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Revisiting Women Only Tarawih

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This article was written pre-COVID but is especially relevant this Ramadan

I still remember the first time I heard of a women-only Tarawih congregation. I was about 10 years old and my father had told me that Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (1914–1999), a prominent Indian Hanafi scholar of the past century, had written a book about his mother (d. 1968) who was a hafidha (memorizer of the Quran) and had mentioned she would lead women in Tarawih. Shaykh Nadwi had written:

“What a beautiful era it was when they (his mother and aunts) all would recite one juz each in Tarawih. They would follow the fatwa of some scholars and have their own congregation in which there would be a woman Imam and women followers. Their Tarawih congregation would go on from after Isha till almost Suhoor time. All of them would recite Qur’an very beautifully with impeccable pronunciation. If it’s not disrespectful I would say that they recited better and more accurately than many of today’s scholars. Their heartfelt passion and natural melody would add even more beauty to this. I recall one time I stood for a long time watching my mother recite as she was leading Tarawih. It felt as if rain was descending from the heavens. I still have not forgotten the beauty of that moment.” (Nadwi, 1974).

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I remember finding this fascinating. The idea of women, women of recent history — and for me as a desi, desi women —  memorizing the Qur’an, and leading each other in long prayers was something I had never heard of or even thought was a thing. This was before I had heard of the concept of girls memorizing the Qur’an, before sisters’ qiyams gained relative popularity in American Muslim practice. The only thing I knew about women-led congregations then was that it was considered disliked according to the Hanafis, but permissible according to others.

Years later, after I memorized the Qur’an and I was studying in madrasa at Pakistan, I learned the concept of women-only Taraweeh prayers was still something alive and practiced. Many of the hafidhas there would also pray together in Tarawih in congregations of two or three. The position of our (Hanafi) madrasa regarding this was that this was permissible if it was done with the intention of reviewing the Quran.

In the past years, there has been a rise in North America in the popularity of sisters’ Tarawih and qiyams. As mentioned, this is not something new in our tradition. It has been done throughout the centuries, and hadiths indicate it was done even in the time of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the Sahabah. It is something encouraged in some schools of fiqh. However since this is something this is against the classical Hanafi opinion, many people have questions about the validity or the advisability of such for Hanafis. As a woman who follows Hanafi fiqh, should I pray in a congregation of women? Is it okay for me to lead a congregation? What is the benefit of a sisters’ qiyam anyway? We’ll explore these questions in this article.

Hanafi Arguments Regarding Women-Only Congregations

There are many narrations that mention some Sahabiyyat, notably Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), and Umm Waraqah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) led women in prayer, both obligatory prayers and voluntary. 

Some of the narrations are below: 

Layla bint Malik and Abdur Rahman bin Khallad Al-Ansari narrate on the authority of Umm Waraqah that after the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) fought in Battle of Badr she said, I said, “Oh Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)! Allow me to join you in battle so that I can nurse the sick, and perhaps Allah will grant me martyrdom.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Remain at home for Allah will grant you martyrdom.” So she used to be called the martyr. She had recited the Qur’an so she asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) if she could appoint a muadhin for her house, so he gave her permission…” In another narration it mentions, “The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded her to lead the members of her household in prayer.”  (Abu Dawud)

Ibrahim narrates on Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that she used to lead women in prayer in the month of Ramadan, and she used to stand in the middle of the row. (Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan, Kitabul Athar)

Raita Al-Hanafiyya narrates that Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) led them in prayer and stood in the middle of them in a fard prayer. (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq). 

Hujaira narrates that Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) led them in Asr prayer and stood in middle.  (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq). 

Because of these and other similar narrations, the Shafii’s and Hanbalis consider it permissible for women to pray in congregation, even preferred when they are already gathered together or when done with the intention of education. The Malikis do not allow it at all. The Hanafi position on this is a little more nuanced, it is considered valid, but disliked prohibitively (makruh tahreemi). I will use the term disliked in the rest fo the article.

