Ramadan Dates 1443 (2022)

April 1, 2022

SUMMARY: Naked-eye moonsighting gives the 1st day of Ramadan 1443 as Sunday 3 April 2022 for the whole world except for North America where Saturday 2 April 2022 is a possibility. Moonsighting with a telescope gives the 1st day of Ramadan 1443 as Saturday 2 April 2022: some authorities and countries have already announced Ramadan for then. (Naked-eye moonsighting in Antarctica & New Zealand might give the 1st day as Monday 4 April 2022!)

Astronomical new moon occurred at 06:24 UT (GMT) today, on Friday 1 April 2022 (29 Sha’ban 1443).

Crescent (lunar) visibility diagrams, courtesy of the UK HMNAO/IOP Moonwatch project, now hosted by UKHO:

Friday 1 April 2022 / 29 Sha’ban 1443, evening
(around the optimal time for moonsighting, about 20 minutes after sunset):

Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Friday 1 April, 2022 (29th Sha’ban 1443) – UK Moonwatch model

Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Friday 1 April, 2022 (29th Sha’ban 1443):

Not visible anywhere in the world, with the exception of the Americas.

The new crescent moon will be visible by naked eye in California, Mexico & parts of Central America, and by telescope in parts of South America. Given the ISNA Fiqh Council’s very reasonable judgment since the 1990s that North America is to be regarded as one horizon (matla’), this would lead to the 1st day of Ramadan 1443 being Saturday 2 April 2022 throughout North & Central America. If sighting by telescope is deemed acceptable, the same start date would apply to South America. However, I defer to the judgments of the relevant authorities in the Americas.

Saturday 2 April 2022 / 30 Sha’ban 1443, evening
(around the optimal time for moonsighting, about 20 minutes after sunset):

Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Saturday 2 April, 2022 (30th Sha’ban 1443)

Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Saturday 2 April, 2022 (30th Sha’ban 1443):

Visible throughout the whole populated world, with the exception of Antarctica & most of New Zealand, where it will be visible the following evening.

Thus, for Oceania (with the possible exception of New Zealand), Asia, Africa & Europe,
the 1st day of Ramadan 1443, based on local moonsighting, is Sunday 3rd April 2022.

Have a blessed & peaceful Ramadan: let us pray for, and serve, our brothers and sisters in humanity!

(Imam Dr) Usama Hasan,

Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, London, UK

29th Sha’ban 1443 / 1st April 2022


Postscript: The European Council for Fatwa & Research announced on 16/02/2022 that the 1st day of Ramadan for the whole world would be on Saturday 2nd April 2022, based on “detailed astronomical calculations.” They claim that these showed that the new crescent moon (hilal) would be visible “by telescope in West Africa and the Americas” after sunset on Friday 1st April 2022. This seems to be based on the Odeh model. I agree with their approach of determining Islamic lunar dates via astronomical calculations, but we need to agree which ones we are using. ECFR are accepting telescope observations, whereas many of us prefer naked-eye sighting. NB: the Odeh model predicts a narrower range of territory for naked-eye sighting, as is clear from the following visibility maps:

Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Friday 1 April, 2022 (29th Sha’ban 1443) – Odeh model
Global new (crescent) moon visibility for the evening of Saturday 2 April, 2022 (30th Sha’ban 1443) – Odeh model

THE AGE OF AISHA AT MARRIAGE

September 26, 2021

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

THE AGE OF AISHA AT MARRIAGE

Abridged translation from Islam Bahiri, Aisha’s marriage to the Prophet aged nine – a big mistake in the books of Hadith (in Arabic), Al-Yawm al-Sabi’, 15th July 2008. With additions from Salahi (2013).

Translation and editing by Usama Hasan

ABSTRACT

Aisha was about 18 years old when her marriage to the Prophet was consummated, and not nine.  The narrations of Bukhari and Muslim saying otherwise are dubious in their texts and chains of transmission.  They contradict the law (Sharia), the intellect, authentic hadiths, and the customs, habits and ethos of the age of Prophethood.  Furthermore, they are completely incongruous with the timeline of the Prophetic mission.

1   The hadith of Bukhari about the age of Aisha at marriage

Imam Bukhari included this hadith with five slightly-different chains of narration in his Sahih:

Aisha said: The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, married me when I was six years old. We then came to Medina and I gave myself to him: I was nine years old then.

2         Timeline of the Prophetic Mission

The foundational sources of Islamic history and of the life of the Prophet overwhelmingly agree on the following timeline of the Prophetic mission:[1]

570-1 CE: Birth of the Prophet

610: Beginning of the Prophetic mission (aged 40)

623: Migration (Hijrah) to Medina, after 13 years of the mission in Mecca

632-3: Death of the Prophet in Medina, after 10 years of his mission there.

3         Historical critique of the narration of Bukhari

According to the narration of Bukhari, the Prophet married Aisha in 620 when she was six, and the marriage was consummated in 623 when she was nine. This would mean that she was born in 614, four years into the Prophet’s mission. This is a glaring error, as we shall now show.

3.1        Comparing Aisha’s age to that of her older sister Asma

The above historical sources are unanimous that Asma was 10 years older than Aisha, and that Asma was born 27 years before the Hijrah, i.e. in 596.

Thus:

Asma was born in 596: she was 14 when the Prophetic mission began and 27 at the time of the Hijrah.

Aisha was born in 606: she was 4 when the Prophetic mission began and 17 at the time of the Hijrah. She was married at 14; the marriage was consummated when she was 17, or 18 if we allow for a few months after the Hijrah.

The historical sources are unanimous that Asma died soon after a famous historical incident, the death of her son Abdullah bin Zubayr at the hands of Hajjaj bin Yusuf in 73 H, when she was aged 100.

Thus, she was born in 596 and died c. 693-696.[2]

3.2        Tabari: all of Abu Bakr’s children were born before the Prophetic mission

The previous point is in agreement with Tabari’s statement that all of Abu Bakr’s children, including Asma and Aisha, were born before the Prophetic mission.

When the Prophetic mission began, Asma was 14 and Aisha was 4. This further confirms the weakness of Bukhari’s narration.

3.3        Comparing Aisha’s age to that of Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter

Ibn Hajar, author of the premier commentary on Bukhari, mentions a narration in his Al-Isabah that Fatima was born in the year of the rebuilding of the Ka’bah, when the Prophet was 35 years old, and that she was 5 years older than Aisha.

According to this, Aisha would have been born around the time of the Prophetic mission. She would then have been 13 at the time of the Hijrah, and not 9 as the narration of Bukhari says.

This again illustrates that the narration of Bukhari is unreliable and suffers from what is known as idtirab (inconsistency) in Hadith terminology.

[NB: Ibn Hajar does not appear to have noticed this inconsistency, because in his same work Al-Isabah, he repeats that Aisha was born four years into the Prophet’s mission, even though other narrations, some of which he himself mentions, indicates that she was born several years before this. – U.H.]

3.4        Aisha’s age when she accepted Islam

Ibn Kathir mentions in Al-Bidayah wa l-Nihayah that “amongst the females who accepted Islam during the first three years of the Prophetic mission were Asma and Aisha. This was whilst the Prophet’s preaching was covert. Then, in the fourth year of his mission, God commanded him to announce his mission publicly.”

This again contradicts the original narration of Bukhari, since the latter implies that Aisha was born in the fourth year of the Prophetic mission.

However, according to the correct calculation, Aisha was born 4 years before the Prophetic mission began and so was 7 when she accepted Islam, being just about old enough to do so.

[Salahi (p. 204) further adds that Aisha is mentioned in Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah, the earliest book on the biography of the Prophet, amongst the first fifty people to accept Islam.  She is nineteenth on the list. There are no children on the list, although Ibn Ishaq mentions that she was young.  Salahi estimates that she must have been at least ten, making her 18 at the time of her marriage. – U.H.]

3.5        Aisha’s early memories of Islam

Imam Bukhari himself narrates in a chapter, “Abu Bakr’s neighbouring the Prophet” that Aisha said:

“My earliest memories are of my parents already practising Islam. The Prophet would visit us daily, morning and evening. When the Muslims were persecuted, Abu Bakr left, intending to migrate to Abyssinia.” [He was persuaded to return from the outskirts of Mecca. – U.H.]

The historical sources are unanimous that the first Muslim migration to Abyssinia was in Year 5 of the Prophetic mission. If Aisha was born in Year 4 of the Prophetic mission, there is no way she could have remembered her father heading towards Abyssinia. But the correct date for her birth is 4 years before the Prophetic mission: this is consistent with her remembering her father’s attempted journey, when she would have been around 9 years old.

3.6        The appropriate age of marriage

In his Musnad, section on Aisha, Imam Ahmad narrates that when the Prophet’s first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid died, Khawlah bint Hakeem, wife of Uthman bin Maz’oon, came to the Prophet and suggested that he should remarry. When the Prophet asked to whom, she said,

“A virgin or a matron, as you wish.”

The Prophet replied, “A virgin.”

Khawlah then recommended Aisha.

This establishes that Aisha was ready for marriage at this time, and that the Prophet did not need to wait for a few years.

The Qur’an (Women, 4:6) confirms that the minimum age of marriage is the same as that for financial responsibility.

Therefore, there is no way that Aisha could have been only 6 years old at this time.

3.7        Aisha’s previous engagement

In his Musnad, Imam Ahmad also narrates from Khawlah bint Hakeem that Abu Bakr had already agreed with Mut’im bin Adi that Aisha would marry the latter’s son, Jubayr bin Mut’im.  Abu Bakr then called off this engagement so that she could marry the Prophet.

