Category Archives: Misconceptions

Clarifying misconceptions and seemingly unclear aspects of Islam

Myths Regarding the Ka’bah

The ka’bah: the holiest muslim site on earth. Muslims revere it, and face it as a direction for prayer. It is a symbol of unity, unity of muslims, and unity of all previous prophets. Muslims would travel great distances to reach it, to see its magnificent sight, to touch its beautiful kiswa, kiss it and more.

However, there are many myths that surround the Ka’bah that has gained root amongst non-muslims, and ignorant muslims, and those who perhaps have never seen it.

Let’s begin with the first myth: Muslims worship the Ka’bah. This is far from the truth. Muslims worship one God, Allah. The Ka’bah is merely a direction faced in prayer, to unite muslims. Muslims do not bow or prostrate to the Ka’bah at all, they only bow and prostrate to Allah. Hence muslims can pray in any place in the world.

Muslims touch the ka’bah to imitate the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Some touch it out of awe and fascination at this great building that witnessed many great events in Islamic History. It witnessed, the Prophet Abraham, and Ishma’el and Muhammad peace be upon them. It is not mandated to kiss it, or cling on it, or wipe one’s face or clothes against it, rather these extreme practices have been done by some who are ignorant, or overly passionate.

Another huge misconception, is that the Ka’bah houses the idol Shiva Lingham which muslims worship. The inside of the Ka’bah is bare, there is nothing inside it. Every year the doors are opened to clean it and to welcome prestigious guests. This is often broadcasted on live television, and it is clear for all to see, that there is nothing inside the Ka’bah. Furthermore, muslims do not build or carve statues of any shape or form, as this is against the basic principle of worshiping Allah who is beyond human imagination.

Next up, no bird flies over the Ka’bah. Some believe that the ka’bah is so holy that no bird is able to fly over it, as though there is a radar system in place, preventing the birds. This is not true. Birds fly over the Ka’bah constantly, they perch on its edge, and do what birds do.

Others believe the Ka’bah hovers over the ground. It is not resting, nor rooted in the earth, but floating. It’s very easy to dispel this myth, simply look at the many images of the ka’bah that are available, look at video footage, and if you get a chance to go, have a peep. The Ka’bah is like any other building with a foundation on the ground.

Others hold the belief that the rain water that falls off the ka’bah is holy and has benefit. It is blessed, and so they collect it in a container, and bathe and drink it. I would strongly advise against this, firstly because there is nothing reported from the Prophet nor the salaf on the matter. And secondly, as mentioned previously, birds do what birds do, including leaving droppings. Hence the water that falls off the top of the Ka’bah is contaminated with bird droppings, as well as sand, and dust.

What myths have you heard?

Misconceptions of Sha’baan

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Sha’baan is here, and there’s little time left before Ramadan. Everyone is preparing in their own little ways, awaiting the blessed month of spirituality. Sadly, some preparations have nothing to do with the Sunnah and are based on pure innovations. The biggest one during this month is the various rituals that are performed on the 15th of Sha’baan, or more commonly known as Shab-e-baraat, laylatul-baraa, or laylatu-nisf.

  • Many believe that on this night Allah particularly descends to the first heaven to forgive our sins.

The truth is, that the Prophet peace be upon him informed us, “Every night when it is the last third of the night, Our Lord, the Superiror, the Blessed, descends to the nearest heaven and says, ‘Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Collected by Bukhari and Muslim)

When ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak was asked about the descent of Allah on the night of the fifteenth of Sha’baan, he said to the one who asked him: “O weak one! The night of the fifteenth?! He descends every night!” (Narrated by Abu ‘Uthmaan al-Saabooni in I’tiqaad Ahl al-Sunnah, no. 92)

Our Lord descends every night in a manner that befits His Majesty to answer our supplications, to grant us our needs and to forgive us. His forgiveness and descent is not limited to the 15th of Sha’baan.

For a more detailed discussion regarding this matter, please see https://islamqa.info/en/49678

  • Others believe this is the night when our fate, lifespan and provisions are decreed.

Everything that is to happen or that has happened has already been written. The hadith that state that decrees are written on this night are all weak.

In the authentic hadith collected by Muslim, the Prophet said, ‘when the drop of (semen) remains in the womb (of the mother) for forty (days) or forty nights, the nagel comes and says, ‘My Lord, will he be good or evil?’ And the angel says, ‘My Lord, would he be male or female?’ And both these things are written. And his deeds and actions, his death, his livelihood; these are also recorded.’

( For a more detailed discussion on this matter please see, https://islamqa.info/en/113939)

  • Another belief is that our deeds are taken up to Allah on this night.
  • This true due to the following hadith: Usaamah ibn Zayd  said: I said: O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting as much in any month as you fast in Ramadaan. He said: “That is a month concerning which the people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadaan, but it is a month in which good deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.” (An-Nisa’i, Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’.

However, deeds are also shown to Allah twice daily,  ‘deeds are shown (to Allah) on Mondays and Thursdays, and I like my deeds to be shown when I am fasting.’ (Tirmidhi, classed as Sahih by Sh Al-Albaani in Sahih Al-Targheeb)

And also twice weekly, “Abu Hurayrah  that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “People’s deeds are shown [to Allah] twice each week, on Monday and Thursday, and every believing slave is forgiven except a person between whom and his brother there is a dispute, and it is said, ‘Leave these two until they reconcile.’”

Hence there is nothing specific to Sha’baan to be done on this occasion, and neither is it the end of the year.

