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Archive for June, 2014

Ramadan Daily Quran Study, June-July 2014

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Welcome to the Ramadan Daily Quran Studies for 2014

This year we will be studying the fundamental teachings of Islam, based on the treatment in the renowned book The Religion of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Ali. I will be presenting edited and abridged extracts from this book under various topics, along with additions by myself. The book itself is firmly based on the Holy Quran, from which it quotes extensively.

Ramadan Message by Head of Lahore Ahmadiyya, Hazrat Ameer, Dr A.K. Saeed

  • Fast 1 — Name Islām
  • Fast 2 — About the Quran
  • Fast 3 — The Quran: its arrangement
  • Fast 4 — The Quran: its collection in writing
  • Fast 5 — Sunnah and Hadith
  • Fast 6 — Hadith Collections
  • Fast 7 — Exercise of Judgment or Ijtihād
  • Fast 8 — Schools of Jurisprudence
  • Fast 9 — Faith or Belief (īmān)
  • Fast 10 — Faith or Belief (īmān)
  • Fast 11 — Belief in God: The existence of God
  • Fast 12 — Belief in God: The existence of God – Evidence of human nature
  • Fast 13 — Belief in God: The existence of God — evidence of revelation
  • Fast 14 — Belief in God: The oneness of God (Tauḥid)
  • Fast 15 — Belief in God: The oneness of God (Tauḥid) — Various forms of shirk
  • Fast 16 — Belief in God: The attributes and names of God
  • Fast 17 — Belief in God: The attributes of God
  • Fast 18 — Belief in God: The attributes of God — other names of God
  • Fast 19 — Belief in God: The attributes of God — man’s goal to attain them
  • Fast 20 — Angels
  • Fast 21 — Angels: Their functions
  • Fast 22 — Revealed Books: What is revelation and the need for it?
  • Fast 23 — Revealed Books: Revelation is universal
  • Fast 24 — Revealed Books: Quran as judge over previous scriptures
  • Fast 25 — Prophets
  • Fast 26 — Prophets: appeared in each nation, and Muhammad (s) came for all of them
  • Fast 27 — Prophets: Finality of Prophethood
  • Extra for Fast 27  Lailat-ul-Qadr or the Night of Majesty
  • Fast 28 — Life after Death
  • Fast 29 — Life after Death: begins in this world
  • Fast 30 — Life after Death: paradise and hell

This is the seventh year that I have been enabled to produce these daily Ramadan Quran Studies. I hope these daily extracts have added to our knowledge.
 
My inspiration and motivation comes from our Lahore Ahmadiyya pioneering leaders. They established the practice of the dars of the Holy Quran, both outside and within the month of Ramadan, in the days when Muslims generally considered only the recitation of the Quran to be their sufficient duty. This practice was then taken up gradually by other Muslim groups.

I wish all of you a very happy and blessed Eid-ul-Fitr.

 — Zahid Aziz

Quran – the Motivator for Writing of this Book

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Quran – the Motivator for Writing of this Book

8:42. … he who perished by clear argument might perish, and he who lived by clear argument might live.[1]

17:36. And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these will be asked about it.[2]

4:51-52. Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book was given? They believe in sorcery and diviners and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe. Those are they whom Allah has cursed. And whomever Allah curses, you will not find a helper for him.[3]

11:88. He [–Shuaib i.e. Jithro] said: My people, do you see if I have a clear proof from my Lord and He has given me a goodly sustenance from Himself?And I do not desire to act in opposition to you, in what I forbid you. I desire nothing but reform, so far as I am able. And with none but Allah is the direction of my affair to a right issue. In Him I trust and to Him I turn.[4]

12:108. Say, `This is my path. I [–Muhammad] call to Allâh. I am on sure knowledge verifiable by reason and (so are) those who follow me. (I believe that) Holy is Allâh. I am not of the polytheists.' [5]

47:24. Do they not reflect on the Quran? Or, are there locks on the hearts?[6]

13:03. Verily, in all this there are messages indeed for people who think [7]

30:30. So pay your whole-hearted attention to (the cause of) faith as one devoted (to pure faith), turning away from all that is false. (And follow) the Faith of Allâh (-Islam) to suit the requirements of which He has made the nature of mankind. There can be no change in the nature (of creation) which Allâh has made. That is the right and most perfect Faith, yet most people do not know (it).[8]

54:40. And indeed We have made the Qur'ân easy for admonition and to understand, follow and remember. But is there anyone who would take heed?[9]

The Holy Quran establishes in a pragmatic manner the truth of the basic principles of Islam which form a basis for one's salvation. Its teachings are grounded in a convincingly philosophical reasoning. It proves to the point of conviction every argument advanced by it. For instance, it proves the existence of the Creator of the Universe. It establishes the truth of the Unity of God. It also marshals decisive arguments to vindicate the supreme need of the Divine Revelation. It is never at a loss to distinguish truth from untruth. This by itself is an incontrovertible proof that Furqan Majeed is the Revealed Word of God. This point also establishes its Divine reality and its supremacy. No revealed book before the Holy Quran nor any thinker or philosopher, who exercised his talents in search of truth, had ever been able to highlight false beliefs by luminous reasoning nor had they ever been able to banish doubts and apprehensions from the human mind by radiant arguments. This glorious task has been accomplished in a unique manner by the Holy Quran. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never attended any school even for half a day. He never learnt any knowledge, logical or practical, from any philosopher or logician nor did he come into contact with any sage or scholar. Still he based the divine philosophy on rational arguments and expounded such beliefs as guaranteed lasting salvation, in such an illuminating manner as has no precedent anywhere in the whole history of mankind. This is an accomplishment of such a high order as is no possible or even thinkable without Divine help. Here human reasoning has perforce to bow before the Holy Quran which was revealed by Allah Who has no rival. Hence human knowledge can never be equal to divine knowledge – (Baraheen Ahmadiyya, Vol. I)[10]