Now, there is no way that Abu Bakr would have engaged her to Jubayr after the beginning of the Prophet’s mission, because Mut’im and his family were polytheists; Jubayr even fought against the Muslims at the Battles of Badr and Uhud.  Thus, this engagement must have been when Jubayr and Aisha were both children, before the Prophet’s mission began.  This again confirms that Aisha could not have been born four years into the Prophet’s mission; in fact, she was born four years before it began, as we have established above.

3.8        Aisha remembering the revelation of a Qur’anic verse as a child

Imam Bukhari narrates that Aisha said: “I was a little girl playing when this verse was revealed to Muhammad: Nay, the Hour is their appointed time; the Hour is more calamitous and more bitter.[3]

Now, it is established that Surat al-Qamar was revealed c. 614 CE, around four years into the Prophet’s mission.  This again is consistent with the correct view that Aisha would have been around 8 years old at this time: this fits with her saying, “I was a little girl playing then.”

3.9        A virgin must not be married without her permission

Imam Bukhari also narrates from the Prophet that he said, “A virgin must not be married without her permission.” 

It is impossible that the Prophet could say such a thing and do the opposite, for if the original hadith is to be believed, Aisha was six years old and playing with her friends and dolls when she got married – there is no mention of her permission being asked.  And even if it had been, it would have no Sharia acceptability, since it was before her age of responsibility, puberty and intellectual maturity.

3.10    Aisha nurses the wounded at the Battle of Uhud

[Salahi reminds us that Imam Bukhari also quotes that Aisha, along with Umm Salamah, nursed the Muslim soldiers at the Battle of Uhud, which took place 18 months after her marriage.[4]  Had she been nine upon marriage, she would have been only eleven at this time.  The Prophet did not allow anyone under 15 to join the army as a soldier – would he have allowed a girl of 11 to come along?  (Abdullah bin Umar turned 15 between the Battles of Badr and Uhud: he was not allowed to participate at Badr, but was allowed at Uhud.)]

4         Criticism of the chain of transmission

The original hadith has five routes of narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

4.1        The narrations in Bukhari are all suspect, because they are those of Hisham bin ‘Urwah to the people of Iraq

The five different chains of transmission (isnad) given by Imam Bukhari all have two narrators between him and Hisham bin ‘Urwah, who narrates from his father ‘Urwah from Aisha.  Thus, the hadith is singly-narrated by Hisham, Urwah and Aisha.  The two narrators between Bukhari and Hisham in each case are all people of Iraq:

  • Farwah bin Abi l-Mighra’ and Ali bin Mishar
  • ‘Ubayd bin Isma’il and Abu Usamah
  • Mu’alla bin Asad and Wuhayb
  • Muhammad bin Yusuf and Sufyan [bin ‘Uyaynah]
  • Qabisah bin ‘Uqbah and Sufyan [bin ‘Uyaynah]

Hisham appears to be the weak link in this chain.  Ibn Hajar narrates in his Hady al-Sari as well as in his Tahdhib that Imam Malik did not approve of Hisham’s narrations to the people of Iraq. Imam Malik said that Hisham went to Kufa in Iraq three times to narrate hadiths: the first time, he said: “My father narrated to me that he heard Aisha …” The second time, he said: “My father informed me on the authority of Aisha …”  The third time, he said: “My father, on the authority of Aisha …”

In other words, Imam Malik did not accept Hisham’s narrations in Iraq, since he went there to narrate in his old age when his memory had faltered somewhat, and he practised tadlis, i.e. obscuring or omitting the mode of transmission, making the narration suspect. 

4.2        Hisham never narrated these hadiths in Medina: the Muwatta omits them completely

Furthermore, Imam Malik learnt hadiths directly from Hisham in Medina for many years, but the age of Aisha at marriage is not mentioned in the Muwatta at all.  Thus, Hisham never mentioned this narration at all in Medina, but only in Iraq where his narrations are suspect anyway.  These considerations strengthen the earlier historical ones, confirming that the hadith about the age of Aisha is seriously flawed.

5         Conclusion

Islam Bahiri concludes:

Aisha was about 18 years old when her marriage to the Prophet was consummated, and not nine.  The narrations of Bukhari and Muslim saying otherwise are textually corrupt and dubious in their chains of transmission.  They contradict the law (Sharia), the intellect, authentic hadiths, and the customs, habits and ethos of the age of Prophethood.  Furthermore, they are completely incongruous with the timeline of the Prophetic mission.

Thus, we are not obliged to revere Bukhari and Muslim more than the Prophet, peace be upon him.  We have the right to reject what they accepted and accept what they rejected.  Islam is neither confined to the scholars of Hadith and Fiqh, nor to their time.  Thus, we are able to critique, correct and evaluate the books of Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah and Tafsir.  We are able to reject the numerous mistakes and fabrications found in them. In the end, these books are a purely human heritage: we are not obliged, and in fact it does not befit us, to imbue them with sacredness or divinity.  We are equal human beings to the people of our history.

6         References

  1. Islam Bahiri, Aisha’s marriage to the Prophet aged nine – a big mistake (or lie) in the books of Hadith (in Arabic), Al-Yawm al-Sabi’, 15th July 2008. Reproduced in Jamal al-Banna, Tajrid al-Bukhari wa Muslim min al-ahadith allati la tulzim [Expunging Bukhari and Muslim of non-binding hadiths], Da’wah al-Ihya’ al-Islamiyyah, Cairo, Dhu l-Qi’dah 1429 / November 2008.

  2. Adil Salahi, Muhammad – His Character and Conduct, Islamic Foundation, Markfield, 2013, pp. 203-5

[1] Al Kamil fi l-Tarikh by Ibn al-Athir; Tarikh Dimashq by Ibn ‘Asakir; Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ by Dhahabi; Tarikh by Tabari; Al-Bidayah wa l-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir; Tarikh Baghdad by Khatib Baghdadi; Wafayat al-A’yan by Ibn Khillakan and many others.

[2] The three years’ uncertainty in her date of death is simply due to uncertainty between the pre-Islamic lunisolar Arabian calendar and the Islamic lunar calendar: over a century, the two differ by three years. – U.H.

[3] Qur’an, Surat al-Qamar, The Moon, 54:46

[4] Bukhari, Sahih, Kitab al-Jihad wa l-Siyar (Book of War and Military Expeditions), Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1423/2002, p. 530, no. 2880.

An Ocean From The Desert: the Maliki-Salafi Shaykh of Mauritania and Saudi Arabia

April 26, 2022
Atlantic Desert Shore between City of Dakhla and Mauritania

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

As we near the holiest nights of the year during Ramadan, Month of the Qur’an,

AL-QURAN SOCIETY, LONDON, UK

presents
some lighter, inspiring reading when taking breaks from the intensity of the Magnificent Qur’an itself

An Ocean From The Desert

ترجمة الشيخ

 محمد الأمين الشنقيطي

صاحب تفسير أضواء البيان في إيضاح القرآن بالقرآن

للشيخ عطية محمد سالم

قاضي المحكمة الشرعية بالمدينة المنورة

A BIOGRAPHY OF THE SHAYKH

MUHAMMAD AL-AMĪN AL-SHANQĪTĪ
(1325-1393 H / 1907-1973 CE)
born in Mauritania; returned to His Lord immediately after performing the Hajj pilgrimage, 1393 H
& buried in Mecca near the Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram)
One of the greatest authorities on the Qur’an of the 14th Islamic century (20th century CE)

AUTHOR OF THE MAGNIFICENT TAFSĪR
ADWÂ’ AL-BAYÂN (LIGHTS OF ELOQUENCE)

by SHAYKH ‘ATIYYAH MUHAMMAD SÂLIM

Judge, Law Court of Medina, Saudi Arabia

(c) AL-QURAN SOCIETY (UK Registered Charity): RAMADAN 1443 (APRIL 2022)

Lover of God, follower of the Prophets, Master of the Scriptures:


Qur’an, Sunnah, Sharia, Islam:

revered by people
from Africa to Arabia, Mecca & Medina, & beyond,

from the widows, peasants & poor of the Holy Lands

to King Muhammad V of Morocco (Custodian of the Maliki Madhhab)

& King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (Leader of the Salafi-Wahhabi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
Teacher of the Qur’an at the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad himself,
may God bless him and grant him peace,
to thousands of worshippers and pilgrims from around the world,
one of the leading Shaykhs of Mauritania, aged 40,
and then of Mecca & Medina in Saudi Arabia for the rest of his life until his death, aged 66

One of the main founders of, and teachers at:
the many Islamic institutes of learning in Riyadh,
the Muslim World League, Mecca; and
the Islamic University of Madinah al-Munawwarah: the Enlightened City of the Prophet of Light,
teaching thousands of students from all over the world, thus earning the informal accolade of

Shaykh-ul-Islam
of his time

There is no deed greater than explaining the Book of Allah
in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
(Shaykh Shanqiti, who indeed explained the entire Qur’an in the Prophet’s Mosque,
where much of it was revealed, two or three times;
wrote a brilliant, creative Tafsir (Commentary on the Qur’an)
based on the formidable oceans of Bayan (the sciences of Eloquence & Rhetoric in Arabic):
LIGHTS OF ELOQUENCE IN EXPLAINING THE QUR’AN BY THE QUR’AN

“He has not died – he who leaves such a legacy”

(Shaykh Shanqiti’s student,
Shaykh ‘Atiyyah Salim,
his teacher’s successor as
a teacher at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina
& Judge at the Law Courts of Medina)

/

(download for free via the above link)

IN HONOUR OF THE SHAYKH’S OWN TEACHINGS, IT IS PROHIBITED TO COMMERCIALISE HIS WORKS:
You may freely distribute, re-share, re-upload this document (without altering it), etc.
but you must not sell it for profit: selling at cost-price only is allowed.
You may upload it on a monetized platform, but you MUST donate any money earned to charity,
otherwise the Shaykh warned, in the Sacred Mosque of the Prophet himself
in the City of Light, Madinah al-Munawwarah:

I will not commercialise the Explanation of the Book of God, the Exalted.
If anyone dares to sell my book for profit,
I will say a prayer against him
and I expect that such a prayer will be answered.

