Islam Intensive 2021 – History of Islam

Islam Intensive 2021 – History of Islam

Alhamdulillah, 2020 has been a very productive year at Islamic Self Help, during which we launched the Islam Intensive ongoing program that is going very well. Besides this, we published two courses, three ebooks, and over a dozen articles this year, Alhamdulillah.

In 2021, we are taking Islam Intensive to the next level with a huge in-depth dive into Muslim History. The first three-six months of 2021 will focus on an intensive exploration of Muslim History from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) until today. The course will focus on lessons that we can learn from the various events in our history, as well as discussion on various negative and tragic events in our history. 

My hope is to produce one of the most detailed and beneficial history courses available online in shaa Allah.

We currently have over a year’s worth of content available in Islam Intensive and will begin the History program during the second week of January in shaa Allah. 

May Allah grant us success and barakah.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment
Surah al-Nisaa: A Thematic Tafsir

Surah al-Nisaa: A Thematic Tafsir

This article is an extract from the book Themes of the Quran, purchase the full ebook to learn more.

Many people assume from the name of this Surah that the theme is issues related to women. Because of this, they are confused to find many verses in it addressing topics like inheritance, dealing with the hypocrites and the people of the book as well as the dangers of Shirk.

Reality is that the theme of a Surah is not usually related to its name. The names were mostly given over time by scholars based on words unique or often repeated in that Surah, and so just like the theme of Surah Al-Baqarah is not cows, the theme of Surah An-Nisaa is not restricted to women. 

Themes of Surah al-Nisaa

This Surah is a Madinan Surah and again focuses on the themes of relevance to Madinan society, in this case the theme is society itself. The Surah addresses every aspect of the Muslim society including the following:

  1. Orphans (4:2-3, 6, 128)
  2. Marriage (4:3-4, 19-25, 32-35, 127-130)
  3. Inheritance (4:11-14, 176)
  4. Polygyny (4:3, 129)
  5. People of the Book (4:46-56, 153-174)
  6. Hypocrites (4:88-90, 142-146)
  7. Military operations (4:71-78)
  8. Peace and Justice (4:92-94, 135)
  9. Immigration from a bad society to a good one (4:97-100)

The Inheritance Question

Looking at the issue of inheritance, most of the laws of Islam are detailed in the Hadiths. Yet in this Surah, Allah details the laws of inheritance clearly and warns those who reject His Laws of the Hellfire. This is because many societal and family problems are caused due to fighting over inheritance. If Muslims submit to Allah’s judgment and accept the divisions He made, all these societal problems can be avoided.

These days, it is common to find many Muslims questioning the division of the inheritance in the Qur’an. This is a very arrogant attitude as it indicates that we think we know better than Allah. Allah has divided the inheritance based on the obligations he gave his servants. As the males of this ummah have more financial responsibility than the females, their portion of the inheritance is likewise proportionately more. This is in no way meant to indicate superiority, rather it is meant to indicate responsibility.

Family Law

This Surah lays heavy emphasis on family dynamics. It also lays a heavy emphasis on the importance of the man being the leader of the household and upholding that position responsibly. In modern times, this concept has been disputed and the results are failed marriages, high divorce rates,[1] the spread of Zina and general chaos in society.

For a society to function properly, families need to be stable and in line with the commands of Allah. The results of rejecting the family structure laid down by Allah can be seen in the abundant marital problems that surround us on a daily basis.

Related to this is the issue of polygyny. This Surah clearly allows a man to have a maximum of four wives on the condition that he is responsible and deals with them fairly. Modernists have tried to undermine and misinterpret this verse to bring Islam more in line with the norms of modern society. These modernists fail to realize that the culture they are trying to imitate is a culture revolving around unrestricted polygamy without responsibilities i.e. adultery and extra-marital affairs. 

History is proof that any society which practiced polygyny the way the Qur’an allows it has far less social problems. This practice simultaneously solves the social dilemma of the widows, divorcees and single righteous women who can’t find righteous husbands, as well as the issue of men being polygamous by nature. Society is better off when polygyny is practiced responsibly.

The Rights of Orphans

We also see in this Surah a special emphasis on caring for orphans. Orphans make up a large segment of any society and when societies neglect them, they end up turning to crime to support themselves and survive. Caring for orphans is a great deed and raising orphans as one’s own children gives them a second chance at succeeding in life and benefits the entire community.

