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Rochdale and Rishi Sunak’s hunt for ‘extremists’

Indigo Jo Blogs - 3 March, 2024 - 00:16
George Galloway, an elderly white man with a short white beard, wearing a black rimmed hat, a black blazer and trousers with a blue and white striped shirt underneath, admires a car (a blue Audi) with a Palestinian flag printed on its bonnet.Galloway: “the best cars are to be found here in Rochdale”. (Source: George Galloway, X.)

Last week a by-election in Rochdale saw the former Labour MP and more recently former leader of the Respect coalition, George Galloway, elected as an MP for a third time in a third constituency on the back of Muslim votes, this time about the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Until the early 2000s he was a Labour MP for a Glasgow constituency; in 2005, having been expelled from Labour, he was elected for Respect to represent Bethnal Green and Bow in east London on the back of anger about the Iraq war, and not long later took time out of his job to appear in the reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother. More recently he was elected in a by-election in Bradford, then angered a lot of his electors by claiming in a podcast that the woman allegedly raped by Julian Assange couldn’t really have been raped because they were “in the sex game” and also by using the disablist derogatory term “window licker” in a tweet. This time, Labour played into his hands by withdrawing support for its candidate, the long-standing councillor Azhar Ali, who suggested that Israel may have allowed the 7th October Hamas attacks so as to manufacture a pretext for its genocide. Galloway was elected on just under 40% of the vote; the next biggest share of votes went to an independent, David Tully. Galloway received more than the Tories, Lib Dems, Reform UK (the successor to the Brexit Party) and the disowned Labour candidate combined.

First, it is clear to me that this disaster was of the Labour party’s making; by disowning its candidate for saying what a lot of people actually suspect, especially Muslims in a 25% Muslim area, he has made it clear that he cared more about not offending powerful and vocal Zionist lobbies and their friends in the mainstream media than in actually winning this election. It was not necessary to withdraw support for Labour’s candidate; they could have disagreed with it and said so — called it ridiculous, whatever — which they would have done if an opinion of this nature had been expressed about any other issue. Labour previously disowned a candidate in the 2019 general election, in Falkirk, for similar reasons; it has since suspended a white former MP who was planning to recontest his seat in the forthcoming election. Labour has set a trap for itself, as it is quite likely that at least one candidate will express off-message views about Israel or Gaza (or wherever else they are bombing by then) which will lead to Starmer and his team coming under pressure to distance themselves from not only the views but also the candidate.

While his fans continue to applaud his ‘toughness’ in the face of ‘antisemitism’ presumed to be a legacy of Corbyn’s leadership (though neither Azhar Ali nor Graham Jones are Corbynites; it is rumoured that it was a Corbynite who actually blew the whistle on them), to many (and perhaps the media will start to notice it before long) it reflects spinelessness, a long-observed disease of the Labour centre-right. They are only capable of showing toughness or decisiveness against powerless or unpopular people; when confronted with displays of power, or anger from powerful people or interests, they buckle very easily. Blair’s decision to involve us in the disastrous Iraq invasion was the clearest example of the latter, but his government’s response to the media-invented “foreign criminals” scandal in his last term demonstrates this contrast very clearly: in response to a Daily Mail ‘exposé’ of foreign nationals not automatically deported after completing a sentence (something that for good reasons just hadn’t ever been policy), he simply rounded up a large number of people who had served time, often for minor offences and often a long time ago, some of whom had lived here a long time and had most of their family here. Something we have seen from them since Labour lost the 2010 election is a flat refusal to challenge popular (or media-popular) orthodoxies. In the 2010-15 term it was the importance of settling the deficit and the ‘necessity’ of dramatic public service cuts; right now it’s the issue of antisemitism, however Zionists define it.

