Saturday, June 5, 2021

An analysis of Kufr

 Note: The following videos are a recent recording of a discussion as to the identity and characteristics of the Kaafir as found in the Qur'an. In summary, it is our argument that the Qur'an, when critical of the Kuffar, is expressing criticism of the "Leaders of Kufr" (a-immat al kufr, Q 9:12). Folks who embody characteristics of ungratefulness, arrogance, and destruction. It is our contention further that the average Non Muslim is not referenced by that language.


 part one

 

Part one has the presentation, as well as some questions.

 

Part two  


Q and A session. 


Part three

Q and A session conclusion.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Issac and Ishmael: Some thoughts

 The latest round of violence which has occurred in the Middle East has prompted much discussion on the origins of the tensions. There is a great deal of disinformation regarding both the contemporary problems, as well as their origins, deliberate and outright evil attempts to control the narrative, to brainwash the next generation of human beings to be in favor of a system that is inherently unjust.


One of the theories that is often cited, especially in the last two weeks, is that the "Middle East conflict" is simply an extension of an old family feud, a feud between two brothers, themselves, while having different mothers, bear the same father. Indeed, Islam itself is claimed by those who hold that view to be a creation born from that feud!



Abraham 

According to the scriptures, Abraham ("father of many nations") was blessed by God to received guidance, delivery from idol-worship, and was given a covenant. Broadly speaking, this is agreed upon by the adherents of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Indeed, these faiths are referred to as the Abrahamic religions, as they see themselves as having their roots in  Abraham's experiences.

 

The Bible (Gen. 16:1-9) asserts that a wife of Abraham, by the name of Sarai (also known as Sarah) unable to give birth on her own, encouraged him to have a relationship with her "maidservant" (known as Hagar), conceive with her, so that the family line would go on. However, problems developed between the two women, causing the latter to leave.(#1)

 

The two sons from the Bible




Hagar gives birth to Ishmael, who is seen as the progenitor of the Arabs, whereas years later, Sarai gives birth to Isaac, viewed as the progenitor of the Hebrew group. 

 

The problems between their mothers were visited upon the sons, as the story goes. The Bible, while acknowledging that Hagar has not done anything wrong, nonetheless asserts  that Hagar was told that her son, who is the progenitor of the Arabs, would be "a wild donkey of a man".(Gen.16:12).

 

Isaac, although younger, is said to embody the covenant. Ishmael is disinherited from that. It is interesting that throughout the Bible, expressions such as "The Lord God of the house of Israel" and "The Lord God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob" are common.

 

The two sons from the Qur'an


 

The Qur'an does not entertain any problems between the two sons. They are both mentioned with respect (Q 6:84, 14:39-41, 2:136 and other places), and it is common practice to say "peace be upon him" when referencing both. 

 

There is never a disrespectful passage in the Qur'an about Issac, even though he is viewed as the progenitor of the Jews. Indeed, Isaac  is viewed as a recipient of Divine guidance.


It is important here to note that the Qur'an contrasts from the Biblical style in that it NEVER uses racist or nationalistic language. It refers to God as the "Caretaker of the universe" (Q 1:2), and never as being restricted or exclusively connected to Arabs.


Religious rhetoric has certainly been exploited throughout the "Middle East conflict". Arabs are routinely portrayed as savages, and antisemitism is a charge regularly made by the supporters of the state of Israel, as a means to disarm criticism. Indeed, the ghosts of the holocaust are routinely resurrected to accomplish this, even though the Arabs and Muslim world had no relation to the Nazi-led holocaust that occurred (in Christian Europe) during the days of the second world war. 


Evangelical figure John Hagee, in almost all of his speeches and writing, has exemplified this pattern, as well as stated in no uncertain terms that he expects a time in the near future when "Israel will own an control all of present-day Israel, including Jerusalem, Lebanon, The West Bank of Jordan, and most of Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia".(#2)


Such rhetoric cannot be ignored, especially when it is backed by financial and political drive. One need only conduct a google search to see the reach this figure and this trend has.


If there ever was conflict between Isaac and Ishmael, or between  Hagar and Sarah, that conflict is no excuse to perpetuate oppression. Moreover, in the spiritual realm, it is Islam, which has been conveyed via the Qur'an to Muhammad, which has stated clearly that blood ties has no bearing on one's ties to God. It is Islam which has clearly stated that respect and love be had not only for one son of Abraham, but the other one as well. 


