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The Curious Story of Moses and the Angel: Did the Messenger Musa عليه السلام Really Punch an Angel?

Dr Shadee Elmasry

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It is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari that when the angel of death came to Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) he punched him and popped his eye out. The angel then complained to Allah, “You sent me to a servant who does not want to die.” The hadith continues, but for our purposes, we can stop here. Doubters say: “Could a prophet really punch an angel? This can’t be a hadith. Therefore, Sahih al-Bukhari itself should be doubted if it narrates such hadiths.”

The answer: Actually, the person who finds this surprising, has clearly not pondered the life and characteristics of the Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).

Tell me: what do you say about someone who throws a holy book? Did not Musa “throw the tablets in which there was guidance and light”? The questioner should be more concerned with this than with the angel.

Tell me: what do you say about someone who grabs the beard of a respected scholar? Well, didn’t Musa “grabbed the beard of his brother (a prophet) and dragged him to himself” to the point that Harun had to plead with him, “Do not embarrass me in front of the enemy.” Didn’t all this happen in Surat al-Araf? Isn’t this all more critical than punching an angel?

And way before this, did not Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in Surat al-Qasas see a man arguing with a fellow Hebrew then “punched him and killed him”? Do prophets punch people? Does a prophet punch someone before hearing both sides of the story (later Musa would come to realize that in fact his compatriot the Hebrew was the argumentative one, not the Egyptian). Even before receiving their revelation, prophets are exemplars of upright character. So the doubter who wishes to shed doubt on Sahih al-Bukhari should actually be questioning the Quran first.

The reality is that Musa was so passionate for the truth that sometimes, actually quite a number of times, the unfiltered expressions that came out of him were technically incorrect actions by outward. But Allah looks at motives and intentions as well. Did Musa purposely do sinful actions? Did he do them because of base desires? Or rather, did they overflowed from a heart filled with passion for Haqq. And for this reason, Allah did not blame him for any of these actions because his heart was so pure. Allah knew Musa was angry for the right reasons. Some people are angry for the right reasons, and others are calmly polite for the wrong reasons. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) threw the tablets and grabbed the beard of his brother out of anger when seeing his people worshipping the golden calf. Musa killed the man when he had had enough of the Egyptian humiliation of the Hebrews.

And there’s more…

What do you say of someone who answers back to Allah and becomes angered with His actions? Surat al-Araf continues to speak about Musa’s “ghadab” or anger: After the incident with the golden calf, “He (Musa) chose seventy of his men for Our meeting” (to make taubah and draw near to Allah). They climbed the mountain with him and watched him pray. They saw a cloud come upon him and saw lights flickering within it. But they weren’t satisfied. They said show us Allah Himself. “Then a loud quake overtook them (and killed them). He (Musa) said, ‘Lord! If You wanted You could have just killed me and them before this!” Is this how someone talks to the Lord of the worlds? He talked like this to Allah because of how much he had wanted these men to come near to Allah and know Him with certainty. He wanted to see good results in the da’wa. And also because he would be held responsible for the lives of these men; they died under his watch. What would he tell the people when he went back? They might all make kufr after this catastrophic result. (Allah resurrected them and they returned safely to their families, having made taubah.)

And yet Allah overlooked this because his motive was sound. In fact, it is said that when Allah gazed upon the earth for someone who would overthrow Pharaoh, He found no heart more humble and pure than the heart of Moses.

Look closely, and you will find that every time Musa’s “anger subsided” he brings forth the most beautiful of prayers. After killing them Egyptian: “’My Lord, indeed I’ve wronged myself, so forgive me,’ and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. ‘My Lord, for the favor You bestowed upon me, I will never be an assistant to wrong doers’” (28:15-16 al-Qasas). After throwing the tablets and scolding his brother the Prophet Harun 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him): “My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy, for You are the most merciful of the merciful.” (7:151 al-Araf).

And yet there’s still more…

Did not Allah inform Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) about a man whom, “We granted ‘Laddunni’ knowledge”—knowledge directly from Allah in Surat al-Kahf. And what happened? Every single time Khidr took an action, Musa rejected it and questioned it. Was it because he felt he knew better? Did he have doubts? Did he disrespect his teacher? No. It was his zeal for the Sacred Law. If it was bad manners, Khidr would not have given him all the answers after parting with him.

