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The Mawlid and the 5 Ms of Confusion: Overcoming Theological Complexes in Our Community

Shaykh Hasib Noor

Published

We live in turbulent times— there’s no doubt about that. Yet in this era of confusion, we’re witnessing a moment of revival for Muslims when it comes to religion— not just as individuals but also as communities.

We see many returning to the faith, others entering the faith, and even more so, many are battling to understand where they fit within the faith. In an age where  people of all faiths are seeking answers on how to balance the complexities of life and what role religion plays, Muslims are also increasingly trying to see how their faith can bring them such balance. When seeking answers to questions of how to balance life in a modern context, how can we stay true to the principles of our faith in its practice? The “R word” is often thrown around – relevance.

Oftentimes, these questions are more like reverberations of a deeper rooted scream of desperation to understand, “How do I live?” Let’s not lie, it’s a hard process. We’re all trying to stomach how we can be functional Muslims. Heck, even writing the first few sentences in this article spiked my blood pressure. We all have this anxiety. We all feel it.

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But, maybe we’re not adjusting properly. Maybe our shortsightedness constantly blurs the bigger picture. Maybe in the process of focusing on mechanics, we lose functionality. And maybe, at other times, we delve into metaphysics to such an extent, we lose sight of workability. Maybe we collectively get so worked up over discrepancies, that we forget the purpose is to in fact … enjoy Islam.

Perhaps for many of us the practice of Islam we are following may not be based on a correct application of its essence, but rather has become a religion of complexes.

In the Pursuit of Islam

Islam is easy.

Come on, in how many contexts have we heard this statement? “Islam came to bring ease and remove hardship; Islam came to remove difficulty; Islam’s practice is meant to be simple.” What does all this really mean?

More importantly, how should we understand it?

Theological Complexes

Based on how Muslims go about seeking these answers, it is apparent that segments of our community do a poor job of empowering its members to understand their individual roles and responsibilities when it comes to practicing their faith. People often don’t have any guidelines about how, what, and whom to ask.

In addition, we as Muslims have a tendency to make Islam about “issues,” rather than impart a narrative so anchored in understanding that the issues are only a means to achieving the objectives of Islam, that the issues don’t become our theology.

For many of us, unfortunately, it has become the opposite. Our Islam revolves around a theology of complexes. A theology of arguing over issues These issues have become our faith rather than a means to fulfilling our faith.

I call this theology of complexes and the issues many have convoluted with the faith of Islam the 5 Ms of confusion.

The 5 Ms of Confusion

In our time where communication is built around constant social interaction, we’ve seen that this theology of complexes is magnified. It’s everywhere, among Muslims of different backgrounds, locations, and demographics. Year in and year out, we see the same complexes around the same issues. We see arguments, heated debate, trolling, sectarianism, and complete engrossment of said issue to such an extent that the purpose of Islam’s injunction behind the issue is completely lost. This is something we all witness (if you haven’t, just look at the comments section of any article, YouTube video, Facebook post, or Twitter discussion).

The 5 Ms:

  1. Meat – The issues of halal, zabiha, ingredients, and molecules. Does the pursuit of pleasing our Creator by wanting to digest what He’s permitted call for heated excommunications of Muslims who don’t choose to grill their burgers with meat from the same source we use?
  2. Mawlid – Does our love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) call us to hate others based on how we love him? Does this make sense to you?
  3. Marriage – Does the way we seek to balance our culture with our faith really call for us to have tribal/urban wars with families/parents/between genders on gender relations and marriage issues?
  4. Madhabs – Is the way in which we practice Islam according to a particular juristic school of thought call for us to harbor enmity toward others who follow a different, but just as valid, scholarly method?
  5. Moon-sighting – Does the approach we choose to commemorate our holiest of days call for disparaging those that don’t choose to sight the moon the way we do? As Ramadan nears and “moon-fighting” erupts, does this really embody the experience of this amazing spiritual month? Does it fulfill its spirit when we begin and end it in such tasteless discourse?

I’ve only chosen to include these 5 Ms, but there are definitely more. I chose to call them the “5 Ms of Confusion” because these particular issues are constantly highlighted in our communities as reasons why Muslims disparage one another. No doubt, there is an incredible amount of intra-faith disagreement, disparagement, and unneeded argumentation amongst Muslims over these issues.

The reality is that, for many, these issues have become Islam to the extent that there is an ideological war waged over them. Islam, in fact, is against this ideology of resentment and blame over issues with valid differences of opinion. Period.
Those who take part in any way, shape, or form in dividing Muslims along these issues have lost the plot, missed the boat, live on a different planet, need a new eye prescription, hit the tree and missed the forest, focused on the ink mark instead of the painting, failed the test, and undeniably… still don’t understand the objectives and purpose of Islam.

 

The Blame?

The blame, no doubt, goes back to all of us: regular people, teachers, and institutions. Although each of us have a portion of blame, there’s certainly more blame on those who should know better— teachers and institutions.
It’s a shame that any Muslim is involved in causing rifts based on these issues, but it’s a greater disaster when teachers of Islam, who should know better, who supposedly  have gone through the formal training so as to not engage their congregations, students, and Muslims at large in this theology of complexes, do so.


