Thursday, August 23, 2007

UNGS 2050 : Just for reading & Relax

What Honey, You're Pregnant!

By Yasser Aboudouma

Usually, the story begins when the wife suspects that she is pregnant. She runs to the nearest lab for a pregnancy test, and once she is confirmed pregnant, all her life is changed and her husband's life is pushed to the edge, or more pointedly, to the verge of collapse.
"I have to see a good doctor," the wife says.
"But, your doctor is good and she has a good reputation," replies the husband.
With the start of a period of pregnancy, there are a lot of requests, orders, and special considerations, and the poor husband has to listen and obey, because her majesty is going through her first pregnancy!
* * *
First Month

Wife: I want to see a male doctor like all my girlfriends. My doctor is old and boring.

Husband: Honey, you are veiled, and there is no necessity to visit a male doctor; and whether your doctor is old or young, what matters is her experience and qualifications. If you don't feel comfortable with your doctor, we can look for another female doctor.
Wife: NO! I know that females are not that experienced in medicine.
Husband: (mumbling) In everything, not only medicine!
The arguments continue till the husband succeeds in convincing his wife that another female doctor would be good, especially that she is a little younger than the previous doctor. But, the wife is still unhappy as the new doctor does not have the latest high technology of ultrasonography.
Wife: See! This doctor also failed to show me the baby.
Husband: Honey, you are still in your first month, there is no baby to see.
Wife: My friend's doctor showed her the baby in her first month, and the baby was moving, plus she could hear his heartbeat.
Husband: Oh yeah! And the baby was walking too, right! In the first month, the baby looks like a dot.
As usual, that argument ends with going to one of the private hospitals where there are the latest medical equipment. At the hospital, the doctor explains to the wife that there is no way any instrument can show a baby, its movement, or its heartbeat, as the baby is not big enough. Finally, they quietly return back home and the wife realizes that she has to wait.

* * *

Second Month
The second month of pregnancy means nausea and cravings for certain foods. Hormones start to increase rapidly, which affects the pregnant woman's behavior with her husband and her colleagues at work. Be careful if you have pregnant women at your company and/or office.
Wife: Honey, I have a craving for watermelon with no seeds.
Husband: I have never heard of that! Watermelon with no seeds!
Wife: That's not my concern. I crave for it and I want it. Do you want our baby to be born with a birthmark?
Wife: I think my tummy is a little bigger than normal. I believe I have twins!
Husband: No, your tummy is still the same, and the doctor told us that you have a single baby, not twins.
Wife: So! Maybe the doctor could not see him.
Day after day, this kind of dialogue goes on and on, especially when the wife goes to work. Expect your pregnant wife to return from work in a bad mood, nervous, and quite, quite mad because …
Wife: (nervously) I have to quit work. I will give them my resignation tomorrow.
I can't handle work and all the people there. It's OVER!
Husband: What happened?
Wife: Imagine. At the weekly meeting, my manager suggested something that should be done. I told him that I don't think it's beneficial to work. He kept arguing with me, and he wasn't convinced by what I said.
Husband: That's normal. He is your boss, and he has a right to argue with you about work.
Wife: Men, men, men! You are one of them, and all men are the same - sure you'll defend him. No, he has no right to do so and no right to argue with me; he meant to irritate me. All of the men in the meeting, and the world, have to take a one-way trip to Iraq, and I'm ready to pay for the tickets!
Wife: Also, that girl in the meeting, instead of supporting me and taking my side, she supported him and made more suggestions that I have to implement.
Husband: Honey, it's normal; that girl is your close friend and she has always been kind to you.
Wife: NO! It's not normal. They have to know that I'm pregnant and my increasing hormones affect my mood, so they shouldn't argue with me at all!
Husband: Sweetheart, let's forget all about work - what do we have for dinner today?
Wife: (In a very shy, soft, and passive voice) Honey, do you want something to eat today? I was nervous today and needed to rest because I was worried about the baby. But there's a tin of tuna in the kitchen.
Husband: What! You will not join me for dinner?
Wife: No. When I had finished the meeting, I returned to my office and ordered some food to help me relax.
Days will pass, and life will crawl along slowly until "this woman" reaches her third month of pregnancy.

* * *
Third Month
In this month, the pregnant wife is assured that she has a single baby. Hormones increase rapidly, which affect the routine of her life and make her feel lazy and sleepy most of the time. She will be curious to see the baby each and every day, and she will want to trace its growth accordingly.
Wife: Yesterday, the doctor didn't show me the baby well. The baby's hand didn't show up clearly.
Husband: Don't worry. The doctor and I saw the baby, and it looked really great.
Wife: I'm not asking for what you and the doctor did or didn't see! I have to re-visit the doctor next week, and I'll ask her to show me the baby.
Husband: She arranged the next appointment for next month, not next week.
Wife: No problem. She won't remember, and my friend told me that her doctor had ultrasound and showed her the baby on a weekly basis.
Husband: Honey, your friend is in her sixth month, while you are in your third.
Wife: Arrrrrgh! Stop arguing with me. You are just like my colleagues at work; useless!
Or the dialogue may go back to the size of the wife's "tummy"!
Wife: Honey, I think my tummy is starting to get bigger.
Husband: No dear, I think it is still the normal size.
Wife: You see, my pregnant friends told me so. They also told me that in the third month my tummy starts to get bigger. Plus, I'll feel the baby's movement and I'll hear his heartbeats too.
Arguments, arguments, arguments; your life will be all about arguments with your sweet, pregnant wife! You have to be patient and quiet, and you must support her, even if she surprises you by trying to manipulate everything for her own benefit.
Wife: Honey, I want to eat something.
Husband: What's that, sweetheart? We can have it delivered here.
Wife: I wish to eat at that restaurant we went to on the day we got married.
Husband: Yeah, but it's far away from here and previously you complained that you get tired from being in the car, especially for long distances.
Wife: No, no. If we go to that restaurant, I won't feel tired.
Husband: OK honey, we'll go this weekend.
Wife: No, I want to go today, NOW - otherwise, the baby will be born with a birthmark! as I crave eating in that restaurant.
Husband: Sweetheart, I understand that pregnant women crave for certain kinds of food, not certain kinds of restaurant!
Wife: Have you ever been pregnant? How would you know about cravings? This is my desire.
Of course, these arguments end in one direction only, the pregnant wife's direction; and the husband has to admit that he will lose his case to his wife, who represents the half of society, whom we call weak!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