May God reward our Shaykh
and all his students & grand-students
who contributed to this work,
and to everyone who distributes this knowledge freely,
Amin.

Coming Soon, God-willing (insha’Allah):
The second edition, with additional direct memories
of Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin al-Shanqiti
by Shaykh Suhaib Hasan
Founder of Al-Qur’an Society
one of the eldest and most senior, living students of Shaykh Shanqiti


Pakistan – improvement in the rights of religious minorities under Imran Khan’s government, 2018-2020

June 3, 2021
There are 2-3 million Pakistani Christians, about 1.3% of the country’s population.

Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers

Webinar: Protecting the Rights of Religious Minorities in the Age of COVID-19

with Minister Ijaz Alam Augustine,

Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs in Punjab, Pakistan.

28th May, 2020 – notes by Usama Hasan

Minister: 

  1. We have been in power for 2 years.  In Punjab [Pakistan’s most populous province, with over half of Pakistan’s population of approximately 220 million people], we have achieved gains for minorities that had not happened in the previous 70 years. [In 2019, Pakistan celebrated 72 years since Independence.]

  2. The new Government of Punjab introduced a Minority Empowerment Package within its first 100 days. This has now been passed.  It addresses the following:

    • Education – access to universities, where there is a 2% quota for minorities.

    • Prisons – reprieve for inmates if they turn to religion & reading scripture, on a par with Muslims.

    • Hate speech – control of.  This is prevalent in Pakistan: incitement of religious hatred.

    • Previously, religious subjects were Islamic Studies only.  Now, 60% is ethics & 40% according to one’s own religion, eg Bible for Christians, Gita for Hindus, Granth for Sikhs.

    • Religious tourism: our religious heritage was neglected for 70 years, including religious tourism & pilgrimage.  Eg St. Thomas, disciple of Jesus, settled in Taxila for a while.  Some 200-year-old churches had fallen into disrepair. These are now being repaired and maintained.

    • Jobs for minorities – we have a 5% government jobs quota for minorities, secured by the previous minister Shahbaz Shareef, but this was not being fulfilled.  But minorities are not achieving university degrees (cf. 1 above).

  3. Punjab, most populous province in Pakistan, is the first to achieve this milestone of 2% quota for religious minorities in HE & 5% in government jobs.  Other provinces are following example set by Punjab.

  4. In Punjab, we set up a board to remove religious hate speech from our educational textbooks.  The hate speech was leading to many blasphemy cases also being brought against people from religious minorities.

  5. Punjab was the first province to set up a high-level commission on forced conversion to Islam, especially of girls for marriage. The Federal government followed us to set up a national mechanism.  The commission assesses whether a person is mature enough to change religions, especially for marriage, and whether the conversion is forced or of a free will.

  6. Many forced conversions happened in underdeveloped, underprivileged, slum-like areas.  We set up a ‘modern village’ in Christian-dominated Yuhannabad, population 300,000.  This will eventually become a modern city. Funds have been earmarked for roads, water, sanitation, etc.

  7. The funds for this development were doubled by Imran Khan’s government from Rs. 500 million [£2.5 million] to Rs. 1 billion [£5 million].

  8. After Imran Khan’s government released Asia Bibi, we have reduced the current blasphemy cases from hundreds to 20-25 only.  This is by introducing safeguards against frivolous blasphemy cases that were increasing before in number.

  9. With help from the EU, we have improved our human rights record.  We have district-level human rights committees now, including minority representation, to assess local human rights issues.  This was part of the agreement for GSP+, a trade agreement between the EU and Pakistan.

  10. When we have cases of religious discrimination reported, I visit the place personally.

  11. Pakistan has about 40 24/7 Christian TV channels, unregistered with the regulator PEMRA.  But the government has never taken any action against them.

  12. These are some of our achievements & humble contributions in Punjab.  This government has another 3 years, so we hope to achieve more by the grace of God:  reduce discrimination & hate-speech, improve tolerance and create a more harmonious society.

  13. We think the Marrakesh Declaration is a great resource.  We wish to have a major interfaith conference in Pakistan.  We proposed an interfaith forum in Punjab, which is in the process of being legally registered, & to have a major interfaith dialogue conference in Lahore.  Our interfaith policy is being developed, influenced by the Marrakesh Declaration, with the input of religious minorities.

  14. The Imran Khan government announced that all nationalised religious schools would be returned to the respective religious minorities. This includes the Ahmadis.

  15. There is a current blasphemy case involving Ahmadis – we are dealing with it sensitively.

  16. Covid-19 & religious minorities: there was some scapegoating of the Tablighi Jamaat early in the crisis – they were accused of having brought covid-19 to Pakistan and spread it here.  But this scapegoating was quickly eliminated – we have no concept of majority/minority with regard to covid, since we are all in this together.

  17. With covid, our curve in Pakistan is still rising and has not flattened yet. We are keen that structural discrimination against minorities is not increased or enhanced because of the covid crisis.

  18. Regarding women’s and youth empowerment, our work on higher education covers some of that.

  19. We have also offered 5,000 people (60% youth, 40% women) via 177 training centres in Punjab, free skills development & professional/technical training programme, with a sufficient monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 [£10].  We then provide them with Rs. 500,000 [£2,500] grant each for business start-up, entrepreneurship & development.

  20. Sadly, no Christian organisation or country has contacted us about St. Thomas’ heritage in Pakistan, eg Taxila & for the last 72 years: there has been no major contact from the Vatican or Church of England.  In contrast, embassies of Buddhist-majority countries have helped to fund the preservation of Buddhist sites.
Pakistan’s flag: the green represents the country’s Muslims, whilst the white strip on one edge represents religious minorities.

40 Years a Muslim – In Memoriam: Merryl Wyn Davies of Merthyr Tydfil (1949-2021)

February 4, 2021
Merryl Wyn Davies giving concluding remarks at the inaugural Ibn Rushd lecture. Photo (c) Muslim Institute

Introduction: British converts to Islam in the 1970s/80s: Stevens, Davis & Davies

Bismillah. Growing up in a devout, immigrant Pakistani Muslim family in London in the 1970s & 80s amidst a somewhat-racist society, my experience was that it was natural that white, European converts to Islam would attract a lot of attention within Muslim communities. The most famous convert/revert/new-Muslim was, of course, Yusuf Islam: formerly, the musician Cat Stevens.

But there were also a couple of female converts who became household names in Muslim activist circles: Maryam Davis & Merryl Wyn Davies. Naturally, these two women were often confused for each other, and I imagine that many people might have thought they were the same person, with Merryl adopting the name Maryam upon conversion. However, as MWD made clear in this interview with Wales Online on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she never changed her name. (Her reasoning was spot-on: there is no Islamic requirement for anyone to adopt an Arabic name; the Prophet, peace be upon him, only changed names that had idolatrous, polytheistic or bad connotations. The use of an Arabic or “Islamic” name is entirely up to the individual, depending on their journey: there are pros and cons involved. Many people use both their original name plus a “Muslim” name as well, depending on the situation.)

Maryam Davis’ conversion story, 1980s

As a teenager, I remember attending a lecture to a Muslim audience by one of them about the story of her conversion: I’m fairly, although not entirely, sure that this was Maryam Davis. She began by clarifying the difference between her and the other “MD”: she was the one without the ‘e’ in her surname: she said that ‘Davies’ was a Welsh surname whilst ‘Davis’ was English [I think of Steve Davis, the snooker legend].

(Or was it MWD, saying that she did have the ‘e’ ?) The thing that struck me most about Maryam Davis’ lecture was when she spoke of different events as forming a connected, unified thread through her life: I’d never heard such a reflection before, but it prepared me for the Sufi commentary that I read decades later about the Qur’anic story of Musa (Moses) & Khidr (the “Green Man” who is connected to the English legends of St. George & the “Green Man” of nature), where the 3 actions for which Moses rebuked Khidr were all reflections of incidents from Moses’ own life. The only other thing that I remember from this lecture is that MD had witnessed the so-called “Islamic [read: islamist] Revolution” in Iran, and it had helped to inspire her to convert. “Imagine a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, all shouting Allahu Akbar [God is Greater / God is Greatest] ?” she said.

(I haven’t heard any news about Maryam Davis since the 1980s, and would be grateful if anyone can provide some.)

