominion and His is the praise,

and He is Able to do all things. (Al-Tirmidhi)

To recap, here are 5 action items you and your family can perform on the day of Arafah.

1. Go over the following hadith with your family members.

“Allah frees far more people from Hellfire on the Day of Arafah than on any other day, and Allah comes closer this day and proudly says to the angels, ‘What do these people want and seek?’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

2. Say to your family members or whoever you have influence over,

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made du’a on the day of Arafah from Dhur till Maghreb. How long do you think we can make du’a for on this day?”

3. Go over the 16 etiquettes mentioned in this post.

4. Challenge your family members to make a 10 minute du’a.

     Materials needed

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers
  • A Creative mind
  • Brainstorm with your family members what du’a you want to make and then write them on a whiteboard.

5. Whenever you get stuck and you can’t don’t know what du’a you want to make, make the “filler du’a” the Prophet (upon him be peace) made on the day of ‘Arafah.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 19: My Mercy Encompasses All Things

Now that we have learnt about when the angels surround us, let’s now talk about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy encompasses all things.

We say بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ  (bismillah Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem) a lot, right? It means ‘in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.’ 

We say it when we pray, before we eat, and we’re encouraged to say it before we begin any new task. But do we really understand what rahma (mercy) means? 

Question: What do you think rahma means?

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Do you know that the word rahma comes from the root word, رحم (rahim), which means womb? 

Question: Who can tell me what a womb is?

That’s right. A baby is usually in their mommy’s womb for 40 weeks. The baby gets all the nourishment it requires; the temperature in the womb is perfect, the nutrients are always administered, it is safe and warm. All the baby has to do is grow, and alhamdulillah all its needs are being met. 

Question: How do you think the womb relates to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy?

Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy is constantly surrounding us like a safety net. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never experience any pain, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is constantly showing us mercy with every breath we take. Even blinking is a mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that we don’t even have to think about. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even has more mercy for us than a mother has for her own child! 

One day the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was walking with a group of his companions, and they passed by a woman who was frantically looking for her child. She would take any child to her breast and try to feed him/her. Then the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to the companions: “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.”

And guess what? There’s even more mercy in the hereafter than we’re experiencing right now. 

Salman al-Farisi reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Verily, on the day Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created the heavens and earth, He created one hundred parts of mercy. Each part can fill what is between heaven and earth. He made one part of mercy for the earth, from it a mother has compassion for her child, animals and birds have compassion for each other. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect this mercy.” [Sahih Muslim]

99 parts of mercy on the Day of Judgment! That is one reason why it’s so important to have a good opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even tells us in Surat Al-A’raaf:

وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ

“My mercy encompasses all things” (Surat Al-A’raaf; 156]

And you all, my dears, are all encompassed by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy, alhamdulillah. 

 

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#Islam

The Inner Dimensions of the Udhiyah

Apart from Ḥajj, the greatest action a Muslim can do in the blessed days of Dhū al-ijjah is to offer the udḥiyah (qurbāni/sacrifice).

‘Āisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reports that Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A human does no action from the actions of the Day of Naḥr [slaughtering; refers to the day of Eid al-Adḥā] more beloved to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) than sacrificing the animal. On the Day of Judgement, it will appear with its horns, and hair, and hooves, and indeed the blood will be accepted by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) before it even falls upon the ground, so let your heart delight in it.” [Tirmidhī]

Although we all know that this is an action that is traditionally performed on Eid al-Adā, a lack of understanding of its reality has led some to question the importance of doing it in the first place. In past years, and increasingly during the current pandemic, many have been asking, “Can I give ṣadaqah (charity) instead?”

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To answer this, it is necessary to understand the following.1 Everything in this world is comprised of an outer form – an appearance and a desired outcome – a “soul.” These two are intertwined in such a way that separating them is impossible. One cannot survive without the other. The clearest example of this reality is in ourselves.

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ

“Soon we will show them Our Signs in the horizons [external] and in themselves [internal] until it becomes clear to them that it is the Truth.” [Surah Fussilat; 53]

We are made of a body, which is comprised of several parts, and a soul, which fills the entire body and allows each part to fulfill its unique function. Without a body, our soul cannot survive, and without a soul, our body cannot survive. Additionally, if any part is missing, the whole person will be considered to have some deficiency. Likewise, the same principle applies to our n. Our n has an outer form, which is comprised of the actions that we perform, and a soul as well. The fact of the matter is that our goal in life is to achieve a complete connection with Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The Quran identifies this quality with the word taqwā. The soul that permeates our entire n and therefore, all our individual actions is taqwā. All these actions display a different aspect of taqwā and together form complete n in a person. If anything is missing, a person’s n will be deficient.

For example, the soul of ṣalāh is the portion of taqwā that relates to expressing humility in front of Allāh. The soul of fasting is the portion of taqwā that relates to suppressing one’s desires for Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The soul of is adaqah is the portion of taqwā that relates to curing one’s love for wealth by donating in the path of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Each of these things is necessary, and although they are all types of taqwā, they are not interchangeable. To expand on this, imagine that a person had $100 in cash, $100 worth of food, and $100 worth of furniture.2 The values of all three would be the same, but the functions they perform are different. None is more important than the other but all are necessary.

Similarly, a person cannot discard the outer form (different forms of ibādāt) and say that the only thing that matters is the soul (taqwā). If this were the case, our entire religion could be discarded. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

لَن يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِن يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنكُمْ ۚ

“Neither their flesh reaches Allāh nor their blood (the udḥiyah animal); it is your taqwā that reaches Him.” [Al Hajj; 37]

There goes udḥiyah. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“Oh you who have believed, fasting has been prescribed on you as it has been prescribed upon those before you so that you may become people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 183]

There goes fasting.

 إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ ۗ

“Verily ṣalāh prevents indecency and sin” (in essence, taqwā) [Surah al-‘Ankabut; 45]

Ṣalāh can also be put to the side.

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

“Virtue is that one sincerely believes in Allāh, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets and, out of His love, spend of one’s choice wealth for relatives and orphans, for the needy and the wayfarer, for beggars and for the ransom of slaves, and establish ṣalāh and give zakāh. And the virtuous are those who keep their pledges when they make them and show fortitude in hardships and adversity and in the struggle between the Truth and falsehood; such are the truthful people, and such are the people of taqwā.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 77]

There goes our entire dīn.

The soul of udḥiyah is that portion of taqwā that expresses our total submission to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “O Allāh, my life is in your Hands. Do with it whatever you wish!” The actual command was to sacrifice the thing that is most dear to you – a life. And in Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) case, the life of his only child. The life of the child who for decades, he prayed and hoped for. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commanded Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in a dream to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) said, “My beloved son, I have seen that I was sacrificing you in dream. What do you think?” Without hesitation, Ismā’īl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) responded, “O my beloved father, do as you have been commanded. Inshā Allāh, you will find me among the patient.” When Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) tried to push the knife on his son’s neck, it became dull and “We called on to him, O Ibrahīm! You have surely fulfilled your dream. This is how we reward those of excellence. Indeed, this was a clear test. We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.” [As-Saffat; 100-107]. From that day until the end of time, Muslims have and will continue emulate this sacrifice of Ibrahīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) as a reminder of what true submission is.

When standing before Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we will need to present all types of taqwā. If we were to have a surplus of one type, for example, ṣadaqah, we would be rewarded for it, but that would not change the fact that something else is missing. If we were to tell our child to make sure that their room is clean for Eid and, instead of doing that, they cooked a delicious meal, we would thank them for their gesture, but then say that there is a time and place for everything and this time is for cleaning your room.

The purpose of ṣadaqah is to cleanse our hearts from the love of wealth by giving it to the poor. Although it is recommended to give a portion of the sacrifice to the poor, it is not the purpose, nor is it a requirement for its validity. The purpose of udḥiyah is to follow the command of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), in the way that He commanded it. In the past, and even now in some agrarian societies, the most beloved belonging to many people was their animals. This is because unlike other wealth, animals serve many purposes. They are a means of milk and clothing, a status symbol, a means of breeding, and also can be sold or eaten. To sacrifice an animal was truly a great sacrifice.

However, times have changed. Yet due to this very reason, udḥiyah is still a sacrifice, especially in America. We are used to the comforts of our home and would much rather donate money than take a day off from work and spend time, money, and energy in going to a farm and performing the udḥiyah. This is our sacrifice. We cannot abandon this great act.3,4

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) preserve our pristine religion in the manner it was practiced by Rasūlullah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allāh alone, the Sustainer of Universe. He has no partner. This is what I have been ordered, and I am the first to submit.” [Al-An’am; 162]

و ما توفيقي إلا باالله عليه توكلت و إليه أنيب

[1] The concept of actions having an outer form and inner soul were expanded upon in the Khutbāt of Hakīm al-Ummah Mawlāna Ashraf Alī Thanvī (throughout volume 16 – Barakāt e Ramaḍān) and Hakīm al-Islām Qāri Muḥammad Ṭayyib رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً . Qāri Ṭayyib specifically spoke about this concept in relation to the udḥiyah (Sunnat e Khalīl ‘Alayh al-Salām, volume 3, page 211). I benefited from these works immensely in the course of writing this article and hope the readers appreciate the depth and foresight of our pious predecessors’ foresight.

[2] This general idea – actions of being of the same value but different types – is proposed by ‘Allāma Ibn Taymiyyah and mentioned by Muftī Rashīd Aḥmad Ludhiyanvi رحمهما الله تعالى رحمةً واسعةً  in Aḥsan al-Fatāwā in relation to another topic, but the concept fits here as well.

[3] This article is not meant to say that having someone else perform your sacrifice by sending it overseas is invalid. Its purpose is to explain that the sacrifice itself is an important part of our dīn, and its full benefit will be realized when we perform the sacrifice by ourselves. It should also be noted that perhaps the reason that there is confusion over why the sacrifice cannot be substituted with ṣadaqah and thus, the distinction between the two is not clear.

[4] This article was started before the current pandemic. In a situation like this, if someone does not feel comfortable from a health perspective to perform the sacrifice on their own, they can appoint someone else to perform it for them, whether here or overseas. However, the current situation does not allow for ṣadaqah to be given in place of the sacrifice. Many ahadith (Bukhārī, Ahadith 968, 984, 985; ‘Ilā al-Sunan 17:212-217) indicate that the sacrifice is wājib. A wājib act cannot be substituted based simply on our thoughts or opinions. For more details on the obligation of the sacrifice, please read Muftī Abdullah Nana’s upcoming article about the fiqh of the udḥiyah.

* Two more points should be kept in mind. First, despite the pandemic, people have not stopped eating meat. In the current climate, if one is not able to perform the sacrifice by themselves, having it done in another country will also be a means of helping others. In fact, for many, Eid al-Adhā is the only time of the year that they able to eat meat. Second, we must broaden our thinking about charity. Our charity should not be restricted to only those things that are obligated upon us by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) such as zakāh and udḥiyah. If Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed us with the means,  we should strive to give ṣadaqah above and beyond these obligated act.

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