UNGS 2030: Required Reading - Tawheed & Seeking ALLAH'S Pleasure

How can a person know if his Lord is pleased with him?

Is there anything that will tell a person that his Lord is pleased with him?.

Praise be to Allaah.
Among the signs that the Lord is pleased with His slave is that He guides him to do good deeds and avoid haraam things. This is confirmed by the words of Allaah:
“While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance and bestows on them their piety”
[Muhammad 47:17]
“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our paths (i.e. Allaah’s religion — Islamic Monotheism)”
[al-‘Ankaboot 29:69]
But if a person is hindered from doing good deeds and avoiding haraam things – we seek refuge with Allaah – then that is a sign that Allaah is not pleased with him.
Allaah has also explained in His Book that the sign of His being pleased with His slave and of His guidance is that He opens his heart to true guidance and true faith. And the sign of misguidance and being far from the Straight Path is distress and constriction in the heart. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whomsoever Allaah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam; and whomsoever He wills to send astray, He makes his breast closed and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky. Thus Allaah puts the wrath on those who believe not”
[al-An’aam 6:125]
Ibn 'Abbaas said, commenting on this verse: “And whomsoever Allaah wills to guide…”: He opens his heart to Tawheed and belief therein.
Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/175
Another sign of Allaah’s love for His slave and His being pleased with him is that He makes him beloved to His slaves. Al-Bukhaari (3209) and Muslim (2637) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah loves a person, He calls out to Jibreel: ‘Allaah loves So and so,’ so Jibreel loves him. Then Jibreel calls out to the people of heaven, ‘Allaah loves So and so, so love him.’ So the people of heaven love him and he finds acceptance on earth.”
Al-Nawawi said: “and he finds acceptance on earth” means that people love him and are pleased to see him, so their hearts incline towards him. It says in another report: “and he finds love on earth.”
And Allaah knows best.

UNGS 2030 : Required reading - Tawheed


Literally Tawheed means "unification" (making something one) or "asserting oneness", and it comes from the Arabic verb (wahhada) which itself means to unite, unify or consolidate.1 However, when the term Tawheed is used in reference to Allaah (i.e. Tawheedullaah2), it means the realizing and maintaining of Allaah's unity in all of man's actions which directly or indirectly relate to Him. It is the belief that Allaah is One, without partner in His dominion and His actions (Ruboobeeyah), One without similitude in His essence and attributes (Asmaa wa Sifaat), and One without rival in His divinity and in worship (Ulooheeyah/'Ebaadah). These three aspects form the basis for the categories into which the science of Tawheed has been traditionally divided. The three overlap and are inseparable to such a degree that whoever omits any one aspect has failed to complete the requirements of Tawheed. The omission of any of the above mentioned aspects of Tawheed is referred to as "Shirk" (lit. sharing); the association of partners with Allaah, which, in Islamic terms, is in fact idolatry.
The three categories of Tawheed are commonly referred to by the following titles:
1. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah (lit. "Maintaining the Unity of Lordship")
2. Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (lit. "Maintaining the Unity of Allaah's Names and Attributes")
3. Tawheed al-'Ebaadah (lit. "Maintaining the Unity of Allaah's Worship")3
The division of Tawheed into its components was not done by the Prophet (saws) nor by his companions, as there was no necessity to analyze such a basic principle of faith in this fashion. However, the foundations of the components are all implied in the verses of the Qur'aan and in the explanatory statements of the Prophet (saws) and his companions, as will became evident to the reader when each category is dealt with in more detail later in this chapter.
The necessity for this analytical approach to the principle of Tawheed arose after Islaam spread into Egypt, Byzantium, Persia and India and absorbed the cultures of these regions. It is only natural to expect that when the peoples of these lands entered the fold of Islaam, they would carry with them some of the remnants of their former beliefs. When some of these new converts began to express in writings and discussions, their various philosophical concepts of God, confusion arose in which the pure and simple unitarian belief of Islaam became threatened. There were also others who had outwardly accepted Islaam but secretly worked to destroy the religion from within, due to their inability to oppose it militarily. This group began to actively propagate distorted ideas about Allaah among the masses in order to tear down the first pillar of Eemaan (faith) and with it Islaam itself.
According to Muslim historians, the first Muslim to express the position of man's free-will and the absence of destiny (Qadar) was an Iraqi convert from Christianity by the name of Sausan. Sausan later reverted to Christianity but not before infecting his student, Ma'bad ibn Khaalid al-Juhanee from Basrah. Ma'bad spread the teachings of his master until he was caught and executed by the Umayyad Caliph, 'Abdul-Malik ibn Marwaan (685-705), in the year 700 CE.4 The younger Sahaabah (companions of the Prophet (saws)) who were alive during this period, like 'Abdullaah ibn 'Umar (d. 694 CE) and 'Abdullaah in Abee Awfaa (d. 705CE), advised the people not to greet those who denied destiny nor make funeral prayers for those of them who died. That is, they considered them to be disbelievers.5 However, Christian philosophical arguments for free-will continued to find new supporters. Ghailaan ibn Muslim from Damascus studied under Ma'bad and championed the cause of free-will until he was brought before Caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-'Azeez (717-720CE). He recanted his beliefs publicly, however, [and] on the caliph's death, he resumed teaching free-will. The following caliph, Hishaam ibn 'Abdul-Malik (724-743CE), had him arrested, tried and executed.6 Another prominent figure in this controversy was al-Ja'd ibn Dirham, who not only supported the philosophy of free-will, but also attempted to re-interpret the Qur'anic verses containing descriptions of Allaah's qualities according to neo-platonic philosophy. Al-Ja'd was at one point a tutor for the Umayyad prince, Marwaan ibn Muhammad, who later became the fourteenth caliph (744-750CE). During his lectures in Damascus, he openly denied some of Allaah's attributes, like seeing, hearing etc., until the Umayyad governor expelled him.7 He then fled to Kufah, where he continued to propound his ideas and gather followers until his heretical opinions became widely publicized and the Umayyad governor, Khaalid ibn Abdillaah, had him publicly executed in 736 CE. However, his main disciple, Jahm ibn Safwaan, continued to defend his master's doctrines in philosophical circles in Tirmiz and Balakh, when his heresies became widespread, he was executed by the Umayyad governor, Nasr ibn Sayyaar, in 743CE.8
The early caliphs and their governors were closer to Islamic principles and the consciousness of the masses was higher due to the presence of the Prophet's companions and their students. Hence, the demand for the elimination of open heretics received immediate response from the rulers. In contrast, the later Umayyad caliphs were more corrupt and as such cared little about such religious issues. The masses were also less Islamically conscious and thus were more susceptible to deviant ideas. As greater numbers of people entered Islaam, and the learning of an increasing number of conquered nations was absorbed, the execution of apostates was no longer used to stem the rising tide of heresy. The task of opposing the tide of heresy fell on the shoulders of the Muslim scholars of this period who rose to meet the challenge intellectually. They systematically opposed the various alien philosophies and creeds by categorizing them and countering them with principles deduced from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. It was out of this defense that the science of Tawheed emerged with its precisely defined categories and components. This process of specialization occurred simultaneously in all of the other areas of Islamic knowledge as it has done in the various secular sciences of today. Therefore, as the categories of Tawheed are studied separately and in more depth, it must not be forgotten that they are all a part of an organic whole which is itself the foundation of a greater whole, Islaam itself.

Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah (Maintaining the Unity of Lordship)
This category is based on the fundamental concept that Allaah alone caused all things to exist when there was nothing; He sustains and maintains creation without any need from it or for it; and He is the sole Lord of the universe and its inhabitants without any real challenge to His sovereignty. In Arabic the word used to describe this creator-sustainer quality is Ruboobeeyah which is derived from the root "Rabb" (Lord). According to this category, since God is the only real power in existence, it is He who gave all things the power to move and to change. Nothing happens in creation except what He allows to happen. In recognition of this reality, Prophet Muhammad (saws) used to often repeat the exclamatory phrase "La hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaah" (There is no movement nor power except by Allaah's will).
The basis for the Ruboobeeyah concept can be found in many Qur'anic verses. For example, Allaah says:
"Allaah created all things and He Is the agent on which all things depend."9
"And Allaah created you all and whatever you do."10
"It was not you who threw, when you threw, but it was Allaah who threw."11
"And no calamity strikes except by Allaah's permission."12
The Prophet (saws) further elaborated on this concept saying, "Be aware that if the whole of mankind gathered together in order to do something to help you, they would only be able to do something for you which Allaah had already written for you. Likewise, if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm you, they would only be able to do something to harm you which Allaah had already written to happen to you"13
Thus, what man conceives as good fortune and misfortune are merely events predestined by Allaah as part of the tests of this life. The incidents follow patterns set only by Allaah. Allaah has said in the Qur'aan,
"O Believers! Surely there Is In your wives and children an enemy for you, so beware of them."14
That is, within the good things of this life there are severe tests of one's faith in God. Likewise, in the terrible events of life there lies test as is mentioned in the verse,
"Surely We will test you with fear, hunger, loss of wealth and life and the fruits of your work, so give glad tidings to those who are patient."15
Sometimes the patterns are recognizable, as in the case of cause and effect relationships, and sometimes they are not, as in the case when apparently good results come from evil means or bad results from good means. God has explained that the wisdom behind these apparent irregularities is often beyond man's immediate comprehension due to his limited scope of knowledge.
"Perhaps you may dislike something which is really good for you or like something bad for you, but Allaah knows (what is best for you), and you do not."16
Apparently evil events in human lives sometimes turn out to be for the best and apparently good things which people desire turn out to be harmful. Consequently, man's realm of influence in the course of events which make up his life is limited to the mental choice between options presented to him and not the actual results of his choice. In other words "man proposes and God disposes". Apparent "good fortune" and "misfortune" are both from Allaah and can not be caused by good-luck charms such as rabbit's feet, four-leaf clovers, wishbones, lucky numbers, zodiacal signs, etc., or by omens of bad luck like Friday the thirteenth, breaking mirrors, black cats, etc. In fact, the belief in charms and omens is a manifestation of the grave sin of Shirk (association) in this form of Tawheed. 'Uqbah, one of the companions of the Prophet (saws), reported that once a group of men approached Allaah's messenger to give their allegiance to him, and he accepted the oath from nine of them but refused to accept it from one. When they asked him why he refused their companion's oath, he replied, "Verily, he is wearing an amulet"17 The man who was wearing the amulet put his hand in his cloak, pulled the amulet off and broke it then made the oath. The Prophet (saws) then said, "Whoever wears an amulet has committed Shirk."18
As for using the Qur'aan like a charm or amulet by wearing or carrying Qur'anic verses on chains or in pouches to ward off evil or to bring good fortune, there is little difference between such practices and those of the pagans. Neither the Prophet (saws) nor his Companions used the Qur'aan in this fashion, and the Prophet (saws) said, "Whoever innovates in Islaam something which does not belong to it will have it rejected."19 It is true that the Qur'anic chapters, an-Naas and al-Falaq, were revealed specifically for exorcism (that is, for removing evil spells), but the Prophet (saws) demonstrated the proper method by which they should be used. On an occasion when a spell had been cast on him, he told 'Alee ibn Abee Taalib to recite the two chapters verse by verse and when he became ill he used to recite them on himself.20 He did not write them down and hang them around his neck, tie them on his arm or around his waist, nor did he tell others to do so.
Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (Maintaining the Unity of Allaah's Names and Attributes).
This category of Tawheed has five main aspects:
1. For the unity of Allaah's names and attributes to be maintained in the first aspect, Allaah must be referred to according to how He and His Prophet (saws) have described Him without explaining away His names and attributes by giving them meanings other than their obvious meanings. For example, Allaah in the Qur'aan says He gets angry with the disbelievers and the hypocrites. He says:
"That He may punish the hypocrites, men and women, and the pagans men and women, who have an evil opinion of Allaah. A circle of evil is around them; Allaah is angry with them, curses them and has prepared for them an evil end."21