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) said concerning commemorating the end of the year: “There is no basis for that, and singling out the end of the year for specific acts of worship such as fasting is a reprehensible innovation (bid’ah).” End quote.

  • All the above beliefs lead many individuals to partake in various acts of worships, including extra nawafil, believing that they hold extra weight and will yield extra reward if performed on this night. But there is no authentic hadith, or any other evidence to support this claim and belief. Some pray 6 rak’aat with the inteion of warding off calamity and having a long life. But this has not been proven from the sunnah, nor from the ways of the righteous salaf.
  • Similarly some believe that it is recommended to fast on the 15th of Sha’baan, again because it has a great reward in the sight of Allah. There is no report to single out the 15th of Sha’baan specifically for fasting. However, there is a general Ahadith concerning the 3 white days of every month, which would include the 15th. The Prophet peace be upon him said, ‘If you fast any part of the month, then fast the 13th, 14th, and 15th.’ This hadith is not specific to the month of Sha’baan.
  • This is the night when the souls of departed ones return to their families: Souls can never return to the world; as when the soul departs the body it goes into the barzakh. I guarantee you that if you see a soul who has passed on it is the jinn playing with you, and Shaytaan deceiving you!
  • Another innovative belief, is calling the final days of Sh’abaan as ‘Al-sha’baniyyah’ meaning bidding farewell to food, and eating as much as possible before the onset of Ramadaan. This practice only encourages gluttony and greed. Some scholars are of the opinion that this originated from Christendom, where Christians would stuff themselves before Lent. Hence, this practice has no basis in Islam.

An argument put forward by many who engage in these practices is that there are so many people who partake in these rituals, surely they are not wrong?

My dear brothers and sisters, if you follow the majority of people, you will end up the hellfire! As Allah says in the Quran (The translation of which is), “and if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah’s way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie.” (6:116)

This is just a of a few of the many innovations that occur on the night of the 15th of Sha’baan. If you are ever unsure about a practice, research it.

Better to be safe than sorry.

 

Who was Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab?

Imam Muhammad ibn Abdil Wahhab is commonly known as the founder of Wahhabism. Many claim that he is the reviver of the Khawaarij, or that he was deviated. Others hold firm that he was a reviver of the pure Islam. But who really was he? What was his mission? What did he stand for?

The Shaykh was born in 115 After Hijrah in Uyaynah, Saudi Arabia. From a young age he studied under the tutelage of his father, from whom he learnt Hanbali Fiqh and memorised the Qur’an, and then moved on to study in Basra. He was influenced by the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibn al Qayyim, and was known for his piety and righteousness.

It was in Iraq where the Imam began his notable works. He called the people to the pure Tawheed, and advised them to follow the authentic teachings of the Prophet peace be upon him. He also engaged scholars in debates and gained a reputation of fame amongst his teachers. But, as is always the case, when one calls the pure Islam the rebellious will always arise, and thus the imam and his teacher faced persecutions there. Imam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab was forced to leave Iraq, and eventually moved to Huraymela, where he was joined by his father. In Huraymela he continued his journey in seeking knowledge and teaching the people, until his father died in 1153 After Hijrah. The ‘Abeed’ were a group of people given unto corruption; stealing and plundering, and felt that the Shaykh was a danger to their interests, thus they persecuted the Shaykh and made attempts on his life. So he left and moved back to Uyaynah.

In Uyaynah he was welcomed by Prince Uthman Bin Muhammad bin Mu’ammar, who pledged to support him, and adjured him to educate the people and call to Allah. Hence, the Imam continued his works in teaching and calling the people to the orthodox teachings of Islam, he guided them by the Will of Allah to uprightness of faith. Soon the Shaykh gained much popularity and people would travel from nearby villages to meet him. With the movement gaining momentum, and people returning to the pure Tawheed, the Shaykh decided to address the issue of grave worship. He called on the Prince of Uyaynah, and advised him that the Grave of Zaid ibn Al Khattab was causing much shirk, and that the people had turned it to a mosque, which was prohibited by the Prophet peace be upon him in various Ahadith. The prince granted the Shaykh an army of 600 men and they marched forth to the grave/mosque. The people of Jubayla (where the grave was situated), stood to defend it, but on upon seeing the army, gave way. The army were successful, and demolished the dome that was erected over the grave of Zaid. This was the first of many similar incidents in which the Shaykh removed the traces of polytheism that had crept into the Ummah.

In Najd and the surrounding areas, shirk had made a comeback, and many people worshipped graves, awliyaa (saints) trees and rocks, revering them as though they were Allah, or intermediaries to Allah. In Islam, one has a direct connection to Allah, no matter what level of iman one has, one can communicate, and talk to Allah, no matter how sinful or good he may be. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing and All-Aware, not a sound escapes Him, and all is visible to Him. This was forgotten by the people of Najd, and they had taken up objects that could neither hear nor see, as a means of communication and attaining nearness to Allah. Moreover magic, sorcery and soothsaying had also gained foot in the area. All of these are against the orthodox teachings of Islam, and thus the Shaykh saw it as necessary to correct people’s beliefs, and to remove these symbols and manifestations of paganism.

The Shaykh wrote to the scholars to gain their support in this task of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. Many aceded to his request and sent their approval. However, some disagreed with him, reproached his mission and stayed away from him, fearing the bad opinion of the people. Similarly many amongst the masses followed him, and some ignorants who had become attached to the symbols of paganism were against him.

