Lamya's Corner

"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)

Salaah Linguistic and Technical Definitions November 29, 2011

Filed under: Seminar Notes — lamyaalmas @ 11:46 am

Duhr Prayer in Talladega National Forest / Alabama

*Notes to Al Bayyinah’s Meaningful Prayer in Atlanta/GA  Lecturer: Abdulnasir Jangda. This part discusses in detail page 3 of the handout

We started with the explanation of basic words used in the lecture, since they are central and will come up often. So unless we understand what they mean, we will be missing out. The first word is “Salaah” obviously. The whole class rotates around it, so we ought to pause here and take our time in explain what it means.

So, what is the linguistic meaning of the word “salaah”? The word comes from four possible roots [so there is a difference among grammarians about the origins of the word]; 4 possible cores to the word Salaah.

1)   The majority of Mufasereen, whose linguistic discussions of the meaning of the word pull meanings through the interpretation of the Qur’an, say it comes from “Du’a li-rahmah” which means to ask of or to request mercy.

2)   The second opinion is that it comes from the word “Silah” which means ‘connection’.  We understand how that develops into the word “salaah” because we see in it the connection between us and Allah [SWT]. The Divine link between us and Allah [SWT].

3)   The third opinion is that it comes from the word “Salawaan” which means “hips” in classical Arabic. The hips are the connection between the top and bottom part of the body. The classical Arabs had a figure of speech, they would say “Aslat al farasu” which means the horse came in a close second. So the head of the horse is at the hip of the one in front of it.

4)   The fourth opinion is that the word Salaah comes from the word “Tasliyyah” that comes from the word “Saliy” which means to burn or roast something in fire. In order to make sense of how this connects to the word Salaah, we have to go back to how the classical Arabs would use the core word. When a person is arrogant it takes extreme measures to break through that arrogance and humble him—so as the classical Arabs would say, “ Salyat Al Uodh bi-naar” literally translates to “ I burnt the wood in the fire.”

5)   The fifth opinion is that the word Salaah is a foreign word that made its way into Arabic. That even if in it’s foreign origins it means “prayer” since we are not the first Ummah [nation] to pray to Allah, but other nations before us did so as well.  In Islam, we have certain values and teaching that are universal—because we believe that all prophets came to teach Tawheed [monotheism, the belief in One God Alone]. Among those universal teachings of all the prophets is salaah, so it is not specific to us.

Surat Maryam, tells us about Ismail (as) who used to command his family to pray.  Musa [as] in Surat Taha is commanded to believe in Allah and establish prayer, and so is Essa [Jesus] peace be upon him in Surat Maryam [as]. Even parts of the prayer are the same, Maryam [as] did Ruk’u and Sujood. True that some elements of our prayer are unique, but Salaah as a form of worship to Allah [SWT] is consistent, all prophets called for it, and established it. It’s a legacy of the prophets since the beginning of time. So, as Muslims we are part of a universal tradition.

Now the big question, which of all of the above opinions is the strongest? Which is right and which is wrong? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer in this case, but rather there is an element of truth to all of these opinions. They all add depth and breadth to the word salaah. It makes you realize how deep and profound the word actually is.

As for the technical definition of “salaah” it is to worship Allah by means of certain known and prescribed sayings and actions at specified times.

It is also important when dealing with the word Salaah in the Qur’an to consider context.  For at times it appears in the Qur’an in such a way that Allah is the doer. If Allah is the doer of the act of salaah, it does not make sense for us to say that he performs Salaah as we do. Instead what it means is that Allah grants mercy and blessings:

هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ لِيُخْرِجَكُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۚ وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا

“He it is who Sends blessings on you, As do His angels” [33:43]

أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ

“They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy” [2:157]

How about when Allah and the angels are doing it as in the following ayat:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

“Allah and His angels send blessings on the prophet” [33:56]

and

الَّذِينَ يَحْمِلُونَ الْعَرْشَ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهُ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ وَيُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا وَسِعْتَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ رَّحْمَةً وَعِلْمًا فَاغْفِرْ لِلَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَاتَّبَعُوا سَبِيلَكَ وَقِهِمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ

“Those who sustain the Throne (of Allah. and those around it Sing glory and Praise to their Lord; believe In him; and implore forgiveness for those who believe: “Our Lord! Thy reach is over all things, In Mercy and knowledge. Forgive, then, those who turn In repentance, and follow Thy path; and preserve them from the penalty of the Blazing Fire” [40:7]

 The meaning in this second context, means that the angels request on someone’s behalf that Allah grant mercy and blessing on them and Allah [SWT] does. Remember that angels pray for us, make du’a for us, and ask Allah to forgive us. The third context, is when the human being is doing the act of Salaah, and it is as we talked about. Look at 4:103, and 62:9.

