Sunday, August 7, 2016

Personality & Story of 'Al-Hasan' 'Al-Basri'

Muslim Commander: ‘Tell me, Khalid, about the ‘Hasan of Basra.’ I think you know him best.’
‘He is a man whose outside is like his inside, whose words are like his actions. When he tells people to do something good, he is the first to do it; and when he advises others not to do something; he is the first to shun it. He has renounced what people have, but they are always in need of him.’

Muslim Commander:
‘Enough have you said, Khalid. No people would go astray while they have a man like him in their midst.’

This short dialogue between a well-known Commander of Muslim armies and a friend of our hero summarized for us in few words the personality of ‘AI-Hasan AI-Basri,’ who is well-known in Islamic history for his truthfulness, authority on matters of religion, words of wisdom, courage and other worldliness.

‘AI-Hasan AI-Basri’
was born in Madinah. His beloved mother was a former bondswoman of ‘Umm-Salama’ the ‘Prophet's’ wife, and his father ‘Yasar’ was a former bondsman to ‘Zaid-Ibn-Thabit,’ one of the scribes of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (pbuh). His real name was ‘AI-Hasan Ibn-Yasar,’ but he is better known in history by the name ‘AI-Hasan AI-Basri’ (AI-Hasan of Basra). He was indeed a very fortunate child, for though he was born after the death of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (pbuh), he was literally brought up in the ‘Prophet's’ household, he spent his childhood with his mother mistress ‘Umm-Salama,’ stayed in constant contact with the other widows of the ‘Prophet,’ was educated by their exemplary personalities and conduct and heard first hand reports about the ‘Prophet’ (pbuh). Since Madinah then was still full of the former companions of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (pbuh) ‘Al-Hassan Al-Basri’ had the golden opportunity to learn about Islam and its teachings directly from those great students and companions of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (pbuh), including people like 'Uthman-Ibn-Affan’, ‘Abdullah-Ibn-Umar’ and ‘Ali-Bin-Abi-Talib’ (Radhi-Allahu 'Anhum) whose personality and fluency left a special impression on his character.

At the age of fourteen his family moved to Basra in Iraq, where he got the name of AI-Basri.
AI-Basra was then one of the major urban centers of culture in the Islamic Empire, and it was full of the former companions of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (pbuh) who taught the principles and practices of Islam to the thirsty students and masses. ‘AI-Hasan AI-Basri,’ fully utilized the opportunity. Spending all his time in the mosque, learning, especially at the hands of the well-known companion of the ‘Prophet’ (pbuh), 'Abdullah-Ibn-Mas'ood’. Since many people, rulers and masses were greatly influenced by the new wealth and prosperity that followed the expansion of the Muslim State East and Westward, they needed constant reminders of the dangers of overindulgence in worldly affairs and luxury. ‘Al-Hassan Al-Basri’ was one of such reminders. To him, truth had to be said even in the face of tyrants. For a righteous man of Allah like him should have no fear of anyone except his ‘Creator and Master’ (“Allah”). An example of his daring personality is the incident between him and ‘AI-Hajjaj’ who was a notorious tyrannical governor of Iraq. ‘AI-Hajjaj’ built himself a big palace at Wasil, and he invited people to see it (to impress them). The masses crowded the place, full of admiration of the palace.
To ‘Al-Hassan Al-Basri’ this was a golden opportunity to preach to people, warning them of the dangers of tyranny and indulgence in worldly gains. Naturally, AI-Hajjaj was not very happy with his doing. He swore to kill him. So he ordered some of his soldiers to fetch him. Upon entering, he walked with confidence towards ‘AI-Hajjaj’ muttering some prayers. Suddenly, the tyrant was awe-struck and almost unconsciously invited our hero to sit next to him with all humility and respect. Then, he asked about some matters of religion, attentively listening to ‘AI-Hasan's’ answers, while everyone sat in a state of astonishment. Upon leaving the guard of ‘AI-Hajjaj,’ full of surprise at the sudden turn of the events, asked him, "When you entered and saw the sword ready you muttered a few words. What did you say?”

