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It’s not just Brexit

Indigo Jo Blogs - 1 August, 2021 - 18:17
A section of a Sainsbury's store where the shelves of milk substitutes are either sparsely-stocked or empty.Half-stocked shelves at a Sainsbury’s in Bedfordshire

Anyone who shops in any British supermarket (which is to say, pretty much anyone who lives in the UK) will have noticed that there are shortages of some goods, with some whole areas of shelving bare. So far, this hasn’t been anything essential, but the it’s often inconvenient and requires time-consuming visits to multiple stores to get what could previously been bought from one. While some have sought to blame driver absenteeism stemming from the so-called pingdemic, i.e. the recent upsurge in Covid cases resulting from the spread of the Indian or Delta variant, it’s also been pointed out that supermarkets on the Continent aren’t empty. While the Brexit deal still allows goods to come in from the EU without any tariffs, the new arrangements do impose additional bureaucracy which are a deterrent to hauliers to sending drivers here (and to drivers to agreeing to come here). However, Brexit has revealed other problems in the industry which have arisen right now partly because of the pandemic.

During the period following the 2004 accession of much of the former Eastern Bloc to the EU, at which point the UK and Ireland (unlike the rest of the former EU) allowed nationals of those countries to freely settle and work, Britain’s logistics industry made itself substantially dependent on this foreign labour. In my experience, it relieved British hauliers of having to invest in and take a risk on British talent. Many companies took out insurance policies which required them not to hire drivers who had held their licence for under two years; this meant that newly qualified truck drivers found it very difficult to get any work. In addition, very few companies sponsored drivers through their training (which bus companies did, and indeed prominently advertised this). They were able to do this because there was no shortage of drivers thanks to the “reserve army” (as one pro-Brexit blogger calls it) of drivers from eastern Europe. Wages stagnated; in most of the country there were and still are companies offering barely above minimum wage for both rigid and articulated truck driving. In addition, continental hauliers could pick up and drop loads while in the UK under EU cabotage rules; they could carry three such loads before having to leave (usually with a load, of course) but could come back as soon as that load was delivered. (Since Brexit, that limit has been reduced to one load.)

So, after Britain left the EU (with a deal that was cut specifically to allow us to prevent future EU worker immigration) and after drivers were held on motorways for days after the Kent variant of Covid ran rampant around the UK last December, a good many foreign drivers decided it was no longer worth working here and left. The rules that other countries applied after the 2004 accession that we could have applied but did not have now lapsed; drivers from Poland can work anywhere they like in Europe except the UK. Facilities for drivers on much of the Continent are a great deal better than here; there are more truck stops with better and cheaper food. Here, drivers are often expected to spend their nights in lay-bys where there are no facilities at all, not even toilets, and where they are at risk of fuel and load theft; actual truck stops are rare (and often closed at weekends), while service stations are expensive, with food subject to a mark-up as the vendors pass on the substantial rents to customers and almost no station offering independent vendors or speciality food.

A further factor pushing drivers out of the industry and deterring drivers who have left in the past 20 years from returning is the treatment drivers are expected to tolerate. Many large fleets consist of overly monitored trucks; speeds are restricted to below the actual limit and drivers can expect phone calls from the compliance depots demanding to know why they’ve stopped (many do not allow drivers to stop mid-route, and demand that they phone in if they do), or to second-guess their routing decision or to criticise their fuel economy score. An increasing number of depots have demeaning rules which are based on the assumption that drivers are thieves, morons or both. Many now require drivers to hand over keys when parked in the depot (not even just when being loaded) and sit in an enclosed room (sometimes effectively or actually a cage). Many companies refuse to allow drivers access to a toilet, regardless of how long a journey they have travelled; sometimes Covid is cited as an excuse. Some depots (particularly in the retail industry) require drivers to wait several hours before they will offload or reload, sometimes requiring trips to more than one loading bay. Recently some hauliers decided to boycott some major retailers, including Lidl, in response to their drivers being inconvenienced in this way, but many still allow their customers to treat their drivers with contempt even if drivers will walk out.

Pro-EU campaigners are calling for European truck drivers to be allowed back into the country to work. If they will come (and not all of those who left will return), it might solve a temporary crisis but will not solve the deeper problems that led to this crisis. (Waiving the much-derided Certificate of Professional Competence might also help get some former drivers back, even if temporarily.) British hauliers must not again be allowed to rely on low-wage labour from eastern Europe to get around having to pay decent wages or dealing with ‘demanding’ British drivers who want to maintain a normal standard of living rather than live in a multi-occupancy house and send money home. We must have a vast improvement in facilities on the road and an end to drivers being treated like dirt by both haulage bosses and depot management and staff. We rely on truck drivers to deliver everything we eat and everything we use and if they are not treated with respect, they will find other work and will tolerate the bottled water shortage if it means a less stressful and maybe even better-paid job with more consistent hours.

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A pile of mud won’t save Oxford Street

Indigo Jo Blogs - 26 July, 2021 - 22:09
A picture of a small artificial hill with thin vegetation and small trees with a metal staircase running up it. Part of Marble Arch can be seen to its right and a road, cars and a blue traffic barrier are in the foreground.Marble Arch Mound, London

The other day a Twitter friend posted a picture of a large mound which had been erected (temporarily) on the island next to Marble Arch in London and said she hoped this was a joke. Sadly, it’s for real: the structure, which resembles a spoil tip poised to engulf the actual arch and the rest of the roundabout, has viewing platforms at the top, opens today (26th July) and will be there until next January; visits have to be booked and tickets start at £4.50 for something that is on public land (if you’re in London, there are other hills you can visit for free, which may be nearer to you and offer better views than this). The local council seems to envisage it as a way to attract visitors back to Oxford Street; according to Westminster city council’s deputy leader, people “are not just coming to Oxford Street for the shops anymore; people are interested in experiences and destinations”.

The Guardian article does mention that Marble Arch’s location, in the middle of a major roundabout (the arch itself was originally outside Buckingham Palace, then relocated to an entrance to Hyde Park before the construction of the roundabout left it isolated), is a problem, but as a way of attracting people to Oxford Street, another aspect of its location lets it down. Marble Arch has a Tube station, but only on the east-west Central Line and that only serves one major rail terminal, Liverpool Street, which is at the far end of London. All the lines that serve major rail terminals arrive from the north or south at Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus or Bond Street. So, it’s out of the way for most people unless they’re heading between Oxford Street and Edgware Road or Hyde Park. It has bus links to Victoria and Paddington, but these are likely to be slower than the Tube. It does offer views over Hyde Park, but why would you pay to see that when you can take a walk in the park for nothing?

But in any case, this pile of mud doesn’t change the fact that Oxford Street is one of the most unpleasant places to shop in the country. It is choked with traffic, even though the traffic is mostly restricted to buses and taxis (though parts of it are open to other traffic as access to other roads). Regent Street, another street with a lot of prestigious shops along it, is also choked with traffic. Regent Street at least has the famous shops such as the Hamley’s toy shop; Oxford Street is full of the same chain stores you can find on any high street or suburban shopping mall where it is a lot safer to shop because of lack of traffic, but even they have been dying because of competition from online stores, sometimes the chains’ own. It is only people who do not know better who will travel miles to shop at chain stores on the only unpedestrianised high street in the country. The only way to save Oxford Street is to pedestrianise it and shift the buses and taxis to other nearby roads such as Wigmore Street and Brook/Grosvenor Street.

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My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards

Muslim Matters - 26 July, 2021 - 14:54

Trigger warning: miscarriage

I felt it as I hobbled nearly doubled-over towards the car on our way to the ER. The pain that surged through my body didn’t allow me to process what I knew had just happened.

“Don’t freak out if you don’t hear a heartbeat,” the RN (Registered Nurse) assured me as he was using a portable ultrasound machine on my abdomen. It was my first ultrasound of the pregnancy, my first ultrasound ever. “The vast majority of women experience bleeding in their first trimester and continue on to have completely healthy pregnancies. Only a certain percent of bleeding results in miscarriage.” One, then two, ultrasound machines later, and a heartbeat was still undetected. The doctor came into the room finally with another ultrasound machine. Nothing. At this point, I was drenched in the physical pain I was experiencing and confused, numb, and panicked.

The RN kindly asked, “Before we send you in for the internal ultrasound, I noticed your bladder is quite full. Do you want to use the restroom while you wait?” Yes. I hadn’t noticed the incredible pressure building in my bladder. For two hours, I was locked into a fiercely single-minded concentration on the pain I was experiencing and how and when it would eventually end. The pain was so excruciating that I had never experienced anything like before, I could only in hindsight equate to contractions, whatever I imagined those to feel like.

I saw it, in the bathroom. I tearfully begged my husband to come inside with me because I was too scared to go into the bathroom alone—too scared because I didn’t know if something would come out of my body and fall into the toilet or if my bleeding would be extraordinarily severe. I was too afraid to go to the bathroom alone since eight o’clock that night when I noticed my spotting had turned bright, bright red. What I had felt leave my body while we were getting to the car, I saw sitting there on the pad I had been wearing. It was my first baby—I didn’t think about it in those terms then—I thought about it in the terms that the RN later kindly explained to me: the “products of conception.” I gasped and sobbed in the ER bathroom, trying to muffle my voice, as I sat on the toilet seat relieving my bladder. What I said to my husband when I saw the results of our first pregnancy loss, I can’t recall. My husband had gotten a zipper seal bag from another nurse for me before we went into the bathroom so that I could place the reusable pad I was using inside to take it home later and wash it as usual. I asked my husband if I should show what I saw to the nurse.

He didn’t know.

I placed my pad as it was in the bag and I informed the RN, who wanted to show it to the doctor.

