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New Muslims Pilgrimage

Abraham: The Muslim Prophet

By Sarah Joseph

Abraham is a central figure to three faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – but the scriptural differences can cause deep divisions. So here we examine how Abraham’s story can heal our fractured world.

He defied his father and his community; he had to flee for his life; he abandoned his family in the wilderness; he was prepared to kill his son. With such a background, Abraham would not appear to be a good role model. Yet, he is revered by billions of people over thousands of years, and his life is a testament to pure monotheism, great sacrifices and devotion to

kabah_Makkah

“Muslim” is not a noun introduced from the time of Muhammad; rather it is a way of being and thinking that has existed since the beginning of creation.

God. The Qur’an speaks of Abraham with great admiration:

And who could be of better faith than the one who surrenders utterly to God, and is a doer of good and follows the faith of Abraham, the upright one? ( An-Nisaa’ 4:125)

Abraham was born in a society steeped in the worship of idols. Early on in his life, he tried to persuade his father to reject this practice and submit himself to the One True God. But his father’s business centered on crafting idols of worship, and so he rebuked Abraham, “I shall most certainly cause you to be stoned to death!” (Maryam 19:46)

Abraham’s reply is a perfect lesson in gentleness and politeness:

Peace be upon you! I shall ask my Lord to forgive you: for, behold, He has always been kind to me. (Maryam 19:47)

Idol-worship was seen by Abraham as something self-degrading and enslaving. He saw no greatness and experienced no awe in the worship of statues that his father and other human beings crafted with their own hands. So he tried to free his community from this harmful practice.

In the Qur’anic narrative, he sets a testing scenario for the people by destroying all their idols except the largest one. When the people remonstrated with him, Abraham mockingly told them to ask the big idol for answers. The people were confounded, but only momentarily, and soon they demanded his death: “Kill him… burn him”. (Al-`Ankabut 29:24). But God saved him by cooling the flames.

By this point, the young Abraham had defied his father, enraged his community, and derided their beliefs. He had challenged the centers of power and upset the status quo with his persistent reasoning and logic. He even won the public debate with Nimrod, the king. By doing so, he became a dangerous dissident.

Though he had won the intellectual arguments against his father, his community, and his king, he had been unable to win their hearts, and they threatened him with death. So Abraham was forced to flee with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot.

But his trials and tribulations were not over. Having committed his life to God, he was tested still further. He was commanded to leave his wife Hagar and son Ishmael in the wilderness, and later to sacrifice Ishmael.

On the sacrifice, it is written in Genesis that, “Sometime later, God tested Abraham… ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac… Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’” (Genesis 22:1-2)

In the Qur’an, however, it intimates that Ishmael is the one whom God had commanded for sacrifice.

The Qur’an tells us, after the story of sacrifice was finished, that as Abraham showed his faith in God and his willingness to sacrifice his only son, Isma`il, then God gave him the news that Isaac was to be born. So this whole event took place before the birth of Isaac.

And We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet,- one of the righteous. (As-Saffat 37:112)

The fundamental lesson for us here is our willingness to give up that which is dearest and closest to us; whether we have the resolve and willpower necessary to achieve the higher spiritual goals.

The Qur’an praises Isaac, and his son Jacob, calling them “righteous men” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:72), and explains how God “made them leaders who would guide in accordance with Our behest: for We inspired them to do good works, and to be constant in prayer, and to dispense charity: and Us alone did they worship.” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:73) And Jacob’s son, Joseph, is also a prophet blessed by God.

The Qur’an reveres all the prophets, named and unnamed, and as such, it is an amazingly inclusive religious text. It even insists on equality, stating that “no distinction is to be made between them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:285)

However, some factual differences with other religious texts are paramount to Muslim theology, as the following example of ‘informed consent’ shows. The Bible informs us that Isaac had no idea what his father was intending, “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7).

In the Qur’anic version, Abraham asked his son’s opinion, and Ishmael was fully aware and readily submitted to his father’s obligation:

And when the child had become old enough to share in his father’s endeavors, the latter said: ‘O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you: consider, then, what would be your view!’ He answered: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity!’ (As-Saffat 37:102)

Without Ishmael’s consent, to the Muslim mind Abraham’s submission to God is tantamount to human sacrifice; with Ishmael’s consent it is a joint act of submission to God. Of course, God requires no such sacrifice, consensual or otherwise. Abraham could keep his beloved son and more, for God promises Abraham a nation (an ummah).

Much is made of God’s promise. Abraham was indeed concerned for his children and his descendants. Firstly, and primordially, our responsibility to the world begins with our responsibility to our children. But perhaps also because he had a sense of history, and knew that what he wanted to achieve could not be done within one generation. God however tells him, “My Covenant does not include the wrongdoers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:124)

Role Model, Living Lessons

Thus, affirming through Abraham’s story that it is deeds, not birthright that ultimately matter. Much also is made of the fact that according to the Bible God promises to Abraham a land. Thousands of years later, people are still fighting and killing one another because of those disputed claims. This should be an uncomfortable reality for anyone who claims to believe in Abraham’s message of honest and upright conduct.

But Abraham does not have to be a divisive figure. Regardless of who claims him, or makes claims on his lineage, he is a role model for all. As God says in the Qur’an, “I am going to make you a leader for all of mankind to follow” (Al-Baqarah 2:124), it is the message of Abraham that is consistent in all the scriptures, and over which we can unite.