I’m not fond of George Galloway; he is a publicity junkie but also an unsavoury character who has lined up with Assad of Syria, Nigel Farage and Saddam Hussain, called the White Helmets terrorists and denied the genocide of the Uyghurs by the Chinese communists. It says a lot about our failures as a Muslim community that we have not produced someone who can represent our communities in parliament or respond to and exploit situations like Gaza the way he has. However, politicians and the media have presented his election as some sort of attack on “British democracy”. In fact, it’s British democracy at work. In a preferential or proportional voting system, he might not have stood a chance as second preferences would have worked against him, but our politicians have opposed any reform of “first past the post” for decades. There are many MPs who won their seats on the basis of less than 40%, let alone 50, or on the basis of a small turnout such as in this case. This was a free and fair election and an unpleasant individual won it because of the miscalculations of others, Starmer in particular. It was not a coup. Nobody was assassinated. There were no riots or other violence. It was our electoral system working the way it always has.

Over the past couple of weeks, Tories have been ratcheting up Islamophobic rhetoric, accusing anti-genocide protesters of dominating the streets and intimidating MPs (based on no evidence that I can discern); Lee Anderson was suspended for claiming that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was in the pocket of Islamists, resulting in an outcry from other Tory MPs and party members despite it being plainly untrue. Suella Braverman wrote in the Telegraph that “the truth is that the Islamists, the extremists and the anti-Semites are in charge now” having “bullied our country into submission”, among a number of right-wing canards: that the streets and universities weren’t safe for Jews, that people are afraid of being called racists or Islamophobes, that blasphemy laws have been introduced by the backdoor resulting in a teacher being hounded out of his job (in fact, the cartoons in question are racist, as anyone who has seen them will understand), as well as the Israeli atrocity propaganda about mass rape on 7th October and the claims that Israel’s genocide in Gaza is a “noble mission to recover those poor hostages”. The Telegraph’s politics account tweeted out a link to a write-up of the article without so much as a scare quote around Braverman’s accusations; not that long ago, a respectable newspaper would have dismissed anyone making such claims as a dangerous lunatic; much milder claims about Jews or Zionists have resulted in a swift expulsion from the Labour party (even when Corbyn was leader) and would do in the Tory party as well.

And then, last night the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, gave a speech at the 10 Downing Street lectern (normally reserved for major announcements, of which there were none — such as outlines for new laws, for example) repeating a lot of the same tropes as in Braverman’s article, alleging that there had been a “shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality” and that “what started as protests on our streets has descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence”, as if we all knew which acts. He gave the usual blandishments about British tolerance and how you can be Hindu or Muslim or Jewish and still British, told us that “the faith of Islam” has nothing to do with the “extremist political ideology of Islamism”, likened ‘antisemitism’ (the term favoured by the Jewish community) with “anti-Muslim hatred” (rejecting the term favoured by the Muslim community) and called Britain “the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy” (note that he didn’t use the term ‘multicultural’). He alleged that “our streets have been hijacked by small groups that are hostile to our values and have no respect for our democratic traditions” and accused Islamists and the far right of feeding off each other and of spreading the ‘poison’ of extremism. He used phrases like ‘they’ and “these groups” a lot, accusing unnamed factions of teaching that Britain is on the wrong side of history, is a racist country or is responsible for all the evil in the world, or that the system is rigged against them; these sound like the talking points of the Left, not the far right and certainly not Islamists. Towards the end, he made a threatening overture to “those who choose to continue to protest”, informing us, “you have a chance in the coming weeks to show that you can protest decently, peacefully and with empathy for your fellow citizens”.

Having been on one of these marches, and been in touch with people who have been on others, and having followed the events on social and mainstream media, I know that the marches are multi-racial, not organised or controlled by Islamists, and have been overwhelmingly peaceful with very few violent incidents; the only criminality linked to them consists of slogans and posters that were brought to the police’s attention through snitches on social media, such as a poster depicting Braverman and Sunak as coconuts (i.e. brown on the outside, white on the inside) and a picture of a glider (the form of transport used by some of the 7th October attackers) on someone’s rucksack. (These cases were prosecuted astonishingly quickly, as with other speech offences that injure the sensitivities of the rich and powerful, while rape victims wait years to see their attackers tried as a result of Tory cuts to the court system and ongoing disputes with the legal profession.) The people complaining are principally Zionists; there have been Jewish people on all of the marches. Sunak is just conjuring an extremist threat out of nowhere, and by attacking the election result in Rochdale, he is showing his contempt not only for Galloway but for the thousands of local people who voted for him because the main parties had let them down.