Causes

Firstly, let’s not disregard people’s efforts. Much thanks, appreciation, and prayers are owed and go out to all those sacrificing and constantly striving to disseminate the message of Islam. Our moral standard doesn’t call for negating people’s achievements, sacrifices, and service to the faith due to some shortcomings or mistakes. Our ethos is above and beyond that.

In fact, it’s an integral part of our faith to address shortcomings with sincere advice and prayer and not question people’s sincerity and intentions. This advice goes to ourselves before anyone. Our purpose is to bring awareness of a collective responsibility. We are more in need of rectifying our mistakes before we look to the mistakes of others, especially those who have outlived us in service of the faith, sacrificed more than we can imagine, and been blessed by God. We may critique a few shortcomings only apparent to us, whereas their actions and deeds in the sight of God outweigh these shortcomings in spades. Let us not lose sight of that, let us remain humble. May God bless those working tirelessly in the service of faith, elevate their status, rectify their faults, and benefit others through them.

Criticism of a segment does not negate the good work that others are doing with excellence. God keep you strong and bless you. The criticisms that will follow are a way for us to build and grow as a community, and do not negate the appreciation and realization of struggles. With that said, some of the causes for these theological complexes go back to the following:

As teachers and institutions: We have a serious shortcoming in imparting true Quranic teachings of the holistic objectives of Islam in our message through the Prophetic example. We don’t emphasize the purpose of rituals in our teaching. We falter in highlighting what will increase the quality of our worship. We don’t stress enough the importance of the ethics of interaction and building upright moral character. We fall short in leading by example through our actions, in defining unity. In short, we teach the ‘how’ with the ‘why’, in an imbalanced way. So when the discussions come around teaching these particular five issues, we must impart the understanding that they are a part of a whole – the meaning of Islam isn’t fulfilled except by respecting what is valid, understanding what is not, and learning to deal with fellow Muslims over differences that are not reconcilable.

Some of us have lost people to the mechanics of Islam, where the infinite minutiae is taught but the objective is lost. Others have lost people in the metaphysics, seeking to instill the spirit of Islam without true practical guidance, causing people to follow a ghost, rather than the spirit they claim to be seeking. Both of these extremes have led to name calling, partisanship, and cult mentality among people who otherwise theologically agree on orthodoxy.

We struggle to teach and instill the proper Islamic concepts of discipline (tarbiyah) and self rectification (islah and tazkiyah). We lack true genuineness when it comes to disagreeing.  We have instead instilled in our students and congregations a ‘movement mentality,’ where our Islam is according to a particular movement. Some of have even taught disparagement of those Muslims with whom they disagree.

And there’s much more.

A good example of  how to correctly deal with the issue of the Mawlid was exemplified by a great scholar who taught the matter academically and discussed all the relevant evidence used to debate the legislative merit of holding a feast and celebrating the birth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He ended with one single beautiful comment,  “It’s impossible that any person who has faith in Islam, love of God and His Messenger, and seeks to be in their companionship, that these days go by and they not feel that expression of love and sincere longing for the Prophet (peace be upon him), regardless of whether they attend a celebration. These days are unlike any other days when a person reflects over them and in the heart of someone who is attached to his beloved, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).’‘

As regular people, we need to learn how to ask questions. We need to learn how to have the patience and perseverance to seek out knowledge regarding our faith systematically as well as the etiquette in doing so. We need to invest in ourselves to build our characters and moral standards. We need to learn how to solicit our scholars, understand our roles, and know our responsibilities. We need to stop wasting energy complaining, being apathetic and negative, and constantly criticizing, with no regard to etiquette or understanding.

We need to know how to be instruments  of change. We need to know how to empower ourselves so we do not live in the dichotomy of ‘masjid life’ and  normal life. We need to reach out to our families, friends, co-workers, communities, and neighbors. When we seek to hold others responsible for their failures, we should also hold ourselves accountable. We need to understand how to define  religious authority: who is a teacher, who is a scholar, and who is qualified to give fatwa?

Islam does not have a clergy. The faith, in fact, obligates seeking knowledge at an individual level and highly encourages fulfilling the needs of the community by seeking deeper scholarship. That said, most people are not qualified to have in-depth scholarly discussions on detailed issues. The reality is  there is religious authority in Islam which must meet  one condition – one must have the requisite level of knowledge.

The irony is, as a society, we accept the right to choose specialists in any field. We even seek to understand what’s related to our needs in their fields when we petition them, and we actively engage with them. Yet, we understand that there is a limit to our depth of knowledge. We realize that at some point in the discussion we don’t have the qualification to understand the minute details in the final recommendations they make for us. We do our research, ask them until we’ve established trust, and accept their recommendations. We do this with doctors, engineers, financial and psychiatric counseling, and more. Ironically, we don’t exercise this same process when it comes to Islamic issues.

We often don’t even know how to differentiate between those who are teachers and the scholars who should be petitioned. Not every person teaching Islam, preaching Islam, or representing Islam is qualified to give religious guidance on these issues (called fatwa). What’s even more ironic is that, in Islam, conditions of scholarship, etiquette of seeking answers, and the responsibilities and roles of the person asking as well as the one giving the answer, are all clearly defined.  It’s just a matter of us attempting to understand ourrights and responsibilities.

