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Who is Sayyid Qutb?

He is the writer of Fi Dhilaal al-Quran (In the Shade of the Quran), a 4000 page commentary on the Quran. He is one of the best and most influential writers in Arab history.

He was partly responsible for the 1952 revolution in Egypt against British colonialism which lead to Gamal Abdel Nasser assuming power and some of the planning and organization for the revolution took place inside Sayyid Qutb's home. Gamal at this time would pretend to be a good Muslim and exploited the support of Sayyid Qutb and his friends, and Hasan al-Banna's students, to take over Egypt.

Gamal turned out to be a perfect tool of US and British interests and it didn't take him long to start killing thousands of Muslim activists around Egypt. Qutb and his family had their own share of this. Qutb spent 10 years in prison, ended with Gamal hanging him in 1966 after a fake trial that had the entire world speaking out against it.

The West and Israel are scared of him and hate him with a visceral hatred because he was one of the most unrelenting critics of Western moral bankruptcy and their agendas in the Muslim world. As happens with everyone who has dared to speak out against the US and Israel, you won't find much positive information about him anywhere, especially not in English.

Many Muslims unfortunately believe the false information given against him and so you will find hatred for him among Muslims as well.

But as for those of us with functioning brains and hearts and who have actually read his books and his biography, we know that he was a good man, a man of rare intelligence and integrity, who lived his message, rejected all the wealth offered to him by Nasser and the US, suffered the worst tortures for years in his old age and died for the sake of Allah.

In important matters I suggest taking the opinion of more mainstream figures like Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Ibn Taymiyyah, etc. But if you ever feel your faith is weakening, or you are losing hope, or you feel that Islam has too many enemies and too few friends, reading a page of his commentary is enough to rekindle the fire in your heart and renew your dedication to Allah.

I have only read him in Arabic, so can't speak about the power of his works when translated.

The correct opinion regarding Sayyid Qutb is expressed by Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi and Ibn Baaz, who say that his work contains vast amounts of good, but that he wasn't an infallible man and the seeker of knowledge should use many sources and shouldn't take Sayyid Qutb's works as scripture, the way some people use his works to justify violence by taking his words out of the context of his time and place in history.

When Does Ramadan 2013 Start in the US? Some Possible Answers

According to the following naked-eye visibility map from the Makkah Calendar, the US should start fasting tomorrow July 9th (green and blue areas), except for Michigan's Upper Peninsula and possibly some other areas.



The city of Houston, Texas should be able to see the new moon at 11:16 PM tonight local time, and Palo Alto at 10:16 PM local time (not sure if these are in daylight saving time or not). [for more information on these hours check out the tables at the bottom of this page]

The Fiqh Council has declared July 9th the start of Ramadan in the US (i.e. tomorrow is the first day of fasting).

As it is still early, we can wait until later in the night to fully decide the issue. InshAllah I will keep updating this as I find new information.

Israel

Any American who supports Israel but doesn't support the right of Native Americans to violently round up all Americans, bulldoze their homes, throw them into the reservations, massacre those who refuse to leave, and take over the country is a hypocrite.

The Makkah Towers: Are They Against Islam, and What Should Be Our Stance Regarding Them?

Comment received on tumblr:
That tower was built against Ka'ba, if you make researches, you can see
My answer:

Here is the thing, regardless of the intentions of the people behind this building, it is still one of the tallest buildings in the world with a super-massive LCD screen that constantly shows dhikr words, and above it there is one of the biggest pieces of calligraphy of the word "Allah".

It is the hand of God at work. People with questionable intentions creating things that glorify Him SWT. And this, in my opinion, is the proper way of thinking of this building and the famous mosques that contain incredible "waste" of money (for example Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque).

These buildings were made in the name of Allah. The real intentions of the people who made them is incredibly unimportant when you consider the greatness of the One who allowed it to be built, and who allowed it to be built in His name and in His glorification.

The Quran opposes the destruction of churches and monasteries, even though inside a church often Jesus is worshiped as a secondary deity. The reason is that these buildings, even though they have been corrupted, they still retain a relationship to Allah, and they were built in His name.

A beautiful cathedral, regardless of how you think of it and regardless of who built it, is still a sign of Allah's greatness and glorifies His name. So do these towers. You can say they were built by evil people, but these people are just the tools of Allah. Allah makes them tire themselves in holding His name high above the earth for their own selfish reasons, but Allah's goal is accomplished.

If you remove the humans and their intentions from it, what remains is the name of Allah high in the sky looking down on the Ka`ba. It is a beautiful spiritual experience to be by the Ka`ba and see His name up there, it is a reminder of who is King of this place.

So to me when people get hung up on who made this thing or why, they forget Allah's greatness. Allah is the King of the heavens and the earth, and it was He Who put His name there. Look at these buildings through the lens of Allah's greatness, and you will see that humans don't matter, it is almost like they don't exist. It is just Allah from beginning to the end. And then you can appreciate how these buildings are a beautiful sign of Allah's greatness.

UPDATE: Follow up comment received on tumblr:
Thanks a lot for replying me, but you say that building shows the Greatness of Allah, but The New Mecca Plan contains that building also to symbolise the greatness of so-called god of Babil : Sin.. And the crescent OVER the name of Allah symbolises only one part of that so-called god Sin.. Again thanks for replying :)
Are there any official records that say that this is what they meant by those symbols? No. A symbol's meaning depends on your interpretation of it, and if you make a bad interpretation, then the problem may be with you and not the symbol.

It is like people's speech. You can interpret it in good or bad ways. It is really just people who have nothing better to do who try to find bad interpretations for things when a good interpretation would work. The Quran commands against guesswork and thinking badly of others, saying  "some suspicion and guesswork is sin" (49:12).