Important Note  !!!!  In 8:35 Allah [SWT] says:

وَمَا كَانَ صَلَاتُهُمْ عِندَ الْبَيْتِ إِلَّا مُكَاءً وَتَصْدِيَةً ۚ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ

“their prayer at the House (of Allah). Is nothing but whistling and clapping of hands.” An important note on the ayah 35 in Surah 8 is that Allah uses the word Salaah in reference to how the Mushrikuum of Makkah [polytheists in Makkah] used to pray. Even though they performed salaah, in its linguistic meaning, and at the Bayt [the house of Allah] it was nothing but whistling and clapping. Their Salaah was incorrect.

 

Islam in a Nutshell !

Filed under: Contemplations — lamyaalmas @ 9:36 am

If you were asked to pick out 1 Ayah [verse] from the Qur’an to summarize Islam, which one would you choose? Which Surah would you turn to for that single Ayah that will offer Islam in nutshell? If I were you, I would look in the Surah that serves as the table of contents to the Qur’an– the Fatihah [Opening Chapter of the Qur’an].

Indeed, according to scholars a “quotation” [Ayah] from the book of Allah [SWT] that is befitting to appear on the flap to its dust cover, because it beautifully summarizes Islam is the ayah:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين

“You alone do we worship. And from You alone do we seek aid.” [Al Fatiha:5]

The Ayah speaks of Tawheed [montheism]–the belief in One God [Allah] alone. A God with no associates! No partners! No one but Allah! Yet, the ayah does not use the word “belief” in expressing this Tawheed, but rather uses the word “worship”. Makes you realize that the depth and breadth of our belief in Allah [SWT] does not stop at merely believing, for many believe in the existence of Allah [SWT] today as did the idol worshipers of Quraysh. But does that mean that they worship Him [SWT] alone? No. Rather healthy belief in Tawheed [monotheism] will translate into the comprehensive action called “worship”. Worship is putting belief into action. It is the manifestation of belief lodged in the heart. It is proof that belief exists in the heart. Furthermore, the word in Arabic for “Worship” comes from the root word ” ‘Abd” which means “Slave”. So in other words, not only are we slaves to Allah [SWT] but our actions should show [manifest] give evidence of that enslavement to Him [SWT]. We worship Him the way He wants to be worshiped. We do not turn to our whims and desires for counsel on how He [SWT] wants to be worshiped. That, believe it or not, is associating a partner with Allah [SWT]–that partner is you.

The second part of the ayah says ” And from You alone do we seek aid”–and the word “aid” [ Nasta’een ] in Arabic refers to aid/assistance in small matters. For as you know, at times of distress every human being turns to Allah [SWT] despite themselves, even atheists:

هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا كُنتُمْ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَجَرَيْنَ بِهِم بِرِيحٍ طَيِّبَةٍ وَفَرِحُوا بِهَا جَاءَتْهَا رِيحٌ عَاصِفٌ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْمَوْجُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ أُحِيطَ بِهِمْ ۙ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ لَئِنْ أَنجَيْتَنَا مِنْ هَٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ

“[Allah] it is who causes you to travel over land and sea; until, when you are in the ships, and they sail with [their passengers] with a fair breeze, and they are glad therein, a tempestuous wind reaches them, waves are coming at them from everywhere, and they think that they are overwhelmed therein; [then] they call to Allah, making their faith pure for Him [alone], ‘If You save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful!'” (Yunus, 10:22)

Islam calls for a believer in the Oneness of Allah to realize that he/she is a slave of Allah [SWT], who manifests that enslavement through worshiping Allah [SWT] the way He wants to be worshiped [as expressed through revelation in the Qur’an and the Narrations and Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw)], and in the process seek His aid in every matter of his/her life–even those matters that he/she consider small and the trivial.