Notice that in the first category I used the word teachers and not scholars. It’s become a habit for many of us to criticize all of scholarship and the work being done by all religious authorities with no-holds-barred criticism.

Not to exonerate scholars from their responsibilities, but the reality is that the burden scholars face in the sight of God outweighs all others. Islamic scholars (‘ulama) are defined as those that not only speak with outlined qualifications, but also lead by example when giving religious direction. They are people of God who balance the needs of people by directing them to benefit, and not taking them away from the essence of faith. They are those who direct people to application, never lose sight of objectives, take into consideration individual circumstances and social context, and cater to the specific and unique experiences of each individual. Most importantly, they have the requisite level of knowledge. Oftentimes we do not consider that the speakers and teachers in front of us are there to remind us of or teach us what is needed. If we, as a community, fail to seek appropriate scholarship, we are just as responsible for failure as those who answer our questions without proper qualifications.

The Way Forward

We have to recognize that the masses are led by ideologies disseminated by institutions and teachers. The source of the disarray that we see definitely has historical background outside the scope of this particular article. Some of the important factors nonetheless have been highlighted, and it is clear  that we, as a community, should no longer accept a dissemination of a theology of disparagement, a theology of complexes. We, as a community, have to understand how to disagree. We have to understand the difference between valid disagreement and unorthodoxy — which should not be accepted regardless of who supports it.

This starts, first and foremost, with people understanding their rights, responsibilities, and how to solicit scholars who are qualified when asking questions regarding their faith. This is outlined by scholars in books dedicated to the Etiquettes of Soliciting Fatwa.

Next Page Ten Points for People Asking Questions:

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Hasib Noor is an instructor and researcher that specializes in History, Islamic Heritage & Law, alongside other Islamic disciplines. Founder of Prophetic Legacy & Foundation dedicated to researching and teaching Islamic history, heritage, and archaeological sites. He resides in Madinah.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    December 18, 2015 at 1:42 AM

    May Allah forgive me, but we need to be honest. there is no group of Muslims hating other Muslims because they do not celebrate Mawlid. There are some intolerant Hanafis, but most, if they are educated are not. Non Muslims love to jump on Salafis and I met a brother who was so good and he was Salafi so I don’t like to say they are all bad, but there are many of them off the deep end and totally in love with all things Saudi. It’s like the Shia. If someone is hating you, but you are not hating them or what they like, it’s not fair to call the disagreement two-sided.

    • Avatar

      Mustafa

      December 19, 2015 at 1:08 AM

      Shia, Sufi, Barelvi and so on. The all commit practices I consider deviated(like Mawlid). But in this age where the best to walk the earth is more slandered and abused then ever before I can’t help but appreciate the intention behind what they do. As wrong as I consider them I recognize we are brethren of one Ummah who testify la ilaha illAllah Muhammadur Rasulullah, we pray salah in a similar form to the Messenger sallahualayhiwasalam in the direction of the Qibla and agree on the basics like the finality of Islam, it being the only path to Jannah along with deeds to accompany it.

      In this age of tribulation and strife I think one way forward is to show Allah “I united with other Muslims on every front possible.” Where we can agree, lets remain in agreement and thank Allah we haven’t disagreed further than it. I recently read that there are something like 40 thousand(yes 40k!!!) different Christian groups. Alhamdulilah we have far fewer disagreements and when we do disagree it is usually over issues that aren’t of the absolute minimum.

      There isn’t any doubt that these are all serious issues because everything legislated by Allah is a serious matter. But so is unity and if we can tell Allah “we did the minimum required we were commanded by you to stick together” then that’s one more responsibility we fulfilled before the we leave the earth.

      We Muslims are commanded to obey Allah and His Messenger and that Muslims are passionate about these issues is no doubt a good thing insha Allah because it’s coming from a good place. The 5 M’s all have to do with what Allah and His Messenger commanded. However sticking together and unity is from the commandments of Allah and His Messenger so where we agree on the truth we ought to stick together.

      May Allah guide us and save us from all evil!!!

      • Avatar

        Jamshed Hasan

        March 24, 2016 at 1:00 AM

        Assalamu Alaikum,
        Ya Nabi Salam- Alaika for everyday.. every moment of our time…as Allah and His Angels are sending Durud and Salam all time….with all respect and love.. Mohammad SAW is the Mercy of Creation…
        Sura Al-Azhab – Ayat 56, please read and research , Mawlid, Reciting durud, Kiyam, Nasid, any praising, Salam, durud is for everyday , we should fast on every Monday as this is great Sunnah as well.
        ” Inna Allaha wamalaikatahu yusalloona AAala alnnabiyyi ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo salloo AAalayhi wasallimoo tasleeman”

        Meaing: Undoubtedly, Allah and His angels send blessings on the prophet the Communicator of unseen news, O you who believe! Send upon him blessings and salute him fully well in abundance.

        English (Yusuf Ali): (Recite)
        33:56 Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.

  2. Avatar

    Mahamoud Haji

    December 18, 2015 at 3:27 AM

    Jazakallah Kheir Brother Hasib. Weighty matter indeed in an age of confusion, intolerance and labeling. Ultimately it is the seeking of true knowledge with the aid of Allah, and not blind following, that will free us. May Allah guide us to the right path.

  3. Avatar

    Blog Islam Barcelona

    December 18, 2015 at 6:37 PM

    Interesting,

    Thank you!