‘AI-Hasan’ answered: "I prayed to Allah: 'O my Master and Protector! Reverse the rage of ‘AI-Hajjaj’ as you changed the fire into coolness and safety for Ibrahim."
Among the many memorable occasions of pious advice offered by ‘Al-Hasan’ to rulers was his encounter with a great governor of Iraq and Persia, 'Umar-Ibn-Hubaira.’ It is reported that ‘Ibn-Hubaira’ used to receive from the Caliph in Damascus orders which smelt of injustice. So he invited two religious scholars, including our hero to seek their opinion and advice. Following are rough translations of our hero's words of advice:
‘Al-Hasan’: ’Ibn-Hubaira!’
“Fear Allah in dealing with Yazeed (the Caliph), and fear not Yazeed in your dealings with Allah. Remember that Allah can protect you from Yazeed, but Yazeed cannot protect you from Allah. A stern angel who never disobeys Allah will come to you taking you from your great and wide palace to the narrow grave, where you will find no Yazeed, but only your wrong actions with which you disobeyed the Lord and Master of Yazeed. ‘Ibn-Hubaira!’ If you are with Allah, He will protect you from the wrath of ‘Yazeed-Ibn-Abdul-Malik’ in this world and in the Hereafter. But if you are with Yazeed in defiance of Allah's commandments, Allah will leave you to the mercy of Yazeed. Remember that one should never obey a creature whoever he might be in disobedience to the Creator."
It was with this type of words of wisdom that he spent his eighty years of pious and ascetic life teaching and preaching, not only to rulers and the masses of his time, but also to all readers of his wise sayings at all times.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Story Of Islam's Heroes: ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’

The Slave who became a Teacher, to King (d. 104 A. H 225)

The characteristic typical of all the Muslim heroes was their effort to direct their work for one and only one purpose; i.e. The pleasure of Allah. Whether in the Battle or in the mosque, in the royal courts or in the market-place those heroes conduct never faltered.

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’ was an eminent personality of the second generation of Muslims who met or attended many Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah was once at the doorsteps of the Umayyad; Caliph ‘Hisham-ibn-Abdul Malik’ in Damascus. Let us listen to what goes on between him and the Caliph.

The Caliph: ‘What can we do for you, Abu Muhammad?’

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’: ‘The people of the two ‘Harams’ (Mecca and Madinah), the guests of Allah (i.e. pilgrims) and the neighbors of the Messenger, give them their allotted annual gifts.’
The Caliph: ‘We will (Turning to Secretary): ‘Write a decree to that effect. What else, Abu Muhammad?’
‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’: ‘The people of Hijaz and Najd are the heart of the Arabs and leaders of Islam, request that you return to them the surplus of their charity.’
The Caliph: ‘Yes, anything else?’

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’: ‘Yes. leader of the faithful, the soldiers at the frontiers of the Muslim lands. They are there in the face of your enemies, fighting whoever attempts to attack the land of Islam or hurt the Muslims. These people deserve generous salaries and supplies to be sent to them. For if they are lost our frontiers are gone.’

The Caliph: ‘Yes. (Addressing the Secretary) Write a decree to that effect. Anything else I can do for you?’

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’: ‘The Non-Muslim subjects living in the Muslim State who, in return for paying tax, enjoyed protection and safety) should not be asked to do things beyond their means. For whatever tax they pay you is a help against the State's enemies’.

The Secretary was ordered to write a decree to that effect.

The Caliph asks: ‘Anything else, Abu Muhammad?’

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’: “Yes. Fear Allah for your own sake. Remember that you were born alone; you will die alone, will be raised on the Day of Resurrection alone, and you will receive the Judgment alone. No one of your friends or relatives can be of any help at those times."

