Monday, 5 February 2018

Characteristics of Hudud, The Islamic Criminal Law/sharia

By: Hafiz Firdaus Abdullah1
N.B: Please comment if you discovered any error in translation !
 
Hudud is one of the important rulings in Islamic shari’ah. It must be uphold and carried out to whatever extent is possible in all Muslim countries, and Muslims must be at peace with it.
I believe the statement above is a known fact to all Muslims. However, the real picture of hudud is still vague to them. 

 Through this article, I will try to explain the basics of hudud in a brief and simple manner. I will emphasize on the characteristics of hudud, so that Muslims and non-Muslims will be able to know and understand it better. At the same time, I will try to add or squeeze in a few explanations about a few baffling aspects of hudud that are usually misunderstood. 

Simply, hudud is executing a sentence to a crime where its form and amount has been stated by Allah in the Qur’an and Rasulullah in the hadith, where the type of crime and ways to prove it has also been fixed by Allah and Rasulullah.Crimes that fall into the category of hudud are apostasy, premarital sex, adultery, sex with the same gender (gays and lesbians) and stealing.
In Islamic fiqh, the sentence to a crime is divided into three categories:
  1. Hudud, as mentioned above.
  2. Qishash, which is a sentence that is the same as the crime committed. Qishash typically refers to a crime that is committed on the human soul and body. If someone injured the hand of another, then the qishash ruling would be injuring the hand of the offender also. However, the one injured has the choice to either carry out the verdict, ask for monetary compensation, or forgive the one who inflicted the injury.
  3. Takzir, which is a sentence to a crime where its form or amount is not stated by Allah or Rasulullah. Sometimes the form and amount is stated, but it is not fixed. Amendments can be made by the judge base on factors of the crime and the criminal, case to case. Takzir is also used for crimes not mentioned by Allah and Rasulullah, or for hudud crimes that are proven in a different way. For example, proving a rape case using a DNA test or proving a swindling case by balancing the companies account.
Characteristics of hudud.
Now I will lay down the basic characteristics of Hudud.

Hudud’s nature is to deter.
The main objective of hudud is not to punish, but to deter man from committing crime. To achieve this objective, hudud is daunting and intimidating, so that man will be frightened of the crime and will stay away from it. This is mentioned by Allah: “These are the limits (hudud) set by Allah, so near them not.” [Surah al-Baqarah, verse 187]
Therefore, if some say that hudud is harsh, then we respond by saying: “True!” To this answer, one must add the explanation that the main objective in hudud is not to punish, but to restrain and deter man from committing crime and offence. 

Hudud does not fall upon those who are insane, ignorant and confused.
Once a Muslim man went to see the Rasulullah in a mosque and said: “O Rasulullah! I have committed adultery.” Rasulullah turned away from the man until the man confessed four times. Then the Prophet called him and asked: “Are you mad?” The man replied: “No.” “Are you married?” The man replied: “Yes.” The Prophet then said: “Take him and stone him.” [Shahih al-Bukhari, hadith no: 6815]
In another narration, Rasulullah asked: “Maybe you just kissed or touched or looked?” [Shahih al-Bukhari, hadith no: 6824]
Based on the questions that Rasulullah asked, it is clear that the mental status of the person must be determined first. Then, verify if the person really knows what is meant by adultery, in order to avoid any confusion.
Based on the questions, it can be concluded that a person who commits a crime when he himself cannot control his own mind, he is exempted from hudud. Other examples besides this are ignorance, confused, young age (children) and asleep.
It is mentioned in some narrations that ‘Umar al-Khatab, the second caliph of Islam did not sentence hudud law on those who committed adultery or premarital sex, because of their ignorance of the crime. 

Hudud ruling only falls on offences done publicly.
Rasulullah said: “Do not come near evil that has been forbidden by Allah, who so ever has, then he should conceal it with Allah’s veil and repent to Allah. This is because whoever does evil in the open and we came to know about it, we will sentence punishment that has been stated by Allah.” [al-Mustadrak of al-Hakim, hadith no: 7615 and it is graded shahih by him and agreed by al-Zahabi]
Besides that, together we should know that in order to sentence hudud, the accuser (plaintiff) must bring forth the number of witnesses required. If the requirements for the witness are not fulfilled, then the accuser himself will be punished. This is, again, to demonstrate that hudud sentences only fall on crimes done publicly and that there are people witnessing it.
Furthermore, by referring to the hadith about how Rasulullah turned away four times from the man who came and confessed to adultery, it can be concluded that sinning is something that has happened in Rasulullah’s time but he did not attempt to spy or scrutinize those who were suspected of it. This is parallel with what he said: “A leader, if he spies for the faults of his people, it would mean that he is destroying them”. [Sunan Abu Daud, hadith no: 4889 and graded shahih by al-Albani]
Rasulullah turned away from the man showing that he does not like to hear confessions of those who commit adultery. In other words, something that has occurred in privacy let it remain hidden. Rasulullah said: “......whoever who has done it, he should conceal it with Allah’s veil.....” It is not encouraged for those who commit offences to go and admit it to the authorities. Instead he should repent, as stated in the continuation of the above mentioned hadith: “..... he should conceal it with Allah’s veil and repent to Allah.”
Back to the case of the man who confessed to adultery to the Prophet, it is said that while being stoned, he ran away because he could not stand the pain. One of the companions of the Prophet chased him and hit him to death using a camel bone. When this event was told to the Prophet, he said: “Why did you not leave the man, maybe he has repent and Allah accepted his repentance.” [Sunan Abu Daud, hadith no: 4419 and graded hasan by al-Albani]
Whoever knows of a crime, he is not encouraged to go and report it to the authorities. Instead, he should go and give advice and counsel those who commit the crime. Rasulullah said: “Whoever covers (a crime) of a Muslim then Allah will cover him in this world and the hereafter.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, hadith no: 2078 and graded shahih by al-Albani]
The Prophet also said: “Forgive hudud crime that has happened between you because if the hudud crime reaches me, is a must for it to be punished.” [Sunan Abu Daud, hadith no: 4376 and graded shahih by al-Albani]
In another narration he said: “Who so ever commits the sins (syirk, stealing and adultery) and is punished for it, then the punishment nullifies the sins for them. And who so ever commits the sins and Allah covers it, then it depends on Allah to pardon them or punish them.” [Shahih al-Bukhari, hadith no: 6784]
To pardon or to punish? Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful would pardon them. The following hadith explains: “Who so ever sins in this world by committing sin and is punished for it, then Allah is Most Just from multiplying the punishment on His servants. And who so ever sins in this world and Allah conceals it, then Allah is Most Noble from inflicting punishment on something that He has pardoned.”[Musnad Ahmad, hadith no: 775 and graded hasan by Syu‘aib al-Arna’uth]