The doctor, with his unmoved, unmoving serious calm, said, “You’ve had a miscarriage this morning…” I knew it at last with certainty. Finally, I knew it, conclusively and without a doubt. It felt like my soul left my body. I locked my eyes on the doctor and experienced the scene both from where I was sitting on the hospital bed and as if I were simultaneously floating above. Finally, after five hours of being in the ER, after spotting and bleeding starting around noon the day before, it was over. I didn’t have to worry about if I had the baby or not anymore.

“Can I take some pain medicine now? I really need some naproxen.” The doctor responded, “The pain you’ll experience will be much more than you’ve experienced in the past. You’ll need something stronger.”

He was right—the pain was much more than I had ever experienced and had ever imagined it could be. Pain of all sorts. Physical. Mental. Emotional. Spiritual. When I lost my first pregnancy, I was ten weeks pregnant and the products of conception had stopped developing at the six-week point. I barely felt pregnant—yes, I had some minor symptoms, but everything was great. I had just started my semester student teaching high school English at a local public school, and other than taking a ten-minute nap during my free period and my abdomen swelling the slightest bit, I didn’t really feel the pregnancy much at all. I hadn’t even processed that I was pregnant. I had only told my husband, my personal trainer, and my older sister who was getting married in the summer and needed my measurements for a bridesmaid’s dress. Nobody else knew—we were planning on telling everyone once the first trimester was over because that’s what everyone did. You’re supposed to wait until the first trimester is over to tell people just in case you lose the pregnancy. Well, we lost the pregnancy and we still had to tell people.

My husband texted his old imam, asking what we should do with the remains of the…fetus? Embryo? What was it even at that six-week mark? The RN reassured us to take our time deciding if we needed a burial or not—he was Catholic and he thought all unborn life was sacred. He gave us the number to call if we’d like to collect the remains ourselves later.

I texted my cooperating teacher and supervisor at the school. I told them I was at the hospital being discharged after having a miscarriage. It was around the time that I would normally leave to get to school in the morning, but I was going home to get some sleep. Once my husband and I got back into the car, I said, “We’ll have to tell our parents. I just don’t know how and I can’t. You have to do it.” He called them later that morning after I was in bed. He did not want to do it. “Good news and bad news, but everything is okay. We just came back from the ER. Meena was pregnant, but she had a miscarriage. She’s fine and everything is okay.” I didn’t know what his parents or mine said. I couldn’t listen. My mom wanted to talk to me, but when my husband tried to give me the phone I just cried and shook my head. I can’t remember if I spoke to her or not, I can’t remember what she said.

I thought one day of rest would be enough. I felt so alone at home that day. My husband went to work in the afternoon to finish up an experiment. When he left, I felt even more alone. When I was pregnant, it felt like I was never alone—even though I had barely thought about the baby that was growing inside of me. It was like a protective shield against loneliness which gave me a little bounce in my step as I walked through the high school halls. Just being in the high school environment made me question myself with little swells of teenage angst I was absorbing from my students—but I would remind myself that I was pregnant and I felt cool, of all things. I was incredibly nervous to go into student teaching and test out my chops as a teacher, but being pregnant was my invisible, secret talisman. I was so busy in my last semester of graduate school and teacher training that I had subconsciously pushed the thought of the realities of the pregnancy to when I’d graduate at the end of the semester and how I’d have to figure out what I’d be wearing since I’d be showing at that point.

The pregnancy was just a part of my body at that point and not much else.

After spending the first miserable day after the miscarriage feeling so alone, I decided to go to school the next day. I was still feeling physically ill as if I was having the worst period of my life. It did feel nice to get back to my normal routine, to see my students and talk to them. It felt so good until I had hall duty at the end of the day. A teacher who I had spoken to a few times here and there was walking through the halls carrying a baby in her arms. She said hello to me as she passed and I responded, asking her if that was her daughter. And then I exploded into sobs.

Alarmed, she asked, “Honey, is everything okay?”

“I’m—I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to cry, I just, I just…I just had a miscarriage yesterday,” I replied, choking and sputtering.

“Yesterday?” she exclaimed, in disbelief. “What are you doing here? Should I leave with her so that you don’t–?”

“No! She’s beautiful, you don’t have to leave.”

“You need to go home, go find your teacher and tell her you’re leaving,” she responded with the stern sympathy only a teacher has.

That was the moment when I realized what I lost wasn’t just the pregnancy, but the baby that I could have held in my arms a year later, the baby I could have walked around the halls with at my school two years later. Of course, that was only the beginning of understanding what I had lost. Even today, three years and a healthy two-year-old child later, I don’t fully understand what I lost that day.

What I experienced for the next couple of months was one of the most trying periods of my life. I blamed myself for the miscarriage. Why did I have to run two blocks to catch the bus with a heavy backpack on my back earlier on the day of my miscarriage? Couldn’t I just have waited twenty minutes for the next bus? What was wrong with me? Could I get pregnant but not carry a pregnancy to full-term? Would I ever have another pregnancy or a pregnancy that resulted in a healthy baby after that? My mind was plagued with questions and doubts and I spent so much time living inside those fears and unknowns. I thought I was ready to have a kid when I got pregnant—this was a planned pregnancy. It happened so quickly and everything was so smooth up until the miscarriage…was I deluding myself? Was I not ready? Was Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) slowing me down because I needed to grow up some more or…for some other reason? The confusion I experienced was overwhelming and sometimes shook me to my core.

The one thing that really helped me was talking to people. At first, I had to tell so many people that I had lost a pregnancy because of what was going on in my graduate program. Suddenly so many faculty and administrators knew of my predicament and I heard so many words of sympathy, encouragement, and kindness. I heard other women tell me that they experienced miscarriages, too—women who were as old as my mom and even older. It felt so nice to talk about it and get the “secret” out that I started calling the friends who I stayed in touch with, some of them who were still single and not even close to being pregnant. I talked and talked; I was healing myself with sharing. It felt so good that I couldn’t help it sometimes and when a cashier would casually ask me how I was doing, sometimes I would just blurt it out, word vomit: I had a miscarriage recently and it’s been hard. Sometimes I’d get blank stares (not really an appropriate level of sharing at a grocery store…) but sometimes I’d get sad smiles or encouraging words. The more I shared with others, the more they shared with me. I soon found out that I was far from the only person who had a miscarriage and as a matter of fact, many of the women I knew had miscarriages in their first pregnancies. I also encouraged my husband to share with others. I don’t think he shared as much as I did, but he had a right to share if he wanted with others because this was his pregnancy, too, wasn’t it?

I don’t think he shared as much as I did, but he had a right to share if he wanted with others because this was his pregnancy, too, wasn’t it?Click To Tweet

The few messages that stood out the most to me are the ones that follow.  Our imam, who is from West Arica originally, said that in his culture, a miscarriage is a good sign because it shows that a baby is coming soon. I didn’t get it at the time, and I don’t get it now, but at least I knew that in one culture having a miscarriage isn’t some weird dirty secret that symbolizes a woman’s failure to carry a child.

My husband’s aunt, who is an OBGYN, said to us that she says this to all of her patients who lose a pregnancy, and even to her daughter after she had a miscarriage herself. “When you’re planting a garden, you get some seeds and put them in the soil. You water them, you give them sunlight, and you treat them all the same. Most of them grow into plants, but some of the seeds never grow.” That’s what a miscarriage is — a seed that didn’t grow because it just couldn’t. I took care of the seed, but the seed wasn’t destined to blossom into a beautiful plant. There is neither any control nor any failure on the part of the caretaker of that seed. And lastly, I loved reading a post that Shaykha Maryam Amir Ebrahimi wrote reflecting on her own experience with pregnancy loss (related talk she gave). She touched on so many of the raw emotions that I felt as well as brought me some solace from an Islamic perspective, mentioning the rewards that a mother gets for losing a child in that way.

Three years later, the lost pregnancy is still a part of my life and it’s a fact that I don’t conceal unnecessarily from others. If people talk to me in detail about my experience being pregnant or a mom, I often share with them that I have had two pregnancies—the fruits of one is running around at our feet and the fruits of the other go largely unknown. It isn’t overwhelmingly painful for me to talk about anymore—perhaps because I have a (second/first?) child now—but I do think sharing and talking healed me as well. With all these conversations I have had with women in the last few years who have experienced pregnancy losses or stillbirths or infertility issues or even abortions or unplanned pregnancies, I have come to know how common it is to not be on an easy path towards having children and I have learned a lot about mourning and coping and moving forward.

But I know that not all people want to or are capable of sharing about their fertility complications. Although keeping those struggles to myself would be destructive for me, personally speaking, I guess I am also coming to terms with the fact that some people might have to keep that private in order to heal. It’s complicated by our cultural understanding of miscarriages—and if you’re wondering what is the cultural understanding of miscarriage in America, look no further than the term “miscarriage,” which feels like it blames the mother, and by asking yourself how many women do you know who have talked about losing a pregnancy. I fluctuate between being annoyed and severely wounded when close friends or family members confide in me that they had a pregnancy loss months or even years ago—but that’s a weakness I have to overcome myself. My way of dealing with my miscarriage is not the way everyone I love and care about will deal with theirs.

In the last month, I think I managed to get the rest of the closure I was looking for by naming the child of our first pregnancy. I told my husband that I wanted to name our first, and lost, child, because I wanted that child to feel more real to me, as real as our son feels to us now. We never found out the gender of the child from the first pregnancy, but we both agreed we thought it was a boy. (We’re biased since we have a son now.) Still, I told him I wanted to name the baby a gender-neutral name, just in case it could have been a girl. I chose the name Rayyan—the name of one of the gates of Paradise. Now every time I think of our Rayyan, I think of how a door may have been opened for me due to my loss. Now I have an easy way of thinking and communicating my loss: when I lost Rayyan three years ago, after the miscarriage in which I lost Rayyan…etc.

