Category Archives: History

Hygiene Inventions

Cleanliness is a part of faith and Islam lays great importance on cleanliness and hygiene. Wudu, using the siwak, etc. are all a part of Islamic practices to keep us clean and tidy. Personal cleanliness and cleanliness of the surrounding is emphasized for example; when we pray, an important condition for Salah, is a clean place. The Muslims knowing the importance of cleanliness have contributed a great deal to the present hygienic practices and objects of the world during the golden age, so let us read about some of them.

  1. Al- Jazari wrote a book called The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices which included robotic wudhu machines, which resembles the current water taps. What you had to do is tap the head to make water pour in eight short spurts, which was enough for one to do Wudhu.
  2. They made soaps by mixing olive oil with al-qali (salt like substance), it was boiled and then left to harden.
  3. Al-Zahrawi in his medical book Al-Tasrif dedicated a complete chapter to cosmetics called The Medicines of Beauty. He described beautification of hair, skin, teeth whitening and gum strengthening all within the boundaries of Islam.
  4. Al-Zahrawi included nasal sprays, mouthwashes, and hand creams, perfumed sticks rolled and pressed similar to roll-on deodorants.
  5. He also named medicated cosmetics like hair-removing sticks, as well as hair dyes and lotions for straightening curly hair.
  6. He also discussed benefits of suntan lotions.
  7. Al-Kindi wrote a book on perfumes which contained hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters, and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs.
  8. Muslim chemists also distilled plants and flowers, making perfumes and substances for therapeutic pharmacy.

These processes and ideas of the Muslims filtered into Europe via merchants, travelers, and the Crusaders.

Now we know the forebearers of hygienic practices and innovations!

 

The Black Stone

As thousands, nay millions, of muslims flock to perform Hajj, they will form queues to touch the black stone and fight to kiss it. But what is the black stone? And what is its significance in Islam?

The black stone was sent down from paradise, as we learn from the hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas that The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Black Stone came down from Paradise.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 877; al-Nasaa’i, 2935. The hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi)

“When the Black Stone came down from Paradise, it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 877; Ahmad, 2792. Classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/219. Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar classed it as qawiy (strong) in Fath al-Baari, 3/462).

This hadith means that the sins of those who touched the stone, caused it to turn black.

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: “Some heretics tried to criticize this hadeeth by saying: How come the sins of the mushrikeen turned it black and the worship of the people of Tawheed did not make it white? I answer by quoting what Ibn Qutaybah said: If Allah had willed, that would have happened. But Allah has caused it to be the case that black usually changes other colours and its not itself changed, which is the opposite to what happens with white.”

Al-Muhibb al-Tabari said: The fact that it is black is a lesson for those who have insight. If sins can have this effect on an inanimate rock, then the effect they have on the heart is greater. (Fath al-Baari, 3/463)

Subhanallah! Imagine if sins can have such an adverse effect on a rock, then what about our hearts?!

This reminds me of another hadith, in which the Messenger ﷺ mentions the effects of sins on the heart;

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” [83:14] (Ibn Majah, Hasan)

So, let us use these upcoming blessed days to clean and polish our hearts. Let us seek the forgiveness of Allah and utilise our time in His remembrance. May Allah purify our hearts.

Back to the subject of the black stone…

Did you know that the black stone will speak on the day of judgement and testify?

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the Stone: “By Allah, Allah will bring it forth on the Day of Resurrection, and it will have two eyes with which it will see and a tongue with which it will speak, and it will testify in favour of those who touched it in sincerity.”

(Tirmidhi, 961; Ibn Maajah, 2944, hasan by al-Tirmidhi, and as qawiy by al-Haafiz ibn Hajar in Fath al-Baari, 3/462)

So how should muslims performing hajj or umrah deal with the black stone?

It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Makkah, he came to the Black Stone and touched it, then he walked to the right of it and ran three times and walked four times [around the Ka’bah].  (Muslim)

Hence touching the black stone is to be done before performing tawaf.

It is also encouraged to kiss for the Prophet was seen doing so.