The accused is allowed to defend himself
Rasulullah once said: “Verily, I am only a man. If you bring to me your cases, it could be that one among you can defend himself better than the rest, until I give a decision based on what I have heard. Whoever that (I gave the wrong verdict) till I gave to him what really belongs to another, then do not take it, for what you are taking is a part of the fire of hell.” [Shahih al-Bukhari, hadith no: 7169]
The above-mentioned hadith explains that the accused can defend himself by testifying. Maybe he’s ignorant, maybe he’s confused, maybe he stole because of certain dire circumstances, maybe he killed as an act of self defence and maybe the witnesses are purposely plotting against him and so on. Also based on this hadith emerge defence attorneys, where those accused and do not know how to defend themselves can ask someone else to do so. 

Punishment is only sentenced on the accused if there is no doubts
In a hadith it is narrated: “Avoid from giving hudud ruling as far as you can avoid it.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, hadith no: 2545] It is also said: “Impel hudud law that is based on doubts.” [Bulugh al-Maram, hadith no: 1047]
These hadith is famous among the companions of the Prophet that al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said in his work Talkish al-Habir, takhrej no: 1755: “It has been narrated by more than one companions (of the Prophet)...”
Even though the degree of the above hadiths is week, its meaning is true and the Muslim scholars have collectively agreed that hudud punishment is not given if the case is vague and doubtful. Imam Ibn al-Munzir said: “The scholars have collectively agreed that hudud law is not accepted based on doubts.” [Stated by ‘Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman al-Bassam in Taudih al-Ahkam min Bulugh al-Maram, volume 6, page 247.]
This characteristic has been taken by the conventional judicial system of today, where the plaintiff must prove without any doubts that the accused is guilty. Whereas the defender must prove that the evidence is vague and doubtful. If doubts still exist in any of the sides, sentence does not fall on the accused. 

Hudud punishment is physical
The biggest difference between hudud punishment and conventional punishment is that hudud punishment is physical, like whipping, cutting of the hand, exile and death. While in conventional punishment, the criminal usually gets sentenced to prison. Sometimes whipping or strokes of rotan is added to the prison sentence, but it is not usual. The big difference between these two styles of punishment is:
  1. Physical punishment really gives a big impact and influence on the criminal, whereas prison just eases and comforts them. A criminal would be happy to enter prison, for he obtains shelter and a place to live in, clothes, food and prison mates to socialize with. This is all one big luxury compared to physical punishment.
Furthermore, I once read in a report that some prisoners, once they finish their sentence in prison, commit other crimes as soon as possible so that they can go to prison again. This is because outside prison, he does not have a house to live in, no toilets, no food, no clothes and no one to socialize and make friends with. He is much better of living in prison. That is why to make him eligible for prison, he commits new crime.

  1. Physical punishment does not require much cost. The person who whips or cut of hands requires only a small payment or maybe none at all. This is far different from the prison system. I once read in a local newspaper that the cost for maintaining prisons and prisoners is a few million ringgits.
  2. Physical punishment really terrifies people and this helps in deterring them from committing an offence or crime. Prison is not scary at all, in fact it’s as I mentioned above, and in a way it invites people to commit crime.
Based on this, if a new crime or offence is committed that has not been mentioned by Allah or Rasulullah 1400 years ago, the punishment that will be given would be in the form of physical punishment as well.
Some mock and taunt saying that physical punishment is barbaric. We answer: “Yes! It is.” But imagine if you or someone you love is a victim of a crime. You will definitely agree to the physical punishment and not send the criminal on a ‘holiday’ in prison.
The punishment is lessened for the weak
Even though hudud is physical, it does not mean that it is the same for all humanity who have different physical capabilities. The elderly for example will have a lesser form of punishment. During the time of Rasulullah, there was once a small and weak man who committed adultery. When the case was brought to Rasulullah, he ordered the man to be whipped a hundred times. To this decision, the companions said:
“O Rasulullah! Verily, this man is very weak to be given such a punishment, for if we were to whip him a hundred times, we would kill him.” The Prophet answered: “Take a date branch that has 100 stalks on it and whip him only once with it. After that free him.” [Musnad Ahmad, hadith no: 21935 and graded shahih by Syu‘aib al-Arna’uth]
As it can be seen, physical punishment is only lessened based on the person’s physical capabilities. Factors such as ranks, lineage or wealth cannot be used to reduce a hudud ruling. Again during the time of the Prophet, it was asked that someone caught stealing is lessened the punishment. To this request Rasulullah answered:
“Verily the people before you were destroyed for doing hudud on the poor and excluding the nobles. For my soul in His hands, if Fathimah (the daughter of the Prophet) committed the same crime (stealing), her hand will be cut of too.” [Shahih al-Bukhari, hadith no: 6787]
Anti-hudud group vs Hududiyyah
When we talk about hudud, normally we will encounter two different groups of people:
The first is the Anti-hudud Group. They are those who do not understand hudud and so reject it. To them, if hudud is carried out in a country, many of the citizens will be seen walking around with missing hands and scarred backs.
The second group is the Hududiyyah. They are those who do not understand hudud, but want it carried out very much. To them, an Islamic country is a country where its main responsibility is to cut off the hands of thieves and whip adulterous people.
If both groups are given good explanations about hudud and its characteristics, they will definitely change their views and stand regarding hudud. In hudud, justice and blessings that is the basis of Islam can clearly be seen. A country that carries out hudud, will be peaceful, just and blessed. Peaceful because hudud means to deter people from committing crimes and so the rate of crimes will fall. Just and blessed because hudud first observes the reason for the crime and the condition of the person when committing the crime.
Hudud if compared to conventional punishment used nowadays, has many similarities. The main difference is only in the form of punishment, for hudud carries out physical punishment and conventional methods imprison people. When I emphasize on the similarity, I do not mean that Muslims should think that conventional punishment is enough and be happy with it. But what I am highlighting is:
  1. Conventional judicial system used nowadays that is considered modern and updated, is actually taken from the Islamic system. Imagine when man 1400 years ago lived in ignorant times and dark ages, Islam has put down the basis for the punishment of a crime. Therefore it is oppression on oneself when the Muslims community do not follow hudud and instead take the conventional ways, which is plagiarized from Islamic heritage.
  2. Those who choose conventional punishment, they actually do not understand hudud. Furthermore, they have are petrified of it due to the Hududiyyah group. With good explanations by us, who understand, they will slowly change their perspective on hudud and will support it.
Through this short and simple article, let us become those who understand hudud and its characteristics. Take this article as a beginning for us to learn more about hudud. The motive for this should be true justice and blessing of all mankind, not for certain religion or political parties. If you find in you, characteristics of the Anti-hudud group or the Hududdiyyah, then let us together try to change and correct ourselves.