Thus, anger is one of God's attributes. It is incorrect to say that His anger must mean His punishment since anger is a sign of weakness in man and, as such, not befitting of Allaah. What Allaah has stated should be accepted with the qualification that His anger is not like human anger, based on Allaah's statement, "There is nothing like him".22 The process of so-called "rational" interpretation when taken to its logical conclusion results in the denial of God's very existence. For, Allaah describes Himself as living and man lives, therefore, according to the rationalist argument, God is neither living nor existing. The fact is that the similarity between God's attributes and those of mankind is only in name and not in degree. When attributes are used in reference to God, they are to be taken in the absolute sense, free from human deficiencies.
2. The second aspect of Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat involves referring to Allaah as He has referred to Himself without giving Him any new names or attributes. For example, Allaah may not be given the name al-Ghaadib (the Angry one), in spite of the fact that He has said that He gets angry, because neither Allaah nor His messenger has used this name. This may seem to be a very fine point, but it must be maintained in order to prevent the false description of God. That is, finite man is in no position to define the infinite Lord of creation.
3. In the third aspect of Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat Allaah is referred to without giving Him the attributes of His creation. For example, it is claimed in the Bible and Torah that Allaah spent the first six days creating the universe then slept on the seventh.23 For this reason, Jews and Christians take either Saturday or Sunday as a day of rest in which work is looked at as a sin. Such a claim assigns to God the attributes of His creation. It is man who tires after heavy work and needs sleep to recuperate.24 Elsewhere in the Bible and Torah, God is portrayed as repenting for His bad thoughts in the same way that humans do when they realize their errors.25 Similarly the claim that God is a spirit or has a spirit completely ruins this area of Tawheed. Allaah does not refer to Himself as a spirit anywhere in the Qur'aan nor does His Prophet (saws) express anything of that nature in Hadeeth. In fact, Allaah refers to the spirit as part of His creation.26
The key principle which should be followed when dealing with Allaah's attributes is the Qur'anic formula,
"There is nothing like Him and He is hearer and seer of all."27
The attributes of hearing and seeing are among human attributes, but when they are attributed to The Divine Being they are without comparison in their perfection. However, when these attributes are associated with men they necessitate ear and eye apparatuses which can not be attributed to God. What man knows about the Creator is only what little He has revealed to him through His prophets. Therefore, man is obliged to stay within these narrow limits. When man gives free rein to his intellect in describing God, he is liable to fall into errors by assigning to Allaah the attributes of His creation.
In their love of pictorial representations, Christians have painted, carved and molded innumerable human likenesses and called them images of God. These have served to pave the way for the acceptance of Jesus' divinity among the masses. Once they accepted the conception of the Creator as being like a human being, accepting Jesus as God presented no real problem.
4. The fourth aspect of Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat requires that man not be given the attributes of Allaah. For example, in the New Testament Paul takes the figure of Melchizedek, king of Salem, from the Torah (Genesis 14:18-20) and gives both him and Jesus the divine attribute of having no beginning or end,
"1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the son of God he continues a priest forever."28
"5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, 'Thou art my son, today I have begotten thee'; 6 as he says also in another place, 'Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek'.29
Most Shi'ite sects (with the exception of the Zaidites of Yemen) have given their "Imaams" divine attributes of absolute infallibility,30 knowledge of the past, the future and the unseen, the ability to change destiny31 and control over the atoms of creation.32 In so doing they set up rivals who share God's unique attributes and who, in fact, become gods besides Allaah.
5. Maintaining the unity of Allaah's names also means that Allaah's names in the definite form cannot be given to His creation unless preceded by the prefix 'Abd meaning "slave of" or "servant of'. Many of the Divine names in their indefinite form like Ra'oof and Raheem are allowable names for men because Allaah has used some of them in their indefinite forms to refer to the Prophet (saws):
"A messenger has come to you from among yourselves to whom anything which burdens you is grievous. He is full of concern for you and is full of pity (Ra'oof) and full of mercy (Raheem)".33
But ar-Ra'oof (the One Most Full of Pity) and ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful) can only be used to refer to men if they are preceded by 'Abd as in 'Abdur-Ra'oof or 'Abdur-Raheem, since in the definite form they represent a level of perfection which only belongs to God. Similarly, names like 'Abdur-Rasool (slave of the messenger), 'Abdun-Nabee (slave of the Prophet), 'Abdul-Husayn (slave of Husayn), etc.,where people name themselves slaves to other than Allaah are also forbidden. Based on this principle, the Prophet (saws) forbade Muslims from referring to those put under their charge as 'Abdee (my slave) or Amatee (my slave girl).34