It was narrated that ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the Black Stone and kissed it, then he said: “I know that you are only a stone which can neither bring benefit nor cause harm. Were it not that I had seen the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kiss you, I would not have kissed you.”  (Bukhari and Muslim)

However, one should know that it is merely a stone, and has no ability or power in of itself. It cannot cause harm nor bring benefit. Many a times, people become extreme in kissing it, they rub their faces into it, rub their clothes, and if they could, would probably try and take a piece home with them! We should beware of exaggerating, and know that benefit and harm are in Hands of Allah.

Nonetheless, touching the stone is a means of expiation,

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say: “Touching them both [the Black Stone and al-Rukn al-Yamani] is an expiation for sins.”

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 959. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi and as saheeh by al-Haakim (1/664). Al-Dhahabi agreed with him).

If one is unable to reach it due to the crowds or some other reason, then he should touch it with something else and kiss that object. And if he is unable to do that then he should point towards it and say Allahu-Akbar, as these were all reported from the Prophet.

When one goes to kiss it or touch one should maintain Islamic etiquettes, and should not cause annoyance to others. Pushing, shoving are all too common in Hajj crowds, and we should aim to change this, and be better than that. Islam teaches us good manners, and we should uphold these mannerisms when we are the holiest site, performing such honourable rituals, otherwise we only incur sin upon ourselves. Pushing and shoving in crowds are often the reason for unnecessary injury, and at times even death or stampedes. Many a times women also get caught up in the crowds, hence we should be aware, and maintain cautiousness even in these difficult trying circumstances.

Al-Hasan Al Basri

A name that often crops up when reading some Islamic articles or an Islamic message on whatsapp is that of the eminent and renowned scholar of his time, Al-Hasan Al-Basri.

So even though many may not know of him, his name is heard of far and wide. So who was this celebrity of his time, who has left his mark deep in the imprints of memoirs?

Like quoted by Abu Hayyan At-Tauhid,

“In his learning and piety, forbearance and temperance, candour and large-heartedness, sagacity and prudence, he resembled a bright star.”

So a time when the lust and covetousness of worldly pleasures had grasped the mind of people and moral and spiritual values had spiraled down, and birth had been given to nobility, opulence and luxury, hypocrites and time-server, whose morals and code of conduct were not different from the rakes and degenerates of other nations thereby causing the atrophy of moral excellence.

In these very times stood a few indefatigable crusaders of unflinching faith and ardent zeal, who rose to the occasions and called the masses to the true and pristine teachings of Islam through exhortations and lectures, trying their best to resuscitate the Muslim ummah and bring back its true Muslim identity.

It is said about him, that he had been gifted ennobling virtues and he excelled as an orator. Thorough his speeches inspired by his deep ethical feelings, he touched the hearts of people and they could be seen brimming with tears.

The impeccable sincerity and outstanding piety had earned the affection of the masses and when he died in 110 A.H., the entire population of Basra attended his funeral which took place on Friday.

And there goes one of the bright flames of Islam.

May Allah have Mercy on him.

 

Bint Hasan

Who is the Dajjal?

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: May I not inform you about the Dajjal what no Apostle of Allah narrated to his people? He would be blind and he would bring along with him an Image of Paradise and Hell-Fire and what he would call as Paradise that would be Hell-Fire and I warn you as Noah warned his people.

(Sahih Muslim: Book 41, Hadith 7014)

The appearance of Dajjal is one of the major signs of the doomsday. Dajjal is an adjective of Syriac origin. It is also a common Arabic word  whose root is dajl meaning lie or deception. Prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prophesied 1400 years ago that Messiah  ad-Dajjal would be the last of a series of thirty Dajjal or deceivers.

Dajjal is a human. A man from amongst the nation of Adam. Allah created Dajjal as a test for mankind. Perhaps there’s no great tribulation sent on Earth greater than Dajjal.

Imran bin Hussain narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, ” Between the creation of  Adam and the coming of the Last Hour, there will arise no tribulation more serious than the Dajjal.”

(Sahih Muslim)

Dajjal is alive at present. He was alive at the time of Prophet Mohammed and he will be detained until Allah permits him to emerge. And one day, he will break the shackles in which he is chained.