There is a general election not too far off; most likely it will be this year, though May looks increasingly unlikely. The Tories are clearly desperate, much more so than any other party I can remember that knows it is likely to lose; they know that some of them face criminal investigation. It is interesting that some senior Tories have suddenly developed a conscience about the stripping of British citizenship from Shamima Begum, who has been left stateless in a prison camp in eastern Syria; perhaps this is because they know that the same fate awaits a number of their colleagues once the Tories are stripped of their power. This is why they are hunting round for scapegoats. Myself, I have hope (for once) that the public will not fall for their tricks: we know about their wretched handling of the Covid crisis and their contempt for the rules we all had to live by, we know Brexit has been a disaster, we know about the pollution of waterways and that some of our beaches have become health hazards as a result, while water companies threaten us with increased bills, and we all know about the dramatic rise in the cost of living while local services have been cut to the bone, while taxes rise to pay off councils’ debts. We can all see who has torn the country apart for the past fourteen years and certainly the last five, and it’s not people protesting against a genocide in Palestine but the people thrashing around like a dying animal in the search for anyone but themselves to blame.

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How ‘no-go zone’ myth spread from fringes to mainstream UK politics

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 March, 2024 - 06:00

Notion of Muslim-controlled areas unsafe for white people has been promoted by rightwingers since the early 2000s

The claim by a former government minister earlier this week that parts of London and Birmingham with large Muslim populations are “no-go areas” has highlighted the enduring myth that there are UK neighbourhoods and towns unsafe for white people.

Paul Scully, the MP for Sutton and Cheam in Greater London, later retracted his suggestion that Tower Hamlets and Sparkhill were unsafe for non-Muslims to enter, made during a BBC interview about allegations of anti-Muslim sentiments within the Conservative party. But he also defended invoking the Islamophobic trope on the grounds that people told him they perceived there to be a threat.

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Prophetic Guidance For An Exemplary Ramadan

Muslim Matters - 2 March, 2024 - 03:10

A woman from the Ansaar once felt disheartened for missing the chance to perform Hajj with the Prophet ﷺ. When she explained her situation to the beloved Rasul, he ﷺ comforted her by suggesting that performing Umrah in the month of Ramadan would be equivalent to completing Hajj with him.1  This virtue has endured over time, and millions of pilgrims descend upon Makkah each Ramadan in the hope of attaining this reward. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept their intentions and grant us all the opportunity to complete Umrah in the month of Ramadan.

This touching story led me to contemplate what it might have been like to experience Ramadan in the presence of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Imagining breaking our fast among the sahabah (رضي الله عنهم) in Masjid al-Nabawi and listening to him ﷺ recite the Qur’an during this blessed month evokes a sense of awe. Although such an opportunity is beyond our reach, I pray that we may find ourselves in the company of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in Jannah. In the meantime, let us strive to emulate and live our Ramadan in a manner similar to his and that of his companions. 

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) mentions the Ramadan of the Prophet ﷺ in Zad al-Ma’ad:

كان من هديه صلى الله عليه وسلم في شهر رمضان الإكثار من أنواع العبادات ، فكان جبريل يدارسه القرآن في رمضان ، وكان إذا لقيه جبريل أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة ( وكان أجود الناس ، وأجود ما يكون في [ ص: 31 ]رمضان ) يكثر فيه من الصدقة والإحسان وتلاوة القرآن والصلاة والذكر والاعتكاف. وكان يخص رمضان من العبادة بما لا يخص به غيره من الشهور

“From the guidance given by the Prophet ﷺ  in the month of Ramadan was to increase in different types of worship. Jibreel would come and recite the Qur’an with him, when Jibreel would meet him, he ﷺ  would be the most generous of people and his generosity peaked in the month of Ramadan. In this blessed month, he would increase in giving charity, treatment to people, tilawah of the Qur’an, prayer, remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and i’tikaf. He would dedicate a portion of worship that used to be shown in Ramadan that would not be shown in any other time of the year.”2

Insha’Allah, over the course of this article we will try and encapsulate the Prophetic Ramadan and how we can follow in his footsteps. 