Abraham taught belief in the One God, and urged the leading of an upright life. Abraham’s story, primordial and archetypal, much of which is re-enacted annually through the Hajj, shows us the common, ancient origin of our human roots. Those roots have grown to become different trees, but each is a manifestation of the same reality, namely worship of the One Creator Who created us all; who created us into diverse nations and identities so that we can constructively engage with one another, and compete in the doing of good.

Abraham expressed an archetypal spirituality which is in harmony with our natural inclination towards good. The Qur’an describes how Abraham was “neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a hanif (an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), a Muslim. And he was not of the polytheists.” (Aal `Imran 3:67)

Not being a Jew or a Christian is undisputed from a historical perspective as he pre-dates both, but how could he be a “Muslim” (Aal `Imran 3:67) as he predates that too, does he not? This is where we have to understand that Muslim is not a noun introduced from the time of Muhammad; rather it is a way of being and thinking that has existed since the beginning of creation. It describes the one who surrenders himself to God, and thus all the prophets were in that sense Muslims, for they all surrendered to God.

As for Abraham being a hanif (an upright, righteous person) the word has at its root in the way of Abraham, to incline towards good, to turn away from wrong. Thus, a person without any taught religion would come to the way of the hanif if they were to ponder the revelation of the created world.

Through Abraham’s progeny, we are united by familial ties: Jews and Muslims are often described as cousins. The story of Abraham reminds us of the deep connection of our kinship. We have a shared human experience, and remembering Abraham’s story gives us the opportunity to remember our original spiritual and moral substance.

Remembering his covenant with God gives us the opportunity to remember our own original covenant. When we were souls with God, He asked us, “Am I not your Lord?” (Al-`Araf 7: 172) And our souls affirmed, “Yes, we do so testify.” (Al-`Araf 7:172).

We all have the same essential experience of being human. We will have different physical experiences; of wealth or poverty, of health or illness, of gender and race, but the essence of being human is the same.

We can argue about whom the covenant between God and Abraham is with, or we can fulfill our own covenant with God. We can disagree about whom God asked Abraham to sacrifice, or we can dedicate our own sacrifices to Him.

We can dispute with each other about the nature of the tests Abraham faced, or we can face our own tests with fortitude, forbearance and patience. We can fight about our differences, or we can remember that we are united in the singular conviction that Abraham held; there is only One God worthy of worship, and we surrender ourselves to Him.

Abraham’s life was the exact opposite of idol worship. If he is to be relevant today, we have to ask what are the idols which we have crafted with our own hands, and which we take to be our gods.

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Source: Emel Magazine.

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New Muslims Pilgrimage

Hajj: From Abraham to Muhammad, and In-between

Kabah_Makkah

Just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen.

 

Brothers in Islam! Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, was instituted by the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to serve as the focal meeting place for all believers in the One God. Thus he made Makkah the center of the world-wide Islamic movement and installed his elder son, the Prophet Isma`il, there to continue his mission.

Idol Worship among Ibrahim’s Descendants

Only God knows exactly how long Isma`il’s children stayed on the right path. But within a few centuries of the death of Ibrahim and Isma`il people had abandoned their teachings and had gradually gone astray like all other people around them. Hundreds of idols were installed in the sacred Ka`bah, which had been built as a center for the worship of the One God.

Ironically enough, idols were made of Ibrahim and Isma`il too, whose whole lives had been spent eradicating idol-worship. The descendants of Ibrahim, who had repudiated all idols, began to worship idols like Lat, Manat, Hubal, Nasr, Yaghuth, `Uzza, Asaf, Na`i/ah and many more. They also worshipped the sun, moon, Venus, and Saturn. They also worshipped jinns, ghosts, angels and the spirits of their dead ancestors.

Superstition rose to such a level that if they did not have the family idol with them while away from home, they worshipped any stone they came across on their way. Or, if no stone was available, even a round ball made of clay with a sprinkle of goat’s milk over it served as their god.

Reverting to the same kind of priesthood which Ibrahim had fought so fiercely against in Iraq, they turned the Ka`bah into a sort of temple and installed themselves as priests there. Adopting all the tricks of priests, they began accepting gifts and offerings from pilgrims flocking from the four corners of Arabia.

In this way all the work done by Ibrahim and Isma`il was destroyed and the purpose for which they had introduced the system of Hajjwas superseded by different types of objectives.

How Corrupted Hajj Became

A Yearly Carnival

The degree to which Hajj was corrupted in that period of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) can be gauged from the fact that it degenerated into an annual carnival. For many tribes from near and far, Hajj became an important social event. Poets and clowns used it to brag and boast about the bravery, renown, dignity, strength and generosity of their tribes. They even resorted to hurling insults at one another.

The chiefs of the tribes vied with each other in flaunting their generosity. They slaughtered camel after camel with the sole purpose of extolling their name, generosity and hospitality. Singing, revelry, drinking, and adultery were part and parcel of the festivities. The thought of God scarcely occurred to anybody.

Perverse Rites

Tawaf (Circumambulation of the Ka`bah) did continue, it is true; but in what form? Men and women walked together around God’s House stark naked, saying, “We go before God just as our mothers gave birth to us”.