Merryl Wyn Davies & the Muslim Institute, 2010s-2020s

The thing is, MWD had also been influenced by the “Islamic [read: islamist] Revolution” (in Muslim circles, who wasn’t?), as she mentioned in her 2011 Wales Online interview. But she was later instrumental, along with Prof Zia Sardar & Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, in transforming the Muslim Institute, which had been strongly pro-Khomeinist (Shia islamist) under the leadership of Dr Kalim Siddiqui during the 80s & 90s, into a Fellowship-based organisation since the 2010s that is overwhelmingly critical of islamism. For example, its Winter Gathering 2019 was themed, Iran – The Revolution Goes Wrong.

See also this short but insightful speech by MWD at the MI’s inaugural Ibn Rushd lecture.

The Islamic Education Conference, Mecca, 1977

Islamic Education Series, publ. Hodder & Stoughton / King Abdulaziz University. Proceedings of Muslim World League conference, 1977. Photo (c) Usama Hasan, 2021

I first met MWD around 2010/11 at a MECO iftar in Oxford. She told me about the new Fellowship-based revamping of the Muslim Institute and encouraged me to join, which I did. After that, I met her almost every time I attended an MI event, which was probably every other year on average. So in total, I only met her half a dozen times or so, but it was always very inspiring to meet her and she left a deep impression on me because of her welcoming nature and love of life, people and knowledge.

She once told me that she had covered the above conference in Mecca, hosted by the Muslim World League and the King Abdul Aziz University, for the BBC or other international, English media. Given the difficulties for a woman to direct and produce media interviews in Saudi at the time, she had turned her hotel room into a makeshift studio. My recollection of her account is that this was at the Intercontinental Hotel that was just outside Mecca, outside the limits of the haram sanctuary, so non-Muslims are allowed to stay there (MWD converted to Islam a few years after the 1977 conference, in 1981).

The Islamic Education Conference of 1977 was clearly very influential: 313 scholars from around the world assembled in Mecca. (Almost certainly, the number 313 was deliberately chosen to match the number of Muslim warriors at the first, historic and decisive battle between Islam and its 1,000-strong enemy at Badr, between Mecca and Medina.) It also came about a year after the 1976 World of Islam festival in London that notably attracted an editorial in The Times newspaper. (I have listened to audio recordings of all the main lectures from the WOI festival, along with Q+A.) Many scholars would have attended both conferences.

Standard blurb for every volume of the Islamic Education Series, publ. Hodder & Stoughton / King Abdulaziz University. Proceedings of Muslim World League conference, 1977. Photo (c) Usama Hasan, 2021

The influence of this conference around the Muslim world is obvious from a list of the editors and contributors to each volume:

  1. Aims & Objectives of Islamic Education, ed. Syed Naqib Al-Attas
  2. Crisis in Muslim Education, ed. Syed Sajad Husain & Syed Ali Ashraf
  3. Education & Society in the Muslim World, ed. Mohammad Wasiullah Khan
  4. Curriculum & Teacher Education, ed. Muhammad Hamid Al-Afendi & Nabi Ahmed Baloch
  5. Social & Natural Sciences, ed. Ismail Rajhi Al-Faruqi & Abdullah Omar Naseef
  6. Philosophy, Literature & Fine Arts, ed. Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Further Contributors:

Saeed Ateyya Abu Aali, Abdul Haq Ansari, Muhammad Anwar, Muhammad al-Aroosi, Zaki Badawi, Ilyas Ba-Yunus, Ahmad al-Beely, AK Brohi, Ibrahim Titus Burckhardt, Abdul G Chaudhri, Prince Muhammad al-Faisal, Syed Altaf Gauhar, MM Ghaly, Abdul Hamid al-Hashimi, Peter Hobson (Ismail Abdul Baqi), SM Hossain, Sayyid Waqar Ahmad Husaini, Ahmad Salah Jamjoom, Kazi A Kadir, Syed Ali Muhammad Khusro, Abdul Halim Khaldoon Kinany, Ahmed Rifat Abdul Latif, Saibo Mohamed Mauroof, Jean-Louis Michon (Ali Abdul Khaliq), Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, HM Abdul Quddoos Qasmi, Muhammad Qutb, Afzalur Rahman, Ata-ur-Rahman, Muhammad Al-Ahmed Al-Rasheed, Ghulam Nabi Saqib, AFA Sayeed, Ahmed Shalabi, Muhammad Ansar Ahmed Shami, Hadi Sharifi, Abdul Hamid Siddiqui, Kalim Siddiqui, Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui, Abdul Hamid Abu Suleiman, Basheer Tom, SM Yusuf.

(The reader will notice that the above list of scholars is entirely male. This underlines MWD’s perseverance to conduct dozens of interviews as a young, Welsh woman in a very male world on the outskirts of Mecca.)

Islamic Education Series, publ. Hodder & Stoughton / King Abdulaziz University. Proceedings of Muslim World League conference, 1977. Photo (c) Usama Hasan, 2021

I have actually never read these volumes, although they’ve been in my possession for over 20 years, but I plan to do so now God-willing, and partly to honour Merryl.

Back to the Muslim Institute, 2010s

At the 2016 Winter Gathering, during the “ISIS years,” I was asked to speak about Wahhabism. I think I was expected to focus on its negatives, given a talk I had given there 3 years earlier in 2013 that had been written up as an anti-Wahhabi polemic by Andrew Brown of The Guardian. (I had begun that or an earlier talk by saying what an honour it was to address the annual Muslim Institute gathering for the first time, in the presence of so many honourable friends and especially childhood inspirations: in the latter category, I specifically named Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, who inspired me separately but obviously did great work together for decades.)

However, as a Wahhabi-Sufi or Salafi-Sufi (“Salufi”), the gist of my talk was that the negatives were well-known, and I focussed on the positives of Wahhabism/Salafism: a strict egalitarianism and rejection of ultimate authorities besides God and His Prophet; a rejection of superstition and other harmful innovations, as opposed to good innovations; an emphasis on a return to the authentic sources, reason and spirit of Islam; promotion of some women’s rights, including female imams & women’s rights to divorce; a rejection of madhhabism, including the absurd practices of multiple prayer-services according to the different timings and methods of schools such as the Hanafi & Shafi’i. (Multiple prayer-services and sectarian minbars/pulpits had been correctly abolished under Wahhabi/Salafi influence in Mecca, Damascus & elsewhere.)

I argued that the MI crowd in practice were influenced positively by aspects of Wahhabism, since they weren’t into madhhabism, rigid legalism or superstition and fake sufism. I also argued that the narrow-mindedness and intolerance of many Wahhabi groups was not unique to them, but actually shared by many traditionalist Muslims, whether Sunni or Shia. In fact, Wahhabism could be regarded as the most conservative and puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam: it was a failure of Sunnis, and Muslims generally, to blame problems like Al-Qaeda & ISIS purely on Wahhabism, when in fact these groups quoted medieval Sunni texts all the time. (As one scholar at the Sufi-friendly 2015 Marrakesh Declaration conference put it: we cannot condemn ISIS for reintroducing slavery etc. and simultaneously teach jurisprudential texts about such matters all the time in our seminaries! We must reform our curricula to help stop any resurgence of ISIS.) I suppose that some of my arguments are similar to those of Natana Delong-Bas’ Wahhabi Islam.

I was dreading a hostile reception, since the MI crowd are not exactly fans of Wahhabis/Salafis. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the generally positive, or at least neutral, reception I received. And it was Merryl who took the time to engage with me most profoundly, recommending that I read Geoffrey Robertson’s book about The Levellers, a movement that had evolved from the Puritans and were early Western radical democrats. (The Puritans under Oliver Cromwell had banned the celebration of Christmas in the UK – I had mentioned in my talk that this was a parallel with Wahhabi and other puritan movements within Islam.) I haven’t read this book yet, but plan to do so now God-willing, and partly to honour Merryl.

She was approximately Mum’s age, and always had that kind, motherly approach to complement her uncompromising devotion to principle and her sharp wit. At that last meeting, she also asked me directly, rather than listening to hearsay, about something Ayaan Hirsi Ali had attributed to me on BBC TV. I confirmed that Ali had misquoted me. “I thought so,” Merryl replied in her lovely Welsh accent, “I nearly fell off my sofa when she claimed you’d said that!”

As the Muslim Institute’s touching tribute to Merryl shows, she was very proud of her Welsh heritage and referred to the Wales men’s rugby team as “my boys.” My last interaction with her, as far as I can remember, was when I posted some photos on Facebook of my 2018 tour of the Principality (formerly Millenium) Stadium in Cardiff, home of her national team. Merryl commented on the following photo from the stadium display, showing men dressed in traditional Welsh warrior costumes, holding a large, partially-sheathed sword. (I was struck by this photo because of the similarity to traditional Arab/Eastern/African costumes.) Merryl explained the traditional Welsh cries associated with a particular festival, where they unsheath and then sheath the sword and make several exclamations about upholding peace.

Men in traditional Welsh dress, unsheathing then sheathing a sword & making exclamations about upholding peace, as explained to me by Merryl Wyn Davies in 2018. Photo displayed at the Principality (formerly Millenium) Stadium, Cardiff. Photo (c) Usama Hasan, 2018

I learnt of Merryl’s departure, and her final resting place in the blessed city of Kuala Lumpur, yesterday afternoon. After sunset prayers, we prayed the funeral prayer in absentia (salat al-janazah ‘ala l-gha’ibah / janaza ghaebana) for her as a family.

Merryl was a Muslim in the technical sense for 40 years, from her conversion to Islam in 1981 to her death this year, 2021.