He is blind in the right eye and his left eye looks like a protruding grape. On his head are the letters Kaaf Faa and Ra (Kafir). They are easy to decipher by any believer regardless of his/her literacy. He will be short and his legs will be crooked. The hair on his head will be extremely twisted. He is said to a young man of ruddy complexion, short, with a wide forehead, and broad upper chest.  his hair is thick and curly, and blind/defective in one eye.

It was also narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned the Dajjaal to the people and said: “Allah is not one-eyed, but the false messiah (al-maseeh al-dajjaal) is one-eyed, blind or defective in his right eye, with his eye looking like a floating grape…” (narrated by Bukhari, no. 3184)

Anas Ibn Malik reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: There would be written three (Arabic) letters kaaf. fa. ra. spelling the word Kafir, between the eyes of the Dajjal.

The Messiah Dajjal is powerful and authoritative. And it will be due to his persuasive and commanding personality that people will blindly follow his footsteps. In a hadith, it has been said that a massive number of followers will be women.

Most of the followers of the Dajjal will be from among the Jews, Persians and Turks, and a mixture of other people, mostly Bedouins and women.

Imam Muslim narrated in his Saheeh (5237) from Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The followers of the Dajjal from among the Jews of Isfahaan will number seventy thousand, wearing heavy, striped garments.” According to a report narrated by Imam Ahmad, “Seventy thousand Jews, wearing crowns.”

(Hadith no. 12865).

Women get swayed easily and are sensitive. Perhaps, this sums up why majority of the followers of Dajjal are going to be women. By claiming that he has his own Paradise and Hell, the treacherous Dajjal will nobble away and induce those near him. But in reality, his alluring Paradise will be Hell and his execrable Hell will be Paradise.

The deception caused by Dajjal and his spell would run even on believers of Islam. A person who is firm in Islam would fall in his trap and get swayed by his words.

Hence it is advised by Allah’s Messenger that none of the believers should go near the Messiah Dajjal, even those firm upon religion, one should flee from him.

Indeed, the appearance of Dajjal is an exam for us. We never know if we are to encounter with the Messiah Dajjal. Hence, we all have got to prepare for this exam just how we prepare for our exams in schools/universities.

So my dear readers, let’s prepare ourselves to fight against the biggest trial ever. Let’s spend time in the way of our Lord. Let us know our Lord, know that He is not one-eyed, and that we can only see Him after death. Let us be firm in our religion; Islam. And let not our spirit and enthusiasm in learning Islam ebb away.

Bint Nayeem,

Writer, AAT

A Story of Success

Today the word success, has come to mean many things. Monetary gain, the establishment of large corporations, building a career, chasing after dreams, maintaining a family, all these have come to be measures of success. This is the material world we live in, where success is measured by your money and your fulfilment of desires.

Success in the lifetime of the Prophet and amongst the early generations of Islam took on a very different meaning. It wasn’t the ability to preserve life through hi-tech machines, nor to attain that ‘perfectly-flawless’ appearance, nor acquiring a mass of the latest technology gadgets, nor building bank accounts worthy of personal security. Rather, success was founded in the obedience of Allah. Success was judged based on your ability to please Allah.

And so, the sahabah may Allah be pleased with them, sought out the pleasure of Allah. They devoted their efforts to His service. They pursued what Allah loved best, and lived their lives according to it.

And so I would like to narrate to you a story for you to ponder upon,

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

Some people came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said to him: “Send with us some men who may teach us the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” He (ﷺ) sent seventy men from the Ansar. They were called Al-Qurra’ (the reciters) and among them was my maternal uncle, Haram. They used to recite the Qur’an, ponder over its meaning and learn (its wisdom) at night. In the day, they used to bring water and pour it in pitchers in the mosque, then they would collect wood and sell it; and with the sale proceeds, they would buy food for the people of As-Suffah and the needy.

The Prophet (ﷺ) sent the reciters with these people but these (treacherous people) fell upon them and killed them before they reached their destination. (While dying) they supplicated: “O Allah convey from us the news to our Prophet that we have met You (in a way), that we are pleased with You and You are pleased with us.” (The narrator said:) A man attacked Haram from behind and smote him with a spear which pierced him. Whereupon Haram said: “By the Rabb of the Ka’bah, I have met with success!” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to his Companions, “Your brethren have been slain and they were saying: “O Allah! Convey from us to our Prophet the news that we have met You (in a way) that we are pleased with You and You are pleased with us.”