1 Originally writen in Bahasa Malaysia, translated by Aliah bt Abdul Rahman (aar_aliahar@yahoo.com) and Rowina Lynne Murray bt. Jeffery Murray (rowinalynne@yahoo.com). Edited by Mohd. Khairul b. Mohamed (khairul@microlink.com.my).
 

The truth about Hudud/sharia punishments

Extract from Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy 
by Jonathan A.C. Brown

In the Shariah, offenses were divided into those against God and those against man. Crimes against God violated His Hudud, or ‘boundaries,’ and were offenses whose punishments were specified by the Qur’an and, in some cases, the Hadiths, such as the punishment of certain kinds of theft by amputating a hand, punishing adultery by stoning and sexual slander by lashing.
Because these offenses were affronts against a merciful God, the evidentiary standards were often impossibly high (such as the four witnesses to sexual penetration required to prove adultery). Moreover, the Prophet ordered Muslim judges to ward off the Hudud [punishments] by ambiguities.’ The severe Hudud punishments were meant to convey the gravity of those offenses against God and to deter, not to be carried out. If a thief refused to confess, or if a confessed adulterer retracted his confession, the Hudud punishments would be waived.
This did not entail that the culprit escaped justice. Circumstantial evidence, such as a witness to the theft or finding the stolen good in the thief’s possession, could lead the judge to find him guilty of wrongful appropriation (ghasb). The wronged party could reclaim their possession or receive compensation for its value plus damages entailed. This coexistence of two legal wrongs identical in fact but subject to two very different standards of evidence and punishment is analogous to the relationship between the crime of theft and the tort of conversion in common law. While the first requires evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and can be punished with prison, the second only needs a preponderance of evidence and carries monetary damages. In cases that fell below the Hudud category in the Shariah, judges regularly assigned lesser punishments such as a beating, prison or public humiliation.
Shariah judges did not perceive applying lighter punishments as compensation for a design flaw in God’s law. Rather, they felt they were obeying the Prophet’s infallible command to find some means to move a crime from the harsh realm of the Hudud to the lower level of offenses that a judge could punish at his discretion. This was a priority for the ulama.
In fifteenth-century Cairo, when the Mamluk sultan’s men caught a royal administrator ’embracing’ a mistress, and the couple confessed to fornicating, the sultan himself took an interest in the impending execution. When the couple then retracted their confession, the senior Shariah judge in Cairo was sent into exile for insisting – correctly, other ulama affirmed – that the, couple’s sentence had to be commuted and that ‘whoever executes them should be executed in turn.’

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Why hudood and sharia are too harsh ?

By Ibn ‘Ashur (d. 1973)
Translated by Mohamed El-Tahir El-Mesawi

Thus, the aim of the Sharī’ah with regard to the legislation of fixed penalties (Ḥudūd), just retribution (Qiṣāṣ), discretionary penalties (ta’zīr) and injury compensation (urūsh al-jināyāt) is to achieve the following three objectives:
  1. To reform the criminal
  2. To satisfy the victim
  3. To deter the imitator of criminals
(1) The first objective, that is, reformation, refers to the highest objective of the Sharī’ah, which is bringing reform (iṣlāḥ) to every aspect of the daily lives of individuals comprising a society. This we discussed in chapter 12 on the all-purpose principle of Islamic legislation. Thus, God says: “Now as for the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off the hand of each of them in requital for what they have done, as a deterrent ordained by God: for God is Almighty, Wise” (5:38). Punishing the criminal aims at removing from his soul the evil that incites him to commit crime. This evil mostly becomes more deeply rooted in the criminal when the idea of committing a crime is translated into practice. That is why God has followed the implementation of the ḥadd with the phrase: “But as for him who repents after having thus done wrong, and makes amends, behold, God will accept his repentance” (5:39).
Ḥudūd constitute the maximum possible sentences, for they have been instituted for the most serious crimes. By intensifying these prescribed penalties, the aim of the Sharī’ah is to deter people and remove evil from the offender. Accordingly, when it is proven that a crime has been committed by mistake, the ḥadd punishment is waived. Similarly, if there is the slightest doubt or uncertainty (shubuhah) that could be used in favor of the offender, then the matter is considered on the same level as a mistake, in the sense that Sharī’ah do not apply. Furthermore, if it is revealed that the unintentional offense has been committed owing to extreme negligence to take the necessary precautions, the negligent person shall receive the appropriate disciplinary treatment.