The Shaykh continued to exert himself in teaching, learning and studying. His popularity became a threat to the power of the neighbouring province, whose leaders in turn threatened the Prince of Uyaynah. With this the Shaykh left Uyaynah and moved to Dareyya which was ruled by Prince Muhammad bin Sa’ud. Prince Muhammad saw the good in the Shaykh and made a contract to assist him, and the Shaykh agreed to remain in his country.

People flocked to the Shaykh, to learn from him. And soon the Shaykh began sending letters to the rulers and scholars of other provinces and countries encouraging them to return to the pure Tawheed and to abolish and remove all symbols of paganism. It was against this backdrop that his enemies arose and began to label him as Khawarij and other names, some were fake scholars, who knew nothing of the true Islam, other scholars who knew Islam but were misinformed of the Shaykh’s mission and a third group who feared that they would lose the power and authority.

In 1158 After Hijrah began the phase of active Jihad. For fifty years until his death in 1206 the Shaykh resorted to all methods to accomplish his mission, he continued teaching, writing letters, debating, answering questions, refuting accusations and force, until the people returned to the religion of Allah, and many of the signs of paganism had been demolished. The mosques became places of worship, and and students of knowledge filled their halls, the zakat was once again paid, and the good was enjoined and evil prohibited. Upon his death, his sons and grandsons, students and many scholars continued his mission of returning people to Islam as taught by the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. The only hatred that people hold for him, is that he called to the pure Islam, and just how our beloved Prophet was hated, and persecuted, so is every other person who calls to the right guidance and emanates his way.

Misconception: Polygamy

tumblr_lyj4grzlGq1qkwmgko1_540There are some misconceptions that have been spread about women and their rights in Islam. These misconceptions were not meant for individual women themselves, but rather as an attack on Islam in particular. People who raise such misconceptions aim mainly to distort the beautiful picture of women in Islam. Women, throughout the past fourteen centuries of Islam, have been honoured, respected, cherished and dignified. One of the misconceptions raised about women in Islam, is the issue of polygamy.

Polygamy is marriage to more than one wife. It is a continuation of the practice established and practiced in previous religions. It is a practice as old as history itself. All previous religions practiced polygamy. The Old Testament and the Bible are at the top of the list of the Divine Books that stated such a practice and legalized it. Many previous Prophets (Peace be upon them), before Prophet Mohammad entered into plural marriages. Prophet Abraham had two wives. Prophet Jacob also had four wives and Prophet Solomon had many wives. Therefore, we notice that plural marriage, as an issue, is not a new practice attributed to Islam alone. It is indeed an old practice, as old as the history of man on Earth.

The Main Conditions for Polygamy in Islam

1-Justice and Equality

As Allah the Almighty permitted polygamy, He stipulated and pre-conditioned justice and fairness in treatment, avoiding injustice and wrong practices against all wives. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“He who has two wives and does not treat them equally with justice and fairness will come paralyzed (with one side slanted) on the Day of Judgment.”

Justice and fairness, in this context, applies to material things such as expenditure, fair division of wealth, gifts, time, etc. As for emotional matters, such as love and inclination towards one wife over the other, it is recognized that man has no authority or control over his heart and emotions. Feelings and emotions are involuntary; therefore one is not to be blamed for them. ‘Aishah, the mother of believers and the wife of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was reported as saying “Allah’s Messenger distributed everything justly amongst his wives; yet after all, he used to say, “O Allah! This is the fair way of dividing what I possess amongst my wives. O Allah! Blame me not for what You alone possess while I do not.” Meaning absolute justice, the heart, feelings and emotions of a man.

2-Ability to Afford another Household

If a man knows for sure that he is financially incapable of affording another wife and another household, he is not entitled to seek another marriage. A husband is not allowed to exceed four wives at any given time.

We would like to point out some of the factors and elements that often urge men to seek another marriage. We need to examine whether polygamy in itself is a good or an evil practice in the society. We also would like to know whether such a practice is good or bad for the wife, and whether it is in her interest or against it.

1- If a woman is sterile, and the husband is interested in having children, what is best for the wife in such a case: to be divorced for no sin or crime (and become a burden on herself and the society if she cannot earn and there is nobody to support her financially), or to remain in the household of her husband in addition to his other wife? Naturally, to stay in a plural marriage would be the better of the two options.

2- If a wife is chronically ill and she cannot perform her marital duties, what is better in her case: to be divorced, or to become a second wife where she is perfectly honoured, cared for and provided for by her husband? Again, in such an instance, a woman’s rights are maintained by this system of polygamy.

3- Some men are sexually demanding. One wife may not be able to fulfil the lawful sexual desire of her husband. Or, if the menstrual period or after-birth-confinement period is especially longer than normal, or she has no lawful sexual desire to match that of the husband, what is better for both husband and wife, in such a case? Is it lawful for the man to seek unlawful sexual satisfaction somewhere else outside the marriage, or to acquire another lawful wife who keeps him chaste? Polygamy provides a solution to both parties and a lawful means of fulfilling one’s desires.

4- There is no doubt that repeated international and civil war in various parts of the world has taken its toll on men. Moreover, the prison system has restrained many men from marriage. Thus, the number of ‘available’ females in most countries is more than males. The best example of this is the First World War and the Second World War, which claimed the lives of large numbers of men who participated in the fighting. Statistics say that there were more than twenty million men killed during these wars. Therefore, if every man had only one wife, what is the destiny of the women who do not get a fair share of lawful marriage to satisfy their needs? Should such women seek to satisfy their sexual desires in unlawful ways like adultery, fornication, and lesbian activities or else? Truly, also, the abundance of women without husbands, or males to care for them, helped spread corruption and illegitimate sexual activities in the society. As a consequence of war also, there are many widows, divorcees and old maids in many societies. For such women in this case, to remain single is to suffer all the consequences of life and its demanding needs. To accept to be a second wife with an honest, protective, honourable and chaste man on the other hand, provides a safe haven.