[Bukhari and Muslim].

Reading this account brings tears to the eyes. How far we have strayed from their path!

No one in their right mind today would call death success! Especially when death came unexpectedly, and in such a painful manner! How could he possibly deem such a death success?

The answer to that my friends, is because they had spent their lives in the obedience of Allah. Death in this life, simply meant a new beginning for them. Death was the doorway to true life. Death was a barrier to meeting Allah and so when they died, that barrier was removed and thus they attained success. They attained success because in continuation of their obedience to Allah, they gave their lives for Him. It was for His sake that they were slain. They attained martyrdom in the path of Allah and thus they found success, for their souls are in the bodies of green birds that encircle the throne of Allah, free from the constraints of this world. They are provided for by the King who provides and nourishes as He pleases. They gained success because their sins were forgiven. They gained success because Allah was pleased with them.

So now I ask you, what does success mean to you?

May Allah unite us with those who have attained success; the Prophets, the truthful ones, the martyrs and the righteous.

 

The Epic Beginnings of Mawlid Pt 2

mawlid-2

Now knowing that it was the Ismaili Fatimid dynasty that came up with this festival, let us identify the main person who developed this centenary.

The person who inaugurated this invented festival is Umar al-mulla, a venerated Sufi ascetic and not a scholar of Islam, who lived in the city of Mosul.

Under the entry of Muhammad b. Abd al-Bāqī (d. 571 AH), a Ḥanbalite scholar from Mosul, he mentions how Umar al-Mulla was greatly respected in the city of Mosul, and a disagreement happened between the two of them, which resulted in Muhammad b. Abd al-Bāqī being falsely accused of stealing, because of which he was beaten.
Writes Ibn Rajab [Dhayl, vol. 1, p. 254], “As for this Umar, he outwardly showed himself to be a pious man and ascetic, but I believe him to be [a follower] of the innovated groups. And this incident [with Muhammad b. Abd al-Bāqī] also shows his injustices and transgressions [against others].”
Also Ibn Kathīr (d. 774 AH) mentions that when Nūr al-Dīn Zangi abolished the unjust taxes that had been levied on the people, Umar al-Mulla actually wrote him a letter chastising him for his decision, and saying that this would lead to an increase of evil in the land. At which Nūr al-Dīn responded back, saying,

“Allah created the creation, and legislated the Sharīʻah, and He knows best what is beneficial for them. So if He knew that there should have been an increase [in revenue from taxes], He would have legislated it for us. Hence, there is no need for us to take more than what Allah has decreed, since whoever adds to the Sharīʻah has presumed that the Sharīʻah is incomplete and he needs to perfect it by his addition. And to do this is arrogance against Allah and against what He has legislated, but darkened minds will never be guided, and may Allah guide us and you to the Straight Path” [al-Bidāyah wa-l-Nihāyah, vol. 12, p. 805].

In what can only be described as a reversal of traditional roles, it was the ruler who chastised the ʻsaint’ when Umar al-Mulla actually encouraged the collection of unjust taxes, while Nūr al-Din sought to abolish it. Before proceeding, it is noteworthy that the mawlid instituted by Umar al-Mulla involved singing poems in praise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and nothing more than this.
Umar al-Mulla, was in charge of a zawiya (Sufi monastery). This zawiya was a popular place for the local leaders and noblemen to visit, and in particular “…every year, during the days of the mawlid of the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), he would invite the governor of Mosul, along with the poets, who would come and sing their poems, and be rewarded [by the governor] for this.”

