Ibn al-Qayyim, Charitable Interpretation (Quote)

The famous Hanbali scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751H / 1350 CE) on the Principle of Charitable Interpretation:
“The great scholar is dear to us, but the truth is dearer to us than he. One does not unconditionally accept the words of anyone other than God’s Prophet. We look for the best possible meaning for their words, then clarify [the problematic aspects] in it.”
[Madarij al-Salikin, (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-`Ilmiyya, 1416/1996), 2/38]
The ‘great scholar’ (shaykh al-islam) he is referring to is the Hanbali Sufi Abu Isma`il al-Harawi (d.  481H / 1088CE).
شيخ الإسلام حبيب إلينا . والحق أحب إلينا منه . وكل من عدا المعصوم صلى الله عليه وسلم فمأخوذ من قوله ومتروك ، ونحن نحمل كلامه على أحسن محامله . ثم نبين ما فيه .”
(من كلام ابن القيم رحمه الله في الشيخ أبي إسماعيل الهروي)

The Best Days of the Year

The best days of the year are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja (the 12th month of tbe Islamic calendar). Accrdibg to hadiths, there are no other days in which good deeds are more loved by God.
Good deeds are many, and include helping others, as well as remembrance of God.
A hadith singles out 3 expressions of praise for God:
1- declaring the oneness of God, and that only God is to be worshipped (tahlil)
2- declaring God’s greatness (takbir)
3- praising God (tahmid )
Avoiding sins in the other side of the coin of ‘doing good deeds.’
Sahl (d. 896, the mystic of Shushtar) said: The righteous as well as the wicked do [good] deeds, but only a steadfastly sincere person avoids sins.

Fasting Ashura: yes or no, and if yes how many days?

Ashura is the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
Fasting One Day
It is recommended, in the Sunni and Zaydi Shi`i schools, to fast the day. There are numerous sahih hadiths about its fasting, some of them mentioning that it was an obligatory fast in the days before fasting Ramadan became obligatory.
وَسُئِلَ عَنْ صِيَامِ يَوْمِ عَاشُورَاءَ. قَالَ: ” يُكَفِّرُ اَلسَّنَةَ اَلْمَاضِيَةَ (رواه مسلم)
وقال أحمد بن عيسى بن زيد بن علي (عليهم السلام) في أماليه: صوم الأيام البيض، ورجب وشعبان، والإثنين والخميس حسن جميل، وجاء فيه فضل كثير، وكذلك يوم عاشوراء
Fasting Two Days
According to one sahih hadith, the Prophet Muhammad later expressed his wish to also fast on the 9th of Muharram (the day before Ashura), but he died before that could happen.
قال (ص): لئن بقيت إلى قابل لأصومن التاسع (رواه مسلم)
وعن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام عن أبيه، أن عليا عليه السلام قال: صوموا العاشوراء التاسع والعاشر، فإنه يكفر ذنوب سنة (وسائل الشيعة)
Hence, Sunni fuqaha’ in general recommend fasting both the 9th and 10th of Muharram. This view can be found among Twelver Shi`ah as well, as I return to later.
Fasting Three Days?
A hadith of disputed reliability says that the Prophet recommended, along with the fast of Ashura, fasting either the day before or the day after.
عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رضي الله عنه قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : (صُومُوا يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ ، وَخَالِفُوا فِيهِ الْيَهُودَ ، صُومُوا قَبْلَهُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْدَهُ يَوْمًا) (رواه أحمد)
One version (with a weak isnad) indicates all three days.
Hence, some Sunni fuqaha’ recommended fasting the 9th, 10th and 11th. This is because even if the hadith about this should turn out to be false, it would still be recommended to fast the 11th of Muharram based on the sahih hadith that recommends optional fasting in this month.
أفضلُ الصيامِ بعدَ رمضانَ شهرُ اللهِ المحرَّمُ (رواه مسلم)
There are risks in taking a weakly-substantiated position and making it normative across the board. A more precautionary position would therefore be that if one wishes to fast the 11th, it would be prudent to intend it as a general fast of Muharram rather for Ashura specifically.
Some fuqaha recommended fasting all three days (9th, 10th, 11th) specifically in cases when the dates are uncertain (i.e. you are not sure which day exactly is the 10th) in order to be safe. This was the view of Ibn Sirin and Tawus (both scholars of the Tabi`in) and was adopted by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.’
Fasting Zero Days, or Part of a Day
The dominant view among Twelver Shi`ah is that it is not recommended to fast Ashura. One narration in the Twelver hadith books suggests that it is a fast that was abandoned after Ramadan became obligatory. Other narrations (in Twelver Shi`i books) condemn its continued fasting as a practice initiated by the killers of the Prophet’s grandson al-Husayn, their purpose being to give thanks for his death.
Nevertheless, the Twelver scholar al-Hurr al-`Amili indicated that it is recommended to fast the 9th and 10th with grief (in contrast to the murderers of Husayn, who fasted it out of joy).
وعقد في وسائل الشيعة بابا: استحباب صوم يوم التاسع والعاشر من المحرم حزنا، وقراءة الاخلاص يوم العاشر ألف مرة والافطار بعد العصر بساعة . وبعده: باب عدم جواز صوم التاسع والعاشر من المحرم على وجه التبرك بهما.
According to one narration he cites, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq recommended abstaining from food and drink the major part of the day of the 10th, until after `Asr but before Maghrib.’
Final Words
The killing of the Prophet’s grandson was a tragedy, and is a source of grief for Sunnis and Shi`ah. If you fast Ashura, it should definitely not be with the intention of celebrating Imam Husayn’s murder. I hope we can at least start understanding each other better, and realize what we have in common, even if we don’t end up agreeing on everything. And I am pretty sure the Sunnis and Zaydis who fast Ashura are not doing it to celebrate the killing of al-Husayn.