One may ask, “If we permit polygamy for men, why it is not permitted for women as well!”

The answer to this question is as follows: Full equality between men and woman in polygamy is impossible due to natural and physical reasons, as we will explain.

1-Physically: Man, in virtually most societies of the world, has the authority over the household. For the sake of discussion: if a woman has two or more husbands, who will have the authority and leadership of the house? Yet, again, whose desires shall the woman fulfil, the first or the second man? It is definitely impossible for a woman to fulfil all the men’s desires, needs and requests. If the woman preferred one over the other, all will be angry and upset.

2-Naturally: A woman can only become pregnant once a year, if any. She can get pregnant by one man only. But, man, on the other hand could have more than one child from more than one woman in the same year, if he has more than one wife. Moreover, if woman is allowed to be married to more than one man, who will be the real father of the child in case of pregnancy, and how would that be determined? It would take great effort to find out the lineage of the child.

It is only natural that a woman is jealous and protective, Allah has instilled these emotions in our hearts for a reason. If we had no jealousy, then society would be an open field and breeding ground for immorality and sin. However, one must curb the jealousy and exercise control over it such that it does not achieve reign over the person, and shadows their character.

Hence to conclude, polygamy, as repulsive as it seems to many women, is actually a source of benefit, and a solution to many escalating problems. The rights of the women involved in a polygamous marriage are preserved, and such a marriage provides a blanket of support to numerous women who find themselves unable to find a suitable spouse. It is from the Mercy and wisdom of Allah that He has permitted such a practice, and has set out guidelines for it. As muslims, we have a duty to hear and obey, and submit with content to the laws of Allah. True submission, comes with loyal acceptance of the laws of Allah, where one’s heart is settled with the decree, and discontent finds no place to remain.

Hend AlShareef

The Prophet’s Marriage to Aishah

Misconception 11

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It is extremely hurtful, when someone accuses my beloved Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessing be upon him). A common target of orientalists and others who seek to defame islam, is the Prophet’s marriage to A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her). They accuse the best man to walk to the earth, the man who was a mercy to mankind, the man who had the most upright character of paedophilia. Indeed, Allah has set a seal on their ears, eyes and hearts! For how can one, who knows the morals of Muhammad (peace be upon him) ever speak such about him?! He never violated the rights of anyone, and even cared for the trees and birds. Sadly, today there are even muslims to try to explain away, changing and manipulating the seerah to please their own selves, and in a bid to justify this aspect of islam.

I ask you, why do we need to justify ourselves? Why do we need to succumb to those who’s aim in life is to find fault in Islam? Truly, there is no need to do so. However, for those, who wish to learn, whose hearts are opened I will explain why the accusation is baseless.

To my brothers and sisters in Islam who have a problem with the Prophet’s marriage to Aishah, you should know that this was decreed by Allah. When Allah gives us an instruction, we hear and we obey, without any ifs or buts. Similarly when the Prophet does something we accept it wholeheartedly, without any doubts. That is true belief and faith. So as musims, we should have no second thoughts or personal opinions regarding the Prophets marriage to A’ishah.

Furthermore, the wisdom behind this marriage is great. Aishah, being of a young age, naturally had a firm memory and was able to retain the smallest of incidents. Science has found that the best age to remember is at six years old, which was the age of Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her). Islam is based on oral tradition, and Aishah is ranked fourth amongst the top narrators of hadith, her memory is amongst the means for the preservation of this deen. She memorised more Ahadith than the Khulafa Ar-Rashideen. Her young age is of further benefit to the Tab’ieen who were able to learn directly from her and gain from her wisdom and insight. She was a first hand witness to many incidents and events that shape and govern our way of life.

To add to this, being at such a young age she was inquisitive, and had an open mind. She used to question things and discuss with the Prophet, which she was able to do firstly because of her young age, and secondly due to her relationship with him of being his wife.  Her relationship with the Prophet is invaluable to this deen and us, as it provides a rich understanding and insight into the private life of the Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him).

With regards to the human rights advocates, Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), did not nominate you to speak on her behalf. Had Aishah felt violated by this marriage, I’m sure she would have spoken out about it, for those who study and know the character of Aishah, she was one to voice her opinions. Or she could have selected a representative from amongst those she knew, for the Sahabiyyat were free to articulate their concerns. Rather, our mother Aishah, was pleased with this marriage, she loved the Prophet (peace be upon him) and was jealous for him.

Williams. Sir Edward Coke of England, (of the 17th century) made it clear that “the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.”

Moreover, marrying young was a norm at the time. It was known that girls mature earlier, and thus married earlier too. In Rome, the legal age for marriage was set at twelve, and the Catholic Church accepted marriage at fourteen. Moreover, how many kings at the time had wives who were young, or even slave girls?

To further prove that this is a baseless accusation, the enemies of Muhammad found no fault in it. The famous Abu Jahl who was known for his deep seated enmity and hatred of the Prophet, amongst others, never used this as a reason to dislike Muhammad. To marry young was an accepted custom.

