Inner Peace

Don’t Make Hatred Your Foundation

Don’t Make Hatred Your Foundation

Over the past twenty years, I have studied with a variety of scholars from many different schools of thought. During this period, I have noticed multiple trends that helped me identify good teachers. One of those trends is to look at the basic emotion the teacher inspires. When choosing a teacher, I am careful to avoid teachers whose primary purpose is spreading hatred of others.

Unfortunately, the internet has revived this culture of hate. It is easier for a young student of knowledge to gain a quick following by making hateful videos about other Muslims, than to actually teach the religion. As a result, we are once again flooded with messages of hate, refutations, and an unhealthy obsession with other people’s faults. In the process, we create a culture of hate and suspicion, devoid of spirituality and reflection.

Why People Love To Hate

This trend is nothing new. Every generation of Muslims produces a group or two that make hatred their foundation. The majority of deviant sects begin at a position of hatred; whether it is hatred for the companions, hatred for sinners, or hatred of other groups. Hatred is often the foundation of deviation and the beginning of a new cult. There are many reasons why people are attracted to cultures of hate, but in this modern age of individualism, one reason stands out; self-piety.

The various person is unaware of how much individualism has impacted their understanding of the world. Because of this, they fail to see how individualism impacts their understanding of Islam too. Islam in the eyes of such people is not seen as a system of purification and spiritual development. It is simply a tool through which one can profess one’s own piety by looking down upon others.

Individualism creates within a person a need to justify oneself constantly, a need to feel validated and better than others, and a need to be more famous than others. This leads to an obsession with refuting those who are more popular than oneself. The result is a culture of refutation and constant anger.

A Better Usage of Time

None of us will be on earth forever. We all have limited time on earth. Instead of wasting it in hatred, anger, and fault-finding, let’s use our time instead to worship Allah and purify our souls. Let us focus on doing good positive work that benefits the ummah and improves our own spiritual state in the process. Life is too short to waste on obsessing over other people and their faults.

My words don’t mean much, so I will leave you with a few hadiths to reflect on. These hadiths show us the importance of having a clean heart, and not holding ill-feelings towards other Muslims.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported; I said, “O Messenger of Allah, who are the best people?” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “One with a clean heart and truthful in speech.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, we know truthful in speech. What is a clean heart?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “One that is mindful of Allah and pure, in which there is no sin, nor aggression, nor envy.” We said, “Who shows a sign of it?” The Prophet said, “One who hates worldliness and loves the Hereafter.” They said, “And who shows a sign of it?” The Prophet said, “A believer with good character.

Shu’ab al-Imān 4457

Anas ibn Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to me, “Young man if you are able every morning and evening to remove any ill-feelings from your heart towards anyone, do so.”

Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2678

Anas ibn Malik reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and he said, “Coming upon you now is a man from the people of Paradise.” A man from the Ansar came whose beard was disheveled by the water of ablution and he was carrying both of his shoes with his left hand. The next day the Prophet repeated the same words, and the man came in the same condition. The third day the Prophet repeated the same again, and the man came in the same condition. When the Prophet stood up to leave, Abdullah ibn Amr followed the man and he said, “I am in a dispute with my father and I have sworn not to enter my home for three days. May I stay with you?” The man said yes.

Abdullah stayed three nights with the man but he never saw him praying at night. Whenever he went to bed, he would remember Allah and rest until he woke up for morning prayer. Abdullah said that he never heard anything but good words from his mouth. When three nights had passed and he did not see anything special about his actions, Abdullah asked him, “O servant of Allah, I have not been in dispute with my father nor have I cut relations with him. I heard the Prophet say three times that a man from the people of Paradise was coming to us and then you came. I thought I should stay with you to see what you are doing that I should follow, but I did not see you do anything special. Why did the Prophet speak highly of you?” The man said, “I am as you have seen.” When Abdullah was about to leave, the man said, “I am as you have seen, except that I do not find ill-feeling in my soul towards the Muslims and I do not envy anyone because of the good that Allah has given them.” Abdullah said, “This is what you have achieved and it is something we have not accomplished.”