One thing that I have learned the hard way for myself is that I will never keep a pregnancy, no matter how early on it is, to myself. If I need that person’s support going through a potential pregnancy loss, I will tell them about the pregnancy as soon as I have a chance to do so. I’m tired of the secrecy and the shame and the taboo around pregnancies and miscarriages.

Losing a pregnancy is difficult and perhaps losing your first pregnancy is even worse. It has been a long road of recovery for me, but I hope that sharing my experience helps others who are also grieving a loss and helps destigmatize a common loss that many suffer.

When Children Die: On Tragedy, and What is Reported about the Death of Believing Children

Positively Muslim in the West: Sister Hafizah Ismail of Children of Jannah

The post My Miscarriage And Healing Afterwards appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Zakat Eligibility of Islamic Organizations

Muslim Matters - 20 July, 2021 - 11:25

All Praise Be to Allah, and May His Blessings and Peace Be on His Final Messenger 

In response to a question about the zakat (zakât, zakâh) eligibility of a non-profit organization whose purpose is to gather detailed information on the Muslim communities in the West, AMJA issued the following fatwa: 

The principle regarding the expenditures of Zakat is its limitation to the eight categories mentioned in the verse: 

{Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Surah Al-Tawbah 9:60] 

However, some past scholars believed much can fall under the term “and for the cause of Allah,” and many contemporary scholars believe it includes protecting the interests of Islam and the Muslims, da‘wah, intellectual efforts, and any related projects that promote them. This was also the conclusion reached by the Islamic Fiqh Council in their 8th conference. Therefore, if the work done by this organization and others like it, which includes gathering detailed and beneficial information concerning Muslims and making them available to those involved in da‘wah, [and to] think tanks and policy makers, serves those objectives, then it is eligible to receive Zakat – according to this opinion. In conclusion, AMJA would like to remind all organizations which receive Zakat and [that] benefit from charity of the importance of attentively adhering to the parameters set by the Shariah on receiving and spending Zakat in the correct fashion.

AMJA has issued other fatwas to the same effect. These fatwas have been used by many organizations seeking to collect funds through zakat. Such a “trend” in the community caused some sincere observers to be concerned about the change of the focus of zakat from fighting poverty to supporting different organizations. Some of the feedback we received was reasonable, but at times, people’s emotions made them lose objectivity or even transgress. Although I am a member of the Resident Fatwa Committee of AMJA, I write this article in my individual capacity. Its purpose is to clarify AMJA’s position and contribute to the discourse on the prudent application of this fatwa. 

I have divided this article into 4 segments:

  1. Introduction 
  2. The zakat eligibility of da‘wah organizations and others defending the cause of Islam and Muslims 
  3. The difficulty of establishing stringent guidelines 
  4. Recommendations for Muslim organizations and individual donors
Introduction

This is an issue that is loaded with emotions. Many people fail to see that zakat has eight categories of recipients, and that although fighting poverty is its primary purpose, it is not the only aim. Furthermore, while this discourse is bound to be “emotive-intellectual,” the use of rhetorical devices and logical fallacies should be avoided whenever possible. At least, they should not be intentionally used to score vain victories. We do understand that controversy regarding money and its distribution has been a fixture of human history. We also understand that people are affected by their intellectual milieu, and that our community in this part of the world leans to the “left.” We also remember how a great Companion like Abu Dharr (raḍiya Allâhu ‘anhu – rAa), who was not surpassed in sincerity by anyone, as described by the truthful one (al-Ṣâdiq, pbuh), fervently disagreed with the rest of the Companions about these issues. And while we agree with the rest of the Companions, we will always love and revere Abu Dharr and respect his motives. Having said that, I would also like to remind the reader that the first one to suffer from accusations of maldistribution of public money was none other than the Prophet (pbuh) himself – al-Ameen! There is the well-known hadith in which a proto-Kharijite person accused him of injustice. The following story, however, better demonstrates the complexity of the subject and its emotive aspect. It is long, but there may be more lessons to learn from it than from the rest of the article. 

The context of this hadith is that from the spoils (war booty) of the battle of Ḥunayn, the Prophet gave massive grants to those of the former enemies whose hearts he intended to win and to those whose faith was still questionable. 

Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that when Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) distributed some grants to [the people of] Quraish and [among some] other Arab tribes, the Ansar [Anṣâr] did not receive anything from it [the booty], so they [were disappointed and] felt saddened. Some words started to go around about that, till one of them said: By Allah, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has met his [own] people (i.e., he has reconciled with them and forgotten about us). Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubâdah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) came to the Messenger of Allah and said: O Allah’s Messenger, this group from among the Ansar are [feeling] sad within themselves about what you have done with the spoils which you have acquired… The Prophet asked: And how do you feel about this, O Sa‘d? He replied: O Allah’s Messenger, I am just one of them. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: So, gather for me your people in this place… So Allah’s Messenger came to them. He praised Allah and glorified Him duly, then he enquired: O people of the Ansar, what have I heard about you, and about the sadness you have felt among yourselves? Didn’t I come to you while you were astray, then Allah guided you, and you were poor, and Allah enriched you, and you were enemies to one another, but Allah joined your hearts together? They said: Yes, and the greatest favors are from Allah and His Messenger. Then he said: Do you not answer me, O people of the Ansar? They replied: And by what can we answer you O Allah’s Messenger? Truly the greatest favors are from Allah and His Messenger. He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded:

أَمَا وَاَللَّهِ لَوْ شِئْتُمْ لَقُلْتُمْ، فَلَصَدَقْتُمْ وَلَصُدِّقْتُمْ: أَتَيْتَنَا مُكَذَّبًا فَصَدَّقْنَاكَ، وَمَخْذُولًا فَنَصَرْنَاكَ، وَطَرِيدًا فَآوَيْنَاكَ، وَعَائِلًا فَآسَيْنَاكَ. أَوَجَدْتُمْ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ فِي لُعَاعَةٍ مِنْ الدُّنْيَا تَأَلَّفْتُ بِهَا قَوْمًا لِيُسْلِمُوا. وَوَكَلْتُكُمْ إلَى إسْلَامِكُمْ، أَلَا تَرْضَوْنَ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ أَنْ يَذْهَبَ النَّاسُ بِالشَّاةِ وَالْبَعِيرِ، وَتَرْجِعُوا بِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ إلَى رِحَالِكُمْ؟ فَوَاَلَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَوْلَا الْهِجْرَةُ لَكُنْتُ امْرَأً مِنْ الْأَنْصَارِ، وَلَوْ سَلَكَ النَّاسُ شِعْبًا وَسَلَكَتْ الْأَنْصَارُ شِعْبًا، لَسَلَكْتُ شِعْبَ الْأَنْصَارِ. اللَّهُمَّ ارْحَمْ الْأَنْصَارَ وَأَبْنَاءَ الْأَنْصَارِ وَأَبْنَاءَ أَبْنَاءِ الْأَنْصَار . 

By Allah, if you wished, you could have said, and you would have been truthful in [saying] it and would have been believed, that: You came to us accused of being a liar but we believed you, and you came to us forsaken and we supported you, and you came to us as a refugee and we sheltered you, and you came to us poor and we aided you. Did you feel saddened, O Ansar, for a trifle of this worldly life that I used in order to reconcile the hearts of some people [to Islam], and entrusted to you your faith in Islam that Allah has given you? Would it not please you, O Ansar, that the people return to their homes with sheep and camels, and you go back to your homes with the Messenger of Allah? By He in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul , had it not been for the Hijra I would have been one of the Ansar, and if the people [altogether] take one way and the Ansar take another, I would take the way of the Ansar. O Allah, have mercy on the Ansar, and the children of the Ansar, and the children of the children of the Ansar!

[Upon hearing this] the people wept bitterly till they wet their beards, and they said: We are pleased with the Messenger of Allah as our share and fortune.1

People have various psychological and ideological inclinations. It is absolutely fine for someone, who is so inclined, to give all of his zakat to the poor. This is true according to the majority. It is, however, unacceptable for people to condemn someone else who may decide to give some of his or her zakat for other purposes. We know, for example, that the Mâlikis and Ḥanbalis still consider the category of “those whose hearts are to be reconciled” to be applicable to non-Muslims. And while such expenditure should be done by the imam or his deputies (including major Islamic organizations in today’s circumstances), it is legitimate for individual Muslims to give their entire zakat of one year for this purpose. This money could be used to lobby policymakers or to support some of them for the interests of the Muslim community: not to usurp the rights of other communities, but to defend our own. 

Those who may decide to avoid this position because of their religious conviction or benefit/harm assessment should not deny others the right to choose their own position and to make their own benefit/harm assessment. This is assuming that such a decision is based on textual proofs and legal principles, and not, for instance, on assessment using other criteria that vary with time, such as a risk–benefit ratio. In other words, it is imperative that we are not violating an established (i.e., not merely reported) consensus, specific to the issue at hand, that is not simply based on maṣlaḥah (securing benefit and removing harm). For if we deviate from that, an opponent can “deny” us the right to adopt our own position. Technically, in the legal context, inkâr (condemnation) is warranted when someone deviates from such consensus, and we must respect that. We are not by any means calling for the “deregulation” of the religion.

A more detailed discussion about the concept of the change of fatwa can be found in this article. However, it must be said here that the realization of the effective causes (manaṭât) of the legislation and its higher objectives is an ongoing exercise that should be deferred to those scholars most grounded in knowledge and most aware of the reality. Quoting text or traditional fatwas can be done by many. Understanding the manaṭât of the text is the responsibility and prerogative of the fuqahâ’. Realizing such manaṭât in changing realities is the work of those among them most aware of such realities. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“يحْمِلُ هَذَا العِلْمَ مِن كُلِّ خَلَفٍ عُدُولُهُ يَنْفُونَ عَنْه انْتِحالَ المُبْطِلِينَ وتَأْوِيلَ الجَاهِلِينَ وتَحْرِيفَ الغَالِينَ”

“In every generation, their reliable authorities will steward this knowledge, rejecting the frauds of the false claimants, the interpretations of the ignorant, and the changes made by the extremists.” 