Tawheed al-'Ebaadah (Maintaining The Unity of Worship)
In spite of the wide implications of the first two categories of Tawheed, firm belief in them alone is not sufficient to fulfill the Islamic requirements of Tawheed. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah and Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat must be accompanied by their complement, Tawheed al-'Ebaadah, in order for Tawheed to be considered complete according to Islaam. This point is substantiated by the fact that Allaah Himself has related in clear terms that the Mushrikoon (idolators) of the Prophet's time confirmed many aspects of the first two forms of Tawheed. In the Qur'aan Allaah tells the Prophet (saws) to say to the pagans:
"Say: 'Who is it that gives you all sustenance from the sky and earth, governs sight and hearing, brings forth life from dead (matter) and death from the living, and plans the affairs of man?' They will all say 'Allaah'."35
"If you asked them who created them, they would surely say, 'Allaah' "36
"If you asked them who brings down water from the sky and with it brings the earth to life after its death? They will most certainly say, 'Allaah'."37
The pagan Makkans all knew that Allaah was their creator, sustainer, their Lord and Master yet that knowledge did not make them Muslims according to God. In fact, Allaah said:
"Most of them do not believe in Allaah except while joining partners to Him."38
Mujaahid's39 commentary on this verse was as follows: "Their belief in Allaah represented by their statement, 'Allaah created us, provides for us and takes our lives', did not stop them from worshipping other gods along with Allaah."40 From the previously mentioned verses, it is clear that the Kuffaar (disbelievers) knew of Allaah's sovereignty, dominion and power. In fact, they used to faithfully devote various types of worship to Him like Hajj, charity, animal sacrifices, vows and even prayers in times of dire necessity and calamity. They even used to claim that they were following the religion of Abraham. Because of that claim, Allaah revealed the verse:
"Abraham was not a Jew nor was he a Christian, but (he) was a true Muslim and not among those who joined partners with Allaah."41
Some pagan Makkans even believed in the Resurrection and the Judgement and others in predestination (Qadar). Ample evidence of their belief can be found in pre-Islamic poetry. For example, the poet Zuhayr was reported to have said:
"It is either delayed, placed in a book and saved for the Day of Judgement or hastened and avenged."
'Antarah was quoted as saying:
"O 'Ebil to where will you run from death, if my Lord in the sky has destined it?"42
In spite of the Makkans' confessions of Tawheed and their knowledge of Allaah, Allaah classified them as disbelievers (Kuffaar) and pagans (Mushrikoon) simply because they worshipped other gods along with their worship of Allaah.
Consequently, the most important aspect of Tawheed is that of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah, maintaining the unity of Allaah's worship. All forms of worship must be directed only to Allaah because He alone deserves worship, and it is He alone who can grant benefit to man as a result of His worship. Furthermore, there is no need for any form of intercessor or intermediary between man and God. Allaah emphasized the importance of directing worship to Him alone by pointing out that this was the main purpose of man's creation and the essence of the message brought by all the prophets. Allaah says:
"I did not create the Jinn and Mankind except for My worship."43
"Verily, We have sent to every nation a messenger (saying), 'Worship Allaah and avoid false gods'."44
Understanding the purpose of creation in a complete sense is beyond man's innate abilities. Man is a finite created being and can not reasonably hope to fully comprehend the actions of the infinite Creator. Hence, God made it a part of man's nature to worship Him, and He sent prophets and books of divine revelation to clarify the aspect of the purpose of creation which was within man's mental ability to grasp. That purpose is, as was previously mentioned: the worship of God ('Ebaadah) and the main message of the prophets was to worship God alone, Tawheed al-'Ebaadah. Consequently, the gravest sin is Shirk, the worship of others instead of Allaah or along with Allaah. In Soorah al-Faatihah, which every Muslim is required to recite in his or her prayers at least seventeen times daily, verse four reads, "You alone do we worship and from You alone do we seek help". A clear statement that all forms of worship should only be directed to the One who can respond, Allaah. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) confirmed the concept of unity of worship saying, "If you ask in prayer ask only Allaah, and if you seek help, seek it only from Allaah."45 The absence of any need for intercession is further emphasized by the many verses indicating His closeness to man. For example:
"When My servants ask you (O Muhammad) about Me (tell them), 'Verily I am close (to them), I listen to the prayer of every one who calls on Me. So let them respond to Me and believe In Me in order that they may he guided aright."46
"It is We who created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, for We are nearer to him than his jugular vein."47
The confirmation of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah conversely necessitates the denial of all forms of intercession or association of partners with Allaah. If someone prays to the dead seeking their influence on the lives of the living or the souls of those who have passed away, they have associated a partner with Allaah, because worship is being shared between Allaah and His creation. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) said, in no uncertain terms, "Prayer (du'aa) is worship."48 And, Allaah, Most Great and Glorious, said:
'Do not worship besides Allaah that which can not help or harm you."49
"Those on whom you call besides Allaah are only slaves like yourselves."50
If someone prays to the Prophet (saws), to so-called saints, Jinns or angels asking for help or asking them to request help from Allaah for them, they have also committed Shirk. The concept of "Ghaus-i-Azam" (al-Ghawth al-A'dHam), a title given by the ignorant to 'Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee,51 is also an expression of Shirk in this form of Tawheed. The title literally means "the greatest source of rescue; the one most able to save someone from danger" and such a description only belongs to Allaah. When misfortune occurs, some people call on 'Abdul-Qaadir by this title seeking his aid and protection even though Allaah has already said:
"If Allaah allows harm to befall you none can. remove it except Him." 52
According to the Qur'aan, when the Makkans were questioned about directing their prayers to their idols, they answered,
"We only worship them so that they may bring us closer to Allaah."53
The idols were only used as intermediaries yet Allaah called them pagans for their practice. Those among Muslims who insist on praying to other than Allaah would do well to reflect on this fact.
Christians, influenced by the teachings of Saul from Tarsus (later called Paul), deified Prophet Jesus and directed their prayer to him and his mother. The Catholics among Christians have saints for every occasion to whom they direct their prayers in the belief that these saints can directly influence the affairs of this world. The Catholics also use their priests as intercessors between themselves and Allaah in the mistaken belief that the priests are closer to Allaah due to their celibacy and piety, and thus more likely to be listened to by Allaah. Most Shi'ite sects have devoted certain days of the week and hours of the day for prayer to 'Alee, Faatimah, Hasan and Husayn54 due to their distorted belief in intercession.
Worship ('Ebaadah) in the Islamic view, includes more than just fasting, paying Zakaah, Hajj and animal sacrifices. It includes emotions like love, trust, and fear, all of which have degrees which should only be directed to God. Allaah has addressed these emotions and warned against excesses in them as follows:
"There are among men those who take (for worship) others besides Allaah as equals to Him. They love them as they should only love Allaah. But those who believe have a much greater love of Allaah..."55
"Will you not fight people who broke their oaths, plotted to expel the messenger and were the first to (attack) you? Do you fear them? Allaah has more right to be feared if you are truly believers."56
"Put your trust in Allaah if you are truly believers."57
Since the term 'Ebaadah means total obedience and Allaah is considered the ultimate Lawgiver, the implementation of secular legal systems not based on divine law (Sharee'ah) is an act of disbelief in the divine law and belief in the correctness of such systems, such a belief constitutes a form of worshipping other than Allaah (Shirk). Allaah said in the Qur'aan:
"Those who do not rule by what Allaah has revealed are disbelievers (Kaafiroon). "58
On one occasion, the Prophet's companion 'Adee ibn Haatim, who was a convert from Christianity, heard the Prophet (saws) recite the Qur'anic verse, "They have taken their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allaah,"59 so he said: 'Surely we did not worship them,' The Prophet (saws) turned to him and said 'Did they not make forbidden (Haraam) what Allaah had made allowable (Halaal)60, and you all made it Haraam, and did they not make Halaal what Allaah made Haraam61 and you all made it Halaal?' He replied, 'We certainly did.' The Prophet (saws) then said, 'That was how you worshipped them'."62
Hence, a significant part of Tawheed al-'Ebaadah involves the implementation of Sharee'ah, especially in lands where Muslims form the majority of the population. Divine law has to be re-introduced in the many so-called Muslim countries where governments now rule according to imported capitalist or communist constitutions, and Islamic law is either totally extinct or relegated to a few areas of minor importance. Likewise, Muslim countries, where Islamic law is on the books but secular laws are in force, have also to be brought in line with the Sharee'ah as it pertains to all aspects of life. The acceptance of non-Islamic rule in place of Sharee'ah in Muslim lands is Shirk and an act of Kufr. Those in a position to change it must do so, while those unable to do so must speak out against the rule of Kufr and call for the implementation of Sharee'ah. If even this becomes impossible, un-Islamic government must be sincerely hated and despised for the pleasure of God and the upholding of Tawheed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