  4. Avatar

    Habeeb

    December 21, 2015 at 5:56 AM

    We are Muslims Canadians and love and respect all Muslims alike and tolerant to all faiths and cultures alike like Madina. Thanks

  5. Avatar

    FM

    December 21, 2015 at 9:06 AM

    You lost me as soon as you started to preach that thorny “who has authority” and then lamenting lay Muskkms like me on our shortcomings. We hear this everyday anyway. What we need is questioning of “authorities” on promoting cult like thinking. What do you do when one “authority” says that the other “authority” actually has no authority? How do we know who do we trust?
    Yes, we need specialties and we go to professionals to seek answers when we need them as you stated in your piece but we are not legally or morally bound to accept their professional advices. They are no “go between” between us and a supreme being.
    Just two days ago I read the fatwa from a very respected looking scholar that those who celebrate Mawlid are evil and Satanic. Now, I am against celebrating Mawlid as well but just as overwhelming majority of lay Muslkms do in these situations, I do not have any problem with those who do. In fact, I have attended quite a few on the invitation of friends who do celebrate. So now based on the evidence from this scholarly opinion, I am supposed to believe that those who are celebrating Mawlid are evil and satanic? Okay, I won’t but there will be many others who will. And do I have the right to challenge this scholarly authority? Or I would be told in step 1 that “you do not have the authority” or “you cannot understand the deen because you do not possess the KNOWLEDGE, so you should surrender to this fatwa”. What is the mechanism for lay people like us to challenge the authorities? And are they ever taught to listen to these challenges with open mindedness even if it means questioning what they have believed?
    i can go on and on but the point is that no real change can come in the Muslim community until either the authorities change or the community makes them accountable for what they say and how they act without the fear of being called “kafir” or “astray Muslim” (later is only a kinder way of saying the former), or in worst cases, fear of getting a permit to hell by a so called riteous Muslim who wouldn’t mind taking the fatwa against you to the next level where you don’t deserve to live anymore.
    I hope this will be published but I have my doubts based on past experiences :)

    • Avatar

      Mustafa Mahmud

      December 21, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      Fuqaha are not what they used to be. Nowadays an actual heresy will run rampant and some daees, scholars will be ranting about raf ya dayn which is a fiqh issue or mawlid which they strongly believe to be innovative.

      On Al Jumuah (website) there is a good article on how it is absurd to blame laymen alone and excuse certain members of the religious classes.

      • Avatar

        Mustafa Mahmud

        December 21, 2015 at 10:37 AM

        BTW I strongly believe Mawlid should be avoided but subhanAllah we’ve got an onslaught of kuffar telling us to not give our Messenger his due status, to abandon Sharia to believe that they can go to Jannah and more.

        Refute mawlid raf ya dayn or whatever. But for God sake take some time out to talk about what is actually relevant and of far greater severity(kufr vs bidah it isn’t hard to tell.)

  6. Avatar

    Yacoob Vahed

    December 23, 2015 at 11:17 PM

    I think it was Ali (RA) who said that when people know a little about something they concentrate on the minor issues.
    Let’s look at the Bigger Picture always – we will then learn to appreciate the good and leave out the small differences with respect and dignity. We should however always strive to practice evidence-based Islam but always remember the TOLERANCE and CHARACTER of the Prophet (SAW) when guiding others. Let’s have Mercy unto one another and unite against the Kuffaar as the Quraan instructs us to do. Look at the overall good in the Muslim and inshaAllah he/she will learn from you without your instructions.

  7. Avatar

    Steven

    December 23, 2015 at 11:49 PM

    Perhaps the problem is that so many people are seeking to learn about the religion in order to use it to chastise others instead of learning it to increase their chances of entering paradise. If we really wanted to make it into paradise we would never, with all our faults, have the time to worry about what others are doing.

    • Avatar

      M.Mahmud

      December 24, 2015 at 10:25 PM

      Muslims are commanded to simultaneously enjoin on what is right and forbid what it wrong, to affirm what is true and to reject what is false, all while fearing for ourselves and for others.

      This is the way of the Messengers and whoever followed guidance.

  8. Avatar

    javaid

    January 8, 2016 at 10:14 PM

    I was relatively tolerant of Mawlid even though I considered it a Bidah. I was tolerant because I thought to myself that they do it for the love of Prophet(sa) and because we had more things to worry about.

    But I realized that Mawlid celebrations are getting insane by every passing year with huge cakes, models of Madinah, disco songs, even inviting women-dancers and what not. Now I think that Mawlid is a Munkar which must be warned against and stopped. Not just ignored.

    Another fact to mention is that some people quote Ibn Hajar Asqalani and others, even by their standards and by the standards of the genuine classical scholars who allow this, the Mawlid of today is a far bigger deal and clearly a Munkar.

    • Avatar

      Ghufran Ali Muzaffar

      January 20, 2016 at 12:23 AM

      Its a great blog and really leraned alot from this blog. I think Their is another M you should include and that is “Money”. Which is the biggest cause for discrimination between different sects and culture

  9. Avatar

    Ali

    July 1, 2016 at 4:44 AM

    As Salaamu Alaikum

    The Purpose of the Kuffar was to divide and conquer and they have successfully done so!
    As we see the Muslims being constantly defeated by the western forces today, as well constantly arguing amongst one another!