When Ramadan would arrive, Yahya ibn Abi Kathir, a tabi’ee and a great scholar of hadith would say: 

اللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْنِي لِرَمَضَانَ وَسَلِّمْ لِي رَمَضَانَ وَتَسَلَّمْهُ مِنِّي مُتَقَبَّلً

“O Allah, secure for me Ramadan, secure Ramadan for me, and receive my deeds with acceptance.” 3

Our pious predecessors would rejoice and welcome this amazing opportunity granted to all of us by Allah ﷻ – that which would lighten from us our sins and grant us acceptance. This is a blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that they would never consider abandoning. When Ahnaf ibn al-Qays raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reached the autumn of his life, the people around him would tell him that he is an elderly man and that fasting may weaken his body. He would tell them:

إني أعده لسفر طويل، والصبر على طاعة الله سبحانه أهون من الصبر على عذابه

“I am preparing this fasting for a long journey and enduring patience in obedience to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the Exalted, is far easier than enduring patience in His punishment.”4

  • The Qur’an 

The focus of the legends of the past in Ramadan was the Qur’an.  As Allah ﷻ tells us in al-Baqarah:

 

“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Surah Al Baqarah: 2;185]

The evidence for this increased need to engage with the Qur’an in Ramadan is the example set by RasulAllah ﷺ  himself. It is narrated to us by Fatima raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that her father ﷺ would review the Qur’an once every year with Jibreel 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) except in the final Ramadan of his Prophethood, in which he reviewed it twice.5 Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) added that this revision of the Qur’an between Jibreel and the Prophet ﷺ  would occur at night.6

This highlights the particular importance of reciting the Qur’an at night at a time when you can free yourself from distractions and have full focus on connecting with it. 

Allah ﷻ affirms this for us in Surah al-Muzzamil:

Indeed, worship in the night is more impactful and suitable for recitation.” [Surah Al-Muzzammil: 73;6]

Some of the mashai’kh also take from this narration, the importance of coming together for the purpose of studying the Qur’an, checking your knowledge of the Qur’an with those knowledgeable of it, and increasing your recitation of it in this beautiful month. For example, Zubaid ibn Harith al-Yami (rahimahullah) would bring copies of the Qur’an and gather his companions to study the Qur’an together.7

This attitude of modifying your schedule to occupy yourself with the Qur’an was seen amongst the righteous early Muslims. Abdur-Razzaq said regarding Sufyaan at-Thawri:

إذا دخل رمضان ترك جميع العبادة وأقبل على قراءة القرآن

“At the arrival of Ramadan he would leave all other acts of worship  and dedicate himself to the recitation of the Qur’an.”8

Ibn Abdul Hakam, a senior disciple of Imam Malik (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy upon them) remarked that when Ramadan came, Imam Malik would stop teaching his Muwatta and turn instead to the Mushaf, reciting it extensively.9 From this we can see that Imam Malik truly understood that fasting and recitation of the Qur’an coexist together – as RasulAllah ﷺ  said “fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for the servant on the day of resurrection.”10

This attention to the Book of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), would also be reflected in the number of times they would complete the recitation of the Qur’an in the month of Ramadan. For example, it is well known that Imam ash-Shafi’i (rahimahullah) would complete the Qur’an 60 times outside the prayer.11 It is also reported that Aswad ibn Yazid, from the students of Abdullah ibn Masud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), would usually complete the Qur’an once of every six nights and that he would up this, to every two nights in Ramadan.12

You may be wondering whether all of these Imams and scholars were unaware of the famous saying of the Prophet ﷺ  advising us to not complete the recitation of the Qur’an in less than three days.13 However, Ibn Rajab helps us to reconcile this understanding by explaining that this prohibition is in doing so as a regular habit throughout the year – however if you are doing so in virtuous times such as in Ramadan (especially in the nights within which laylat al-Qadr can be found) or when you travel to virtuous places such as Makkah – then it is recommended to increase in your recitation of the Qur’an in order to make the most of this special time or place. This can be seen in the practice of the righteous muslims of the past.14

  • Night prayer

The forerunners of the past would also complete the Qur’an in the night prayer. Some of the salaf would complete it every three nights, others every seven or ten nights. 