Lastly, who judges at what age a girl is marriageable? Across the world, you will find that the legal age for marriage varies. In Spain it is 14, in Sweden it is 16, in Holland it is 18 and the list of differences can go on. The west can barely decide what age is right, so I ask who are we to put a limit on it? Isn’t the one who created the human race, more suited to know what the correct age is? For He created us, and knows the workings of every individuals body and mind.

I end how I began; the Prophet Muhammad was an upright man, who never violated the rights of anyone. He cared about the rights of every individual, a free man or a slave, a man or a woman, an elderly or one who was a youth. He brought Islam, in a time of darkness, and liberated women from being second class citizens and objects of trade. He gave them their due respect, honoured them and gave them status.

Who do Muslims Worship?

 

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Misconception #10

Many people are confused as to what, or who muslims worship. Majority of religions have an image or statue which is a depiction of their god in some form or shape; often this is a representation of the founder of that religion, to whom the followers direct their acts of worship and devotion. Hence, they assume that it is just the same for Muslims too.

To explain who muslims worship, it is necessary to explain what Islam; the religion adhered to by muslims, is. Islam is the total submission to the will of Almighty God. Keeping this definition in mind, Islam is a way of life; that has been in existence since the beginning of time, and is as old as history itself. Muhammad was not the founder of Islam, as Islam has been the religion of the Prophets and Messengers since the creation of the first man on earth. Each of the apostles submitted their will to the will of Almighty God; Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, all of them surrendered themselves to the One God, hence were all muslims.

Back to point of who Muslims worship. Some would assume muslims worship the black box in the desert (also called the Ka’bah), this is merely a point of direction for unity amongst muslims. In reality, muslims worship Allah, the One Almighty God. Allah is the proper name for God in Arabic; it refers to the Supreme Being who is unlike any of the creation, who has no partners or associates, and no daughters or sons, who resembles none. Neither was He born nor, does He give birth.

“Say (O Muhammad): He is Allah the One. The Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor was He begotten and there is none like him.” (Surah Ikhlaas, 112:1-4)

The role of Muhammad (peace be upon him) was merely that of a messenger, to convey to the people the message which Allah had entrusted him with, and that is to teach the worship of Allah alone. He communicated to us the message of Allah, and the words of Allah, which are contained in the Qur’an.

Allah says in the Qur’an, “O Mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous. He who made for you the earth as a bed (spread out) and the sky a ceiling, and sent down from the sky rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know (there is nothing similar to Him).” (Al Baqarah 02:21-22)

Allah informs us, that He is our Lord, our Creator and Provider. Muslims believe that Allah possesses numerous attributes which describe His being. These attributes cannot be fully understood by our limited knowledge, nor are they similar to that of any created being. Some of these are mentioned in the Qur’an, and some double up as names.

“He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and witnessed. He is Ar-Rahman (The Entirely Merciful), Ar-Raheem, (The Especially Mericful). He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, Al-Malik (The Sovereign), Al-Quddus (The Pure), As-Salam (The source of Peace), Al-Mu’min (The Bestower of Faith), Al-Muhaymin (The Overseer), Al-Aziz (The Exalted in Might), Al-Jabbar (The Compeller), Al-Mutakabbir (The Superior). He is Allah, Al-Khaliq (The Creator), Al-Bari (The Inventor), Al-Musawwir (The Fashioner), to Him belong the best names…” (Al-Hashr 59:22-24)

These are the descriptions and Names of Allah. However, we cannot see Him in this life, until the Day of Judgement. He is beyond the limitations of time, and space. He is perfect in His attributes, with no defect, fatigue does not touch Him, nor inability. He is over all things competent and able.

Muhammad was a man who lived amongst the people, who ate food, who retired to rest. Allah, on the other hand, is unaffected by ‘human nature’ and is above the need for nourishment and reproduction. If god were to manifest himself in human form, he seizes to be a god, for Almighty God is perfect and without need, whereas humans are flawed. How can one who is need of support, support others? How can one who is lost, serve as a guide for others? How can one who is weak, and prone to maladies and poverty, be a source of strength and victory for others? How can one who is in need, give to others? Such is the nature of human kind, we are in need of support, weak, frail, prone to maladies and poverty, in need, and lost. Only a being, who is above these lowly qualities, can be a Lord for us. How can we turn our attention and devotion to men who are like ourselves? They are in need like us, lost like us, weak like us. Thus it is Allah to whom we submit, for truly He has power of all things.He gives without measure, forgives without reproach, creates without examples, sees without limits, and hears without impediments. Everything is under His command, and we are subservient to Him.

“And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and earth, and Allah is over all things competent.” (Surah Aal-Imran 03:189)

 

Misconception: Hijab is Inequality!

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It would appear to the naked eye that women in Islam have no rights. Shrouded in the hijab, and often covering their faces, many believe that muslim women are masked in this uniform all day long. While muslim men, can dress as they please. ‘See the inequality’; they would say.

First things first; muslim women do not wear their Islamic garb 24/7. Rather the muslim woman’s attire that appears to be an ‘oversized bed sheet’ is merely an over garment which the muslim woman dons when she leaves her home, or in the presence of strange unrelated men. That means, in her home she dresses as she pleases, and can uncover her hair too.

Moreover, men have a dress code too. The minimum requirement for a male to cover is from his naval to his knees. That’s minimum. To you it may seem unequal, but I’m sure you would agree that men and women’s bodies are different! Therefore, a woman’s body necessitates that she covers more, as a woman is more attractive than a man, because Allah has given her that natural beauty.