UNGS 2050: Recommended reading - Adab of Marriage

The Etiquettes Of Marriage And Wedding

Sheikh Muhammad Naasirudden al-Albaani

Topics for reading as follow :
1. The Author's introduction
2. Kindness toward you wife when you wish to enter into her
3. Placing your hand on your wife's head and praying for her
4. The praying of husband and wife together
5. What to say at the time of making love
6. How he should come to her
7. The prohibition of sodomy
8. Making wudhuu' between two acts with one's wife
9. Bathing is perferable
10. The bathing of husband and wife together
11. Making wudhuu' after sex and before sleeping
12. The ruling of this wudhuu'
13. Making tayammum in a state of janaba instead of wudhuu'
14. Bathing before sleeping is preferable
15. The prohibition of sex when she is menstruating
16. The penitence of one who has sex during menses
17. What is permissible when she is on her period
18. When it is allowed to resume sexual activity after menses
19. The lawfulness of coitus interruptus
20. It is preferable not to practise coitus interruptus
21. What the two spouses should intend with their marriage
22. What he should do the morning after his wedding night
23. The house must have a place for bathing
24. The prohibition of spreading bedroom secrets
25. The obligation of a wedding feast
26. The sunnah of a wedding feast
27. Wedding feasts can be given with other than meat
28. Participation of the wealthy in the feast with their wealth

(PDF file)

UNGS 2050 : Required reading - Marriage


Prof. Abdur Rahman I. Doi Professor and Director, Center for Islamic Legal Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, Nigeria.

