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Sharia and Reform | Dr Hatem Al-Haj

Many ‘conservative’ Muslims feel instantly uncomfortable when they hear someone talk about tajdeed (renewal) of the religion. Some of us do this out of fear of the unknown. This is partly because our Ummah suffers from a great deal of weakness and disunity, which fosters an environment of defensiveness and mistrust. However, our fears that stem from the call to tajdeed may not be all unjustifiable. After all, many of the callers to tajdeed of the deen are utterly unqualified for the job.

They dismiss much of the established Sunnah, and defy the definitive implications of the text of revelation with complete disregard for the cumulative tradition. They are quick to dismiss the great jurists of Islam, claiming that they were but a product of their culture and were blindfolded by their biases. It also seems to the ‘conservative’ Muslim that much of the proposed tajdeed is simply an act of unconditional surrender to the mainstream modern culture, making the Divine instruction subject to the influence of people’s relative and changing thoughts and social constructs. However, the problem that may result from our timidity to contribute to this discourse about tajdeed is that others may hijack its banner, and all the people who are frustrated with the condition of the Ummah and yearning for a change will be tempted to follow them.

The Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “Indeed, Allah sends for this Ummah, at the onset of every century, those who renew (literally: make tajdeed) of the religion for it.”[1] Therefore, the one who calls for tajdeed should not be denounced, since the first one to utter this term in this context was the Messenger of Allah (saws) himself. Rather, the discussion should revolve around the intended meaning of this tajdeed. Does it only mean ‘restoration’? If it does, why did the Prophet (saws) use it in the sense of ‘renewal’ instead, when there are Arabic words that specifically mean ‘restoration’? Also, ‘restoration’ sounds more suitable for a static structure, like a historic building that you want to bring back to its original beauty. Our deen is a living entity with one spirit, consistent objectives, and overarching maxims, but with a flexible legal framework that can appropriately engage with changing realities. ‘Renewal’ is thus the right word. But if it is about renewal, how can we ‘renew’ the religion? Does this mean we have the liberty to change the Divine instruction?

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The default status in the religion is that it remains unchanging, and most of what is meant by ‘renewal’ is actually restoration done simply through reviving that which is original, and cleansing that which is unoriginal, such as the innovations and customs of people which conflict with the revelation. Aside from that, there is another type of renewal, and that is the ijtihâd-based renewal. This is what the scholars refer to by saying, “The change in rulings due to the change in times is not to be denounced.”[2] One example of this was when ‘Umar (ra) prevented al-mu’allafati quloobuhum[3] from receiving their share of zakât when he saw that Allah had empowered Islam and the Muslims during his blessed caliphate. In another instance, ‘Uthmân (ra) commanded during his caliphate that the stray camel be taken, sold, and its price kept for its owner. This was contrary to the original ruling, wherein taking stray camels is prohibited, but it was resorted to because of the moral deterioration that had occurred between the time of the Prophet (saws) and the time of the caliphate of ‘Uthmân (ra). Similarly, it was undisputed among the early Ḥanafi scholars that taking a wage for teaching Qur’an was unlawful; they later consented to allow Qur’an teachers to receive payment when volunteers became few in number – out of fear that knowledge of the Qur’an would be lost.

Did these greats change the legislated ruling? Never that, for the legislation of Allah is not subject to change. Allah, the Most High, says (what means): {They took their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah} (at-Tawbah 9:31), and the Messenger of Allah (saws) explained to ‘Adi ibn Ḥâtim (ra) that this occurred by following them in considering the unlawful as permissible and the permissible as unlawful.[4] Moreover, would this not be exactly what the Messenger of Allah (saws) prohibited when he said: “If anyone introduces into this matter of ours what is not from it, it will be rejected.”[5]?

Therefore, it is impossible that they changed the ḥukm (as it refers to the Divine khiṭâb or instruction), even if some of the scholars used that term, for they only meant the fatwa (religious edict) and not the actual ruling in Sharia. A single act can have two different fatwas because of the variant circumstances in different contextual scenarios.

To further clarify, let us take the example of receiving wages for teaching Qur’an. Its prohibition was a matter of agreement among the early Ḥanafi scholars, but then the practice was permitted by them later on. The question is, were the prohibition and permission with regard to the same thing? It appears that way, but upon taking a closer look, it becomes clear that we cannot equate between accepting a wage for teaching Qur’an at a time when many were enthusiastic about teaching it as an act of devotion (to Allah), and were supported financially from the state treasury, and a time when teachers were no longer sustained by the state treasury. In the latter situation, if they occupied themselves with teaching, their families would be lost, and if they occupied themselves with earning a livelihood, their students would be lost.

Thus, a particular scenario may call for a different set of rulings that suit it, and the mujtahid (the one who engages in ijtihâd) chooses from among them what is most suitable to it. Sometimes, the matter may fall between two rulings or two principles, in which case the judge attributes the matter to whichever of the two it seems closer. Closeness is determined either by technical deductions or through considering the ultimate objectives (maqâṣid) of Sharia, though it is preferred to give precedence to the ultimate objectives. This is obviously pertinent only to rulings which are affected by people’s customs and interests. Regarding this, Imam ash-Shâṭibi (may Allah bestow mercy upon him) said:

Rulings differing whenever customs differ is not really a difference in the Divine instruction itself, for the Sharia was revealed to be permanent and eternal. Hypothetically, were this world to remain without end, and the people remained liable [to uphold the Sharia] as well, the Sharia would not need any additions. In other words, whenever customs change, they would fall under another [different] principle of Sharia that would govern them…”[6]

In the example of taking wages for teaching the Qur’an, the first of the two principles was that there was no intention other than (the pleasure of) Allah in acts of devotion – and this supported the view of impermissibility in the first era; and the second was to preserve the Qur’an by teaching it to youngsters – and this supported the view of permissibility in the second era. The ijtihâd-based renewal considers the change of time and place, not because they are in themselves consequential to the rulings, but because they are vehicles of different circumstances that may be consequential to those rulings.

Some Practical Examples of Tajdeed

Sometimes we need to reexamine not only the rulings but the very terms we use, since the similarity of the name does not necessarily mean similarity of the named. For example, the prohibition of making a ṣoorah (translated as ‘picture’) of any being that can be said to have a soul: is this prohibition applicable to a photograph by virtue of the two things having a name in common in Arabic? Not likely. This still does not mean that they cannot share the same ruling. However, the prohibition of photographs (if one is so inclined) must be reached through analogy, and only if it meets the requirements.

Was war during the time of the Prophet like war is today? Lexically speaking, yes. However, we must ask ourselves if the one-on-one confrontation of thousands of individual soldiers sparring in a battlefield is like the mass and indiscriminate devastation that ensues from modern war. Should the difference be consequential? Should it make war an even remoter last resort? Did the early Muslims fight for humanity or against it? We are sure they fought and sacrificed their lives to achieve the cause of Divine justice and to liberate humanity from tyranny, to afford people the right to worship their Lord. If so, will the fact that most nations allow their subjects freedom of religion be consequential?

When the Prophet prohibited women from travelling alone, was travel then like travel now? Would a difference be consequential? It would, at least according to the scholars who rule as acceptable travelling with a safe company; they must have understood that there is some identifiable ‘illah (effective cause) for the prohibition. Sometimes, erudite scholars will even make the well-defined ḥikmah (wisdom/ultimate rationale) consequential to the rulings. Some may claim that, using the same rationale, we may also do away with hijab or the rules of proper conduct between the two sexes, since the human community has matured and it is safer for women to go out in whichever attire they please. This would be in defiance of the clear text and of the unchanging human nature as well. The Islamic rules of modesty were to protect women, men, and entire societies from an avalanche of evil that would result from failure to observe them. It must be also observed that the societies of the modern and ‘civilized’ humans of the twenty-first century, when compared to societies of earlier eras, are not experiencing lower rates of infidelity, family breakdown, rape, or psychological disorders related to sex. There is no level of education or cultural sophistication that has proved to be protective against any of these ills.