Women’s covering also acts as a means of protection. Imagine your favourite sweet. Perhaps ‘gummy bears, or cola bottles, or a lollipop. Now, imagine placing that sweet in the middle of the garden, or even in the middle of your dining table with wrappers removed, and served on a plate. Now, if the flies didn’t get to it first, I’m sure someone else would. Do you see my point? No? Ok, here’s another example. Imagine you owned a block of solid gold, encrusted with diamonds, and rubies. If you left that hanging out of your pocket, as you walk down the street, or left it by the window for the world to see. I’m sure you would return home without it that evening.  Apply those above scenarios to women. An unclothed, semi-naked woman, will be feasted upon by hungry eyes, and even approached in an undesirable manner. In comparison, the muslim woman who covers herself, as per the requirements set by the Creator of mankind, will find herself free to walk as she pleases.  In Islam, the muslim woman is more precious than gold and diamonds, she is sweeter that the most delightful sweet. She is worth more, her value is priceless, and thus she is to protect herself.

“O Prophet, tell your wives and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves their outer garments. That is more suitable, that they will be known and not abused. And ever is Allah forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:59)

The hijab, jilbab, or niqab does not limit a muslim woman in any way. Rather it gives her freedom. She is known by it to be an upright, moral individual who possess good character. She is judged for her intellectual ability instead of her physical assets.

In society today, women have become the instrument of advertisement. If their bodies don’t cut it, they are more than often denied their due. In the west, where women have supposedly reached the peak of civilisation in their dressing and so-called ‘freedoms’ women are still not treated equally to men. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2007, approximately 12,000 women were harassed in the workplace.

Sexual abuse to women is a common occurrence. Though the man responsible is charged, many do not realise, that the woman is equally at fault for dressing provocatively. Allah, the Creator of you and me, knew this would happen, that’s why He put laws in place to help us. In addition men have the responsibility to lower their gaze, but how can that be applied, when everywhere he turns, there is a woman who has exposed herself? On the billboards, in the shop windows, in the newspapers and magazines, even on your sweet packets, walking in front of you, driving in their cars, women dressing inappropriately seems to be everywhere.

Allah designated that women should cover themselves. Hijab is a stand against female exploitation, and a means of female liberation. Beneath it, a woman is free to do as she pleases and dress as she pleases. Women are not the trophy of men, but rather individuals with their own goal and attainments. The Hijab preserves our beauty, our character, and protects us from prying eyes. Hijab allows women to be judged for their worth and not their appearance. It is a modus of security and safeguard for the muslim woman.

 

Misconception: Ramadaan

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“Muslims are crazy…they starve themselves for a whole month!”

Perhaps this is your understanding of Ramadaan?! Well, I shall put your mind to rest.

Firstly, muslims fast on daily basis for one month. Not an entire month in one go; that indeed would be crazy! Fasting for a whole month non-stop without food or drink, is torturous to say the least, if not suicidal. Muslims fast each day of one lunar month, from dawn until dusk. During this time they abstain from eating, drinking and relations.

Yes, many of us do feel hungry during this time, and for some, the pangs of hunger are severe, but there is a reason, why we are instructed to fast,

“O You who have believed, fasting has been decreed upon you, as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous,” (Al-Baqarah 02:183)

As Muslims we follow the command of Allah (God), because we believe in Him. Hence we follow His command to fast. One fasts from food, drink, desire, and sin. It is not just the stomach that should fast, but the entire body. One who is fasting should avoid vulgar speech, a bad attitude etc…

Fasting has a greater purpose; to help us attain righteousness, and piety. It has been prescribed for us, that we may get closer to God. In Islam, muslims are supposed to be constantly improving themselves for the better in order to attain a higher rank with Allah, get closer to Him, and attain paradise. Thus, we have been commanded to fast that we may reap the benefits therefrom, and become better human beings.

By fasting one is reminded of his weakness before Allah. Allah is in no need for food or drink, yet He graciously provides both these things for us. It reminds us of our need for Allah. We need him to be able to survive.

Fasting is a humbling experience, and breeds gratitude. We experience what those less fortunate than us experience on a daily basis, and we learn to appreciate what we often take for granted. We appreciate the simple blessings of food and drink. We can open our taps and have immediate access to clean water, for which some people have to walk miles, and some don’t have every day. Recent statistics show that 750 million people do not have access to safe water, and one child dies every minute due to a water-related disease. (www.water.org) Alhamdulilah (praise and thanks be to Allah) who has given us water. Fasting reminds us that this water we are given is a blessing, yet also a test, in that we are responsible for how we use it. Similarly, fasting teaches us that food too is a blessing. Being able to have a hot meal served on our plates after a long and busy day, is indeed a blessing. How many millions go to sleep hungry? According to the United Nations World Food Programme 1 in every 9 people do not have adequate food to lead a healthy life.  Fasting, shows us that we have to be thankful for what we have, and use it wisely.

Furthermore fasting helps improve the character, if observed correclty. For example, it decreases arrogance. When a person is hungry, they realise they too are human, they have faults, and feel pain too, thereby reducing pride and haughtiness. They have less energy to behave in a superior manner. Yet again this is another means of self-improvement.

On a side note, fasting also has many health benefits. It improves the digestive system, and reduces the risk of heart disease. It also helps promote a healthier lifestyle by controlling eating habits.

In conclusion, while it may seem bizarre to give up your beloved food and drink, muslims understand that the benefit they receive from these actions, are beyond any tangible reward. Muslims do not live to eat, rather we eat enough to live. Fasting is detox for mind, body and soul.