This post has only been some brief thoughts, meant to convey that the Islamic position is actually very reasonable, for any who use reason, when it comes to issues surrounding the descendants of Abraham(#3).In conclusion, we pray "Glorified is Your Lord, the Lord of honor and glory, he is above what is wrongly attributed to him, peace be upon the messengers, and praise belongs to God, the caretaker of the universe." ( Q 37:180-182).

 

Endnotes

 (1) Robert Alter, in his Torah translation THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES ( New York, Norton& Company Limited, 2004) pg.78 uses the word "harassed" to describe Sarah's attitude towards Hagar.

 (2) This quotation is taken from John Hagee's book CAN AMERICA SURVIVE? 10 PROPHETIC SIGNS THAT WE ARE THE TERMINAL GENERATION ( New York, Howard Books, 2010) pg.109. 

(3) The following article has a thorough explanation of the Muslim understanding of issue such as the covenant, sacrifice, etc.. associated with Abraham. http://www.why-christians-convert-to-islam.com/nice201.htm


 






Saturday, May 15, 2021

Two new lectures

 As salaamu 'alaikum! Peace and blessings of God be upon you.


Below you will find two new lectures.  They can be accessed on Facebook, and does not require any log-in ID to listen to them.


Where do we go from here?

(Thursday, May 13, 2021 at Masjid Ibrahim, Las Vegas, Nevada)


This is a recording of the Eid prayer service, which commemorates the end of the month of Ramadan. The recording includes The Takbeer chant, salaat al 'eid (starts at 21:30) and the Khutbah (sermon), which starts at 28:00)


Eidul Fitr 2021 service

 

The Priorities of and within Revelation

 

(Friday, May 14th, 2021 at Masjid Ibrahim, Las Vegas, Nevada.)

This is a recording of Friday Khutbah, which argues mainly that the religion has priorities built therein, and that those priorities are what should be focused on. Lessons from Ramadan are also explored in this Khutbah. Khutbah starts at 2:50)

The Priorites of and within Revelation khutbah 

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

HEALING: UNIVERSAL PEACE FEDERATION PRESENTATION

 ( Note: the following is an edited version of my presentation and supplication at the United Peace Federation USA weekly session, on the theme of healing.)


The subject of healing is a topic that translates into different results, depending on the nature of the illness.

As a student of faith and the social sciences, I believe that the majority of the illnesses that we face are actually of the thinking type.

Therefore, our worldview must be correct and balanced, in order for healing to take place.

Prophet Muhammad as foundation for civilization revival

The Qur'an speaks of the necessity of correct & balanced worldview by pointing to Muhammad, the seal of the Prophets (peace be upon them), as a person who emerges amongst a people who had been unexposed to scriptural knowledge, yet that audience received, by Divine grace, those things. 


That foundation- scripture and wisdom (Q 62:2-4) became the foundation for a new civilization to emerge, leading to countless benefits, such as the great translation projects initiated by the Muslims, which revived the various Greek, Persian and Indian scientific and philosophical works previously lost or neglected. Translated into Arabic (starting in the   eight century ) , these works were subsequently the foundation for the European Renaissance. 

The foundation for right thinking can be summarized as faith, justice, and charity.


Also of interest is the Arabic word Imaan, translated as faith, is related to security and certainty. Faith is the best ground to stand upon both physically and mentally.

The prayer of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is relevant for our theme.

"O God, show us truth as truth, and give us the ability to follow it, and show us vanity as vanity, and give us the ability to abstain therefrom."



Monday, April 12, 2021

Lecture notes: Building Character in Islam

 

(Introduction: The following is an edited  version of a presentation recently given on the subject Character Building in Islam.)

Creation


The Qur'an uses the passive  verb Khuliqa ("He was created") in connection to humanity, in carrying certain seemingly negative built-in aspects, such as" anxiety/impatience" (Q  70:19),"haste" (Q 21:37) and twice as "weak" (Q 4:28, 30:54).


In Arabic grammar, the presence of a passive verb would also require that the one who carried out the verb (faa'il) goes unmentioned. The doer would be assumed, or simply be unknown. Q 30:54 does not fit the above pattern, but rather the past tense verb, with the doer mentioned ("God is the one who created you all with some weakness.").


Some words of interest for this subject which stem from the same root include Akhlaaq ("character" or "manners") and "Akhlaq" ("Most appropriate" "Most natural"). 