    The current Saud Family is a tribal Family put in power by the Kuffar, remember that tribalism is forbidden in Islam, the split began with Abdul ibn Wahhab, he was the one who caused the rift which lead to the Ottomans leaving Arabia and the beginning of the SalafI movement.

    If Islam was the way the Saudis are running the blessed Cities than Nabi Muhammad (saw) would have elected Hazrath Ali as the 1st Caliph and it would have stayed within the family of Muhammad peace be upon upon.

    Islam is about Just and fairness not who has the most money will be in power!

  10. Avatar

    Alex

    May 21, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    Salam aleykum.

    Very interesting post.

    Thanks!

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#Islam

Podcast: Prayer is a Work in Progress | Shaykh Abdullah Ayaaz Mullanee

Zeba Khan

Published

Many of us have been Muslim for our entire lives, and despite praying regularly for years, can still never feel like we’re never doing it right. Why is it so hard to focus in salah? And what should someone do if they feel like they are AWFUL at it?

Join Zeba Khan as she asks Shaykh Abdullah Ayaz Mullanee, who not only struggles with his prayers too, but is also the dean of Mishkah Institute, and author of the books “A Ramadan With the Prophet ” and “The Poetic Words of Sayyiduna Ali رضي الله عنه.” To take a free short course on the meaning of Salah, visit this link.

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#Islam

Undisputed And Undefeated: 13 Ways Khabib Nurmagomedov Inspired Us To Win With Faith

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Published

Many fans anxiously watched UFC 254 with bated breath as Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov went head-to-head with Justin “The human highlight reel” Gaethje. The latter had just come off a spectacular TKO win against a formidable and feared fighter in the form of Tony Ferguson, beating him over 5 nerve-wracking rounds by outstriking him with a combination damaging head shots and crippling low kicks.

We all knew what both would do – Khabib would go for the takedown, and Gaethje would try to keep the fight on the feet and opt for stand-up striking – which fighter’s strategy would prevail? Alhamdulillah, it was Khabib, in a mere 2 rounds.  We weren’t in the fight, but we are all nervous and supplicating, making du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give him another victory.

And so it was that after the win, he collapsed in the middle of the ring to cry, as this was his first fight after the loss of his father due to complications with Covid-19. He cried, and many a man cried with him, feeling his pain. Gaethje revived from his triangle choked slumber and consoled his former foe, telling Khabib his father was proud of him.

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We were all sure when “The Eagle” got on the mic, he would say he wanted to fight GSP, George St Pierre, and then retire 30-0, as he had said in previous press conferences leading up to the fight.  Instead, he surprised us all by announcing his retirement at 29-0, and I couldn’t help but marvel that not only was he turning away from a lucrative final fight, but the way in which he announced his retirement reminded us of our faith, our deen, our religion, Islam.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”

Throughout his MMA career, Khabib has proudly worn his faith on his sleeve. As he has risen to become the current pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world and arguably the GOAT, the greatest of all time, his unwavering example as a practicing Muslim transformed him into a global phenomenon and role model for many of us by reminding us to be better worshippers, to be closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Let’s look at a few of the ways he did this:

1. Beginning with Alhamdulillah

The announcer at UFC 254 began by congratulating Khabib on a job well-done yet again by praising him, stating, “The world is in awe of your greatness once again…your thoughts on an epic championship performance, congratulations.” Khabib didn’t immediately begin talking about himself. Instead, he said:

“Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, God give me everything…”

After stating this, he went on to announce his retirement, his reasons for retiring, and thanked everyone who supported his professional MMA journey.

The Reminder

Alhamdulillah is literally translated into “All Praise Belongs to God”. Khabib begins by thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), pointing out that his talents and abilities are a gift, a blessing from the Most High. When we have any blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we must remember that whatever our own effort, our abilities, our support, and our achieved outcomes ultimately tie back to support from our Rabb, our Lord, who controls all.

Khabib pointing to Allah

It’s not from me, it’s from Him

If you’ve ever seen Khabib point at himself, shake his finger back and forth as if to say, “No” and then point up to the sky, this is a nonverbal way of him saying, don’t think all these great things you see are from me – they’re from Allah above.

2. The Prostration of Thankfulness – Sajdat al-Shukr

You may have noticed at the end of Khabib’s victory, when the announcer states that he’s the winner of the bout, he falls into a prostration known as Sajdat al-Shukr – the Prostration of Thankfulness (to Allah).

Khabib and his sons prostrating

The Reminder

Performing this is recommended when someone receives something beneficial (eg good news, wealth, etc) or if they avoided something potentially harmful (e.g. job loss, healing from a disease, etc). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would do this when he received good news. The believer should remember to be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as much as they can.

See also:

3. Establishing the 5 Daily Prayers

Khabib and me, don’t be jelly

Years ago (early 2018), Khabib visited my local masjid in Santa Clara, California (not far from where he was training in San Jose at the AKA gym). Many at the masjid didn’t know who he was, but we heard he was the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight championship belt, at that time held by Tony Ferguson.

He did a Q & A with the community, and someone asked him a general question about what he would recommend for the youth.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing:

Take care of your prayers, if you come to Day of Judgment not take care of your prayers, on that day you will be smashed.