A crescent is important in Islam because it signifies the beginning of the lunar month, which determines many important Islamic events. And the shape of the building is pretty normal in modern architecture. Why shouldn't we stop here instead of finding a bad interpretation for everything and doing guesswork that might be sinful?

If we find an ancient language in which the symbol ﷲ (Allah in Arabic) means the devil, does this mean we should throw away the symbol and that everyone who uses it is a bad person and devil-worshiper? Google "devil fork" and you will see how closely similar to the Allah symbol the pictures are.

And even assuming that bad things were meant by the symbolism of the buildings, there is nothing to stop Muslims from reclaiming the symbols for their own purposes and benefit. The Muslims were uncertain whether they should do the walk between Safaa and Marwa during Haj since it had become a symbol of idolatry before Islam. But Allah reclaimed it for Himself in the Quran and thus now it is a symbol of Islam.

Rather than looking at the buildings from the lens of evil, idle or misguided ancient people, look at them through the lens of Islam and you will see only beauty.

Stack Overflow

One of the powerful rhetorical techniques in the Quran is what I call the stack overflow. It is to quickly fill the reader's available memory with images and concepts. This causes the reader to surrender their judgment. It opens the mind and removes the person's ego, in this way creating an opening into the person's heart, and once the opening is made to place a message inside it. Thus in the sura below we see the first 13 verses quickly filling the memory with images and heavy concepts, and once the opening is made, the Quran inserts verse 14 into the heart.
Quran - Sura 81 At-Takweer
In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.
1. When the sun is rolled up.
2. When the stars are dimmed.
3. When the mountains are set in motion.
4. When the relationships are suspended.
5. When the beasts are gathered.
6. When the oceans are set aflame.
7. When the souls are paired.
8. When the girl, buried alive, is asked:
9. For what crime was she killed?
10. When the records are made public.
11. When the sky is peeled away.
12. When the Fire is set ablaze.
13. When Paradise is brought near.
14. Each soul will know what it has readied.
The sura then uses verses 15-18 to maintain the opening. Instead of putting new arguments in, these verses add more images to the brain stack so that it doesn't have a chance to become critical and egotistic, and inserts verse 19 into the heart.
15. I swear by the galaxies.
16. Precisely running their courses.
17. And by the night as it recedes.
18. And by the morn as it breathes.
19. This is the speech of a noble messenger.
The same technique is repeated with 20 and 21, adding new images and concepts to the stack. Knowing that the many stack-filling verses from the beginning of the sura till here have disarmed the reader, the sura is now ready to make a complex argument. Verses 22-25 are arguments:
20. Endowed with power, eminent with the Lord of the Throne.
21. Obeyed and honest.
22. Your friend is not possessed.
23. He saw him on the luminous horizon.
24. And He does not withhold knowledge of the Unseen.
25. And it is not the word of an accursed devil.
 Next, stack filler at 26, argument at 27, another stack filler at 28, and the final argument at 29.
26. So where are you heading?
27. It is only a Reminder to all mankind.
28. To whoever of you wills to go straight.
29. But you cannot will, unless God wills—The Lord of the Worlds.
The most famous Islamic example of this concept at work is Surat at-Najm (Chapter 53 of the Quran). When the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah upon him, read out this chapter to a crowd of disbelievers and hating rivals, they were so disarmed and possessed that they couldn't help but obey the command in the sura's final verse to bow down. This occasion and others like it made the Prophet's enemies start saying he was a wizard, since they felt powerless in front of the powerful language of the Quran. Below is an English translation of the sura, which loses much of the sweetness of the Arabic. In Arabic most of the verses end with the same sound, but from verse 57 the musical sounds end. The sura, confident that the reader's mind is now fully open and disarmed, stops the music to acquire the reader's full attention, then inserts a potentially life-changing message into the heart.
1. By the star as it goes down.
2. Your friend has not gone astray, nor has he erred.
3. Nor does he speak out of desire.
4. It is but a revelation revealed.
5. Taught to him by the Extremely Powerful.
6. The one of vigor. He settled.
7. While he was at the highest horizon.
8. Then he came near, and hovered around.
9. He was within two bows’ length, or closer.
10. Then He revealed to His servant what He revealed.
11. The heart did not lie about what it saw.
12. Will you dispute with him concerning what he saw?
13. He saw him on another descent.
14. At the Lotus Tree of the Extremity.
15. Near which is the Garden of Repose.
16. As there covered the Lotus Tree what covered it.
17. The sight did not waver, nor did it exceed.
18. He saw some of the Great Signs of his Lord.
19. Have you considered al-Lat and al-Uzza?
20. And Manat, the third one, the other?
21. Are you to have the males, and He the females?
22. What a bizarre distribution.
23. These are nothing but names, which you have devised, you and your ancestors, for which God sent down no authority. They follow nothing but assumptions, and what the ego desires, even though guidance has come to them from their Lord.
24. Or is the human being to have whatever he desires?
25. To God belong the Last and the First.
26. How many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession avails nothing, except after God gives permission to whomever He wills, and approves?
27. Those who do not believe in the Hereafter give the angels the names of females.
28. They have no knowledge of that. They only follow assumptions, and assumptions are no substitute for the truth.
29. So avoid him who has turned away from Our remembrance, and desires nothing but the present life.
30. That is the extent of their knowledge. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who has accepted guidance.
31. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. He will repay those who do evil according to their deeds, and recompense those who do good with the best.
32. Those who avoid gross sins and indecencies—except for minor lapses—your Lord is of Vast Forgiveness. He knows you well, ever since He created you from the earth, and ever since you were embryos in your mothers’ wombs. So do not acclaim your own virtue; He is fully aware of the righteous.
33. Have you considered him who turned away?
34. And gave a little, and held back?
35. Does he possess knowledge of the unseen, and can therefore foresee?
36. Or was he not informed of what is in the Scrolls of Moses?
37. And of Abraham, who fulfilled?
38. That no soul bears the burdens of another soul.
39. And that the human being attains only what he strives for.
40. And that his efforts will be witnessed.
41. Then he will be rewarded for it the fullest reward.
42. And that to your Lord is the finality.
43. And that it is He who causes laughter and weeping.
44. And that it is He who gives death and life.
45. And that it is He who created the two kinds—the male and the female.
46. From a sperm drop, when emitted.
47. And that upon Him is the next existence.
48. And that it is He who enriches and impoverishes.
49. And that it is He who is the Lord of Sirius.
50. And that it is He who destroyed the first Aad.
51. And Thamood, sparing no one.
52. And the people of Noah before that; for they were most unjust and most oppressive.
53. And He toppled the ruined cities.
54. And covered them with whatever covered them.
55. So which of your Lord's marvels can you deny?
56. This is a warning, just like the first warnings.
57. The inevitable is imminent.
58. None besides God can unveil it.
59. Do you marvel at this discourse?
60. And laugh, and do not weep?
61. Lost in your frivolity?
62. So bow down to God, and worship!
[translations from clearquran.com