She was working for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) when 9/11 happened, helping with their communications. She returned to God the day after the MCB announced its first female Secretary-General, who had won the election for that post. I don’t know much about the new Sec-Gen, or whether or not this news reached Merryl, but there is no doubt that she was one of the pioneering female activists within British Muslim communities for a whole generation, or even lifetime (40 years), before this historic moment. I’m sure Merryl would have welcomed the fact that a Muslim woman had finally broken this glass ceiling.

Our heartfelt condolences to all her family and friends on our collective loss.

Her name meant ‘a small thing from the sea’ in Welsh. Her hometown name, Merthyr Tydfil, means “(Mausoleum of the Relics of) Tydfil the Martyr” after a female, Christian, pre-Islamic Welsh martyr (5th century CE).

May Allah receive our “Merryl of Merthyr” with Mercy, accept her as a martyr (witness and shaheed to God) and shower upon her infinite Oceans of Love, Truth and Peace: values that she upheld valiantly throughout her blessed life. Amin.

U.H., London, UK, 4th February 2021 / 21st Jumada al-Thani 1442 (daytime)

Edited: 6th February 2021 / 24th Jumada al-Thani 1442 (after sunset)

Postscript: On 6th February 2021 / 23rd Jumada al-Thani 1442 (before sunset), about a dozen of us met online to discuss issues and possible solutions related to the needs of British converts/reverts to Islam. We ended the meeting by fittingly saying a collective prayer for Merryl and praising God for her inspiring life.

Laylat-ul-Qadr (The Night of Majesty and Destiny) and simple astronomy – some reflections

May 22, 2020

Laylat-ul-Qadr (The Night of Glory and Destiny)

& simple astronomy – some reflections

Bismillah.

Laylat-ul-Qadr (LQ – The Night of Glory, Majesty, Decree and Destiny, etc.) is in one sense the climax of the month of Ramadan / Ramzan (R).

* Some of the hadiths about its exact date, even the allegedly authentic ones, are mutually contradictory, which is why scholars try to reconcile them.

* It is night-time for half the earth at any moment; the other half is in daytime. Day and night are relative to each person’s location on earth.

* It is presumably possible for the Angels & the Spirit to descend around the half of the earth that’s in night-time for a period of exactly 24 hours, thus giving a specific date for LQ. Presumably, this would start at sunset for the first location on earth from where the new crescent moon was visible.

* Since Muslims have differed for decades about the beginning of R, and hence about its odd nights, this presents a difficulty in finding LQ in the last 5 odd nights. One solution is to look for it throughout the last 10 nights. But what if LQ falls just before your last 10 nights or just after, i.e. on your Eid night whilst others are still observing R?

* Do the Angels & the Spirit descend throughout the last 10 nights?

* MY SOLUTION: Due to considerations like these, I follow the view of the Companion, Abdullah bin Mas’ood: LQ can be on any night of the year. Or we could say: it is on every night of the year. Every night is LQ!

* This is why the hadiths say: SEEK IT in the last 10 nights of R, etc., because it would be too difficult to seek it all year long. We are prepared with fasting & worship for a whole month to help find LQ during the last 10 nights, preferably in i’tikaf (spiritual retreat). Remember, the Prophet pbuh once did i’tikaf for the whole month of R in order to find LQ.

* These are some of the many wisdoms behind the spiritual practice of Ramadan/Ramzan. May ours have been blessed, and may we have found our Night of Powerful, Glorious Destiny, had all our prayers answered and been illuminated by The Light for at least another year!

PS “Better than a thousand months” means “Better than all of time.”

(khayrun min al-dahri kullihi – Tafsir Qurtubi)

In other words, Laylat-ul-Qadr is an opportunity to transcend Time, or experience Eternity or Timelessness.

I alluded to some of these lessons about Ramadan (Ramzan) & LQ in this poem, based on the famous opening of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence:

To break your fast with a wholesome date
And recite noble verses of Light.
To seek Infinity in your unfolding Fate
And Eternity in One Night.

Usama Hasan

22 May 2020 / 28 Ramadan 1441

Tadworth, UK.

ليلة القدر و علم الفلك:

الليل والنهار أمران نسبيان لمكان كل شخص في الأرض، وهما آيتان من آيات الله تعالى.

والأحاديث في تحديد تاريخ ليلة القدر متناقضة، حتى الصحيحة منها، ولذالك حاول علماء الحديث الجمع بينها دائماً.

فنصف الأرض في أي وقت في ظلمة اليل، والنصف الآخر في ضوء النهار.

قد تنزّل الملائكة والروح لمدة ٢٤ ساعة كل عام، فتكون لليلة القدر تاريخ معيّن. ولكن عندنا مشكلة: الاختلاف في بداية شهر رمضان يؤدي الى اختلاف في اليالي العشرة الأخيرة.

من أجل هذه الاعتبارات وغيرها، أرى برأي عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه أن ليلة القدر قد تقع في أي ليلة في السنة. ولذالك جاء في الأحاديث «إلتمسوا ليلة القدر في العشرة الأخيرة من شهر رمضان» لأن إلتماسها طول العام أمر محرج وصعب جداً على المسلمين.

فشرع شهر العبادة من صوم وصلاة وزكاة وإطعام المساكين وإعتكاف وغيرها من أعمال الخير ليسهل إلتماس الليلة العظمى في العام:

إنا أنزلناه في ليلة القدر، وما أدرىٰك ما ليلة القدر؟ ليلة القدر خير من ألف شهر، تنزّل الملائكة والروح فيها بإذن ربهم من كل أمر، سلام هي حتى مطلع الفجر.

ومعنى «خير من ألف شهر» يعنى: «خير من الدهر كله» كما ذكره الإمام القرطبي في تفسيره. فإن وجدت ليلة القدر، فكأنما خرجت من حدود الزمان ولمست قدسية الدهر وذقت معنى الخلود في جنات النعيم.

اللهم بارك لنا في شهرنا و أيامنا وليالينا، آمين.

APPENDIX: A GLIMPSE OF SOME OF THE VIEWS ABOUT THE DATE OF LQ, TO SHOW THE IMMENSE DIVERSITY ABOUT THIS IN THE ISLAMIC TRADITION

NB: where “[odd nights of the] last 10” is mentioned, even this was disagreed about, e.g.: Ibn Hazm stated that if the month has 30 days, then these odd nights are 21, 23, 25, 27 & 29 but if the month has 29 days, then the last 10 nights are nights 20-29 and hence the odd nights are 20, 22, 24, 26 & 28! This was another argument for seeking LQ in all of the last 10 nights, because in the past, we were unable to know for sure in advance how many days the month would have.

IBN KATHIR

Hadith (Tayalisi): 27 or 29

Hadith (Ahmad): LQ in last 10, odd nights: 29 or 27 or 25 or 23 or the last night of the month.  The hadith has other details.  IK: the isnad is hasan, but the matn has strange, weak content (gharabah) and in some versions, rejected (nakarah) content or meaning.

Hadith (Ibn Abi Asim): LQ in last 10.

Hadith (Ahmad): Seek it in the first 10 or last 10 … Seek it in the last 10 … Seek it in the last 7.

Narration: from Ibn Mas’ood and those who followed him of the people of knowledge of Kufa that it is found throughout the year, and is hoped for in every month equally. (IK disagrees with this view)  Ibn Mas’ood used to say, “If you stand in prayer at night all year long, you will find LQ.”

Hadith (Abu Dawud): LQ may be throughout R.

Narration: from Abu Hanifa: LQ is hoped for throughout R.  This is also a view quoted by Ghazzali [i.e. in the Shafi’i madhhab? – UH] Rafi’i declared this to be an extremely strange view.

LQ is the 1st night of R: Abu Razin.

LQ is 17th R, because it was the night before the Battle of Badr, described as being on the “Day of Decision” (Yawm al-Furqan) in the Qur’an, hence it relates to LQ as the night of decision, decree and destiny: narrated from the Prophet, Ibn Mas’ood, Zayd bin Arqam, ‘Uthman bin Abil-‘Aas, Imam Shafi’i & Hasan Basri.

LQ is 19th R: narrated from ‘Ali & Ibn Mas’ood.

LQ is 21st R: Hadith of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri in Bukhari & Muslim.  Imam Shafi’i said that this was the most authentic narration on the subject.

LQ is 23rd R: Hadith of Abdullah bin Anees in Sahih Muslim – it is a very similar narration to the previous hadith (21 R).

LQ is 24th R: Hadith of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri in Tayalisi. IK: the narrators are trustworthy.  Also narrated as a hadith by Bilal, but a weak isnad. Also contradicted by the next consideration:

LQ is in the first 7 of the last 10 nights: more authentic view of Bilal rA, narrated by Bukhari.  Also narrated as the view of Ibn Mas’ood, Ibn Abbas, Jabir, Hasan, Qatadah & Ibn Wahb, and from the Prophet by Wathilah bin al-Asqa’.

LQ is 25th R: based on the hadith of Bukhari from Ibn Abbas from the Prophet: Seek it in the last 10 nights: in the 9 remaining, 7 remaining, 5 remaining.

IK: Most people of knowledge understood this to mean the odd nights, but others understood it to mean the even nights, e.g. Abu Sa’id (Sahih Muslim). IK: Allah knows best.

LQ is 27th R: narrated from the Prophet, several Companions, a group of the Salaf, the preferred view in the madhhab of Imam Ahmad and quoted also from Imam Abu Hanifa.

LQ is the 7th of last 10 (i.e. 27) or with 7 remaining (i.e. 22 or 23): narrated from Ibn Abbas.