This religion has immense vitality, so there will never be a time where the mujtahideen fail at finding solutions for newly emerged challenges. All over the world, the change in living standards and conditions in the last two centuries has been immense. Some of these changes have had an enormous impact on family dynamics. In today’s world, if a woman had decided to stay at home for the interest of the family, and after forty years of marriage her husband divorces her, should he walk away with all of the family’s savings because it is ‘his’ money? Should she get half of it? What if this happened after only two years of marriage? Would that discourage many men from getting married? Is there a point of moderation between those two ends? The Sharia has in fact provided a solution, albeit controversial in this case, yet authentic and also supported by the apparent implication of the Qur’an, where Allah says (what means), {And for divorced women is a provision according to what is acceptable – a duty upon the righteous.} (al-Baqarah 2:241) This provision is called mut‘ah, which may be translated as ‘bereavement gift’ or alimony. If we employ this provision and make it sizeable and commensurate with the duration of marriage and the socioeconomic status of the family, we can have a legitimate solution for a new challenge.

Some people may argue that the same changes of our world should warrant a change to the laws of inheritance. This would not fall under tajdeed (renewal), but rather tabdeed (annihilation). This is a fixed law in the revelation. It is explicitly stated. It is not contingent upon the customs and interests of people. Women do not always take half of what men take. This is only true in certain cases. However, if you make the proportion of inheritance equal in all cases, you must also relieve the men from their responsibilities towards the women of their households and kin. While certain people (not necessarily Muslims) may find this to be acceptable during different times or eras, it defies the distribution of roles that Allah has designated based on innate differences between the sexes that are not subject to change. Such a suggestion would have been absurd to Westerners in the nineteenth century, and still is to many people throughout the world.

At times, we have conflicting scholarly positions. Some opinions may be indispensable in our times, even if they are counter to the majority position. When there is nothing definitive in the Quran and the Sunnah to prevent us from choosing to go with an opinion that provides a solution to a contemporary problem, we ought to. For example, in the past, the jurists differed regarding the methods by which a claim is established in the Islamic judiciary. Some limited it to whatever has been explicitly stated in, or extracted from, the revealed texts. Others widened the circle of evidences to include whatever reveals the truth and paves the way for justice. For this reason, basing rulings on qarâ’in (corroborative evidences) was a matter of debate among the jurists.

The difference today is that forensic science has evolved to such a degree that judicial systems throughout the world are extremely reliant on it. Law experts call this type of evidence ‘tangible proof,’ and despite it being considered a largely modern phenomenon, it still falls under corroborative evidences. The question is, where should the Islamic judiciary stand regarding forensic science? Should it benefit from it? Should this benefit be limited to guiding the criminal investigator and enlightening the judge with important details of the crime? Or should these evidences be used by the judge, whenever they qualify, even in the absence of the customary evidences known to Islamic jurisprudence such as the testimony of witnesses, admissions, oaths, and nukool (refusal to take an oath).

I believe that a reasoned incorporation of the tangible evidences in what counts as admissible proofs is completely warranted. This was the position of luminaries like Ibn al-Qayyim[7], Ibn Taymiyyah[8], and Ibn Farḥoon[9], and of the remaining Mâlikis, in addition to Ibn al-Ghars[10] of the Ḥanafis, and some Ḥanbalis[11]. The use of qarâ’in is emphatically not like redefining the admissible proofs or equating the testimony of women in financial matters to that of men. These actions would be in defiance of a clear text, while using corroborative evidences is not. There is reason to believe that there are specific differences between men and women that made the testimony of two women equal to that of one man in financial matters, while a woman’s testimony is of the same or higher value than a man’s in other areas, such as childbirth and breastfeeding.

Sometimes we create rigidity, and fear of ‘walking away’ from what we created. Neither the Prophet (saws) nor ‘Umar[12] (ra) decreed that the tarâweeḥ prayer should be done in congregation, or that it should be eight or twenty raka‘ât or that one juz’ ought to be completed every night. In fact, Imam Mâlik and Imam ash-Shâfi‘i consider it superior if tarâweeḥ prayers are done at home. Yet today, we adhere to a particular number of raka‘ât in tarâweeḥ and/or a specific length for its recitation, without this being binding on us. Now, with the time for ‘ishâ’ starting very late in North America and other extremely northern or extremely southern lands during the summer, and the many differences between the era of the Companions and our own, should we adhere to a particular format for the tarâweeḥ when none has been designated by Allah, His Messenger, or even any of the Companions? Should there be more time for reflection in the local language over the meanings of what is being recited? Should there be more time left for socialization and creating a bond between the ‘Ramadan only’ congregants and their local masjid? I believe all of this is warranted. On the other hand, if someone said that we should do away with the tarâweeḥ prayers in congregation, then he would be calling for the cessation of an agreed-upon practice that has been ongoing since the time of ‘Umar (ra). Once again, that is not in any way a form of tajdeed.[13]

Some people want, via tajdeed, to diminish the role of the Sharia in guiding humanity. We believe that beyond the domain of worship and family law, the Sharia already leaves enough room for human thought and creativity, and it only provides guidelines and milestones to prevent people from being victims of their own and others’ prejudices, biases, and excesses. We do believe, however, that this general guidance is much needed by humanity. We believe that the Sharia must contribute to the discourse on contemporary issues such as corporate ethics, bioethics, environmentalism, and so on. This is an important aspect of the tajdeed we seek.

In the attempts by Muslim countries to re-normalize Islam’s position in the public sphere, they will have to answer many questions. In fact, we have to develop a new fiqh that is conscious of the new world we live in: again, without departing from the objectives of the law or the constants of the revelation. The relationship between the ruler and the ruled must be re-evaluated. The consensus reported about the prohibition of rebellion against the oppressive ruler must be re-examined – at least, its modern implications.[14] If we were to accept it, we must ask whether it applies to a sectarian effort to topple a ruler or a popular uprising by the nation. Would it apply to populist revolutions, even if they were unarmed? What if it were supported by ahl ul-ḥall wal-‘aqd?[15] Is there an effective alternative to end the tyrannical regimes that have become a signature characteristic of the Muslim countries?

What about the caliphate we reminisce about? Is it a central, federal, or confederal government? What is the plausibility of that? Could the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) serve that purpose, if it took gradual steps towards becoming more like the European Union, allowing willing Muslim and non-Muslim states to join – if they wish to? Denying Muslim countries the right to seek some form of unity and denouncing the very concept of the caliphate is simply succumbing to outside pressure. This is not a genuine tajdeed in the interest of Islam and the Muslims. On the other hand, expecting a return of an Abbasid-style caliphate is a form of rigidity that is bound to impede any progress towards Muslim unity.

The presence of large Muslim minorities in non-Muslim lands is not a recent phenomenon. However, the concepts of nation-states and secular governments are relatively new. There is a pressing need to normalize – and harmonize – the relationship between those minorities and their respective countries. This effort is a major part of the needed ijtihâd-based tajdeed. We need an authentic and realistic formula to reconcile between their religious allegiance and national belonging. Muslims in non-Muslim countries must not be seen as a Trojan horse or potential traitors by their compatriots, and they should not be that.

