Role of women in preserving Islamic knowledge

A very good article on women scholars of hadith. Further giving weight to the argument that women have the right to be fully participating members of society – not to encourage isolation. Not to be holed up in the 4 walls of her home only to resurface for necessary needs.

During the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) women were transmitters of prophetic traditions (hadith) and after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), many female Companions, particularly the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were viewed as vital custodians of the huge treasure chest of knowledge that they had obtained during their time with the Prophet (peace be upon him). They readily dispensed this rich knowledge when approached for instruction by other Companions. The names of Hafsah, Umm Habeebah, Umm Salama and A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with them) are very familiar to every student of hadith. In fact A’ishah is regarded as one of the most important figures in the whole of hadith literature as both one of the earliest reporters of the largest number of hadiths and also one of their most careful interpreters.
Women also held important positions as scholars of hadith during the time of the Righteous Caliphate. A few traditionists (muhadiths – scholars of hadith) during this time include Hafsah, the daughter of Ibn Seereen, Um ad-Darda and Amrah bint Abdir-Rahman. Iyas ibn Mu’awiyah an important scholar of hadith of the time and a judge, considered Umm Darda to be superior to all other scholars of hadith of the period including famous scholars such as al-Hasan al-Basri and Ibn Seerin. Furthermore, Amrah was considered the greatest authority of traditions related by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her). The Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz once ordered Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, a judge in Madinah (and also her fellow student) to write down all the hadiths known to her.
This transmission and preservation of hadith continued with devout women coming from diverse backgrounds to excel and rise through the ranks of Islamic scholarship. For example, Abidah al-Madaniyah started life as a slave and learned a large number of hadiths. She later married Habeeb Dahhoon, a great muhadith (traditionist) of Spain who took her back to Andalusia. There she related over ten thousand hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the authority of her teachers from Madinah.
Zaynab bint Sulayman on the other hand was born into a royal household and had obtained a fine education gaining a mastery of hadith sciences. She enjoyed a reputation as one of the most distinguished muhadithats (woman scholars of hadith) of her time and even counted many important male muhaditheen among her pupils.
To read the full article the link is available here

BBC: Great British Islam

Great British Islam ~(BBC)  looked at the lives of 3 Englishmen from the Victorian era who converted to Islam. These men were Quilliam, Pickthall and Headley. All 3 of these men were from privileged backgrounds, raised as Christians and were shown to be as much a part of their Victorian society as their fellow peers.

The programme focused on the lives of these three men, and went into some detail about their backgrounds, the circumstances of their conversion and life after embracing Islam.

All three men in their adulthood visited or lived in Muslim-dominant countries (Turkey, India, Egypt, Morocco) and converted shortly thereafter. Following their conversions, they were particularly displeased with Victorian Britains foreign policy and the demonisation of Islam and Muslims in their society – particularly Quilliam who had an open allegiance to the Ottoman caliphate (receiving the title of Shaykh-ul-Islam of the British Isles as a result of this).

In an attempt to dispell the stereotypes and myths of Islam, Quilliam began a publishing press and produced the monthly newsletter “The Crescent” which was widely distributed. It contained details of visits to the Islamic Centre (Liverpool) of notable personalities including representative of the Ottoman caliphate and academics speaking on scientific matters and research at the Liverpool Muslim Institute. He and his peers however were still at heads with larger Victorian society.

Pickthall’s greatest achievement was in translating the Quran from Arabic into English and was the first translation of its kind. He too had, like Quilliam, greivances with Britains foreign policy. Pickthall and Quilliam became acquaintances in Woking and frequented the Shah Jahan Mosque.

What is striking about these individuals and the Muslims of today is the disagreement with Britain foreign policy, a matter which people believe to be a contemporary issue and one that is largely voiced by Muslims of minority ethnic backgrounds. This it seems is an old greivance, and one that shows no signs of disippating anytime soon.

This short programme is available on BBC iplayer and most probably Youtube.

Ramadhan Mubarak

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Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم ordered us when he صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days.” [Sahih Muslim. Hadith No 2378. Narrated by Abu Hurayrah]

Which Aqeedah to follow? – the most useless debate of our time

the most useless debate of our timeI was flicking through tv channels whilst sipping my tea and paused at the ‘Ummah Channel” to hear someone go on and on about Istighatha  along with ruthless criticism of his opponents as if his discussion holds the solution to humanity’s problems.