The Holy Quran was revealed at a time when mankind faced all such exigencies as it was; destined to face. There was moral degradation all round. There was anarchy of creeds. There was spiritual deterioration which vitiated every sphere of human life, chaos and confusion of every hue and colour had reached the nadir. At this critical juncture, the teachings of the Holy Quran were revealed. Thus it marked the crown and completion of Divine Law for the guidance of mankind. The previous Laws; were incomplete because when they were revealed, the disorder and mischief had not reached its climax. Hence the scriptures were just enough to meet the needs of the times. Thus the marked difference between the past scriptures and the Holy Quran is that the former, even if they had remained immune, would have proved sadly inadequate. This emphasised the need that a complete and immutable scripture like the Holy Quran, should come. Thus the Holy Quran leaves no room for any book to supplement its teachings. The possibility of any type of scripture is completely ruled out, because there is no further point after the highest degree of excellence and completion attained in the Holy Quran. Its replacement is thinkable only when one wishfully presumes that the principle of the Unity of God like the Gospels and the Vedas will give way to idolatry and the crores [–hundreds of millions] of the True Believers will become idolatrous and animist. But all this is a sheer fictitious presumption as the events falsely envisaged shall never come to pass. (Baraheen Ahmadiyya, Vol. II)[11]

Islam at its origin meant allegiance to the word of God first of all but at the present day the Holy Book is relegated to the background and the Muslims seek for guidance from books of law (fiqah) which were compiled hundreds of years afterwards by learned men, no doubt, but which only answered the need of the day and were not meant for all ages. The service which these great men rendered to the cause of Islam in their own day is now abused as a hindrance to the progress of Islam, The Holy Quran was revealed to answer the needs of men of all ages, and the door to understanding its import and to deduce laws from it to answer new needs of the coming ages was never shut upon men. In fact to close that door means practically to transfer allegiance from the word of God to man-made law, to seat men on the throne of Divinity. It is due to this servile attitude to the great and the learned that the Muslim priest today has come to reconcile himself with the Christian idea that the realm of religion is beyond the flights of reason, that reason has no place in religion. Now such an idea is not only foreign but quite opposed to the spirit of Islam. Islam from its very birth freely appealed to reason and the Holy Quran again and again reproves man for not using his reasoning faculty. Why do you not think, why do you not ponder, why do you not reflect this – is the ever recurring burden of its various exhortations. The Holy Prophet himself encouraged his companions to give fervent to their reasoning power, and they were fully conscious of the great gift of reason which God had bestowed upon them and which He had allowed them to use in matters temporal as well as religious. Thus towards the close of his life, when he appointed Mu'áz, a famous companion, to the governorship of Yemen, and asked him as to how he would decide cases, he readily replied that he would resort in the first place to the Holy Quran then to the Sunnat (practice of the Prophet) and failing to find light on the point in hand in either of these, he would use his own reason. Such was the view of the immediate disciples of the Holy Prophet as regards the free use of reason. But the prevailing idea in the Muslim world today is that in all religious matters we must accept the reasoning of this great man or that, as final and the result is that the Muslims who once led the world in great ideas are now living in an abject condition of mental slavery, and their reasoning faculties are quite stunted, almost dead. "Back to the Qur'an!" is the clarion call of the Ahmadiyya; back to the pure Islam of the Holy Prophet and his companions, back to the free use of reason and to a free interpretation of the Holy Book in the light which new conditions in the world have brought about; back to the freedom which our great and learned forefathers enjoyed. In going back to these things is the real advancement of Islam; these are not so many steps backward but steps forward, for they take the Muslims back from the darkness and mental slavery into which they have fallen, to the light and freedom which is their birth right as Muslims.[12]

The purity of Islam has again been affected seriously by the over-importance which is attached in some quarters to the reports of the sayings and doings of the Holy Prophet. Tradition, as it is generally called, no doubt, plays an important part in the religion of Islam in so far as it casts light on many of the details of the religion of Islam. It also preserves much of the history of Islam. But there is not the least doubt that "tradition" is only a secondary source; it is after all an explanation of what is contained in the Holy Qurán; it has moreover the defect that it was in the main transmitted orally for a long time and has therefore undergone changes and alterations. Nor could the first or subsequent reporter be expected to transmit the very words that he heard. In most cases it was the import which he transmitted and the import would no doubt, more or less, be affected by the state of mind and understanding capacity of the reporter. Hence it is that if "tradition" is not read under those limitations, it is likely to do more harm than good to the cause of Islam.[13]


[1] Al-Anfal – Voluntary Gifts: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[2] Bani Israil – The Israelites (also: Al-Isra – The Night Journey): Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[3] Al-Nisa – The Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[4] Hud – Hud: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[5] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[6] Muhammad – Muhammad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[7] Ar-Rad – The Thunder: Muhammad Asad
[8] Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Qamar – The Moon: Nooruddin
[10] ‘Graces, Excellencies and Surpassing Merits of The Holy Quran” by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, pub: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-I-Islam (Lahore) UK
[11] Ibid
[12] “Back to Quran, Back to Muhammad” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p.3-5, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore, 1926
[13] Ibid, p. 6-7

The late Colonel Mahmud Shaukat

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

It was with great pain and deep sadness that we learnt of the death of Colonel Mahmud Shaukat, which took place in Florida, USA, on 26th April 2014. Inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi rajioon. He was about 90 years of age.