Islam and Homosexuality, Solutions for Homosexual Muslims

Anonymous question received on tumblr:
what do you think of homosexuality?
My answer, with minor edits:

Thank you for writing and may Allah bless you. I am not a religious scholar or scientist, yet I have seen so many incorrect and un-Islamic opinions given on this topic by Muslims that I feel it would be good to reply to your question. Modern research (read the essay The Role of Hypothalamus and Endocrine System in Sexuality by Swaab) suggests that some people are biologically predisposed to being attracted to their own sex. The same way that a man is biologically predisposed to being attracted to another man’s beautiful wife. In both cases the reaction is or might be biologically valid and natural.

But in both cases God has forbidden acting upon it, so if our goal is to please God then we wouldn’t fulfill desires that God doesn’t want us to fulfill. We trust God’s wisdom in forbidding certain things. This doesn’t mean that we think there is no good in these things, the Quran itself says that alcohol has various benefits, for example, yet it forbids it.

What should homosexual people do then? Every person is different, what works for someone may not work for another. God says “seek help through patience and prayer” (Surat al-Baqarah 2:45), this is the best prescription I can make. Seek knowledge, both religious and scientific, and be patient and sincere with God.

Some people are born without eyes, hands or legs. Some are born with conditions like X/Y gene mosaicism making them unable to identify fully as men or women. These are all part of the tests of life, with which God tests humans, both those with the conditions and those around them.

Not being able to see might be a bigger test than homosexuality. Yet we find blind people who love God and are patient and humble and accept what God has decided for them and who try to make the best of their lives by memorizing Quran and excelling in the fields of knowledge open to them.

A homosexual person too, through patience and sincerity, will be guided to a fulfilling and pious life inshAlllah. The God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in between is perfectly capable of solving a homosexual person's dilemma in a way acceptable to Him.

Clearing Yasir Qadhi's Name, Refuation, Salafis, and Slander

This is a question received on our Islamic Art and Quotes tumblr:
AsalamuAlaykum, I love your blog and all mashaAllah but seriously you gotta stop posting about Yasir Qadi, he's refuted from even his own teacher. You should really look into the sheikhs you put on your blog before posting them this will be held accountable against you if someone was to go and search him up and start taking from him. AllahuaAclim though, Allah knows best, do your own research and come up with a verdict inshaAllah. Forgive me if I have wronged you.
This was my answer, with minor edits:

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I take the good from everyone and leave their judgment to Allah. I haven’t seen anything but good from him. Does he believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment? Yes. That’s 99% of faith.

To me speaking against someone who is obviously a good and striving Muslim, even if he has said or believes many wrong things, is a very serious matter. It is like calling a woman an adulteress without proof, and there is an entire chapter of the Quran dedicated to baseless claims against Muslims and the severe punishments waiting for people who make such claims (Surat an-Nur, 24:23: “Truly, those who accuse chaste, unwary, believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter. For them awaits a terrible punishment.”)

The burden of proof is not on me, but on the one who speaks against Yasir Qadhi and any other Muslim.

You said: “he’s refuted from even his own teacher”—this ambiguous accusation, what does it even mean? This is gossip and slander. And what makes us know whether his teacher or himself is the better, more God-fearing, and more knowledgeable person?

InshAllah if you know something I don’t, if he has gone against any of the clear verses in the Quran, then feel free to mention it.

I have followed his MuslimMatters blog and have read all of his twitter feed (when I was looking for Islamic quotes) and have seen only beautiful words and advice from him.

What I’ve seen is some Salafis hating on him for political reasons (he is not for us so he must be against us, this kind of thinking is also why I stay away from all sects and groups) and spreading baseless, very general slander against him without ever mentioning a single clear piece of evidence.

What has stirred the Salafis against him is his recent speeches critiquing Salafism. But what Yasir Qadhi says is perfectly valid. It just makes some people uncomfortable.

Islam is a religion of the heart and the heart is the most important thing. Once a person shows signs that he has a good heart, even if he believes in and does wrong things, all of these are to be forgiven. I am not saying Yasir Qadhi has done anything wrong, but as a general rule. What matters is the heart of the person, not their political or intellectual positions.

From the evidence I have seen, the good things he has said far outweigh any wrong he may have said, and the good in his heart far outweighs any evil that may be there. Even if I disagree with him on a thousand things, we automatically agree on the things that really matter, because both of us are practicing Muslims.