Worship also continued to be performed in the mosque of Ibrahim, but again, in what form? By clapping hands, by whistling and by blowing horns. The name of God was proclaimed, but with what words? They said: “Here am I, my Lord, I am present. No one is Your partner except the one who is Yours. You are its master, of whatever it possesses”.

They did make sacrifices in the name of God. But the blood of the sacrificial animals was spilt on the walls of the Ka`bah and their flesh thrown at its door in the belief that Allah needs that flesh and blood.

Sacrilege of Sacred Months

Ibrahim had declared four months of Hajj as sacred and had directed that no warfare should be waged in these months.

These people partially observed this sanctity; but if they wanted to fight during the sacred months, they simply declared Ibrahim’s ruling null and void for a particular period and added extra ‘holy months’ the following year.

Self-imposed Restrictions

Even those who were sincere towards religion were led into strange, excessive ways by their ignorance. Some people used to set out for Hajj without any provisions for the journey and lived by begging food. They considered this an act of piety, claiming that they had full trust in God and, while proceeding towards the House of God, had no need of worldly goods.

Doing business or working during the Hajj journey were generally considered unlawful. Many people gave up food and water during Hajj, and regarded this abstention as worship.

Others stopped speaking while on Hajj, which they called al-hajj al-mumit (the dumb Pilgrimage).

There were countless other customs of this type which I do not want to waste your time describing.

Restoration of Hajj

Fulfillment of Ibrahim’s Prayer

This situation lasted for about two thousand years. No prophet was born in Arabia during this long period nor did any prophet’s genuine teachings reach the people of Arabia.

Finally, however, the time arrived for granting Ibrahim’s prayer which he had made while raising the walls of the Ka`bah:

Our Lord! Do You send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify and develop them. (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

The perfect man who descended from Ibrahim was Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (blessings and peace be on him).

Just as Ibrahim was born into a family of priests, so was Muhammad into a family which had been for centuries priests of the Ka`bah. Just as Ibrahim struck a blow with his own hands against the priesthood of his family, so did Muhammad finally eradicating it for good.

Again, just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen (religion) which had been introduced by Ibrahim.

After 21 years, when he had completed this work, once again, at God’s command, he declared the Ka`bah the center of all those in the world who surrendered to God alone and issued the same summons to the people to come to it for Hajj as had Ibrahim.

A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House, if one is able to make his way there. And as for the disbeliever, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds.(Aal `Imran 3:97)

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”. 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The People of the Book in the Qur’an

Religion of Peace

the Qur'an

While they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, the People of the Book- as the Qur’an reveals- have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not.

There are many nations in the world with different colors, creeds, and languages. These differences have been a cause of enmity throughout history in societies that did not live by religious moral values.

The perceived wisdom is that people can never manage to co-exist and that disputes arise wherever such differences exist.

However, this is a great misconception and the facts are otherwise. In fact, it is Allah Who created human beings in different communities and in the Qur’an, He calls all people to peace and security:

O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Allah calls to the Abode of Peace and He guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Yunus 10:25)

All divine religions revealed through Allah‘s messengers summon people to have faith in Allah, recommend them to display moral perfection and warn them against bad morals.

Despite the fact that all divine religions, except for Islam, are distorted, it is evident today that some of their messages are fundamentally the same. That is why these conflicts, which are stirred up artificially, lack reasonable and logical grounds.

As stated in the verse above, the main reason for unrest among people is not complying with Allah‘s summoning but following in the ”footsteps of Satan.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers’ harboring hostile feelings to other people who have faith in Allah is a moral weakness that displeases Allah, Who prohibits all believers from displaying such feelings. He calls on people to establish peace and friendship.

In the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, the last Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), Allah gives believers explicit commands and recommendations on this subject.

Their Status in the Qur’an

In the Qur’an, Jews and Christians, the members of the religions who abide by the Divine Books revealed by Allah, are called the ”People of the Book”. What Muslims’ views of the People of the Book should be, their relations, and the status of the People of the Book in social life are described in verses and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad in detail.

The People of the Book, while they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not. For this reason, if one of the People of the Book cooks some food, it is lawful for Muslims to eat it.

In the same way, permission has been given to a Muslim man to marry a woman from among the People of the Book. On this subject Allah commands:

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Book is also lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste women from among the believers and chaste women of those given the Book before you, once you have given them their dowries in marriage, not in fornication or taking them as lovers. But as for anyone who disbelieves, his actions will come to nothing and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)

Throughout Islamic history, the People of the Book have been always treated with compassion in Muslim societies. This was particularly evident in the Ottoman Empire.

It is a well known fact that the Jews, whose rights were denied and were exiled by the Catholic Kingdom of Spain, took refuge in the lands of the Ottoman Empire.

When Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror captured Istanbul, he granted both Christians and Jews all their fundamental rights. Throughout Ottoman history, Jews were regarded as a People of the Book and enjoyed peaceful coexistence with Muslims.

How Should a Muslim Regard Judaism?

As exemplified above, throughout his life, the Prophet (peace be upon him) treated the People of the Book with the utmost understanding and justice.

As a result of this noble attitude, Abdullah ibn Salam, a prominent rabbi, and his friends converted to Islam and came to believe in his prophethood.

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”.

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Who Is the Altruist and How to Be One?