There have been many people in the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at who served its cause quietly and unassumingly, while their names, qualities and sacrifices are not widely known or prominent. The late Colonel Shaukat sahib was one such man. I became acquainted with him during his stays at our London centre as Imam during the 1980s and then again in the mid-1990s. This short tribute is based on my contact and experiences with him.

A “man of God” would be the truest description of Shaukat sahib. The dhikr of Allah was ever on his lips, but silently and imperceptibly. I remember that he had a note book in which he had noted down various prayers and supplications. These, however, were not supplications by rote or recited as a custom and ritual, but they came from his heart.

Among his sacrifices for the Jama‘at, and that of his wife, Asma, was that they came to stay at our London Centre where Shaukat sahib served as Imam, giving up their own home and comforts. He did so in response to the request by his father-in-law Hazrat Dr Saeed Ahmad sahib, who was also Head of the Jama‘at at the time. Shaukat sahib worked as Imam in an honorary capacity, taking no recompense for his duties. In fact, he even offered to pay rent for his accommodation at the Centre.

His talks and khutbahs were simple but inspiring. He was most hospitable, warm, friendly, affectionate, social and courteous. When people visited our London Centre, he loved inviting them upstairs to the small flat where he and his wife lived, and entertaining them.

During the 1990s, at our London Centre we organised what were called ‘Young People Classes’ a number of times, run by myself and my wife Fauqia. Young people, whose ages ranged up to their early twenties, stayed at the Centre for two or three days receiving religious instruction and participating in educational and social activities. When Shaukat sahib was present as Imam in London, he gave to the class, and in fact to the teachers as well, the benefit of his Quranic knowledge as well as his paternal affection. I then realised the depth of his knowledge of the Quran and benefitted from it.

He recounted events of the past. If my memory serves me right, Shaukat sahib had met Mahatma Gandhi. I do clearly remember that he mentioned seeing Muhammad Asad, the Austrian Muslim convert who is known for his English translation of the Quran (The Message of the Quran). He said this was when Asad had come to Abbottabad to meet Hazrat Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan sahib. This would be in the 1940s.

Shaukat sahib had a close contact with Allah, and as a result he had great moral qualities as well as moral strength. Due to this spiritual strength, he made many sacrifices to serve the cause that he believed in. Shaukat sahib remained steadfastly loyal to Ahmadiyyat despite great pressure being brought to bear on him from certain close quarters around him to dissociate himself from the Jama‘at. He referred to this in speeches sometimes, saying that remaining within Ahmadiyyat was spiritual life, and abandoning it was spiritual death. When the UK Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at held a convention in 2009, Shaukat sahib, who then lived in the USA, sent a speech to be read out. This speech was published in The Light, UK Edition, October 2009. It begins as follows:

“My speech is inspired by a small personal incident, and this incident, I believe, foretold of events in the future. It happened over 50 years ago when the late Syed Assadullah Shah sahib, a very pious Ahmadi and a recipient of ilham (Divine revelation), used to stay with the late Hazrat Ameer Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan. People went to Shah sahib for praying for them. My father also requested him to pray for his sons. The answer to his prayers was: “Two will also die”. The record of this ilham and of others is kept in the late Hazrat Ameer’s papers, with dates and signatures. This ilham was not about the physical death, an end which everyone will surely meet, but regarding the spiritual death. Later events con­firmed this, when in 1974 Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim by the government of Pakistan. My two brothers (I being the third) gave an advertise­ment in a leading English newspaper that they, the two of them, were Muslims and not Ahmadis etc. Mark the words of the ilham: “the two will die”. This is no slur on their decision because they did what they sincerely believed. But for me, when I believe in the rightness and genuineness of Hazrat Mirza sahib’s mission, a turning away from Ahmadiyyat would have been a total spiritual death. I am very thankful to God that He saved me from this very ignoble death. Shah sahib’s ilham was fulfilled and God’s decree and command was carried out.”

His making this statement openly in a speech, with reference to his close family members, shows the height of courage and the greatest sense of truth and justice that he possessed. Shaukat sahib suffered material and worldly loss, which he cheerfully accepted, in the path of remaining loyal and true to the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jama‘at.

Shaukat sahib was widely read and was always reading some latest book. One subject he was greatly interested in was research on Afghans and Pathans being descended from the Israelites. He gave me an Urdu book on this topic, which I have just located in my books. It is an 80 page historical research book entitled Afghanon Ki Nasli Tarikh written by Khan Roshan Khan, published in Karachi, 1981. The book concludes: “Afghans who are in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are in fact remnants of the exiled tribes of the Israelites”, and the author adds “just as our ancient ancestors were granted by Allah to follow the law of Moses and the guidance of Jesus, He graced us and our forefathers with the blessing of the religion of Islam after the appearance of the Holy Prophet Muhammad”.

I have also just located manuscripts of three articles by Shaukat sahib which he sent me for future publication, when he was Imam here in UK, but which I have been remiss so far in publishing.