Musnad Aḥmad 12286

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 0 comments
4 Causes of Barakah in Work

4 Causes of Barakah in Work

Barakah; abundance, blessings, the unexplainable increase in something, usually considered a type of Karāmat (miracle) gifted by Allah to pious Muslims.

Barakah is something that all Muslims seek. The unexplainable and blessed increase in time, wealth, progeny, and impact is one of the greatest blessings that Allah can grant to His servants.

But how do we gain these beautiful blessings, and is there a way to constantly experience Barakah in our work/careers/wealth?

There are many narrations that indicate the sources of Barakah in work. Here are four of the most important ones.

1. Work for the sake of Allah

Any mundane act can be transformed into an act of worship by purifying our intention. This includes our daily work. When Halal work is done for the sake of pleasing and obeying Allah, it becomes a source of reward and Barakah. This is regardless of whether the work is in itself Islamic or not. A woodcutter, a plumber, an accountant, and a doctor all equally qualify for Barakah when working for the sake of pleasing Allah and earning a Halal livelihood.

Anas ibn Mālik reported:
A man from the Ansar came to the Prophet, peace, and blessings be upon him, and begged from him. The Prophet said, “Have you nothing in your house?”
The man said, “Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread on the ground, and a wooden bowl from which we drink water.”
The Prophet said, “Bring them to me.” The man brought these articles to him and the Prophet took them in his hands and he said, “Who will buy these?” Someone said, “I will buy them for one coin.”
The Prophet said twice or thrice, “Who will offer more than one coin?” Someone said, “I will buy them for two coins.” He sold them for two coins and the Prophet said, “Buy food with one of them and give it to your family. Buy an ax and bring it to me.”
The man brought it to him. The Prophet fixed a handle on it with his own hands and he said, “Go gather firewood and sell it, and do not let me see you for a fortnight.” The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten coins, he came and bought a garment and food.
The Prophet said, “This is better for you than for begging to come as a blemish on your face on the Day of Resurrection. Begging is only appropriate for three people: one in grinding poverty, one in serious debt, and one who must pay a difficult compensation.”
(Sunan Abī Dāwūd 1641)

2. Give a portion of your earnings in charity

Charity increases wealth and causes Barakah. Of course, this is only when it is done for the sake of Allah. If you wish to experience Barakah in your daily life, then try to do an act of charity every day. It does not have to monetary, any action you do that helps another creature is an act of charity.

Abū Buraydah reported:
The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Inside the human being are three hundred and sixty joints, upon each of them charity is due.”
They said, “Who can do that, O Prophet of Allah?”
The Prophet said, “It is spittle in the mosque you clean, or something in the road you move to the side. If you cannot find anything, it is enough to perform two cycles of forenoon prayer.”
(Sunan Abī Dāwūd 5242)

Asmāʾ reported:
The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Spend in charity and do not count it, lest Allah counts it against you. Do not hoard it, lest Allah withholds from you.”
(Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2451, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1029)

3. Work hard, but remain content and grateful

Muslims should work hard, while acknowledges that their sustenance is already decreed by Allah. Whether we work hard or not, Allah will send us what is written for us. The difference is that when we work hard for the sake of Allah, and accompany this with contentment in our destiny, and gratitude for our sustenance, then we experience Barakah in our earnings. Hard work followed by gratitude and contentment on a daily basis leads to Barakah.

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you.”
(Quran 14:7)

The Prophet, peace, and blessings upon him, said, “The best wealth is a tongue that remembers Allah, a grateful heart, and a believing wife to help him in his faith.”
(Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3094)

Abū Dhar reported:
The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “O Abū Dhar, do you say an abundance of possessions is wealth?” I said yes.
The Prophet said, “Do you say a lack of possessions is poverty?” I said yes.
The Prophet repeated this three times, then he said, “Wealth is in the heart and poverty is in the heart. Whoever is wealthy in his heart will not be harmed no matter what happens in the world. Whoever is impoverished in his heart will not be satisfied no matter how much he has in the world. Verily, he will only be harmed by the greed of his own soul.”
(al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 1618)

4. Do work that benefits the ummah

In general, almost every Halal source of income is beneficial to others. This is the nature of Halal business because for a transaction to be Halal, it needs to be mutually beneficial. Every Halal transaction is an exchange of money for a beneficial product or service. However, some careers are more beneficial than others. Seek out sources of income that have the most impact on the ummah (community). The more beneficial your career is to others, the more Barakah you will experience in your life.