(2) When seeking satisfaction for the victim, we must remember that it is part of human nature to harbor rancor against aggressors and anger against those who wrong us in error. These feelings often push people to take vengeance against their aggressors in a way that always transgresses the bounds of justice. This is because vengeance bursts out of a passionate anger that usually affects people’s rational thinking and blinds them to the light of justice. Thus, when the victim or his relatives and defenders (awliyā’) are capable of retaliating, they will soon do so; otherwise, they will conceal their wrath, thus awaiting the first opportunity for revenge. It is against this that God has cautioned us by saying: “but even so, let him not exceed the bounds of equity in [retributive] killing” (17:33). Under these circumstances, revenge and crime will never end and the social order of the community will never settle on peace and stability. Therefore, it has been the purpose of the Sharī’ah to undertake the task of satisfying the victim and putting an end to the age-old practice of vengeance and counter-vengeance. Hence, the Prophet said during the Farewell Pilgrimage (Ḥajjat al-Wadā‘) “Abolished are also the blood-feuds of the period of pagan ignorance (Jāhiliyyah).”
Likewise, the purpose of giving the victim fair satisfaction takes into account the inclination for revenge that is rooted in human nature. Accordingly, the Sharī’ah has given the relatives of a murder victim (qatīl) the right of guiding the convicted offender (qātil), under the supervision of the judge, by a rope in his hand to the place where just retribution will be inflicted on him, which is known as qawad (retaliation). This is meant to satisfy them to the same extent if they were to take justice into their own hands.
The satisfaction of the victim is more important in the Sharī’ah than the reformation of the offender. Therefore, it carries greater weight when it is not possible to achieve both at the same time. An example is qiṣāṣ, where the reformation of the criminal cannot be achieved, so priority is given to the satisfaction of the victim or his relatives. For this, there is no point in the well-known disagreement amongst the scholars over the question of consent by the heirs entitled to exact qiṣāṣ (awliyā’ al-dam) to a pardon and blood money instead of inflicting retaliation, if the offender’s wealth is sufficient for that. In this respect, Ashhab’s view that the murderer must be forced to pay the blood money is more tenable, contrary to Ibn al-Qāsim’s opinion. That is why they agreed that if some of the relatives of the victim forgive the offender, qiṣāṣ is then cancelled. These factors, of course, do not apply to killing in brigandage (ḥirābah) and assassination (ghīlah), as we shall point out shortly.

(3) The third purpose, deterring imitators, is implied by God’s saying in the Qur’an: “As for the adulteress and adulterer – flog each of them with a hundred stripes, and let not compassion for them keep you from [carrying out] this law of God, if you [truly] believe in God and the Last Day; and let a group of the believers witness their chastisement” (24:2). Thus, Ibn al-‘Arabī said in his book Aḥkām al-Qur’an: “The real interpretation of this is that the execution of the ḥadd deters the one on whom it is implemented, and those who attend and witness it will learn a lesson from it and be deterred by it. Its story will then be on everybody’s lips, thus warning those who come after.”
It thus reverts to the purpose of reforming the community as a whole. This is because the execution of punishment according to established rules discourages perverse people and criminals from satisfying their devilish desires by committing crimes. Likewise, anything that acts as a deterrent constitutes a punishment. However, deterring the general public [other than the offender] must not transgress the limits of justice. Therefore, it has been an aspect of the wisdom of the Sharī’ahthat has laid down the punishment of the offender as a deterrent to others without violating justice. Hence, the Sharī’ah policy in instituting ḥudūd, qiṣāṣ and other types of penalties is meant to deter people from taking criminals as models.

Nevertheless, a pardon (‘afw) by the victim under certain circumstances does not defeat the purpose of deterrence, for it only rarely happens, and therefore it cannot be taken as the main reason for the offender to commit a crime. Consequently, we find that the Sharī’ah does not take into consideration forgiveness in the crimes that do not affect the right of a specific party, such as theft, the consumption of intoxicants, and adultery, because these offences are a violation of the very essence of legislation itself, and so too is brigandage (ḥirābah). As for assassination, no pardon by the relatives of the victim is accepted, owing to its hideousness. However, the repentance of the brigand (muḥārib) before his arrest has been accepted out of concern for peace and security and as a means of encouraging his companions to follow his good example.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Why does Allah need our worship?

The answer to this question is given in the verse: Worship your Lord, Who created you and those who came before you, that ye may guard (against evil).

There is an outcome of worship: Attaining the degree of guarding (taqwa). Man attains the degree of taqwa, that is, he attains the degree of fearing of Allah, abstaining from his prohibitions, keeping away from what He has forbidden. It means, the benefits of worship pertain to man.

People, who do not attain this degree, spend their lives in sins, disobedience, polytheism and ingratitude. They lead men to go to Hell.


Then, the degree of taqwa, is the position of abstaining from Hell and from every kind of evil that leads to it. Abstaining from Hell leads man to Paradise. It is we who are in the need of Paradise and who will benefit from the boundless bounties there. Then, how can we ask such a question!?

Surah al-Ikhlas teaches us that Allah is the Eternally Besought One. Eternally Besought One means Everything needs Him, but He needs nothing.

In the uterus, feet have been attached to us so that we can walk here. Stomach has been attached to us so that we can be nourished by nutrients. Eyes have been attached to us so that we can see things. It is we who are in need of all of these things. Why should Allah need to bestow on us such bounties!? If we fulfill our duty of giving thanks to Allah through worship, we will go to the land of the thankful ones, Paradise. There, it is again we who will taste the physical and spiritual bounties in such an ultimate degree that the bounties of this world will be in the degree of a shadow in comparison to the bounties there.

Then, in both worlds, we are needy and we are the consumers. Why should Allah need to grant us the bounties of Paradise? Why is such a question asked?!

Another aspect of the issue:

In The Signs of Miraculousness (İşarat-ül İcaz), the following is expressed: What expands that exalted spirit of man is worship. What develops his aptitudes is worship. What broadens his ideas and takes them under arrangement is worship

Every sound mind accepts without any doubt that the expansion and progression of mans spirit is for man himself. Thus, man will be able to benefit more from Paradise that he will attain in the future. Paradise is similar to this world in one aspect. Trees, animals and also men have come to this world. They all benefit from here; but each of them benefit according to its disposition and abilities. That is, just coming to the world is not enough. The way to benefit completely from this world is to be able to enter it with exalted abilities and faculties. The benefits of each person from this world are not the same. The believing servants will enter Paradise by the favor of Allah, but their benefiting degrees from the bounties there will be in comparison with their worship and sincerity.