Shaukat sahib was a man of high spiritual standing, who received true dreams and communications from Allah. He was a man of the utmost sincerity and humility, who was self-effaced in Allah. And now he has returned to his beloved Allah. May Allah grant him forgiveness and protection, admit him into His mercy, raise his grades in the hereafter, and join him with His righteous servants, ameen.

 Zahid Aziz

Forced distortions into Quran, Alas!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Forced Distortions into Quran, Alas!

6:71. Say, `Shall we call, besides Allâh, upon that which can neither profit us nor harm us (by itself), and shall we be turned back on our heels (and led astray) after Allâh has guided us, like one whom the evil ones have made to follow his caprices (leaving him) utterly bewildered in the land; (whilst) he has companions who call him to the guidance (of Allâh, saying), "Come to us".' Say, `Verily Allah's guidance is the only perfect guidance. And we are commanded (by Him) to submit to the Lord of the worlds.'[1] [Emphasis added]

5:45. …And whoever does not judge according to (the law) which Allâh has revealed, these it is who are the very unjust.[2] [Emphasis added]

No judgment – be it single or collective, and with a big name to back it – can bind us if it goes against Quran and good conscience. The word of God is the only criterion for testing genuineness of the Hadith. No word or action alleged as coming from the Prophet can be accepted as such if it controverts anything in the Quran.[3]

The previous section was aimed at the advocates who abrogate the verses of Quran because they can not reconcile some verses against the others. Abrogation is a simple way out for them from their ignorance. But, on the opposite, there are other kinds of advocates who draw injunctions from outside the Quran and then somehow interject their sources and interpretations into Quran. Once having corrupted the very basis of the Message and the Principles of the Quran, thereafter, they by using circular arguments attribute the source of their dogmas and fancies to Quran. Little do they know that they read their own minds into Quran, rather than what Quran is stating in plain terms.

68:36. What is the matter with you? How do you judge?

68:37. Or do you have a book in which you read [–besides Quran]

68:38. that you shall surely have in it whatever you choose?

68:39. Or do you have covenants from Us on oath, extending to the day of Resurrection, that you shall surely have whatever you judge?

68:40. Ask them which of them will vouch for that.

68:41. Or do they have associate-gods [– i.e. their ‘mighty’ scholars, experts, books and interpretations]? Then let them bring their associate gods [– against the logic and wisdom of Quran], if they are truthful.[4]

 


[1] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin 

[2] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin 

[3] 'Apostasy in Islam' by Khwaja Kamaluddin, Islamic Review, p. 261, June 1925 

[4] Al-Qalam – The Pen: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Case Study 4: Slavery, Concubines{1}, Extra-marital Relations – Zilch, Nada in Quran!{2},{3}

“There is no verse in the Quran or any instance in the Holy Prophet’s life sanctioning what is called concubinage.”{4}

Slavery was rampant before Islam. Captives were taken in wars or in slavery raids, out of which both males and females ended up as slaves and concubines. Slave trade was of epidemic proportion until the arrival of Islam. Islam dried-up the swamp of slavery simultaneously by stopping the inflow of new slaves into the cesspool while it drained out the cesspit itself.

Quran separates slaves (Arabic: abad) who were already in bondage at the time of advent of Islam from those captured in a battle as prisoners, translated as – whom your right hands own or possess (Arabic:mimma malakat aimanukum). Thus a Muslim’s bondsman resulting from a war is not a slave but a fallen foe{5} and the entrusted Muslim of that fallen foe is not a slave master but a guardian (see v. 4:25 below).

In early Islam, there were neither prisons nor prison camps; hence the war captives were distributed under the custody of families who were responsible for their safety and wellbeing at par with their own self. Islam put a stop to any new slaves and existing slaves were to be released for any and every excuse. Captives allowed were only those captured in a battle and mechanisms were put in place for their release as well. These topics are now of historical importance only as under international treaties the captives in war have rights and protections as Prisoners of War. Credit goes to Quran, which eliminated these atrocities thousands of years before the modern ethics took hold only recently.

Quran discusses human rights across a wide spectrum of human behavior. It firmly establishes the fundamental equality of mankind to exclude from the minds the ideas of racial and economic divide that if not checked soon turn human tendencies into abuse of the weak of physique, gender, status, means, nation or race. The scrooge of slavery and its consequent exploitation of body and soul of its victims pervaded the human cultures from times immemorial because of dearth of this fundamental check on the psyche of man. A refresher of certain baseline teachings of Quran is in order that formed the basis of the charter of human rights from the very inception of Islam and are summarized below.

Equality of mankind, irrespective of national origin, race, tribe or gender:

10:19. And (all) people are but a single nation, then they disagree…{6}

49:13. O mankind! We have created you out of a male and a female, and We have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognise (and do good to) one another. Surely the most honourable of you in the sight of Allâh is he who guards against evil the most. Verily, Allâh is All-knowing, All-Aware.{7}

Without any exception, no extra-marital sex is allowed in Quran, which is not only a check on an ordinary human tendency, but also prevents the historical unchecked exploitation of the slaves who were an easy prey of their masters:

17:32. And Keep away from adultery and fornication; surely, it is an abominable act and an (extremely) evil practice.{8}

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…{9}

With arrival of Islam, slavery was banned and no new slaves were inducted. No slave trade or slavery raids are allowed in Quran; individual liberty could be taken away only in case of prisoners taken in an actual battle. Of note is that the only war permitted in Quran is a defensive one:

8:67. It does not behove a Prophet to keep captives unless He has triumphed after a regular bloody fighting in the land. (If you take captives without warfare,) you desire the temporary and frail goods of this world, while Allâh desires (for you the good of) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.{10}

Prisoners of war, both men and women are to be released no matter what soon after the war is over, with or without a ransom:

47:4. … After you have bound them fast in fetters (as prisoners of war), then, afterwards, (release them, a must), either by way of grace or by (accepting) ransom. (That is the law,) until war lays down its weapons (and it is over).{11}

Contrary to the usual practice of sexual exploitation of the then existing bonds-women, the concubinage, was totally banned by Islam. Sexual relationships were allowed only after a full marriage, which not only restored dignity to bonds-women, but also made them a useful member of the society. The following verse in itself is a proof that a bonds-woman is not a concubine, but a marriageable woman:

4:25. And those of you who have not the means (- social or financial) to marry free believing women (may marry) such of your believing bonds women as your right hands own (by being captives in war). Allâh knows very well (the state of) your faith, you are all (sprung) one from another, so marry them with the permission of their guardians and give them their dowers with equity, they being properly married, not (committing fornication), to pursue their lust nor taking secret paramours…{12}

Note the mention of the word guardians of prisoners of war in the above verse, which is not the same as slave owners. The next verse reinforces the previous one:

4:26. Allâh desires to make clear (His commandments) to you, and guide you to the (righteous) ways of your predecessors, and to turn to you with mercy. Verily, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{13}

Any deviation from verses 4:25-26 by any action, intent or interpretation is nothing but lust, pure and simple, which is condemned in the next very verse:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{14}

Given the fact that as the Arabian society converted to Islam, there were existing slaves in the households of new Muslims. For all Muslims the details of 'high virtue' in Quran included 'to set slaves free', and that's what happened in Islam where the righteous beliefs were bridged to righteous deeds and homes were not only cleansed of slavery but the emancipated were rehabilitated in the society as well. Of note is that the same verse also binds the faithful to establish their former slaves to full independence because most if not all the former slaves fell into the category of orphansneedy and deserving of charity:

2:177. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty. {15}

Similarly, in challenging mankind for not taking 'uphill path ' of moral progress, Quran puts in the premier position ' freeing of a captive ' and a collective societal effort to 'exhort one another to be compassionate ' to rid the society of the evils, besides others, of slavery:

90:10-18. And We have pointed out to him the two conspicuous high ways (of right and wrong)? Yet he would not attempt the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent. And what should make you know what the uphill path of steep and difficult ascent is? (It is) the freeing of a captive (from the bondage of slavery, debt and other afflictions), Or feeding in the time of famine an orphan, near of kin, or a downtrodden poor man. And what is even more, then he is of those who believe and exhort one another to be patiently persevering and exhort one another to be compassionate (towards God's creation). These (who follow this hard path) are the blessed ones (- the people of the right hand). {16}

Existing slaves were to be released on any and every excuse as restitution for violation of any moral law, no matter how trivial custom it might have seemed then. For example:

58:3. Such of those who thus happen to call their wives their mothers and then retract what they have said, must free a slave before they two touch each other (for re-establishing conjugal relationship). This is what you are enjoined (to do in case you commit such a hateful thing). And Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.{17}

In a masterly stroke, the above verse not only established the dignity of a helpless wife in an otherwise male dominated society, but simultaneously expunged one more from the ranks of the slavery.

State treasury as well individual wealth was to be used for emancipation of existing slaves:

9:60. Compulsory charities (- Zakât) are meant for the destitute and the needy, and for its functionaries, and (for) those whose hearts require to be consoled (in all sincerity), and for the emancipation of the slaves, and for (the relief of) those in debt, and (for spending) in the cause of Allâh, and for the wayfarer. (This is) an obligation imposed by Allâh, for Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.{18}

In the above verse the slaves were not only to be freed but once freed, they were to be rehabilitated in the society by the state treasury as they were destitute and the needy in their new found freedom.

Besides the general injunction on singles to marry, to emphasize the marriage of slaves, Quran identifies them by their gender, both males and females, and orders them to be kept chaste and marriages were to be obligatorily arranged for them, either by marrying them within the household or being given away in marriage, as married state is a natural state for adults in Quran and is an assurance for their chastity:

24:32. Arrange marriages for those of you who are single and for your male and female slaves as are deserving and fit (to lead a married life). If they are poor Allâh will grant them means out of His bounty; Bountiful is Allâh, All-Knowing.

The next verse eliminates prostitution of slave-girls by their masters, which was the norm of Arabia before Islam. On one hand it stops sexual relations with slave-girls by disallowing any such advances toward the potential victims by their masters, on the other, Quran does not rant empty lectures to avoid evil, but gives solution to shun evil, in this case the marriage of slave-girls:

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty…(Another commandment for you is that,) with a mind to gain (by this unrighteous means) the benefits of the present life do not constrain your slave-girls to unchaste life (by keeping them unmarried) when they desire (to marry) to preserve their virtue. But if anybody forces them (to abstain from marrying and to become unchaste) they will find, after they are forced, that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.{19}

Thus Quran keeps at bay the potential aggressors, the guardians of the slaves and captives, from their potential victims, the slaves. The only mechanism to bridge the two for any sexual relations was a full marriage contract and all the obligations that fall under a free marriage contract. These mechanisms remained air tight till the time the existing slavery dissipated under the overall multipronged interventions both through Quran and change that emerged in the society in due course under the Prophet.