In Surah al-Furqan, Allah jala wa’ala describes His true servants as:

“Those who spend a portion of their night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer]” [Surah Furqan: 25;64]

The Prophet ﷺ would engage in lengthy night prayer outside of Ramadan, but like his other acts of ibaadah – he would increase it in this blessed month. He ﷺ  said:

مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ

“Whoever observes the night voluntary prayers during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain the reward of Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”15

Hudayfah ibn al-Yaman raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates that one night in Ramadan, he found the Prophet ﷺ  reciting al-Baqarah, An-Nisa’ and Ali ‘Imran in the night prayer, pondering deeply on the ayaat. His prayer was so lengthy that by the time he had finished two raka’ah, Bilal raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) announced the call to Fajr.16 In another incident,  Abu Dharr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) recalls the Messenger of Allah ﷺ  leading them in a lengthy night prayer to the extent they feared they would miss suhoor.17

This same attitude towards the night prayer was also present in his companions raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them).  Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would order Ubay ibn Ka’b raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Tamim al-Dari raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) to lead the people in night prayer during Ramadan. They would recite in the hundreds of verses to the extent that the people would have to support themselves with a staff due to the length of the prayer. They would stand in prayer for large swathes of the night and they would not finish until the first signs of dawn (i.e. Fajr).18 Likewise, Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) mentioned that his father would say by the time they finished their night prayers in Ramadan, they would have to rush the servants to prepare food as it was very close to Fajr.19

Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would extend this same concern for the night prayer to his family.20 In the middle of the night, he used to wake up his family and say to them – “prayer, prayer, prayer” and then recite the verse:

“And enjoin prayer upon your family and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.” [Surah Taha: 20;132]

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  told us regarding a persons night prayer that “Whoever stands to pray with ten verses will never be recorded among the negligent. Whoever stands with a hundred verses will recorded among those devoutly obedient to Allah. Whoever stands with a thousand verses will be recorded among those with tremendous rewards.” 21 To me it is very clear to me that the sahabah raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them) truly lived their life by this and had ambition to be amongst foremost group. The question we should ask ourself is – which group do we want to be amongst?

  • Giving in Charity

PC: Allef Vinicius (unsplash)

When we enter the month of Ramadan, it is like a switch is turned on and our generosity skyrockets. In 2020, UK Muslims donated £3,500 every minute of Ramadan and US Muslims donated more than $1.8 billion over the course of Ramadan 2021. Increased generosity in Ramadan was the nature of our Rasul ﷺ  and it something we should aim to only increase in, year by year. Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that “The Prophet ﷺ was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Jibreel met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur’an with him. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ then used to be more generous than the fast wind.”22  

Imam Ash-Shafi’i said that it is better for someone to increase in generosity during the month of Ramadan, following the example of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.23

In particular, our pious predecessors would utilise their wealth towards feeding others and gave it priority over other things. RasulAllah ﷺ  told us:

مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِهِمْ مِنْ غَيْرِ أَنْ يَنْقُصَ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَيْئًا

Whoever gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will have a reward like theirs, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.”24

The salaf would endeavour to incorporate this when they would break their fast. 

When Ramadan would begin, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri [rahimahullah] would comment “It is indeed only the recitation of Qur’an and feeding of food.”25 Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali [rahimahullah] said “For me to invite ten of my friends and feed them with a meal that they like is dearer to me than freeing ten of the descendants of Ismaa’eel.”26 Ibn Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) did not break his fast except with the orphans and the needy. Sometimes, if he discovered that his family had not extended hospitality to them, he would choose to abstain from breaking his fast that night.27

The righteous before us would feed the fasting person regardless of whether they were poor or rich. They hoped through this deed that the bonds of brotherhood between them would be strengthened and that it would be a path to paradise for them. Similarly, a wise Muslim would take advantage of this opportunity to feed the fasting person, both locally and abroad, and aim to give in charity frequently throughout Ramadan. In particular, try and donate for iftar to our brothers and sisters in Palestine, and prevent them from having empty stomachs alongside all the other difficulties they are undergoing. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) grant them ease from this oppression and feed from the best of foods and fruits in al-Firdaws. 