With these words ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’ bid farewell to the Caliph.

Before going out a man sent by the Caliph offered a pouch full of money for him.

‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’, declined to take the money, quoting from the Qur’an: "I ask you no reward (for the advice). For my reward is with the Lord of the universe."

Now let's go back to the earlier day’s life in Mecca. ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’ was an Ethiopian, born a slave to a Mecca lady. Since his childhood he became interested in learning.

He divided his time into three portions:

*One third he spent in the service of his mistress carrying out his duties as a faithful servant.

*The second portion he devoted to worship and prayers, and;

*The third he devoted to learning whatever he could from the former companions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

The Mecca lady was impressed with her bondsman's devotion. So she set him free, giving him the chance to spend all his time in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, learning first then teaching and engaged in devotions.

His knowledge and piety earned him a high place in the hearts of the rulers and the ruled alike. Of his knowledge we are told that a great man like 'Abdullah-Ibn-Umar’ was reported to have been surprised that people in Mecca needed to seek religious guidance from anyone while they had a man like ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’ amongst them.

In the presence of  ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’ even the greatest of Muslim Caliphs humbled themselves as we saw in the incident mentioned earlier (where we witnessed the encounter between ‘Hisham-Ibn-Abdul Malik’ and ‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah’).

In Mecca, another Umayyad Caliph, ‘Sulaiman-Ibn-Abdul Malik’, accompanied his two sons to sit humbly in the presence of the ex-slave to listen to his teachings in the sacred Mosque.

When he was asked about the man by his sons.

The Caliph answered, "This was '‘Ata-Ibn-Rabah."

Then he said, "My children seek knowledge. For through knowledge and learning the humble becomes great. The fool becomes wise, and slaves become superior to kings."

He lived about one hundred years and performed pilgrimage (Hajj) no less than seventy times.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Story About Ibn Qayyim AL-Jawziyyah One Of The Student Of Imam Ahmed Ibn Taymiyyah.

Ibn Qayyim AI-Jawziyyah (691-751 A.H.)

"Through patience and poverty one attains leadership in religion. The seeker of truth needs the will that will inspire him and push him upward and (religious) knowledge that will lead him and guide him."

These words of Ibn Qayyim AI-Jawziyyah sum up the personality of this great man, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, who is better known as Ibn Qayyim AI-Jawziyyah or Ibn AI-Qayyim, for short. He was born in 691 A.H.

He began his long journey on the road of learning early in his life, moving from one teacher to another to quench his thirst for knowledge. At the age of 21 (in 712 A.H.)  Al-Qayyim met his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah another great hero of Islam and a revivalist of the faith. Their companionship lasted to the end of the teacher's life, Ibn Al·Qayyim kept close company to Ibn Taymiyyah with whom he suffered the pains of prison and flogging many a time.

Apparently, it was from Ibn Taymiyyah that he learnt many special qualities such as frankness and courage, in defiance of the falsehood of others, including those in authority. For to both truths had to be said regardless of the consequences. But unlike his teacher, or Ibn AI-Qayyim was less fierce in his attacks (in words or action). The 8th century' Hijra witnessed a state of ignorance and feuds in the Muslim community. Muslims were fighting each other and each trying to impose his authority in everything including religious opinion and scholarship which suffered from stagnation. For the majority of religious scholars acted more like 'recorders' of knowledge rather than true scholars and teachers. To them their teachers were the main. If not the sale, source of knowledge, and the schools of thought they blindly imitated were the only acceptable ways.

Like his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn AI·Qayyim spent his life in attempting to correct the wrong course the community was following. He fought the exaggerated reverence for the tombs of the pious despite the strong resistance he met with from the masses. He tried to show the errors committed by the misled sects and their blind followers.

For he considered that the disputes and fights among the Muslims of his time were caused by their sectarian attitude and chauvinistic practices, each one considering himself and his sector school of thought the only right one, and claiming that everyone else was on the wrong path.