So brother/sister, if you have clear proofs against him, feel free to mention them. But if you are just passing around what you hear others say, without full and certain knowledge, then please remember these verses: “When you were spreading it with your tongues and saying with your mouths things of which you had no knowledge, you considered it to be a trivial matter, but, in God’s sight, it was a mighty thing. When you heard it, why did you not say, ‘It is not right for us to speak of this. God forbid! This is a monstrous slander.’ God warns you never to repeat the like of it again, if you are true believers.” (Quran 24:15-17)

Is There a Difference in Prayer (Salah) of Men and Women? (Answered)

This is a question received on the QuranClub Facebook page (my answer is below)
i have a question for you, please it's an earnest request to you for giving me true explanation according to Qura'an and Hadith.
Question: is there any difference of offering salah between men and woman?
If so or not so, can you provide me any proper link showing and explaining the method of offering ''sunna way salah'' for woman?
NB : i have seen two videos showing method of prophetic (sallalahualihi wasalam) way salah.
1. by Honourable Zakir Naik :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkoGRmdS1HA
2.is the link for sunni or shia'a ?!?!?!? OR THE PROPER WAY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id7WRNGCxzQ
please, i will be waiting for your reply as it has become very burning situation for me. i, myself, am searching and researching many websites but finding difference. so i am feeling very much confused.
may allah give you best reward for it. jazakallahu khairan

Answer

Assalamu Alaikum,

The main, fundamental rule is that there is no difference between the salah of men and women, for the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said "Pray as you saw me pray", and this saying is to both men and women, not just men.

So this is the main rule. Everything besides this are just recommendations that some scholars have made so that women follow somewhat stricter rules of modesty, and many respected scholars are against any difference.

For example some scholars have said that a woman in sujood should lower her chest to touch her legs, so that she does not have their backside raised (which makes the shape of her body stand out more). But this is not a necessary recommendation because a woman should either pray at home or in the women's area at the mosque which is behind the men's. So there would be no stranger (non-mahram) men to see a woman in that position, so that the rule is unnecessary.

So if a woman finds herself praying in a situation where a random male may see her body shape due to some of the salah positions, she could try to make some differences to keep more modest, but this is about the larger, general rule of being modest and not limited to salah.

When it comes to salah, if there are no random males looking, a woman should pray exactly like a man (and like the Prophet), since this is what the Prophet said.

Below are good anwers by Shaykh ibn Baaz and Ibn al-Uthaymeen saying that the rule is that there is no difference (they are in Arabic):
http://islamqa.info/ar/ref/38162
http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/877

Drawing Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islamic Rulings and Opinions


There are no clear and authentic texts forbidding the depiction of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the Quran or the Sunnah. There are some debatable hadiths that forbid drawing images in general, but many mainstream scholars today consider drawing things to be acceptable in Islam (such as Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, president of Ittihad `Ulama al-Muslimeen - World Union of Islamic Scholars).

There are historic depictions of the Prophet, such as from the Ottoman period, done under the Ottoman Sultans, who were Orthodox Muslims. The Islamic rulings forbidding the depiction of the Prophet come from the last half of the 20th century, from al-Azhar and other institutions, and are all debatable.

The entire issue is about respect. Is it respectful to create drawings of the Prophet or name objects with his name? It is not a 100% clear issue regardless of what some might say, but as a Muslim who wishes to gain the favor of Allah, I'd take the safer road of not depicting him or naming objects with his name.

But, if someone else does it, in my opinion it doesn't necessitate the least bit of attention or condemnation. In Islam, according to the Fiqh al-Awlawiyyat (the Law of Priorities), what is clear and distinct wins over what is unclear and debatable. Kindness and forgiveness are clear and central tenets of Islam, while it is debatable whether depicting the Prophet is forbidden, for this reason the situation requires kindness and forgiveness, not condemnation.

If a person creates an image of the Prophet, he has done something questionable, but people do questionable things all the time. If the person did it with a good intention, then his intention is what counts.

And if the person did it with a bad intention, it should be left to God to deal with him and the Muslims in general should simply avoid and ignore him as the Quran commands when dealing with such people (7:199, 6:68, 28:55).

The Quran doesn't even include any punishment or condemnation for people who make fun of Quranic verses, but simply asks Muslims to avoid and ignore such people.

Those who make a big deal out of people making fun of the Prophet or the Quran haven't understood Islam correctly and are trying to fill an emptiness and purposelessness in their own lives through hating on some random fool. If those people who are so quick to join anti-depiction protests were as quick to help the poor, to go and plant trees, to fix roads, or to read Quran, their countries would have fewer problems.

But since it feels so good to hate and be angry at someone (it makes one forget one's own faults and shortcomings), these people would rather do that instead of planting a tree or cleaning up a road, things that don't give you adrenaline rushes and don't usually get you TV coverage.

Is Paradise Only for Physical Pleasures in Islam?

I heard a university professor criticizing the Islamic Paradise for only being a place of physical pleasures and not having a space for intellectual activities.
He hadn't understood that the Islamic Paradise given to a person is a custom-made world dedicated to the one thus blessed. It is a world made for you, in which you are treated like royalty, in which you have the freedom to do what you love, for ever and ever, without fears, worries and distractions.
In Paradise all your physical needs are taken care of, to give you complete freedom to pursue your dreams.
How many gifted and talented people have wasted years of their lives to take care of irrelevant things like providing their daily meals? This is what Paradise is about; it removes these silly distractions, these millions of little things that in this world cause us grief and prevent us from doing what we love.
If you had the entire world to yourself what would you do with it? Paradise gives you this world. So that you may use your creativity and imagination to do everything, to create everything, to work on everything, that this world's shortcomings prevent you from.
Paradise is everything we wish this world to be. You want world peace? You want a loving family? Amazing friends? Is there a beautiful and sweet moment in your life that you often think of, when everything was just perfect, that you wish could have lasted forever? Paradise is about giving us these things, these moments, and making them last forever, and removing every possible difficulty and flaw.
There are video games I love that I wish I could play with good friends for a long, long time. Another wish I have is to read every (interesting) book ever written. Learn every programming language. Master all the sciences. And to spend an eternity in the Golden Country
, the place that Winston dreams of in Orwell's 1984. Paradise is about giving us these things, without the possibility of losing them. Every person's dreams come true, forever and for eternity.