 

Now we get to the angel. Finally, after forty years wandering in the desert, and a total of eighty years presiding over the Bani Israel with the sole mission of delivering them from bondage to the Promised Land, Musa passed over a hill and finally laid eyes on the holy territory that would be the first home to God’s true religion. And then at that very moment the angel came to take his life. Now, after all that you have seen from the fiery zeal of this great messenger, how do you expect him to react?? He punched that angel so hard, his eye popped out. And he continues marching to his destination with determination. Did he punch him out of love of dunya? Or out of hatred of death? Never. It was a reaction that emanated from his devotion to finish the mission Allah gave him. To finally deliver the Believers from bondage and wandering to freedom and the establishment of the deen of Allah on the earth.

* * *

You might be wondering about the rest of the story. Allah put the eye back into the socket of the angel and said, “Tell My servant to rub the back of a calf. For every hair he touches I will give him a year more of life.” The angel gave Musa the good news. Musa replied, “Then what?” “Death” said the angel. Musa said, “In that case, just take me now.” And this is how Prophet Musa alayhi salam died one day’s journey away from the Promised Land. He never saw it. It wasn’t destined to be. But his loyal assistant—that same boy who traveled with him to meet Khidr—took the mantle after him and led the believers into the Holy Land, and there they resided in a land where Allah’s Word ruled.

 

Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey and studied in the Muslim world in Fez, Hadramawt, Cairo, Makka, and Madina. He completed a Masters from The George Washington University in comparative religion, then a PhD from the University of London, SOAS on “Da’wa in the Works of Imam al-Haddad.”

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Avatar

    zainab

    August 12, 2016 at 6:44 PM

    An excellent write up!

  2. Avatar

    Badr

    August 13, 2016 at 4:07 AM

    SubhanAllah, so many lessons can be drawn from Prophet Musa peace be upon him. Allah knows best why he mentions him extensively in the Quran.

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    Anwar khan

    August 13, 2016 at 6:56 PM

    The so called Hadith is as ludicrous as the one in which Prophet Musa is supposed to have come out of the river after bathing and found his clothes gone.The stone on which he had left his clothes had moved away. As Musa ran naked to pick up his clothes the stone ran too ; during this race people were watching hiding behind some cover to confirm whether Musa had the manly attributes or not, because many believed he was not a man.

    • Avatar

      Ayesha

      August 17, 2016 at 11:07 PM

      SubhanAllah! May Allah reward Shaykh Shadi for explaining this Hadith! I heard it somewhere long time ago and was earnestly wanting to know the truth if this was true and the explanation behind it. Alhamdulillah

      May Allah send peace and blessings upon our messenger Muhammad SallalahuAlaihiwasallam and Musa AlaihiSalam.

  4. Avatar

    Anwar khan

    August 13, 2016 at 7:03 PM

    The so called Hadith is as ludicrous as the one in which Prophet Musa is supposed to have come out of the river after bathing and found his clothes gone.The stone on which he had left his clothes had moved away. As Musa ran naked to pick up his clothes the stone ran too ; during this race people were watching hiding behind some cover to confirm whether Musa had the manly attributes or not, because many believed he was not a man.
    Mullahs do their best always to defend Sahih Bokhari.Many eminent scholars have established that many fabricated shading exist in all Collections named Sahih.
    They defend every narration in all the collections because if the accept one Hadith as weak or fabricated, then all ahadith will become dubious and the structure of Mullah’ Islam will start crumbling.

    • Avatar

      ASA

      August 13, 2016 at 9:38 PM

      You ignoramus!
      Name your ‘many eminent scholars’. Also don’t conflate issues – ‘Mullaism’ and the rigorous science of Hadith.