Femicide in Pre-Islamic Arabia

“And [on the Day of Judgment] when the baby girl who was buried alive shall be asked, for what sin was she killed?” (Quran, 81:8-9)

Quranic exegete Biqa`i (died 1480 CE = 885 H) commented:
Throwing [the baby girl] into the grave dug for her is similar to the stars swooping down and falling (which is mentioned earlier in 81:2)…. 
Since this was the simplest way of killing among them (the pre-Islamic Arabs), and they used to think that this was not of significance ….. 
[God] has made clear that He does pay attention to it, and that it is no escaping [that child] being resurrected [on the Day of Judgment] and being made capable of understanding and replying. 
So [if even the innocent child shall be questioned by God] then what do you think will be the fate of the offender? She will be questioned [not due to any guilt on her part, but] in order to censure her killer, …. 
….for the [pre-Islamic Arabs] used to bury daughters alive out of fear of poverty or of being shamed [by their community, for having had a daughter rather than a son]. So, they would say: It is better for us to send [the daughters] back to God [by killing them]. 
[But] there were [also] people among them [the pre-Islamic Arabs] who were nobler than to do such things, and others who would rescue buried-alive girls and raise them. 
 
 

﴿وَإِذَا ٱلۡمَوۡءُۥدَةُ سُىِٕلَتۡ بِأَیِّ ذَنۢبࣲ قُتِلَتۡ﴾ [القرآن، سورة التكوير 8 و 9]  قال البقاعي: وإلْقاؤُها في البِئْر المَحْفُورِ لَها قَرِيبٌ مِن انْكِدارِ النُّجومِ وتَساقُطِها. ولمّا كانَ هذا أهْوَن القَتْلِ عندهم وكانوا يَظُنُّونَ أنَّهُ مِمّا لا عِبرَةَ بِهِ، بَيَّنَ أنَّهُ مُعْتَنًى بِهِ وأنَّهُ لا بُدَّ من بَعْثِها وجَعْلِها بِحَيْثُ تَعْقِلُ وتُجِيبُ  وقال: فَما ظَنُّكَ بِمَن هو فَوْقَها وبِمَن هو جانٍ، وسُؤالُها هو عَلى وجْهِ التَّبْكِيتِ لِقاتِلِها، فَإنَّ العَرَبَ كانَتْ تَدْفِنُ البَناتَ أحْياءً مَخافَةَ الإمْلاقِ أوْ لُحُوقِ العارِ بِهِنَّ، ويَقُولُونَ: نَرُدُّها إلى اللَّهِ هو أوْلى بِها،  وقال: وكانَ فِيهِمْ مَن يَتَكَرَّمُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ ومَن يَفْدِي المَوْءُوداتِ ويُرَبِّيهِنَّ 

Stereotypes

A man from the Maghreb had been entrusted with 100 dinars to bestow on a sharīf (descendant of the Prophet) in Madīna. Upon arriving in Madīna, he was informed that all the sharīfs are Shīˁites, who revile Abū Bakr and ˁUmar, so he did not give the money to a sharīfite man he had met.
That night, he saw the Prophet in a dream, along with Fāṭimah, Abū Bakr and ˁUmar. The setting was Judgment Day, and people were crossing the path over Hell (ṣirāṭ). Fāṭimah elicited a pardon from Abū Bakr and ˁUmar for her descendant’s vilification of them, and then criticized the man (from the Maghreb) for interfering in the matter. The man awoke from the dream in fright, and taking the money in hand, immediately sought out the same sharīf. He gave the money to him, and then found out that the man did not actually revile Abū Bakr and ˁUmar.
[`Abdullah al-Ghumārī, al-Naqd al-Mubram, p.69]

Pharoah’s Yes-Men

“[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, ‘This is indeed a learned magician.” 26:34
Ibn `Ashur (d. 1973CE) comments in his exegesis:

In this verse, these [words] are the statement of Pharoah to the eminent ones, but in the verse of al-A`raf (7:109) [we have]: “The eminent ones among the people of Pharoah said…” They can be pieced together by [saying] that Pharoah said it to those around him, and they repeated it in his [very] words, so as to completely agree with him, such that they did not suffice with [merely] saying, ‘Yes,’ but rather they repeated Pharoah’s words so that their words could be perfectly matching his.