Before we look at the Hanafi argument, it’s important to keep in mind that while it is true that most classical Hanafi scholars were of the opinion that women only congregations (apart from Salatul Janazah which is permissible without dislike) were prohibitively disliked, it is also true that all Hanafi scholars were of the opinion that it is still valid. As Allama Kasani writes in Badai’us Sanai’ when discussing the conditions of being an Imam, “and likewise a woman also is fit for being an Imam, such that if she were to lead a congregation of women-only it would be valid … except that it is disliked according to us and preferred according to Shafi’i.” 

Therefore all Hanafi fiqh books also explain the method of how a women-only congregation will be carried out, namely where the imam will stand. 

The classical Hanafi argument against women-only congregations is as follows: Acts of worship are ta’abbudi, based on ritual, not reason, and therefore we stick to the manner it was done in the time of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the generation of the Sahabah. Although there are narrations that mention some Sahabiyyat led women in prayer, this was the exception not the norm. If women only congregations were praiseworthy, there would be more recorded instances. Since this was not the regular practice of the Sahabiyyat, it should be avoided. The Hanafi response to the narrations of the Sahabiyyat leading prayer is that it is abrogated or that it was specific to the earlier days of Islam.

There is also a technical argument given by the Hanafis. It is argued that a women-only congregation will always consist of one of two potentially disliked actions of prayer. In women-only congregations, the imam stands in the middle of the first row, not ahead, because this is how it is narrated that Aisha and Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) stood when they led. Hanafis argue that in congregational prayers, it is sunnah for the Imam to stand in front of the congregation; standing in the same row as followers is disliked. Having the imam stand in the middle prevents this prayer from being done in the ideal way. Therefore it is disliked. 

However, if the imam stands ahead, this is also disliked because in standing in front of everyone there is more exposure whereas the sunnah teachings regarding a women’s prayer is that it should be done in a way and place that is as concealing as possible. 

Because of this, the Hanafis argue either way it is done, one of two possible disliked actions will be carried out, and therefore the prayer itself is disliked. This position is present in most classical books of Hanafi fiqh and fatawa from the primers like Kanz ud-Daqaiq and Hidaya to the fatawa compilations like Raddul Muhtar and Hindiyya and is usually considered sufficient for explaining the Hanafi view on this issue. 

But while this is the majority Hanafi position on this issue, there has been some discussion about issues with these arguments even among the classical Hanafi scholars. 

Allama Ibn al-Hummam (d. 1273), the famous commentator of Hidaya discusses this matter in his commentary, Fathul Qadir, where he quotes many hadiths which show that certain Sahabiyyat would lead the prayer. He then mentions that to say these hadiths are abrogated or restricted to the earlier days is difficult to establish because there is no proof for that; all of the hadiths about women leading prayer are from the later Madinan period. One narration, for instance, mentions that Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) used to lead women in Ramadan. Tarawih prayer in congregation was something the Sahaba established regularly only after the death of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). If she used to lead Taraweeh after the death of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), it couldn’t have possibly been abrogated. He then mentions some responses to this but says it still doesn’t establish that this has been abrogated. The only hadith that might indicate that this is abrogated, he says, is the hadith in Abu Dawud and similar hadiths stating that the prayer of a women in the most concealed portion of her house is the best. But this hadith can only be used to establish that women-only congregations are no longer recommended (mustahabb), which is different from being deemed disliked prohibitively. (Fathul Qadir, volume 1, page 307).

Allama Abdul Hayy Lakhnawi, a Hanafi researcher and scholar from the 1800s, in his detailed discussion of this issue in “Tuhfatun Nubala fi Jama’atin Nisa” (Gift for the Noble Regarding the Congregation of Women), compiles many arguments for and against this topic.  After arguing that there is no proof to establish these hadiths have been abrogated, he lists many reasons why the aforementioned technical arguments of the Hanafis against women congregations are not strong. For instance, he argues that saying it is disliked for an imam to stand in the middle of the row is not correct because Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) would not have done so if it was disliked. It is possible that it is disliked for men, not for women. But even for men, it is not disliked in some instances, like when a man is leading only one or two other men in prayer. Also, if it is disliked, then why have we made an exception for Salatul Janazah and have said it is not disliked there? So to say that it is disliked completely is inconsistent. 