Why I am not a Salafi

I received an anonymous question on our Islamic Art and Quotes tumblr asking if I am a Salafi Muslim. The answer is: No I am not. Those of them who fear Allah and the last day and always strive to do good are my beloved friends.

I believe that Islam is bigger than Salafism, Sufism, and any other sect or group. The goal of Islam is Allah, and there are many roads to Him SWT.

I don't belong to any group. I call myself Orthodox, meaning that I follow the Quran and the Sunnah, but I don't have any historical allegiances and don't care about the historical rivalries between the various groups.

I am with everyone who loves and fears Allah and works for the Hereafter. My biggest mentors are the prophets, peace be upon them, and I identify most with them, since the Quran is my main source of guidance. Islam is even bigger than the Islam that Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, brought to us. Islam encompasses all true religion. The Quran, for example, calls Prophet Lut and his family "Muslims".

The various groups and sects are tools that the sincere Muslim can use to get closer to Allah. The goal is Allah. Sectarianism distracts from Allah.
Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects - you are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do. [Quran 6:159]
Most sects were created with good intentions. To get closer to Allah. To get closer to true Islam and revive the religion among people. But...good intentions don't guarantee good results. Once you have created a clearly defined group with "us" and "them", all inside the same religion, you have immediately created division and sectarianism.

I love and respect people belonging to various sects and ideologies, sometimes opposing one another. A sincere believer can find the right path regardless of where he comes from and what group he was born into.

Thus, for example, I love and respect all of these people, though often I may disagree with some of them: al-Hasan al-Basri and the rest of the early Salaf; Ibn Taymiyyah; Ibn al-Qayyim; ibn al-Jawzi; Abu Hanifah;  Imam Malik; Imam ash-Shafi`i; Imam Abu Hamed al-Ghazali; Rumi; the Azhari sheikhs Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Muhammad al-Ghazali, and Ahmad Mustafa al-Maraghi; Imam Muhammad Abduh and his students; Imam Sa`eed an-Nursi (from Turkey) and his students; Imam Hasan al-Banna and his students; Sayyid Qutb; Muhammad Qutb; Dr. Ali Shari`ati (from Iran and Shiite, but doesn't hold any of the popular Shiite beliefs that Sunnis dislike), Dr. Nasir Subhani; Ibn al-Uthaymeen, Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid, Yasmin Mogahed; Tariq Ramadan; Yasir Qadhi.

What also separates me from Salafism is that I believe the goal of the Sunnah is the Quran, and the goal of the Quran is Allah. The Sunnah is not a goal in itself. The Sunnah is meant to create a fertile environment in which the seeds of the Quran can grow. The Quran is the goal, and arguing and bickering over the Sunnah when ignoring the Quran is completely against everything the Sunnah is for. To me having or not having a beard, for example, is the very least of a Muslim's concerns. Fear Allah and the last day, and do good deeds, this is our concern.

Islam is a matter of the heart. The sects invariably move attention away from the heart to appearances and judging people, is he or she for us or against us?

If a person reads the Quran often, fears Allah and the last day, and always strives to do good, then what right do I have to judge him for belonging or not belonging to a particular sect?

This is not to say that I hold Utopian ideas like love is all we need and regardless of what you do if your heart is good then you're fine. I am not Sufi because it focuses only on particular attributes of Allah and ignores others, to create a beautiful version of Islam, filled with love and kindness, but extremely prone to creating human beings who do not fear Allah the way He deserves to be feared, and who, focusing only on Allah's mercy, forget that His punishment is severe and that they will be judged.

Salafism, on the other hand, is prone to making one forget that Allah is the most kind and most forgiving, and to making one focus only on His punishments and making Allah appear as a hardhearted and exacting micro-manager. It also often demands inhuman amounts of strength and willpower from the person, which can cause desperation and hopelessness. The prophets mentioned in the Quran are a lot more human than the ideal that Salafism seems to ask of us. They cared about the dunya and prayed for it (Prophet Ibrahim and Zakaria praying for children, Yaqub being attached to the love of his son and going blind in crying so often for him, Sulaiman asking to be a king). Many Salafis would look down on you if you show such behaviors, behaviors that the prophets showed. Prophet Ibrahim asked Allah to make Makkah a prosperous city. Some Salafis would say you should be too worried about the Hereafter to care about worldly things. But Prophet Ibrahim cared. And Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of All be upon him, cared so much about the worldly life that his ardent prayers for winning the battle of Badr (a worldly goal) are famous. And when his son or wife died he cried.

Islam doesn't ask us to be automatons worshiping Allah and caring nothing for anything else. Islam tells us to enjoy life's blessings, and strive for both the worldly life and the Hereafter. Islam asks us to unite dream and day (the Hereafter and the worldly life), not to throw away the worldly life.

For this reason to me the Quranic prophets, in their humanity and weakness, are better guided than many of today's Salafis.

True Islam is larger than any sect or group and the smart Muslim will use the good and useful from every sect to get closer to Allah. Salafi literature reminds me not to get lazy in worship, and Sufi literature reminds me, when I fail, not to forget that Allah is most kind and forgiving.

Allah has 99 attributes, many of them seemingly contradictory, and any sect that focuses only on some of His attributes and ignores others is likely to create an inaccurate version of Islam. These sects often work for some people and do a lot of good, but pure Islam itself is better; devoted to serving Allah, focusing on the Quran, too concerned with Allah's judgment to judge others, not hung up on appearances, not concerned with differences but with similarities with others, sincere, forgiving, and non-exclusionary.