The city of Mosul was located in a relatively small province, and remained under the control of the larger Zangid Empire. Hence, it was only natural that mawlid celebrations performed in Mosul would not garner too much attention nor have a large budget at their disposal to use for the mawlids. Rather, for this to occur, it had to be sponsored by a dynasty that could afford to do so, and this dynasty was found in the neighboring province of Irbil, a city less than a day’s journey from Mosul. As news of the mawlid spread to this city, the ruler of the semi-autonomous province, Muẓẓafar al-Dīn Kokburi (d. 630/1232), took it upon himself to celebrate the mawlid in an extremely lavish manner.
It would take another few decades for the mawlid to spread to Irbil, but eventually, sometime in the early part of the seventh century, Muẓẓafar al-Dīn became famous for the extravagant mawlid ceremonies that were sponsored through the State Treasury of his principality.

The historian Ibn Khallikān (d. 681/1282) mentions that Muẓẓafar al-Dīn was known for his generosity, for he had built many khānqahs (monasteries) for the Sufis to worship in. Ibn Khallikān was also from Irbil, and was a friend of Muẓẓar al-Dīn, and witnessed first-hand the mawlid celebrations.
Writes Ibn Khallikān:

Two days before the mawlid, Muẓẓafar al-Dīn would take out camels, cows and sheep a large number, beyond counting and he would send these animals, accompanied with drums and song and other instruments, until they would reach the large open ground [outside the city]. Then, these animals would be slaughtered, and pots would be set up, and all types of different foods would be cooked, until finally it would be the Night of the Mawlid itself [meaning the night before the mawlid]. On that night, he would allow samāʻas [special poems] to be sung in his fort, and then he would descend down [to the people], the procession being led by countless candles. Amongst these candles were two, or four – I forget now – that were so large that each one had to be carried on a mule, and behind it was a man in charge of keeping the candle erect [on the mule], until it reached the Sufi monastery. Then, on the very morning of the mawlid, he commanded that the Royal Robe be taken out from the Palace to the khānqah (Sufi monastery), by the hands of the Sufis. Each Sufi would wear an expensive sash around his hand, and they would all walk in a procession, one behind the other – so many in number that I could not verify their quantity. Then, Muẓẓafar al-Dīn himself would descend to the khānqah, and all of the noblemen and leaders and gentry would gather together. A chair would be placed for the preachers, and Muẓẓafar al-Dīn himself would be in a special tower made of wood [that he had built for the occasion]. It had many windows, some of which faced the people and others faced the open ground, which was a large ground of immense size. The infantry would also gather there, in procession. So Muẓẓafar al-Dīn would listen throughout the day, sometimes looking at the people and sermons, and sometimes at the infantry, and this would continue until the infantry finished their processions. Then, a general tablecloth would be laid out for the poor, and all who wished could eat from it, bread and other types of foods beyond count! And there was another tablecloth laid out as well, for the people of the monastery, those close to the throne, and while the sermons would be delivered, he would call [each speaker] one by one, and the noblemen and leaders and guests who had come for this season: scholars, and preachers, and reciters, and poets, and he would give each of them garments, and they would then return to their seats. Once this was finished, they would all gather at the tablecloth to partake of the food. This would continue until the ʻasr prayer, or even after that, and he would spend the night there, and the samaʻās would continue to the next day. And this would be done every year, and what I have described is in fact a condensed summary of the reality, for to mention it in detail would be too cumbersome and take a long time. Finally, when these ceremonies would be completed, he would gift an amount to every visitor who had come from afar, as provision for his journey home. And I have already mentioned how, when Ibn Diya passed by Irbil, he wrote up a work regarding the mawlid, because of what he had seen Muẓẓafar al-Dīn do, and because of this he was gifted a thousand gold coins, along with the generous hospitality he was shown for the duration of his stay.

From this passage, it is clear that the custom of the mawlid was already known to Abū Shāmah in Damascus, but he points out that the celebration occurs in Irbil, and not in Damascus. Hence, at this stage, in the middle of the seventh century, news of the mawlid has reached Damascus, which is around 500 miles away, but the city of Damascus itself had yet to start its own mawlid.

It is also striking to note the similarities between the Fatimid celebrations of the mawlid and the ones sponsored by Muẓẓafar al-Dīn: in both cases, the pomp and pageantry and generosity lavished upon the population must have played a vital role in popularizing these rulers amongst the people.