The zakat eligibility of da‘wah organizations and others defending the cause of Islam and Muslims 

The intent of this segment is to show that the position adopted by AMJA is a mainstream position among the contemporary scholars. Those who disagree with it should at least find it sâ’igh (excusable/defensible). This will not be a detailed analysis of the different positions, so I will not mention the evidence for the counter positions in detail. Such evidence can be sought in the books of fiqh. I will start by presenting a typology of the positions on this matter, followed by the evidence that were (or could be) cited in support of AMJA’s position. 

A typology of positions

There is usually a spectrum of positions in such controversial matters. However, for simplification, I will mention the main positions concerning the scope of the category of “for the cause of Allah.” I will also mention the other categories that can be invoked in support of the zakat eligibility of Muslim organizations defending the cause of Islam and Muslims. 

There are five main positions concerning the meaning of “for the cause of Allah” in the following verse outlining the eligible zakat recipients:

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْعَامِلِينَ عَلَيْهَا وَالْمُؤَلَّفَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَالْغَارِمِينَ وَفِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ ۖ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

{Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakat] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.} [Surat at-Tawbah 9:60]

Position 1: It means the fighters for the cause of Allah. We may safely say that this is the position of the majority of earlier scholars. However, when we address positions 3 and 4, we will come to realize that many of them did not strictly limit it to fighters. 

Position 2: Diametrically opposite this first position, we have the position that it is the apparent meaning of the phrase: all the good causes of Allah (some have specified it as meaning all public interests of Muslims), including building and maintaining mosques and dams, shrouding the dead, teaching the Qur’an, supporting students of knowledge and missionaries, and so forth. This is the position reported by Imam al-Qaffâl from some jurists, and supported by imams like Qâḍi ‘Iyâḍ2, al-Râzi3, al-Kasâni (see details below)4, and al-Ṭeebi5, and of the latter scholars, by al-Ṣan‘âni, Shihâb al-Deen al-Aloosi, and Ṣiddeeq Hasan Khan6, and of the scholars who died after 1900, by al-Qâsimisi, Muhammad Râshid Reda7, the grand shaykhs of al-Azhar, namely Musṭafa al-Marâghi8, Maḥmoud Shaltoot, ‘Abd al-Majeed Saleem, and ‘Abd al-Ḥaleem Maḥmoud, and the grand mufti of Egypt, Muhammad Hasanayn Makhlouf, whose position became the standard position of Dâr al-Iftâ’. It is also the position chosen by Nadwat al-Iqtiṣâd al-Islâmi (Islamic Economic Forum), convened in Amman, Jordan in 1983 under the leadership of the late towering Ḥanafi fiqh scholar, Sh. Muṣṭafa Ahmad al-Zarqa9. 

Between these two ends of the spectrum lie the three other positions that considered this category a specific one but did not limit it to fighters. They added one or more of the following:

Position 3: It includes financing the wâjib hajj and ‘umrah for those who cannot otherwise afford to go. This is the authorized Ḥanbali position10. It is also the position of the Companions Ibn ‘Abbâs, Ibn ‘Umar, and Ḥuẓaifah, and of al-Ḥasan of the Tâbi‘een, and others11.

Position 4: It includes the students of knowledge. This is the position of many Ḥanafis, as in al-Zaheeriyah and Ḥâshiyat Ibn ‘Abideen. However, unlike the majority, the Ḥanafis qualify all the categories except the zakat collectors by need (al-ḥâjah), although Ibn ‘Âbideen12 cites a different position that excludes students of knowledge from this and permits zakat for those of them who own a niṣâb13. The Maliki scholar, al-Ṣâwy, argued that they are eligible, according to Imam Malik’s madhhab, even if they are rich, because they are “mujâhidoon.”14 It is noteworthy here that the Shafi‘ees15 and Ḥanbalis16 consider those students of knowledge who are capable of earning eligible to receive zakat if they dedicate their time to the pursuit of learning. They do not extend the same right to those devoted to worship. They would still classify this as belonging to the category of the “poor.” It is obvious, however, that they are in different ways allowing the student of knowledge to receive zakat because of the ummah’s need for their knowledge.

Position 5: It includes all forms of jihad, including intellectual jihad through da‘wah, dispelling misconceptions, and defending the religion and its people through all legitimate means. This is the position chosen by AMJA in the fatwa above. It is also the position of the Islamic Fiqh Council17, the second-largest international fiqh assembly, as declared at their 8th conference. Notably, the decision passed with an absolute majority. It is also the position of the following fiqh bodies: The Permanent Fatwa Committee of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the Fatwa Committee of Kuwait, the Kuwaiti Zakat House, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments, and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Egypt18. It is also the position of the following notable contemporary scholars: the grand muftis of KSA, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim and ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Bâz, Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradâwi, Sh. ‘Abd al-Kareem Zaydân, Sh. ‘Abdullah Nâṣiḥ ‘Ulwân, Sh. Muhammad Sulaymân al-Ashqar, Sh. ‘Umar Sulaymân al-Ashqar, Sh. ‘Abdullah al-Muṣliḥ, Sh. Ṣalâḥ al-Ṣâwy, among many others19. It is important to mention here that all of the supporters of Position 2 would, a fortiori, support this narrower spectrum of eligible recipients. 

Is this category the only one invoked in supporting the zakat eligibility of Muslim organizations defending the cause of Islam and Muslims?

The short answer to this is “no.” We have scholars of the past and present who extended, via analogy, the category of zakat collectors to those serving the public interests of the community; they also cited textual evidence in support of their position. This was reported from Abu ‘Ubayd, and understood from the chapter headings of al-Bukhâri in his Ṣaḥeeḥ20. Some scholars like ‘Iyâḍ and others understood it from the instance in which the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used zakat money to pay for the blood-money of a man of the Anṣâr about whose death the Jews were accused21. In fact, Ibn Rushd pointed out how mainstream this position was when he stated,

“Those who permitted it for the collector, even when wealthy, permitted it as well for judges and others like them whose services are of benefit to the Muslim public.”22

It is also reasonable to pay students of knowledge who staff many of those organizations, for their dedication to learning and research, based on the large number of earlier scholars who allowed that, even if those students are capable of earning a living. 

It is also reasonable to pay the organizations who defend the legal rights of Muslims under the category of riqâb, based on the view that extends the meaning of this term to include freeing the captives and paying bail for the unjustly imprisoned.

As we said before, the Mâlikis and Ḥanbalis still consider the category of “those whose hearts are to be reconciled” operative and applicable to non-Muslims. Major Islamic organizations may use some zakat funds to lobby policymakers or support some of them to protect the legitimate interests of the Muslim community. Any research on the uses of this category in the Ḥanbali madhhab, for instance, would lead to this conclusion.

Evidence cited for the expansion of the category of “for the cause of Allah”

While it is extremely unlikely that all these scholars mentioned above and others would uphold a baseless view, it is still important to show their evidence if we are arguing for the defensibility of their position. Here are some. 

From the Qur’an

The Qur’an does not always use “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) to refer to jihad. A simple search would yield this conclusion. And with respect to spending in particular, there is also the following verse that infers that it is not restricted to that cause. Allah says, 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الْأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلَا يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

{O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.} [Surat at-Tawbah 9:34]

According to the majority, one may give all of his or her zakat to any recipient. If “for the cause of Allah” here means only the fighters, all those who are not giving their zakat to fighters would deserve that severe torment. 

Allah says, 

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

{So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with the Qur’an a great striving.} [Surat al-Furqān 25:52]

This verse can be cited by those who expand the concept of jihad to include intellectual jihad. 

From the Sunnah

The Sunnah also does not limit “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) exclusively to jihad. It is used in the context of a variety of good causes, including hajj and umrah, seeking knowledge, and even providing for oneself or one’s family. And with respect to spending in particular, the Sunnah also used the term to refer to other good causes. 

Umm Ma‘qil narrated: “When the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) performed the Farewell Pilgrimage, and we had a camel, Abu Ma‘qil dedicated it “for the cause of Allah.” Then we suffered from a disease, and Abu Ma‘qil died. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went out (for hajj). When he finished the hajj, I came to him. He asked: Umm Ma‘qil, what prevented you from coming out for hajj along with us? She replied: We resolved (to do so), but Abu Ma‘qil died. We had a camel on which we could perform hajj, but Abu Ma‘qil had bequeathed it “for the cause of Allah.” He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) responded: 

“فَهَلاَّ خَرَجْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ الْحَجَّ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ”

Why did you not go out (for hajj) upon it, for hajj is in the cause of Allah? 

While the hadith indicates that the prevalent use of the phrase “for the cause of Allah” was for fighting, it shows, along with other texts, that it does not refer exclusively to that. 

Like the Qur’an, the Sunnah attests to the intellectual jihad being a form of jihad. Of these traditions is the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying, 

‏ “‏ جَاهِدُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَأَلْسِنَتِكُمْ ‏”‏ 

“Use your property, your persons any your tongues in striving against the polytheists.”

From the Companions

As we said before, Ibn ‘Abbâs, Ibn Umar, and Huzaifah all considered hajj to be included in the category of “fi sabeel Allah” with respect to spending23. The Ḥanbalis may argue that none of the Companions contested this opinion, showing that this type of spending is included by their (tacit) consensus in this category. Those who expand it further may argue that, by the consensus of the Companions, this category was not limited to the fighters. 

