The importance of and need for Arabic literature

By Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Patel Kāpaudrī
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

The following article is a transcript of a speech delivered by the honourable Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Kāpaudrī at Dār al-‛Ulūm Chāphī, Pālanpūr, Gujarat on 20th March 2006, entitled: “The importance of and need for Arabic literature”.

We are not paying the needed attention to Arabic literature. Hadrat Maulānā Muhammad Yūsūf Sāhib Kāndhlawī rahimahullāh went for the Bhopal ijtimā‛. So we proceeded from Dhābel to go and meet Hadrat. We presented ourselves before him at the house where he was staying. Hadrat was very happy to see us, he got up from his place, embraced us, and said: “My heart is most delighted at meeting teachers of the jāmi‛ah.”

We then began conversing with him, and at one point he said: “Maulwī Sāhib! I studied adab (Arabic literature) very well. Maqāmāt Harīrī, Mutanabbī, Hamāsah and so on are in the syllabus [so we obviously studied these books]. But in addition to these, I also memorized Qasīdah Burdah, Sab‛ah Mu‛allaqāt and so on.”

Consequently, Hadrat rahimahullāh had very good control over the Arabic language. If you were to read Amānī al-Ahbār (an Arabic commentary of Sharh Ma‛ānī al-Āthār), you will notice his sentences flowing. Normally, our Indian ‛ulamā’ cannot write in this manner. We are in the habit of writing in a rhyming style. Because we study Maqāmāt, we write in that style. I noticed that Hadrat Maulānā’s speeches used to be very simple and flowing. This is because he undertook a deep study of literature, and memorized these books. This is how Allāh ta‛ālā gave him this ability.

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Opinion: If you pay peanuts you get monkeys

By Imam Ajmal Masroor[1][2]

I saw a post on one of the WhatsApp groups. A number of things in this advert intrigued and alarmed me. The [organisation] is looking for an Imam who is:

  1. A Hafiz – someone who has memorised the entire Quran, it has taken that person 2-4 years to complete that.
  2. Mawlana – an Asian title attributed to those who have completed their Islamic education from a reputable seminary and it takes 8 years usually.
  3. This Imam must be a British born for obvious reasons, but most important reason probably is to be able to speak English and relate to people.
  4. The Imam should have graduated from a Qawmi Madrasah which is a non political private seminary usually aligned to Deobandi brand and Hanafi school of thought of interpretation of Islam from Indian subcontinent.
  5. The Imams job would be leading prayers and teaching children Monday to Friday.
  6. In return he would be given a salary of £13200 per year which comes to £1100 per month.

This advert raises a number of questions for me. When a person invests 8-10 years of their youth in memorising the entire Quran and studying books upon books of Islamic literature, do they graduate to be paid peanuts by the community they would serve? Would we accept our graduate children earning such a salary after completing their university degrees?

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Why do we refer to ourselves as Māturīdīs?

By Rustam Mahdi
Translated by Mawlānā Suhail Akubat

The following is a translation of a short and basic Arabic article by Rustam Mahdi entitled “Why do we call ourselves Maturidis?”[1] A brief footnote has been added to clarify one particular issue which Salafis commonly use to claim that Hanafi ‘aqida is different from Maturidi ‘aqida.[2] – The Translator

It saddens us that a statement has begun to circulate amongst people, especially the salafis, that: ‘Why do you call yourselves Maturidis? Is the creed of Abu Hanifah not convincing enough for you that you have turned away from it and have turned towards that which Abu Mansur al-Maturidi was inclined to?’

The problem with many Salafis is that they assume that whatever they present is clear binding proof, and do not notice doors that have been opened which they have no ability to close. It saddens us that we observe attempts at denigration using questions such as these, which are cheap in the marketplace of academia, by those ascribed to learning; although we do not find it surprising that they are widespread on the tongues of uneducated laymen.

Hence I would like to mention – and Tawfiq is from Allah – that it is from a person’s academic character to evaluate substances and not mere terminologies. This is because variation and divergence in terminologies is of no consequence when they point to the same reality. Hence it is fine for a person who believes in the Din of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) to refer to himself as “Muhammadi”, in attribution to him (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), or “Bakri”, in attribution to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, or “‘Umari” in attribution to ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, or ‘Uthmani in attribution to ‘Uthman b. Affan, or “‘Alawi” in attribution to ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with them). All of these terminologies indicate that the one being attributed is on the Din of these very individuals.