Finally, this ijtihâd-based renewal, which does not apply to ritual acts of worship or constants of our Sharia like the kaffârât (expiations), can only be exercised by the most distinguished mujtahid scholars of each era. If the matter is left to those who have not reached this degree of ijtihâd, the religion would fall into peril and be subject to distortion, and the enormity committed by non-scholars who engage in this is beyond needing to be mentioned. This involves the greatest calamity: forging lies about Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and speaking about Him without knowledge. Allah (st) said (what means): {And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.} (al-Isrâ’ 17:36)

Therefore, what is required is the reunion between theory and practice, in light of the ijtihâd that preserves the constants but accommodates the changing variables. This is what existed during the days of the rightly-guided caliphate, and it is what enabled the Ummah to accommodate the Persian, Roman, Nabataean, Kurdish, Coptic, Berber, and other cultures which led to a civilizational, developmental, and cultural birth that has never been matched in the history of this world. All of that occurred without the religion itself being tainted with any distortion. But when this vigilant ijtihâd vanished, and that was specifically around the middle of the Abbasid era, the gap between theory and practice began widening until Muslim society became divided into groups: people of extravagance that have no care for religion; Sufis who mostly fled the trials of life by escaping into spirituality and monasticism – and some to mysticism – in search of what would satisfy their souls’ longing for truth; withdrawn scholars who were fixated upon serving the texts and literature; and masses that became lost when their leaders lost their compass. Correspondingly, there remained a scarcity of God-fearing scholars, committed to the spirit and letter of the deen, to purifying the interior (actions of the heart) and upholding the law, true beacons of light that – by Allah’s bounty – no era in the life of this Ummah may be void of. They are those who remained fighting to revive the true teachings of Islam that have been subverted by heedlessness and corrupted customs, and make these teachings guide the life of the Ummah once again.

I hope that some of the examples mentioned above clarify, to some extent, what I mean by tajdeed. Some readers may justifiably ask what my role is in this effort. It is understandable that ijtihâd-based tajdeed is the lot of the mujtahideen. However, the public can always engage in the restorative tajdeed. It is also the public that will establish foundations and institutions to foster ijtihâd-based tajdeed. If we are still struggling to build masjids, when might we have endowments that could support independent and authentic research institutes?

Let the revival begin by individual repentance, purification of the hearts and intentions, learning the religion from its pristine sources, commitment to righteousness and correctness, and finally, a discerning ijtihâd that allows the Sharia to continue its role in showing humanity a balanced and holistic path to success in this world and the one to come.

[1] Collected by Abu Dâwood and al-Ḥâkim, who authenticated it on the authority of Abu Hurayrah. Sunan Abi Dâwood, verified by Muhammad Muhyid-Deen ‘Abdil-Hameed. Dâr al-Fikr, 4/109.

[2] Majallat al-Ahkaam al-‘Adliyyah, Article 39. This was also stipulated in different wordings by some of the most erudite scholars of Uṣool, such as Ibn al-Qayyim, ash-Shâṭibi, ash-Shawkâni, and others.

[3] Al-mu’allafati quloobuhum (at-Tawbah 9:60) are new or non-Muslims whose hearts the Muslims hope to win over.

[4] Sunan al-Bayhaqi al-Kubrâ (10/116) in the chapter on [The Manners of the Judge, and What the Judge Rules By], Mecca: Dâr al-Bâz, 1414H.

[5] Ṣaḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri (2/959) in the chapter on [Treaties: Agreeing Upon Unfair Terms Nulls the Treaty], Beirut: Dâr Ibn Katheer wal-Yamâmah, (3rd ed., 1407H) – and Ṣaḥeeḥ Muslim (3/1343) in the chapter on [Verdicts: Nulling False Rulings and Rejecting Innovations], Beirut: Dâr Ihyâ’ at-Turâth al-‘Arabi.

[6] Al-Muwâfaqât by ash-Shâtibi. Verified by ‘Abdullâh Drâz, Beirut: Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, 2/217.

[7] See his books I‘lâm al-Muwaqqi‘een and aṭ-Ṭuruq al-Ḥukmiyyah.

[8] See the two previous books, in addition to al-Inṣâf (10/233) by al-Mirdâwi, al-Furoo‘ (6/85) by Ibn Mufliḥ, and as-Siyâsah ash-Shar‘iyyah (p. 136) by Ibn Taymiyyah.

[9] See his book Tabṣirat al-Ḥukkâm fee Uṣool al-Aqḍiyah wa Manâhij al-Aḥkâm: the second section, regarding the types of evidences.

[10] See Hâshiyat Ibn ‘Âbideen, 5/354.

[11] These are mentioned in order of the strength of their support for the use of qarâ’in and the scope of its use in their ijtihâd.

[12] ‘Umar (ra) found the Companions praying in the masjid in small groups, so he simply brought them together and had Ubayy lead them in prayer. Many of the ṣaḥâbah continued to pray at home. Some of them, including Ibn ‘Umar, considered it inferior if done at the masjid in congregation.

[13] An even more absurd suggestion we have heard is to make the tarâweeḥ start before ‘ishâ’.

[14] The first one to report it was Ibn Mujâhid al-Baṣri (d. 370 AH). It was contested by many scholars. Ibn Mujahid (raḥimahullah) was a resident of Basra, a city deeply traumatized two centuries earlier by the defeat of Ibn al-Ash’ath, which cost it the lives of many of its eminent scholars in their fight against the Umayyads. One may ask if there is a basis in the Revelation that made them agree on this edict in the fourth century AH. If there is, how could it have been missed by all of the previous generations of the righteous predecessors and suddenly become so clear to them? If this agreement was based on reasoning related to public interest, which is most likely, then as Shaykh Shaltoot points out, such is the only consensus that may be abrogated by another upon the change of circumstances.

[15] Literally, ‘the people of authority.’ They are the elites, somewhat equivalent to today’s ‘representatives of the people,’ or the ‘senate.’ Traditionally, they were the princes, scholars, tribal chiefs, leaders of the army and various professions.

 

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Dr. Hatem Al-Haj has a PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University. He is a pediatrician, former Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University, and a member of the permanent Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Muhammad Siddique

    August 8, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    An absurd article cloaked in pseudo-scholarship. Any reputable Muslim scholar knows that the reality has to conform to Islam and not Islam to the reality. All those early people like the Arabs, Persians, Romans, Africans, People of the Sub-Continent, upon accepting Islam, became part of the Islamic culture. Even the non-Muslims residing in the Muslim lands during those times identified themselves as the citizens of the Islamic State, their culture was Islam, their religion whatever it may be. This “scholar” needs to look up the definition of culture, Parsons offers a good definition, but any good sociology textbook might do. I am most disappointed with Muslim Matters for publishing this rubbish non-sense on their site. When majority of the Muslims the world over are calling for Shariah in the Muslim lands and unity based on the Islamic ruling system, the Khilafah,(and are dying and being oppressed in record number doing that), this author has the nerve to suggest EU like union. Has he been sleeping through the Brexit? And the ensuing EU crisis? He finds the return to the Rightly Guided Khilafahs constraining when Rasul Allah (saaw) has categorically told the Muslims to emulate them.

    • Avatar

      BA MT

      August 8, 2016 at 4:22 PM

      You know, you can get your point across without being so insulting. That’s what a true person of knowledge would have done, but clearly you are not so I don’t blame you.

      You are wrong about the allegation of conformity of others to the Islamic Culture. And the term “Islamic Culture” is a loaded term that even you – the one who’s arguing for it – can’t define. So your whole argument is moot.

      Peace.

      • Avatar

        Mohammad Siddique

        August 13, 2016 at 8:39 AM

        Culture is a binding knot that holds a people together and is transmitted from one generation to the next. Talcott Parson gets into further details of norms, customs, beliefs and so on. Islamic Culture emanates from an idea about life and a method to implement that idea in life, i.e., the Islamic ideology. I was not insulting but was harsh in my comment because I found the article insulting. It is couched in a language that may make it sound sophisticated or “intellectual” but end of the day there is nothing here.

        • Avatar

          Hamayoun

          May 27, 2019 at 12:57 AM

          Salam, have you ever met Sheikh Hatem? Have you sat with him and discussed shariah? Have you studied at the same level as him? If not, then kindly do not refer to his writings as “pseudo-scholarship”. I have met him (he lives in my state), and talked to him about issues, and know and recognize his genuine scholarship.