Cultural Controversies

The verses in this Surah tend to be controversial due to the changing social norms in the West, and the pressure put upon Muslims to adopt these changes. While there exist many cultural practices in Muslim communities that need to change, it is important to distinguish between those and fixed rules clearly established in the Qur’an.

Cultural issues like prohibiting women from praying in Masjids, banning women from driving, education and work, and the acceptance of spousal abuse need to change. These practices are not Islamic, and removing them is beneficial for the entire ummah.

On the other hand, the concepts of Hijab and polygyny, the role of the husband and wife in the family structure, and the division of the inheritance are clear commandments which form part of the foundation of our religion, and cannot be changed to suit people’s desires.

If one analyses these laws with an open mind, looking at the benefits of implementing them, instead of just looking at things from an ego-driven perspective, it is quite clear that the laws revealed by Allah are what is best for society.

I believe that any society that bases its principles on those covered in Surah An-Nisaa will become one of the best, most just and most stable communities on earth.        


[1] A common cause of divorce these days is the reversal of roles in the family structure. This reversal of roles causes a lot of animosity and over time it erodes the marriage and eats away at its foundations.

This article is an extract from the book Themes of the Quran, purchase the full ebook to learn more.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 0 comments
The role of Akhlāq in Personal Development

The role of Akhlāq in Personal Development

A Problem of the heart

Personal Development in the 21st Century tends to be a very selfish affair. The subtle and growing influence of individualism has caused many people to pursue their goals at all costs, with no regard for the impact it has on anyone else. We see this at every level of society. From people who break up families to pursue their personal goals, to companies that turn a blind eye to slavery to produce cheap products. The fulfillment of personal goals takes precedence over everything else in the new world.

In pursuit of their goals and dreams, people today are willing to put others down, turn a blind eye to injustice, pretend to be someone they are not, and break ties with anyone they view as an inconvenience in the path of their worldly goals. A selfish self-centered approach to goal-setting and personal development is slowly becoming the norm. When personal development is not grounded in Islamic foundations, its roots become shaky and its results potentially destructive.

The topic of individualism and its effects on the Muslim world is something I hope to explore in more detail in a later article. Here I want to focus on a potential Islamic solution to this problem. One potential solution is for Muslims to ground their personal development in the Islamic concept of Akhlāq. By laying a foundation of Akhlāq, the believer builds a wall of protection that allows him to pursuit his goals in a halal manner that does not compromise the dignity or rights of anyone else.

Akhlāq and Adāb

The study of personality traits in Islam is divided into two primary categories; Akhlāq and Adāb. Akhlāq refers to our inner characteristics like honesty, sincerity, and humility. These are the deeds of the heart and form the foundation of our personality. Akhlāq includes our attitude towards Allah, ourselves, and others. It is a reflection of who we really are deep down inside.

Adāb refers to our external manners and etiquette, our speech and actions. These are things like smiling, giving charity, speaking politely, and assisting people. These two subjects work together to make a Muslim beautiful, both inside and out. Reflecting on which of the two is more important, my conclusion is that it is Akhlāq that is more important. This is because it is possible to fake good manners, but nobody can fake good character. You can fake your words and deeds, but you cannot fake the actions of the heart. Humans have an intrinsic way of recognizing when someone is insincere towards them. We are able to read lies in people’s eyes, jealousy in people’s smiles, and arrogance in people’s tone of voice. The diseases of the heart manifest on the body in ways that betray the individual. This is often the case when a person only focuses on the external and forgets to work on the heart.

Keeping this definition in mind, the concept of Akhlāq becomes integral for curbing many of the wrong paths people choose when pursing their life goals. To put it simply; when a Muslim has great Akhlāq, he/she will ensure that in pursuing their worldly goals, they do not harm their own Afterlife, or the lives and feelings of anyone else. Therefore, working on our Akhlāq should take precedence over chasing worldly goals.

The Benefits of Akhlāq

When working on one’s character, the following characteristics are crucial for ensuring that our pursuit of worldly goals does not endanger our afterlife. These are the primary characteristics of the believer, and every Muslim should prioritize working on these, even if one does not have any interest in pursuing worldly goals.

