Archive for Great Scholars of Islam

I Want this new CD Set by Shaykh Hamza!

I see that Shaykh Hamza has a new release out on Alhambra Productions. It’s a 15 disc series.

I can’t wait to have the money to be able to get it inshAllah.

Here is what they say about it on the site.

In the City of the Prophet, peace be upon him, Hamza Yusuf delivered this series of lectures on this lesser known work, Refinement of the Hearts. The author of the text, the 8th century Spanish master of the Islamic sciences and martyr, Imam Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi, presents an unassailable Sufism thoroughly grounded in the Book of God.
This small but powerful treatise is one of the finest pieces of Islamic spiritual literature in Muslim history. Hamza Yusuf’s illuminating and engaging reflections bring it to life for any modern Muslim in search of the keys to refining his or her heart in a world that seduces the hearts of humanity.
Doomsday’s singular preparation is to use the opportunity of the world to refine our hearts, for it is a “Day when nothing avails a person, neither wealth nor progeny, only one who brings to God a sound heart.” This wonderful treatise helps us with practical and effective means to do just that. Esentially dealing with the adornment and the beautiful qualities of the heart.

Click here for more info on the CD set.

Buy it! You won’t regret it! Don’t sleep on Hamza Yusuf.
I am never disappointed by his lectures mashaAllah. May God preserve him for us.

Envy

I was listening to the Poor Man’s Book of Assistance set by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf(May God preserve him for us). He was talking about envy, a disease of the heart. He mentioned a book called Billy Bud by Herman Melville who is an American author. There is one quote in this book that Shaykh Hamza says makes the whole book worth it because it is a Hikma. It is as follows:

People will admit to felonious crimes before they admit to envy.

If you think about this quote and ponder it, you find  that it is very true. How often do people admit to Hasad? Not very often.

Something to ponder.

John Esposito-Let God be God

I went to a talk by John Esposito during Ramadan. I wrote a draft of this post during Ramadan but I didn’t want to waste time writing the post so I’m finishing it up now with all of my commentary. Unfortunately it’s not as fresh in my mind. It was a very short talk. He is working on a book called The Future of Islam.

I was very surprised, It was an at an Iftar do mostly Muslim attended and I think most of us were blown away. The talk was very Dr. Jacksonesque and Muner Fareedesque too. I guess it’s an academic thing. But I was just surprised to hear it from a non-Muslim.

But he mentioned the book by Maududi: “Let us be Muslims.” He said the theme of his talk was going to be “let God be God.” He makes the judgments calls. We are not the judges, He is. And Dr. Esposito mentions that this is a problem that Christians also have.

He started with the tendency of Islam and Christianity to go back to tradition rather than scripture. This was really interesting and true in many ways.

Now first things first, I want to deal with some criticisms that many people put forth about John. Oh he’s an apologist oh he’s not a real Islamic scholar. Now he might not have as much scholarly presence as Dr. John Voll or Dr. Sherman Jackson and he might not have the breadth of knowledge of the likes of Mufti Ali Gomaa etc., but I will put forth the argument that he is CREDIBLE at least even if you don’t agree with his conclusions. This is because he clearly has spent A LOT of time with and around Muslims. Regular youth and people such as Al-Qaradawi and Mufti Ali Gomaa. And if you truly believe that he doesn’t know Islam very well, he definitely knows Muslims extremely well. He knows how Muslims interpret and behave towards Islam. As a Muslim I can tell, when he says things, it’s usually on the bull’s eye. I HATE when non-Muslims and act like orientalists and want to enter into my psyche. I can’t stand it. I always feel like non-Muslims just don’t understand the way we think at all and they are usually WAY OFF in their conclusions about us Muslims. But John Esposito is the opposite and when he was talking I was slightly uncomfortable in the way he was on point with the way he Muslims think. Like it took me awhile to get used to Dr. Jackson( he does it the most) and Imam Zaid and Shaykh Hamza getting into our psyche and challenging the way we think! Imagine this tall Italian Catholic doing it! You feel quite embarrassed. After I was feeling uncomfortable, I was quite impressed. He knows our thought process. It’s quite impressive. He makes conclusions about the community similar to the way we would. And it’s very valuable because he then tells us the way that the Catholic community does the same thing. So people can say a lot of negative about him, but he’s still credible on issues that have to do with Muslims. He proves that time and time again. He knows a lot about our culture and history and about our state in America. More than you can say about the likes of Ayan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji.

Another funny anecdote is about a hate e-mail he received in the morning. He receives many of these.

Here is what the hate e-mail he received said:

E-mail: There are people that live in the 13th century that behead people that’s bad enough but you try to sympathize with them and understand them so you’re worse. Someone needs to drag you and bitchslap(I usually don’t curse but he said this so forgive me) you until you are all bloody and skin you like a tomato and even that’s not enough for you.

Isn’t that just outrageous? Many non-Muslims see him as a sellout. I see him as very intelligent and someone that knows Muslims really well.