Super High Quality (True PDF) Arabic Quran for Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad and Other Devices


This is a dream that has finally come true alhamdulillah. A vector-based PDF version or the Madinah Mushaf. Vector-based of True PDF means that a verse can be zoomed in infinitely without it losing quality/becoming blurry.
Here is part of a verse zoomed in on an Asus Transformer (10.1 inch screen):


A screenshot on a laptop:
Zoomed in a bit:

Download Links

Old (and my favorite) version

Download here [PDF - 140 megabytes - right click and choose "Save as..." to save on your computer]
This is the version shown in the screenshots above. The text is vector based, but the arabesque (decorations) are non-vector, thus when zoomed in they become blurry. I like this one because this mushaf is the one I've been used to reading all my life. The new one below is a different one, with different calligraphy and verse arrangements.

Newer version

Download here [PDF - 127 megabytes - right click and choose "Save as..." to save on your computer]
The newer version has cleaner text and vector-based border decorations, thus this one is even more "true" PDF than the above one. However as said above, it is not the mushaf that many people are used to. Here is a screenshot, maybe you will like it:

These PDF Mushaf files and this last screenshot were found on this [Arabic] website http://quranmadina.blogspot.com/.

The Quranic Guide to: Attaining God's Mercy


The phrase la'allakum turhamoon, translated as "that you may attain God's mercy" is repeated eight times in the Quran. Looking at these 8 mentions provide a good Quranic guide for attaining the Mercy of Allah SWT, a guide for those who love the Quran and respect its advice and recommendations. Below are the eight mentions in the Quran followed by my analysis.

Surat Al `Imran

And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may attain God's mercy. [Quran 3:132]

Surat al-An`am

And this [Quran] We have bestowed from on high, a blessed one: follow it, then, and be conscious of God, so that you may attain God's mercy. [Quran 6:155]

Surat al-A`raf

Why, do you deem it strange that a tiding from your Sustainer should have come unto you through a man from among yourselves, so that he might warn you, and that you might become conscious of God, and that you may attain God's mercy? [Quran 7:63]
When the Qur'an is recited, listen to it and pay attention that you may attain God's mercy. [Quran 7:204]

Surat An-Noor

Hence, [O believers,] be constant in salah, and give zakah, and obey the Messenger, so that you may attain God's mercy. [Quran 24:56]

Surat An-Naml

Said [Salih to the erring ones]: Why do you seek to hasten the coming upon you of evil instead of hoping for the good? Why do you not, rather, ask God to forgive you your sins, so that you may attain God's mercy? [Quran 27:46]

Surat Ya-Sin

When they are told, "guard yourselves against what is before you and what is behind you, in order that you may attain God's mercy," [they turn away]. [Quran 36:45]

Surat al-Hujurat

The believers are brothers of one another; therefore create reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah, that you may attain God's mercy. [Quran 49:10]

Analysis

Here are the actions that these verses command us so that we may attain God's mercy:
  • Having taqwa [fear and mindfulness of God and protection of oneself from displeasing God] [3 times]
  • Respecting the Quran and following it [3 times]
  • Obeying the Messenger [SAW] [2 times]
  • Obeying Allah [SWT] [1 time]
  • Making istighfar [praying to God for forgiveness] [1 time]
  • Performing salah [1 time]
  • Giving zakah [1 time]
  • Helping, fixing and improving the relationships between the believers. [1 time]
The numbers add up to more than 8 because many of the verses contain multiple commands. Obeying Allah is mentioned only once even though it is the most important command, maybe because whichever command you follow you are obeying Allah. The command to obey Allah can be considered a reference to every other command in the Quran.

Of note here is the command for islah [helping and improving relationships] between the believers. If you are in need of Allah's mercy (and who isn't?), trying to have an active role in improving people's relationships will inshAllah lead to good results.

In Quran 7:24 above, it is said "when the Quran is recited", which means that the reciter could be anyone, including yourself. The command is to pay attention when the Quran is recited. Which means that when you read Quran and recite Quran, if you do your best to pay attention to your recitation, Allah will, inshAllah look down on you with loving mercy at such a time, be it a small chapter recited during salah. And the best time to recite the Quran is when you are standing in salah, especially at night after the isha prayer, for at such a time you'd be obeying Allah's extremely important command in Surat al-Muzammil that today unfortunately 99% of Muslims feel free to ignore:
O you who are wrapped in your clothing. Spend the night in standing, except for a little. Half of it, or decrease a little from it, or increase a little on it. And recite the Quran in tarteel (in a beautiful manner and without hurry). [Quran 73:1-4]
"The night" in this verse means the period between the `isha prayer and the fajr prayer. Half of the night for me is 5 and a half hours where I'm writing this in Sulaimaniyyah, Iraq in February. When the verse says add a little to it or decrease a little from it, it means either to do this recitation for one third of the night, half of the night, or two thirds, as it becomes clear at the end of the chapter.

According to a hadith from `Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, when this chapter was revealed to the Prophet, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, the Prophet and a group of the dedicated believers with him used to stand up in prayer for so long at night that their feet would swell. They weren't sure just how much of the night to stand to please Allah, so they would often end up standing until dawn (since they had no accurate ways of measuring time). This state went on, according to `Aisha, for a whole year until the last verse of the chapter was revealed:
Indeed, your Lord knows, [O Muhammad], that you stand [in prayer] almost two thirds of the night or half of it or a third of it, and [so do] a group of those with you. And Allah determines [the extent of] the night and the day. He has known that you [Muslims] will not be able to do it [perfectly] and has turned to you in forgiveness, so recite what is easy [for you] of the Qur'an. He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others traveling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of Allah and others fighting for the cause of Allah . So recite what is easy from it and establish prayer and give zakah and loan Allah a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves - you will find it with Allah . It is better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. [Quran 73:20]
In this verse Allah's mercy, kindness and understanding is shown. Allah says to "recite what is easy" of the Qur'an. Unfortunately most take this to mean "recite it when you have absolutely nothing else to do." But the verse subtly tells us, those of us who are dedicated to Allah and love His book, which excuses are valid in Allah's eyes: illness, travel, and being engaged in war.