  • Avoiding indulgence

It is unfortunate that as soon as the adhaan for Maghrib soothes our ears, we turn with ravenous intent to piles of samosas, mandi, xaniid, and other wonderful dishes from across the world. It is as if the ending of the fast signals the need to eat to our hearts’ desire. Whilst it is important that we refuel and re-energize ourselves at the end of our fast, the behavior that is rampant across our homes is far from the practice of the Prophet ﷺ  and our pious forebearers. 

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said “Verily, the people who ate to their fill the most in this world will be the hungriest on the Day of Resurrection.”28

Muhammad ibn Waasi, a tabi’i muhaddith and qadi, said “Whoever eats little will understand and make others understand and will be clear and humble. Overeating weighs a person down and keeps him from much of what he wants [to accomplish].”29

It has been narrated regarding Muhammad ibn Amr al-Maghribi that he would eat only two full meals over the course of Ramadan.30 It is important for us to be mindful of what we eat, not just because of the worldly consequences such as being so full that it is difficult for us to pray or we disturb others with burps during prayer, but also because a lack of self-discipline only has a destructive effect on the heart. 

Our mother, A’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَلاءٍ حَدَّثَ فِي هَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ بَعْدَ قَضَاءِ نَبِيِّهَا صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الشِّبَعُ فَإِنَّ الْقَوْمَ لَمَّا شَبِعَتْ بُطُونَهُمْ سَمِنَتْ أَبْدَانُهُمْ فَتَصَعَّبَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَجَمَحَتْ شَهَوَاتُهُمْ

“Verily, the first trial to occur in this nation after the passing of its Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was people eating to their fill. For when people fill their stomachs, their bodies are fattened, their hearts are hardened, and their desires are uncontrollable.”31

  • Treatment of others

When you are in the state of fasting for the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), you should not be engaging in things that earn His displeasure. The people around you should be safe from your temper, your words, and your illicit actions. The month of Ramadan is about working towards bettering yourself in your deen and there is nothing more reflective of a person than their character. Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said:

الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ خُلُقٌ فَمَنْ زَادَ عَلَيْكَ فِي الْخُلُقِ زَادَ عَلَيْكَ فِي الدِّينِ.

“The religion itself is entirely good character, so whoever surpasses you in character has surpassed you in religion.”32

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said “When one of you wakes up in the morning for fasting, then he should not use obscene language or behave foolishly. If anyone abuses him or fights with him, he should say twice: Indeed, I am fasting.”33

Of course, this is how you should behave at all times but the emphasis is even stronger in Ramadan – as mentioned by Imam an-Nawawi (rahimahullah) in his explanation of this hadith.34

Allah ﷻ exemplifies this response in Surah al-Furqan. He ﷻ tells us:

“And the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” [Surah Al-Furqan: 25;63]

He ﷺ  also taught us that “whoever does not leave evil words and deeds while fasting, Allah does not need him to leave food and drink.”35

The beloved companion of RasulAllah, Jabir ibn Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said:

إذا صمت فليصم سمعك وبصرك ولسانك عن الكذب والمحارم، ودع أذى الجار، وليكن عليك وقار وسكينه يوم صومك، ولا تجعل يوم صومك وفطرك سواء

“If you fast, then guard your ears, eyes and tongue against lies and evil deeds; do not abuse your servants; be tranquil and dignified on the day you observe fasting; do not let the day when you do not fast and the day when you fast be the same.”36

When Ramadan would start, Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would address the Muslims and tell them:

هَذَا الشَّهْرُ الْمُبَارَكُ الَّذِي فَرَضَ اللهُ صِيَامَهُ وَلَمْ يَفْرِضْ قِيَامَهُ أَلَا إِنَّ الصِّيَامَ لَيْسَ مِنَ الطَّعَامِ وَالشَّرَابِ وَلَكِنْ مِنَ الْكَذِبِ وَالْبَاطِلِ