What is altruism? And who exactly are the altruistic? What is the status of altruism in Islam?
Being an altruistic, what do we get in return?

Allah says:

And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. (Al-Hashr 59:9)

Altruism doesn’t merely mean to be generous of philanthropist. It is one of the superior characteristic of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who came to perfect the moral character of man.

Learn here about altruism and how to adopt such trait in our personality

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New Muslims Society

Shura: The Meaning of Democracy in Islam

By Lamya Hamad 

Is Shura something known to Islam? Is it compatible with Islamic principles? What style of leadership does Islam encourage?

The onset of 2011 witnessed an unexpected wave of protests that swept through the Middle East. Citizens struggled to topple authoritarian and tyrannical governments that had trampled on their rights for decades.

The domino effect that ensued after the first protests in Tunis caught the world by surprise. The desire for democracy and justice were undoubtedly the driving forces behind this movement. Some countries in the region have already begun shaping their legislation in a way that reflects democratic values.

Although the process will take time, the expected outcome is a system that allows all citizens to actively participate in the development of their country’s legislation and government.

Islam & Democracy

There is no universally accepted and defining model for democracy, which leaves room for nations to mold and customize their governments in a way that mirrors democratic concepts in each nation’s cultural and religious contexts.

Democratic values have been present for thousands of years, embedded in cultural and religious practices that might have been lost to history. In Islam, there are many documented instances of active participation of the people with the leaders of their time. This began with the Prophet Muhhammad (peace be upon him) as he was directed by God to seek consultation from his followers and companions while making important decisions.

Consultation is an integral concept in Islamic leadership and is known as shura.

Modern Middle Eastern countries have been blind to this key concept in Islam, which ultimately protects governments from regressing into corruptive and totalitarian regimes because of the continuous and direct involvement of the people.

As Michael Hamilton Morgan writes in Lost History, “Shura was the tradition Muhammad valued, according to which decisions that affect the community are to be made in consultation with members of the community.

In fact, one chapter of the Qur’an is named Ash-Shura, referring to a verse that states that those close to God should conduct their affairs by due consultation with others: “and those who conduct their affairs with consultation among themselves.” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Now, the Middle East has a chance to form new governments and modify constitutions. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and his close companions.

Shura in the Political Sphere

Shura is a crucial part of the Islamic political system. It allows common people to participate in the decision-making process. It helps create a society that engages actively with leaders.

Consultation is important in building a solid relationship between the leader and the people ensuring that the leader does not go astray or regress into an authoritarian government. God encouraged the Prophet to use shura:

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance. (Ash_Shura 42:38)

There are several examples of the Prophet taking counsel from his companions and following their opinions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) held many councils of war before going into battle. At one point, he believed that they should fight only if the enemy entered Madinah. However, his companions opined that they should go out and meet the army. He accepted the latter opinion even though they lost. Despite this, God revealed shortly afterwards a verse which stressed the importance of shura:

It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you has taken a decision put your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

In the next battle, the Muslims decided to stay put in Madinah. The Prophet again consulted his people regarding the best way to protect themselves against the enemy. Many suggestions came, including one which required the building of an extensive trench. The Prophet agreed to this option and actively participated in its construction. This time, they won.

The Prophet used both consultation as well as consensus when making decisions. However, the opinion of the majority was not always taken if it conflicted with the tenets of the faith or went against the overall benefit of the people.

At the same time, when the Prophet acted according to the commands of God, he did not heed to opposing viewpoints. For instance, when a seemingly disadvantageous treaty was signed with the Makkans, his people vehemently opposed it. However, the Prophet stuck to the decision and eventually his companions realized that the treaty worked in their favor.

This indicates a key principle in shura: it must not contradict or override the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, known as Sunnah.

The Qur’an and Sunnah combined represent a binding constitution for Muslims, much like the constitution of countries. Just as governments adhere to the constitution when passing new laws, the constitution being the superior document, a similar process is at work here.

The basic tenets of this divine constitution cannot be violated by anyone, not even leaders or popular movements. This means that the powerful cannot manipulate the system to their own advantage. Certain rules and principles must be upheld and cannot be overruled, such as, basic human rights like equality.

The Ethics of Leadership

The Prophet and his close companions all maintained strong moral ethics while in positions of authority. `Umar, the second Caliph, has particularly left a legacy of leadership which modern leaders can learn much from.

Upon assuming the role of Caliph, he said: “In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Book (the Qur’an), and will follow the examples set by the Prophet and Abu Bakr (the first Caliph). In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.”

Addressing the needs and concerns of the people was no doubt paramount in his reign and under the rule of other close companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, `Umar was even keen on safeguarding the well-being of animals, he would say, “If a mule stumbled in Iraq, I would be afraid that Allah (God) would ask me, why did you not pave the road for it `Umar?”

As illustrated in “A History of Muslim Civilization” by Abiva and Durkee, `Umar “expected his leaders to live up to ethical standards.” The list below shows some of the criteria a leader should have according to `Umar:

1- No nepotism or hereditary succession.

2- The people should be able to reach the leader easily to voice any of their concerns or suggestions.

3- The ruler should seek counsel, accept criticism, and be willing to rectify his mistakes.

4- The army exists to protect the people of the nation, not protect the leader from the people.

The above examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and `Umar give us priceless models in governance. Not only was shura and consultation key in their rule, they also upheld high morals and ethics.