Even, the existing captives were given the right to buy their freedom by a written contract of payment in installments of the loan that they may ask for from their own very masters. Once a captive, male or female, asked for such a contract, it could not be refused by the master:

24:33. …(There is another commandment,) as for those of your bondsmen (or women) as ask for a written contract (of freedom for themselves on payment of ransom), write this (deed of manumission for them)…{20}

Further, as an addendum to above freedom contract, the masters were obligated to invest in their slaves to establish them financially before and after their freedom so that they could not only buy their own freedom if not given for free, but also pay back the back the loan, if incurred:

24:33. … provided you find good capabilities in them and give them out of Allâh's wealth which He has given you…{21}

Additionally, in the verse 24:33, when read in toto, for the slave-girls, there in an implication of an extra injunction on the owner to ensure their chastity for which they were to be given means of sustenance. This in turn eliminates the risk of them falling into prostitution of their own accord only to sustain themselves.

Slavery was so much entrenched in the society that to raise slaves to a higher social status needed an incremental reform. For example, in the following verse, slaves, male or female were to be preferred in marriage over the otherwise higher clan status of the idolaters:

2:221. And marry not an idolatress until she believe; while a believing maid is certainly better than an idolatress even though she may highly please you. And do not give (believing women) in marriage to an idolaters until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a (free) idolater even though he may highly please you. It is they who invite to the Fire, but Allâh calls to the Paradise and to the protection by His command. He makes His Messages clear for the people so that they may take heed.{22}

The above verses set in stone equality of mankind, hence the basis of slavery were abolished. Bar was placed on any extra-marital sexual relationships, which excluded any possibility of concubinage which is another name and function for female slaves. Existing slaves, both men and women were protected from exploitation. Every means and excuse was utilized for their emancipation. Taking of newer slaves was prohibited. Prisoners of war were to be released, with or without ransom. It is absurd to even imagine that while Islam puts so much emphasis on freeing of slaves, that it also allegedly allows taking of slaves. Slavery is forbidden, as shown above. The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, even freed prisoners for them teaching children and adults as their ransom. Below is an excerpted article from 'The Light' (February 24, 1984, pp. 13-17){23} which is a rebuttal to even the present day 'scholars' of Islam who make a case for concubinage, which is not only laughable but deplorable by standards of Quran:

If there is to be no slavery, then there can be no concubinage either, for concubines are nothing but female slaves turned into mistresses. There is no question of buying female slaves in the market. As for the female prisoners of war, they are to be set free without ransom, or with light ransom, as in the case of male captives. But the trouble about the female prisoners of war is that if they are sent back, even free, their menfolk are not prepared to take them back as they assume that the women must have been ravished by the captors, as was the common practice among Arabs before Islam, and as is the common lot of female prisoners today in all non-Islamic countries, even of the West.

Such disgraceful treatment of the female prisoners of war was not possible in the Holy Prophet's time or even under the Early Caliphate. When the moral standards were of the highest possible order not a single case is to be found in the history of those periods.

"And whoever among you cannot afford to marry free believing women, (let him marry) such of your believing maidens as your right hands possess. And Allah knows best your faith (i.e., do not set high standards for the faith of such women). Some of you are like others: So marry them with the permission of their masters, and give them their dowries justly … then if they are guilty of adultery when they are taken to marriage, they shall suffer half the punishment for free married women … " (4:25).

This important verse requires the following elucidation:

(1) If a Muslim cannot afford to marry a free believing woman, he may marry one of those ‘whom your right hands possess’.

(2) The much misunderstood term ‘whom your right hands possess’ has been much exploited. It is taken to mean concubines. To describe a concubine bought from the market or from her master as one 'whom your right hands possess' is a complete misnomer. The very use of the words whom your right hands have taken possession of (which is the correct rendering of the Arabic phrase mimma malakat aimanukum) clearly points to women captured in battle. That is where the right hand is used to take possession of a prisoner. To apply that phrase to a woman bought from a slave market or from a master is totally unwarrantable.

(3) The Holy Qur'an still speaks of such a woman being taken in marriage with the permission of her master. Who is this master? It was the practice of the Holy Prophet and the latter-day Muslim commanders to distribute all prisoners, male or female, to the soldiers as part of the spoils of war. They were kept in homes, sometimes in a better way than the master or the mistress of the Muslim home, but always at least on the same scale of living. It is this 'master' spoken of in the verse under consideration. If they are now kept in a war prison, the Government holding them is the ‘master’.

(4) Why are ‘those whom your right hands possess’ mentioned in this and other places separately from free women? That is also explained in this very verse. If the former are guilty of adultery after marriage, their punishment is to be half that of free married women. It is because of the separate treatment under the Quranic law of these women who have come recently from a non-Muslim society and, therefore, the same high moral standards cannot be expected from them, that their separate mention was required.

Incidentally, the punishment of stoning to death for married men or women found guilty of adultery cannot possibly be permissible in Islam:

(a) The Holy Qur'an, which is the paramount authority on Muslim law, does not prescribe stoning to death for any crime whatsoever.

(b) It prescribes instead one hundred strokes for adultery, whether committed by man or women, married or unmarried.

(c) One hundred strokes can be halved as required in verse 4:25 of the Holy Qur'an, but not the stoning to death.

Anyway, because of the clear ban on sexual indulgence outside marriage (24:33) and the requirement that even the women 'whom your right hands possess' must be married properly (4:25), concubinage is simply not permissible in Islam.