“This is the blessed month in which Allah has obligated fasting and not obligated night prayers. Certainly, fasting is not merely from food and drink, but rather from lying, falsehood, and vain talk.”37

Another great caliph, Ameer al-Mu’mineen, Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) would advise people that “fasting is not merely from food and drink alone. Rather, it is from lies, falsehood, vain talk, and swearing.”38

It is important that we try to protect our fasts from that which detracts from it. There is great importance placed on each of us attending taraweeh, completing the recitation of the Qur’an, and those things that enhance our reward this month but what about that which takes away from it? Mujahid ibn Jabr (rahimahullah), the great student of Ibn Abbas, said “Whoever avoids two things, then his fast will be safe: backbiting and telling lies.”39

  • I’tikaf 

It was from the habit of the Prophet ﷺ to spend a part of his Ramadan in the seclusion of the Masjid. Ibn Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) shared with us that the Prophet ﷺ  would perform i’tikaf in the final ten days of Ramadan.40 In particular, his aim was to catch the night of honor – Laylat al-Qadr. He ﷺ  would do this each year from when he entered Madinah, except for twenty days in the final year of his Prophethood as, according to Ibn Hajr, he was traveling the previous year.41 He ﷺ  would never abandon this act of worship and had immense love for it, and hence Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (rahimahullah) was astonished that many Muslims had abandoned it.42

PC: Imad Alasirry (unsplash)

I’tikaf provides an opportunity to free you from the distractions that prevent you from re-connecting with Allah ﷻ. It protects you from wasting time in idle talk with friends, from excessively sleeping and generally doing other than what allows you to maximize your reward. It motivates someone to only that which draws them closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and earns His pleasure. 

If it is not possible to spend the entirety of the last ten nights in the masjid, it is also possible for us to intend to spend a shorter period of time for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Imam an-Nawawi (rahimahullah) said “With regard to the minimum length of time for i’tikaf , the majority stipulated that it must be observed in the mosque, and that it is permissible to do a lot or a little, even an hour or a moment.”43 Abdur-Razzaq al-San’ani reported that Ya’la ibn Umayyah (rahimahullah) said:

إِنِّي لأَمْكُثُ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ السَّاعَةَ، وَمَا أَمْكُثُ إِلَّا لِأَعْتَكِفَ

“I am staying in the masjid for a period of time, and I am staying to observe i’tikaf.”44

If you make the intention to observe i’tikaf for a period of time, it is imperative that you fulfill it. Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) once made the vow to spend one night of i’tikaf in Masjid al-Haram before he even accepted Islam and the Prophet ﷺ  told him to observe it. 45

Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) mentions that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ  “would reserve a mat upon which he would seclude himself from people, not mixing with or paying attention to them. This is why Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) did not recommend for the person doing i’tikaf to mix with anyone – not even to teach them knowledge or make them recite the Qur’an. Rather, the best thing to do is to be alone and free oneself to converse privately with one’s Lord, remember Him, and ask Him.”46

This is an extended period of time where someone is invited as a guest of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), in His House –  to converse with Him, ask Him of our needs, and find comfort in His company ﷻ. 

Summary 

I pray that this is a transformative Ramadan for us all and one in which we feel a deep sense of connection to the Ramadan observed by RasulAllah ﷺ  and the righteous examples of the past. 

May Allah ﷻ allow us to enter the month of Ramadan, benefit from it, and accept it from us. May He grant us the tawfeeq to continue in the goodness beyond the month and cut off bridges to sin. May it be a means for us to increase the distance between us and the hellfire and bring us closer to Jannah and the company of our beloved Rasul ﷺ. May He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) aid our brothers and sisters in Gaza and all parts of the world that are facing oppression, accept them as martyrs, and give them the ability to witness many more Ramadans. May He ﷻ unite us all in Jannah and grant us forgiveness. 