      • Avatar

        Anwar Khan

        August 17, 2016 at 11:01 PM

        Decorum should be maintained during intellectual debates and we should repect other’s right to their point of view.We should abstain from lowering ourselves by hurling indecent titles against those with whom we disagree.
        Let me start with the “conflate” between Mullahism and Hadith. Both are linked because the orthodox obscurantist mullahs build their structure of Islam on weak and dubious ahadith. Islam is based on Shariah and Shariah has two components: the holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet. Hadith is not part of Shariah but mullahs have misled people to believe that Hadith is a component of Shariah.
        Regarding “science of Hadith” we should understand that Hadith is not a science. Science is based on irrefutable facts and evidence.
        Many of the eminent ulema such as Darqutni,Ibn Hazam and others have criticized the Sahiain and have acknowledged that they contain a number of weak and unconfirmed ahadith.Once Abu Huraira (r.a.) narrated a hadith in front of Abdullah bin Abbas (r.a.) that “Wudu becomes void after eating anything cooked on fire” Ibn Abbas (r.a.) replied that if this is correct then wudu would become void also after drinking water heated on fire.Quoted from Sahih Tirmidhi,”Bab al Wudu” by by Shibli Naumani and Syed Suleman Nadvi in “SEERAT AL NABI” vol.1 page 39.Ibn Abbas considered that the hadith did not stand the test of scrutiny and did not accept it. When someone narrated a hadith in front of Hazrat Ayesha(r.a.) that “when someone does Noha (wailing) over the deceased person,the deceased suffers punishment”. She refused to accept it as true because she considered it contrary to The Quran which says” Nobody will carry the burden of another person.” (Bani Isarael surah 15).She said “neither you are liars nor your sources,but ears can make mistake.”Similarly,when the following hadith was narrated in front of Hazrat Ayesha (r.a.) by Abdullah Ibn Umar in relation to the martyrs of Badr,that the Prophet (pbuh) had said” whatever I say they hear it”.,she did not accept it because it was contrary to the Quran.( Seerat Al Nabi,voli1,page 50).
        An eminent sunni scholar,Mullah Qari (lived in10th/11th century A.H.) laid down some principles against which ahadith are to be judged :
        1. Those in which trivial things are mentioned which cannot possible be uttered by the Prophet (saw)
        2.Those which are against general observation e.g. “eating egg plant is a cure for all ailments”
        3. Those which are opposed to reality e.g. “Don’t take a bath with the water which has been placed in the sun,because it causes leprosy”
        4.Those which are not in keeping with the utterances of the Prophet(saw) e.g. three things improve vision,greenry,flowing water,and watching a beautiful face.
        5.Those in which there is a prophecy about the future occurrences with a set date.
        6.Those against which there are valid arguments e.g. Auj bin Anaq was 3000 yards tall
        7. Those ahadith which mention the merits of different surahs of the Quran
        The Hadith quoted by Abu Huraira(r.a.) regarding Prophet Musa running naked after the stone to get his clothes appears in Sahih Bukhari.Similarly,the hadith regarding Prophet Musa punching the angel of death is also narrated by Abu Huraira and recorded in Sahih Sahih Bukhari.Both these ahadith are demeaning for the status of a Prophet.
        Ibn AL-Hadid writes in his commentary on Nahjul Balagha ,vol 1,page 360,”Abu Jafar Asqalani has said,” the ahidth narrated by Abu Huraira (r.a) were not acceptable to Hazrat Umar (r.a.);he had told Abu Huraira (r.a.) that he had changed hadith and had attributed false sayings to to the Prophet(saw). It is reported by Ibn Asakarin his Tarikh Kabir and Muttaqi in his Kanzul Umma that Caliph Umar (r.a.) lashed him ,rebuked him and forbade him to narrate ahadith from the Prophet(saw) Hazrat Umar (r.a) said to Abu Huraira (r.a.) because you narrate ahadith in large numbers from the Prophet(saw) so you must stop narrating ahadith from the Prophet(pbuh),otherwise I will send you to the land of Dus( a clan in Yemen ,from where Abu HUraira (r.a.) had come.

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    hashir

    August 14, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    Masha Allah. How different the prophets and older generations are from us. Today, we are eager to die to get to paradise. But here is moosa a.s. punching the Angel so that he can serve his people more. There is a great lesson in this for us.

  6. Avatar

    Abubakar

    August 15, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    Some matters are very confusing. just when you think youve understood Islam another contradicting issue comes around. I just hope Allah guides us.

    • Avatar

      Haroon

      September 1, 2016 at 5:13 AM

      I agree with you brother Abubakar. But let me start by thanking sheikh Shadee Elmasry for a rather elaborate discussion on this Hadith. In particular the Quotation and attempt to explain the character of Musa S.A.W.It is very enlightening! However i would like to caution my brothers and sisters on one thing let us try as much as possible to use the Holy Quran to lead lives that please Allah. ”This is the Book that makes all things clear” Surat AL-Naml 27:1. Every thing that is necessary for success is made clear in this Book. The sunna of the prophet S.W.W was only meant as the best example for those who lived with him to understand how best a person can follow the Quran!If we are in doubt about what a particular verse encourages us to do in a certain special situation, then only in this case should we turn to the Prophets example and the stories of other prophets peace be upon them all.
      Apart from this specific purpose, it may be spiritually better for us to abstain from having an academic discussion of a Hadith and even trying to prove it is ”authentic” or right by Quoting the Quran. This may be dangerous to our spiritual development! Like i proposed above ,use the Quran to lead a good life it is clear enough. When in doubt consult a relevant sunna, or even Hadith and those who know better.When you are sure put all your trust in Allah and you will succeed.