Misconception: Qur’an

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The Qur’an. What can I say about it? Some, would say it’s the biblical equivalent for the muslims. In some respect, perhaps it is, in the sense that it’s the holy book of guidance for the muslims as the bible is for the Christians. However, the bible and Qur’an are very different, in numerous ways.

The Quran is the word of the Almighty God, in its original form as He spoke it. The words have not been changed, and are exactly the same. The Qur’an is not the creation of Allah, rather it is His speech. Allah spoke the words to the noble arch angel, Gabriel, who then conveyed the words, as they were to Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not the author of the Qur’an, for he was an illiterate man, unable to read or write, uneducated in matters of religion or scriptures. Therefore he was unable to copy the scriptures available, or even conjure up such a movement. In addition, he was widely known as trustworthy, honest and truthful, before the advent of his prophet hood, so it was impossible for him to forge a lie against God.  Rather, Allah is the One who spoke the words of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is not written by human beings, but by the Divine Being that is God.  He, Himself vowed to preserve these words,

“Indeed it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (Surah Al-Hijr 15:09)

The Qur’an has remained in its original unaltered form since its revelation approximately 1400 years ago. It has been preserved in writings, and in the memory and hearts of many muslims. Millions of muslims, young and old alike have memorised it, from all corners of the globe. Its study has become a science, and not only is its verses preserved, but the reasons behind the revelation of each and the location of revelation are maintained too.

The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) over a period of 23 years. Yet, despite this long period of revelation, it contains no contradictions. It is in its pristine condition, without doubt or uncertainty,

“Then, do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from (any) other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.” (Surah An-Nisa 04:82)

The long-period of revelation for the Qur’an illustrates its authenticity. It presents a challenge, as its style does not slack, its information does not whither and its principles do not waiver. It remains true to its purpose throughout. Had a person written it over 23 years, surely evidence of their fallibility would have surfaced!

“This is a Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah,”

Allah revealed the Qur’an as a guidance for mankind, a type of manual or handbook from The Creator.

“This [Qur’an] is a clear statement to all the people, and guidance and instruction, for those conscious of God,” (Surah Aal-Imran, 03:138)

The Qur’an informs us of guidelines by which to live, the best course of direction and the keys to success. It also warns us of the consequences of failing to live by these instructions. It distinguishes truth from falsehood, and right from wrong.

The content of the Qur’an is unique. It confirms the scriptures before it, relates incidents of the past as lessons for us, prophesises future events to prepare us and deals with the present. Its subject is us ‘humans.’ It relates to us the Laws of God, evidence of His existence, and reality of the Day of Judgement. The Qur’an relates to us the story of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Pharaoh, The People of Aad and Thamud, so that we may learn from their mistakes, and take heed. The Qur’an informs us of facts as microscopic as the embryo and its development, and those of a greater magnitude such as the heavens held up above us. Now, I ask you, how did a man who was illiterate, living in a barbaric civilisation in the midst of the desert, one thousand four hundred years ago know these facts, which have only recently been ‘discovered’ by scientists of our age? It can only be with the help of God above!

The language and style of the Qur’an are inimitable. Whilst the translations fall short in conveying its true, complete meanings; the original Arabic of the Qur’an, is of the highest standards. It contains no mistake in this regard, which only serves to prove it is from a higher being, devoid of mistakes and imperfection.  It possesses a rhythmic grace, though it is not poetry, all the while conveying its profound message directly, without faltering in its communication. The Qur’an presented a challenged to the Arabs at the time of its revelation, and for those who deny it today,

“Or they say he (Muhammad) invented it? Say, ‘Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented, and call upon (for assistance) whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful,” (Hud 11:13)

“Let them then produce a recital like unto it (the Qur’an) if they are truthful.” (At-Tur 52:34)

But the truth of the matter is,

“If mankind and jinn gathered together in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” (Al-Isra 17:88)

The Qur’an is a divine book, from Allah the Almighty. It is His words, which are proof of His existence and perfection. He is Our Creator, who has revealed this guidance for us to abide by. The Qur’an is no less than a miracle; it is accurate in information, precise in grammar, articulate in its conveyance. It is a message for those of understanding.

Bibi Zainab Dowlut

Muhammad: A Mercy to Mankind

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Misconception #5

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is regarded by muslims as the last and final messenger sent by Allah to mankind. He came as a seal of the prophets who were sent before him, and was the concluding messenger to mankind. Throughout the ages, Allah has sent Prophets and messengers to mankind, instructing them to worship the only one God, worthy of worship.

Allah says, “We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain (their affairs) in justice…” (Al-Hadid 57:25)

Also, “O company of jinn and mankind, did there not come to you messengers from among you, relating to you My verses and warning you of the meeting of this Day of Yours?” (Al-Anam 06:130)

Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent not only to muslims, or Arabs but rather to humanity, this made him different from the prophets before him. They came to their respective nations only; for example Moses was sent to the Children of Israel. Muhammad on the other hand was sent to  all of mankind.

“Say (O Muhammad): O Mankind, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you all, (from Him), to who belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death…” (Al-Araf 07:158)

Muhammad peace be upon him was sent so that God alone would be worshipped on earth, without any partners. He was sent to uphold the truth and banish falsehood, with regards to the worship of Allah.

Muhammad (peace be upon him), is not God, or the son of God for the muslims. He is only a Messenger of Allah, He never claimed divinity or anything similar. He was merely sent to warn people that they will be brought to account and will endure recompense for their deeds, and that hellfire is a reality. Similarly, he brought the good news that paradise too was a reality, and that Allah is All-forgiving, Acceptor of Repentance.