  1. Sincerity – The character of the believer is grounded primarily in their intentions. This is crucial to every aspect of our lives. This religion is sincerity. Sincerity towards Allah, and His Creation. A sincere believer will not pursue fame or shady goals. A sincere believer will live an ethical life and pursue his goals only through ethical means. A sincere believer will not be two-faced, more will he deceive anyone purposely.
  2. Humility – Humility is the essence of good character. In my book Best of Creation, I showed how humility does not contradict self-confidence. A true believer is both confident in the abilities Allah has given him, while humble about it. This balance helps the believer achieve goals without developing a destructive ego. Developing a sense of humility is essential for curbing the ego and remaining grounded in one’s journey of life. Without humility, every successful goal has the potential to turn an individual into a nasty arrogant show-off.
  3. Empathy – Individualism has caused too many people to lose any sense of consideration for the feelings of others. All that matters is my desires, my goals, and my life. Consumed by this mindset, too often we hurt our parents, spouses, children, and the rest of society in chasing worldly goals. No goal is worth breaking ties and hurting people. The believer loves for his brother what he loves for himself. This empathy forms a core part of his personality, guiding his plans and goals so that he can pursue them without causing any harm in the process.
  4. Justice – A sense of justice is necessary for any believer. Universal Justice is a fundamental part of Islamic Law, and therefore should be an ingrained part of every believer’s character. Turning a blind eye to oppression in order to fulfill one’s personal goals is a compromise a believer should never willingly make. Every decision must be guided by justice, to ensure that in pursuing our goals, we do not contribute to the oppression of anyone else.
  5. Selflessness – Selflessness here refers to the opposite of selfishness. It means wanting for others what you want for ourself. The idea that selflessness means neglecting one’s own needs and harming oneself is a misconception and does not fit the Islamic definition of selflessness. Selflessness simply means not being selfish. The believer wants success in both worlds, for everybody. His actions are guided by this belief which fuels every goal he develops. As a result, he rarely sets goals that are selfish. His focus is on benefiting society and helping as many people as possible achieve their goals in both worlds. A selfless person will not harm others in his pursuit of success.

Conclusion

The believer is guided by Islam in everything he/she does. Worldly goals are secondary to one’s relationship with Allah, one’s family ties, and one’s spiritual development. In pursuing worldly goals, the believer grounds his goals in sincerity, humility, empathy, justice, and selflessness. These characteristics guide him to the best goals that benefit humanity in both worlds. In doing so, the believer escapes the traps of individualism and achieves higher deeper spiritual goals that have a lasting impact long after he has left the world.

To learn more about the Islamic approach to personal development, get hold of my latest book Productivity Principles of Umar II, now available in PDF, Paperback, and Kindle.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 3 comments
Cyber Weekend Sales

Cyber Weekend Sales

The following offers are valid from 25 November 2020 until 2 December 2020.

Online Course Sales:

Aqeedah al-Tahawiyah – $18 (ACCESS IT HERE)

Muslim Golden Ages – $20 (ACCESS IT HERE)

Usul al-Fiqh Intensive – $18 (ACCESS IT HERE)

How to Homeschool Like a Pro – $25 (ACCESS IT HERE)

The Ultimate Self-Confidence Course – $30 (ACCESS IT HERE)

How to Self-Publish Like a Pro – $10 (ACCESS IT HERE)

eBook Sales:

Productivity Principles of Umar II – $7 (GET IT HERE)

Getting The Barakah: Time Management – $3 (GET IT HERE)

Best of Creation: Self-Confidence – $3 (GET IT HERE)

Themes of the Quran – $3 (GET IT HERE)

10 eBook Bundle – $15 (GET IT HERE)

The above discounts apply only for the selected products when purchased between 25 November 2020 until 2 December 2020 from these specific links.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, 0 comments
Living Fiqh: Do No Harm

Living Fiqh: Do No Harm

Fiqh refers to the understood and applied laws of Islam, as understood by any of the recognized schools of thought. Although Islamic Law was initially designed to assist Muslims in living an Islamic lifestyle. In later times, it devolved into a strict list of dos and don’ts without any understanding of the rationale and wisdom of these laws. In this series, we aim to revive an understanding of the law that focuses on the wisdom behind the law, so that Muslims can live their lives in an Islamic manner, understanding why the laws are the way they are.