Ibn ʿUmar reported:
The Prophet, peace, and blessings upon him, said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to people. The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. ”
(al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ 6192)

Summary

If we work for the sake of Allah, our work becomes an act of worship and a source of Barakah for us. This is even more so if the work in beneficial to the ummah. We can increase this Barakah by practicing gratitude, contentment, and charity. These good deeds can turn any Halal source of income into a source of Barakah.

To learn more about Barakah, read my book Getting The Barakah, available here.

Barakah eBook
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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, Time Management, 3 comments
3 Important Points Regarding Muslim History

3 Important Points Regarding Muslim History

I have been studying history all my life. It has always been a passion of mine and one of my favorite subjects. However, as a history teacher at a university, I noticed that my students don’t always share my passion for history. Often they are baffled, puzzled and horrified by the events of history. Some even lose faith in their religion when they study the histories of related empire.

There are three main reasons why this happens, and I will explain all three in this article. My hope is that by the end of this article, you will be able to study any part of history without it shaking your faith in the least.

The misnomer of Islamic History

The first major problem for Muslim students, in particular, is that the history of the Muslim Empires is often labeled Islamic History. This mislabelling of events creates unrealistic expectations in the mind of the student, as they assume whatever they are going to study represents the religion of Islam. They also may take this history as a source of Islamic legislation as it is labeled as Islamic.

The label itself is a problem. Classically, Muslim scholars divided history into two subjects, known in Arabic as Sīrah and Taʾrīk̲h̲. Sīrah focused on the life of the Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him) only. His life would be studied religiously, and various lessons extracted from it upon which the foundations of the religion were built.

Any book focusing on events after his time is called a Taʾrīk̲h̲ book. Generally, these books narrated all historical events for that time period without comment or judgment.

If we had to invent similar labels in English for these two parts of history, then we can say that the life of Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him) is Islamic History, and whatever came after his time is Muslim History. The difference is very important.

The life of Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him) represents Islam at its best. His life is to be studied in detail, analyzed for lessons, taken as a proof of the truthfulness of his message, and used as a basis for forming our understanding of Islam. It is truly Islamic History is that his actions were guided by revelation and represent the perfect role model of Islam for the world.

Anything that occurred after his life is actually Muslim History. It is the history of people who believe in Islam but are subject to human temptation, corruption, and error. They may at times accomplish amazing things in the name of Islam. And they may at times fall to the deepest of lows due to temptation or human error. Their lives do not represent Islam. Rather their lives represent the struggles, highs, and lows of the average Muslim.

Just as the Muslim world today is full of sinners, saints and everything in between. So was the case in every century of Muslim history. The difference being that the sinners and saints often made it into the history books, while everybody else was left out. This is because the life of the average person is probably too boring to write a history book about, but the life of a tyrant king or a saintly king is the topic of a bestseller.

If we approach the life of an individual after the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as Muslim History, this will lower our expectations and help us appreciate history better. We will be able to appreciate their struggles, understand their errors, and marvel at their accomplishments because this is the history of Muslims.

The Human Aspect of History

Continuing on the topic of Muslim History, the second issue that people often overlook is just how human Muslims throughout history have been.

Many Muslims approach history with the misconception that we are living at the worst point in history, and that every era before us was full of saintly Muslims representing the religion properly.

Reality is that every generation of Muslims had their saints, sinners and everything in between. The average Muslim general, king, merchant, and governor were just that; average.

They weren’t all saints. Their lives were a complex mix of good deeds, sins, and permissible deeds. They experienced highs and lows, moments of greatness and moments of weakness. They passed some tests of life and failed others. So it is perfectly normal to study the life of any individual in history and learn that he at some points in his life was a righteous worshipper, while at some other point murdered his enemies. This is because of the complexity of human life, and especially leadership and governance which often forces people to make extremely difficult decisions between life and death.