He also argues that saying there is more exposure if a woman stands ahead of everyone else is not valid either for many reasons. If a woman is standing ahead of everyone else, there are two possibilities: either her satr for prayer (the portion of the body that is obligatory to cover) is uncovered or it is covered. If it is uncovered the Salah itself is invalid, so it doesn’t matter whether it was in congregation or not. And if it is covered, it does not affect the validity of Salah because there isn’t anything disliked about praying fully covered in front of others. So the real reason why a woman stands in the middle is that Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) did so, not necessarily because she must conceal herself to that level when praying.

These are just some of the many arguments he presents. After mentioning all the arguments, he goes on to say, “The opinion that this is prohibitively disliked is not correct. Rather, following the truth wherever it is found is more correct.” He says that since the hadiths indicate that it is permissible, and there is no clear proof that this has been abrogated, nor can we say that it was done only in the beginning of Islam, and the technical reasons behind the apparent prohibition mentioned have their faults, the most we can say in this regard is that it is khilaful awla (not recommended, just slightly lesser than permissible). He concludes by saying, “What becomes obvious from this whole discussion is that saying it is disliked, especially saying that it is prohibitively disliked, is something the scholars derived based on their understanding and assumptions, not something that they learned from the Imams. Or perhaps they had a reason for this opinion that we haven’t been able to come across. Whatever we have come across, we have explained.”

In summary, although the classical, dominant Hanafi opinion was that it is prohibitively disliked, there were some Hanafi scholars who believed otherwise, and had strong arguments to establish this. To argue for the permissibility of women-only congregations is not something that was only done recently, nor is it something that is baseless. Of course the arguments of one or two scholars don’t automatically override all other fatwas but at the very least this indicates there is room even in Hanafi fiqh to allow for this and perhaps is something that should be reconsidered. 

Potential Benefits of Women Congregations

What is the point of women-only congregations? What is the benefit especially if it is something that many scholars of the past discouraged? Isn’t it better to avoid what is doubtful? 

We must remember that in issues like this where there is valid difference of opinion, and where there are proofs that justify both sides of the argument, the question is not whether the issue at hand is correct or incorrect. Rather, the question is determining which practice is closer to the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), which practice will have the most benefits. When jurists say something is preferred or disliked here what they mean is that through their knowledge and understanding of the sources of Islamic law they believe this is the best application of the teachings of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the best way to fulfill the various purposes of the Shariah, not that practicing the other way is an act of misguidance or clear error. For this reason, we need to look at the potential benefits and the needs and context of people to better understand whether and when this practice should be encouraged or avoided. 

A few clarifications before we continue: In Hanafi fiqh, for obligatory prayers, it is better to have one large congregation than multiple small ones. To have a regular congregation outside the masjid is discouraged. This is another reason why women-only congregations were not encouraged, because they are not meant for everyone. So it is important to keep in mind that if we are mentioning benefits of obligatory prayers in women-only congregations, this is meant occasionally and in the context of when women are not regularly attending the masjid for the five daily salahs (as is arguably usually the case). It does not mean that women who already regularly attend the congregation in the masjid leave the congregation in the masjid and start a congregation with each other or that women who usually pray individually specifically go out to join a congregation for fard (mandatory) prayers.

Another issue to clarify is the ruling regarding women reciting out loud in prayers, be it in individual or congregational prayers. Hanafi scholars have generally said this is disliked, whereas the Hanbalis encourage it so as long as no non-mahram men can hear. The Shafiis also say it is permissible with that condition. The Malikis consider it disliked regardless. However, this is more to do with the adab of prayer, and how ideally the prayer of a woman should be done in a concealing manner, not something that affects the validity of prayer, based on the preferred opinion that the voice is not awrah. So there is room for following another opinion here as we see in Shaykh Nadwi’s mother’s example.

With that said, the first thing to discuss is the general benefits of congregational prayers – be it at the masjid with everyone else, or women only. Praying the five daily prayers in congregation is one of the most important parts of the concept of iqamatus salah, establishing salah, which has been commanded repeatedly in the Qur’an. To establish salah openly together can serve as a powerful way of aiding each other in good deeds and taqwa, and building bonds and unity.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would put great effort into lining up the companions in prayer and stressed that gathering together and standing in a straight line increases unity and removes hatred. While women are excused from praying in congregation unlike men, women can still benefit from many of the blessings of congregational prayer every now and then, be it the unity that it can build or the way it can help make salah something visibly central in their lives. 