قالَ لِلْمَلَإِ حَوْلَهُۥٓ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَسَـٰحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
26:34قال ابن عاشور: وفي هَذِهِ الآيَةِ أنَّ هَذا قَوْلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِلْمَلَأِ، وفي آيَةِ الأعْرافِ (﴿قالَ المَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ﴾ [الأعراف: ١٠٩]) والجَمْعُ بَيْنَهُما أنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ قالَهُ لِمَن حَوْلَهُ فَأعادُوهُ بِلَفْظِهِ لِلْمُوافَقَةِ التّامَّةِ بِحَيْثُ لَمْ يَكْتَفُوا بِقَوْلِ: نَعَمْ، بَلْ أعادُوا كَلامَ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكَونَ قَوْلُهم عَلى تَمامِ قَوْلِهِ.

Musalsal Hadiths

Musalsal Hadiths

هَتَفَ العِلمُ بالعمَلِ فَإنْ أجابَهُ وإلّا ارْتَحَلَ (رواه السيوطي في جياد المسلسلات بإسناد فيه رجال مجهولون)

‘Knowledge calls out to action. If it responds to it [then it stays], but otherwise it departs.” [ʿAli ibn Abi Talib, d. 661CE]

This is the last narration in Suyuti’s (d. 1505CE) compilation Jiyad al-Musalsalat. The musalsalat genre in hadith comprises narrations whose isnads (chains of narration) contain a pattern repeated at multiple generations in the chain, e.g. each narrator having the same name, or performing the same action while narrating the hadith.

The most common musalsal hadith is the ‘Hadith of Firstness,’ “The merciful ones will be treated mercifully by the Source of Mercy (God). Be merciful to those upon the earth, [that] [God] who is in (i.e. above) Heaven be merciful to you.” Since the time of Sufyan ibn ʿ Uyayna (d. 815CE / 198H), it has been a tradition that the “hadith of Firstness” be the first hadith that a student hears from his hadith teacher.

The above quote from ʿAli has 9 successive narrators each saying, “My father told me that ….” Most of these hadiths have weak chains of narration. The above quote from Ali contains a number of narrators about whom we do not know much (i.e. we don’t know how reliable they were). The most reliable (sahih) musalsal hadith is that it which each narrator recites Surat al-Saff after narrating the hadith.

Suyuti compiled 85 musalsal narrations in his book al-Musalsalat al-Kubra, and then selected 25 of the best of these for the compilation Jiyad al-Musalsalat. Note that ‘the best 25 of the 85’ does not necessarily mean that they are all reliable (sahih); some are, but others are merely stronger than the rest.

These musalsal hadiths continue to be transmitted to this day with the patterns replicated, and are a type of collector’s item for students of hadith. i.e. these hadiths are fun!

Suyuti probably chose to end the book with this quote from ʿAli in order to remind us that the main objective of acquiring Islamic knowledge is to act on it; to become a better person, to contribute positively to the world, and to grow in love for God. i.e. You can have fun (including dabbling in musalsal hadiths), but at the end of the end of the day, make sure you have done something you can be proud of when you face God.

PICTURE CREDIT: Hans Braxmeier, from https://pixabay.com/photos/chain-jewellery-gem-valuable-2119612/#

Hamdun al-Qassar, Effective words (Quote)

Hamdun al-Qassar (d. 884 CE / 271 H) was asked, “Why are the words of the [pious] people of the past more effective than our words?”
He replied, “Because they spoke for the dignity of Islam, the salvation of souls, and the approval of the Merciful [God], whereas we speak for our own fame, acquiring worldly things, and the approval of people.”

قيل لحمدون القصار: ما بال كلام السَّلف أنفع مِن كلامنا؟ قال: لأنهم تكلموا لعِزّ الإسلام ونجاة النفوس ورِضا الرحمان، ونحن نتكلم لعِزّ النفس وطلب الدنيا وقبول الخَلْق
(ابن الجوزي، صفة الصفوة، ط. دار الحديث، 2/313)

Support Islamic Comics

Support Islamic Comics

Wholesole, clean humor. Something we want and need for our children, especially, to enjoy. Please enjoy, and do your part to support.

I have been following IslamicComics.org, featuring the Ahmad Family, for a a number of years. They are funny, and humor is within Islamic theological guidelines; nothing blasphemous. This is as expected, for the author is a practicing Muslim serious about religion. Even for the drawings, he is following a more conservative view by not drawing eyes on the faces. I am generally wary about recommending or ‘liking’ anything, unless I know both the author and product well. Both of these conditions are satisfied with IslamicComics. Below is a sample (but please continue reading after the comic):

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Therefore, I recommend these comics, especially to those with children. The comics are free, but if you pay to subscribe, then you can download activity pages, greeting cards and e-books. So, I encourage you to subscribe. Remember that Muslim artists like this spend considerable time on producing Islamic humor alternatives, and they must still feed their families.

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“While cultivating sophisticated knowledge of the Arabic tongue, we-like other nonArab Muslim cultures before us-must embrace our indigenous tongue, the English language, and make it the primary vehicle of our culture. We must continue to develop humor and various literary and musical forms but also cultivate film-especially historical fiction-theater, and art, including interior decorating and fashion design. ”

Dr. Umar Faruq `Abd-Allah, Islam and the Cultural Imparative