    • Avatar

      Mohammed

      August 8, 2016 at 8:57 PM

      It’s very evident that you have completely missed the point of the article. The author is not suggesting that we completely change Islam to ‘conform’ to anything. To the contrary, he repeatedly speaks against changing the constants in our deen. Additionally, if you had read this article with an open mind and at the same time understood the role of the Khilafa then you would have had no problem in entertaining this concept of a union like entity.

      Please enlighten yourself by knowing that Dr. Hatem is not the first and last scholar to suggest such an understanding.

      • Avatar

        Mohammad Siddique

        August 13, 2016 at 8:21 AM

        One of these constants is the ruling system in Islam, namely Khilafah. It is one of the greatest obligations of Islam. The “union like entity” is an innovation and does not come from Islam. OIC was a Western idea, most likely the British because they used their agent, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, to establish it and thereby tried to control Muslim voices calling for Shariah and justice and OIC has only diverted Muslim energies to fruitless endeavors, an organization led by despots and dictators and the worst among the Muslim Ummah. Understanding the reality of Muslims today requires deep thought in light of the Quran, Sunnah, Ijmah as Sahabah, our history and the knowledge of the many plots by our enemies against Islam and the Muslim Ummah. Khilafah is the only option that allows the Muslims the world over and the weak, ill treated, oppressed and the Non-Muslims a hope not constrained by limits of human reason and abilities because this ruling system comes from The Creator of all, Allah (swt).

    • Avatar

      Abu Abbaad

      August 9, 2016 at 11:54 AM

      “Therefore, what is required is the reunion between theory and practice, in light of the ijtihâd that preserves the constants but accommodates the changing variables. This is what existed during the days of the rightly-guided caliphate, and it is what enabled the Ummah to accommodate the Persian, Roman, Nabataean, Kurdish, Coptic, Berber, and other cultures which led to a civilizational, developmental, and cultural birth that has never been matched in the history of this world. All of that occurred without the religion itself being tainted with any distortion.”

      • Avatar

        Mohammad Siddique

        August 13, 2016 at 7:45 AM

        What are the constants and variables in Islam? Is Islam some mathematics or science course? Islam is a complete way of life. It has systems that govern life: political system, economic system, social and cultural systems. The role of the human mind is to understand the revelation (Quran and Sunnah) by confining the mind totally to it. Islam does not allow the human mind to wander in the implementation and aims of Shariah. In sciences and administration, the human intellect can be imaginative. Furthermore, Islam has a unique culture (a binding knot), that is transmitted from one generation to the next. Rasul Allah (saaw) has said, “Islam dominates and nothing dominates Islam.” Islam does not accommodate other cultures, it aims to conquer peoples hearts and minds, and the conquered become part of the Islamic culture. No ideology in the world can risk accommodating other cultures because by its very nature, ideology is comprehensive and seeks expansion and domination, otherwise it will wither and die. The civilizations you have mentioned like the Persians, the Romans, were conquered by the Muslims, and upon accepting the Islamic ideology, they became part of the Islamic culture that emanates from the Quran and Sunnah.

  2. Avatar

    Altaf Ghori

    August 8, 2016 at 11:14 PM

    I agree with you a 100% Dr. Hatem. Nicely written article that totally makes sense!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Baraa

    August 9, 2016 at 1:33 PM

    An excellent article and thought provoking article. May Allah bless and preserve Sheikh Hatem.

  4. Avatar

    Spirituality

    August 9, 2016 at 2:19 PM

    As Salamu Alaikum,

    I think it’s very useful in this case to know a little bit about the author of this article. I hate to say it, but some MM articles are written by authors without much Islamic knowledge and scholarship. This is not the case here….

    (Info below from his website):

    Short Bio
    Dr. Hatem al Haj
    Degrees Islamic
    PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University, Tripoli, Lebanon, Grade: summa cum laude
    (excellent). Master’s Degree in Islamic law (Sharee’a) from the American Open University, Grade: summa
    cum laude (excellent).

    Medical
    Board Certification in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics.
    M.B., CH.B. (Equivalent to MD) Graduated with Honors from Alexandria University Medical School, Alexandria, Egypt
    Jobs
    Currently, Dean of the College of Islamic Studies (English) – Mishkah University.
    Currently, Attending Pediatrician (Part-time).
    Memberships
    Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA), Member of the Permanent Fatwa Committee
    The Building Blocks of Islam, President of the BOT.
    North American Imam Federation (NAIF), Member
    American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow

  5. Avatar

    someone

    August 10, 2016 at 7:37 PM

    salaam alaykom

    ma-sha-Allah. a very nice article and informative.

    first I am surprised, as to the rhetoric used in the article….I did not truly know to what extent one could talk about such things…..I’m talking from my memory bank now, as I read the article a couple of days ago now! secondly it is truly humbling to read, as even though Allah’s knowledge compared to ours as humans is like an ocean and ours being a drop from the beak…etc. and also remembering the trees and the 7?! oceans +, but as to why it humbled me, and perhaps it is not right to say, as to make my self look even more foolish, but let me just say…majority went right over my head…..Subhan al-Aleem. and has made me ponder many things, so jezak Allah kul khair.

    may I ask a question?….there must be a body of ulema in the world, but as we are so divided and sorry for saying so, but back to question if I may, to what extent to they have an influence when they gather? and with the above mentioned and perhaps I do not understand many things…etc, but what do they discuss?…and are they our great ones working behind the shadows, like satan and his allies doing the same too?..with the latters being the opposite of the great ones obviously…..

    with that said, with out any disrespect to any scholar or aalim these days, and may be it is just me but we the average day muslims can not get access to the hiers of the prophets!….internet..is truly not a good place, I’m sure it is aware?…..’ask the sheik’ days in institutions and masajid would be a great thing to see? any kind of easier access to be made available! (i.e. allotted times)..even though that is not any solution but I am glad to put something forward, but I suppose satans now know…..!!! no matter what la yaseebna ila ma katib lina Allah……

    peace unto you

  6. Avatar

    someone

    August 10, 2016 at 7:42 PM

    sorry I meant by the rhetoric about current day events and politics……

    is there any where one could direct one to find out where one can find what is politically correct to say and what is not?..because sorry wrong place but I hate homosexuality and paedophilia and whether that is a crime as long as it is not a sin to say I do not like the actions of them- I really do not care! and just to add if I may- hate the sin but not the sinner…..

  7. Avatar

    Omer

    October 22, 2016 at 2:21 AM

    Excellent Article. .Very Well Written!!!

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 20: Come to Success

Now that we have learnt about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Mercy encompasses all things, let’s now talk about coming to success.

Whenever we hear the adhan (call to prayer), there is a part where the mu’adhin (person calling the athan) calls out: “حي على الصلاة” hay ‘ala as-salaah (come to prayer). Then he says: “حي على الفلاح”- hay ‘ala al-falaah.” 

Question: Does anyone know what hay ‘ala al-falaah means?

It means ‘come to prayer, come to success.’ Is that how we usually think of success?

Question: What is your definition of success?

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Yes, sometimes we think that having a good job, a nice house, and a loving family are the measurements of our success. There may be some truth to that  for this world, but how does Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) measure our success?

Do you know that there is a surah in the Qur’an called “The Believers” (Al- Mu’minun), and that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promises that the believers will be successful? He says:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ 

“Indeed, the believers have attained success” [23; 1]

Let’s dig a little deeper into the Arabic word for success: فلاح (falaah). Do you know that a derivative of that word فَلَّاح (fallaah) means a farmer? 

Question: What are some of the things that a farmer needs to do everyday?