LQ is 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 or last night of the month: Hadith of Imam Ahmad.

LQ is 27 or 29: Hadith of Imam Ahmad.

LQ is the last night of R: Hadith of Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i.

 

 

UK Ramadan fasting times for 2020

April 26, 2020

ASTRONOMICAL DATA FOR RAMADAN 2020


– by Imam Dr Usama Hasan, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

 

Ramadan & Eid Dates 2020-2025 (approx.)

Based on Crescent Moon Visibility data for London from HMNAO’s Websurf 2.0 website

(Moon Visibility is estimated on a scale of A-F. The following dates are based on the approximation that A-C represent a visible crescent moon; D-F represent an invisible moon.)

YEAR Beginning of Ramadan (+/- 1 day) Eid al-Fitr
(+/- 2 days)
2020 25 April 25 May
2021 14 April 14 May
2022 03 April 02 May
2023 23 March 22 April
2024 12 March 10 April
 2025 02 March 31 March

 

Examples of dawn/sunset timings for the UK (four UK capital cities), 2020

Dates used are: 25th April (~1st Ramadan), 9th May (~15th Ramadan) & 23rd May (~29th Ramadan)

Date City Dawn
(18°)
Dawn (15°) Dawn (12°) Sunrise
(SR)
Sunset
(SS)
Fasting length (18°) Fasting length (15°) Fasting length (12°) Fasting length SR-SS
25 April London 03:23 03:53 04:19 05:43 20:15 16:52 16:22 15:56 14:32  
9 May   02:32 03:12 03:44 05:18 20:37 18:05 17:25 16:53 15:19  
23 May   *** 02:31 03:13 04:58 20:58 *** 18:27 17:45 16:00  
25 April Edin-burgh 02:45 03:28 04:03 05:42 20:41 17:56 17:13 16:38 14:59  
9 May   *** 02:23 03:15 05:11 21:09 *** 18:46 17:54 15:58  
23 May   *** *** 02:19 04:46 21:34 *** *** 19:15 16:48  
25 April Cardiff 03:35 04:05 04:31 05:56 20:27 16:52 16:22 15:56 14:31  
9 May   02:44 03:24 03:57 05:30 20:50 18:06 17:26 16:53 15:20  
23 May   *** 02:43 03:25 05:10 21:10 *** 18:27 17:45 16:00  
25 April Belfast 03:15 03:52 04:23 05:57 20:47 17:32 16:55 16:24 14:50  
9 May   *** 02:58 03:40 05:28 21:13 *** 18:15 17:33 15:45  
23 May   *** *** 02:57 05:05 21:37 *** *** 18:40 16:32  

 

 

KEY:

18° refers to astronomical twilight, which begins or ends when the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon

15° refers to when the sun is 15 degrees below the horizon

12° refers to nautical twilight, which begins or ends when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon

The astronomical definition of “dawn” is disputed, with various Muslim religious authorities adopting one of the three possible definitions given above.

*** in the above table means that the timing is not available, because the sun does not reach that far below the horizon. This happens every year during the summer at high latitudes, such as the UK.

 

NOTES:

  1. We must emphasise that the actual dates of the beginning of Ramadan and Eid, given above, are subject to vary by one or two days, within Muslim communities in the UK, due to different community approaches to determining these dates.
  2. If we use 18° astronomical twilight (Sun’s depression = 18 degrees) as the start of dawn, the fasting start time and fasting length are undefined for most of Ramadan 2020 in Edinburgh & Belfast. They are defined for most of the month, except towards its end, in Cardiff & London, where the fasting length is around 17-18 hours.
  3. If we use 15° (Sun’s depression = 15 degrees) as the start of dawn, the fasting start time and fasting length are undefined for most of Ramadan 2020 in Edinburgh & Belfast, except towards its end, where the fasting length is 17-19 hours. However, dawn does occur throughout the month in both London and Cardiff, giving fasting lengths of 16.5-18.5 hours.
  4. If we use 12° nautical twilight (Sun’s depression = 12 degrees) as the start of dawn, this results in fasting hours during Ramadan 2020 in London and Cardiff of 16-18 hours, in Belfast of 16.5-18.5 hours, and in Edinburgh of 16.5-19 hours.
  5. If we use Sunrise as the start of fasting, this results in fasting hours during Ramadan 2020 in London and Cardiff of 14.5-16 hours, in Belfast of 15-16.5 hours, and in Edinburgh of 15-17 hours.

The HMNAO data portal is: http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/ – please note that there is no www. prefixing this resource address.

Taqiyyah Sunrise: Shining Light on Contemporary Deception

December 22, 2019

 

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

Let not the Believers

Take for friends or helpers

Unbelievers rather than Believers:

If any do that, in nothing will there be help

From Allah: except by way of precaution,

That ye may guard yourselves from them.

[Qur’an, The Family of Imran (Amram), 3:28 – Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation]

There has been some discussion over the past few weeks over the uses and misuses of the term taqiyyah within Islamic jurisprudence. This article seeks to clarify the origins, meaning, and application of the concept of taqiyyah. In doing so, my purpose is to minimise its use, as part of a hostile narrative which paints Muslims are religiously-obligated liars.

I also attempt to explain the damage which the malicious misuse of that term inflicts on British Muslims.

The context of the verse quoted above is the melodramatic battle between the Meccan Unbelievers and Medinan Believers that took place in the earliest days of Islam. The Arabic for “precaution” is tuqaah, an alternative version of which is taqiyyah. As a footnote, as advanced students of Qur’anic studies will know, there are 20 equally-valid recitations of the Qur’an from a basic text that had no vowels or diacritical marks: two of these versions read taqiyyah, whilst the rest read it as the synonymous tuqaah.

The main meaning of the verse is very simple and rather obvious: in times of conflict, one may protect oneself from one’s enemy by apparently ingratiating oneself with them means of dissimulation. This was particularly important for the Muslims persecuted in Mecca, and explains why Ibn Kathir, the 14th-century Qur’anic scholar of Damascus, related it explicitly to the following one:

Anyone who, after accepting Faith in Allah,

Utters unbelief – except under compulsion,

His heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as

Open their breast to Unbelief – on them is Wrath from Allah,

And theirs will be a dreadful penalty.

[Qur’an, The Honey-Bee, 16:106]

That passage makes it clear that the exception to the basic moral obligation to tell the truth about one’s religious faith applies only in circumstances of compulsion. This was not a purely hypothetical situation in the first days of Islam. Many of the Prophet’s early followers were forced, under pain of death, to practice taqiyyah, although some of them notably preferred to express their faith and achieve martyrdom. The above verse was revealed to the Prophet regarding the case of Ammar, son of Yasir and Sumayyah, all of whom were slaves owned by Meccan polytheists. Yasir and Sumayyah were both killed by their owners for rejecting polytheism and embracing monotheism: Sumayyah, a woman, was the first martyr of Islam. But Ammar wasn’t quite as strong as his parents, and was given permission to hide his monotheistic faith by outwardly professing polytheism.

Throughout Islamic history, therefore, persecuted people often had to resort to taqiyyah. The most famous examples of these originate in the experience of the Shia minority, who were often oppressed by Sunni rulers: although this situation was sometimes reversed in regional variations. Muslims persecuted during the Crusades, Reconquista and Spanish Inquisition also applied the principle of taqiyyah for self-preservation.

The principle of taqiyyah is, as you might expect, not limited to Islam: faced with severe persecution or death, and especially in war, most moral and religious codes permit dissimulation. “War is deception” is a principle found across many cultures, from Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War onwards. A takfiri jihadist, particularly one who had been caught and imprisoned while engaged in terrorism, might well believe that he was being persecuted, or was at war, and therefore was permitted to engage in religiously sanctioned dishonesty. It is not objectionable to point that out. However, many of the most deadly forms of incitement and stereotyping often take the form of distortion and misapplication.

To take a parallel example, the Hebrew term “hasbara”, which means “explaining” or “diplomacy” is commonly deployed by antisemites to suggest that Jews customarily engage in insincere propagandistic deception, and so should never be believed. There is a significant difference between observing, on the one hand, that a particular statement from a named Israeli government minister is propaganda, and suggesting that everything that Jews say can be dismissed as lies, on the other.

In a similar manner, it has become a common trope of anti-Muslim hatred, in particular by the far-right, to accuse all Muslims of taqiyyah. It is an accusation that is obviously impossible to rebut in the eyes of the haters, because no matter what Muslims may say or do, they may be practising taqiyyah!

That the alt-right and far-right peddle conspiracy theories involving taqiyyah is not surprising. But it is disappointing that The Times of London, one of the most important newspapers in the world, should publish Melanie Phillips saying so.

Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist and often appears on the BBC in its TV and radio programmes such as Question Time and The Moral Maze. She also writes for the Jewish Chronicle. In her article, “Islamists are not the same as other prisoners,” (The Times, 3 December 2019) she claims that “taqiyya, the command to deceive for Islam … is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practises it.” Her authority? A minor Lebanese academic who is a member of the relatively heterodox Druze sect. This is a bit like deploying Neturei Karta against mainstream Jewish sects, or quoting a Jehovah’s Witness as an authority on the doctrinal content of post-Nicene Christianity.