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Another form of Istighfar [asking forgiveness] ! November 8, 2011

Filed under: Contemplations — lamyaalmas @ 6:50 pm

‎[ثُمَّ أَفِيضُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَفَاضَ النَّاسُ وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ]

Then hasten on from the Place from which the people hasten on and ask the forgiveness of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [2:199] 

You would think that the pilgrims hastening from Mount Arafah after asking Allah [SWT] for forgiveness would be asked to praise and pay gratitude to Allah [SWT] for the Prophet (saw) said, “There is no day on which Allah ransoms more of His slaves from the Fire than the day of ‘Arafah. He draws close then He boasts about them before the angels and says, ‘What do these people want?'” (Muslim)

So, why is the ayah saying that they need to continue asking for forgiveness, even though the possibility of them being sin free like newborn babes is so great? Scholars have a beautiful tafseer of this, which goes off of the Prophet’s practice talked about in this hadith narrated by Al-Mughira that the Prophet used to offer night prayers till his feet became swollen. Aishah (raa) said to him,” Allah has forgiven you, your faults of the past and those to follow.” On that, he said, “Shouldn’t I be a thankful slave of Allah)?” (Bukhari)

There is an Istighfar [asking Allah for forgiveness] that is for expiation of sins, and there is an Istighfar that is an apology to Allah [SWT] for being deficient, lacking, and insufficient in ones praise for all His [SWT] blessings on them. That no matter how much we praise Him [SWT] it is never and will never be enough:

[وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ]

If ye would count up the favours of Allah, never would ye be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [16:18]

So, continue this kind of Istighfar following the example of our beloved Prophet (saw), for the companions (raa) say that they counted the Prophet saying it more than 70 times in a single sitting.

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Reflections on Ayahs 3 and 4 of Surat Al Hajj November 7, 2011

Filed under: Contemplations — lamyaalmas @ 11:35 pm

The 3rd and 4th ayah of Surat Al Hajj is a crucial one for those of us living in the Information Age—a time when there is easy access to information. We live at a time when information is literally at our fingertips, and so much of it is hurled at us with the speed of light. That being said, it is easy to get lost in the midst of it all. It’s easy for our positions on the most constant of values and principles to be swayed, even positions as certain as the existence of Allah [SWT], His Oneness, His Names and Attributes, His commands etc. Nowadays, anything and everything is being speculated on, and more so if it is any way related to Allah [SWT]. Don’t be fooled, all the opinions are based on unfounded evidence, just a whole lot of rotten garbage wrapped in eloquence. Pick it apart, and you will realize it isn’t worth a second of your precious time or effort. How can we possibly stand firm in the midst of these tornadoes and hurricanes or rather these “information disasters” as I like to call them? Allah [SWT] tells us in the 3rd ayah of Surat Al Hajj:

 وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُجَادِلُ فِي اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّبِعُ كُلَّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّرِيدٍ

 كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ

“Among people is one who argues about Allah, without knowledge. For him (the devil) it is decreed that whosoever follows him, he will mislead him, and will drive him to the torment of the Fire.” [22:3-4]

How can we combat this information crisis! We ought to respect our brains by using them where they have been created to function, rather than abuse them by using them to bring about knowledge of a spiritual realm that is beyond our mental capabilities. That realm requires revelation—we cannot come to it on our own. So, we need a reliable source/s to ground us! Ones to fall back on! To turn to for counsel when confused or disturbed! Ones to run to for refuge from insanity! Ones to hold for us our head above the sea of information that we are swimming in right now, so as to stay focused on reaching safe shores at the very end—on the Day of Resurrection. There is a hadith by the Prophet (saw) in which he touches upon this issue, and I find it appropriate to remind myself and you of these two primary sources that were mentioned by the Prophet (saw) during The Farewell Pilgrimage: “I have left among you two matters by holding fast to which, you shall never be misguided: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” These are the primary sources that we need to hold on fast to if we want to face head on the information crisis we are going through—that of our Muslim identities and our belief in Allah [SWT].