Another important role of congregational prayer is how it teaches how to perform and establish salah. It is through the congregational prayer that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught the Sahabah, both male and female, how to pray and perfect their prayers, how to center their life around prayer. And even the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself learned to pray from Jibril 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) who led him in salah. Praying in congregation is most effective way to learn how to pray and to build a habit of prayer, something which so many people, both male and female, are in need of.

One may argue that generations of women have learned how to pray without attending congregations. Even if it may be possible to learn salah without participating in a congregational prayer, it’s not always the case. How many of these women really had the opportunity to learn how to pray correctly and develop a habit of salah? And how many of them learned the adab of praying in a congregation or in the masjid? We need to consider whether not allowing or encouraging women to pray in congregation, either at the masjid or together, may be affecting the establishment of salah in their lives especially for those who live in places where salah isn’t publicly established.

So although regular congregations of the five daily prayers may not be necessary for all women, they can be beneficial for those who are learning to pray, like children and younger people. For instance, if a group of girls are together, and prayer time comes in, having them all pray together in congregation can be much easier and more beneficial than telling them all to pray individually as is often done among Hanafis. 

Apart from these general benefits there are also benefits especially applicable to women only Tarawih congregations.  

The most commonly cited benefit of women-only Tarawih congregations is that it gives hafidhas a chance to properly review and practice their Qur’an. The best way to review the Qur’an and ensure that it remains in the memory year after year is to not only review it regularly but to recite it at least once a year in Taraweeh. Of course, this can also be done individually, but it may be difficult. The traditional Hanafi fatwa here says that if a hafidha is not confident enough in her hifdh to pray by herself, she should recite out loud and have someone not praying listen to her recitation and note her mistakes so she can be informed after prayer (not in middle, because that also invalidates prayer according to Hanafis). The problem, however, is that this is not really practical. Not every hafidha can find someone willing to sacrifice 1-2 hours in Ramadan, to just sit and listen. Allowing hafidhas to lead each other makes easier to practice. And even if a hafidha is only leading non-hafidhas in prayer, it still allows her to practice and keeps her motivated to review.

Another benefit is that it allows women whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has gifted the knowledge and recitation of the Qur’an an opportunity to share, benefit, and teach others, and through this, grow in their own knowledge. It is mentioned in the hadiths about Umm Waraqah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that she had recited the Qur’an, i.e. learned the Qur’an, which is why the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) appointed her to lead at her house. Part of the responsibility of those who have knowledge of the Qur’an is sharing it and using it to help others. 

But the biggest benefit of a women-only congregation in my opinion is that it can serve as an inspiration to women and girls to increase their love for the Qur’an and create in them a stronger desire to learn it. Many huffadh mention that their original inspiration to memorize the Qur’an came from witnessing a Tarawih prayer as a child. This is not the same for girls though. Tarawih at the masjid may increase them in their love for the Qur’an, but if this is all they see, it can also leave them feeling that memorizing the Qur’an is something only for boys because they will not get to be at the position of that imam. The issue here is not about memorizing for the purpose of leading or fame, the issue is about having a relevant positive role model that inspires you to do good as you can aspire to be like. 

Women’s Tarawih

Hearing a fellow female recite the Qur’an, inside or outside of prayer, is something unfortunately many women do not usually have the opportunity to do so. Listening to the recitation of the Quran from others is a powerful form of worship and gaining closeness to Allah. For the female listener, there’s a special power in a female voice. Those who have experienced it know how it allows the beauty of the Qur’an be reflected in a different manner and how it’s a reminder the Qur’an was also sent down to females to recite, learn, and protect. This may seem obvious, but the reality is that since so many girls have grown up without hearing a woman recite the Qur’an, they often feel it is not something for them to do. 

Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi shared the intimate experience of his mother’s Tarawih. He could have chosen not to mention it, to keep it between her and Allah. But he shared it. Decades later and hundreds of miles away, just hearing about her being devoted to the Qur’an at that level and leading women in Tarawih inspired me as a child to memorize the Qur’an. And it wasn’t just me, I know a whole generation of hafidhas from the subcontinent and perhaps across the world, cite her as their inspiration for memorizing. 