Worship also has a curative aspect besides its progressive aspect:

Man can avoid from every kinds of evils from makrooh (abominable) acts that turn the stomach, to haram (illicit) acts that poison only through worship. How can a person protecting his heart, spirit and all his faculties from mistakes and wrongs by such a divine treatment ask such a question about worship!?

God Almighty has no need of your worship, nor indeed of anything else. It is you who needs to worship, for in truth you are sick If someone who is ill responds to a compassionate doctor who insists on his taking medicines that are beneficial for his condition by saying: What need do you have of it that you are insisting in this way?, You can understand how absurd it would be. ( Flashes) (Lemalar)

Author:
http://questionsonislam.com/article/why-does-allah-need-our-worship
 

Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
 
Allah says in the Qur'an: "The creation of the Heavens and the Earth is indeed greater then the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not."
All praise is due to Allah. May His prayers and blessings be upon his Last Messenger and on all those who follow the path of righteousness until the Last Day.
Not just Muslims, but every single human being has to answer the most fundamental question at some point in his or her lifetime:
"Why was I created? Why am I here? What am I doing in this world? Why did God create me?"
These questions are questions which each and everyone of us reflects on at some point during their life. We have some answers, which are given generally but usually these answers don't satisfy us - seeming somewhat simplistic. So, we still wonder: "Why me? Why here?" I know all of you (Muslims), are saying, "To worship Allah, khallas (finish). What more is there to say? Why do we need to have a big long talk on why we were created when we all know it is to worship Allah?!"
But wait. If this is presented to a non-Muslim, the next logical question would be, "Why does Allah want us to worship Him?" Then your stuck, which can only mean that in our own minds it is not really clear. Why did Allah create us to worship Him?
Addressing the question, "Why did Allah create us?", we have to understand how to deal with those people we live with (in the West). Those who don't consider there to be any purpose in man's creation, firmly believing that they are just a product of evolution and that the forces of nature. Just as we don't have apes, dogs or cows thinking about why they are here, then we also don't have to think about it either. Following from this belief being the basis of the philosophy of Western society (that man is without purpose), the whole issue of government, morality, etc. has no basis for them in Revelation. The product of this attitude is, of course, the corruption that we are living in.
When a Muslim addresses this topic, we have to find our understanding from Divine Revelation and not human speculation. Because human speculation has no bounds; we can imagine all kinds of things and if any of you has studied philosophy of religion, you will know how many opinions there are about the creation of man and existence. Because of the variety of philosophies which are out there, no one can say this one is correct or that one is incorrect, because there is no guidance behind it. No Divine Revelation. It is only from Divine Revelation that we can determine the reality of our creation, because it is Allah who has created us and so He knows the purpose of our creation. We can hardly understand it ourselves, much less trying to understand the essence of things. So it is for Allah to inform us through the revelation in the Qur'an and the sunnah (the Prophetic traditions) which were brought to us by His Last Messenger and the Messengers before him.
Now if we are to look initially into revelation, to determine why was man created, there is a deeper question that we should be asking before that: "Why did God create?" This before we even get to man because man is not the greatest act of creation. Allah says:
"The creation of the Heavens and the Earth is indeed greater then the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind know not."
Al-Qur'an 40:57
Man is not the greatest act of creation, this universe is far more complex and far more magnificent than man. So the issue of creation should then go to, "Why did God create?", as opposed to simply, "Why create man?"
Fundamentally, we can say that the creation is the natural consequence of the attribute of creator. Allah is the creator. That is one of his attributes. That is what he has informed us. That being his attribute, the creator, the natural consequence or the product of this attribute is his creation.
A painter, if we are to draw a similitude on a lower level, who tells you that he is a painter, if you ask him where are his paintings and he replies I don't have any. What kind of painter is this? The concept of a painter who doesn't paint, there is some thing not quite gelling together here, of course Allah is beyond this. But if we are to understand on the simplest level, the two go together. The perfection of a painter lies in his paintings. His quality and his ability to paint, is manifest in his paintings. And Allah, beyond all that, as creator, this quality of creation is manifest in the creation itself. Allah didn't create out of a need. No, the fact that he is the creator, is manifest in the creation.
Furthermore, consider the act of creation, this act, with regards to Allah is unique. Though we use the term i.e. So and so created a table etc, actually it is in a limited sense. Human beings don't really create, they manipulate, because they can only "create" what already exists. When we make a chair or a table, we didn't create the wood, we had to take it from a tree, we didn't create the metal, which makes the screws etc, we had to melt down rocks and take the metal out. So we are not creating from nothing. We are manipulating things which Allah has already created in to different shapes and forms which are useful to us. We call it "creation" but the real act of creation, is creation from nothing, and this is unique to Allah alone.
This is a concept, which many people in ignorance, because they couldn't grasp the idea of creation from nothingness, it lead them to conclude that the world is Allah. Those who say "inside of each and every atom is Allah." And you have people, who call themselves Muslims saying this. Non-Muslims have said this before and there are Muslims who claim this. That Allah is inside each and everything, because Allah is the reality and everything else is fake in their interpretation. That means then, that the creation is Allah, and Allah is the creation. Very, very dangerous concept, which leads some of those who make this claim to say that you don't have to worship outside of yourself. Ibn Arabi, was famous for this statement, he is considered to be one of the saints, amongst the so called Sufi religion. Ibn Arabi said, "There is no need to worship one outside yourself, you are Allah. It is sufficient to worship yourself." This is shirk.
This concept of Allah being within his creation, no distinction the creation and Allah, it leads them to this shirk. Because they are unable to accept the uniqueness of Allah's creation, they compare the act of creation by Allah to human creation. That is, just as we manipulate, Allah took pieces of himself and made the earth and the universe. Others will say that all human beings have inside of themselves Allah, that there is a part of Allah inside each and everyone of us. The whole essence, the purpose of life is for us to realize that we have part of Allah inside of ourselves, remove the material blocks which keep us from Allah and again become one with Allah in what they call "fana". This is again a teaching of the Sufi religion.
Becoming one with Allah, returning back to Allah in this sense. But this is in fact part of the teachings of shirk. Shaytan (Satan) has deluded man into this imagination. It is part of the belief of the Hindus. Nirvana, the concept that when you die, you are reborn again, and you move up in stages, each time, if you are a good boy or good girl, you go up higher and higher, until you get to the top. You know you have reached the peak, because when you die the next time you become one with the universal soul, Nirvana. That is the end of rebirth. So your whole purpose is to return and become one with God again. This is all, as I said, a product of the inability to understand the concept of creation from nothingness, which is unique to Allah. Allah says:
"There is nothing like him, and he is the hearer and seer of all."
So when we try to interpret Allah's creation like the way we create, then we have made Him like his creation and it leads us ultimately to those aspects of shirk which I have mentioned. This is quite common amongst the Muslim world today, because when you look into the various branches of the Sufi religion, where they have prescribed various acts of purification, they call it dhikr, exercises to torture the body through spinning and dancing. What is the purpose of this? They will tell you, to liberate the soul from this earthly body and to achieve that state of "fana" or "i'tihad", a variety of names they have for it.
