Book Review: Bukhari Publications’ Two Arbaʿīn Collections on the Virtues of the Prophet and Prayers on Him

It has been over a month since I received three recently published books by a new and exciting publishing house, Bukhari Publications. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the time yet to give the books the detailed and meticulous review they deserve. That said, I have for a long time considered the necessity of producing less formal reviews that might not stand up to the standard of an academic journal but nevertheless satisfy the need of the common reader to get basic feedback on a new book and answer the pressing question of whether or not it is worth buying. Continue reading

Excerpt: Lessons of Faith by Ḥakīm al-Ummah Ashraf ʿAlī al-Thānawī

Produced below is a selection from the first chapter of an upcoming translation of Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī al-Thānawī’s work Taʿlīm al-Dīn, which is a concise manual of Islamic precepts that cover a wide range of topics, including theology, law, ethics, mysticism, and politics. The first draft of the entire translation and its footnotes were recently submitted for editing by the translators. My contribution to the translation is confined to the first chapter (minus the footnotes) and the editing of the initial manuscript. Below ten points from the first chapter on Belief and Creed are provided for your benefit.

Belief and Creed (ʿAqīdah wa Taṣdīqāt)

Belief 1: The entire universe was initially nonexistent and came into existence by means of Allah’s origination.[1]

Belief 2: Allah is One, dependent on nothing. Neither did He beget anyone nor was He begotten from anyone. Nothing is comparable to Him.[2] Continue reading

Thoughts on Mawlānā Tariq Rasheed al-Nadwī’s Interview on Madrasa Reform

I am now posting some thoughts I wrote up about the previous post (Mawlana Tariq Rasheed Sahib’s interview on madrasa reform) after our brother and friend Abdul Sattar (may Allah bless him) asked the following:

“I was wondering if you could offer your thoughts on the ideas he discusses concerning the curriculum itself, and the cultural issues he touches upon and what your disagreements/concerns are?”

In responding to the question, I prefer to mention specifically certain portions of the interview that I particularly would like to highlight and then subsequently provide my own thoughts, while also noting that my tone at the time I wrote the post was relatively defensive given the request to provide my concerns and potential disagreements. I have incredible respect for the Mawlana and I hope that my thoughts are perceived not as a refutation but as a contribution to an important -and hopefully ongoing – discussion. Continue reading

Mawlana Tariq Rasheed al-Nadwi al-Firangi Mahalli on the Dars Niẓāmī and Madrasah Reform

There is much to ponder about in this interview and much to learn from. May Allah reward the Mawlana for his efforts and put blessing in his noble endeavors. I have written some comments on this interview that were published on the old attalib blog years ago. Meant to balance the critique offered by Mawlana Tariq Rasheed, my comments now appear on the defensive. If I was to comment on the article again in the present, perhaps my comments would differ significantly. In any case, the next post will include my commentary. I hope that both posts will benefit the interested reader and student of educational reform in the madrasah system.

39-year old Maulana Tariq Rasheed Firanghi Mahali is a ninth generation direct descendant of Mulla Nizamuddin Firanghi Mahali, who framed what is known after him as the dars-e nizami, the basic syllabus that continues to be followed by the vast majority of Islamic madrasas in South Asia even today. He is one of the few remaining members of the renowned Firanghi Mahali family of Lucknow who carry on with their family’s centuries’-old tradition of Islamic scholarship. A graduate of the Nadwat ul-Ulema madrasa in Lucknow, he is presently Director of the Islamic Society of Greater Orlando, Florida, in the United States. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about his family’s scholarly tradition and its decline and reflects on the dars-e nizami and madrasa education in South Asia today. Continue reading

Regarding Abrogation of the Verse of Tasmiyah in Ritual Slaughter

Question: There has been some debate at my masjid regarding the permissibility of eating the food of Ahl al Kitab. My Imam says that the verse prohibitng the eating of food on which the name of Allah had not been said was abrogated by the verse that permitted the eating of the food of Ahl al Kitab. His proof is this hadith from Sunan Abi Dawud:

‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏أحمد بن محمد بن ثابت المروزي ‏ ‏حدثني‏ ‏علي بن حسين ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبيه ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏يزيد النحوي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عكرمة ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏ابن عباس ‏ ‏قال ‏
فكلوا مما ذكر اسم الله عليه
‏ولا تأكلوا مما لم يذكر اسم الله عليه ‏
‏فنسخ واستثنى من ذلك فقال ‏
‏وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم حل لهم ‏

in which Ibn Abbas cites the same opinion. Is this hadith authentic, and if it is, then how do the Hanafis and Hanbalis who hold contrary opinions to this hadith answer it? Continue reading

Summer Reading List 2015

Upon several enquiries into what I’ve been reading this summer, I quickly put together a list of (i) what I have already read, (ii) what I am currently reading, and (iii) what I plan on reading before the end of the summer. This summer I am not teaching so I have been able to give more time to reading than normally my schedule can afford.

I have only included books that I am reading casually and have thus excluded reference works, hadith commentaries, tafsīr books, etc… that I am using for research purposes. Most the books will be read – or have been already – cover to cover, although some I may be reading only partially. One may notice the preponderance of English works. This year, for several reasons, I am doing much less Urdu and Arabic leisure reading. Descriptions for the books below are not my own. Continue reading

A Short Answer to a Question on Extravagance from the Islamic Perspective

A question was once posed by a student through email regarding the issue of wastage, more specifically in regards to wasting water. It was published by our dear friend Hafiz Faraz Abdul Moid on the attalib blog some years ago. I repost it here for your benefit, iA.

Question: I had a question, and if you’re not too busy, I would really appreciate an answer. It concerns water and what we were going over in class about wasting it. When you decide to take a shower for comfort, not necessarily to wash off any impurities, is it really considered wasting it? I mean, when you are doing wudu, and you let the water run and you step out of the bathroom and let the water flow from the tap, that is a waste of water because you are not using it and it is just draining through without coming into contact with you. You are not deriving any benefit from having the water flow, so thus, the water is being wasted. Continue reading

The Question of Fallen Angels and the Nature of Iblīs: Was Satan an Angel or of the Jinn?

Long overdue, I am posting an excerpt on “The Question of Fallen Angels” from the Integrated Encyclopedia of the Qurʾān in response to a relatively amicable debate that occurred during a study circle on the question of the validity of the assertion that Shayṭān wasn’t necessarily an angel but possibly from the Jinn. The argument was less in favor of any particular position and more on the validity of multiple stances on the issue, as both, I argued, were accommodated by the Qurʾānic text.

Not able to recall any proofs or the names of the scholars who held divergent positions on the issue, I promised to do some research on the issue and post it later online. This lengthy entry, from which the excerpt is taken, was authored by Dr. Gibril Fouad Haddad:

Continue reading

Madrasat al-Hasanayn Updated Curriculum Years 1-4

After posting an earlier synopsis of the Hasanayn curriculum when I was studying there fifteen years ago, a current student was kind enough to send me an updated version for the first four years of the eight year program.

Interestingly enough, when the curriculum was first cooked up, it was designed to be a 12-year program. I remember Mawlana Tariq Jameel taking an oath from the students that they would be willing to stay for that long and even longer, that they be ready to study however long was required or die trying. Mawlana was of the opinion that a subject-by-subject approach would require students to commit more years. In the years that I was there, the strength of the program proved that students weren’t being slowed down in any way by the approach. In fact, they were able to handle more than one or two classes per day quite easily without being overwhelmed with work. Mawlana was pleasantly surprised and willing to increase the daily amount of classes.

In any case, attached is the curriculum for years 1-4 in Arabic. Download.

Article: The Western Intellectual and Cultural Challenge and the Responsibilities of the Ulema by Dr. Mahmud Ghazi

I had initially intended to keep this website free of articles that weren’t originally authored. However, seeing as to the rarity of certain articles and their difficulty to find even online, I thought it would be useful on occasion to post important pieces that are of interest to me and that have influenced my work in various fields.

The following article was written by the now deceased Dr. Mahmud Ahmad Ghazi (may Allah have mercy on him), whose books I have benefited from greatly over the years and whose writings on curricular reform in the madrasahs reflect many of my own thoughts as well as the thoughts of many ‘ulama whom I respect, such as Mawlānā Zāhid al-Rāshidī (may Allah preserve him and grant him long life). Continue reading