• Importance of Marriage in Islam
• Conditions of Marriage
• Ijbar: A Safety Valve
• The Free Consent of the Parties
• Prohibited Marriage Partners
• Two Suitors Seeking to Marry the Same Girl

Importance of Marriage in Islam
Allah has created men and women as company for one another, and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquillity according to the commandments of Allah and the directions of His Messenger. The Qur'an says:
And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)
And Allah has made for you your mates of your own nature, and made for you, out of them, sons and daughters and grandchildren, and provided for you sustenance of the best. (16:72)
These verses of the Noble Qur'an clearly show that in contrast to other religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism etc. which consider celibacy or monasticism as a great virtue and a means of salvation, Islam considers marriage as one of the most virtuous and approved institutions. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) declared, "There is no monasticism in Islam." He further ordained,
"O you young men! Whoever is able to marry should marry, for that will help him to lower his gaze and guard his modesty." (Al-Bukhari)
Modesty was regarded as a great virtue by the Prophet. He said, "Modesty is part of faith." (Al-Bukhari)
The importance of the institution or marriage receives its greatest emphasis from the following hadith of the Prophet,
"Marriage is my sunna. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me."
With these Qur'anic injunctions and the guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in mind, we shall examine the institution of marriage in the Shari'ah.
The word zawaj is used in the Qur'an to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since the family is the nucleus of Islamic society, and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) insisted upon his followers entering into marriage The Shari'ah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security, and tranquillity. Marriage in Islam has aspects of both 'ibadah (worship) of Allah and mu'amalah (transactions between human beings).
In its 'ibadah aspect, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah because it is in accordance with his commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other to make efforts to continue the human race and rear and nurse their children to become true servants of Allah.
In its mu'amalah aspect, marriage being a lawful response to the basic biological instinct to have sexual intercourse and to procreate children, the Shari'ah has prescribed detailed rules for translating this response into a living human institution reinforced by a whole framework of legally enforceable rights and duties, not only of the spouses, but also of their offspring.
These aspects are beautifully explained in a tradition of the Prophet. It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
"When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half."
The Prophet considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc., which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarreling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (peace be upon him) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by taqwa.

Conditions of Marriage
Careful consideration of the Qur'anic injunctions and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly show that marriage is compulsory (wajib) for a man who has the means to easily pay the mahr (dowry) and to support a wife and children, and is healthy, and fears that if does not marry, he may be tempted to commit fornication (zina). It is also compulsory for a woman who has no other means of maintaining herself and who fears that her sexual urge may push her into fornication. But even for a person who has a strong will to control his sexual desire, who has no wish to have children, and who feels that marriage will keep him away from his devotion to Allah, it is commendable (mandub).
However, according to the Maliki school, under certain conditions it is obligatory (fard) for a Muslim to marry even if he is not in a position to earn his living:
• If he fears that by not marrying he will commit fornication (zina).
• If he is unable to fast to control his passions or his fasting does not help him to refrain from zina.
• Even if he is unable to find a slave girl or a destitute girl to marry.
However some jurists suggest that if a man cannot procure a lawful livelihood, he must not marry because if he marries without any hope of getting lawful bread, he may commit theft, and in order to avoid one evil (his passions) he may become the victim of another (theft).
The Hanafi school considers marriage as obligatory (fard) for a man:
• If he is sure that he will commit zina if he does not marry.
• If he cannot fast to control his passions or even if he can fast, his fast does not help him to control his passion.
• If he cannot get a slave-girl to marry.
• If he is able to pay the dowry (mahr) and to earn a lawful livelihood.
Marriage is forbidden (haram) to a man, according to the Hanafi school, if he does not possess the means to maintain his wife and children or if he suffers from an illness, serious enough to affect his wife and progeny.
It is not desirable (makruh) for a man who possesses no sexual desire at all or who has no love for children or who is sure to be slackened in his religious obligations as a result of marriage.
In a beautiful tradition the Prophet (peace be upon him) has given the most important point that should weigh with every Muslim in selecting his bride:
"Whoever marries a woman solely for her power and position, Allah will only increase him in humiliation. Whoever marries a woman solely for her wealth, Allah will only increase him in poverty. Whoever marries a woman because of her beauty, Allah will only increase him in ugliness. But whoever marries a woman in order that he may restrain his eyes, observe cautiousness, and treat his relations kindly, Allah puts a blessing in her for him and in him for her."
In order that problems should not arise after marriage the Prophet (peace be upon him) recommended that, in the selection of his bride, a man should see her before betrothal lest blindness of choice or an error of judgment should defeat the very purpose of marriage. But this "seeing" is not to be taken as a substitute for the "courtship" of the West. The man should not gaze passionately at his bride-to-be, but only have a critical look at her face and hands to acquaint himself with her personality and beauty. However, if a man so desires, he may appoint a woman to go and interview the proposed bride, so that she may fully describe the type of girl she is.
Since believing men and women are referred to in the Qur'an, a woman also has the right to look at her potential husband.
The special permission for men and women to see each other with a view to matrimony does not contravene the code of conduct for believing men and women to lower their gaze and be modest which is laid down in the Holy Qur'an.

Ijbar: A Safety Valve
The consent of both the man and the women is an essential element of marriage, and the Qur'an gives women a substantial role in choosing their own life partners. It lays down:
Do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree between themselves in a lawful manner. (2: 232)
However, Imam Malik, one of the four great Imams of the Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, gives a slightly restrictive interpretation to this verse and makes the choice of partner by a Muslim girl subject to the over-ruling power or ijbar of her father or guardian in the interests of the girl herself.
It may sometimes happen that in her immaturity or over-zealousness, a girl may want to marry a man about whom she has distorted information or who does not possess good character or who lacks proper means of livelihood. In such a case, it is better, or rather incumbent upon the girl's father or guardian, that, in the wider interests of the girl, he restrains her from marrying such a worthless man and finds a suitable person to be her husband. Generally speaking, such marriages arranged by fathers and guardians work better than a marriage brought about through western courtship.
The case of Abu Juham bin Hudhaifah and Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan is relevant here. They proposed marriage to Fatimah bint Ghaith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised Fatimah not to marry either of them on the grounds that Mu'awiyah was then a pauper and Abu Juham was cruel and harsh. So she married Usamah.