Muslims in the past used to always refer everything back to God.- hmm Now that I’m coming back to edit this post I can’t remeber exactly in which context he said this.

Muslims fighting: we can’t afford it. America is different after 9/11.Our freedoms are more limited. This is not something new. I’ve heard many Muslim scholars remind us of this. Like many people say, before we are thrown into Guantanamo we are not asked if we are Sufi, Salafi, Shia, Arab, South Asian whatever.

Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror by David Cole

He also told us that when we want to judge other people we should think to ourselves and he put this in the lingo of: “Brooklyn Italian”: Who the hell do you think you are?

He mentioned some Muslim youth that were asking him for religious advice. (Strange right?) He gave them good advice. They were mentioning how they see salafi Islam as “no-no” Islam that is defined as what you can and cannot do. They asked him how they could be more spiritual. He said he told them to pray. I think that’s pretty good advice. And it shows that even he notices that there is a spiritual vacuum among American Muslim youth. Movements that don’t put in spirituality in religious teachings as well as law are bound to create youth that feel spiritually empty. Islam is supposed to be a balance between spirituality and law. If you lack either one, you have a problem.

He also mentioned speaking to Shaykh Ali Gomaa of Egypt about how there’s a need for an American/European fiqh. But he asked us who knows fiqh well enough and who knows the West well enough to be able to do this?

Now many Muslims were pretty upset with his talk. I don’t know exactly why. I think we need to get over ourselves. He meant well and he wasn’t saying anything new. He wasn’t saying anything a Muslim scholar hasn’t said sometime in the past. It’s always good to be reminded right? Even if it’s by a “Catholic”.

Female Teacher of Ibn Battuta and Ibn Hajar al Asqalani

Bismillah

This post is about a notable female scholar of hadith during the Mamluk period in Egypt and Damascus.

One thing to note- these women were not anomalies in their time. The fact that women were scholars of hadith (and other things but this period there were a lot of hadith scholars) was a normal thing.

The ijaza system in the studies of hadith allowed children to receive ijazas before they came of age with the understanding that they would study and understand the texts later on in life. Hadith studies was open to everyone because many people could memorize, short and popular collections of hadith. Women excelled so much in this field that men eagerly sought them out as teachers to get ijazas from them. Another reason why the men sought them out was because these women had famous people in their chains of transmission and these men wanted to obtain these famous names in their own chains as well.

Zaynab Bint al Kamal is one example. She was a Hanbali of Damascus.  She transmitted popular and major works such as Sahih al Bukhari, Muslim and the Muwatta and many other little works as well.  Ibn Hajar al Asqalani learned from her. She appears in 139 of Ibn Hajar al Asqalani’s isnads. SubhanAllah.

Ibn Battuta also received ijaza from her In his book, Rihlat Ibn Battuta, he calls her a “traveler of the world” and she is listed a a person that granted him ijaza when he visited Damascus, Syria.

Roster of some more notable students Zaynab bint al Kamal :

  • Muhammad b. Ahmad ad-Dhahabi (d. 748 H/137)
  • Khalil al Safadi (d. 764 H /1362)
  • Taj-ad-Din as-Subki (d. 771 H/1369)

In Sunni Islamic scholarship, hadith has to be one of the most important branches. It is one of the major sources of law and women were at the forefront of its study and women never fabricated ahadith while men did.

This is during a time period when the Western women wouldn’t even imagine being schooled and Muslim women were at the forefront of the science of hadith. Look at the reputation that Muslim women have now. Many Muslim women in Muslim countries are illiterate. It’s sad that we are going backwards instead of forward. Everyone make dua that  Allah makes women come to the forefront of Islamic scholarship again side by side with men. Ameen.

And may He bless all of our wonderful scholars that have transmitted all of this knowledge to us.

Imam Malik (ra) and Adab with Hadith

“It is told of Malik ibn Anas (d.795) the founder of the Malikite school of jurisprudence and one of the great hadith transmitters, that “when he intended to sit down to recite hadith, he performed the ablution, donned new garments, put on a new turban, took his place on the platform in awe, reverence, and great seriousness. As long as the lecture continued, incense was contantly burned. His reverence to hadith was so great that it happened in one session that a scorpion stung him sixteen times, and he did not show any sign of disturbance.”

(Annemarie Schimmel, And Muhhamad is His Messenger)

Imam al Jawzi-A Great Scholar

*Imam al Jawzi (rahimuhuAllah) is said to be the most prolific scholar of Islam It is said that he is written 700 volumes and each volume had about 10 books. (People are skeptical of this number by the way.)

When  people used to come visit Imam al Jawzi, he would make them sharpen his pencils so that he could continue writing as soon as they left.

On his deathbed, his only regret was that he had wasted too much time eating. SubhanAllah.

This is what our scholars used to be like.

*Not to be confused with ibn al Qayyim al Jawziyya, Ibn Taymiyya’s disciple