From the Language

The apparent meaning of this phrase in the language is “for the cause of Allah.” It includes all good causes that draw us closer to Allah. This has been acknowledged by linguists and exegetes (mufassireen) alike24.

It was argued that when there is no clear takhṣeeṣ (specification) of the meaning of the verse in the Revelation, language, or ‘urf (common usage), its general purports should be upheld. 

Analogy

One may argue that analogy has no place in rulings on acts of worship. However, this, while somewhat true, is not an absolute principle. Any student of fiqh knows they applied to comprehensible rulings in the sphere of worship as well. There are examples mentioned above. Ibn Rushd’s statement about the fuqahâ’ widening the scope of “the collectors” via analogy is one25.  

Rational evidence 

Most of the struggle in our times is intellectual, and enormous resources are needed for da‘wah and dispelling misconceptions about the religion. ِAdditionally, in the current era, countries have standing armies, and they are not soliciting zakat for them. 

We often hear people say that we need homegrown scholars who understand the realities of our nascent Muslim community in the West, in general, and North America, in particular. I have found that many of the “foreign” muftis truly appreciate the needs of our communities, including the imperative to establish institutions that serve the interests of the religion and its followers, and they agree that zakat money may be used to secure such great need. For example, you will find the fatwa agency of Bayt al-Zakat al-Kuwaiti, one of the most active in researching this area of the law (and largely conservative in its opinions), making several distinctions between Muslim majorities and minorities, allowing the expenditure of zakat for da‘wah – and even for the building of mosques within the context of the latter26.

Those who argue that money will be diverted from fighting poverty may be overestimating the trend of supporting Islamic organizations from zakat money. We have no reliable statistics or studies to support such a claim. Even if the money that was typically sent from Muslim communities in the West to their fellow Muslims overseas is now partly diverted to fund legitimate local causes, this may be a result of the changing demographics of the community. We have more members of the faith now who are native to the West. They may have fewer ties to the majority-Muslim “homelands,” and they may also have a greater interest in establishing thriving organizations. Many earlier emigrants did not even want to buy graves in their new countries because they always planned to “go back home.” 

The fact that voluntary charity by the community is not sufficient to support all of its essential needs is acknowledged by most leaders of these communities. Zakat money has contributed greatly to the goals of serving the common interests of Islam and Muslims. This is attested to, even by those overseas, observing from a distance27. How could we blame someone for giving a portion of their zakat to the organization they believe brought them back to Islam or to practicing it? We must understand that da‘wah is the best way to “cultivate donors.” What we need to do is not to contest this “concession,” but rather to remind Muslim organizations and donors of the importance of zakat and other forms of charity and appropriate zakat stewardship. 

I hope that people who read this segment will find that the judicious expansion of the category of “fi sabeel Allah” (for the cause of Allah) to include all forms of intellectual struggle is supported by the ẓawâhir (apparent meanings) of the texts, and has been upheld by scores of notable ‘ulamâ’ of the past and present and that if someone chose another position as râjiḥ (weightier), they should be able to find this one as sâ’igh (defensible/excusable). This would mean refraining from inkâr (condemnation) of it and of those who uphold it. 

The difficulty of establishing stringent guidelines 

Some people expressed concern about the brevity of AMJA’s fatwa and the lack of guidelines. I must begin by saying that the fatwa committee of AMJA would have provided a more detailed answer to the question if it were putting forth an unprecedented position. It is not. It is a position that has been largely mainstreamed by fiqh bodies, fatwa agencies, and individual scholars. While there is extensive research on the subject, oftentimes, their fatwas were as “brief” as AMJA’s, or even briefer. Excessive regulations, unless warranted and supported by evidence, can cause more harm. People must be trusted to some extent in the phase of application. This applies to many areas of the law. Giving women a list of colors they cannot wear would be fraught with arbitrariness, lack of evidence, and inconsistency. Telling them to avoid colors that bring attention to them can be justified with much more ease. The extreme regulation of things that are meant to be left to the conscientiousness of humankind causes atrophy of that faculty. 

Guidelines (even arbitrary ones) by the recipient organizations are welcome. Stringent or exclusionary guidelines cannot be established by a mufti or a fatwa agency because the following legal principles may be invoked against them. 

Separating between equals and the a fortiori argument 

Many of the arbitrary guidelines laid down by organizations for public assurance cannot be demanded by fatwa agencies because they are legally (and sometimes rationally) incoherent, separating between equals or prioritizing for no good reason what is less important. When we say that giving da‘wah to others is part of intellectual jihad, some may say that preserving one’s capital takes priority over making profit; thus, financing Islamic schools from the zakat funds, to protect the deen of our offspring, should take priority over da‘wah, when such schools cannot otherwise survive. This is why the fatwa agency of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments, Sh. ‘Abd al-Ḥaleem Mahmoud, Sh. Yusuf al-Qaradâwi, and others argued that zakat may be given to finance them28.   

Giving da‘wah to Muslims in a small village in Egypt may not look like a form of “intellectual jihad.” But da‘wah to those Muslims at risk of losing their religion because of societal pressures or non-Muslim missionary efforts may be an eligible cause, and that is why the fatwa agency of Bayt al-Zakat al-Kuwaiti ruled that da‘wah among Muslim minorities would be eligible for zakat under the seventh category: “fi sabeel Allah.”29

The same or more could be said about building a masjid in a town or neighborhood of an indigenous community when it could not otherwise be built. It can always be argued that masâjid should be built from the crème of the crop of our wealth, not from the impurities we seek to cleanse ourselves of by paying zakat. But what if they cannot be built? This is exactly what Sh. Shaltoot argued when he said that a mosque should not be built from zakat money except when it cannot otherwise be built, in which case it is permissible30. This is AMJA’s position as well31.

The means to wâjib are wâjib and the means take the rulings of the ends

Another way to phrase it is “that which is necessary for the fulfilment of wâjib is wâjib.” Of course, this principle applies when such means are attainable by the mukallaf (responsible) agent. This principle can make the distinction between buying desks and chairs and paying researchers a risky one. That is why the Permanent Fatwa Committee of KSA allowed the use of zakat money by da‘wah organizations in the UK for buying a building and maintaining it, as well as paying its electricity bills, and so forth32.

If one says that zakat money may be used to support orphans, but it cannot be used to build orphanages, this argument may be invoked against them. That is why Bayt al-Zakat of Kuwait allowed its use for the building of orphanages, particularly for Muslim minorities33. 

Recommendations for Muslim organizations and individual donors 

Based on the foregoing, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.  

Recommendations for recipient organizations

(Organizations may have their own additional guidelines to demonstrate to themselves and others their good stewardship of the zakat money.)

Here are some that are most obvious. 

  • When an organization has several activities, they should direct their zakat money to those that are eligible, if they desire to follow one of the middle positions, 4 and/or 5. 
  • Organizations should be transparent about their finances. Those who will earn the people’s trust are those that achieve the expected level of transparency, particularly in a country like the USA where there are established ethics of transparency concerning the conduct of non-profit organizations. 
  • Zakat money should not be used for anything extravagant or unwarranted. When in doubt, avoid using it. Nothing is like safety. The objective is to defend the cause of Islam and Muslims, and while the means to wâjib are wâjib and the means take the rulings of the ends, it is particularly indicated in such controversial matters that we do not widen the scope of the means or consider the most distant means to be zakat eligible. No fixed rules can be placed here because of the infinite scenarios, but our conscientious stewardship of zakat money is essential. 
  • Organizations that use zakat money should have an objective mechanism to evaluate the salaries of their employees and avoid any conflict of interest. If they desire to abide by the one Ḥanafi position, for instance, that gives zakat only to those who are needy, including students of knowledge/researchers, they may give them what is enough to keep them above the poverty line. Traditionally, niṣâb was considered to represent that line. If the organizations follow the position of the majority, they will pay their employees at market value, not more. Of course, such value is commensurate with their training and skills. 
  • Over-decorating the mosques is disliked. “Charitable donations, even voluntary donations, should not be used to adorn the mosque except for a small amount that is customarily considered acceptable, that will not distract the worshippers, and which is not considered extravagant.” 34
  • Our mosques should be built using the purest of our wealth, not zakat money. The only exception is in indigenous communities or small towns where a mosque cannot otherwise be built. A mosque that is in debt can receive zakat money to pay off its debt35.
  • Those mosques that use zakat money to support their da‘wah program should be truly active in reaching out to non-Muslims and Muslims who are distant. These funds should not be used to simply support a halaqah for the regular masjid community. 
  • Islamic schools that decide to accept zakat money should have the wealthy pay full tuition. This will largely funnel the zakat money toward those already deserving of zakat because of their need36. 
  • All organizations that are capable of gradually weaning themselves from dependency on zakat money should attempt to do that, so as to avoid controversy. They should diversify their sources of income and, most importantly, develop awqâf for long-term stability. 
Recommendations for donors

Abu Hurairah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated: 

The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A man (from amongst the people before you) said: ‘Indeed! I will give in charity.’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a thief’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a thief last night.’ The man said: ‘O Allah! Praise be to You. I have given adaqah to a thief. Indeed, I will give in charity!’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a prostitute’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a prostitute last night.’ On hearing this, the man said: ‘Praise be to You, O Allah! I gave adaqah to a prostitute. Indeed, I will give in charity!’ So he took his adaqah out and placed it in a rich man’s hand. In the morning the people were talking (about this incident) and saying: ‘Ṣadaqah was given to a rich man last night.’ The man said: ‘O Allah! Praise be to You (for helping me) give charity to a thief, a prostitute, and a rich man.’ Then he had a dream in which he was told that his adaqah to the thief might result in his refraining from theft, his adaqah to the prostitute might help her abstain from immorality, and his adaqah to the rich man might help him pay heed and spend from what Allah had bestowed upon him.”37 

I decided to start with this hadith despite it not directly serving the purpose of this segment, because moderation is always good, even in preaching. There is no need to cause unwarranted anxiety. People need to learn about Allah’s fairness and mercy. Having said that, it is still the obligation of the donor to be thoughtful in giving their zakat. 