Ibn AI-Qayyim spent most of his time and great efforts trying to unite the people, pointing out to them the dangers of blind imitation of the predecessors. He explained that a Muslim should be open-minded; i.e., he should accept what is right and good regardless of the teacher as long as what he or she accepts is consistent with the Qur'an and the Sunnah and the consensus of the scholars and the general spirit of the faith. To him imitation was wrong in the following cases: 

1) If it entails violation of Divine teachings.

2) If it represents an act of blind following of people we are not sure of their knowledge.

3) If it is in defiance of truth after finding it.

It was blind imitation that caused stagnation in scholarship and differences among people. Some so-called scholars, he pointed out, were not really scholars of Islam but rather simple propagators of others opinions. To those people the words and views of their teachers or leaders were the only correct way of understanding the faith to the extent that they subjected even the interpretation if the
Qur'an and the Prophetic teachings to the views of their teachers, which they wrongly took for the ultimate criteria.
Ibn AI-Qayyim considered that the sources of religious knowledge were to be taken in the following order:

1) The Qur'an. 

2) The Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad's teachings). 

3} The teachings of the companions of the Prophet.

To these one could add consensus of Muslim scholars and analogy. Intolerance and Prejudice were to him the enemies of learning. To propagate his views,
Ibn AI-Qayyim wrote scores of books besides direct teaching.
In his own private life Ibn AL-Qayyim was a very pious and sincere worshipper who spent most of his time in prayers and recitation of the Qur'an. He was in fact an ascetic who rejected the unorthodox practices of some Sufis (mystics) who claimed that religious teachings had external and internal sides, meaning that religious obligations (such as Prayers, Fasting During Ramadan etc. etc.) did not apply to them.

As pointed out earlier Ibn AI-Qayyim was a man of courage and frankness to whom truth was the ultimate goal. His open-minded and flexible attitude is reflected in his views on the correct understanding of religious laws (Sharia), and that these should be interpreted in the light of the circumstances of time and place, because Islam is intended and practicable for all mankind at all times. He wrote many books to explain this invaluable principle. Many of his views find their application in the legal system of modern nations more than six centuries after his death in 751 A.H.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Story About Shaikh-ul-Islam Imam Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah.

Revivalist of Islam (661-728 A.H.)

We are a people who love goodness for everyone. We like to see Allah bringing you the best of this world and that of the hereafter. For the best way to worship Allah is by giving counsel and advice to his creatures. This was the purpose of all the Prophets and Messengers from Allah. And there is nothing better than advice in matters of the relation between man and his Creator. Man is certainly destined to meet with his Lord, and he is going to be questioned about his duties. All the Christians know that when he talked to the Tartars concerning the captives in their lands, Ghazan and Katloushah released them.

I talked to the king about those captives, and he allowed the release of the Muslims only and said to me, ‘We have some Christians that we captured in Jerusalem, these we are not going to release.'
I told him, 'But you release all the Jewish and Christian captives because they are under the protection of Islam. And we will leave no captive if he is a Muslim or Christian.' Thus, we caused the release of many Christians from captivity.

This ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ did only for the sake of Allah whose rewards everyone seek. "Besides, everyone knows about the Christian captives in our hands and how kindly and charitably we treat them in accordance with the teachings of the last of the Prophets, ‘Prophet Muhammad’ (peace be upon him). The above mentioned words are quotations from a letter written by ‘Ibn Taymiyyah,’ to King Sirjwan of Cyprus in which he tried to explain the basic views of the Islamic faith to a Christian ruler.

But who was ‘Ibn Taymiyyah?’