Farmers need to fertilize their soil, plant seeds, pull out weeds, protect their plants from predators, and water their crops. Do you think that’s a lot of work? Do you think it’s easy to be a farmer? I want you to imagine a time when farmers couldn’t turn on a hose to water their plants. They completely relied on rain to irrigate their crops. So, they could do all of this hard work, but if there was a drought, their crops wouldn’t be able to survive. To be a farmer requires a deep sense of تَوَكُّل, tawakkul (reliance on Allah)

So, part of success is hard work, and a big part is also knowing that nothing happens without the will of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why when the muadhin tells us to come to salaah (prayer) and to come to success, we respond by saying: 

لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ‎

“There is no power nor strength except by Allah.”

We can only come to prayer and we can only achieve success if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wills it. The only thing in our control is the amount of effort we exert in the process. 

So, let’s be farmers; let us try our best to plant good seeds, water them, nourish them, and pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), places baraka (blessings) in all of our efforts! 

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#Islam

The Slave Of Ar-Rahman : A Story Of Illness And Faith

Life is Life.

It is a battle against the sensory and base impulses that are within us all, manifesting at moments of trial, seeking to strip us of the innate serenity of Trust between us and The Almighty.  You hear the call to arms and rebellion in the invocation of our blessed Nabi ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

“I beg of You, My Lord, contentment – Ridaa – after fate strikes.”

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On occasion:

“O Allah, My Lord, I ask of You to grant me a tranquil soul that is faithful to the inevitability of meeting You, content with my destiny, and accepting of all that You have provided.”

To know Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is to accept.

To accept that all is from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

To accept that all is for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

To accept that all is to return to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

A life-changing diagnosis

March 2018: I had relocated from NY to California’s Bay Area and was working as the Executive Chef at Google in Silicon Valley. My life had been truly blessed. I was a Muslim woman who had achieved an unparalleled level of success in a male-dominated industry. Worldly success was in the palm of my hand. I thought this was it; this is what life is about. But I was about to learn that I was a misguided soul, and that a meaningful purpose was amiss.

December 3 2018:

My 38th birthday. Another typical day at work, when my phone rang.

It was the doctor. She asked if I ever had ever had an abnormal Pap before. She said: “Ms. Agha, we got the results of your Pap smear, and it shows some atypical cells. I would not worry too much, but we need to do a colposcopy.”

I honestly did not know what she meant by ‘atypical cells’ or a ‘colposcopy.’ I did some research, which gave me numerous possible outcomes; one more scarier than the other. I tried to convince myself not to be a Google doctor and not to worry unless I had to.

January 22, 2019,

I had  the colposcopy. A week following the procedure, the doctor called. She was not too pleased with the result and wanted to schedule me for a more extensive biopsy called a cone biopsy.

February 14, 2019:

I had my my cone biopsy; an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. All went well, minus some discomfort and pain, which is typical of a procedure like that. The procedure was on a Thursday, which meant I would not have any results until Monday the 18th at the earliest.

I tried not to be very concerned and tried to stay positive. I had read that this happens in many cases, but it turns out to be nothing. Besides, I had just turned 38. You do not expect something terrible may happen to you. I had youth on my side, and I was healthy and fit.

Back at work on a Monday -which is the most demanding and busiest day in my profession- and despite being preoccupied, I was very conscious of my phone. I remember looking at it several times to see if I had missed a call from the doctor. The day went by in complete silence, and that night was restless. The next ninety-six hours were uneasy because fear and anticipation had clouded my head. This urge to know, but all I could do was wait patiently.

February 22, 2019, 9:34 AM:

The phone rings. I was in the kitchen, and immediately I dropped everything and ran to my office to take the call.

Hello?

I could hear the distress in my doctor’s voice.  She said, “Ms. Agha, I am so sorry to tell you, but you have cervical cancer. We do not know what stage it is, but I am going to set you up with an oncologist.”

I got off the phone and slumped into my office chair. I heard what the doctor said clearly, but my brain was unable to process the information. The words were replaying in my head over and over and over again. You could say I was in a state of disbelief or even shock. I did not cry. I did not tell anyone. I took a deep breath, and because I was at work, continued to work.

The forty-eight hours after the call I spent in a daze. I went about my life like a robot, without being able to process anything. I had to work; I was the boss. The doctors had gone into what I like to call “beast mode.” They bombarded me with phone calls, consent forms, appointments for MRIs, CT scans, and insurance issues. Everything sounded like it was in a foreign language. In hindsight, I could have taken time off, but that was something I did not do. I would have to be on my death bed to call time off. I put a brave front and functioned, while the voice in my head kept saying. “I have cancer.” “I have cancer.” “I have cancer.”

By Friday, I had told two very close friends, one of whom is a doctor. Their reaction naturally was one of concern, coupled with a lot of hand-holding, and reassurances that I was courageous and was going to fight it. They understood the magnitude of my diagnosis, but I still did not quite comprehend it. You could say that there was some level of denial there. It felt like an out of body experience.

I had never really been a very emotional person. I had always been tough; the years of being strong had given me this resilience, which was my armor. I could not afford to be weak; I needed to adopt a more practical and logical approach if I was to fight this. Besides, at this point, I had not even told my mother. Who would support her if I was falling apart? Just the thought of her gave me more anxiety than the tumor growing inside me.

I was born and raised in a Muslim family. Unfortunately, like many families, the focus on Islam was limited. I was, however, fortunate that around 2013, I had slowly started to take an interest and was curious to learn about my true faith. At the time of my diagnosis, I was practicing; I prayed five times a day, fasted, had been for Umrah, took part in the necessary obligations that were expected of me—living an honest life striving to do the best. Thus far, this was my understanding of faith. I knew nothing different. What I was about to realize was that this was mere action. I had not been calling out to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sincerely because I felt this distance from Him; there was this gap that needed to be bridged.

The Saturday after my diagnosis I was drinking my morning coffee when out of nowhere, my mind started to run a mile a minute. Thoughts of my diagnosis, realities of life, the purpose of life just started pouring in. I became incredibly aware of myself; conscious of this reality that was not on my radar before this moment.

You see, I walked this earth under the illusion that I have control of life, destiny. Until this moment, I had plans laid out, plans for promotions, a house, a car, and travel—an upward trajectory. Then I received that phone call, and in a blink of an eye, I had lost complete control of everything. The power of my youth, health, wealth, was all gone. I was insignificant, just so minuscule when it came to His decree. I came to realize that every moment we are alive, we are gasping for breath on life support machines. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can pull that plug any second. I became conscious of the reality that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was The One providing for me every moment. I did not earn any of this on my own, and none of this was something that I deserved. Humbled -the first crack in my armor-, I cried, ashamed, and remorseful to my Lord for my delusion. I cried, begging Him and praying to Him as I have never prayed before, feeling closer to Him like I have never felt before, pleading with Him to carry me through this battle and the unknown I was about to face.

Cancer was the catalyst, that was the beginning of an arduous journey, one filled with a whirlwind of complications and diagnosis one after the other. Every moment from this point was going be a lesson in life. Every moment was going to be humbling. Every moment was going to be one of gratitude. Every moment was going to enable me to earn the greatest treasure I could even earn, and that is humility and a closeness to my Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Relinquishing Control

March 3, 2019:

The first appointment with the oncologist. I was anxious, eager to know what stage of cancer I had, desperate to know of a treatment plan. I felt like a blind person stumbling in the dark, looking for an answer, but it was not Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Will that I find one that day. Unfortunately, my CT scan was inconclusive, and the sample of my cone biopsy was “too mushy” for the doctor to give me a staging. He said to come back, as he needed to speak to the tech. There was nothing I could do. I had to relinquish control and submit to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Will.