      Indeed while the advise i have to give may stock a lot of emotions, many narrated Sunna, Hadith and opinions of learned scholars may be wrong! Only Allah is the one who is always absolutely right. And the Quran is the only source of light today in which there is no doubt-Allah protected it Himself knowingly! Try to keep away from discussing stories about His prophets outside the Quran which Allah in His Wisdom chose to leave out of the Holy Quran!
      So finally my point is that while the verses in Quran about Musa are very enlightening and the explanation for them interesting. The objective of trying to prove if this curious story was right or wrong is not useful nor important.
      1. The story is not recorded in the holy Quran-it is not important for us 2. The story does not explain any particular verse in the Holy Quran-so it is not useful for your guidance and mine 3. There are very many critical lesssons Allah wants you and I to remember every Day especially in the Life of Prophet Musa and they are narrated in the Quran,wasting time on those stories left out of The Quran will rob you of the precious but limited time you have to contemplate on the seriuos matters Allah presents to us!
      Allah reminds us in the Holy Quran” O ye who believe! Ask not questions which if explained to you will cause you trouble! Some people before you did ask search questions and on this acount lost their faith” Surat AL-Maida 5:101-102

  7. Avatar

    AYEINA

    August 15, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    Never heard the hadith so searched it on sunnah.com (which labels ahadith in a detailed manner – wAllahu a’lam) and found one here:
    http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/273

    May Allah guide us all.

  8. Avatar

    Muslim

    August 24, 2016 at 5:11 AM

    It appears that some people will do anything to defend the sanctity of their tribe/madhab/worldview and bring a Prophet of God (AS) down just not to belittle the status of their tribe/madhab.

    Prophets of God (AS) are bearers of a perfect message from a perfect source, that’s why they have to be perfect humans. Part of their that perfection is that they recognize no matter how much they worship Allah it is inadequate, so they ask Allah for forgiveness for that inadequacy, not because they were wrong or have sinned, Astagfulilah.

    The whole notion that there can be a book except the book of Allah (SWT) that is Sahih is majorly flawed, hadith books have been compiled and written by fallible humans, so they will have mistakes in them, its natural. People are quick to label those who attribute infallibility to the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but in return attribute infallibility to the compilers of hadith. Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy by Jonathan Brown and the works of late Mahmud Shaltut should be read by all Muslims in order not to exaggerate and at the same time not diminish the role of hadith and the books of hadith.

    Just because there are hadith in Sahih Bukhari or Muslim , it does not mean they are 100 percent correct, there are some hadith narrated from questionable chains of narration and some with what many would consider questionable content.

    • Avatar

      N.S.

      August 25, 2016 at 6:57 AM

      The presence of hadith being Sahih does not in any way take away from the authenticity of the Quran. This is not an appropriate comparison to make. The great scholars back in those times obviously knew more and had a deeper understanding of what’s contained in our collections of Sahih hadith. Who are we, the followers who come a thousand and more years later to refute? Muslims today have been bickering over these small things without having the backing of knowledge *and* WISDOM necessary to make such claims. It’s this constant disunity over small matters that continues to divide us and in turn prevents us from collectively helping each other. May Allah guide us all. Aameen

    • Avatar

      Haroon

      September 1, 2016 at 5:25 AM

      You make a very strong point Muslim. While talking with disbelievers, the Prophet always stressed his being a normal human being honoured with a divine message”I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor do I tell you I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me… Will ye then consider not?’’ Al –An’am 6:50

      We must focus on this Message…rather than spend time on trying to prove whether this or that ”hadith” is right or wrong. for the answer to this question may not be useful to us, may be divisive and even misleading. May Allah bless, forgive and guide us all to His straight path!