The correct approach to studying the life of anybody after the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to accept their humanity. The first generation of Muslims was the best, but they were still human and still erred. Each generation after that fell into different types of sins and mistakes. Just as we do today.

When you realize that every historical figure was struggling with desires and temptation just as we do, you become more understanding of their mistakes, and you approach history with more realistic expectations.

Different Times, Different Norms

The final thing that confuses people when studying history is that there are some fundamental differences between the cultures we live in and that of the ancient world.

A lot of young people have not been exposed to anything outside the modern culture and they assume that that is the way the world always was. As a result, when they study history they are shocked to find things that contradict their norms and it shakes their faith.

We live in a time that is very unique to human history. We live in the only century in human history without child marriages, slavery, or military expansion of empires. These things are foreign concepts to our times and many people wrongly assume that people always considered these things immoral or wrong.

Reality is that the bulk of human history, including almost all major cultures, civilizations, and religions, had no problem with any of these. Slavery, child marriages, and military expansion were global norms in the ancient world. This is simply a reality. As soon as we accept these as historical realities, then history makes a lot more sense. We must approach history with this understanding in order to understand it in its proper context.

Conclusion

If we accept this reality, then history makes a lot more sense. We shouldn’t be surprised by any of these concepts when we find them in the history of any civilization, because these were the norms of that time. To judge ancient cultures and civilizations by 21st-century norms is illogical and unfair. Historical incidents should be understood within the context of the places and times they took place in. If history is studied in light of these three facts, it becomes much easier to understand and interact with. We should not expect perfection from the people of the past, present or future. We should not project our cultural norms onto past civilizations. And we should not judge Islam by the actions of Muslims. Because Islam is the revelation from God, but Muslims are humans who struggle to follow that revelation to various degrees. Keep these three points in mind whenever studying any aspect of Muslim History.

To learn more about Muslim History, sign up for our online course Muslim Golden Ages: Rise & Fall today – limited seats available.

Muslim History
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Inner Peace, 2 comments
Yes, Fiqh needs to be localized

Yes, Fiqh needs to be localized

For some reason, a lot of people online get upset when they hear scholars in the West saying that they need to formulate their own Fiqh and not blindly follow the Fiqh of India/Saudi/Mauritania. They take it as an attack on traditional scholarship and a type of deviation.

This is a misunderstanding about what Western scholars intend when they say this. It is also a misunderstanding of the nature and history of Fiqh itself. In this short article, I want to highlight four things;

  1. Yes, Fiqh needs to be localized.
  2. It doesn’t mean what you think.
  3. It has precedence in Uṣūl al-Fiqh and History.
  4. Technically, all Muslims countries already do it.

The Need For Localization

Fiqh (understanding and interpretation of Islamic Law) is not set-in-stone, as Shariah is. Fiqh, by its nature, is meant to be localized and personalized. Throughout history, Muslim scholars have changed their verdicts based on the culture, customs, norms, and traditions of the people they were dealing with. This is completely normal and very practical. The opposite, importing Fiqh from foreign countries, is impractical and makes the religion unnecessarily difficult.

Let me provide an example from my community. I live in South Africa, but the majority of Islamic scholarship in my community has roots in India. As a result, a lot of the local Fiqh is imported from India and not relevant to the local community. One such fatwa is the idea that practicing Muslim men should wear the Kurta (traditional Indian dress, similar to the Thowb) and the Topi (Indian headgear). Some ʿulema declare it Sunnah, and others even declare it Wajib. Some go as far as to label Muslim men who don’t wear Topis as Fāsiqs. (Open Sinners)

There are several problems with this fatwa. The first problem is that it imports Indian culture and enforces it upon a traditional African community. The second problem is that it is not clearly addressed in the Quran and Sunnah. The third problem is that it makes life difficult for Muslims in an area in which the Shariah left things open and relaxed. They importing this fatwa from India to Africa, many traditional Africans are forced to dress like Indians in order to be considered religious.

The above case is a clear example of a Fiqh issue that is need of localization. Islamic dress codes should take into consideration local dress norms, while of course maintaining the boundaries of Hijāb that are clearly outlined in the Shariah. This brings me to the misunderstanding a lot of people have.