Dear readers, now that we have introspected at the origins of this festival, we see that it has in no way any relation to the times of the Prophet or his Sahabas, as a matter of fact, not a single report exists that show any one of the sahabas celebrating this “invented occasion” rather it was initiated by the fatamids, a corrupt cult and by a namesake “saints.”

Then why should we the followers of the Prophet now start following a man such as Umar Al Mulla, who instigated the increment of taxes among other things.

My dear readers, it is incumbent that we appreciate the fact that this celebration is nothing less than innovation, our prophet never advocated it, neither did his Sahabas, then why do we yet insist on celebrating something which has no basis in our religion as Muslims and only endears the use of our wallets on extravagant purchases.

We ask Allah for guidance.

Ameen.

Bint Hasan

The Epic Beginnings of Mawlid Pt 1

rasulullah

Part 1

With the arrival of Mawlid, with the streets hustling and bustling with sweets and other fanciful items, one looks and wonders at the gloss gory spent of money and is therefore forced to think about the epic beginnings of this ‘celebration.’

Well, now delving into the origins of Mawlid, it was first heard of and initiated by the Fatimid dynasty. For those hearing of it for the first time, this dynasty were a people who had rebelled against the Abbasids, claiming to be from the family of the Prophet ( a claim that all others have deemed to be false and fabricated) and they followed the severer branch of Shiite Islam, also known as ‘ismailism’.
They conquered Egypt and established themselves in the modern city of Cairo. Their beliefs are so different from the true Islamic teachings that they have been deemed by all Sunnis and even many other non-Ismaili Shiite groups, to be outside the fold of Islam! The ismailis had reinterpreted the five pillars of Islam to such a level that they would not conform to the regular rituals that other Muslims are accustomed to (such as the five daily prayers). It was this very group who first initiated and came up with the idea of Mawlid.

Some texts from some ancient manuscripts illustrate the way they celebrated this festival:

Next, the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal arrived, and we shall begin [the events of this month] by mentioning the thing for which it has become famous, namely, the birthday of the Master of the first and last, Muhammad, on the thirteen [Sic.] day. And by way of charity, the Caliph presented 6000 dirhams from the fund of najāwa [an Ismailite tithe], and from the dar al-fitra he presented 40 dishes of pastry, and from the chambers of the trustees and caretakers of the mausoleums that lie between the Hill and Qarafa, where the Al al-Bayt lie, he gave sugar, almonds, honey, and sesame oil [as a gift] to each mausoleum. And [his Vizier] took charge of distributing 400 pounds (ratl) of sweets, and 1000 pounds of bread.

Yet another document states:

 “Large amounts of foods that were distributed on this day, especially around the famous mausoleums of Cairo (some of which would have been considered by the Fatimids as being those of their Imams). The focus of the pageantry, of course, was the palace of the Caliph, and only the elite would get to attend. The celebrations of the day worked their way up to the appearance of the Caliph (who was the living imam for the Ismailites) from a palace window, his face covered in a turban. He himself would not deign to speak – rather, his private attendants would signal to the audience that the Caliph had returned their greetings and seen their love for him. From the courtyard pavilion various reciters and preachers would address the audience, finally culminating in the address of the khatib of the Azhar masjid (which of course, at that time, was the epitome of Ismaili academics).”

The Fatimids as it is were known for many more festivals and celebrations throughout the year, as it can be seen they loved pomp and grandeur.

Now that we know, from where it was that Mawlid commenced, the question that jumps to our mind is ,then, how did the Mawlid spread to Sunni lands and who was the first to introduce it to lands east and west of Fatimid Egypt? Let’s find out in the upcoming article “the epic beginnings of Mawlid part 2”

The Hero

Among the émigrés who traversed their way from Makkah to their sweet haven; the noble city of Madinah, was a blind man. Yet, blindness or being handicapped in no way diminished the status of Abdullah ibn Umm Makhtum, on the contrary he, to date, is quite well known.
He was amongst the first to accept Islam and lived through the persecution of the Muslims and suffered what the other companions of the Prophet experienced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance and sacrifice.