There is value in deepening our collective understanding of the commonalities between the approaches Abrahamic faiths: a task which I, a priest and a rabbi attempt to undertake in our book: People of the Book: How Jews, Christians and Muslims understand their Sacred Scriptures. Jewish and Islamic jurisprudence have many similarities, and an analogous principle to taqiyyah is found in Judaism: Rabbi Michael C. Hilton writes, “Melanie Phillips should know that there are important Jewish precedents for hiding your beliefs in a situation of persecution.”

And Rabbi Mark Solomon of London writes,

“I teach about taqiya in the context of medieval philosophers (like Maimonides) using taqiya to obscure their most radical ideas behind a screen of orthodoxy, but to accuse all Muslims of it is deception of a different order.”

Ironically, the vast majority of Muslims, 80% of whom are non-Arab, are probably unaware of this obscure concept that is mentioned only once in the entire Qur’an. To give an example, Osama Filali-Naji, founder of the Arab Millenials network, comments:

Interestingly, growing up as a Sunni Muslim, I never heard of the concept. The first I learned of it was from islamophobes who claimed I was practising taqiyyah. Ultimate paranoia!

It is true that hardened islamist terrorists, such as the Al-Qaeda & ISIS supporter Usman Khan who murdered two people at Fishmongers’ Hall, do misuse the principle of taqiyyah in order to further their cause. However, the charge that all Muslims are generally religiously obligated to lie, and do so routinely, is both dangerous and untrue. Moreover, it is dehumanising. It suggests that deception is in our nature, and that we are not to be trusted. At secondary school in North London in the 1980s, I learned in history classes that the Nazis had compared Jews to rats in cinema films. In 2013, at the Museum of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University, I remember my horror in viewing the Nazi footage that painted Jews as a plague on humanity. We understand, from the experience of too many persecuted minorities throughout the world, the deadly consequences of years of the steady, drip-drip effect of demonisation.

This is not a new complaint: just over a decade ago, Ed Husain warned of such use of the taqiyyah trope by the same writer. More recently, the Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, TellMAMA and Dr Hisham Hellyer have raised similar concerns.

I cannot overstate how damaging the charge that Muslims are directed by their religion to lie has been. It is impossible for us to “prove ourselves” against the backdrop of this pernicious accusation of taqiyyah and consequent implication that Muslims can never be trusted. The Times, the JC, the Spectator, and the BBC should be ashamed of promoting someone who has made this charge against us for so many years.

Seventeen years ago, the New Statesman published an issue with a front cover which referred to a “Kosher Conspiracy”. The language of that headline invoked ancient accusations that Jews were conspiring to control the government. The subsequent reputational damage to that magazine, and to its then editor Peter Wilby, was significant.

The Times should learn the lessons of that episode. It is outrageous that a respected national newspaper should render the tropes of anti-Muslim hatred mainstream in this manner.


(Imam Dr) Usama Hasan

London, UK

22nd December, 2019

This article is slightly modified from the version published by the Jewish Chronicle on 19/12/19.  The main modification is the addition of several hyperlinks, plus a couple of other edits.  In particular, the taqiyyah reading is found in 1/10 qira’ats (Ya’qub al-Hadrami only), equating to 2/20 riwayats (Rawh & Ruways from Ya’qub), and not 1/20 as I incorrectly stated in the JC version.

Modern Islamic Warfare Ethics

November 10, 2019

Modern Islamic Warfare Ethics

[Bismillah.  Part of the conclusion to Usama Hasan & Salah al-Ansari’s Tackling Terror: A Rebuttal of ISIS’ Fiqh al-Dima’  or Jurisprudence of Blood (Quilliam, 2018), consisting of 13 aspects of modern, Islamic warfare ethics as discussed by 20th-21st century Muslim jurists.]

During the course of this study, we have been able to demonstrate that ISIS’ warfare ethics are often medieval. We have also countered their positions by pointing out the balanced positions of mainstream scholars that effectively constitute modern Islamic warfare ethics. We summarise those here, as a positive alternative to ISIS’ medieval barbarism.

1.  Warfare can only be waged legitimately by modern nation-states.

2.  Peace is the default, basic norm governing international relations.

3.  War is only permitted for self-defence or to remove persecution in accordance with international law, not to coerce others into Islam.

4.  Suicide is prohibited, according to Islamic ethics. Suicide attacks are unethical, inhuman and un-Islamic.

5.  Islamic warfare ethics have always distinguished between combatants and non-combatants. Modern interpretations agree with the Geneva Conventions on legitimate targets in warfare.

6.  Weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and “scorched earth” operations including the killing of animals, are prohibited by Islamic warfare ethics.

7.  The kidnapping of civilians is not permitted in Islam and contravenes basic human rights and the Geneva Conventions, to which Muslim-majority states have generally signed up.

8.  Mutilation and decapitations (beheading) are prohibited; this prohibition of mutilation also includes the harvesting of organs for sale or trafficking.

9.  In a nation-state where the citizens are equal before the law, the army is composed of personnel whose loyalty to one another lies not in their religious affiliation but in their shared sense of obligation and citizenship.

10.  There is no harm in any state recruiting anyone who is eligible to work in the army; and, moreover, that no impediments should be made because of a citizen’s religious beliefs. Equally, there is no harm in a state going into an alliance with foreign forces if it is believed that this will achieve the best interests of their nation.

11.  There is great similarity between modern Islamic morality and humanitarian international law. The two moral frameworks agree that espionage is a punishable crime but that the punishment varies from one country to another. International law gives a special status to combatant spies. According to The Hague Regulations (1899), Article 31 provides that: a spy who, after re-joining the army to which he belongs, is subsequently captured by the enemy, is treated as a prisoner of war. Moreover, they are to incur no further punishment for their previous acts of espionage. This is consistent with the modern adapted principles of the sharia.

12.  The Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war (POWs) are in harmony with the Islamic tradition of warfare ethics.

13.  Military retreat, surrender and other strategies are acceptable, depending on pragmatism; there is no religious requirement to “fight to the death.”

TEN TRUTHS ABOUT JIHAD

November 10, 2019

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

 

TEN TRUTHS ABOUT JIHAD

 

Bismillah. During the Islamic lunar month of Rabi’ al-Awwal [originally, the “first month of spring”], when the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born and died, thus fulfilling an ancient Jewish or Israelite prophecy about the Prophets being born and dying on the same date, thus completing a cosmic cycle, I am moved to republish this article that I wrote in 2017, since the Prophet and his name continues to be praised and vilified around the world.  I suggest that it may be useful as a basis for Friday sermons (Jumu’ah / Jumma khutbahs) about Jihad, for those who agree with this content.

Within those last two years, some more things have happened:

(1) I was reminded that there are narrations in the Sirah tradition saying that the Prophet’s birth name was not Muhammad, but Qutham, and that Muhammad (“The Oft-Praised One”) was a title given to him later.  If these are true, then “Muhammad” would be much like “Christ” or “Buddha,” i.e. a title originally, not a name, although of course many titles become names later, and vice-versa, as with Caesar.

(2) Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson recommended to me the book by Juan Cole, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires (Hachette USA, 2018).  I’ve read a few chapters, and it is a very interesting read.  And it tends to confirm my own conclusions that I wrote on 1st August 2017 for the Muslim Reform Movement, and that are republished here as: Ten Truths About Jihad.  In particular, see the quote from Ibn Sa’d via Ibn al-Qayyim on the context of Qur’an, Repentance, 9:29, that appears to be the most militant verse in the Qur’an, but the context again suggests a meaning of self-defence!

(3) A modified version of this article was included by me and my friend, Sheikh Dr Salah al-Ansari al-Azhari in our Tackling Terror (Quilliam, 2018), a rebuttal of ISIS’ Fiqh al-Dima’ or Jurisprudence of Blood.

(4) I also discussed some of this with Prof. Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Dr. George Chryssides in our chapter on “War and Peace” in our People of the Book – How Jews, Christians and Muslims Understand Their Sacred Scriptures (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018)

But here we are, back to my original article [with a few additions in square brackets]:

 

TEN TRUTHS ABOUT JIHAD

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

[Note: the Meccan period of the Prophet’s mission represented peaceful preaching under persecution; the Medinan period represented city-state-power and included war. Hence the reference to Meccan & Medinan verses, to understand context.]

 

  1. THE ESSENTIAL QUR’ANIC TEACHING ABOUT JIHAD IS THAT IT IS A LIFELONG, NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE FOR GOODNESS, JUSTICE AND TRUTH AGAINST EVIL, INJUSTICE AND FALSEHOOD

The essential Qur’anic teaching about Jihad is that it is a non-violent struggle for goodness of all kinds, and against evil of all types.  This is clear from the following Meccan verses of the Qur’an:

“Struggle in God, as the struggle (jihad) deserves …” (Pilgrimage 22:78); and

“Obey not the concealers (of truth), and struggle against them with it (the Qur’an): a great struggle (jihad).” (The Criterion 25:52)

 

  1. DURING HIS 13 YEARS’ MISSION IN MECCA, THE PROPHET AND HIS FOLLOWERS WERE SUBJECTED TO PERSECUTION, BUT WERE ORDERED TO REMAIN PATIENT & NONVIOLENT

This is clear from verses such as the following:

“Withhold your hands (from violence in self-defence): establish prayer and give in charity” (Women 4:77)

Note that during this time, the Prophet’s followers were persecuted, tortured and killed. He himself was the subject of assassination attempts and plots (Spoils of War 8:30), but the Muslim response remained peaceful and nonviolent.