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Editorial: Disassociate from Deoband at your own peril

By The Editor

Recently it has become uncomfortable and disconcerting for myself while taking a hiatus away from the doldrums of online Deobandiyyat. However, with the arrival of one of the greatest Deobandi scholars in the world – if not the greatest – to the shores of South Africa, ‘Allamah Khalid Mahmood (hafizahullah), there has been a need to pen a few words on the feelings and thoughts being experienced in light of recent developments that have come to light.

There has been disuccsions in some quarters of our local scholarship who traditionally have been known to associate themselves with Deobandiyyat – due to the virtue of being graduates of Deobandi Dar al-‘Ulums both locally and from the subcontinent – to advocate towards a disassociation from Hanafiyyat generally and Deobandiyyat specifically. To understand further it should be borne in mind that the concept of Deobandiyyat in simple terms is the understanding of all aspects of the Shari’ah as per the the scholars of Deoband starting with Mawlana Qasim Nanautwi and Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (rahimahullah). The maslak, manhaj and mizaj of these scholars and their long line of students spanning a century and a quarter is what defines DeobandiyyatDeobandiyyat is by no means a homogeneous school of thought, it is in reality an understanding of the Shari’ah according to the 13 centuries of scholarship of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, in particular adhering to the Hanafi school of thought in fiqh, the Ashari and Maturidi schools of thought in ‘aqidah as well as accepting in suluk the Chisti, Naqshbandi, Suharwadi and Qadiri schools.

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Ḥafiẓ Patel, the saint of Dewsbury: An Obituary

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel

As Dewsbury Markaz was my local mosque growing up, seeing him was a routine occurrence in my daily life. Knowing he is no longer either at Markaz or on a Dawah journey somewhere in the world will take a long time to sink in.

Although no single post can do his life justice, I feel compelled to share some experiences to my connections here and elsewhere, who may not have known him as well but happen to read some of my musings. He was, after all, ultimately responsible for creating hundreds of accomplished graduates in Islamic studies, thousands of people active in the field of Dawah, and hundreds of thousands rectifying their religious lives. I can confidently say that I personally would not be anywhere near what I am today had it not been for his efforts during my life – and, in fact, for his efforts decades before I was even born.

Everybody who knew him – student, teacher, the local layman, and those regularly engaged in Jama`at ‘l-Tabligh – will have their personal experiences and stories about him. I was a student at Markaz during the 98-03 period. I was not present when he really hard-grafted himself into who he eventually became, during the 60s, 70s and 80s. I only hear stories, like how he was advised – for fear of life and limb – not to go out to invite people to the mosque in Johannesburg after nightfall, only to do the exact opposite.

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The Fiqh and Wisdom of observing ʻIddah

By Mufti ʻAbd al-Qādir Ḥusayn

In the dictionary the word Iddah means counting in terms of quantity. But for all intents and purposes Iddah in the context of when a husband has divorced his wife or when a husband has passed on – according to the jurists and fuqaha – will mean the lady has to observe Iddah. The waiting period until the counting period ends.

The Iddah for a divorced lady:

Whenever clarity on any issue is sought, the first point of reference is the Noble Quran. All Mighty Allah SWT states: the ladies who have been divorced will wait with themselves for three qurooh. Because the Arabic language is so unique and rich, certain words have two opposite meanings. In the Hanafi and Hanbali madhabs, when the husband divorces his wife by giving one or two or three talaqs, the Iddah will be the duration of three menses. So the ideal situation will be for the husband to divorce his wife in the period of cleanliness and in that period he has not fulfilled the conjugal rights with his wife, he issues the talaq either verbally or in writing. After the third menses ends, the Iddah has concluded. However another meaning of qurooh is tuhur which means cleanliness theretofore according to the Maliki and Shafi madhabs three periods of cleanliness have to pass. That is if a husband gave his wife talaq during her period of cleanliness, her Iddah begins, counting that period as the first period of cleanliness. Once the third period of cleanliness ends, the Iddah has concluded. The reason for differences of opinion in verdict between the different schools of thought is because Arabic words have different meanings and to understand this text and context need to be looked at. Another interesting issue connected to this: a husband has married his wife but he has not gone into Khalwah (privacy) with her and they have not consummated their marriage, and just after the nikah they have a heated argument in the presence of some people and the husband issues talaq. All Mighty Allah has addressed this issue also, “O you who believe! When you marry believing women, and then divorce them before you have sexual intercourse with them, no iddah (divorce prescribed period) have you to count in respect of them. So give them a present, and set them free (i.e. divorce), in a handsome manner.” (Al-Ahzab-49) Immediately after the divorce the woman is able to marry another man. It is important to note that even if the marriage was not consummate but the married couple were alone, in privacy together, and then Iddah becomes necessary.

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Conduct of the Salaf with their contemporaries: Respect and honour

By Mawlānā Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān Khān Sherwānī
Translated by Mawlānā Muammad Mahomedy

Mawlānā Muammad Qamaruz Zamān Allāhābādī in his biography of his shaykh, Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh entitled Tadhkirah Muli al-ʼUmmah has included an entire part on the relationship and bond that existed between Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh and his contemporary ‛ulamā’ and mashāykh. In the introduction to this part Mawlānā Shāh Waīyullāh writes concerning the benefits of writing on this:

The first benefit of this is that the merits and achievements of our elders will come to the fore. Secondly, there is a famous saying which goes:

اَلْمُعَاصَرَةُ سَبَبُ الْمُنَافَرَةِ

Contemporariness is a cause of mutual dissent.

However, the attributes and qualities of our elders clearly demonstrate how they used to respect each other and how one would acknowledge the excellent qualities of the other.

Obviously, our immediate elders strictly followed the ways of our earlier elders. Based on their honesty and sincerity, they were very open-hearted and magnanimous in this regard. They would relate the merits of their contemporaries without hesitation and look up to them with approval.

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The teachers and students of Ḥadīth at Deoband: Method of teaching and learning

By Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Patel Kāpaudrī
Translated by Mawlānā Mahomed Mahomedy

Foreword: The following article is a section of a transcript of a speech delivered by the honourable Mawlānā ʻAbd Allāh Kāpaudrī at the Jāmi‛ah Riyād al-‛Ulūm, Leicester, on 5th April 2005, entitled: “The need to strive for acquiring knowledge”. Herein he mentions the method of teaching of the great hadith scholars of Dār al-‛Ulūm Deoband and how their teaching differed and changed over time as the calibre of learning of the students changed. At the end he provides pertinent advices to students which is extremely beneficial. With the introduction to these advices being the example of the pious and learned of the past we sincerely pray the Allah instills these qualities of studying and learning in us and every student of the sacred sciences ie. Qurʼān and Ḥadīth. Mawlānā Kāpaudrī begins by mentioning the manner of Shaykh al-Hind’s teaching:

Hadrat ‛Allāmah Balyāwī rahimahullāh said to me: “Maulwī Sāhib! Our Hadrat was not in the habit of lengthy explanations.” He then asked me: “Do you know who I am referring to when I say ‘Our Hadrat’?” I replied: “Hadrat, I do not know.” He said: “When I say ‘Our Hadrat’, I am referring to Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh.” Hadrat ‛Allāmah Ibrāhīm Balyāwī rahimahullāh studied under Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh. He continues: “Our Hadrat was not in the habit of lengthy explanations. He used to teach Tirmidhī Sharīf, Abū Dā’ūd Sharīf and Bukhārī Sharīf. He had very capable students, and they used to read the text (‛ibārat). Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh will have the book in front of him and listen to the student reading. One two pages would be read. This is why it is called daurah – to turn, to repeat. At times, Hadrat would say: ‘Bhāi! Hold on a bit. There can be an objection to this Hadīth because it is against the Hanafīs. But here is the reply to it. A conflicting Hadīth is found in such and such book. You must refer to that book, and whatever is written there is our proof. Okay, let us proceed.’”