He was devoted to the noble Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) and so zealous was he to memorize the Qur’an that he would not miss any opportunity to achieve his heart’s desire. One very notable incident from this noble Sahaba’s life was whence at a time our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was concentrating on the Quraysh notables and was eager that they become Muslims. He, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  had begun talking and negotiating with them and telling them about Islam and had so dearly wished that they would respond in the positive to him and accept Islam or at least call off their persecution of his companions. While he was thus engaged, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum came up and called out to him to read a verse from the Qur’an.
“O messenger of Allah,” he said, “teach me from what Allah has taught you.” The Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) being preoccupied at the time frowned and turned away. He turned his attention instead to the group of Quraysh, hoping that they would become Muslims and that by their acceptance of Islam they, by the will of Allah, would bring greatness to Islam and strengthen his mission. As soon as he had finished speaking to them and had left their company, he suddenly felt partially blinded and his head began to throb violently. At this point the following revelation came to him:

( 1 ) The Prophet frowned and turned away
( 2 ) Because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting].
( 3 ) But what would make you perceive, [O Muhammad], that perhaps he might be purified
( 4 ) Or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him?
From that day the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him) did not cease to be generous to Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum, to ask him about his affairs, to fulfil his needs and take him into his council whenever he approached. (Surah Abasa, verses 1-4)
Infact, later years, he often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility:

“Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me.”
Subhan Allah, truly Allah had honoured this Sahaba.

Later on Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah were appointed to be muadh-dhins for the Muslims. Many a times, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was put in charge of Madinah in the absence of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon him).
His story is truly one that leaves a person in awe.
Even though he was excused from jihad due to his disability he wasn’t content with staying among those who remained at home when an expedition was in progress. Great souls are not content with remaining detached from affairs of great moment.
He fixed a role for himself on the battle field. He would say: “Place me between two rows and give me the standard(flag). I will carry it for you and protect it, for I am blind and cannot run away.” Allahu Akbar, this illustrates not only gallantry but his bravery as well!
In the fourteenth year after the hijrah, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) resolved to mount a major assault against the Persians to bring down their State and open the way for the Muslim forces.  Umar appointed Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas commander over the army. When the army reached Qadisiyyah, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was prominent, wearing a coat of armour and fully prepared. He had vowed to carry and protect the standard of the Muslims or be killed in the process.

The forces met and engaged in battle for three days. The fighting was among the most fierce and bitter in the history of the Muslim conquests. On the third day, the Muslims achieved a mighty victory as one of the greatest empires in the world collapsed and one of the most secure thrones fell. The standard of Tawhid was raised in an idolatrous land. Yet, the price of this clear victory was hundreds of martyrs. Among them was Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. He was found dead on the battlefield clutching the flag of the Muslims.

As a martyr he passed away, his nobility, chivalry and gallantry indeed supersedes legends of fictional heroes for indeed he was a “true hero” who didn’t let his blindness become an obstacle in his way. He indeed is a motivation to all handicapped, and what should I say for those of us who are hale and hearty! We can’t take this account as yet another page in our history books but must learn from his zeal and endeavour to seek guidance.
May Allah guide us all.
Bint Hasan

The Mughal Aurangzeb

aurangzeb

Sitting in our history classes, it was so easy for us to frown and move our head disapprovingly thinking of what an evil and cruel ruler Aurangzeb was.
Little did we know, how wrong we were and how the historians maneuvered their way in letting people believe their much biased and false accounts.

Now looking back at history, The Mughals took power in India during the reign of Babur in the 1500s. Over 150 years later when Aurangzeb took power, the Mughal Empire was at is pinnacle. It controlled the majority of the Indian subcontinent and was one of the wealthiest (if not the wealthiest outright) empires in the world.

So now we see, Aurangzeb born into a powerful and cosmopolitan state with immense wealth in 1618. His father was none other than the legendary Shah Jahan, the builder of the 7th wonder of the world ‘the noble Taj Mahal’ in Agra.

He had the best scholars and teachers to educate him from a young age. Not only that, but as a young boy, he became well-versed in the Quran, the science of Hadith, and other aspects of Islamic sciences. He was known as a very enthusiastic reader. He read and wrote in Arabic, Persian, and Chagatai Turkic, the language of his ancestors.

However, one of his desires and main goals was to bring true Islamic governance to the Mughal Empire for unfortunately the previous emperors, while all Muslim, had not all ruled according to Islamic law.