The Reminder

The second pillar of Islam that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has commanded us to follow is to pray to Him 5 times daily. Khabib was no doubt referencing the following statement of the Prophet (saw):

“The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost…”

 

 

Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda notes that when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) first began his mission of da’wah and faced devastating rejection from family and community, Allah told the Prophet to stand and pray. The reason for this is because when we are weak and suffering, the place to turn to for strength is back to Allah in prayer. There is no doubt Khabib’s strength came from his connection to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) which in turn came from his 5 daily prayers.

Praying multiple times daily, consistently, can be challenging; when it was legislated by Allah to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) kept telling him to go back and ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a reduction, saying, “Your people will not be able to handle it.”

Khabib is a great reminder that no matter how high you climb in life and career, no matter how busy you think you are, worshipping Allah is the most important deed one can do, and this discipline is the most important habit to build.

4. Strong Wrestling Game

Some say Khabib is already 30-0 for wrestling a bear

In a sport that sees far more striking and kicking than it does wrestling, Khabib came to dominate the lightweight division of the UFC with a strong grappling style that is a combination of sambo (a Soviet martial art), judo, and wrestling. Famously, he outwrestled a bear when he was much younger.

During his fights, he doesn’t close out his bouts by pummeling his opponents and causing them damage as most strikers would. Most of his hits open up his opponents to being forced to tap out via submission. Even his last opponent, Justin Gaethje, noted that he was much happier to be choked out in a submission, as all he would get is a pleasant nap, as opposed to striking, which could have long-term health consequences.

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not only able to wrestle, he took down the strongest wrestler in Makkah. Rukanah, the famed Makkan wrestler, challenged RasulAllah because of his hatred for the da’wah. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) accepted his challenge and took him down multiple times, body slamming him again and again. It was said that after the conquest of Makkah, Rukanah accepted Islam.

5. Fighting / Training through Sickness and Injury

During the post-fight press conference with UFC President Dana White, it was revealed that Khabib had broken one of his toes 3 weeks before the fight. Prior to that, he had taken two weeks off upon arriving at Fight Island having contracted mumps, according to AKA trainer and coach Javier Mendez. Khabib is quoted as having told Mendez, “My toe may be broken, but my mind is not.” In addition to this, his father had just passed away months earlier, and this would be his first fight without his father present.

Mumps, broken toes, and the emotional turmoil of family tragedy

The Reminder

In addition, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has told us, “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…” This strength includes strength of body, mind, and spirit; not just when conditions are perfect, but when trials surround you from every conceivable direction.

6. Relationship With His Father

After defeating Justin Gaethje, Khabib went to the center of the ring and cried, and everyone cried with him. We all knew his father’s death weighed heavily on his mind and his heart, and this was his first fight without him. His father was his mentor and trainer, whom everyone could obviously see he both loved and greatly respected.

In the post-fight question and answer with Dustin Poirier, Khabib was asked, “What’s your message for your young fans out there who look up to you so much?” he responded:

“Respect your parents, be close with your parents, this is very important. Parents everything, you know, your mother, your father, and that’s it, and everything in your life is going to be good, if you’re going to listen to your parents, mother, father, be very close with them, and other things come because your parents gonna teach what to do.”

The Reminder

There isn’t enough space in this article to go over how much emphasis our faith places on respecting our parents. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully. [17:23]

7. Relationship With His Mother

Our parents ultimately want us to succeed, but also want us to maintain our well-being. Without his father’s presence, it was clear that Khabib’s mother didn’t want him continuing in the Octagon (the UFC ring). After 3 days of discussion, Khabib gave his word to her that this would be his final fight. After beating Justin Gaethje in UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring because he promised his mother that he would retire and that he’s a man of his word.

The Reminder

This hearkens back to a statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about how much respect mothers deserve. A man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” He (saw) said “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet again said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet finally said, “Your father.”

Khabib easily had millions more to make on a journey to hit 30-0 in his professional fighting career and decided to hang it all up to make his mother happy. This is true respect and obedience, and for that matter, the love of a mother for her son and his well-being over monetary gains.

8. Respect for Muhammad Ali

When asked about the comparisons between himself and Muhammad Ali, Khabib stated that it was an inappropriate comparison. He noted that Muhammad Ali didn’t just face challenges in the ring, but challenges outside of it due to racism, and that he was an agent of change with respect to bringing about greater civil rights for African Americans.

The Reminder

In his final sermon, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

From the 7th century until today, our faith recognizes that people are not judged by their race, but by their actions and the intentions behind those actions. In the video above, Khabib recognized both the wrongness of racism, and the challenge it posed along the way of Muhammad Ali’s own journey, and that his contributions to social justice transcended his involvement in sport.

9. His Conduct with Other Fighters

With the exception of the fight with Conor McGregor, Khabib always dealt with his opponents with respect. He hugs them, shakes their hand, and says good things about their accomplishments and strengths both before and after fights. In a sport known for heavy trash talking and showboating to build hype, Khabib kept his cool and his manners.

Champion vs Champion, the respect is mutual

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners.”

Maintaining good character and conduct during press-conferences was Khabib’s calling card; even when trash talkers like Tony Ferguson tried to go after him, he would still recount Ferguson’s formidable stature as a fighter.