The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, being the perfect exemplar, properly married those female prisoners of war whom he took as wives. Much has been made by the Christian critics of the case of Mary the Copt, who was presented to the Holy Prophet by the King of Egypt. That he had married her too is now an established fact beyond doubt.

It may be added to above quoted article, that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by personal example, married two women prisoners of wars on advice of his peers who were 'whom your right hands possess'. Both were set free, namely Safiyya and Juwairiya. Both were daughters of chieftains vanquished in the battle and their marriages to the Prophet became a source for not only ending tribal enmities but resulted in the release of other captives under the Muslims as those captives were now relatives of the Prophet:

33:50. O Prophet, We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses, out of those whom Allah has given you as prisoners of war, …{24}

To reemphasize, the mention of the two types of women i.e. wives (Arabic: azwaaj)and whom your right hand possesses is only to distinguish the status of spouses in terms of those who were free women and those who were captives of war before their marriage. After their marriage, all of them were wives of equal dignity, and none remained as whom your right hand owns. It is the personal examples like these in which the Prophet eliminated slavery in his own household and elevated the dignity of former slave-girls to free wives in the society that no wonder Quran speaks so highly of the Prophet’s life as an example to be followed in matters of uplift and equality of mankind, besides many other virtuous deeds:

33:21. Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar…{25}

To sum it up, the nonsense of concubinage in Islam emanates because of the concoctions of the so called ‘scholars’ of ignorance and not of Quran, who are then oft re-quoted by their blind followers. To such scholar and their followers Quran admonishes very clearly for their advocacy of concubinage:

4:27. Whereas Allâh desires to turn to you with mercy, those who follow (the dictates of their) lusts want you to drift far away (from the right path).{26}

 


{1} Merriam Webster – Concubine: a woman with whom a man cohabits without being married: as 

a : one having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife 

b : mistress 

{2} Reader is encouraged to read a detailed analysis on the subject: 

'Marriage of Slaves' in “Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 488-495. 

'Islam and Slavery' – There is no concubinage in Islam, by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Islamic Review, p. 7-12, January 1958. 

{3}“The Quranic Message of Universal Freedom” by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, p. 1-8 , Paigham-e-Haqq, April/June, No. 66, Organ of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-i-Islam, Fiji, 1994 

{4} Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz: Footnote to verse 4:25 

{5} Islam on Slavery by Al-Haj Lord Headley and Khwaja Kamaluddin, p. 20. 

{6} Yunus – Jonah: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{7} Al-Hujurat – The Chambers: Nooruddin 

{8} Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin 

{9} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{10} Al-Anfal – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin 

{11} Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin 

{12} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{13} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{14} Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin 

{15} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{16} Al-Balad – The City: Nooruddin 

{17} Al-Mujadilah – The Pleading Woman: Nooruddin 

{18} Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin 

{19} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{20} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{21} Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin 

{22} Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin 

{23} ‘Slavery and Concubinage’ – The Founder of Ahmadiyya Movement as a Defender of Islam – II, The Light (February 24, 1984, pp. 13- 17) http://aaiil.org/text/acus/mga/mirzaghulamahmadahmadiyyamovementdefenderislam2.shtml 

{24} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{25} Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz 

{26} Al-i-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin

Definitions

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Definitions

MIRACLE{1}

1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs

2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

3: Christian Science : a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law

MYTH{2}

1 a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

b : parable, allegory

2 a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially: one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society  <seduced by the American myth of individualism — Orde Coombs>

b : an unfounded or false notion

3: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence

MISTAKE{3}

transitive verb

1: to blunder in the choice of <mistook her way in the dark>

2 a : to misunderstand the meaning or intention of : misinterpret <don't mistake me, I mean exactly what I said>

b : to make a wrong judgment of the character or ability of

3: to identify wrongly : confuse with another <I mistook him for his brother>

intransitive verb

: to be wrong <you mistook when you thought I laughed at you — Thomas Hardy>

MATTER{4}

noun

a : a subject under consideration

b : a subject of disagreement or litigation

c plural : the events or circumstances of a particular situation

d : the subject or substance of a discourse or writing

e : something of an indicated kind or having to do with an indicated field or situation <this is a serious matter> <as a matter of policy> <matters of faith>

f : something to be proved in law

g obsolete : sensible or serious material as distinguished from nonsense or drollery

h (1) obsolete : reason, cause (2) : a source especially of feeling or emotion 

 


{1} Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2005 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated 

{2} ibid 

{3} ibid 

{4} ibid

Some hadith on women and Maulana Muhammad Ali’s view

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

1. There is a report in Bukhari as follows:

Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet said, "If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them." (Muhsin Khan translation, Book 12, Number 824).

Commenting on this in his Urdu translation and commentary of Bukhari, Maulana Muhammad Ali writes:

"At night the risk of that danger is even greater, for the fear of which Muslims do not allow their women to go to mosques during daytime. How far removed is the present condition of Muslims from this instruction of the Holy Prophet! This cannot mean that permission has to be sought every time they want to go to the mosque. Its real intent is that husbands are forbidden to prevent their wives from going to mosques." (Fazl-ul-Bari, 1st edition, p. 215)

2. It appears from various hadith reports that the next generation of Muslims after the Companions wanted to set aside and infringe this instruction of the Holy Prophet. Just read the report below from Sahih Muslim:

Abdullah b. Umar reported: I heard Allah's Messenger say: Don't prevent your women from going to the mosque when they seek your permission. Bilal b. Abdullah said: By Allah, we shall certainly prevent them. On this Abdullah b. Umar turned towards him and reprimanded him so harshly as I had never heard him do before. He (Abdullah b. Umar) said: I am narrating to you that which comes from the Messenger of Allah and you say: By Allah, we shall certainly prevent them.