It is this concept, which lead al-Hallaj, many centuries ago, when he was promoting this idea, and he was put before a panel of judges questioning these concepts, which he was expressing. When they asked him to recant, to take this stuff back, he stood up, opened up his cloak and said "There is nothing inside this cloak except Allah". So they executed him. And of course, those in the Sufi religion, they have stories that when they cut his head off, it rolled around saying "Allah, Allah, Allahu Akbar etc". It might have, that is Shaytan may have entered and said these things, as happened with the calf of the Isrealites, when the Prophet Musa (Moses) let Egypt and the people, after crossing the red sea, had a desire to have a god that they could see, so they made a golden calf which they began to worship. This calf was saying "moo" like the calves do. This is what convinced them that this was the real thing. We know it wasn't the calf saying this. The evil jinn can enter the in to physical entities, make sounds and give these impressions. So there is no problem for us to say ok, maybe when they cut of al-Hallaj's head that it said these things, because this was part of a test. If we are clear in terms of creator and creation, this is no problem for us.
Allah is the creator and everything besides Him is His creation, which He created from nothing. It is not Him, nor is He it. This is the pure concept as taught by the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, his companions, and the early generations of righteous scholars, the students of the companions and those who came after them. The best of generations. That is how they understood this matter. There was no confusion in their minds. It wasn't until Islam spread to areas like Egypt, India and Persia, areas where the Christians had already gotten into deep philosophies, trying to explain how Jesus was a man and god at the same time. When they came in to Islam they brought it with them. This is the reality. It is not something we should necessarily condemn them for or feel is unusual. It is natural, when a person reverts to Islam, that they will carry with them what they believed before. What has been clarified for them, of the basic principles, they accept, and they reject things, which obviously contradict. But it doesn't mean that every last thought that they have, and everything that was wrong in their philosophies, ideology and concepts will be erased. They will carry these things in with them. This is why in the later part of the Prophet's sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam life, prior to his death, when he was coming back from one of the battles, his companions asked him to set aside a tree for them, that they could hang their weapons on, like the way the pagans would hang their weapons on trees, believing that when they hung the weapons, it became super-powerful, as if some power was coming from the tree, that their shields would now block steel and their swords would cut through the enemy. Some of the companions who had newly accepted Islam, asked the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam to designate one for them, a special one, an Islamic one. They understood that what the pagans had, this was wrong. These were the companions of the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam and he had to clarify it for them. He said:
"You are like the companions of Musa who asked to have the calf built."
And he clarified for them that all of this is shirk and there is no place for it in Islam. So if it could happen to some of the companions, then we cannot blame the generations who have come after them, who come into Islam and carry with them some of their old ideas. What it is for us to do is to clarify.
So what we have in front of us then, is that Allah created this universe out of nothing, and everything that is in it was created. For example:
"Allah created all things, and he is the agent, upon which, all things depend."
Al-Qur'an 39:62
This is the reality. This is stressed for us, in order for us to realize that ultimately, all good, all evil, that takes place in the world, only takes place by the permission of Allah. Therefore we should not seek any other channels to protect ourselves from evil, or to gather for ourselves good, as people commonly do today. They will go to fortunetellers, this is big business today, all the magazines have various forms of fortunetellers like dial a horoscope etc. in a society that has lost touch with Allah, this is what is open to them. Allah has stressed for us that no calamity will befall us except by Allah's permission:
"Nothing is taking place in this world except by the permission of Allah."
And the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam further emphasized this principle by saying:
"If the whole of mankind gathered to do some thing to help us, they could not help in anything which Allah had not already written for us. And if the whole of mankind gathered together to harm us, then they would not be able to harm with anything which Allah had not already written for us."
Therefore what is required of us is to depend on Allah, put our trust in Allah. This is what we have to draw out of this attribute of Allah being the creator. This creation exists because of that attribute. Its practical significance to us lies in putting our trust in Allah.
There is another aspect, besides the fact that the creation exists because Allah is the creator. We can also see from what the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam has informed us, that in the creation there is manifestation of Allah's attributes of mercy, forgiveness, kindness etc etc. Allah created man in paradise, they disobeyed Allah, but Allah had taught them how to repent, how to turn back to him and seek his forgiveness, then he would forgive them. Having done that, they were forgiven, Adam became the first prophet, and mankind was absolved of that sin. The story of Adam and Eve is the story of human existence. Human beings are given a consciousness of Allah. When Allah created all human beings, as he states in the Qur'an, he took from Adam all of his descendents, and made them all bear witness that Allah is their Lord. So we are all born with that consciousness. He has also given us a consciousness of what is right and what is wrong.
"We have inspired each and every soul to an awareness of corruption and righteousness."
Allah gave revelation through his commandments, not to eat of the tree. However, human beings forget. And when they forget Allah then they fall into sin. We can absolve ourselves of that sin by means of repentance, and Allah forgives us when we repent sincerely. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"The one who repents is like the one without sin."
"If you did not commit sins and turn to Allah seeking his forgiveness, then he would replace you with another people who would sin, ask Allah's forgiveness and he would forgive them."
So in our sinning and asking Allah's forgiveness, the attribute of Allah's mercy and forgiveness becomes manifest. Allah knew what we were going to do before he created us, he knew that he was creating a species who would sin. If he didn't wan t them to sin, if it was not his intention to permit them to sin, then he could have created angels, more angels. But the had already created angels, so he chose to create a being, that would disobey his commandments through forgetfulness or just simple disobedience, but would turn back to him in repentance, and his attribute of forgiveness would become manifest. Similarly, his mercy.
The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam is quoted as saying that when Allah created the universe, He made an obligation on Himself, recorded in a document, kept by Him, that "My mercy precedes my wrath." He sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam also was reported as saying:
"Allah created mercy with a hundred parts. One of which was sent down upon the jinn and human beings and other living creatures. It is out of this one part that they love each other, show kindness to one another, and even the animals treat their offspring with affection. Allah has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts for his true worshippers on the Day of Judgment."
This is the mercy of Allah manifest in his creation. What is also manifest in creation, in the act of creation, the creation of man, is his attribute of justice, fairness, which comes out as the judgment at the end of this world. I am sure we have all read the ahadith in which the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Allah created some people for hell and some people for paradise."
For a lot of people, this is something very heavy. And the companions, they asked the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam then what is the point in doing good deeds? If Allah created some for heaven and some for hell then what is the pin in doing anything? It has already been decided. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said:
"Each one of you will find it easy to do what he was created for."