  9. Avatar

    Tahir Hussain

    December 27, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    So when the Qur’ān says, “…At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.” (6:61), but what it really means is except that one time with Musa (AS) when the Angel failed in his duty? Also, Angels can have their eye socket knocked out by a human? That too with a slap? The hadīth is ahad, should it therefore have the authority to be able to form part of aqīda? No; it lacks certainty, it’s not mutawatir. Did Allah ﷻ not say, “But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come…” (63:11) Did He ﷻ mean except if you punch the Angel then you will be granted respite? “To every people is a term appointed: when their term is reached, not an hour can they cause delay, nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation)”, again, did the Qur’ān forget to mention that it can be delayed if the Angel is slapped? Did Imām Abū Hanifah (RA) not say that if a narration conflicts with the Qur’ān then it is not from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and is rejected? But let me guess, the narration doesn’t conflict with the Qur’an in your opinion? Mūsa (AS) didn’t know it was an Angel even though the Angel said, “Respond to the call of God” and he instead decided to punch the Angel for saying such a thing? This narration is problematic and the only reason it’s accepted is to protect the sanctity of Sahih Bukhari but what about the sanctity of Mūsa (AS)? What about the Qur’ān opposing this narration?

  10. Avatar

    Millata

    July 13, 2018 at 5:08 AM

    I challenge the Author to prove to me that Musa as and Haroun as were also condemned to the 40 years of wilderness. Come with proof..and I will prove they were not sentenced to it.

  11. Avatar

    Omar A Mirza

    October 28, 2018 at 10:31 AM

    Thanks for the article! May I just comment briefly on this?
    “And this is how Prophet Musa alayhi salam died one day’s journey away from the Promised Land. He never saw it”
    I don’t think this can be right, since a sound hadith tells us that Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, asked to die within a stone’s throw of the Sacred Land. Since, as we know from the prophetic biography, a prophet is always buried where he dies, we know he was buried a stone’s throw away from the Sacred Land (the well-known place near Jericho can’t be his grave, therefore, since it is right in the Sacred Land.)

  12. Avatar

    Omar A Mirza

    October 28, 2018 at 10:37 AM

    I also wanted to comment on this, inshaAllah:
    “And way before this, did not Musa ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) in Surat al-Qasas see a man arguing with a fellow Hebrew then “punched him and killed him”? Do prophets punch people? Does a prophet punch someone before hearing both sides of the story”

    I don’t think it made sense for Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, to hear both sides of the story, since there was a man facing physical harm and crying out to him for help, and it was already clear who was the oppressor and who was the oppressed.
    The strike was meant to stop the wrongdoer, not to kill him, though we know Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, was gifted with supernatural strength: it is enough to point this out as an explanation, and to mention that the next time the same man appealed to him for help, he grabbed, rather than striking, the wrongdoer.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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#Society

Our Plastic Planet

Abu Ryan Dardir

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We travel through time and see the different times as a race that we have advanced through. A few of those times were identified by the materials used or that were life-changing. The stone age, the bronze age, and the iron age. If our time was to be identified, it is undeniable the plastic age.

Chemically, plastic is made up from organic compounds like such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and, of course, crude oil. When plastics were first introduced, it was a life-changing compound that littered homes (then the world). Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. It makes visiting beautiful sites created by Allah, disappointing. What does pollution, specifically plastic, has to do with our role as Muslims? and to what capacity?

Before understanding that, we have to see how plastics impact life on Earth.

Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.

One million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.

44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.

Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).

Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.

These are just a few examples, the list is much longer. Before I go any further, I want to express my opinion first, as an environmental activist. Your individual actions in dealing with pollution are your duty as a Muslim, but the change we need for our survival needs to happen on an international level.

Abu Zarr Al-Ghafari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah).”

This simple hadith resonates with us due to the magnitude of its influence. Moving an obstacle is charity, we associate money with charity and tend to forget that other actions that can count as charity. What does removing an obstacle has to do with plastics? As I mentioned earlier 40% of the ocean’s surface is covered in plastic. That is a disturbance to other living creatures. As we remove the obstacles from the path of many creatures, we can work on ourselves to avoid putting it there, to begin with. This also relates to point number three of how many living creatures are impacted by our negligence. Not just plants and animals, but people as well. You can take a moment to google images of plastic in our world and see that they aren’t just neatly packed in garbage bags or recycling bins.

Imaams al-Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “There is a reward for service to every living creature.”

These are violations we commit and deeds we are prevented from by participating in this plastic culture. More importantly, we are harming ourselves and contaminating useable drinking water. Earlier I wrote an article about water its right upon us.