If this is the power of hearing about one woman’s Tarawih congregation imagine how much more powerful and inspirational it would be for a young girl to witness a women’s congregation, to witness hafidhas reciting the Quran in a beautiful manner and leading their sisters in Tarawih.  Imagine the potential effect attending women-only congregations can have on a generation of girls and how much closer it can bring them to the Qur’an. 

Seeing women-only congregations being held across the country in Ramadan is a sign that women are devoted to the Quran, that they have learned it well enough to lead, that they are devoted to worship, that they are gathering together for a good purpose. Yes, it is true there is a difference of opinion here and it is fine to disagree. But in issues where there is a valid difference of opinion, there is no reason to speak against someone who follows the other also valid opinion and there is definitely no room for mocking those who choose to practice this sunnah of the Sahabiyyat.

Suggested articles:

And the Male Is Not like the Female: Sunni Islam and Gender Nonconformity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Beginning with Alhamdulillah

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

“Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, God give me everything…”

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

The Reminder

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

Khabib pointing to Allah

It’s not from me, it’s from Him

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

2. The Prostration of Thankfulness – Sajdat al-Shukr

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

Khabib and his sons prostrating

The Reminder

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

See also:

3. Establishing the 5 Daily Prayers

Khabib and me, don’t be jelly

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

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

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

The Reminder

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

4. Strong Wrestling Game

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

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

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

The Reminder

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

5. Fighting / Training through Sickness and Injury

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

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

The Reminder

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

6. Relationship With His Father

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

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

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

The Reminder

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

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

7. Relationship With His Mother

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

The Reminder

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

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

8. Respect for Muhammad Ali

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

The Reminder

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

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

9. His Conduct with Other Fighters

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

Champion vs Champion, the respect is mutual

The Reminder

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

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

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

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

10. Fighting Those Who Dishonor Faith and Family

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

Khabib vs Dana’s boy, the chicken

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

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

The Reminder

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

11. Shaking Hands and Training with Women

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

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

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

The Reminder

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

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

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

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

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

Khabib and his wife

The Reminder

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

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

13. Owning His Mistakes, Looking to Be Forgiven

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

In an interview with the LA Times, he said:

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

The Reminder

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Thoughts

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

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

Ameen.

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

Imam Imran Salha

Published

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

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

“Islam is not for blowing off steam.”

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

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

What is the standard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr Yaseen Mazhar Siddiqui: An Obituary Of A Scholar of Seerah

Meraj Din

Published

A leading scholar of Islamic studies with focus on Seerah literature and history, he unconventionally broke many stereotypes—both orthodox and modern and all his life epitomized the cause of Islam on the intellectual front.

With the death of Yaseen Mazhar Siddiqui, at the age of 76, Muslims in South Asia lost one of the most respected and leading scholars of Islam. A graduate of, and now professor at Aligarh University is less known in the West for his 29 books than for his Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts at the Aligarh Muslim University, India, published in London in 2002 by the Furqan Heritage Foundation. An eminent Muslim religious scholar, academic and historian who served as director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at Aligarh Muslim University. Siddiqui was a well-placed and reputed figure of great spiritual and intellectual insight recognized on national as well as international level. Siddiqui was instrumental over the past 30 years in the framing, development and streamlining the influence of Islam in Aligarh Muslim University. To commemorate the outstanding services of Hazrat Shah Waliullah and to promote the Islamic values, the Institute of Objective Studies instituted an Award known as “Shah Waliullah Award” to honour eminent scholars who have done outstanding work in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Islamic Studies. The fifth Shah Waliullah Award was rightly conferred on Prof. Mohd Yasin Mazhar Siddiqi, as the renowned scholar for his contribution to Sirah and Historiography in Islamic Perspective in 2005.