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad), except as a bringer of glad tidings and a warner.” (Furqan 25:56)

Muhammad peace be upon him was not a tyrannical ruler, nor a king who used power and soldiers to establish their kingdom, and rule. Rather, he merely called people to worship of one true god. He was a mercy to us in that he taught us a message that released us from servitude to those who are themselves slaves, to and guide them to the worship of the Lord of all slaves.

Allah says about him, “And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind,” (Al-Anbiyaa 21:107)

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also endowed with miracles like the Prophets before him, namely the splitting of the moon, and his travel to Jerusalem in one night, in a civilisation where planes, cars and motor vehicles did not exist. He also prophesised events which have come to pass. But the greatest miracle of Muhammad is that of the Qur’an, which remains today in its original form, unchanged and unaltered for 1400 plus years.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) was illiterate, he could neither read nor write, and he was not a poet. He could not, therefore, bring forward a book, whose eloquence was and is beyond that of top orators, whose style is unique and inimitable, whose rhythm was captivating and consistent, and whose content was true to the finest detail.

“And he saw him (Gabriel) on the clear horizon.” (At-Takwir, 81:23)

Gabriel delivered the message of Allah to Muhammad (peace be upon him), and informed him that he was the Messenger of Allah, and thus began his prophet hood. He conveyed and taught the people what Gabriel had taught him.

When he first received the revelation, and gained his prophet hood, he sought comfort in his wife, Khadijah, thinking that he had gone mad, or was affected by an evil spirit. His wife consoled him saying, “Allah will never disgrace you, you unite relations, you bear the burden of the weak, you help the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness.”

Allah said about his exemplary charisma, “verily, you (O Muhammad) are on exalted standard of character.” (Al-Qalam, 68:04)

Muhammad (peace be upon him), before the advent of his prophet hood was well-known for his immaculate mannerisms. He was nicknamed ‘Al-Ameen,’ meaning the Trustworthy or Honest one. He was one to always lend a helping hand, and showed kindness to the elderly and the youth.

In a conversation between Abu-Sufyan, who was at the time an enemy of Muhammad, and Hiraql (Heraculus), king of Rome, Hiraql said,

“I asked about his ancestry and you had replied that he had the best ancestry. This is the case with Prophets; they are the descendants of the noblest among their people (Addressing Abu Sufyan), he continued: I asked you if there had been a king among his ancestors. You said that there had been none. If there had been a king among his ancestors, I would have said that he was a man demanding his ancestral kingdom. I asked you about his followers whether they were people of high or low status, and you said that they were of rather low status. Such are the followers of the Prophets. I asked you whether you used to accuse him of falsehood before he proclaimed his prophet hood, and you said that you did not. So I have understood that when he did not allow himself to tell a lie about the people, he would never go to the length of forging a falsehood about Allah. I asked you whether anyone renounced his religion being dissatisfied with it after he had embraced it, and you replied in the negative. Faith is like this when it enters the depth of the heart (it perpetuates them). I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You said they were increasing. Faith is like this until it reaches its consummation. I asked you whether you had been at war with him, and you replied that you had been and that the victory between you and him had been shared by turns, sometimes he suffering loss at your hand and sometimes you suffering lost at his. This is how the Prophets are tried before the final victory is theirs. I asked you whether he (ever) violated his covenant, and you said that he did not. This is how the Prophets behave. They never violate (their covenants). I asked you whether anyone before him had proclaimed the same thing, and you replied in the negative. If anyone had made the same proclamation before, I would have thought that he was a man following what had been proclaimed before. (Then) Hiraql (King of Rome) asked: What does he enjoin upon you? I said: He exhorts us to offer Salat, to pay Zakat, to show due regard to kinship and to practise chastity. He said: If what you have told about him is true, he is certainly a Prophet. I knew that he was to appear but I did not think that he would be from among you. If I knew that I would be able to reach him. I would love to meet him; and it I had been with him. I would have washed his feet (out of reverence). His dominion would certainly extend to this place which is under my feet.” (Sahih Muslim)

This was Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. He was a role model to those around him, and those afar, those who lived with him and those after him. He was sent with justice, kindness, morality, peace, love, security, safety and purity. Anything that was beneficial and good to people, he guided them to it, and anything that was evil, false, and abhorrent he warned them against it.

All these points, illustrate that he truly was the Messenger of Allah. The characters of the messengers and prophets of God, are always immaculate, and so was Muhammad, that even his enemies bore testament to his truthfulness. His ‘living’ miracle of the Qur’an, holds firm despite the attempts of many to criticise, and defame it. As Allah says, “They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, even though the disbelievers hate it.” (As-Saff 61:08) He was an illiterate man, who never studied the scriptures of any people for him to copy or imitate it, yet he brought forth Islam, and the Qur’an. It is no wander Michael H. Hart ranked him as the most influential person is history in his book. Muhammad (peace be upon him) changed the course of history forever, he transformed nations and civilisations. He gave rise to morals and ethics, he created a way of life and system of government that had never been witnessed before, or since. Within the course of a few years, he changed the face of the Arabian peninsula, an area that was given in to tribal warfare, which in turn affected the rest of the world. Today, his followers stand at approximately 1.57 million, and number which is increasing.

“His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement-all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an imposter raises more problems than it solves. Moreover none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West…Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof which is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty.” (W Montgomery Watt)

Bibi Zainab Dowlut