  • As a donor, I should learn about the cause I am supporting and the organization I am patronizing. I would favor transparent organizations that are truly and effectively defending the cause of Islam and Muslims. 
  • Also, according to the Shâfi‘ees, zakat must be equally divided between the eight categories of recipients. If one category cannot be found, then it should be equally divided between the remaining seven. While we uphold the position of the majority, it must be said that it would be favorable to include several categories in your giving of zakat. 
  • Moreover, the first two categories mentioned in the verse above about the recipients are the most deserving. They should never be neglected. They are the only ones mentioned in the hadith of Mu‘âdh where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to him, 

“‏ … فإنْ هُمْ أطاعُوا لذلكَ، فأعْلِمْهُمْ أنَّ اللَّهَ افْتَرَضَ عليهم صَدَقَةً تُؤْخَذُ مِن أغْنِيائِهِمْ فَتُرَدُّ في فُقَرائِهِمْ‏”‏ 

“…and if they obey you, tell them that Allah has made the payment of Zakat obligatory upon them. It should be collected from their rich and distributed among their poor.” [Al-Bukhâri and Muslim].

  • Finally, the affluent people of this ummah must be reminded of the virtue of voluntary charity. In fact, all of us must remind ourselves of that virtue. 

“فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا وَأَنفِقُوا خَيْرًا لِّأَنفُسِكُمْ ۗ وَمَن يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ”

“So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend in charity for the benefit of your own soul. And whoever is saved from the stinginess of their soul – it is those who will be the successful.” [At-Taghābun 64:16]

وصلى الله على محمد والحمد لله رب العالمين.

 

Notes: All footnotes are hyperlinked and can be accessed by clicking on the numeral.

1     This wording was reported by Ibn Hishâm in his Seerah. A variant version is in Muslim. Translations of the hadiths (with modifications when indicated) are from Sunnah.com except when noted. This particular translation was adapted from: “One of the most touching narrations you will read!,” Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem [blog post], January 2, 2015, https://alsiratalmustaqeem.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/one-of-the-most-touching-narrations-you-will-read/.2     Sharaf al-Deen al-Ṭeebi, Sharḥ al-Ṭeebi ‘ala Mishkât al-Maṣâbeeḥ, 1st ed. (Makkah: Maktabat Nizâr Muṣṭafa al-Bâz, 1997), 5:1541.3     Fakhr al-Deen al-Râzi, Mafâteeḥ al-Ghayb, 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dâr Ihyâ’ al-Turâth al-‘Arabi, 1420 AH), 16:87.4     Alâ’ ud-Deen al-Kâsâni, Badâ’i‘ aṣ-Ṣanâ’i‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1986), 2:45.5     Sharaf al-Deen al-Ṭeebi, Sharḥ al-Ṭeebi ‘ala Mishkât al-Maṣâbeeḥ, 1st ed. (Makkah: Maktabat Nizâr Muṣṭafa al-Bâz, 1997), 5:1541.6     Ṣiddiq Hassan Khan, al-Rawḍah al-Nadiyyah, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), 1:206.7     Muhammad Rasheed Reḍa, Tafsir al-Manâr, (Cairo: al-Hay’ah al-Miṣriyyah al-‘âmmah li-l-Kitâb, 1993), 10:499.8     Ahmad ibn Muṣṭafa al-Marâghi, Tafisr al-Marâghi, 1st ed. (Cairo: Maktabat Muṣṭafa al-Bâbi al-Ḥalabi, 1946), 10:145.9     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 83.10     Manșour ibn Yoonus al-Buhooti, Kash-shâf al-Qinâ‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, n.d.), 2:284.11     Muḥammad ibn Ismâ‘eel al-Bukhâri, Șaḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri. (Cairo: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Kubra al-Amiriyyah, 1311 AH), 2:122.12     Muhammad ibn Ameen ibn ‘Âbideen, Hâshiyat Ibn ‘Âbideen (Radd al-Muhtâr ‘Alâ ad-Durr al-Mukhtâr Sharh Tanweer al-Absâr), 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1421 AH), 2:343.13     Muhammad ibn Ameen ibn ‘Âbideen, Hâshiyat Ibn ‘Âbideen (Radd al-Muhtâr ‘Alâ ad-Durr al-Mukhtâr Sharh Tanweer al-Absâr), 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1421 AH), 2:340.14     Ahmad al-Ṣâwy al-Mâliki. Hâshiyat al-Ṣâwy ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalâlayn. (Beirut: Dâr al-Jeel, n.d.), 2:144.15     Yaḥyâ ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi, Al-Majmoo‘ Sharḥ al-Muhadh-dhab, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Fikr, 1997), 6:190.16     Manșour ibn Yoonus al-Buhooti, Kash-shâf al-Qinâ‘, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, n.d.), 2:271.17     “الفقه عام ( مقارن وفتاوى ) ” قرارات المجمع الفقهي الإسلامي للرابطة ـ مكة,” المكتبة العربية الكبرى, accessed June 10, 2021, http://arabicmegalibrary.com/texts/4548?page=39.18     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 46, 34, 54.19     Ibid, 99, 101, 105, 106, 107, 111, 126, 128. 20     Muhammad ibn Ismael al-Ṣan‘âni, Subul al-Salâm. (Cairo : Dâr al-Ḥadeeth, n.d.), 1:550.21     Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalâni, Fatḥ al-Bâri Sharḥ Saḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Ma‘rifah, 1379 AH), 12:235.22     Abu Al-Waleed ibn Rushd Al-Ḥafeed, Bidâyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihâyat al-Muqtaṣid, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ḥadeeth, 2004), 2:38.23     Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah, Mușannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 2nd ed. (Riyadh: Maktabat ar-Rushd, 1409 AH), 6:220. Muḥammad ibn Ismâ‘eel al-Bukhâri, Șaḥeeḥ al-Bukhâri. (Cairo: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Kubra al-Amiriyyah, 1311 AH), 2:122.24    Muhammad ibn Makram ibn Mandhoor al-Ifreeqi al-Miṣri, Lisân al-‘Arab, 3rd ed. (Beirut: Dâr Sâdir, 1414 AH), 11:320. Muhammad al-Barakti, al-Ta‘reefât al-Fiqhiyyah, 1st ed. (Beirut: Dâr al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003), 168.25     Abu Al-Waleed ibn Rushd Al-Ḥafeed, Bidâyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihâyat al-Muqtaṣid, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ḥadeeth, 2004), 2:38.26     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 174, 178.27     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 41.28     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 37, 105, and 114.29     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 178.30     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 102.31     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.32     Riyâḍ Manṣoor al-Khulayfi, Aqwâl al-‘Ulamâ’ fi al-Maṣrif al-Sâbi‘, 2nd ed. (Kuwait: Mabarrat al-Âl wa al-Aṣḥâb, 2007), 50.33     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 183.34     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.35     “12th Annual Imams’ Conference,” AMJA Online, accessed June 9, 2021, https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/12th-annual-imams-conference/.36     Al-Hay’ah al-Shar‘iyah: Khalid Shujâ‘ al-‘Utaybi et al. Aḥkâm wa Fatâwa al-Zakât wa al-Ṣadaqât wa al-Nudhoor wa al-Kaffârât, 13th ed. (Kuwait: Bayt al-Zakât, 2019), 180.37     al-Bukhâri

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False neutrality

Indigo Jo Blogs - 17 July, 2021 - 23:52
A picture of two beige skyscrapers with tall rectangular windows at random intervals. A series of different European flags can be found to the left in front of a two-storey red-brick building.European Court of Justice headquarters, Luxembourg

Last week the European Court of Justice ruled that employers have the right not to allow employees to wear ‘religious’ clothing (in this case, as is usual, the hijab or headscarf worn by Muslim women) if it is “justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes” if the employer has a “genuine need” to do so. The judgement is littered with language which talks of large and conspicuous ‘signs’ of a particular religion which could “cause conflict” and peddles the standard argument that the rule “appears to have been applied in a general and undifferentiated way” because another employee was required to remove a cross; in other words, if a rule applies to everyone, even though in practice it only affects some, it is not discrimination. It also claims that such ‘needs’ may include the “rights and legitimate wishes of customers” and of “parents’ wish to have their children supervised by persons who do not manifest their religion or belief when they are in contact with the children”. (More: Juveriah Alam @ CAGE).

An obvious flaw in this judgement is how fixated on the white view of hijab it is. Muslims are treated as newcomers, not as a large community which has been present in almost any European country for several generations. The doctrine that hijab represents a sign of a particular religion is repeated, although Muslims repeatedly tell them that it is an obligation and not some sort of identity badge. (It only serves as one today because head coverings have been abandoned by most other religious communities; in the past, it would not have distinguished a Muslim woman as being a Muslim, only as a respectable woman.) Islam does not really use symbols at all; there is no pictorial symbol of Islam, despite the ubiquity of the crescent and star on Muslim countries’ flags and so on; the original flag of Islam, now appropriated by Saudi Arabia, used the written Arabic shahada (this also appears on the flag of Somaliland).