Therefore if you are one of those who are truly dedicated to Allah, I recommend that you make it your goal to carry out this command of dedicating at least one third of the night to reciting the Quran in prayer. Unfortunately excuses are too easy to find to avoid carrying out this command. But we should never forget that an entire chapter of the Quran is dedicated to this one command. And that the elite group of Muslims who were with the prophet took it (very) seriously and carried it out. If we wish to be like them and to be in their ranks (and even compete with them as the Quran commands), we should never ignore this command like most Muslims do. Because we aren't most Muslims. We are [inshAllah and by the grace of Allah] Allah's chosen ones:
Those who listen to what is said and follow the best of it: [for] it is they whom God has graced with His guidance, and it is they who are [truly] people of understanding! [Quran 39:18]
One quick excuse that I have said to myself too often is that "I haven't memorized the entire Quran, I will stand the night in prayer when I finish memorizing it!" [even though I wasn't actively memorizing]. This is forgetting the fact that the chapter was revealed at the earliest days of Islam when little of the Quran was revealed. Therefore what you know of the Quran could possibly more than what many of the Prophet's companions knew at the time, yet they carried out the command.

Therefore to truly carry out this command we should either spend at least one third of the night in salah in which we recite Quran, or we should spend it in memorizing the Quran to make it possible for us to recite it in salah

And for those who don't speak Arabic they should dedicate the night to learning. However as I have learned many times, we shouldn't let secondary goals get in the way of our Quran reading. Therefore whatever you do to make it possible to carry out God's command, you should continue to read Quran so that you can stay close to Allah. You can for example dedicate one third of the night to reading the Quran (in the language you understand) and to reciting the Quran you know in prayer, and another third to learning Arabic or memorizing Quran.

In all of this we shouldn't forget that Allah [SWT] is very kind and merciful and we shouldn't lose hope if we fail sometimes. What's important is to constantly guard ourselves against insincere excuses.

One important note is to not look down on those who don't try to carry out this command. Because as the last verse of the chapter (73:20) says, even at the time of the Prophet, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, only "a group" of the believers carried this command out. Those of us who are (or wish to be) the vanguard of the ummah, its intellectuals, those who "listen to what is said and follow the best of it", those who always try to do what's right and good, those are the ones this command is meant for. The vast majority of the population will not be eager believers regardless of how much we wish them to be.
AND [remember:] We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them without [an inner] truth; but, behold, the Hour [when this will become clear to all] is indeed yet to come. Hence, forgive [men's failings] with fair forbearance. [Quran 15:85]
Therefore if you wish to help people, do it in a beautiful way and with kindness, without criticism or humiliation. And if this fails then leave them alone in a non-aggressive and beautiful manner as the Quran commands:
and endure with patience whatever people say, and avoid them with a comely avoidance.
And pray for them, but don't say you are praying for them in a passive-aggressive manner, since that's not the attitude of the one who loves and follows Allah's book.

The more knowledge we gain and the closer we get to Allah, the more kind, humble and non-patronizing we should become among people and the more beloved it should make us to them. For the true believer is needless, kind, and giving, and people love those who are like this. If your Islam is stressing your relationships and creating aggression in you toward others, there is probably something wrong with your heart and your understanding of Islam and the Quran.

May Allah guide us and shower His mercy upon us and forgive our sins and errors.

And to Allah all knowledge belongs. Whatever good there is in this, it is from Allah, and whatever bad and wrong from myself.

Coping with Trials & Misfortunes & Life’s Pitiless Storms

Excerpt from another beneficial article by Abu Aaliyah:

Life is never without its ups and downs, its triumphs and tears, its joys and sorrows. In the Qur’an we read the following: We will surely test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and trade. But give glad-tidings to the patient who, when struck by some misfortune, say: “We belong to God, and to Him shall we return.” On those shall be blessings from their Lord and mercy; and such are the rightly-guided. [2:155-57]

Patience (sabr) is seen as an antidote to the earthly struggles and sufferings we all must endure. The unbeliever must endure, as must the believer. Suffering is intrinsic to the human story – though the “problem of suffering” as a crucial chapter in the philosophy of religion is of fairly recent origin. By patience I mean: restraining one’s soul in times of difficulty or discomfort, and enduring adversity without complaint.

Those who choose to lose sight of God, when they are struck by a misfortune, tend to suffer on two levels. First, there is the calamity itself and its corresponding pain and anguish. Second, there is the accompanying belief that it should never have happened and that its happening proves something very bitter and dark about the world (and if they bring God into it, then about the nature of God).

The believer, by contrast, lives under the awareness that whatever we have or enjoy is ultimately a gift on loan to us from God, upon an acceptance of the destiny willed by God.“We belong to God, and to Him shall we return.” Yet knowledge that God is the sole owner of all that we have – including our ownselves – is not to deny human emotions; which are themselves God-given. Once, as his dying infant son had gasped for his final breath, the Prophet, peace be upon him, took him in his arms, whilst tears flowed from his eyes. One of those present was puzzled over such weeping, given how the Prophet himself had forbidden wailing and vociferous lamentation. When he finally found his voice, this is what the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘This is compassion. The eyes shed tears, the heart grieves, yet we say nothing to displease our Lord. O Ibrahim! We grieve over being parted from you.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1303; Muslim, no.2315]

A Good Life

Say: "O servants of Mine who have become faithful, have taqwa toward (protect yourselves from displeasing) your Lord and Sustainer. There will be in this life good for those who do good. And the earth of Allah is very expansive. Indeed those who are patient will be given their reward in full and beyond reckoning. [Quran 39:10 - Surat az-Zumar]
Allah SWT promises a good life in this world for those who believe in Him and do good. A good life doesn't mean a healthy and wealthy life. It means life in a state of peace, contentment and dignity.

