Moral Light, Delivered in Full, Bedouin Fiqh

Issue 962 » September 1, 2017 - Dhul Hijja 10, 1438

Living The Quran

Moral Light
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 257

"Allah is the Guardian of those who believe: from the depths of darkness He leads them forth into light. And those who reject faith, their guardians are the Evil Ones: from light, they lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They are the inmates of Fire, and they will dwell in it forever."

Wali, translated here as 'Guardian', means a helper or a companion and a supporter. The word nur or light here refers to the light of reason, faith and practical and moral light, just as the word zulumat (depths of darkness) refers to error in terms of convoluted reasoning and corrupt morality. As the origin of the light of truth is essentially one - Allah, there is no confusion in it. For the same reason, it is one and not fragmented. Hence the word nur or light is in the singular. In contrast, the word zulumat (depths of darkness) is in the plural, because its causes are many and diverse and by nature it is chaotic and fragmented.

Guidance or error crucially depends on whether one turns to Allah or chooses to follow others apart from Him. If a person turns to Allah, He helps and supports him, and slowly and gradually frees him from bondage to his lusts and desires and brings him out of the darknesses of polytheism, unbelief and hypocrisy to the path of perfect faith and pure monotheism. If, on the other hand, a person turns away from his Sustainer and wanders off the path, he is taken over by the devil and his associates. They entice him away from the light of reason or evidence from nature and into the abyss of error and perdition. An empty house is haunted by demons, says a famous proverb. In like manner, a heart devoid of true human aspirations turns into a devil's retreat. A heart empty of faith is the abode of the devil. Devils keep such people in a state of constant confusion causing them to wander in diverse dark recesses of error.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah al-Fatiha and Surah al-Baqarah" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Delivered in Full

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was fully aware of what his role as God's Messenger involved. In his comprehensive speech during his farewell pilgrimage, he outlined to the people the main principles of Islam: highlighting aspects of action that needed to be adhered to or avoided. Those who went with him on that pilgrimage numbered up to 250,000, and he ensured that they were all aware of what he said. Several times during that speech, he asked his audience: "Have I delivered my message?" They answered: "Yes, you most certainly have." He then said: "My Lord, be my witness." [Muslim]

The fact that his message has survived, intact, for fourteen centuries is the best evidence that he has delivered it in full. This message is certain to survive to the end of time because God has guaranteed to keep the Quran free of distortion for as long as humans continue to populate the earth.

Compiled From:
"Muhammad: His Character and Conduct" - Adil Salahi


Bedouin Fiqh

When Imam Zuhri, a famous scholar of Sunna (Prophet Muhammad's traditions), indicated to Qasim ibn Muhammad (a scholar of the Quran), a desire to seek knowledge, Qasim advised him to join the assembly of a well-known woman jurist of the day, Amara bin Al-Rahman. Imam Zuhri attended her assembly and later described her as "a boundless ocean of knowledge." In fact, Amra instructed a number of famed scholars, such as Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Hazama, and Yahya ibn Said.

Amra was not an anomaly in Islamic history, for it abounds with famous women narrators of jurisprudence, starting with Aisha, the Prophet's wife. A conservative count would reveal at least 2,500 extraordinary women jurists, narrators of Hadith, and poets throughout history.

That was then, but now we encounter hardly a single Islamic woman jurist. Women are all but absent from Islamic public and intellectual life. There are remarkable women activists in many Mosques and there are a few impressive writers, such as Zaynab al-Ghazali. But these are exceptions. One will rarely find a woman lecturing to a mixed audience about a gender-neutral topic such as "riba" (usury), for example. And while it is common to encounter professional Muslim women in every walk of life, it is very rare to find them on the boards of Islamic centres, or holding leadership positions.

There are several reasons for this alarming phenomenon. A particularly disturbing one is the derogatory attitude that seems to have infected many Muslim men. Very few are willing to be instructed or taught by women. Muslim men, in North America and elsewhere, seem to have developed a woman-phobia that consistently aspires to exclude women from conferences, meetings, gatherings, and even the Mosques.

May God bless Fatimah bint Qais, who tenaciously argued with Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Aisha over a legal point and refused to change her opinion. And there was Umm Yaqab, who on hearing Abdullah ibn Masud explain a legal point, then confidently told him, "I have read the entire Quran but have not found your explanation anywhere in it."

The fact is, that Islam neither limits women to the private sphere nor does it give men supremacy over the public and private life. One notices that the Greek and Roman cultures which preceded Islamic civilization did not produce a single eminent woman philosopher or jurist. Likewise, until the 1700s, Europe failed to produce a single female social, political, or legal jurist. Islam did exactly the opposite in every respect, so much so that Hazart Umar bin al-Khitatab used to entrust Shaffa bint Abdullah as an inspector over the market in Medina. Moreover, Islamic history is replete with examples of female professors who tutored famous male jurists.

Yet the sad legacy of our time is that we have taken women back to the pre-Islamic era by excluding them from public exposure or involvement. A modern scholar, Muhammad al-Ghazali, once described this phenomenon as the "ascendancy of Bedouin fiqh (jurisprudence)." What he meant by this term is that in much of contemporary culture the world revolves around men and everything is channelled to their service.

Compiled From:
"In Recognition of Women" - Khaled Abou El Fadl