Fiqh Principle #1: Do No Harm

Among the fundamental principles of Fiqh is the removal of harm. This has been worded in a variety of ways across a variety of books and fields of study. Some scholars word it as ‘al-arar Yuzāl‘ (harm must be eliminated),(Shahrul Hussain, p. 48) others prefer the hadith wording ‘Lā Ḍarar wa lā Ḍirār‘ (there should be no harm or return of harm), and while other scholars word it as ‘Dar’ al-Mafsadah‘ (the rejection of harm). (Ibn Ashur, p. 91) All three wordings indicate the same core principle; Muslims must live their lives in a way that is beneficial for humanity, and avoiding harming any creation without a legitimate reason.

The removal of harm is central to Islamic law. It is so important that Ibn Ashur listed it among the two main goals of the Shariah, along with the attainment of benefit. He stated that the laws of Islam as a whole revolve around either assisting us in gaining that which is beneficial for us, or protecting us from that which is harmful to us. In this way, half of our religion revolves around the removal of harm.

The principle is derived from various verses of the Quran, hadiths, as well as a deep understanding of the purpose behind various laws of Islam. The primary hadith upon which this principle is based is mentioned by al-Nawawi (RA) in his Forty Hadith collection. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Lā Ḍarar wa lā Ḍirār (There should be no harm or return of harm.)” (Nawawi, no. 32)

The core message of this hadith that Muslims should neither initiate harm to others, nor respond to others in a harmful manner that goes beyond the limits of justice. Retaliation within the limits of justice is allowed but not encouraged. For example, if someone is attacked, it is permitted to fight back or seek justice in court, but to forgive and overlook is better. However, it would not be permissible to go beyond the scope of justice by attacking the attacker’s family, harming the individual in a way worse than how they harmed you, or harming them more times than they harmed you. The Shariah seeks to limit harms, but also to balance this with a strong emphasis on justice.

How this manifests itself in the law

The primary way in which the removal of harm manifests itself in the law is through the prohibitions. By default, anything that Allah has prohibited is harmful to society. In most cases, the harm is clear and evident like in the case of alcohol and gambling. Sometimes the harm may be unknown but we still trust Allah’s perfect wisdom and follow the law without question. Many times the harms are only revealed later when it is too late to undo the harm.

A sad example of this is the rise in fornication and adultery rates in our era. the sexual revolution brought in a huge change in the way people approached sexual relations. The prohibition of fornication was not only shunned but ridiculed. People saw it as irrational, restricting fun, and an obstacle in the way of personal freedom. Blinded by their passions, a large segment of humanity began engaging in these major sins without fear or guilt. Unaware of the harms caused by this sin, the sins eventually became norms, habits, and lifestyles, and opened the doors to worse forms of immorality.

The harms of this revolution are clearer today after entire generations have grown up in such a culture. The spiraling divorce rate, rising rates of depression, suicide, broken families, spread of STDs, and rise in new forms of immorality are all directly linked to this new immorality-based lifestyle. The harms of these major sins is more evident today then it was twenty years ago, but still the march towards destruction continues as people ignore all these warning signs and remain focused on their base desires. The prohibition of fornication in Islam is rooted firmly in the prevention of harm to oneself and others, as fornication harms all of society, especially the individual who makes it a lifestyle.

How to live by this principle

The removal of harm is not just a Fiqh principle that guides our understanding of the prohibitions. It is really a way of life. A Muslim should consciously live his/her life in a way that minimizes harm and maximizes benefit to others. We must remain extra conscious about the effects and impact of our actions on others. This consciousness must guide all of our decisions.

Whether it is in our business dealings, family relationships, friendships, or online interactions, the avoidance of harm should play a central role in shaping the way we deal with other people. Living by this principle means living a lifestyle that is free from slander, backbiting, abuse, mockery, violence, betrayal, and every type of injustice. Any action that causes unjust harm to another has no place in the lifestyle of the believer.

The principles of Fiqh are more than just a list of dos and don’ts. They are essential guidelines for how we live our lives. By choosing to live consciously and to be aware of the impact of our actions on others, we can minimize our harm, maximize our productivity, and build a better case for ourselves for the day of judgment.

Looking to learn more? Check out our bundle offer here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 0 comments