Every living entity was given importance, be it animal or human, which created an empowered society where the rights of its subjects were paramount and people were given the opportunity to thrive. These standards are especially relevant for our world today in our quest for democracy.

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Source: new-uslims.info

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New Muslims Pilgrimage

The Story of Hajj: How Did It Begin? (Part 1)

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, is the last among those acts of worship which Islam enjoins upon you.

Like the Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, it moulds your life and prepares you so that you may live in surrender to Allah.

The word Hajj means to make a resolve to visit a holy place: visiting the Ka`bah in Makkah is therefore called Hajj.

How did it begin?

The origin of Hajj is rooted in the Prophet Ibrahim’s life (peace be on him). That story is very instructive, and illustrative, too, of the true meaning and significance of Hajj. That story you must know to fully understand the benefits Hajj can bring to you.

Life and Mission of the Prophet Ibrahim

Which Muslim, Christian or Jew does not know the name of Ibrahim (peace be on him)! Two-thirds of mankind revere him as their leader. The Prophets Musa, `Isa and Muhammad (peace be on them) are all his descendants. It is the lamp of guidance lit by him that has for long illuminated the whole world.

Ibrahim was born in what is now Iraq, over four thousand years ago. At that time, the people had forgotten the One God. No one recognized Him as the Master, no one lived in surrender and obedience to Him.

The people among whom Ibrahim was born, while the most advanced in the world in art and science, industry and agriculture, were also the most steeped in ignorance and error.

One simple thing they, despite their technological advance, could not understand: anything which has itself been created cannot be worthy of worship.

Idolatry was the norm. Superstitions like astrology, idol-worship, divination, witchcraft and use of talismen and amulets were widespread.

A priest class controlled the temples, supervised worship rites and rituals, conducted marriage and funeral ceremonies, and claimed to be oracles, able to disclose the unknown, foretell the future, and determine Divine wishes.

And the people, in general, believed that they indeed had such powers, that they had access to their deities, that they could intercede with them on their behalf or invoke their wrath to fall upon them. For them, the priests were the lords of their fate.

The kings were in collusion with the priests, the two sides working together to keep the people under their servitude.

They gave full backing to the priests, and the priests made the people believe that the king of the day, as well as being the owner of his country and complete master of his subjects, was also a god among other gods. His word was the supreme law; his power over their lives and properties was absolute.

Indeed, worship rites were performed for and before the king so that the belief in his godhood came to be entrenched in the minds of his subjects.

In times like this, the Prophet Ibrahim was born into a family of privileged priests. His forefathers were high priests and it was quite natural that he should follow in their footsteps. He received the same education and training; the same gifts and offerings were awaiting him.

Many adherents were eagerly waiting for the moment when they could bow their heads before him with folded hands. The ancestral seat of priestly power could be his for the taking.

In this dismal darkness, where not a single soul existed who knew or believed in the Truth, it would not ordinarily have been possible for a man like Ibrahim to find its light, nor break away from the life of comfort and power mapped out for him by his family.

Commitment to the Truth

But the Prophet Ibrahim was no ordinary man; he was made of different stuff. On reaching maturity he began to reflect thus: How can the sun, moon or stars, which are rotating as if by order like slaves, and these stone idols, which are made by man himself; and these kings, who are human beings like ourselves, be gods?

What is there in these powerless objects, which cannot move of their own volition, which have no power to help themselves and have no control over their own lives and deaths, that man should worship them, seek fulfillment of his wants from them, fear their powers and submit in obedience to them?

Among all the objects on earth and in the heavens, there is not a single one which itself is not subject to some higher power and which does not fade away into oblivion at some time or other.

When none of them is my creator, when neither my life nor death is in the hands of any of them, when none of them possesses the key to my means of sustenance or the fulfillment of my needs, why should I accept them as lords, surrender to them, and obey them? Only that Being can be my Lord who created all things, on whom depends everything and in whose hands are the lives and deaths of all people.

These thoughts led the Prophet Ibrahim to the decision that he would never worship the deities which his people worshipped, and he openly declared before them:

O my people, I am quit of all those you take as gods beside God. I have turned my face unto Him who brought into being the heavens and the earth, having turned away from all false gods; and I am not of those who take gods beside God. (Al-An`am 6:79-80)

                                                                                                                                                    To be continued…

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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New Muslims Pilgrimage

What Are the Benefits of Hajj?

The following are some of the most important benefits of Hajj:

1- It deepens our awareness of the Oneness of Allah and helps us to be God-centered.

2- It teaches us the oneness of the human family under the Lordship of One God.

3- It helps us to develop a feeling of universal human brotherhood.

4- Finally, it enables us to renew our faith by making us aware of the transient nature of this life and our final standing before the Lord on the Day of Judgment.

Learn more from the video below by E-Da`wah Committee 

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Source: www.edc.org.kw

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New Muslims Pilgrimage

The Story of Hajj: Prophet Ibrahim & His Journey to Truth (Part 2)

By Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi 

No sooner had Ibrahim made this declaration than tribulations and calamities of the greatest magnitude descended on him.