It doesn’t mean what you think

When scholars in the USA, for example, say that they need their own localized Fiqh, a lot of Muslims in the East are angered by this. This is because of two false assumptions. Some assume that Western scholars are saying that Eastern Fiqh is not good enough. Others assume that this means changing the fundamentals of Islam. Both assumptions are wrong.

Basing one’s opinions on local customs is not an insult to other cultures, it is the way Fiqh has always worked even during the time of the Ṣaḥāba. A clear example of this was the different clothing choices and lifestyles of Ṣaḥāba living in Syria, compared to those living in Madina. Both groups dressed and lived according to the culture of their lands within the boundaries of Shariah. Neither took it as an insult to their culture or opinions.

A simple fact that the first assumption overlooks is that there is no such thing as Eastern Fiqh. The Fiqh of Saudi Arabia differs greatly with the Fiqh of India, Turkey or Malaysia. Each of these ‘Eastern’ lands has its own localized Fiqh which is exactly how Fiqh is supposed to be. Muslims in Malaysia are not expected to follow Saudi fatwas, neither do Muslims in India follow Turkish Fiqh. So why then are Muslims in South Africa, U.K. or U.S.A. expected to follow Indian or Saudi fatwas, instead of deriving their own fatwas based on the local culture?

The second assumption is also wrong. None of these scholars are calling for changing the principles of the religion or matters of consensus. If anybody is doing this, then that individual is wrong and heading down a deviant path. Rather, all these scholars are calling for is changing the verdicts that are based on cultural norms in Saudi Arabia or India (or wherever) and replacing them with new verdicts based on the cultural norms of their own countries. And they plan to do all of this utilizing the principles (Uṣūl) of Fiqh and agreed upon Fiqh maxims. This brings me to the third point.

This is the way Fiqh has always operated

One of the primary maxims of Fiqh is “Local Custom is the deciding factor”. This maxim is found in all math’habs and has been the basis of fatawa for the bulk of Islamic History. It is the core reason why the Fiqh of North Africa is so different from the Fiqh of Indonesia, or why the Fiqh of India is different from the Fiqh of Turkey. The true scholars of any community have always localized their Fiqh based on principles like ʿUrf (local culture), Maṣlaḥa (focusing on the greater benefit for society) and ʿAdāt (local customs).

This has been the case throughout history in every culture and country. So why shouldn’t it be the case for Muslims living in South Africa or the U.S.A. where the ʿUrf and ʿAdāt of society are so different from “back home”? The above-stated maxim makes it the duty of scholars to localize Fiqh. So not only is it something good, it is actually something necessary for Islam to remain practical in every place and time.

Scholars “back home” already do this

Scholars in India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and every other Muslim country already localize their Fiqh. All of these scholars are wary about importing fatwas from other cultures and urge their followers to follow local fatwas instead. So why should scholars in the U.S.A. or South Africa be any different? Why should they import fatāwa from foreign countries that have no relevance to their lands and make life unnecessarily difficult?

Localization is the way forward

As Muslim communities are still new and relatively young in many of these countries, they are still formulating their local Fiqh. What is needed is for young bright minds to travel to Muslim countries, study Islam intensely under scholars there, then come back and…not repeat whatever they learned verbatim. Rather, they need to utilize the Uṣūl that they studied to think over, discuss and formulate the right Fiqh for their people. This means engaging with the tradition, instead of simply memorizing and narrating it. It means going against the opinions of your teachers on many issues. Not because they are wrong, but because their opinions are for their lands, and you need opinions suitable for your land.

I end with a simple question: Why is it so controversial that scholars in these lands (Africa, America, Europe, etc.) want to localize their Fiqh? Think about it.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 3 comments
Ramadan Tafseer Series

Ramadan Tafseer Series

This Ramadan I will be doing a LIVE Tafseer every morning after Fajr at 6 am (GMT +2). You can access the full series on my YouTube Channel. Above is the first episode in the series, focusing on verse 2 of Surah Al-Baqarah.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 0 comments