‘Ibn Taymiyyah,’ who is known by the title of Sheikh-ul-Islam
(The eminent Scholar of Islam) is one of the leading thinkers of Islam and a revivalist of its pristine teachings at a time when the Muslim world was going through one of its darkest times, being under attack by the ruthless Mongol Tartars from the East (who destroyed everything and everyone who stood in their heavy flow from Central Asia) and the fierce Crusaders from the West. Hundreds of thousands of books were thrown by the Tartars into the rivers of Tigris and Euphrates until the waters of these rivers became black with the ink in those books. On the cultural scene many Muslim scholars were busy summarizing and explaining the works of their ancestors with hardly any worthwhile contribution.

In religion, again many unorthodox ideas had crept in from un-Islamic philosophies and foreign thoughts. The theologians were plagued by the ideas of the Mu'tazilites and other misguided sects. The jurists were at a standstill in the understanding and application of the legal spirit of Islam, blindly imitating the opinions of their predecessors. The masses were thus left in total darkness, misguided by agnostic Sufism and their practices, such as exaggeration in worshiping tombs of the pious and the Saints to the extent of almost worshipping them besides Allah. It was in those circumstances that ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ was born. ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ was born in 661 A.H. (1263
G.) in Harran (near Damascus). His family was a people of learning and teaching, both its male and female members being well known for their contribution to religious education. Since his childhood ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ was known for his great intelligence, strong memory and insatiable thirst for learning. No wonder then that he started research and writing at the age of nineteen. At the age of 21 his father died, and he replaced him in the post of teaching Fight (Islamic law or jurisprudence) and Tafseer (Quranic exegesis or commentaries).

When he announced in 696 A.H. his views on certain theological issues, some theologians (whose understanding was contaminated by foreign philosophical ideas) started annoying him. ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’s’ views on the divine attributes enraged some theologians who had him called to court in Egypt and imprisoned there.

It seems that his courage and frankness in attacking unconventional interpretations of Islamic teachings in areas of theology, jurisprudence and spirituality caused many problems for him. For ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ made it his job to correct the wrong views prevalent at his time despite the fierce resistance he met with from many religious scholars. He felt it’s his duty to unify the Muslims around orthodox and pristine Islamic teachings, of Ahl-ah-Sunnah-wal-Jama'ah by fighting against polytheists and innovations in religion (bid'ah) and purifying the religion from interpretations and practices alien to it, taking only the Qur'an and Sunnah or Prophetic traditions as the only reliable sources. ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ suffered a great deal because of this, but he never hesitated or faltered.

History tells us that the enemies of ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ not only caused the authorities to imprison him on many occasions but also they even tried to have him killed by reporting to Sultan-an-Nasser faking that ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ was using the masses love and admiration for him to usurp the throne. An-Nasser Lideeni-Liah ordered that he brought to him.

He told him, "I have been told
that people listen to you, and that you are seeking my kingdom.

Ibn Taymiyyah’ answered, "I do that? By Allah your kingdom and the kingdoms of all the Moguls are not worth a single penny to me."

The Sultan was impressed by our hero's answer and was convinced of the falsehood of the allegation. But intelligence, knowledge, courage and frankness were not the only things for which he known. He was also known for his otherworldliness and unlimited generous to the extent that he would give the clothes he had on to a needy person.

‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ was not only an active teacher, but he was also a creative writer of in-depth knowledge as well. So when he died in 728 A.H. (at the age of 67). He left scores of volumes of writings on various topics including comparative religion. One of his masterpieces is well known, namely "Fatawa·lbn-Taymiyyah”, (The religious Rulings and verdicts of ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’) which has been published in 36 volumes, several times.

’Ibn Taymiyyah’ is reported to have said, 'The (real) prisoner is the one whose heart has been kept away from remembering his Lord, and the (real) captive is the one who has been captivated by his whims and desires."