If you were to look at the taqrīr of Hadrat Shaykh al-Hind rahimahullāh which has been printed, you will find it to be very concise. When I first saw it, I could not understand why it was so concise. But when ‛Allāmah Balyāwī rahimahullāh related this to me, I understood the reason.

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Rankings of Mujtahids versus types of Ijtihād: Cutting through the confusion

By Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel[1]

Many people keep on talking about various rankings of Mujtahid scholars. This has caused a lot of confusion, as people then feel the need to see which scholar is of what rank. The following discussion is based on simple logic, which everyone should be able to appreciate and agree to. Hopefully by this way, the cloud of confusion can removed and solid facts can be distilled from arbitrary assumptions.

Laying down the foundations: Doing Ijtihad is not the same as being a Mujtahid

There are two separate discussions which many people conflate and confuse with each other. They are separate discussions:

  • The discussion of Ijtihad and Taqlid
  • The discussion of Mujtahids and Muqallids (and Talib if you want to add, see previous note)

The first discussion is in relation to practice, whereas the second is a label attached to the person. This means that:

  • A person worthy of the Mujtahid label may be doing Taqlid in one issue because he hasn’t researched it yet
  • A person who does not carry the title of Mujtahid may have researched an issue well enough to warrant himself Ijtihad in that matter, like is the case with advanced students of knowledge
  • A person who does Ijtihad may not necessarily be worthy of the Mujtahid title – like advanced students of Fiqh who do Ijtihad in a few issues
  • A person who does Taqlid in an issue may well be a Mujtahid scholar but only did Taqlid because he hasn’t researched it properly, or doesn’t have the time to research it, or it’s a niche area out of his area of expertise

The above proves that doing Ijtihad and Taqlid do not automatically make you a Mujtahid or a Muqallid. This also proves that the prerequisites of Ijtihad are different from the characteristics of a Mujtahid, and the prerequisites of Taqlid are different from the characteristics of a Muqallid. Unfortunately, some people these days think if a person does Ijtihad in one issue, he would be implicitly claiming to be a Mujtahid, and would be smeared with the label of neo-Mujtahid. This is totally wrong.

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The Issue of the Ambiguous Attributes of Allāh

By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Translated by Zameelur Rahman

Zuhayr ibn Harb and Ibn Numayr narrated to me: both of them from al-Muqri’. Zuhayr said: from ‘Abdullah ibn Yazid al-Muqri’: he said: Haywah narrated to us: Abu Hani informed me: that he heard Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Hubuli: that he said: ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-’As (Allah be pleased with him) says: that he heard Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) say:

“Verily all the hearts of the children of Adam are between two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful like one heart. He disposes of them however He wills.” Then Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “O Allah! Disposer of Hearts, dispose our hearts to Your obedience.” (Sahih Muslim)

His statement “two fingers of the fingers of the Most Merciful”: al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This is one of the hadiths of attributes and there are two views in regards to them which have just preceded:

“One of them is to believe in them without venturing into ta’wil (interpretation) or trying to understand its meaning. Rather, one believes it is the truth and that its outward purport is not intended. Allah Most High said: ‘Naught is as His likeness’ (42:11).

“And the second is to interpret them in a manner that is befitting. According to this, the intended meaning is figurative. This is just as is said, ‘such and such a person is in my grasp and in my palm’; it is not intended by it that he took up residence in his palm, rather the intent is: he is under my power. It is said, ‘such and such a person is between my two fingers, I turn him however I wish’ i.e. that he is under my control and I will dispose of him how I wish. Thus, the meaning of the hadith is that He (Glorified and High is He) disposes of the hearts of His servants and other hearts besides them however He wills. None of them are thwarted from him, and what He intends does not escape Him, just as what is between the two fingers of man is not thwarted from him. Thus, He addresses the Arabs [in a manner] by which they will understand it and the like of it by [making use of] sensual meanings that give assurance to their souls. If it is said: Allah’s Power is one, and ‘two fingers’ (isba’an) is for duality, the response is that it has preceded that this is figurative and metaphorical, so the simile (tamthil) occurred in accordance to what they are used to without intending thereby duality or plurality. And Allah knows best.”

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