Ibn Umar reported: Grant permission to women for going to the mosque in the night. His son, who was called Waqid, said: Then they would make mischief. He (the narrator) said: He thumped his (son's) chest and said: I am narrating to you the hadith of the Messenger of Allah and you say: No! (Abdul Hamid Siddiqui translation, book 3, chapter 28)

This, it seems, was the beginning of the movement among Muslims to roll back the rights which the Holy Prophet gave to women. Then there is the following saying in both Bukhari and Muslim attributed to Aishah:

"If the Messenger of Allah had seen what new things the women have introduced (in their way of life) he would have definitely prevented them from going to the mosque, as the women of Bani Isra'il were prevented."

What "new things" refers to is that, apparently, some women were going to mosques displaying their beauty, wearing jewellery, fragrance, etc. However, this statement amounts to saying that the Holy Prophet gave a mistaken teaching because he did not know that people would abuse this permission in the future. Such a weak statement cannot be attributed to the Hazrat Aishah. It undermines the very prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, to assert that he wouldn't have given a certain teaching if he had known the bad effects that it would lead to!

Maulana Muhammad Ali makes the following comment on this statement:

"This is nothing more than speculation by Hazrat Aishah. Neither had the Holy Prophet seen the times of the women of Bani Isra'il, nor had he forbidden them. It is also not proved that the women of Bani Isra'il were forbidden to go to their places of worship for this reason. The Holy Prophet found both men and women in the worst moral condition, and he reformed them. In regard to this opinion of Hazrat Aishah it can be said that if the Holy Prophet had seen the circumstances of the women of earlier times, he would have reformed them too, not forbidden them to enter mosques. The work of a reformer is to reform people, not to stop them from doing a good work due to some shortcoming in them. Ever since women have been removed from participating in Muslim communal life, and kept in ignorance of national affairs, the condition of the Muslims has fallen into decline. It is a matter of regret that women have been rendered incapable of doing worldly work and at the same time they have been deprived of performing religious duties." (ibid., p. 216)

3. The hadith from Bukhari given above, "If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them", is given in Abu Dawud as follows:

"Do not prevent your women from visiting the mosque; but their houses are better for them (for praying)."

"It is more excellent for a woman to pray in her house than in her courtyard, and more excellent for her to pray in her private chamber than in her house."

Maulana Muhammad Ali has commented on this version of this report in his note in Fazl-ul-Bari at the point where the above hadith occurs. He writes:

"The five hadith reports in this chapter [in Bukhari] contain testimony that in the time of the Holy Prophet women said prayers with the congregation in the mosque. In Abu Dawud and Ibn Khazimah it is reported from Ibn Umar "Do not prevent your women from visiting the mosque; but their houses are better for them". If this were true then the Holy Prophet himself would have directed women to pray in their houses as it is better. However, all hadith that are in Bukhari mention that women used to join prayers in the mosques with the congregation. None of them mention that the Holy Prophet told women that it is better for you to pray at home." (Fazl-ul-Bari, 1st edition, p. 215)

It can be seen in the cases I have noted above that Maulana Muhammad Ali has given preference to the hadith which accords rights to women, of participation in Muslim society with men, and rejected reports which restrict and deny those rights. Most Muslim opinion is the other way round, and regards the restricting reports as holding a higher place than the one which only mentions the rights.

Zahid Aziz

Polygamy and world population sex ratio

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Recently there was a discussion on a Pakistani TV channel about the Ulama's opposition to Ayub Khan's Family Law Ordinance of the 1960s, one point under discussion being that this law attempted to restrict polygamy. Those supporting the Ulama were arguing that in Islam it is a man's right and his choice to marry more than one woman.

It struck me recently that the number of males and females in the population of any country must be about equal. Any variation, with country or with age group, (I remembered reading a long time ago) would be about 5%. Therefore, for every 100 males there would exist at the most 105 females. On a simplistic basis, this would suggest that, after each of those 100 males has married one female, there are only 5 females left available to those 100 males to contract a polygamous marriage with!

I have looked up statistics of sex ratio by country and by age within countries. Please see this link.

If you look at the map in the top right corner, and glance at Muslim countries, you will see that they are among the countries where the number of males is greater than the number of females!

Looking at the table of countries, in all countries slightly more males are born than females. We can also look at column 4, which is for the age group 15 to 64 and may be more relevant in our discussion. In this age group, per 100 females Pakistan has 105 males, Iran has 102, Turkey 102, Egypt 103, Indonesia 101, Malaysia 101.

(Note that for this age group only, figures for the Gulf states are distorted due to foreign workers being largely male, so Qatar has 246 males per 100 females in this range!)

It is only in the over 65 group that we find a larger number of females than males. This is due to women having a greater life expectancy than men (Pakistan has 88 males per 100 females in this group).

On the basis of this data, the scope for polygamy is extremely limited. The only way to have significant polygamy would be for some men to deprive other men of having even one wife! For instance, out of 100 men, 50 men could marry two women each, thus leaving 50 men without a wife!

Zahid Aziz.