March 22, 2019:

I had my second appointment with the oncologist. By this point, my mother had been told and had flown into California. Having her there, seeing the fear on her face, the pain I felt in my heart to see her was more wearisome than cancer. I will never be blessed enough to know what a mother feels. That was not part of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan for me. I would be wrong in saying that I can understand her pain. I can, however, say this: if I could have taken her pain away, I would have done anything to do that. We went to the doctor hoping for some answers, but again Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had different plans. The doctor wanted to schedule me for another cone biopsy; the previous sample was inconclusive. To add to that, I could not have the second cone biopsy for another three weeks because I was still healing from the previous one.

It had been thirty days since my diagnosis, and I had to wait an additional three weeks for further testing. I did not know what stage it was, nor what my treatment plan was. All I knew was that I had cancer. These chain of events and the lack of control was a new reality. It was challenging, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was also teaching me a valuable lesson. He was teaching me tawakkul by putting me in a position where I had no choice. The circumstances were forcing me into submission. I was facing my mortality, not knowing if I am going to live or die, having to give up my complete autonomy. You see,  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only wanted what is best for me. My cancer was a mercy to me. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) willed that through this; that I return to Him. That I seek the path that leads to His door. That I understand, and accept the divine decree, and focus my reliance on Him and only Him. All Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wanted me to do was knock on His door and trust Him.

March 25, 2019:

I had an appointment with a surgeon in NY. My doctor in NY became privy of my diagnosis, and she urged me to get a second opinion. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is one of the top cancer institutes on the east coast. NY was my home as I had just recently moved to California. I put my trust in the All-Merciful. He is the only one I could call upon for support, and I gathered all my reports and flew into NY on that Sunday. The next morning was my appointment, and I was catching the evening flight back to California. Twenty-four hours was what I had. I met the doctor, and finally, alhamdulillah, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The doctor examined me, diagnosed me, gave me the staging of 1B2, and presented me with a treatment plan, all in a matter of a few hours.

Surgery and complications

My cancer required a three-pronged treatment plan, surgery, followed by some chemotherapy and radiation as a preventive measure. The doctor in NY had emphasized a sense of urgency.

Here I was back in California, packing up a house again, that I had just finished unpacking, not knowing if I will ever return. My belongings in storage, I was forced to go back to NY to fight this battle. No home of my own, no job, and worried about my finances, it was all overwhelming and lonely. It was terrifying how much of all of this was outside of my control. We do not pay attention to just how one little event can drastically and wholly change our entire life.

April 29, 2019:

Pre- Surgical testing

April 30, 2019:

PET Scan and MRI

May 6, 2019:

Follow up visit with the surgeon, followed by a lab visit, and ECG

Hospital visits were my new life; a life full of uncertainty, and moments where it felt like everything was falling apart. I did not recognize this life. To add to this, I wanted to keep a brave face because I was terrified for my mother. I was living in her home. I could not even cry or grieve. If I cracked who would console her?

May 7, 2019: I was scheduled for a radical hysterectomy (removal of the cervix and uterus). The goal was to try and save my ovaries and tubes because I was still young. It was a 4-hour procedure; another step into the unknown, presented with paperwork, DNR’s, and health care proxies. I was 38, but I needed a health care proxy! I picked my younger brother. My heart broke for him. He put on a brave face, but I could see the sadness in his big brown eyes. They took me in, and there I lay on that cold table, bright lights shining down on me, my lips moist with the Ayatul Kursi. Count back from ten, and I was asleep. As I came too, I remember looking up at the clock. I knew something was wrong. Even in my semi-conscious state, I knew that I had only been in surgery for two hours. The doctor came into the recovery room. He said that they had discovered that I had severe endometriosis, which had caused my organs to fuse into each other. There were no clean margins. If he had tried to cut it out, cancer could have spread to my entire body.

The irony is that the surgeon ended up doing a bi-lateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and tubes), deciding it was the best option to try and contain cancer from spreading. That night I lay in that hospital bed, nothing but the lights of the monitors connected to me. The voice in my head said: “They could not take it out. Not even a tiny bit of it. It is still inside me.” I began to think about my mother again and what this news meant to her. A sense of hopelessness overwhelmed me. It felt as though everything was spiraling out of control, and I was free-falling with no one to catch me. However, my inner voice called out to The One who put me in this difficulty, and I realized this difficulty as exhausting as it is, was to remind me fundamentally of who I am and who He is and what this world is. A reminder that I need to carry myself in an absolute state of trust and that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)  will see me through. That these events are in my best interest as the purpose is for me to gain a further closeness to Him.

Two types of radiation

May 16, 2019:

I was introduced to my radiation oncologist. The new plan involved eight weeks of chemotherapy and two types of radiation. Forty sessions of external, in which I was to lie on a table, and a machine would direct X-ray beams at the affected part of my body. Two sessions of high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy, internal, in which radioactive materials would be inserted into my body. I was overcome with emotion, not wanting to cause my mother any more grief and cry in front of her; I excused myself and walked away, to try and gather myself. The description of the treatment just broke me. I stood in that hallway outside the room, helpless. I thought Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was sending me hardship after hardship, and that nothing has gone right. I feared this was punishment for my transgressions. I turned back to Him penitent, drawing closer to Him than I had ever been, having moments of vulnerability, alone just Him and me, experiencing some of the sweetest moments of my entire life.

May 19, 2019:

The wound of my surgery had developed some drainage. The drainage started as a trickle in the morning. I put a paper towel there to collect the fluid. As the day progressed, the liquid increased. Paper towels were changed more frequently. I was trying to be secretive about it, and I did not want to stress out my mother. She was not dealing well with all of this. The liquid continued to increase, and eventually, I ended up calling the emergency at Memorial Sloan Kettering. It was a Sunday, which meant the clinics were closed. I had an appointment the next morning with my surgeon, so the doctor on call gave me the option to either come in or wait till the next morning. I opted to wait. The night was uncomfortable, and I could not lie for more than 15 – 20 minutes before I would have to change the paper towels out because they would get wet. I lay there at night contemplating; I was walking on this path of turmoil, surrounded by hardship, uncertainty, enduring difficulties, forced to be patient. I had plenty of people and support around me, but I was alone. No one understood me anymore. How could they? My cancer was my experience, not theirs.

May 20, 2019:

I had two appointments. The first one was with my surgeon, followed by a new doctor, my chemotherapist. By this point, I had an excessive amount of fluid draining from the site of my incision.  My surgeon examined it; he did not say much, but I could tell by his face that he was bothered. Right there, not even a moment to think, his nurses brought in sterile packaged instruments. The gave me some local anesthetic, and with a scalpel, while I was awake, he reopened my entire incision. It is burnt in my memory like it was yesterday, one of my nurses was holding my hand. I could not see what they were doing; I was not in pain, but I was completely conscious. It was a state of sheer terror, not because they were untrained or unprofessional, but the idea of what was happening to me was unnerving. I could feel my heart rate increase; my body, hands, and feet were perspiring profusely. The nurse was trying to converse with me to keep my preoccupied, but the only words on my lips and tongue were the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ

Hasbunallah wani’mal wakeel

A fair amount of fluid drained, and the diagnosis: I had a seroma (an accumulation of fluid that can occur after surgery). There is no treatment for a seroma other than patience. Here I was two weeks after surgery. I was supposed to get my stitches removed today, go home and take a nice shower today, but again that was not in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan. It is astonishing how we take these little blessings for granted. There was an open incision across my stomach 8 inches wide and 4 inches deep. I had to have the wound cleaned with saline and packed with gauze at least twice a day. This wound was debilitating. No more stitches; we were going let nature takes its course to ensure the wound heals from the inside out. I was already helpless, I did not think I could be any more disabled, and now I faced this complication.