When reporters tried throwing him a softball opening to insult Ferguson’s mental health, Khabib responded that he didn’t want to talk about Tony Ferguson’s problems if he they were real; if Ferguson truly has a problem, then we should help him, as we all have problems.

10. Fighting Those Who Dishonor Faith and Family

As mentioned above, Khabib is known for being very respectful of his opponents during press conferences. He speaks well of their strengths, shakes their hands, hugs them; he even runs up to his opponent after a fight and hugs them, consoling them and wishing them well. After his win against Poirier, he traded shirts with him and donated $100k to Poirier’s charity.

Khabib vs Dana’s boy, the chicken

The exception was the infamous UFC 229 which Muslim fans watched holding years, maybe decades of pent up anger at the type of crass secular arrogance represented by Conor. We desperately wanted Khabib to maul the mouthy McGregor. The latter had gone after his family, his faith, his nationality, anything and everything to hype up the fight and try to get under the champ’s skin. Some people lose their calm, and others, well, they eat you alive.

Khabib made it clear he wasn’t having any of that. He took the fight to Conor and choked him out with a neck crank. We then learned why he was called “The Eagle” as he hopped the cage and jumped into the audience to go after other members of Conor’s team who had spoken ill of him, giving birth to “Air Khabib”.

The Reminder

When our faith and family is spoken of in an ill fashion, it’s not appropriate that we sit there and take it. Khabib never cared when it was criticism against him, but once it went to others around him, he took flight. We as Muslims should never give anybody who tries to attack and dehumanize us a chance to rest on their laurels. We should strive ourselves to take the fight back to them by whatever legal means necessary, as Khabib did, whether it is cartoons of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or political pundits and satirists who monetize hatred against Muslims.

11. Shaking Hands and Training with Women

In numerous public instances, Khabib reminded us that our faith demands we don’t shake with the opposite gender. As one of my teachers taught us, the Qur’an instructs us to “lower our gaze” when dealing with women. If we shouldn’t even look at them out of respect for Allah’s command, how can we take it to the next level and touch them?

Extended to this is even more serious physical contact like training at the gym. Cynthia Calvillo, one of Khabib’s teammates at AKA gym, said the following about Khabib and his unit:

“It’s a little bit weird because of their religion and stuff…They don’t talk to women you know. I mean we say ‘hi’ to each other but we can’t train with them. They won’t train with women…I don’t think any other woman does.

The Reminder

Our faith places stricter physical and social interaction boundaries between men and women. Keeping matters professional and respectful with the opposite gender need not include physical contact. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was said to have never touched non-mahram women. It was narrated that he said,

“It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is impermissible to you.”

For this reason, the majority of scholars prohibited physical contact between men and women with some exceptions (e.g. old age). Watching Khabib maintain this practice, even in public where it could potentially embarrass him and cause undue negative attention, gives us all inspiration to deal with this issue in the workplace better. He encourages us to strive for better tolerance and awareness of our faith rather than forcing us to conform.

12. Not Making a Display of The “Trophy” Wife

If you follow Khabib’s Instagram, you won’t find lewd pics of him and a significant other. In fact, you won’t find any pictures at all of him and his wife. Who she is is a mystery to all. In an age and a sport where many post photos with their romantic partners, Khabib again is a standout with his gheerah, his honorable protectiveness for his significant other.

Khabib and his wife

The Reminder

We are again reminded that a part of manhood is to have protective ghayrah, jealousy over one’s spouse. Ibn al-Qayyim also said, bringing in the concept of chivalry,

“The dayyuth / cuckold is the vilest of Allah’s creation, and Paradise is forbidden for him [because of his lack of ghayrah]. A man should be ‘jealous’ with regards to his wife’s honor and standing. He should defend her whenever she is slandered or spoken ill of behind her back. Actually, this is a right of every Muslim in general, but a right of the spouse specifically. He should also be jealous in not allowing other men to look at his wife or speak with her in a manner which is not appropriate.”

13. Owning His Mistakes, Looking to Be Forgiven

Finally, it should be noted there is no real scholarly disagreement on prohibiting striking the face. Recognizing this, Khabib stated when asked if “he thinks the AlMighty will be satisfied with him for taking part in haram fights for money,” he replied, “I don’t think so.”

In an interview with the LA Times, he said:

“You go to mosque because nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes, and we have to ask Allah to forgive us. This is very important mentally, to be clear with Allah. This is not about the UFC. There is nothing else more important to me than being clear with Allah. And being clear with Allah is the No. 1 most hard thing in life.”

The Reminder

We as human beings aren’t perfect – perfection is only for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We all make mistakes, sometimes small, sometimes large, but in the end, He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is ready to forgive us if we’re willing to recognize our failings and ask to be forgiven.  Allah says in the Qur’an in 2:222:

“Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves.”

There are no sins so great that redemption is beyond any of us. Whatever Khabib’s flaws, his value as a positive change maker and faith-based role model globally outweighs his negatives.

Part of seeking forgiveness is the process, and the first part of that process is acknowledging the mistake. This means not being in denial about it or not justifying it, just owning it. As Khabib has owned his mistake publicly, there is no need for us to try and justify it either.