Infact, his great grandfather Akbar had come with a new religion and called it the “din-i-illahi”.

On the other hand we see his affluent father extravagantly building one of the world’s wonder (a tomb for his mother), which was again against the Islamic law as Islam advocated moderation in spending our capital.

He vehemently opposed this act of his father and also made it a point to publicly oppose excessive veneration of the graves of Sufis, as he noted that it was developing into a cult-like practice, away from the beliefs and practices of Islam.

Besides these, he sent officials throughout the empire to enact Islamic law and end socially corrupt practices. As such; alcoholism, gambling, and prostitution were combated by the imperial government. Taxes that were not in line with Islamic law were also abolished, a policy that was very popular with the Mughal Empire’s subjects.

To make up for the loss in tax revenue, Aurangzeb adopted a very simple lifestyle and did not live in a lavish manner as his father had. Royal traditions that he considered extravagant were abolished, such as court musicians and festivities on the emperor’s birthday.

To think that a man born in a golden cradle now willfully living without much extravaganza is indeed a sacrifice that Aurangzeb made.

While the accomplishments and religious-mindedness of Aurangzeb’s reign is indisputable there are those historians and academics who insist that the lasting legacy of Aurangzeb is intolerance and oppression. He is commonly cited as a temple-destroyer and someone who attempted to eliminate non-Muslims in his empire, while the truth is, that unlike the muslim masjids, the hindu and sikh temples were used for political reasons. These temples were used by the priests to entice rebellion against the Mughals.

Infact, no historical records show that he had an indiscriminate policy of temple destruction across India. The temples he chose to destroy were carefully selected and a small fraction of the total Hindu houses of worship in India. This is because when Aurangzeb chose a temple for destruction, it was a politically motivated act, not a religious one. It thus became a policy when fighting rebellions against central authority, that the temple that spawned that rebellion also be destroyed.

An example of this was a 1669 rebellion in Banaras led by a political rival, Shivaji, who used the local temple to rally support to his cause. After capturing Shivaji, Aurangzeb destroyed a temple in Banaras that was used as a political recruiting ground against his reign.

Thus we see, Aurangzeb was a religious-minded leader who strove hard to ensure an Islamic character permeated through all his actions as leader.  This did not however mean religious intolerance as he followed guidelines for protection of non-Muslims that is mandated by Islamic law.

Bint hasan , Writer, AAT

Cappuccino, Ristretto!

coffeesWhile sitting on your divans, with a cup of coffee, its  beautiful aroma wafting through the air, did you ever wonder at its origin.

Today we see huge coffee cafés  dominating the streets, Starbucks, London diary, Costa,Caffe Nero etc filling up the plaza like shops in a bazaar.

Coffee nowadays have become such an integral amenity  in life that it isn’t uncommon to see people driving to their offices cum a cup of steaming coffee in their hands, or at a beach cafe with humanity at its large trying out different flavours of espresso and macchiato, or sleep deprived college students sipping their latte as if they were lifesavers against the onslaught of technical and foreign terminology that is hurled at them.

Just like every famous commodity has a legend to recount, coffee too retains a tale to narrate

Well here goes the amazing story of coffee,

In the kaffa region of Southern Ethiopia, an arab man named khalid was tending to his goats, when he noticed that his animals had become livelier after eating a certain berry.

So he boiled the berries and conjured the first coffee drink. The first record of this drink was in Yemen ,where the beans were exported to Yemen from Ethiopia, where sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions.

Coffee spread quickly through the Arabian Peninsula. In the mid 14th century, coffee cultivation reached Yemen.

By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645.

It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London.

The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.

We see the journey of coffee across the oceans azure, lands yellow and white, evolving from a humble origin in the distant land of Ethiopia to one of the fastest selling commodity in the world.

To think that entrepreneurs earn millions of dollars from a vendible discovered by a simple Muslim man who was  sinply tending to his goats.

Coffee although a jewel of its own  isn’t the only treasure found by Muslims, but glorious Islamic history recounts sagas on the discovery of many more goods that one could otherwise never have envisioned to have a Muslim origin.

“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women