I had a level of comfort with my doctors and nurses at the hospital, but now I faced a new challenge. I had to have a home nurse come in twice a day to dress my wound. I tried it for the first week, and it was terrible. I did not want to be at the mercy of a stranger, sitting saturated with fluid through the night, waiting for the nurse to arrive in the morning before I could get any relief. I was having a different nurse come in each time. It might seem trivial, but when you are that broken, tired, and so sick, and your body is falling apart, these little things matter. You do not want some stranger touching you, dressing a wound that causes immense pain. Some of them just want to be in and out, lacking compassion for the patient. However, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) already knew that this is something that I would have difficulty with, so He made a way out for me—blessed me with the help of a true friend. The following week my doctors and nurses trained her in the process. No longer was I at the mercy of a stranger coming over twice a day to change my dressing. Here was ease, relief, mercy in my time of need sent in the form of someone I was comfortable with, someone I trust to care for me, to clean me, to dress my wounds, diligently day in and day out, with love, patience, and compassion. A force by my side day and night through every chemo, every radiation, every hospital visit and stay. Urging me on and dragging me to my appointments when I was just too tired to fight.

There was a two-week delay in starting radiation therapy. Once radiation and chemo begin, it slows down the body’s healing process. The doctors wanted my wound to start to heal before any of the treatments.

June 3, 2019:

The external radiation started; they would last ten minutes each. I requested they schedule me first thing in the morning. I was in and out in fifteen minutes every day. Monday through Friday, this was my routine. The process was physically painless, but emotionally it took a toll on me. I would lie there every day on my chest, this hard table, naked, with a big open wound. Nobody in there but me and Him, my eyes closed in constant remembrance.

June 6, 2019: Right after the radiation was my first chemotherapy, and it would be administered every Thursday following. The nurses had trouble finding a suitable vein. I was not surprised; I have had small veins since I was a young child. Finally, they managed to get an IV in, and I got my infusion, but my chemotherapist set me with an appointment for a PICC line to help with future treatments. It had been a long day. My body was exhausted, but my mind was awake because of the steroids they gave me before chemo. It felt like torture. All I wanted to do was sleep, but the steroids had me so stimulated I could not bring myself to sleep.

June 8, 2019:

As the anti-nausea began to wear off, the effects of the chemotherapy started to kick in. I felt ill, dry heaving and vomiting, loss of appetite, exhaustion, mouth sores, slowly my body was disintegrating. I experienced the same side effects every week, becoming more and more aggressive and tiresome as the weeks progressed. It was like clockwork.

One of the many side effects of this chemotherapy is a loss of hearing. I had to have a regular hearing test; my ears would ring at odd hours. As the weeks progressed, my health started to decline. I could no longer sit in salat, let alone stand in salat. I would start retching in between, hoping I could just push through two rakat without having to start again. Sometimes I could not even make it to the bathroom. I used hospital vomit bags in bed. The radiation was starting to do its damage as well, and it was affecting my bowels, a constant upset stomach. I was unable to eat anything; my mouth would bleed from the sores. I was always fatigued, lost control of my bladder. My body was slowly disintegrating from all the poisonous chemicals. I was ailing, had no strength, queasy all the time,—a large open wound across my stomach, a PICC line in my right arm. I just wanted to close my eyes and sleep, but I could not lie comfortably. Very slowly withering away. All that was left were my tears, my supplication, and repentance, acknowledging Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) magnificence as I remembered Him.

June 26, 2019, and July 3, 2019:

Two of the most debilitating days of my treatment were the days I had the brachytherapy. The procedure done under general anesthesia involved the radiation oncologist placing a cervical stent attached to an applicator (two metal rods), used to deliver internal radiation. Following the procedure, they took me to my room. Here I had to lie still on my back; I could not move my legs; I could not sit or stand. I was only allowed to raise my head of the bed a little bit, about 20 degrees. I had to patiently endure this until they removed the applicator the following day. For the treatments, my bed was moved from my room to the Brachytherapy Suite, Radiation Oncology department. Here the applicator was connected to a machine. This machine then delivered tiny radioactive pellets into my body. We did this twice. I do not think I could have done it a third time. I did not even want to go the second time.

These two sessions were physically exhausting, but the effect that it had on my self-esteem, my sense of security. Each time was dehumanizing, heart-wrenching, and painful. There is no dignity in illness. Health is the greatest blessing from our Creator, and we take it for granted.

I was exhausted physically and mentally—my body ravaged by illness and chemotherapy. I did not have a home of my own; I had no job. There are no words that can do justice to how broken I was. I was not afraid to die anymore; I was afraid that I would die without earning complete forgiveness, which made me supplicate more. I held on to the dua of Ayub 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):

 أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

Annee massaniya alddurru waanta arhamu alrrahimeen

October 10, 2019:

My Pet scan showed I was cancer-free.

January 2019:

My wound from my surgery had finally closed.

February 6, 2020:

My MRI showed I was cancer-free.

This battle has not left me weak, defeated, or helpless. I learned to trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), never to concede or be defeated. I learned how to call upon Him, knowing that He loves me and loves to hear from me. I learned to put the highest level of trust in my relationship with Him while engaging in patience. I learned to be strong in my faith, in my body, my spirit, resilience to all that is around me. I learned piety, to be God-conscious, to walk a new path where I abandon all that is displeasing to Him, striving to earn His love.

I pray Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) enables me to never compromise my love for Him.

To make me beloved to Him in my repentance and allow me to reach better states of His love.

To make my weakness a reason for strength, being strong in every way possible, and to use this strength and this second chance at life he has given me, justly in the cause and the benefit of others.

Ameen

This article was checked and guided by Sh Yahya Ibrahim

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#Islam

Principles of Success from Surah Al-Mu’minoon

Success; something which everyone desires. There has not been a person who has walked the face of this Earth, or who will come to this dunya except that they spent their life striving for success. What is success, however? We all have our very own perception of success. If you ask people “what is success to you?”, you will receive varied responses. For some, success is doing well in education, whilst for others, it is about excelling in one’s career. For some, success is driving a nice car, having a beautiful spouse, lovely children, a spacious dwelling etc. People have various perceptions of success. As Muslims, we must know and acknowledge that our religion has provided clarification for everything that we need to know. There is no issue that we will come across within our life, from the time we came out of the wombs of our mothers till we reach that grave, except that the shari’ah has provided some sort of guidelines for it. So, do you think that the religion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will leave out this imperative issue that is at the forefront of every mind?

Without a doubt, the greatest form of success is earning the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)  as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in Surah Ali ‘Imran:

فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ

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“…so the one who is saved from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has truly succeeded…” [185]

Having relief from the anger of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and achieving His mercy will be the only form of success in the akhirah. But that having been said, our religion is one which is comprehensive, and for that reason, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows that we will still crave success and have various perceptions of it within this dunya. There is nothing wrong with aiming for a top position that will accelerate your career, or working hard to earn a six-figure income; rather we are encouraged to excel and seek success within this dunya, but on the condition that we do not sacrifice the akhirah. From the mercy of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is that he Has never left us abandoned. He has revealed the shari’ah in order for us to know how to achieve success in the akhirah, but is that it? If that is the perception you have of the Qur’an and Sunnah; that it is only a source of guidance for our religious affairs, then know that Islam is more than that. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has not only given us the guidelines for achieving success in the akhirah, but he has also provided us with principles of success pertaining to the dunya. The Book of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is filled with gems and treasurers; it only requires us to analyse His verses carefully in order to extract those principles. The Qur’an will not give you details of a specific issue, but rather the Qur’an will give guidelines and principles, thus making it miraculously pertinent to every single time and era. The Sunnah of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will then go into detail and provide commentary on those guidelines and principles.

Within this article, I aim to highlight a number of principles contained within Surah Al-Mu’minun (Chapter 23 of the Qur’an) that can aid a person in their striving for success. These golden principles are generic (as mentioned before regarding the principles and guidelines contained within the Qur’an); what I deem success to be will probably be different to what you portray success as, and so from the beauty of these principles is that they can be applied to whatever worldly pursuit you have.