Does that mean that we all give up our livelihoods and become Islamic scholars? No, but there is a threshold of knowledge that the Muslim masses, or layman/woman should have; a foundation if you will that establishes their understanding and confidence in their identity as Muslims. This will aid them in standing firmly against what seeks to uproot it. If you look at the early part of the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) you will see that the goal of the early revelations and the teachings of the Prophet (saw) focused on the basics of Eman [like a 101 of Eman]. At the very basic level, every Muslim needs to understand the fact that Allah [SWT] gifting them the Qur’an is a gesture of love. That Allah [SWT] is communicating with them through the Qur’an because He cares for them. He [SWT] is excited to meet them, and so He [SWT] has scheduled a return to Him [SWT] in a meeting place He [SWT] has adorned  called Paradise where they will literally meet Him face-to-face. They need to understand that they will be held accountable for their actions. This is a basic understanding of the Qur’an so to speak.

They also need to know the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) so they bridge the gap between themselves and him (saw). Yes, unfortunately there are huge gaps, if not distances between the person whose life Allah [SWT] asked us to immerse ourselves in and us. Remember that the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) is the only thing that you are allowed to get addicted to after the Qur’an—absolutely knock yourself out, be obsessed with so that you succeed in this life and the next. He (saw) is a role model that never disappoints in whatever stage of his life—childhood, adulthood or old age. He is par excellence, the ultimate exemplar—he is the trendsetter for all humanity of all times who want to make it to Jannah. He set a trend for those who aspire to Jannah. The more you read his Seerah [his biography], you can’t help but love him (saw).

Relying on both of these sources, will enable us to acquire knowledge so that we have that characteristic of prescience or foresight of being able to detect falsified information especially as regards Allah [SWT], His message, His Messenger, the nature of the soul [knowledge of which Allah (SWT) has kept to Himself], events of the Hereafter, Day of Resurrection etc.  Whenever we are in doubt about any information [any argument as the ayah points out] coming our way, we use the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet as a litmus test. Our brains are precious and treasured gifts, and not waste baskets for every piece of rubbish to find an abode to settle in.

Remember in order for any of this to happen, you have to first remove any shred of doubt about the authenticity of the Qur’an and Sunnah in your heart. The evidences of their authenticity are unquestionable—so do your homework. The extensive and painstaking scholarship that has been undertaken by our predecessors to preserve it is astounding. It’s real scholarship! So, astounding is the scholarly preservation of the Qur’an in a language in which a mere accidental dot or stroke of the pen can change the entire meaning of a word, even a sentence. The diligence and meticulousness with which the companions committed the revelation to writing is all well documented and readily available to you—it’s public property for all of humankind. Furthermore, the documentation of every aspect of Prophet’s life is astounding. Indeed, no one’s life has been documented down to such minute detail. It’s a rigorous research in which his every gesture, action, words and even silence, facial expression, and disposition. It even went as far as to assess those who are authorities to pass it on. Who in the history of scholarship has a book like Kitab Al Rijal which assesses the names, personalities, qualifications, and morals of those who passed down the traditions of the Prophet (saw)—not a single stone is left unturned regarding these personalities. So, if you are in doubt about the reliability of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) that doesn’t mean they aren’t authentic sources but rather it indicates that you have not done your homework. It is worth studying, for your future life depends on it. So study it all, until it settles firmly in your heart. But remember you can take the shorter and easier route and believe in your Creator’s words when He [SWT] said:

 إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ 

“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [15:9]

Remember also, that should confusion and doubt dawn upon you when dealing with the book of Allah [SWT] and the Sunnah of His Prophet question the immaturity of your spiritual intellect. Turn to and ask those who dedicated and committed their brains and hearts to its study; those whom Allah [SWT] has blessed with an intellect saturated with them because they have immersed their lives in their study—the Islamic scholars. Remember the hadith of the Prophet (saw) narrated by Abu Sa’d Al Khudri (raa) reported,

There was a man from among a nation before you who killed ninety-nine people and then made an inquiry about the most learned person on the earth. He was directed to a monk. He came to him and told him that he had killed ninety-nine people, and asked if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the negative and the man killed him also, completing one hundred. He then asked about the most learned man in the earth. He was directed to a scholar. He told him that he had killed one hundred people and asked him if there was any chance for his repentance to be accepted. He replied in the affirmative click here for rest of hadith  . . .” [Bukhari and Muslim]