So if you choose the evil way, you find it easy and you carry on in that way, then that was what you were created for. But ultimately it is your choice. You choose hell. The fact hat Allah has recorded, before anything was created, who would be in hell and who would be in heaven does not change the fact that it is we who choose. The judgment is only to manifest to those who go to hell, that they deserve to be in hell. It is only for them basically. Because if Allah created you, and put you in paradise, with all that is in paradise, and you see those people in hell suffering, are you going to ask Allah, why did you put me in paradise? No, you're going to say "all praise be to Allah!", you don't want to question or to wonder, all you will be is ecstatic that you are of those in paradise. So the judgment is not for you, it is for those who are going to hell. If you happen to be amongst those who were created for and put in hell, you would say, why me? Why did you put me in hell? And Allah would say because you would have done so and so in your life. But you would say no, no I wouldn't. If you give me a chance I would do good deeds. You would not give up arguing.
So Allah has allowed us to live out our lives. So when we stand before him, our book of deeds is spread before us, we know without a shadow of a doubt, that we chose hell. That Allah's judgment is just. There is no injustice in it, in any way shape or form. Allah says he oppresses no one. We will know that we chose hell.
And the only thing that remains for us, and I pray that it is not in fact us, who are going to hell, is to beg Allah for another chance. Allah says:
"If you could only see when the sinners will bow their heads before their lord, saying; O Lord, we have now seen and heard, so send us back and we will do righteous deeds. Verily, we now believe with certainty."
This is the only response, which will be left for them. Or as Allah said:
"And those whose light scales of good deeds, they ruined themselves and they will be in hell eternally. The fire will burn their faces, and they will grin with disfigured lips, I will say to them; Were My Verses not recited to you, and you rejected them? They will reply; Our Lord, our misery overcame us and we were a people astray. Our Lord, bring us out of this, and if we ever return we will truly be unjust."
When we die, there remains behind us a barrier, the barzakh, none of us will come back, it is a one-way ticket. Those poor individuals who think they will get another chance, this is the new age religion, they think it is new, but it is just plain old Hindu delusion, that when you die, you get another chance to come back again. The effects of this actually, among Hindus, where I am in the UAE, there are a lot of Hindus here, everyday in the news paper you read about a Hindu man or woman who ties a rope to a ceiling fan, which is found in many of the homes, put it around their neck, kicked away the chair and passed out of this world. Suicide is common amongst them. Why? Because they think they have another chance. It will be a rude awakening for them when they meet the angel of death and find themselves in the next life, realizing that there is no coming back.
In the creation of man is manifest the grace of Allah. This is a particular point which all of us should reflect on and be thankful to Allah for. His grace, and Christians, they like to refer to us Muslims as those who don't believe in the grace of God, we are those who look at God's judgment and it is just about deeds, you do good then you go to heaven, you do bad and you go to hell, that is it, no grace there at all. For them the grace of God is there for all those who accept that he became a man, and was crucified by man, to provide salvation for human beings who's sins had become so great that they could not remove that sin through any act themselves. So it was with the spilling of the "Blood of God" that we could be absolved of our sins. For them, if you accept that God spilt his blood for mankind's salvation, then you have earned the grace of God. Does not matter what you do as long as you have accepted this belief in the grace of God.
Muslims also believe in the grace of God. Actually it plays a major and significant role. Often it is not stressed but it is important for us to realize how the grace of Allah is manifest in our creation. The Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Observe moderation, but if you fail, try to do as much as you can moderately and be happy. For none of you will enter Paradise only because of his deeds." Of course when the companions heard that they said, "O Messenger of Allah, not even you?" And the Prophet sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Not even me. Were it not that Allah wrapped me in his mercy. And bear in mind that the deed most loved by Allah is one done constantly even if it is small."
What does this mean? It means that God's grace is manifest in our lives in that were He to call us to account, one good deed, one evil deed, equal to each other, then we would not enter paradise, not even the prophets of Allah. But Allah through his grace and mercy has multiplied the value of the good deeds. Allah says:
"Whoever brings a good deed, shall the value of ten like it. And whoever brings an evil deed will be punished with one like it. And they will not be wronged."
Al-Qur'an 3:160
This is Allah's grace. Good deeds erase evil deeds. One good deed will erase at least ten evil deeds. Allah's grace is not arbitrary, simply because you say I believe you have his grace, no matter what you do, no. The more good you do, the more of his grace is manifest in you. If you chose evil and reject the good, then you don't receive His grace, it doesn't matter what you say. If you say, I am a Muslim, I believe, but really you don't believe, it is just some words you are saying, them you will not be subject to the grace of Allah.
So the creation is a manifestation of Allah's attribute of being the creator. In the creation of man within the scheme of things, there is manifest Allah's attribute of mercy, his attribute of justice and this is the reason for the creation of man from the point of view of Allah. From human perspective, why did God create man in terms of for what purpose? Then this is the one we all know and are familiar with:
"We did not create the jinn and men except to worship us."
Al-Qur'an 51:56
So relative to Allah, we were created in a means or a way in which Allah has chosen to manifest his attributes of creation, mercy, grace etc and he could have chosen another one. But relative to us as human beings, we know that our purpose is to worship Allah. As we said, Allah does not need our worship, a Allah didn't need to create. When he created us to worship him, he didn't create us, out of a need for our worship, because Allah has no needs. In a famous hadith qudsi in which Allah says:
"If all of you, jinn and mankind, were to worship like the most righteous amongst you, it would not increase the dominion of Allah in any way shape or form. And if all of us, jinn and mankind ... "
Therefore when we look for the purpose of worship, we have to look into man. Allah created us to worship him, because we need to worship him. It is something he has given us as a means of benefiting ourselves. We are the ones who benefit from it. Worship has been established, fundamentally for the growth, the spiritual growth of man. This growth takes place through the remembrance of Allah. When you look at all the different aspects of worship, you will see the core of it is focused on the remembrance of Allah.
"Establish the prayer for My remembrance."
This is the essence for the consciousness of God. Allah says that he has:
" ... prescribed for us fasting, as he prescribed it for those before us, so that we may fear him."
Worship is there for us to remember Allah. And it is in the remembrance of Allah, that we achieve that consciousness. Because it is when we forget Allah, that Shaytan causes us to disobey Allah and fall into sin. So it is only in His remembrance that we can attain salvation. All of the various acts of worship from saying "Bismillah" when we eat is to help us remember Allah in order to grow spiritually.
Allah has said that he has created us to test us, to see which of us is best in deeds. He is not testing us to know, in the sense that he doesn't already know, but this world is a test for us in order again that we can grow spiritually.
We cannot develop this spiritual characteristic of generosity unless some of us have more then others and then we are required to give of the wealth we have. When we give, we grow. Similarly, if we were not in a position where others had more then us then we wouldn't have the ability to develop the higher spiritual quality of contentment, patience, satisfaction in what Allah has given us.
So it is all there in order to bring out the higher spiritual qualities, which enable us to attain the state, which makes us suitable and eligible to return to paradise. The paradise from which we were created, we were created in paradise and for paradise. Through our choices we have left, in this life, a field of testing, where we can grow to a state where we deserve paradise.
The purpose of this life is the worship of Allah, this life is a test. A test for us, will we worship Allah, or will we forget Him. This is where our focus has to begin.
 From a part of a lecture delivered on the Priorities of a Muslim Today
 