Siddiqui was an exceptionally modest and humble man, with an intellectually engaging and honest commitment to Islam, away from self-eulogizing claims of pseudo-intellectualism. His commitment to Islam, which occupied him for his whole life, left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of people across territorial boundaries. One thing all this illustrates is Siddiqui’s intense sense of duty — a sense that he unthinkingly expected his colleagues to share. Siddiqui’s well-stocked mind, clarity and unflinching intellectual honesty devoted to respond the questions of Orientalist scholarship on Sirah literature and subsequent other corollaries. He had little time for Islam’s own accounts of its origins rather his interest revolved around “Qurʾān and Sirah” and its role in shaping the worldview of Muslims who are struggling to makes sense of their identity amid the challenges emerging from dominant discursive colonial Eurocentric episteme. Leaving the conventional hollow claims, without efforts to prove how and why so much sanctity is attached to Islam and its sources—Qurʾān and Sunnah/Sirah being the primary one, he reckoned, to fill the gap using contemporary sources and knowledge of Hadīth, from orientalist and now its pedigree of modernist claims. This task required both personal and intellectual bravery. As he knew the central beliefs of Islam, such as the way the Quran took shape, the place of Sirah, its underlying methodology, he was equally aware how outside scrutiny has tempered the flare, especially when the conclusions are expressed in a witty and sardonic style. His soft way of speaking, affectionate manner and hospitable nature made him a much-loved figure. Because of his erudition most people who came in contact with him thought of him as a teacher; many saw him as a spiritual mentor. With his humble appearance, it was easy to mistake him for a country bumpkin.

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Born in India in 1944 in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of United Provinces of British India. He graduated in the traditional Dars-e-Nizami (pure religious textual studies of Islamic texts) studies from Nadwatul Ulama in 1959, and Master’s in literature from the University of Lucknow in 1960. He passed the intermediate exams from the Jamia Milia Islamia in 1962 and then acquired a B.A. in 1965 and B.Ed. in 1966 from the same University. In 1968, Siddiqui recieved a M.A. degree in History, M.Phil. in 1969, and Ph.D. in 1975 from the Aligarh Muslim University. Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui benefited from great teachers like Maulana Rabi Hasni Nadvi, Maulana Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadvi, Maulana Ishaq Sandelvi K. A. Nizami, Abd al-Hafīz Balyāwi and Rabey Hasani. Anwar was welcomed as an independent member of various advisory committees and expressed pride in the research done in the field of Sirah.

Professor Siddiqui wrote more than 40 books and 300 research articles in Urdu, Arabic and Persian. His publications and presentations have reverberated throughout the discipline of Islamic studies and social sciences, profoundly shaping the scholarship of a new generation of scholars as they develop a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and critical approach to Seerah and history. He was well known for the great quality and high calibre of his originality of research in Islamic studies and all related subjects. He was recognized as one of the compelling and intellectually grounded voice on Seerah studies.  As a scholar and teacher, he embodied and followed strong moral and political principles, and formulated new ways of understanding the subject of Seerah, history, religious freedom, and the rights of religious minorities. His writings on the Prophet and his teachings garnered wide acclaim. He wrote extensively in reputed literary journal, ‘Nuqoosh’ and got international ‘Nuqush Award’, ‘Seerat-e-Rasool Award’ and ‘Sirah Nigari Award’. Two of his most popular works are Muslim Conduct of State and Introduction to Islam. The first book was Ehd-e-Nabwi mai Tanzīm-e-Riyāsat-o-Hukūmat and the second book The Prophet Muhammad: A Role Model for Muslim Minorities has gained such wide acclaim—mainly for the reason that its contents are divided into chapters (which stand on their own as a monograph) which deal with related specific subject matter. It is easy to understand how his style of presentation has endeared the book not only to common folk, but also to the people who would like to gain a reasonable insight into the true spirit of the teachings of Islam.