His disciple Ibn-ul·Oayyim, reports that he, i.e. ‘Ibn Taymiyyah’ used to say, when he was imprisoned in ‘AI-Qalah’ prison in Damascus, "What on earth can my enemies do to me? My Paradise is in my heart and accompanies me wherever I go. My imprisonment is (in fact) seclusion (which helps me worship Allah better) my killing is (in fact) martyrdom and my deportation from my country is (in fact) seeing the world.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Prophets Methods of Correcting Mistakes - Paying attention to things that are inherent in human nature

An example of this is the jealousy of women, especially m the case of co-wives, some of whom may make mistakes that, if they were made by anyone else under normal circumstances, would be treated quite differently. The Prophet (SAW) used to pay special attention to the issue of jealousy among his wives and the mistakes that were made by them as a result, and the patience, justice and fairness with which he handled the matter are plain to see. An example of this is the report narrated by Bnkhan in his Saheeh from Anas (RA), who said: “The Prophet (SAW) was with one of his wives when another of the Mothers of the Believers (Prophet’s wives) sent a big vessel full of food to him. The wife in whose house the Prophet (SAW) was struck the hand of the servant, and the vessel fell and broke into two pieces. The Prophet (SAW) picked up the pieces and put them together, then he gathered up the food that had been in the vessel and said, ‘Your mother is jealous.’ Then he asked the servant to wait and gave him a whole vessel belonging to the wife in whose house he was, and kept the broken vessel in the house of the one who had broken it”158

According to a report narrated by an-Nasa’i (Kitab 'hhmt an-Ntsa j. Umm Salamah brought some food in a vessel belonging to her to the Messenger of Allah and his Companions, then ‘A’ishah came wrapped in a garment, carrying a stone, which she threw and broke the vessel. The Prophet (SAW) put the two halves back together and said, “Eat, your mother is jealous” he said it twice, then he took ‘A’ishah’s vessel 

and sent it to Uinm Salamah, and gave Umm Salamah’s vessel to ‘A’ishah.
According to a report narrated by ad-Darimi (Kitab al- Buyoo Bab man kasara shay’an fa 'alayhi mithluhu) from Anas he said: “One of the wives of prophet (SAW)sent him a vessel in which was some thareed (a dish of sopped bread, meat and broth), when he was in the house of one of his other wives who struck the vessel and broke it. The Prophet (0J started to pick up the thareed and put it back into the broken vessel, saying, ‘Eat, your mother is jealous...’ ”
Women's jealousy is an inherent part of their nature that may cause them to do bad things and prevent them from seeing the consequences. It is said that when a woman is jealous, she cannot sec the bottom of a valley from its top.

Following this exploration of the Sunnah and the methods which the Prophet (*SAW) used in dealing with people’s mistakes, we should conclude by mentioning the following points:
—            Correcting mistakes is obligatory and very important. It is part of an-naseehah (giving sincere advice) and forbidding what is evil, but it should be remembered that Islam is not only about forbidding what is evil; we are also commanded to enjoin what is good.

—            Education and training are not merely the matter of correcting mistakes. They also involve teaching and showing the basic principles of religion and the rules of skaree ‘ak, and using various methods to establish these concepts firmly in people’s minds and hearts, by example, exhorting them, telling stories, or by discussing incidents, etc. From this, it is elear that some parents and teachers are falling short by confining their efforts only to addressing mistakes without paying due attention to teaching the basics or dealing with mistakes before they happen by instilling that which will protect people from committing mistakes in the first place, or at least reduce their impact.

—            It is clear from the incidents and stories mentioned above that the Prophet (SAW) used different approaches in dealing with different mistakes. This is because circumstances and personalities vary. Whoever understands this and wants to follow suit must compare the situation he is dealing with to these examples to find the one that most closely resembles it, so that he can determine the most appropriate approach to use.

We ask Allah, may He be Glorified and Exalted, to guide us and protect us, to make us openers of the doors of good and closers of those of evil, and to guide others through us, for He is the All-Hearing, the Ever-Near, Who answers prayers. He is the Best of supporters and the Best of helpers, and He is the Guide to the Straight Path. May Allah bless the unlettered Prophet (SAW), all his family and Companions and Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.