Aqeedah wars are obviously not new, rather something we inherited when Muslims met philosophy around the 8th and 9th Century. When translating and answering complex theological questions influenced by the Greek Philosophy, Muslim scholars took several different positions as proponents and exponents of philosophy.

First came the Muslim philosophers who gave birth to various schools of thought Qadariyyah, Jabriyyah, Jahmiyah (all extinct now). In their refutation came the Mu’tazilah, who despite being valiant defenders also flopped paving the way for the Mutakallimoun (Muslim theologians) mainly the Ash’aris and Maturidis.

These remaining schools of Aqeedah (Ash’ari and Maturdi) were founded to counter the erroneous methodology of the Mu’tazilah gaining acceptance and popularity due to the growing interest in philosophy. The people were asking questions never asked before, about God, and the Muslim theologians presented carefully constructed arguments which were rational yet having textual (kitab and Sunnah) basis. Although they were the Islamic defenders of their time against the onslaught of deviant sects and the influence of foreign philosophies, they too, along with all other sects became problematic and ended up contributing towards the decline of Islamic thought.

Aside from the decline in thought, one of the problems they left Muslims with was the unnecessary Aqeedah debate and the consequent codification of Aqeedah leaving Muslims with a text book version of the very basis of their belief.  A text book Aqeedah, with text book proofs, occupying Muslim minds in a fruitless debate over various interpretations rather than forming an independent intellectual belief based on definitive rational and textual proofs.

The Asharis and Maturdis came in response to the Mu’tazila. We don’t have Mu’tazila anymore, so when we don’t have the problem why debate over the solution? Why not return to the basic teachings of the Sahabah, tabi’een and the salaf as-Saliheen who taught pure Islam free from the influence of philosophy and kalam?

Why not return to the true representatives of Ahlasunnah wal Jammah; Imam Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi’ , Ahmed ibn Hambal, Laith ibn Sa’ad, al-Awzaee, Sufyan al-Thawri (may Allah ta’ala be pleased with them all) away from the Brelawis, Deobandis, Wahabbis, and the Sufis who are full of blind hatred and can’t see that the Mu’tazili problem is long gone, but there are new problems like secularism, modernism, and host of socio-political problems faced by Muslims throughout the world.

Perhaps it’s time to re-focus attention to more pressing matters instead of idle useless debates which only breed hatred and intolerance.

Film Review: Fetih 1453

Fetih 1453The Prophet of Islam,  Mohammed (saw) said, “Verily, Constantinople shall be conquered, its commander shall be the best commander ever and his army shall be the best army ever.”

Sultan Mehmet Khan II (Mohamed al-Fateh) conquered Constantinople in 1453 dragging 70 naval ships for 5 km over land on greased tree trunks in one night, landing in the sea right in front of the city walls by dawn. He camped outside the fortified unbreached walls of the city for days planning and scheming his strategies to victory.

After the emperor’s refusal to handover the city, the Sultan ordered the powerful cannons bombarding the city’s walls facing the Golden Horne, followed by diggers trying to breach the fortification from underground and skirmishes on the walls. However, unsuccessful the Sultan despairs and seeks council from his Shaykh Shamsuddin and his generals.

On 27th May 1453, through an accumulative effort, a night of Dhikr, morning of congregational prayer lead by the Sultan along with a powerful speech, an all-out attack on the city was launched. The Shahi Top devastated the walls, the diggers entered the city through under ground tunnel and the companies climbed the walls whilst chanting “Allahu Akbar”. Finally, Agha Hassan planted the Osmanli Flag over the city proclaiming victory.

All this was brilliantly captured in the CGI packed film with details in mind. A Must watch for anyone wanting a glimpse of the Muslim conquest of this marvellous city and the courageous ‘blessed’ army fighting behind its shield – the Sultan.

“Fetih 1453” (The Conquest 1453), a Turkish spring blockbuster that glorifies the Ottomans and their conquest of İstanbul, is breaking viewership records in Turkey these days.

Over 5 million Turks have already seen the movie, making it the country’s most popular film of all time. The film’s popularity sheds light on Turkey’s emerging preoccupation with its Ottoman past: Ottomania is all the rage in Turkey today.

In recent years, the Turks have re-engaged with their Ottoman past to the point of abandoning the early 20th-century thinking of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, Atatürk recreated Turkey in a European mold, in the hopes of completely separating it from its Ottoman history. Atatürk’s thinking, termed “Kemalism,” dictated that Turkey could become a great country only if it abandoned its Ottoman past. Source

A sign of changing times!

Also see the trailer

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