Almost every country outside the traditional Muslim “heartlands” asserts Siddiqui in his book ‘The Prophet Muhammad—A Role Model for Muslim minorities is home to a Muslim minority population today. For such Muslim communities, the political perspectives reflected by the corpus of traditional fiqh are of little or no relevance, and can even be hugely problematic. Siddiqui therefore takes it upon himself to develop an understanding of Muslim jurisprudence that is particularly suited to their context, making a valuable contribution to the limited, but slowly expanding, corpus of writings on fiqh al-aqalliyat or fiqh for [Muslim] minorities. Siddiqui argues that the basis of fiqh for Muslim minorities must lie in the Makkan period of life of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his companions, a period of around thirteen years when the Muslims were a minority and did not enjoy political domination. In many senses, their position resembled that of Muslim minorities today. Muslim minorities need to see the role of the Prophet and the early Muslims in that period as a model for them to emulate, Siddiqui suggests:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had close personal ties with several non-Muslims in Mecca, and Muslim minorities, Siddiqui advises, must emulate him in this regard and must have “excellent social relations with non-Muslims” (p. 194).

As Siddiqui succinctly puts it:

Muslims all over the world, especially Muslim minorities, have to prove that they are the best community, devoted to the cause of protecting mankind against suffering and blessing everyone with happiness, regardless of caste, colour or creed. Their position is of the best community and their duty is to serve mankind […] Their presence must guarantee help for everyone, especially of their non-Muslim country. However, this cannot be affirmed merely verbally or by recounting old stories. They have to prove it by their conduct. (p. 194)

This monograph and his other works are a brilliant contribution to the on-going debates about fiqh for Muslim minorities. It provides valuable insights for developing new and more relevant understandings of Islamic jurisprudence in Muslim minority contexts, envisaging the possibility of reconciling Islamic commitment with Muslim minority-ness, an issue that has largely escaped the attention of Islamic scholars but one that has sometimes been, and continues to be, a troubling one for many Muslims living as minorities. Siddiqui’s diverse and intellectually engaging work that speaks eloquently to a wide spectrum of readers with different backgrounds and interests. To use terms such as “monumental”, “one-of-a-kind”, and “exceptional” to describe this work is not exaggeration. A committed Muslim, throughout his career Siddiqui maintained the principle of genuinely evidence-based research. Dapper and courteous, he was a highly effective communicator, quoted widely in the local context  as well as cited in academia.

A direct criticism to his work also emerges from scholars who assert that in his Introduction of The Prophet Muhammad—A Role Model for Muslim minorities’ Siddiqi (p. 62) formally describes himself as a humble and error-prone human being. However, he then proceeds to negate the worth of all previous biographies of the Prophet, claiming that these ‘conventional’ authors used ‘outdated methodology and lines of argument’. Consequently, according to him, all previous studies of the Makkan period were ‘markedly inadequate’ and ‘the entire life history of the Prophet remains to be analysed’ since ‘no biographer of his has ever given thought to this obvious fact that the Makkan period of his life represents the phase of subjugation’. Therefore, Siddiqi considers the conventional treatment of the Makkan and Madinan periods of Islamic history as ‘downright pernicious’ (p. ix). One wonders indeed whether the author is aware of some of the most popular biographies of the Prophet—beyond the classical ones: Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, and Ibn Kathir—including the works by Muhammad Hamidullah, Muhammad Haikal, Martin Lings, Karen Armstrong, and Tarik Jan, all contradicting his assertions.

With quite a serious criticism on his assertions about various aspects of mis-reading the Seerah of the Prophet there still remains a lot to be talked about his contribution to diverse areas of Islamic Studies. And though he is no longer here to share his thoughts, he has done enough to enable us to think with him. Certain towering intellectuals become integral to the vey alphabet of our moral and religious imagination. They live in those who read and think them through-and thus they become indexical, proverbial, to our thinking. Siddiqui lived so fully, so consciously, so critically through the thick and thin of our times that he is definitive to our critical thinking, just like Mustafa Azami, Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, or other Muslim luminaries are. He was – and remains – a brilliant intellectual, whose legacy of rethinking certain conventional assertions around Islam and efforts still reverberate today and will continue to do so.

He cultivated with joyous attention her relationships with family and friends. He mentored, as one of his students mentioned once, with remarkable care and intensity, demanding their best work, listening, responding with a sharp generosity, coming alive in thought, and soliciting others to do the same. He immersed himself, in illness and heath, in reading the Quran post morning prayers and transformed himself and transmitted the values of thought and love, leaving now a vibrant legacy that will persist and flourish among all whose lives were touched by his life and work.

May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaus in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and grant all those who cherished him patience.

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