We can own that there are problems with MMA and the industry, in participating as well as watching and supporting. At the same time, we can do as Dr Hatem al-Hajj said about Muhammad Ali:

Concluding Thoughts

While UFC pundits will forever debate over the greatest of all time, there is in doubt that Khabib Nurmogomedov, the first Muslim UFC champion, will always be our GOAT.

I ask that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepts the good from what Khabib has done, rewards him tremendously for the inspiration he’s given us all to better focused on the akhirah, the next life, and continues to make him a powerful sports icon who uses his platform as Muhammad Ali did to teach Islam and exemplify it in the best way for all of us to benefit and follow.

Ameen.

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#Islam

Does A Muslim Have To Wish Well For An Oppressor Who Is Struck With Disease?

Imam Imran Salha

Published

First, we should differentiate between those who want to curse at the oppressor because it’s a fad, and those who do so because they either experienced oppression directly from said oppressor, or they genuinely empathize with those who have been directly oppressed.

To those who are doing it as a fad, I say what my teachers always said to me:

“Islam is not for blowing off steam.”

You cannot use Islam as an outlet for immaturity. Imam Shafi’i said if you are stuck between two options, choose the one that goes against your desires for there is a higher likelihood that the truth lies in that option.

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Second, we also have to be careful not to restrict the Islamic position on something just because it sounds like the moral high road. This may be personal preference for some to hold back from cursing the oppressor, but that doesn’t mean Islam specifically asks this of us.

What is the standard?

The Qur’an – “Tell my servants to say the best word.”

“I was not sent as one who always curses.” -Hadith

“The Muslim is not one who always curses.” -Hadith

Scholars noticed that the Prophet ﷺ used the word اللعّان (la’aan) instead of لاعن (laa’in). The former is صيغة المبالغة which means that one is always cursing, where the latter is a description for one who curses once. If the Prophet ﷺ meant to say that the Muslim NEVER curses he would have said “A Muslim is not one who curses even once.”

Instead, what He ﷺ actually said is it is not part of the character of a Muslim that they frequently curse, which is why he used the word لعّان.

Also, the Prophet ﷺ could not have meant that he never cursed, because he himself cursed at an entire tribe. In an authentic hadith in Saheeh Muslim, Khifaaf ibn Imaa’ al-Ghifaari narrates that the Prophet ﷺ made the following dua during salah:

اللَّهُمَّ العَنْ بَنِي لِحْيَانَ، وَالْعَنْ رِعْلًا، وَذَكْوَانَ، ثُمَّ وَقَعَ سَاجِدًا.

“Oh Allah, send your curse upon Bani Lihyaan, and curse Ri’l, and Thakwaan – and then the Prophet ﷺ fell in prostration.”

There is no way that the Prophet ﷺ would command us never to curse and then in certain instances invoke the curse of Allah on others. This proves that cursing is in fact necessary sometimes.

Abu Bakr [ramhu] told Urwah bin Masood to lick the genitalia of Al-laat, which was an idol that was worshipped at the time. This was after Urwah disrespected the Prophet ﷺ. This is a hadith in Bukhari and the Prophet ﷺ did not scold AbuBakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) for his reaction and all the narrations that say the Prophet ﷺ scolded him are weakened if not fabricated. We know the rulings on the Prophet ﷺ’s silence. His silence is legislation. If there was something wrong with Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)‘ s words the Prophet ﷺ would have HAD to say something about it. His ﷺ silence means he agreed with what Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) did.

Even if you do not want to curse, why should you wish well on any oppressor when Allah cursed all oppressors in the Qur’an? You can be clever. Look at the following example.

When Jamal Abdel-Nasser died, Imam Mohammed al-Ghazzali (ra) said: “Oh Allah have mercy on him in the same way he had mercy on your Ummah.”

لما مات جمال عبد الناصر قال الشيخ الغزالي: اللهم ارحمه بقدر ما رحم الامة

So I can say, (and again this is in the case of wanting to avoid cursing): Oh Allah! Have mercy on Trump to the same degree that Trump had mercy on the immigrant mothers who had to be separated from their children as a result of his ruthless policies.

For Tarbiyah purposes, it is beneficial to teach your children and students of knowledge never to curse. This was the methodology of Imam AbdelQadir Jilani (ra) who would force his students never to curse even against oppressors. However, this is in the context of Tarbiyah and preparing students for scholarship and leadership, not the context of Fiqh. This is so that the students lean more towards the Prophetic reality and is also more in line with the hadith we mentioned in the beginning! A student of knowledge and future leader should not be in the habit of constantly cursing.

Many spiritual paths force their students into a certain “extreme” to discipline them and make their default setting leaning towards what is more spiritually beneficial, so that only when it is absolutely necessary will they use these “licenses” that allow them to express their anger. When it comes to the general masses though, we should not make it seem like this is absolutely not allowed, or that it is even spiritually superior to wish well on an oppressor.

We should not be in the business of telling people that Islam forces you to wish well on forces of evil.

The Prophet ﷺ passed by a janazah and said: “Relieved and one who others are relieved from.” Upon being asked, the Prophet ﷺ explained: “The Believer is relieved at the moment of their death from the toil of life. As for the wicked, the people, land, trees and animals are relieved from their presence as soon as they die.”

May the eyes of the oppressors never find rest. Ameen.

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