In accepting the rights of customers not to be served by someone wearing an item of clothing associated with a particular religion, they are simply endorsing the right of a bigot to have their bigotry catered to. The correct solution to this is for all businesses not to discriminate, such that someone can either lump it or leave it; discrimination is what is costly, rather than refusal, and all businesses are required by law not to. As for the ‘rights’ of the parents: while we accept that teachers or carers should not use their position to actually preach, parents have no right for their child not to see anyone who follows a different religion to them which requires certain standards of dress. They cannot bring up their child with the illusion that the whole world is like their family; this is to bring them up in ignorance in a country with several million of a different religion. The logical conclusion of this ‘right’ is that the same parents have the right for their child not to be taught or looked after by Black or disabled teachers or care workers. (In the UK, certain people, including some newspaper columnists, complained when an amputee presenter appeared on the BBC children’s TV channel; the BBC kept her and the complaints died down. This is how you deal with bigotry; you do not appease it, you face it down.)

It also reveals the common white bias that allows the absence of hijab to be presented as ‘neutrality’. This does not consider the perspective of either the Muslim staff who are discriminated against or those in wider society who do not see people like them in key public facing roles or in education or the media. If a large section of the population are conspicuous by their absence, this is not neutrality but a policy of discrimination in favour of the majority, of the ‘norms’ of three generations ago when the country is presumed to have been monocultural and white, by underhand means. It also means that these people cannot have the confidence that they will be treated fairly or with respect by those serving them or those who have power over them, because those serving them will not have colleagues who are like them (there might be workers in lowly occupations such as cleaners who wear hijab, as is known to be the case in France, but this only reinforces the notion that they are inferior).

In a successful multicultural society, it is recognised that “just treating everyone the same” is not a recipe for equality; in fact, it’s a sure sign that someone does not understand the principles of equality. In much of Europe, a continent which has never really been able to accept different cultures (hence the recurrent persecutions and occasional genocides), this is a tactic used to implement discrimination while sidestepping laws that were designed to prevent it. Europe’s judges have not only failed to protect women from obvious discrimination based on their religion and sex (as Muslim men are not affected by this issue at all, as Arab and Turkish men in Europe tend to wear western clothing and if they do not, their clothing is regarded as cultural rather than religious), but are failing to stop Europe slipping back into its old ways of intolerance and ghettoisation.

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Goodbye To My Dear Son – Adam Salih

Inayat's Corner - 15 July, 2021 - 20:00
Adam picking cranberries in a park in October 2020

We buried my son yesterday – Wednesday 14th July 2021. His name was Adam Salih and he would have turned twenty-one on that day. It is not in the natural order of things for parents to have to bury their child.

Flashback: I have just returned home from work and my heart lifts as I see Adam. He is three years old and he runs up to me with his bright and eager eyes and issues his familiar demand: “Pick meeee uppppp!” Adam loves being held to adult height and then cuddled closely.

It is hard-wired into our DNA to protect our children from the danger around them. We would do anything for them. And yet, I could not protect my son from the dark cloud that I first noticed began hovering over him shortly after he turned sixteen. I witnessed his troubled and agonising struggle to escape the shadow of that cloud. Sometimes the cloud would appear to clear to a certain extent but you got the definite sense that the cloud was never very far away and indeed was closely tracking him. I could not grasp the full extent of the torment that was afflicting Adam on the inside.

This wholly innocent, gentle and sensitive boy endured so much over the past few years. He was so blameless and kind-hearted but was suffering inside while putting on a brave face for the rest of us so that we would not worry. We found out at the end of the last weekend that Adam had come to the conclusion that he could not endure the pain any longer and so had sought an escape from his illness in the only way he could think of.

The morning after Adam has passed away, I look for help to try and cope with what has happened. I send a message to a journalist and friend whom I have known for many years who I know has experienced a similar loss in the past and was also aware of Adam’s own struggle. He responds saying that I will feel wave after wave of overwhelming grief and that I will just need to let it all wash over me. He says that eventually the waters will calm and I will arrive at a place of peace. I am crying as I read this. Not normal tears but huge fat tears. The sea analogy is an apt one. At this time, however, I feel like I am on a little flimsy raft in the middle of an ocean. I cannot see land in any direction.

Flashback: It is the first Covid lockdown in the summer of 2020 and I am playing badminton in the garden with Adam. The sun is shining and I catch delightful glimpses of Adam breaking into a smile as he wins point after point against me. I am happy that Adam is beating me.

Calls of sympathy start coming in. I wish they wouldn’t and I bring them to a conclusion almost instantaneously – I find it impossible to finish a sentence at this early stage without breaking down. I receive text and WhatsApp messages. These are from friends I made during my activist years – friends who remained friends despite me seeming to alienate just about every UK Muslim group in the country with my frequently non-conformist views. I also receive kind messages from some surprising quarters. I try and find the time to read them all and try and respond whenever I feel up to the task. Please do not feel slighted if I was not able to respond. An old friend writes to remind me of the inspiring story of the long separation and re-uniting of Ya’qub (Jacob) and Yusuf (Joseph) in the Qur’an. The story inadvertently begins to make me feel bitter: even Ya’qub was allowed to see his son again in this world. I, however, will never see my handsome Adam or hear his voice again in this world and this thought is killing me right now.

I am just staggered at this turn of events. I go to Valentine’s Park in Ilford. It is a gorgeous park and Adam spent many blissful hours here as a little boy joyfully exploring and running around in the children’s playground. How did we get from there to here? I just don’t know. I was speaking with Adam less than two days ago and he had said he would be coming over to my home to eat. I keep shaking my head as I look at all the children now playing there. I desperately want my child back. Please God.

I am wracked with guilty questions: How could I have failed to notice the very recent danger signs which now seem so obvious? What kind of person would fail to notice and act on those signs?

Flashback: It is towards the end of 2020 and Adam is reading a book while he lies down on the large thick rug beside my bookcases. He likes to pull out a book to read and then sprawl out on the rug. I notice wryly that he always appears to select books on spirituality or the humanities – never my books about science.

I place my prayer mat where Adam used to lie down on the rug and imagine myself in this very same place but at an earlier time when he was reading here and I find myself trying to stroke his luxuriant hair. He was such a prodigious reader. He had no desire for material goods or money. The wealth Adam valued was knowledge and understanding. In the past three years he had taught himself Arabic, Latin and French and the art of drawing and how to play the flute. I really have no idea how he managed it. I was so incredibly proud of him.

My mum was younger than I am now when she passed away many years ago after contracting meningitis during the Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah). I recall being bitter at the time of mum’s death too. In time, however, I was comforted by the knowledge that this had been God’s Will and that she had gone to a much better place. My Adam has now gone and departed this world too after a much briefer period of time. And as with my mum, it is this same knowledge and assurance that what has happened is God’s Will and that Adam is now in a far better place and has finally found the relief and peace he was so desperately longing for that is my only solace at this time.

The Qur’an is explicit that we will all be tested in various ways. I console myself repeating Abraham’s words: “aslamtu li rabbil ‘aalameen” – I submit to the Lord of the Worlds.

It is the morning of Adam’s funeral and I am with the team at the Gardens of Peace cemetery near Hainault as they are performing his ghusl (washing of the body) prior to the Janaza (funeral) prayer. I feel stunned and numb as I now gaze at Adam’s body on the ghusl table. I shake my head in disbelief – that is my own son’s now inert body.

In our wider society we rarely discuss death, yet it is surely the bluntest of facts. The Qur’an reminds us that “Every soul shall taste death” (Qur’an 3:185). This realisation ought to force us to ask ourselves the profoundest of questions about what we are doing with our lives and how we relate to each other. All of us without exception will be joining Adam – we just don’t know when.

The kindness, compassion and professionalism shown by the entire GoP team throughout the day serves to soothe much of the pain we are all feeling today.

It is true that Adam’s body which we now see being lowered into the grave is lifeless, but I am convinced that his beautiful soul will surely find acceptance with His Creator. My lovely boy had been unwell and had suffered terribly through no fault of his own and I am comforted in the knowledge that Adam’s ultimate judge is God alone – not ill-educated ignorant human beings. And God informs us that “He is the Most Merciful of all that show mercy” (Qur’an 12:64).

Flashback: A couple of close friends are visiting me and my little Adam takes delight in proving to them that he is without question as strong as the Incredible Hulk and can jump equally great distances. Look – he can jump from the sofa on to the floor. Can there really be any doubt that he is a super-hero he seems to ask.

Yesterday, just a couple of hours after Adam’s burial, with those very same friends, we go to visit Adam’s grave together. Their support and banter helps to lift my spirits for a little while.

I have experienced a lot of anger at myself over the past few days as I have been floating on that raft in the middle of the wide ocean. New questions keep popping up and troubling me about what more I could and should have done to help Adam. I am not sure that those questions will ever go away or receive a fully satisfactory answer. A lifetime of Qur’an study convinces me nonetheless to be patient and persevere through this awful trial and if I place my trust in God alone, I will surely reach land and be re-united with my beloved Adam once again.

“…Never give up hope of God’s Soothing Mercy: truly no one gives up hope of God’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” (Qur’an 12:87)

It is that sure promise along with the kind support of our family and dear friends that enables me to cling on to that raft.

“The eyes weep and the heart grieves, yet we do not say anything but that which pleases our Lord.” (Sahih Bukhari)

See you soon, my darling boy. We all miss you so very much.

“To God we belong and to Him we return.” (Qur’an 2:156)

PS: The family has set up a Sadaqa Jariya fundraising page for Adam. All monies raised go directly to the Ummah Welfare Trust who have been instructed to set up water wells in a number of developing countries.

Reviving The Sacred Months: Dhul Hijjah (Part 1)

Muslim Matters - 14 July, 2021 - 13:17

The buzz of Ramadan has come and gone, leaving us with already-fading memories of days of fasting and nights of worship. Caught up in the bustle of our regular lives, especially as the world struggles to move towards a post-pandemic norm, we may find ourselves longing for another opportunity to ground ourselves spiritually. Just in time, Dhu’l Hijjah has begun! Some of us might be a little confused – okay, so what? We’re not going for Hajj, so what’s the big deal? It’s actually a very big deal. For all that we know of the incredible blessings of Ramadan (even non-Muslims know about Ramadan), too few of us know of the rest of the months of the Islamic calendar, and in particular, those months which were designated by Allah as being uniquely sacred. 

{Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…} (Surah al-Tawbah 9:36)

Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2958).

Of the four sacred months, Dhu’l Hijjah was singled out to be the most sacred of them all – even moreso than Ramadan.

Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, 2/457)

Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No deeds are more pure to Allah Almighty, nor greater in reward, than good deeds performed in the ten days of the month of sacrificing.” (Source: Sunan al-Dārimī 1774; Hasan (fair) according to Al-Albani)

In reference to the second verse of Surah al-Fajr, where Allah swears by the dawn and “wa layaalin ‘ashr,” Imam Ibn Kathir reported from Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Zubayr, Mujahid and others that “the ten nights” mentioned in this surah are referring to the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah. 

Altogether, the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah emphasize the unique importance of the month of Dhu’l Hijjah, and in particular, it’s first ten days. 

Ramadan duas

close up of men hand pure fresh sugar cane juice in plastic cup for Ramadan iftar buffet with Thai food menu. Food set including palm date, sweet and drink. Peopel waiting time for fast breaking. Top view.

Fasting

These are days of increased worship, akin to our increased worship in Ramadan; indeed, we are strongly recommended to fast the first 9 days of Dhu’l Hijjah. 

Hunaydah ibn Khaalid (may Allah be pleased with him) reported from his wife, from one of the wives of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, and may He be pleased with all of them), who said:

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to fast the first nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the day of ‘Ashoora’ and three days of every month. (Abu Dawood (2437))

Even if you’re unable to fast all nine days, try to fast at least a few of them, including the Day of ‘Arafah! For women in particular, this is an excellent opportunity to also combine the qadha’ fasts of Ramadan with the increased blessings of these days of Dhu’l Hijjah; for those who have already made up their days (or who plan on making them up later), or for men, it is also encouraged to make the intention for Sunnah fasting on Mondays and Thursdays alongside these days of Dhu’l Hijjah – essentially maximizing the rewards.

Dhikr

The first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah are a time when we have been urged to increase in our tahleel, takbeer, and tahmeed – that is, to recite the shahadah, to say Allahu akbar, and to say alHamdulillah repeatedly. Most of us are familiar with the takbeerat of ‘Eid – this is not just for ‘Eid, but for these days as well. 

Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“There are no days greater and more beloved to Allah than these ten days of Dhul Hijjah, so increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah, your exaltation of Him, and your praise of Him.” (Source: Musnad Aḥmad 5423)

If you have kids (and even if you don’t), a great way to incorporate this and make it part of one’s daily practice is to have the audio of takbeeraat playing on speaker so that everyone can hear it and be accustomed to reciting it as well. Find other creative ways to encourage this practice as well – go for a dhikr walk with your spouse, children, family members, or friends (just don’t turn it into a bid’ah by doing synchronized dhikr or something), or use a planner sheet with designated hourly/ daily goals, or set a timer for yourself (even if it’s just 5 minutes) throughout the day to take a dhikr break. 

Hand holding The Holy Quran on a white background

Qur’an, qiyaam (and other prayers), and sadaqah

Just as in Ramadan, we should be aiming to increase our recitation of the Qur’an, strive to pray qiyaam every night, and give sadaqah every day. You don’t have to do a full khatmah, but look at the goals you accomplished in Ramadan, and compare them to where you are now – and try to bridge the gap. Even if it’s just increasing from half a page of Qur’an to one page, or from two pages to four, or half a juz to a full juz, the rewards will be exponentially multiplied! 

With regards to prayers throughout the day, there are so many ways to increase one’s worship in simple ways. If you find it difficult to pray all your sunan ar-rawaatib (the voluntary prayers attached to the obligatory prayers) every day, challenge yourself to at least pray them during these days! The sunnah of Fajr is especially important, as RasulAllah told us

The two Rak’ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains” (Sahih Muslim). 

Salah adh-Dhuha is another oft-neglected sunnah with amazing rewards. It is an optional two-rakʿah prayer, performed in the time between sunrise and Dhuhr.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

In the morning, every single joint of yours must pay a sadaqah (charity). Every SubhanAllah is a sadaqah, every Alhamdulillāh is a sadaqah, every La Ilaha Illa Allah is a sadaqah, every Allahu Akbar is a sadaqah, every commanding good is a sadaqah, and every forbidding evil is a sadaqah, and all this is accomplished through two rakʿahs one can pray in Duha [prayer].” (Ibn Khuzaymah; authentic according to the conditions of Muslim. Sahih at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (1/164))

The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer then sits in his place of prayer remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two rakʿahs, shall be rewarded as if he had performed Hajj and ʿUmrah, with a reward that is complete, complete, complete.” (at-Tirmidhi (586), al-Mundhiri in at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (1/220), and Sahih al-Jāmiʿ (6346))

At night, schedule time after ‘Isha or before Fajr for qiyaam – even just two rak’aat! – just as we scheduled time for taraweeh in Ramadan. 

In the last ten nights of Ramadan, many of us set up a plan where we would give in sadaqah each night. Do the same for the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah! There are so many causes to give to, whether it is to support local Muslims in need, or contributing to causes such as supporting those in Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, the Rohingya, the Uighurs, and others. Now more than ever, we cannot forget how many Muslims – in our own cities and towns, as well as overseas – are suffering from starvation, ethnic cleansing, crippling poverty, and more. 

…The first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah are incredibly precious and should not be wasted – its significance in our hearts should be on part with the significance that we give Ramadan, and the attention that we pay to our worship in these ten days should be as our focus in Ramadan. Just as Ramadan provides us with a month’s worth of spiritual struggle and reflection, so too does Dhu’l Hijjah make us pause, reflect upon the meanings of Hajj and incorporating its messages and lessons into our daily lives, and create a spiritual regimen even if we ourselves are not going for Hajj. 

May we all be of those who spend the priceless minutes and hours of the first ten days of Dhu’l Hijjah in worship, repentance, and purification; may our deeds be accepted; and may we be of those who revive the sunnah in our lives and encourage it amongst our families, friends, and communities.

Ameen.

The post Reviving The Sacred Months: Dhul Hijjah (Part 1) appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

How To Integrate Classical Arabic Into Public Education

Muslim Matters - 14 July, 2021 - 12:39

A 16-year-old American high school student who wants to study Classical Arabic seriously – that is Arabic used to understand the Quran, hadith, literature, or historical works – has a few options:

  1. Take a year off and either go to an institute that specializes in teaching Classical or travel overseas.
  2. Take an online course on top of the already demanding schedule they have.
  3. Transfer to an Islamic school. (If they are blessed with a good one the school will have good secular studies and Islamic studies.) Unfortunately, many parents have to make the difficult decision of putting their children in a public school due to better secular studies and as a result outsource their Islamic education, many times through an outdated Sunday School system.

For the past decade or so these have been the avenues and options for students who take an interest in Classical Arabic at an earlier age. Each option requires a unique sacrifice. Unfortunately, some do not have the time or finances to make those sacrifices and are limited to the resources around them. So why hasn’t the Muslim American community found a solution to this? There are a few reasons:

  1. Most educational leaders such as principals and superintendents are unaware of the difference between Modern Standard Arabic and Classical Arabic. Simply put, Classical Arabic is similar to Latin in that they have the characteristics of a dead language – a language that is not used in everyday speech and is used mainly for reading and writing purposes. While they both focus on Arabic, the demographics are drastically different. This requires an educational marketing campaign which takes a lot of time and effort.
  2. There are not enough teachers who speak fluent English that can teach Arabic well enough to high school students
  3. There are not enough interested high school students per school in Classical Arabic to warrant a separate class.
  4. Institutes that teach classical Arabic are either primarily focused on teaching communities or working with universities.
  5. Working with the public schooling system is a long process and many times requires accreditation such as Cognia.
  6. By outsourcing Classical Arabic the student only has one source of motivation, their own interest. For this reason they are more likely to not complete the course as that motivation can easily dwindle. Having multiple sources of motivation leads to higher retention rates and is essential for a successful student and course.
What is the solution?
  1. The majority of high schools require foreign language credit. Through this avenue, we can use Classical Arabic courses to fulfill their foreign language credit. All that is needed is an institute that is accredited which can transfer these credits to any high school. In order to do this one has to develop relationships with the high schools. In addition, many high schools require an institute to be accredited by some sort of body to take this relationship seriously.
  2. Instead of wrapping Classical Arabic as an Islamic endeavor, we need to explain it as a cultural and language study. This mode of communication is important for public schools to understand what is being offered. The reason for this is because schools would be more hesitant to accept Islamic studies courses versus language courses.
  3. The goals of Classical Arabic are emphasized more on reading and writing, not speaking and listening. Many times schools will require a speaking and listening portion based on state standards. A way to explain this to schools is by comparing Classical Arabic to Latin. When reviewing many Latin syllabi, it becomes apparent that they too do not focus on speaking and listening, giving an entry way for Classical Arabic.
  4. Accessibility. The silver lining with the Covid-19 pandemic was that online classes became normalized. Because the Muslim community and Arabic learners are spread throughout the country, the best way to get many students with a similar mindset and interest is to have the courses online.

Arabic Daily is attempting to bridge this gap. They have recently been accredited by Cognia, the world-leading accrediting body for high schools. They are in constant communication with high schools around the United States and are accepting their first batch this Fall 2021. A student just needs to fill out the form and Arabic Daily will contact the high school on behalf of the student.

This is a sponsored post

The post How To Integrate Classical Arabic Into Public Education appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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