God’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) expressed this in the following way:

“It is a fact that in the next life you will render their rights to those to whom they are due. The hornless sheep even will receive its right by way of retaliation from a horned sheep that butted it.” Muslim, Birr, 60.

Our actions in this modern era echo around the world. My polluting habits may cause harm elsewhere. My spending habits may entice more harm than good. It may seem extreme, but science proves that we are all connected in a delicate chain or balance, a balance set by the wisdom of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). More importantly, it is documented from the words of the Prophet. An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5665, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2586

When water gets contaminated it is then rendered useless, depriving millions of basic survival. There are plenty of freshwater reserves completely useless due to toxic pollution from plastic manufacturing.

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ عَمْرٍو، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ السَّمَّانِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ

عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ ثَلاَثَةٌ لاَ يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَلاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ رَجُلٌ حَلَفَ عَلَى سِلْعَةٍ لَقَدْ أَعْطَى بِهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا أَعْطَى وَهْوَ كَاذِبٌ، وَرَجُلٌ حَلَفَ عَلَى يَمِينٍ كَاذِبَةٍ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ لِيَقْتَطِعَ بِهَا مَالَ رَجُلٍ مُسْلِمٍ، وَرَجُلٌ مَنَعَ فَضْلَ مَاءٍ، فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ الْيَوْمَ أَمْنَعُكَ فَضْلِي، كَمَا مَنَعْتَ فَضْلَ مَا لَمْ تَعْمَلْ يَدَاكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَ عَلِيٌّ حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ غَيْرَ مَرَّةٍ عَنْ عَمْرٍو سَمِعَ أَبَا صَالِحٍ يَبْلُغُ بِهِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏

As narrated by Abu Huraira:

“The Prophet said, ‘There are three types of people whom Allah will neither talk to nor look at, on the Day of Resurrection. (They are): 1. A man who takes an oath falsely that he has been offered for his goods so much more than what he is given. 2. A man who takes a false oath after the ‘Asr prayer in order to grab a Muslim’s property, and 3. A man who withholds his superfluous water. Allah will say to him, Today I will withhold My Grace from you as you withheld the superfluity of what you had not created.” [Bukhari: 2370]

We do not want to be guilty of withholding water from other directly or indirectly. With the advanced technology and the thousands of websites providing information, there are plenty of ways to determine if your daily habits have an impact on others well being.

We only manage to recycle 5% of the plastic wasted, and 90% of the pollution in the ocean is plastic. Are we asked to recycle? Is it just good practice or a practice is preferred?

Asked about what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to do in his house, the Prophet’s wife, `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), said that he used to repair his shoes, sow his clothes and used to do all such household works done by an average person.

Recycling and reusing is a critical part of conserving and protecting what we have. You can start with yourself, but your goal is to expand these actions to other families, communities, countries. If the action is sincere this would bring us closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Saheeh Muslim)

 

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Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed

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A man passed by al-Miqdaad ibn al-Aswad raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), one of the most distinguished Companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The man said, “How lucky your two eyes that witnessed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)”. Ibn al-Aswad profoundly responded by saying,

Why should anyone wish to witness a scene that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) did not wish him to see? He does not know what it would have been like if he had witnessed it or which party he would have been among if he went back in time.

By Allah! Allah’s Prophet saw people who were thrown right into Hell, so you should thank Allah that you were spared such a trial and were honored by firm belief in Allah and his Prophet”.

As human beings, we all struggle with adversity especially in societies which are driven by competition and materialistic pleasure. This drive creates difficult expectations, labels, and stigmas that breed unhealthy communities which spur widespread stress and pain. As Muslims, many of us struggle to define our role and place in societies where Muslims are the minority. We are horrified and worried when atrocities seem to occur so often solely because of the faith we believe in, such as in Burma or Central African Republic. Across the world, many countries with Muslims as the majority population are crippled by war such as Syria and Yemen. Our faith is abused by twisted minds to create chaos. In addition, random terrorist attacks in Mali and New Zealand have us wondering whether we will be attacked at our local masjid, or even in public settings such as offices and schools.

Our Ummah has always faced adversity and we will continue to do so as we struggle to be on the path of Islam. However, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as a guide to this Ummah on how to deal with adversity and keep our optimism. His life is a means for us to be inspired and motivated to strive for excellence. Indeed, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was tested more than any other prophet that preceded him. The rapid spread of Islam and the change it brought to the world was built upon a prophet and his companions who endured an extraordinary amount of adversity, all in order to provide a means of salvation for the generations that would come after them.