His father threatened him with expulsion from the family home. His community warned him that no one among them would give him refuge. And the government officials insisted on his case being brought before the King. But Ibrahim, lonely and forsaken by his relatives and friends, stood firm as a rock in the cause of Truth. He told his father respectfully:

The knowledge I have has not been vouchsafed to you. As such, instead of my following you, you should follow me. (Maryam 19: 41-5)

In answer to the threats of his community he broke their idols with his own hands to prove how powerless they were:

And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols – after ye go away and turn your backs. So he broke them to pieces, (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it… (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 57-58)

In the court of the King, he boldly declared: “You are not my Lord. My Lord is He in whose hands are your life and death as well as mine, and within the bounds of whose law even the movements of the sun are circumscribed.” (Al-Baqarah 2:258)

The royal court decided that Ibrahim should be burnt alive and he willingly came forward to suffer this horrible punishment for the sake of his unshakeable faith in the One God. After Allah with His supreme power saved him from this fate, he abandoned his home, his relations, his community and his country. He set out with his wife, Sarah, and a nephew, Lut, to wander from one land to another.

To this man the undisputed religious leadership of his people had been available. Yet he gave up wealth and power and preferred the life of a homeless and destitute wanderer rather than have to mislead people into the continuing worship of false gods.

He chose to live for the purpose of summoning people to their true God, even though he would be driven from place to place.

Migration

After leaving his home, the Prophet Ibrahim wandered in Egypt, Palestine and Arabia. God, alone, knows what sufferings he went through on his journeyings. He had no money or possessions nor did he have time to earn his livelihood. His sole vocation, day and night, was to bring people to the worship of the One God.

If a man of such ideas could not be tolerated by his own father and his own community, how was he going to be any more successful elsewhere? Where would he be welcomed? Everywhere the same temple priests and kings claiming godhood held sway; everywhere the same confused and ignorant common men lived, who were completely hoodwinked by them.

How could, then, Ibrahim live peacefully in such an environment? For, not only was he himself not ready to accept the godhood of anybody except God, but he was also committed to proclaiming to the people that none except Allah was their Master and Lord and that, therefore, they should ignore the authority of their leaders and demi-gods and submit only to that One Being.

Thus condemned to a nomadic existence, wandering through Palestine, Egypt and the vast deserts of Arabia, he passed his whole adult life.

Raising a New Generation

During the last period of his life, when he was eighty-six and had despaired of offspring, Allah gave· him a child, Isma`il. But even then, this loyal servant of Allah did not think that, having himself wrecked his own home life, he should at least prepare his children to earn their living. No.

His only concern was that the mission on which he had spent his whole life should be carried on after his death. It was for this purpose that he had prayed to Allah to grant him children:

Our Lord! And make us submissive unto You and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! You, only You, are the Relenting, the Merciful. (Al-Baqarah 2:128)

And when Allah granted his request, his only thought was to educate and train them to continue his mission.

The life of this perfect man was the life of a true and genuine Muslim. In early adulthood, when he had found God, God asked him: ‘aslim‘, that is, enter Islam, surrender yourself totally to Me, be solely Mine. In reply, he gave the pledge:

‘aslamtuli-rabbi al-almin’, that is, I have entered Islam, I belong to the Lord of the worlds, I have entrusted myself wholly to Him, I am ever-ready to obey:

And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: shall we believe as the foolish believe? are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. (Al-Baqarah 2:13)

To this pledge Ibrahim remained true throughout his life.

He gave up, for the sake of the Lord of the worlds, his ancestral religion together with its beliefs and rituals and renounced all the material benefits he could have derived from it. He braved the danger of fire, suffered homelessness, wandered from country to country, but spent every moment of his life in obedience to the Lord and in propagating His Deen.

The Greatest of Trials

But even after all these tribulations, there was still one trial left to determine whether Ibrahim’s love for his Lord was supreme above all else. Before the birth of his second son, he was asked to sacrifice what was then his only child to God. (Surat As-Saffat 37: 99-111)

When Allah had shown that Ibrahim was prepared to slaughter his son for His sake with his own hands, He said: ‘You have fully vindicated your claim to be a totally true Muslim. Now you deserve to be made the leader of the whole world.’ This act of investiture has been described in the Qur’an thus:

And when his Lord tested Ibrahim with (His) commands, and he fulfilled them all, He said, Behold, I make you a leader of mankind. Said he (Ibrahim) And of my offspring (will they too be leaders)? He said: My covenant shall not reach the evil-doers. (Al-Baqarah 2:124)    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To be continued…

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s Let Us Be Muslims.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Does Islam Command Attacking Churches?

Can attacking the places of worship, i.e. churches, be justified in any religious teachings including Islamic? What does Islam say and teach about that? How can a religion be judged correctly?

It is safe to say that a given religion can be judged correctly only by two things: its own teachings and the practice of the mainstream doctrine of this religion. A religion cannot be judged by the centrifugal practices or beliefs of some followers, be they liberal or extremist, hither or thither.

churches

Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship.

Attacking the places of worship is a criminal act which is done by individual followers of all religions all over the world. It is unfair to claim that it is Muslims only who attack the places of worship.

In fact, Islam prohibits any assault against the places of worship. The alleged attacks on the places of worship if really carried out by Muslims go against the well-established Islamic teachings. Such acts serve as odd precedents in the Islamic history. Suffice it to say they break with tradition.