 

Related:

The Ramadan Of The Early Muslims I Sh Suleiman Hani

[Podcast] Ramadan Imposter Syndrome | Shaykha Taimiyyah Zubair

 

1    Saheeh al-Bukhari 17822    Zad al-Ma’ad 2/303    Hilyat al-Awliya 3/694    Ithaf al-Sadah al-Mutaqqin bi Sharh Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din 4/250 5    Saheeh al-Bukhari 3623, Saheeh Muslim 24056    Saheeh al-Bukhari 35547    Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pg 359-3608    Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pg 1719    Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pg 17110    Musnad Ahmad 662611    Tarikh Baghdad 2/6112    Musannaf of Abdur Razzaq as-San’ani 1/56513    Sunan Abi Dawud 139014    Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pg 17115    Saheeh al-Bukhari 200916    Musnad Ahmad 5/40017     Sunan Ibn Majah 132718    Al-Istidkhar, Ibn Abd al-Barr 5/15119    Sharh az-Zarqani ‘ala Muwatta al-Imam Malik, 1/42120    Sharh az-Zarqani ‘ala Muwatta al-Imam Malik, 1/42821    Sunan Abi Dawud 139822    Saheeh al-Bukhari 355423    Al-Hawi al-Kabir fi Fiqh al-Shafi’i 3/47924    Sunan Ibn Majah 174625    Lata’if al-Ma’arif pg 18326    Tafseer Ibn Rajab 2/17727    Hilyat al-Awliya’ 1/29928    Sunan Ibn Majah 335129    Al Juu’ pg. 69, Ibn Abi Dunya 30    Hilyat al-Awliya 10/12931    Al Juu’ pg. 43, Ibn Abi Dunya32    Madarij al-Salikin 2/29433    Saheeh Muslim 115134    Al-Minhaj bi Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Imam an-Nawawi 8/21735    Saheeh al-Bukhari 190336    Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 2/42237    Al-Sunan al-Kubra li Bayhaqi 795538    Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 2/27239    Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 2/27240    Saheeh Muslim 1171a41    Fath al-Bari 4/33442    Fath al-Bari 4/33443    Al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhaddhab 6/51444    Musannaf of Abdur Razzaq as-San’ani 5/8145    Sunan al-Nasa’i 382146    Lata’aif al-Ma’arif pg. 438

The post Prophetic Guidance For An Exemplary Ramadan appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Podcast: Why Should Muslims Fight for Human Rights?

Muslim Matters - 29 February, 2024 - 11:00


Why should Muslims fight for human rights? Isn’t it all a rigged game and pointless? Hena Zuberi, human rights activist, talks to Zainab bint Younus about the Islamic importance of fighting for human rights, and the price Muslims in the West must pay for their privileges.

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“Prosecuting the Unspeakable” – An Unknown Story About War Crimes Tribunals

Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

The post Podcast: Why Should Muslims Fight for Human Rights? appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Victorian premier cancels iftar dinner after boycott announced by peak Muslim bodies

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 February, 2024 - 02:37

Jacinta Allan says event will not go ahead out of respect to those in the community that grieving over the war in Gaza

The Victorian government has cancelled its annual iftar dinner after the state’s peak body for Muslims and other community groups announced they would not attend the event due to Labor’s position on the war in Gaza.

The premier, Jacinta Allan, confirmed next month’s event would not go ahead out of respect to those in the Victorian Muslim community who were grieving.

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Day 145 roundtable: John Mearsheimer, resistance and famine

Electronic Intifada - 28 February, 2024 - 22:45

Journalist Abubaker Abed live from the Gaza Strip (0:44); John Mearsheimer on US policy on Israel (21:26); Nora Barrows-Friedman with a news update (01:09:59); Ali Abunimah on recent developments in New York Times’ “mass rapes” hoax (01:23:47); and military analysis by Jon Elmer (01:40:29).

Sadiq Khan faces death threats from Islamist extremists, source says

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 February, 2024 - 20:10

News comes days after London mayor, who has round-the-clock police protection due to terrorist threats, is accused of being under Islamist control

The mayor of London has faced death threats from Islamist extremists, the Guardian has learned in the same week he was accused by a former senior Tory MP of being under their control.

Sadiq Khan has been receiving police protection, usually reserved for a handful of senior cabinet ministers or royals, since 2017.

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