Many Muslims know the basics of the Prophet’s life such as his birth in Makkah, the migration to Madina, some of the battles, and the conquest of Makkah. However, if one were to read the Seerah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in-depth, one would be astonished to the sheer amount of trauma, pain, and grief the Prophet (ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) experienced. He was subject to intense verbal/physical abuse, public humiliation, family deaths, and more. Depending on the physical and emotional toll, we know different people are more or less sensitive to adversity. For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the adversity of establishing the Deen was immensely troubling as he had the purest and softest of characters. In addition, the prophets who came before him were comforted in knowing that they had a successor. Some of them were their children in Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). But the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had no prophet to follow him, therefore his Message would be the last that mankind could benefit from.

The Quran says in Surah al-Ahzab:

مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَآ أَحَدٍ مِن رّ‌ِجَالِكُمْ وَلَكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيّـِينَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلّ‌ِ شَيْءٍ

عَلِيماً

Muhammad is not the father of (any) of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And God has full knowledge of all things. (Verse 33:40)

To proclaim the Divine Message to a resistant society has shown through the history of the Prophets to yield hardship and extreme difficulty. To be the final messenger was an increased burden. One example was when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was praying in front of the Kaaba and a member of the Quraysh named Uqbah ibn Abu Mu’ayt placed the intestines, dung, and feces on the back of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) while he was in sujood. The weight of the filth was so heavy that the Prophet could not get up until he received the assistance of his daughter Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), who was a pre-teenager at the time. How hurtful must that scene have been for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? How did he deal with the humiliation the leaders of his city displayed in front of his child? How disheartening must have it been for his resolve to establish the worship of Allah?

This type of treatment was a regular occurrence in the pre-Hijrah era of Islam. Eventually, the treatment spurred into a boycott against the Muslims and the Hashemites who were the Prophet’s clan. According to Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings:

A document was drawn up according to which it was undertaken that no one would marry a woman of Hashim or give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim; and no one was to sell anything to them, or buy anything from them. This was to continue until the clan of Hashim themselves outlawed Muhammad, or until he renounced his claim to prophethood.

In those three years of boycott, many of the followers of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) such as Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) lost their statuses in society. Public humiliation, poverty, malnourishment, torture, molestation, and even murder were perpetrated against the small community of Muslims around the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). There are narrations which talk about the fact that they would hear the cries of babies going to sleep at night. They buried so many children and babies at that time who died due to disease, malnourishment, and starvation. They could hear the mothers crying who had buried their babies the day before. It was a time of great suffering and sacrifice.

Shortly after the ban was annulled, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) increased the test of His beloved Messenger at a time called ‘Ām al-Ḥuzn (عام الحزن), the Year of Sadness. In 619 AD, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the wife of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for 25 years passed away. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in shock after the first revelation descended, it was Khadijah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) who comforted him and consoled him. She was one of the first believer, mother of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) children, and a caretaker to the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) cousin Ali and adopted son Zayd (RA). She was his main confidante and his closest friend. Her death was considered to be the greatest personal tragedy to the Prophet (SAW). In fact, his later wife ʿĀʾishah bint Abī Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that she was never jealous of the co-wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) except for Khadijah who had passed before she had wed the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who would usually stay quiet in disputes with Aisha, stated when ʿĀʾishah voiced her upsetness at the Prophet’s lingering love for Khadijah:

Make this clear Aisha, you are not better than Khadijah. She believed in me when no one did and she testified to my truth when people said I was a liar. She gave everything she had to give me support.

Shortly afterward, Abu Talib, the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) uncle and chief tribal protector in Makkah passed away. Abu Talib had been the caretaker of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) after the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mother and grandfather passed away. But the situation before the passing of both these allies to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was poor and it was now going to become unbearable. Abu Lahab, another one of the Prophet’s uncles and one of his bitter enemies, arose as chieftain of the Hashemites would not give the Muslims adequate protection.