Churches in Islamic History

The Messenger of Allah once wrote to the bishop of Banu Al-Harith Ibn Ka’b and the bishops and priests of Najran, their followers and their monks that everything, small or great, pertaining to their churches, chapels and monasteries would remain in their possession, that Allah and His Messenger would guarantee that no bishop would be removed from his see, nor any monk from his monastery, nor any priest from his office and none of their rights or powers would be changed as long as they were sincere and good, and no cruelty would be shown to them. This was scribed by Al-Mughirah.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Second Muslim Caliph, concluded a treaty with the people of Jerusalem which read:

This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has granted to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy of the city, and for all the rituals that belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited [by Muslims] and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their crosses, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.

The people of Jerusalem must pay the poll tax like the people of (other) cities, and they must expel the Byzantines and the robbers. All this from the book they shall have as a pact of Allah, and as protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers if they pay the jizyah. Witnesses of this are: Khalid bin Al-Waleed, `Amr ibn Al-`As, `Abd Al-Rahman ibn `Awf and Mu`awiya ibn Abi Sufyan. It was written with all present in the 15th year after Hegira.

Khalid bin Al-Waleed, the renowned Muslim commander, concluded a similar treaty with the people of Damascus which read:

This is what Khalid bin Al-Waleed shall grant to the people of Damascus: He shall grant them protection [and safety] for their lives, property [and possessions], their churches, and the walls of their cities. Nothing of their quarters will be destroyed nor shall anyone live in them. This they shall have as a pact of Allah, protection from his Messenger, from the Caliphs as well as from the Believers and nothing but good will remain for them if they pay the jizyah.

Habib bin Maslamah, a Companion of Prophet Muhammad and accomplished Muslim military commander, entered into a similar pact with the people of Dabil which read:

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful! This is a document from Habib bin Maslamah to the Christians, Magians and Jews of Dabil, present and absent. I assure you safety of your lives, properties, churches, places of worship and walls of your city. You are guaranteed protection and we are bound to fulfill our pact as long as you adhere to the jizyah and pay the kharaj. Allah is witness and He alone suffices as a witness.

In the Qur’an, we read verses telling us that Allah allowed the believers to fight against the unbelievers to prevent the demolition of the places of worship in general. Allah says:

Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.

Permission (to fight) has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.

(They are) those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.

(And they are) those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of (all) matters. (Al-Hajj 22:38-41)

However, somebody may wonder how the empowerment of Muslims will prevent the demolition of the places of worship.

The answer is that Islam binds Muslims to not only refrain from attacking the places of worship but also to protect them against attacks by any other people. It is safe to say that Islam is keen on the other faiths, even if they are contradictory to its principles.

Islam is nothing but a faith and a body of beliefs. The cause of faith serves as a common ground for their coexistence with the other, whose faith or beliefs might be right or wrong from Muslims’ point of view.

So long as some faith or belief is cherished, there is a way for communication. Islam looks for those who are willing to believe in religions simply because they are supposed to seek the truth. We, Muslims, think that we have that truth. Consequently, dialogue with those people will bring Muslims either new converts or allies and friends from the other religions. Therefore, it may be hard liaise with those who are unwilling to believe in any religion for they are unlikely to accept religion and religious people.

Furthermore, Muslims are deeply concerned about security, peace, justice and freedom on earth. Such security, peace, justice and freedom are more likely to be maintained by religion for religion usually preaches such values. Without religion, such values are at peril.

Therefore, Islam pleads the cause of religion and defends all religions as well as their places of worship. Muslims wish that even if Islam is not professed, one religion is still followed. This is better for Muslims themselves.

Islam & Non-Muslims

Just as Muslims guarantee security, peace, justice and freedom for non-Muslims, they expect that they are given equal treatment by non-Muslims.

Though Muslims see the followers of the other divine religions as unbelievers, Muslims still side with them against the atheists and the followers of the non-divine religions. Even though Muslims hope that the whole world converts to Islam, they prefer that if Islam is not embraced, the other divine religions are followed instead given the commonalities shared by those religions.

Muslims have shown sympathy for the followers of the other divine religions throughout history though such a feeling is not reciprocated by those followers, either Jews or Christians. Such sympathy is recorded in the Qur’an more than once.

For example, during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, the Magian Persian Empire defeated the Christian Roman Empire in one of the wars which would break out between them every now and then. At the time, Muslims sympathized with the Roman Empire. Qur’anic verses were revealed, prophesying a prospective victory by the Roman Empire over the Persian Empire.

We read the following verses in the Qur’an:

The Byzantines have been defeated in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome. Within a few years. To Allah belongs the command before and after. And that day the believers will rejoice in the victory of Allah. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. (It is) the promise of Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (Ar-Rum 30:1-7)

In a word, Islam commands Muslims to give kind treatment and act justly towards non-Muslims so long as they do not wrong Muslims.

Allah says:

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah by Ibn Ishaq

 

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Source: islamforchristians.com

 

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Ibn Rushd: The Muslim Averroes

By: A. Sahin

Ibn Rushd - Averroes

Besides his public duties, Ibn Rushd had to organize his time very fully between working as a judge, teaching, and in academic discussion.

Ibn Rushd was one of the greatest intellectual geniuses in human history. He was acquainted with all the sciences of his time and an authority in several of them; philosophy, jurisprudence, astronomy, and medicine.