The Free Consent of the Parties
The Qur'an (4:21) refers to marriage as a mithaq, i.e. a solemn covenant or agreement between husband and wife, and enjoins that it be put down in writing. Since no agreement can be reached between the parties unless they give their consent to it, marriage can be contracted only with the free consent of the two parties. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
"The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until their order is obtained, and the virgin shall not be married until her consent is obtained." (AlBukhari)
This aspect is greatly emphasized by Imam Bukhari. He, in fact, gave one of the chapters in his Sahih the significant title:
"When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be annulled." Once a virgin girl came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said that her father had married her to a man against her wishes. The Prophet gave her the right to repudiate the marriage. (Abu Dawud).
Divorced women are also given freedom to contract a second marriage. The Holy Qur'an says,
And when you divorce women, and they have come to the end of their waiting period, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner. (2: 232)
With regard to widows, the Qur'an says,
And if any of you die and leave behind wives, they bequeath thereby to their widows (the right to) one year's maintenance without their being obliged to leave (their husband's home), but if they leave (the residence) of their own accord, there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves in a lawful manner. (2:234)
Thus widows are also at liberty to re-marry, even within the period mentioned above; and if they do so they must forgo their claim to traditional maintenance during the remainder of the year. However, it must be remembered that the power of ijbar given to the a father or the guardian by the Maliki school over their selection of life- partner obtains in all the situations considered above, namely, whether the daughter or the ward is a virgin or divorcee or widow.

Prohibited Marriage Partners
Under the Shari'ah, marriages between men and women standing in a certain relationship to one another are prohibited. These prohibited degrees are either of a permanent nature or a temporary. The permanently prohibited degrees of marriage are laid down in the Holy Qur'an :
And marry not those women whom your fathers married, except what has already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! it was ever lewdness and abomination, and an evil way. Forbidden unto you are your mothers and your daughters, and your sisters and your father's sisters and your mother's sisters, and your brother's daughters and your sister's daughters, and your foster-mothers and your foster-sisters, and your mothers-in-law and your step-daughters who are under your mother-in-law and your step-daughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom you have gone into -- but if you have not gone into them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) -- and the wives of your sons from your own loins, and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already happened (of that nature) in the past. Allah is ever-Forgiving, Merciful. (4:22 - 24)
From the above verses, it is clear that a Muslim must never marry the following:
1. His mother
2. His step-mother (this practice continues in Yoruba land in Nigeria, where in some cases the eldest son inherits the youngest wife of his father)
3. His grandmother (including father's and mother's mothers and all preceding mothers e.g. great grandmothers )
4. His daughter (including granddaughters and beyond )
5. His sister (whether full, consanguine or uterine)
6. His father's sisters (including paternal grandfather's sisters)
7. His mother's sisters (including maternal grandmother's sisters)
8. His brother's daughters
9. His foster mother
10. His foster mother's sister
11. His sister's daughter
12. His foster sister
13. His wife's mother
14. His step-daughter (i.e. a daughter by a former husband of a woman he has married if the marriage has been consummated. However, if such a marriage was not consummated, there is no prohibition)
15. His real son's wife
A great wisdom lies behind these prohibitions on the grounds of consanguinity, affinity, and fosterage. No social cohesion can exist if people do not keep these prohibitions in their minds while contracting marriages.
Temporary prohibitions are those which arise only on account of certain special circumstances in which the parties are placed. If the circumstances change, the prohibition also disappears. They are as follows:
1. A man must not have two sisters as wives at the same time nor can he marry a girl and her aunt at the same time.
2. A man must not marry a woman who is already married. However this impediment is removed immediately if the marriage is dissolved either by the death of her former husband, or by divorce followed by completion of the period of 'iddah (retreat).
3. A man must not have more than four wives at one time. This impediment is, of course, removed as soon as one of the wives dies or is divorced.
4. A man must not marry a woman during her 'iddah.
Regarding this last prohibition, the Qur'an expects Muslims to act with the utmost propriety and righteousness. It lays down:
...but do not make a secret contract with them except in honourable terms, nor resolve on the tie of marriage till the term prescribed is fulfilled. (2:235)
This means that a man must not make a specific proposal of marriage to a woman during the time of her 'iddah after the death of her husband or an irrevocable divorce. However, he can send a message saying, for instance, "I wish to find a woman of good character". But if a woman is in the 'iddah of a divorce which is revocable where raja' (return) is possible, a man must not send her even an implied invitation to marry him, because she is still considered as the lawful wife of the first husband. In fact, this restriction is most beneficial because it prevents a man from becoming an instrument of breaking up a family where there are still chances of reconciliation between the wife and husband even though they are moving away from each other.

Two Suitors Seeking to Marry the Same Girl
The Prophet (peace be upon him) disapproved of two persons competing with one another to secure marriage with the same girl. This is because such a situation is likely to develop bitter enmity between two Muslim brothers.
The Prophet said,
"A believer is a brother of a believer. Hence it is not lawful for him to bargain upon the bargain of a brother, nor propose for (the hand of a girl) after the marriage proposal of his brother, until the latter (voluntarily) withdraws the proposal."
Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi'i, and Imam Malik, all hold the view that it is a sin to put a proposal of marriage against the proposal of another Muslim brother. However, if a marriage is contracted in this wrongful way it will be sufficient if the second suitor who was successful seeks the forgiveness of the first suitor and of Allah. But Imam Dhahiri considers such a marriage void. It is respectfully submitted that the former view is more rational and sound.