What concerns us about this hadith, is the fact that this man looked for the most learned man about Allah [SWT] on the earth to ask—he sought the best. He went to a monk, who has isolated himself to worship Allah [SWT]. But does that necessarily mean he was a scholar? No. The monk’s response in the hadith indicates his lack of knowledge of Allah’s mercy and in that he caused the man to lose hope; he caused him to despair. It actually cost him his life. In the end it the scholar who was able to help him, he was the one who had the knowledge of Allah [SWT]. So, it is your duty to take charge of who you get your information regarding this religion from, so do your research for that responsibility falls on your shoulders. If you were sick you would seek out the best medical expert, so how about your ailing soul would you not seek the best for it too?

So, first part is that we should re-assess our reliable sources and make Qur’an and Sunnah our primary ones and not our secondary. Know that you cannot convince anyone of Allah’s existence, His Oneness [SWT], His commands without first being convinced yourself, and you cannot be convinced without attaining the right knowledge acquired through the right sources. Plus, no one will acknowledge our sources if we don’t acknowledge them ourselves.

The second part to this is the fact that many argue [whether Muslims or Non-Muslims] with us about our belief in Allah’s existence, His Oneness, His right to be obeyed etc. without proper knowledge of our sources or contents thereof. Those interested in knowing who we are need to study our sources. If they claim they want to build bridges of communication between us and them then they need to familiarize themselves with the basics of who we are, and the basics of the sources on which our belief system is based. In what academic discipline is it acceptable for an expert to claim expertise in a topic without having made an in-depth study of the field of interest? In what discipline would an expert be considered a credible authority without having studied the major sources in depth? What publishing company would accept to put its name on a book based on unfounded research? It seems it is only accepted if the topic is Islam. Whichever way you look at it, we are living in the midst of an information crisis especially as it pertains to Islam on a number of levels:

1)     Among the Muslims themselves who are drowning in the oceans of information regarding all that pertains to Allah [SWT] with no knowledge of the only two reliable sources—the Qur’an and Sunnah—to keep them afloat. When they engage in well-intentioned arguments and debates about Allah [SWT] their lack of knowledge causes them to do more harm than benefit.

2)    Then there are opponents who argue the religion of Allah [SWT] based on dishonest, lazy and sloppy research based on every source except the Qur’an and Sunnah. They are unwilling to acknowledge the only two authentic sources left among humankind that serve that purpose. Such research is based on one of Shaytan’s many publications entitled Shaytan’s Research Style Manual. Its philosophy calls for its users to restrict themselves and rely on solely their limited human knowledge to explore knowledge of: Allah [SWT]; life in the spiritual realm; the Final Hour; Resurrection etc. Just like Shaytan relied on his unfounded claim that he was better than our father Adam [as] because he was created from fire:

قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ

“I am better than he. You Created me of fire but him You created of clay.” (7:12)

Similar arguments are at the root of evils such as racism, discrimination, prejudice, oppression, injustice etc. in modern day society and will be until the end of time. For Shaytan and those who follow his trend, hellfire has already been decreed. It’s a fate sealed with the word of Allah [SWT]. Imagine Shaytan’s evil laugh on the Day of Resurrection when he sees his followers step out from the dark depths of their ignorance of the Final Hour into the light of its certainty. The light of truth will be literally blinding and the follower of Shaytan who spent his life denying it, will address his Lord:

He will say, ‘My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?’ (Allah) will say: ‘Like this, Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) came unto you, but you disregarded them (i.e. you left them, did not think deeply in them, and you turned away from them), and so this Day, you will be neglected. [20:125-126]

So, let’s re-assess our sources of guidance today before it’s too late. Let’s give the Qur’an and Sunnah their rightful place in our lives. It is clear now why the Prophet (saw) taught us after praise of Allah [SWT] to start a Khutbah [sermon], lecture, speech with:

فإن أصدق الحديث كتاب الله وخير الهدي هدي محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وشر الأمور محدثاتها وكل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة في النار.

 “Indeed, the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst matters [in religion] are the newly devised ones, and every innovation is misguidance.”

He (saw) places at the forefront for every listener the two sources of our guidance—the Qur’an and Sunnah. So, should you !