He became known in Europe under the name of Averroes, in particular for his brilliant commentaries on Aristotle which shaped European thinking throughout the later Medieval and early Renaissance periods.

His Birth

He was born in Cordova in 520 AH (1126) and named after his grandfather Abu Al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, who died in the same year. His grandfather was the Chief Judge in Cordova and the foremost authority in Maliki jurisprudence. To distinguish him from his illustrious ancestor, Ibn Rushd was later known as Ibn Rushd Al-Hafid (the grandson).

Cordova, where Ibn Rushd grew up, was a thriving centre of all the diverse arts of civilization and culture attracting many great scholars from around the then known world to its wonderful libraries. Ibn Rushd studied and memorized the Qur’an and the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik. He was an excellent student of jurisprudence and quickly qualified to give legal opinions and sit as judge.

Following his work in the sciences of law, language and Hadith, he went on to study mathematics, astronomy and astrology and then medicine. He was a friend to the most prominent thinkers and writers of his age: Ibn Al-Tufayl (d. 1186/6@@@), author of the famous allegory Hayy ibn Yaqzan (said to have influenced Robinson Crusoe ); the philosopher, Ibn Bajja (Avempace in the West, d. 1139); the great jurist and judge Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1148); the famous physician Abu Marwan ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar in the West, d. 1161) and his son Abu Bakr (d. 1198).

Ibn Rushd, the Judge

Ibn Rushd served as a judge in Ishbiliya (Seville) in 1171 and then in Cordova two years later. His reputation for wide knowledge, correctness and fairness in giving verdicts, led to his appointment as Chief Judge. His book Bidayat Al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat Al-Muqtasid (The reference for the searcher and the resort for the fair) remains an important reference for students of jurisprudence and is still taught in universities to this day.

Although he was a Maliki he used the ideas of other schools of thought. Because he had so many activities and interests besides his public duties, Ibn Rushd had to organize his time very fully: he spent his days working as a judge, teaching, and in academic discussion with other scholars; he reserved his nights for reading and writing.

His friend Ibn al-Tufayl wrote to invite him to visit Marrakech, the capital of the Muwahhidun (Almohades) who had established a powerful and stable state in North Africa after they took over from the Murabitun (Almoravides), and were famous for their patronage of scientists, physicians, theologians and philosophers. Ibn Rushd’s intelligence, learning and ideas so impressed the ruler, Abu Yusuf ‘Abd al-Mu’min, that he was appointed to reform the educational system. This he did successfully before returning to Cordova.

When Abu Ya`qub ibn `Abd Al-Mu’min came to power, he appointed Ibn Rushd as his personal physician after Ibn Tufayl. Ibn Rushd held this post for a year (1183) when he was appointed as Chief judge.

His success provoked court envy and he was falsely accused of heresy, in particular that he adhered too closely to the doctrines of Aristotle. He was indeed a supporter of Aristotle’s doctrines after these were properly reformed and adapted to Islam. Ibn Rushd fell out of favor at the court and was ill-treated.

His books on philosophy were burnt, though his works on medicine and theology were not censored. When Abu Ya`qub discovered he had been misinformed, he tried to invite Ibn Rushd back to apologize to him, but he was too late. Ibn Rushd died on 9th Safar 595 AH (December 1198).

His Writings

Ibn Rushd was broadly cultured indeed and wrote on many different subjects. Here we can mention only the most famous of his great works. In jurisprudence, as noted above, he wrote Bidayat al-mujtahid wa nihayat al-muqtasid (The reference for the searcher and the resort for the fair). In philosophy, he wrote Tahafut al-tahafut (refutation of the refutation), his response to Imam al-Ghazali’s famous Tahafut al-falsafa (refutation of philosophy).

Ibn Rushd combined both philosophy and religion in mainly two books: Fasl al-maqal wa taqrib ma bayna l-shari`aH wa l-hikma min al-ittisal (an authoritative treatise on the convergence between the religious law and philosophy), and Kitab al-kashf ‘an manahij al-adilla fi ‘aqa’id al-milla wa ta‘rif ma waqa‘a fiha bi hasb al-ta‘wil min al-subah al-muzayyifah wa 1-bida‘ al-mudillah (an exposition of the methodology of demonstrating the creeds and description of the confusions and innovations in interpretation which confound truth and lead to error).

In medicine, Ibn Rushd wrote the Kitab al-kulliyyat fi al-tibb (a general reference on medicine) which was translated into Latin and Hebrew and European vernaculars. It was a major reference in medicine though it never reached the standard of Al-Qanun fi Al-Tibb of Ibn Sina (Avicenna, d. 1037) which was used everywhere as simply The Canon of Medicine.

Ibn Rushd had prepared this book especially for practising physicians and students of medicine. He apologized for the work’s brevity, a limitation he attributed to his preoccupation with commitments to judging, political affairs and philosophy. He advised those who sought greater detail to consult Al-Taysir (The simplification) of Abu Marwan `Abd Al-Malik ibn Zuhr. Al-Kulliyyat is organized under seven broad headings or chapters:

1- Anatomy

2- The function of the organs

3- Diseases (pathology)

4- Syndromes: a brief clinical review

5- Health care, especially sports, massage and sleep

6- Medication and diet

7- Healing (particularly of different types of fevers).

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Source: Fountain Magazine

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