 
 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Collection of the Quran - Dr. Joseph. Lumbard

How was the Quran first put together? How did it come assume the form in which we have it today? In this video, Dr. Lumbard discusses the understanding of the collection of the Quran in Islamic sources. This video goes up until the death of the Prophet (SAWS) in 632. Part II focuses upon the collection of the Quran after the death of the Prophet and the creation of the first official collection of the Quran.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4QBuV_IGQI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp2kYT1cAcI

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Why did God/Allah create the foreskin which we are ordered to cut ?

This is an extract from an unpublished work called Sources of Spring, in which there was a dialogue between Sheikh Muhammad Amin Sheiko 1890-1964 and Sir John G Bennet.

Sheikh Muhammad Amin Sheiko answered:
It is well known that the human body consists of flesh, bones and nerves. It is also known that the nervous person`s body does not grow well healthy, and he always remains thin, even if he eats such a lot of food, and increases the number of daily diets.
The embryo in the female`s womb remains in a critical stage in the nine months, because it is in the critical vital forming stage. Since the skin of the penis is a gathering place of very sensitive nerves, it is affected by any friction which causes a general alertness of the nerves in the whole body.
As the place of the embryo in the womb is narrow, to suit the embryo`s size, the embryo is always bent and turned up and its movement increases in the last months. This movement excites the nerves of the skin of the penis, thus the growth of the embryo is hampered because the movements destroy the cells, or leads to a weakness in growth.
So this skin protects this sensitive area from being affected by any shock which causes friction when the embryo moves in the womb, and by that the body attains its safety and perfection.
Exactly as a thermos keeps its contents isolated from the outer factors.
After birth, he enters a new type of life different from his previous one. He is now stretched and there is no friction with the nerves of the skin of the penis. This skin becomes extra and it should be cut because it exists in a glandular area where infection can take place and where dirt and germs may gather under the skin causing acute dermatitis, and infection.
God created the foreskin when the embryo was in the womb of its mother because this organ which Almighty God has made, as an exit for the urine, has made it also, because of its other function composed of a tissue of nervous tissue interconnected deliberately.
Since the end of this organ which is called a skin is very sensitive. If it was exposed to a friction with anything, then that friction will lead to a nervous stress leading to a general stress in the nervous system. It is taken for granted that this stress and sensation will result in a decrease in growth.
Because of that, it is necessary, for the growth of the embryo in his mother`s womb and its completeness, to have a membrane which prevents the head of that organ from what might be in touch or in friction with during the consecutive movement of the embryo in his mother`s womb.
Thus growth is natural and the embryo is born with sound health and body.
Let us now speak about circumcision after birth: 
When the embryo is born and his body`s systems begin to function and the urinary passage begins to do its task, there may be some mold scratch or pathological symptoms, therefore, God the Almighty orders circumcision to protect the body from such troubles.
Therefore, the existence of the skin is necessary for the embryo while it is in its mother`s womb, It denotes the perfection of creation and the marvelous divine discipline. It’s cutting after birth and existing in life is necessary and a mercy from God to man.
Pages 66-70 ,75-76