Principle 1: The desire for success

For a person to achieve success, they need to passionately desire it. If you force your child to study something they do not like, they may not do well in it because there is no motivation there. However, when a person puts their mind to something and has that passion, the desire for success kicks in. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gives us a beautiful portrayal by describing paradise; but not just any level of paradise, but Al-Firdous: the highest level of paradise that will be inherited by a selected few. This mention of Al-Firdous is given here for us to have that desire to achieve the greatest form success within whatever mission we are open to,  making sure it is a halal path. Yes, even though everyone will not enter Al-Firdous, we should still aim for it, as having it as a goal builds our level of optimism, and our aspirations become robust. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Paradise has one hundred grades, each of which is as big as the distance between heaven and earth. The highest of them is Al-Firdous and the best of them is Al-Firdous. The Throne is above Al-Firdous, and from it springs forth the rivers of paradise. If you ask of Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdous” [Sunan Ibn Majah No. 4331]

Principle 2: Realize how much time you have

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the creation and the demise of the human being within a few verses to show how short this worldly life is:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ

And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay.”

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ

“Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging.”

ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

“Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators.”

ثُمَّ إِنَّكُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ لَمَيِّتُونَ

“Then indeed, after that you are to die.”

ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تُبْعَثُونَ

“Then indeed you, on the Day of Resurrection, will be resurrected.”

[Surah Al-Mu’minun; 12-16]

The objective here is to encourage us to be productive, efficient, and not lazy. By procrastinating, your motivation weakens, and as a result, your objective for success begins to die out. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions procrastination and laziness only twice in the Qur’an, and both references are pertaining to the hypocrites! The believer is the one who is always weary of their time and strives to make the most of it.

Principle 3: Remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) through the magnificence of his creation

In the next passage of this Surah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) makes mention of some of His greatest creations and signs. When treading the path of success, ensure that you remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and take those practical means that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has created and provided for you in your conquest for success. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا

“It is He who created for you all of that which is on the Earth.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 29]

Principle 4: People will try to put you down

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) within the next passage narrates for us the stories of four of the previous Prophets who came before our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); Nuh, Hud, Musa and Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Even though their stories are mentioned in other places within the Qur’an, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) links these four stories by mentioning that when all of these four prophets came to their people and gave them da’wah, they mocked them and said “you are only men”.

Regarding prophet Nuh 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

فَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَوْمِهِ مَا هَـٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتَفَضَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَأَنزَلَ مَلَائِكَةً مَّا سَمِعْنَا بِهَـٰذَا فِي آبَائِنَا الْأَوَّلِينَ

“But the eminent among those who disbelieved from his people said, ‘This is not but a man like yourselves who wishes to take precedence over you; and if Allah had willed [to send a messenger], He would have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our forefathers.”

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ بِهِ جِنَّةٌ فَتَرَبَّصُوا بِهِ حَتَّىٰ حِينٍ

He is not but a man possessed with madness, so wait concerning him for a time.’” [24-25]

Then regarding prophet Hud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ الْآخِرَةِ وَأَتْرَفْنَاهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مَا هَـٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يَأْكُلُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهُ وَيَشْرَبُ مِمَّا تَشْرَبُونَ

“And the eminent among his people who disbelieved and denied the meeting of the Hereafter while We had given them luxury in the worldly life said, This is not but a man like yourselves. He eats of that from which you eat and drinks of what you drink.”

وَلَئِنْ أَطَعْتُم بَشَرًا مِّثْلَكُمْ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا لَّخَاسِرُونَ

“And if you should obey a man like yourselves, indeed, you would then be losers.” [33-34]

Thereafter, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)says about Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Harun 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):

ثُمَّ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ وَأَخَاهُ هَارُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا وَسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

“Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our signs and a clear authority”

إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَئِهِ فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا عَالِينَ

“To Pharaoh and his establishment, but they were arrogant and were a haughty people.”

فَقَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ لِبَشَرَيْنِ مِثْلِنَا وَقَوْمُهُمَا لَنَا عَابِدُونَ

“They said, ‘Should we believe two men like ourselves while their people are for us in servitude?’” [45-47]

There will be people who will work hard to put you down. Know, that even though those who love you will only want the best for you, there will be people who will try to put you down because of the jealousy and hatred they have within themselves. There will be people on your path who will not want you to succeed and thus, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) highlights this here in the Surah. However, through mentioning these stories of these previous prophets, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also wants us to know that even if everyone is against us, if he wants success to come us, it will surely be delivered!

Principle 5: Seek protection from Shaytan

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) warns us time and time again within the Qur’an, of the tricks and traps of Shaytan. Our human bodies have been designed to detect danger; there is a part of the brain known as the amygdala that is programmed by the grace of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to detect danger. For instance, when you smell gas in your home, or when your young child lets go of your hand whilst walking down a busy street, you will automatically detect danger. But as for the Shaytan, the amygdala cannot detect this danger and so Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) warns us time and time again within His speech, because the traps of Shaytan come in steps and are subtle. You may have your noble goal of success, however, Shaytan will come and try to distract you, cause you to procrastinate, or lead you astray. But from the mercy of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is that not only has He warned us from Shaytan and his allies, He has also mentioned a supplication from within Surah Al-Mu’minun that we can use for ourselves and children to supplicate to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for protection:

وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ

“And say, ‘My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the incitements of the devils,”

وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ

“And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they be present with me.’” [97-98]

If Allah, Al-Muhaymin (The Protector) wishes to protect you with his divine protection, who is there that can harm you?

Principle 6: Stay on the Path of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

The final principle highlighted in Surah Al-Mu’minun is knowing the path of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That is why in this last passage of this beautiful Surah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) distinguishes the believers from the disbelievers and ultimately what their final fate will be:

فَمَن ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] – it is they who are the successful.”

وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فِي جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ

“But those whose scales are light – those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally.”

تَلْفَحُ وُجُوهَهُمُ النَّارُ وَهُمْ فِيهَا كَالِحُونَ

“The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles.”

أَلَمْ تَكُنْ آيَاتِي تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَكُنتُم بِهَا تُكَذِّبُونَ

“[It will be said], ‘Were not My verses recited to you and you used to deny them?’”

قَالُوا رَبَّنَا غَلَبَتْ عَلَيْنَا شِقْوَتُنَا وَكُنَّا قَوْمًا ضَالِّينَ

They will say, ‘Our Lord, our wretchedness overcame us, and we were a people astray.”

رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْهَا فَإِنْ عُدْنَا فَإِنَّا ظَالِمُونَ

“Our Lord, remove us from it, and if we were to return [to evil], we would indeed be wrongdoers.’”

قَالَ اخْسَئُوا فِيهَا وَلَا تُكَلِّمُونِ

“He will say, ‘Remain despised therein and do not speak to Me.”

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِي يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

“Indeed, there was a party of My servants who said, ‘Our Lord, we have believed, so forgive us and have mercy upon us, and You are the best of the merciful.’”

فَاتَّخَذْتُمُوهُمْ سِخْرِيًّا حَتَّىٰ أَنسَوْكُمْ ذِكْرِي وَكُنتُم مِّنْهُمْ تَضْحَكُونَ

“But you took them in mockery to the point that they made you forget My remembrance, and you used to laugh at them.”

إِنِّي جَزَيْتُهُمُ الْيَوْمَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

“Indeed, I have rewarded them this Day for their patient endurance – that they are the attainers [of success].” [102-111]

What is the point of succeeding in this temporary worldly life and then being from amongst those whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not even talk to the on the Day of Judgement? This final principle culminates our whole life and existence: regardless of your worldly pursuit of success, do not forget the greatest goal or objective of this worldly life; to earn the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and attain his salvation.

 

I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) with His mighty names and lofty attributes that He fulfils all of our aspirations, goals and objectives. May He allow us to truly understand the Qur’an and grant us success in the hereafter by giving us salvation from the fire of hell.

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