After this Divine promise the verse immediately speaks about patience. Because faithand having taqwa is pretty good, but not enough for gaining the good life of this world. It is in the presence of the element of patience that, together with the elements of faith and taqwa, a good life blossoms. A good life that no evil or catastrophe of this world can harm or destroy. Faith protects it from spiritual emptiness, taqwa from errors that would lead to failure, and patience from submitting to tyrants, oppression and falsehoods.

I wish you a good life.

The Prophet's Status: What Can Be Said...?

Mainstream, orthodox Islam (Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama‘ah) has long prided itself on preserving and transmitting the descriptions and distinctions of the blessed Prophet, upon whom be peace. Tirmidhi’s much celebrated Shama’il, which depicts the beautiful attributes – physical and moral – of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, is one such work in this heritage. Imam al-Bayhaqi’s Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, a seven volume anthology detailing the remarkable and extraordinary prophetic distinctions, is another. Also among the notable works in the genre is Qadi ‘Iyad’s unparalleded al-Shifa’, and also al-Suyuti’s al-Khasa’is. And the short monograph of al-‘Izz b. ‘Abd al-Salam, Bidayat al-Sul, counts as a mini treasure-trove in this respect.

These anthologies and compendiums are filled with verses of the Qur’an and hadiths extoling and praising the Prophet, and proclaiming to the world his lofty status, rank and merit. The following paragraphs attempt to distill something of these virtues and distinctions, so that souls can know him and that hearts can be filled with love of him. Summarising such distinctions, however, is far from easy.

For what can be adequately said about the rank and station of someone by whom God Himself swears an oath: By your life, they wandered blindly in their drunkenness. [15:72]

Or what can be said of the one about whom God says: The Prophet has a greater claim over the believers than their ownselves. [33:6]

What can be said about one whose name, Muhammad actually means: “oft-praised” and whose name Ahmad means “most deserving of praise” and who, on the Day of Judgement, will possess the “Banner of Praise” around which all the other prophets shall rally. [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3615]

What can be said about the one whom the Qur’an announces is an excellent example [33:21] or whose is indeed a tremendous character [68:4], or who was depicted in these terms: man rahu badihatan habahu wa man khalatahu ma‘rifatan ahabbahu – ‘Whoever saw him unexpectedly was awestricken by him, but whoever came to know him, loved him.’

What can be said about one who informed us: ‘My eyes sleep but my heart does not,’ [Al-Bukhari, no.3569] or who said: ‘Truly I am not like you, for my Lord sustains me with food and drink.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1965; Muslim, no.1103]

What can be said of one who, on the Night of the Ascension (laylat al-isra’), the night of his crowning glory, actually passed the Lote Tree of the Furthest Boundary, [53:14] and then approached and came closer, till he was at two bows’ length or even nearer. [53:8-9]3

What can be said about the one to whom God said: ‘O Muhammad! Over what did the Highest Assembly of Angels dispute? I replied: I do not know, O Lord. Then He placed His hand between my shoulders and I felt its coolness in my chest, and knowledge of all things came to me and I then knew it.” [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3235] In another wording, it states: ‘… and knowledge of whatever is between the heavens and earth came to me.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3233] In another: ‘ … knowledge of all things between East and West came to me.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3234]

To read and benefit from the whole article please visit the link below:

If God Were Proud

In his timeless and celebrated volume of spiritual discourses called Futuh al-Ghayb, the venerable Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (d.561H/1166CE) – the leading Hanbali jurist of Baghdad in his time as well as spiritual master par excellence of his age – commences the third of his orations with these words:

When the servant is tried with some difficulty, his first impulse is to try and cope with it by himself. If he is unable to extract himself from it, he looks to others for help, such as those in power, important officials, men of means or influence, or medical experts; if disease or physical ailment is involved. If he still finds no relief, he then turns to his Lord with prayers of petition, humble entreatment and offerings of praise. As long as he feels he can cope on his own, he will not turn to others; and so long as he can count on others, he will not turn to the Creator. [1]

It seems a poor thing to turn to God as a last resort; to remember Him when all else fails us; to lift our hands to Him only when the ship is going down. If God were proud He would never accept us on such terms. But God is not proud. Kind, Compassionate, Merciful – God will have us even if we have shown that we have preferred others over Him and that we come to Him only because we are now at a dead end. Indeed, it does not really proclaim the glory of God if we chose Him only as an alternative to Hell; yet even this He accepts. Such is God’s mercy and kindness; such is how He forgives and overlooks His glory’s diminution: When My servants ask you concerning Me [tell them] I am indeed close, I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me. [2:186]

Further on in the very same discourse, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir speaks about how, when the servant’s illusions of self-sufficiency are shattered – and for the servant’s sake they must be shattered – and as he is made to realise that none can help him or grant him relief except God, God responds to his servant’s humility and brokenness and shades him from distress. For God accepts His servants however they may come to Him – if not in loving submission, then by trials and troubles, or by simple fear of the eternal flames; unmindful, even, of His glory’s diminution.

[1] Futuh al-Ghayb (Cairo: Dar al-Maqtam, 2007), 22. My translation of the passage was based on M. Holland, Revelations of the Unseen (Florida: Al-Baz Publishing, 2007), 11.

If God Were Proud [The Humble "I"]

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