The four seemingly negative tendencies mentioned above, "created" in us by God, are items that all of us have to deal with, and it is our dealing with those things which actually benefits us, as individuals as well as a species. Our dealing with those characteristics builds us up, it is on the job training, to allow us to do our job as stewards on the earth better

There are general behavioral codes which are globally accepted, i.e. don't kill, don't steal, etc, but those are external manifestations, yet the above-mentioned Quranic verses are speaking to internal conditions.


Ramadan and Character building



The month of Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to faithful people to engage in character building. Some examples of this are summarized below:

* Anxiety/impatience (Haloo'a). Listening to Quranic recitation, reading the text during the fasting period, helps to sooth anxiety.

*Hastiness. The desire for immediate satisfaction, as opposed to delayed gratification, is addressed by the discipline building of fasting, of holding back from the satisfaction of hunger and needs during the daylight hours of the month. 


* Weakness, be it physical or mental, is addressed through exercise, diet, and conscientious behavior. We often emphasis the Quranic prohibitions of gambling and alcohol. Those items are clearly forbidden in Islam, and is agreed upon in the Muslim community. There are other addictions which are worth asking about, such as tobacco, sugar, pornography, salt, and food addictions. Indeed, there are even those of us who are unable to function without a mobile phone!

Obviously the Qur'an and Sunnah don't directly speak on those items, the benefit vs.harms aspects are widely discussed, and on the above items Muslims reach different conclusions. 

We are not, for the purpose of this presentation, addressing their legal status in Islam, we are only saying that the Ramadan experience forces us to evaluate those items in our lives, to examine questions such as figuring out what is positive for us, and what is toxic for us, in light of Divine guidance.


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that he has come to perfect morals. He does this by teaching "Scripture and Wisdom" (Q 62:2), which, when integrated into the mind and hearts of believers, gives them the tools needed for the perfections of morals.



Monday, March 29, 2021

The Relationship between the Bible and The Qur'an (parts one and two)

 Peace and blessings to you all,


Below is a lecture on various aspects of the scriptures. Part one is the lecture, part two is the Q and A session.


Both videos have timestamps, and comments are welcome.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnzt4ldANn0&t=66s

 

Part two 



Monday, March 22, 2021

Conception of Salaat 'alan Nabi in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah

 Introduction

 

 One of the practices universally observed in Muslim culture is- when referencing Prophet Muhammad, to recite statements such as Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam after his name. Similarly, neglect of reciting this term can be viewed as disrespectful by some observers. The practice is called by various names worldwide, such as Salaat 'alan Nabi, Durood Sharif, salaat wa salaam,  and even salawaat.


Several questions emerge as a result of this practice, among them being : (1) Does the religion require this to be recited frequently, or simply on occasion?  ( 2) Does this practice elevate Prophet Muhammad to an object of worship ? (3) Is there a distinction being created for him-in contradistinction to the other Prophets? 

While this article does not seek to answer those questions, it does seek-by analysis of the Islamic texts, to provide an understanding of the foundations behind the practice, and take away a deeper cognition of the texts themselves.


Salaat 'Alan Nabi in the Qur'an

 A solitary Quranic text forms the strongest evidence for the practice. The verse itself is often recited as a prelude to Salaat 'alan nabi itself, as well as Mawlid events, poems, and supplications. The text reads

اِنَّ اللّٰہَ وَ مَلٰٓئِکَتَہٗ یُصَلُّوۡنَ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ ؕ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا صَلُّوۡا عَلَیۡہِ وَ سَلِّمُوۡا تَسۡلِیۡمًا

"Indeed, Allah and His angels Yusalloona upon the Prophet. People of faith, do salaah on him, and give obedient submission" (Q 33:56)

The verb yusallona is typically translated as "send blessings". However, contextual understanding is very important. This Soorah, Al Ahzab - as a whole- discusses issues related to conflict, as well as domestic  issues, and inspirational material. When read in context, especially in considering the term "Indeed Allah and His angels", it becomes apparent that Yusalloona means that God, through the agency of his angels, give the Prophet what he needs for success, and that the believers are told to do the same thing, i.e. to give their support, be it morally, physically, financially, to the Prophet, in order that the cause he is standing upon is successful.


It is worth noting here that the same Soorah has the same sentiment, with the same wording, as applied to believers. "It is He (God) who  is conveying upon you the meeting of your needs (yusalli 'alaikum), and the angels (are involved in this process), in order to remove you from darkness to light, and God is merciful to people of faith." ( Q 33:43).

 ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ یُصَلِّیۡ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ مَلٰٓئِکَتُہٗ لِیُخۡرِجَکُمۡ مِّنَ الظُّلُمٰتِ اِلَی النُّوۡرِ ؕ وَ کَانَ بِالۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ رَحِیۡمًا

 


Salaat 'alan Nabi in the hadeeth literature

There are a number of reports in the hadeeth literature that place emphasis on reciting salaat 'alaa Nabi, one of them saying that for every time it is done, Allah will send ten blessings on that person. (saheeh Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud). These reports have varying degrees of authenticity, but nonetheless has always been acted upon, in particular in the final sitting posture in prayers.


The general wording is as follows:



(1) "O Allah, send upon (salli 'ala) Muhammad the necessities, and upon the followers of Muhammad, as you did upon Abraham, and the followers of Abraham, Indeed, You are praiseworthy, glorious."


(2) "O Allah, give blessings upon (Baarik 'ala) Muhammad, and upon the followers of Muhammad as you did give blessings to Abraham and the followers of Abraham, Indeed, You are praiseworthy, glorious." 

 

What is interesting is that in the hadeeth literature, we find that the Prophet himself, upon whom be peace, used the same phraseology in connection to other people:

 

" 'Abdullah b. Abi Awfaa related that whenever a people would bring their charity (sadaqatihim) to the Prophet, he would say "O Allah, send upon the people of so and so their necessities (Allahumma salli 'ala Aal Fulaan)." 

The same report says the Prophet would make the same invocation- the one traditionally made by Muslims on his behalf- for the behalf of specific individuals when they gave their charities (Saheeh Al Bukhari and Muslim )

 

Do Muslims worship   the Prophet?

Some critics assert that the practice of Salaat 'alan Nabi constitutes worship of the Prophet. They further assert this because the term Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam has been translated by some as "prayers and peace be upon him".

 

The term Salaat is used for prayer, as in the prayers Muslims do on a daily basis. However, I hope it has been seen that the term, as thousands of other terms in every language, do not always the same meaning every time. One laughable critic has claimed that Islam teaches that "God prays to Muhammad", citing the expression Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam as evidence. 

 

Other important points

(1) The Muslims generally have agreement of the necessity of doing Salaat 'alan nabi inside the prayers, in the final sitting position. The first part, in Arabic Allahumma Salli 'ala Muhammadin wa 'alaa  aali Muhammad.. is viewed as necessary, whereas the second part, wherein Baaraka is mentioned, is deemed as, at best, a Sunnah

(2) There is an important distinction between the two parts of the supplication given in the "Salaat 'alan Nabi in the hadeeth literature" section above. The first part shows us a prayer for the necessities, the tools for success, be met, and that the Qur'an and hadeeth both use it in that sense, whereas the second one is for extras, for those things that, while unneeded for survival, enhances one's life and general happiness.

(3) There are narrations, including above, which speak of both aspects being extended not only to the Prophet, but to his followers (Aal Muhammad). This shows that even in worship, one has positive desires for others, as well as that we seek Divine help for the cause that the Prophet represented. After all, the Prophet is dead, and receives his rewards from his Lord, Allah Almighty. So "Muhammad" inside the sitting posture of prayer represents advocating or praying for the cause the Prophet stood for!


(4) The Shiites apply the term Aal Muhammad to the Prophet's family. This is a different understanding of a linguistic point, which should not be a point in polemics. 


Conclusion

There are many concepts in religion which take on a cultural dimension, and while this is not a problem, it is good to examine, with as much open-mindedness as possible, the sources of these concepts, to see the original intent behind them.

Salaat 'alan Nabi is clearly used in the Qur'an as an exhortation to physically, morally, and financially, to the believers, to assist the Prophet, to support him in his cause.

We believe the Prophet did also ask for a verbal supplication be made for him in prayers. However, the hadeeth literature is clear that he would do the same supplication, in the same wordings (Qaala: Allahumma salli 'ala 'alayh.) for people who would come to him.

We certainly are not advocating changing the practice of reciting Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam (or expressions of a similar import) after the Prophet's name, we are simply stating, in light of the Qur'an and Hadeeth literature, that the Quranic verse which serves as the primary textual support for this- that verse (Q 33:56) has a deeper message than usually imagined.