 

  1. DURING THE PROPHET’S 10-YEAR MISSION IN MEDINA, MILITARY JIHAD IN SELF-DEFENCE WAS EVENTUALLY PERMITTED

This is clear from Medinan verses such as the following:

“Permission has been given to those who were fought (to fight back), because they have been oppressed … those who were unjustly expelled from their homes, only for saying: ‘Our Lord is God’.” (Pilgrimage 22:39-40)

“Fight, in the way of God, those who fight you, and transgress not: truly, God does not love transgressors.” (The Heifer 2:190)

 

  1. MILITARY JIHAD MAY ONLY BE DECLARED BY A LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY

An example of such an authority was the Prophet Muhammad, undisputed leader of the city-state of Medina – see the Medina Charter, an agreement between the Prophet and the non-Muslim, largely Jewish, tribes of Medina, for clauses relating to mutual defence of Medina against external aggression.

Several Qur’anic verses that speak of fighting and concluding peace are addressed in the singular to the Prophet, e.g. Women 4:84 and Spoils of War 8:61. This is because only he, as the legitimate ruler of the city-state of Medina, had the authority to declare a state of war or peace.

Throughout the centuries of Islamic jurisprudence on warfare ethics, the jurists have agreed that only a legitimate authority can declare a state of war or military jihad. In modern times, this means that only legitimate states have the authority to declare a state of war or military jihad: vigilante or non-state actors such as terrorist groups have no Islamic authority whatsoever to issue a call to arms in the name of jihad. This is why we stated in the Muslim Reform Movement Declaration that “we reject violent jihad.” [i.e. by non-state actors]

 

  1. EVEN THE MOST APPARENTLY-BELLIGERENT VERSES ABOUT JIHAD ARE IN SELF-DEFENCE

For example, the eighth and ninth surahs or chapters of the Qur’an, al-Anfal (Spoils of War) and al-Tawbah (Repentance):

In Surah al-Anfal, the command to “Prepare against them your strength to the utmost …” is followed by the exhortation to accept overtures of peace from the enemy: “If they incline towards peace, then also incline towards it, and trust in God.” (Spoils of War 8:60-61)

Thus, the preparation of utmost strength is largely a deterrent, to encourage any enemies to sue for peace.

In Surah al-Tawbah, the command to “Fight them: God will punish them at your hands …” was preceded by the cause: “They violated their oaths and … attacked you first.” (Repentance, 9:12-15)

Thus, as in The Heifer 2:190 and Pilgrimage 22:39, fighting was ordered in self-defence. Note that in the Medinan era, the pagan, polytheistic Meccan armies attacked the Muslims in Medina several times, aiming to wipe the latter out, e.g. at the Battles of Uhud and the Trench. Thus, the Prophet and the Muslims in Medina were utterly justified in waging military jihad to protect themselves. The numerous Qur’anic verses dealing with military jihad against the Meccan polytheists must be understood in this context.

Finally, the verse of jizya (Repentance 9:29) was revealed when the Byzantines and their allies under Emperor Heraclius threatened the northern regions of Islamic Arabia from Syria, resulting in the Tabuk expedition that ended without any fighting.[1]

The jizya protection- and poll-tax, the name itself deriving from Persian [according to a narration by Imam al-Qurtubi under 9:29], was always a political tax, not religious. This is evident in the fact that some Islamic jurists later advised Muslims under the Reconquista in Andalusia to pay jizya to their Christian conquerors. Furthermore, the Ottoman Caliph abolished the jizya and the associated category of dhimma in the mid-19th century CE, with the agreement of his most senior Islamic scholars, recognising that it was no longer relevant to the modern world of the time.[2]

Thus, although early Muslim armies did take part in expansionist campaigns, at least partly motivated by the war strategem that ‘Offence is the best form of defence’, Muslim authorities, both political and religious, have recognised for at least two centuries that this kind of military jihad has no place in the modern world that is governed by treaties, peace agreements and international collaboration.

 

  1. MILITARY JIHAD WAS ALSO LEGISLATED TO PROTECT & PROMOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

This is clear from the following Qur’anic verse:

“Permission has been given to those who were fought (to fight back), because they have been oppressed … those who were unjustly expelled from their homes, only for saying: ‘Our Lord is God’.

And were God not to check some people by means of others, then monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God’s name is mentioned often, would surely be demolished.” (Pilgrimage 22:39-40)

Thus, military Jihad was also legislated to protect the religious freedom of Muslims, Jews and Christians, according to the explicit text of the Qur’an. Muhammad bin Qasim, the 8th-century CE Muslim commander who first brought Islam to India, extended this religious protection to Zoroastrian and Hindu temples.[3]

Note that this religious protection also originally extended to the idolatrous polytheists of Mecca and Medina – the latter were included in the Medina Charter, and both were covered by the Qur’anic dictum, “To you, your religion: to me, my religion.” (The Concealers of Truth, 109:6) It was only when the Meccan polytheists refused to be peaceful and violently persecuted the Muslims, attempting genocide, that they were fought. Even then, the Hudaybiya peace treaty was concluded with them later.

 

  1. MILITARY JIHAD WAS ALWAYS CONDITIONED BY STRONG ETHICAL RESTRICTIONS

Numerous hadiths speak of the obligation of avoiding the killing of women, children, old people, peasants, monks and others in war – in the 7th-century CE, these were advanced, civilised teachings. Further hadiths forbid the chopping down of trees, burning of orchards or poisoning wells or other water supplies as part of war tactics. These teachings may be seen as Islamic forerunners of modern warfare ethics, such as the Geneva Conventions, that are also Islamic in spirit and must be seen as binding upon Muslims worldwide.

The 12th-13th century CE Andalusian philosopher and jurist, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), in his short ‘Book of Jihad’, part of his Bidayat al-Mujtahid (available in English as ‘The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer‘), discusses ten issues related to the philosophy and ethics of war or military jihad. Thus, Islam has a long tradition of warfare ethics.

 

  1. TO REITERATE, JIHAD IS A STRUGGLE FOR GOOD AGAINST EVIL

This may take many forms: jihad bil-mal is charitable spending; jihad bil-lisan is speaking truth or goodness against evil and injustice. Thus, all forms of social, intellectual and political struggle with noble aims are a type of jihad, in traditional Islamic terminology.  An example of this is the hadith or Prophet’s teaching, “The best jihad is to speak a word of truth before a tyrant ruler.”

However, this teaching does not privilege so-called ‘Islamic political parties’ or islamist groups that wrongly claim to monopolise interpretations of Islam in the social and political realms.

Jihad is a universal struggle for good against evil. The verse, “Struggle in God, as the struggle (jihad) deserves …” (Pilgrimage 22:78) also includes the teachings, “… This is the path of your father Abraham … Establish prayer, give charity and hold to God: He is your Protector  …”

 

  1. THE OUTER JIHAD IS ALWAYS UNDERPINNED BY INNER JIHAD

Inner jihad or jihad al-nafs (struggle against the self’s base desires) has always been understood as a prerequisite for taking part in the outer jihad, or struggle for goodness and truth in the world.

This is reflected in the Qur’anic promise of heaven to whoever fears standing before God and “forbids their self from base desires” (The Snatchers 79:40-41). Furthermore, a hadith states, “The true mujahid (holy warrior) is the one who struggles against their own self for the sake of God.”

Ibrahim bin Abi Ablah, an early ascetic of Islam, once remarked after a military expedition, “We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad,” i.e. from the lesser, military jihad to the greater jihad of lifelong struggle against evil. This teaching was also attributed to the Prophet himself and widely favoured by the Sufis, who were keen to preserve the spiritual dimensions of Islam during the early centuries of astonishing Islamic military conquests and worldly success. [Although many Hadith scholars did not accept this as a saying of the Prophet, they accepted its meaning, since it came from someone regarded as a holy main or saint (wali). Such scholars include Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani.]

 

  1. JIHAD TODAY

As shown above, Islamic teachings about jihad are essentially spiritual and non-violent. All charitable efforts or struggles by Muslims today for goodness, truth and justice against evil and injustice may be termed jihad. For example, the Prophet termed “struggling to help widows and orphans” and “struggling to serve elderly parents” as types of jihad. [Sound hadiths of Bukhari & Muslim, etc.]

Armed or military jihad is the strict preserve of legitimate authority such as modern nation-states engaging in ethical warfare: this is why the Muslim Reform Movement firmly rejects ‘violent jihad’ carried out by non-state actors or vigilante groups such as terrorist organisations.

What we really need is a jihad for universal human rights, dignity, equality, peace and justice, tempered by the mercy and compassion that are the essential spirit of Islam and the Qur’an.

 

Imam Dr Usama Hasan (briefly an armed mujahid alongside the anti-communist mujahideen in Afghanistan, 1990-1)

London, UK, 1st August 2017

Modified & republished: 10th November 2019 / 12th Rabi’ al-Awwal 1441

 

NOTES:

 

[1] Ibn Sa’d said, “It reached the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, that the Romans [Byzantines] had gathered large multitudes in Syria, and that Heraclius had prepared provision for his men for a year. He had brought with him the tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan. They had sent an advance party to al-Balqa’.” – cf. Ibn al-Qayyim, Zad al-Ma’ad, Al-Matba’ah al-Misriyyah wa Maktabatuha, n.d., vol. 3, p. 2

[2] cf. Usama Hasan, From Dhimmitude to Democracy, Quilliam, 2015

[3] Al-Baladhuri, as quoted by Ihsanoglu. cf. Usama Hasan, From Dhimmitude to Democracy, Quilliam, 2015, p. 26