When adversity brought the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to his knees, he put his trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and continued to push forward. It was in this moment of desperation that the Prophet was sent his ultimate test; the Day of Taif. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) described the Day of Taif more testing than the Battle of Uhud. In his desperation, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) traveled to the nearby city of Taif in order to seek the city’s protection. When the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) met with the three leaders of the city, they feverishly rejected him and decided to turn the public against him. The representatives of the community gathered the youth, slaves, and others and to stone the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). The people of Taif purposely targeted the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) feet, severely damaging them. His blessed body was profusely bleeding and the crowd pursued both the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and Zayd ibn Harithah for an excruciating three to six miles until he settled in a private orchard. It was in this moment where all hope had vanished. Now pushed to his extreme limits of endurance, he raised his hands and called out to his Lord:

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس

ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين

أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي

إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم الى عدو ملكته امرى

إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي

أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض

وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره

أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك

لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.

Most Compassionate and Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak, and you are my Lord.

To whom do You leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given power over me?

As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. I would, however, be much happier with Your mercy.

I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring your wrath or being the subject of your anger.

To You, I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. Everything is powerless without your support.

When we struggle with adversity, calling out to our Lord is one of the last things that comes to our mind. Even if it does, we struggle to motivate ourselves to learn how to make dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and we struggle to raise our hands. The amount of sincerity and power of this dua to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was so great that Jibril 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) came down to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and reported that the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) appeal shook the heavens. Here, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) seeks only the pleasure of his Lord and he will do whatever he can to fulfill his Lord’s pleasure. However, the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) only comes with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) own support and we should be seeking it with every trial or tribulation that we face.

There are three lessons that we can take away the way the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) dealt with adversity. First, how can we sincerely put our trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give us guidance when we have little to no relationship with our Lord to begin with. Therefore, the struggling believer must consistently engage in self-reflection. He or she should be asking, “Am I praying my five daily prayers?”, “Am I consistent in my prayers?”, “How much attention and effort do I give my five prayers?”, “Do I engage in the remembrance of Allah in my daily actions?”, “How often do I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for help”, “Am I trying to learn what is halal and haram?”. “Am I trying to inculcate more good deeds in my life?”, “Am I trying to leave sinning?”, “If I am still struggling in my relationship with Allah (SWT), am I reaching out to someone more learned?”, etc. These are the first things we need to be fulfilling in our struggle to be optimistic. If we still need help, we should not have fear in asking a professional such as a counselor or mentor.

Second, we need to be active in making our society a better place. The prophets were not just scholars, but they were changer-makers. They sought to make society a better place. Not only is our duty as Muslims to others who are struggling, but it alleviates a lot of burden on us when we help others. We are reminded of the hadith,

“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter.”

Lastly, be comforted in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) everlasting control over all the affairs of humanity and beyond. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) was there before us, when we die, and for eternity. Everything is in accordance with His Will. When we set our intentions right and make sacrifices in our lives to please Him, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will replenish the believer with something equal or better. After this painful period in the Seerah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gifted His devout Messenger with two things, the miraculous journey of the Isra wal M’iraj and the story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). The story of Prophet Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent down to show the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he was not the first prophet who experienced difficulty. In Surah Yusuf, the Quran reminds us that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is عَلِيۡمٌ and حَكِيۡمٌ, the All-Knowing and All-Wise. In the verses of the Surah, these words were mentioned before the adversities in Yusuf and Yaqub’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) life, during the adversity, and after Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had rewarded Yusuf and Yaqub for their resolve. There is light at the end of every tunnel of adversity and only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can give us the guidance to get there, we only have to turn to him.

We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us the ability to maintain our optimism in our adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to grant us an understanding of Islam so that we may help others overcome their adversities. We ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to relieve the adversity of the Ummah.

 

Shaykh Abdullah Waheed was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, MI. Shaykh Abdullah commenced his studies at the age of 10 in Toronto, Canada where he went to memorize the Quran.  He completed the memorization of the Holy Quran by the tender age of 12 and then went on to study in the 7-year extensive Shariah program in Toronto, Canada. Shaykh Abdullah then continued his research and studies, which took him on global journeys, such as Pakistan, Kuwait, and England.

Shaykh Abdullah specialized in Tafseer of the Quran. Sheikh Abdullah spent years to study the details and beauty of our Holy book since understanding and mastering the language of Holy Quran was always the primary goal.

Shaykh Abdullah is serving as an Instructor at Miftaah institute and is also the Director of Islamic Affairs at Flint Islamic Center. Shaykh Abdullah travels across North America for khutbas, workshops, and seminars. He is known for his motivational and enthusiastic style of speaking which leaves the audience focused and learning.

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