Random Thoughts and Notes No. 376-400

376.    It is asked that how can one reconcile the traditions mentioning that the Prophet ﷺ appears to people in their dreams in truth, with the fact that no two people have ever witnessed the Prophet ﷺ in the same form?

The answer is that the soul of the Prophet ﷺ is seen according to the dreamer’s spiritual reality – so depending on the purity or lack thereof of the person experiencing the dream (plus other factors of that person’s soul), then the Prophet ﷺ will appear to him in that form and manner.

Also, in Paradise, when the Beatific Vision occurs, one will see Allah according to his knowledge of Allah; again the distinction between Basar [the physical eyes] versus Baseerah [the knowledge/discernment which Allah has created within the person] comes up.

377.    If we say that secular republican democracy advances and does take into consideration the wrongs that have been previously done through changes in their constitution, yet there seems to be no provision to recompense those to whom repeated wrongs had been done in the past [for example, Native Americans, even if they receive reparations, it would be impossible for them to go back to their former condition ever, since they are irreparably at the mercy of the governments that now rule them, their populations reduced drastically and with no viable means of recuperation within the current nation-state model]. The death of ancestors cannot be paid back, especially after so many generations, in addition to the impossibility of bringing to the present the fruits that so many generations would have produced, had they remained alive.

Which also brings us to the issue that, despite what might be said against it, robust engagements (let us say Jihad) generally does alter the conquered peoples and conquered lands into the image of the conquerors in one way or the other; think of Spanish, French, and English languages, of Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, or of secular democracy – these would not have been possible without aggressive military incursions, invasions, colonialism, imperialism, and so forth.

Granted that in many cases the result is not exactly what the original invaders would have wished for, but the interaction generally does change the invaded into the image of the invaders. One can think of countries that are formally secular in Africa, Latin America, or Asia, had the Europeans never invaded, they would most probably have retained their monarchies, tribal-based systems, or other similar forms of government; even though they are not anymore under an empire, yet they took up the secular, non-monarchical types of government after their independence struggles achieved the required results. That is, they saw that the only way to successfully “throw off the yoke of Imperialism” was to adopt fundamental tenets of the imperialists’ abstract ideals – even if these ideals were considered to be of a liberal bent, still the origin was imperialist.

378.    Allah knows best, but it seems that if a Muslim is pushed to study secular subjects, it is best if he pursues history and other humanities-oriented subjects, rather than mathematics, biology, and engineering. This is because in the latter case he would not gain insight into how the world powers think out global strategy with regards to Muslims. But with history and the social sciences, he will very easily see that there are patterns at work in terms of how one nation seeks to conquer and subdue other nations – he will understand much better the Qur’anic and Prophetic injunctions as to how the Muslim body should interact with other nations, and why they make sense in the context of global power politics [which is the same now as they were centuries ago, since human nature changes very little across the ages].

379.    We constantly hear of the “evils” of religion. I suggest that “national interest” has become much more potent as an ideology used to eliminate opposition and facilitate war-mongering, and this is starting to become standard rhetoric even in places where such lines of thinking were not forwarded a few years ago. So when looked at from this angle, ‘national interest’ is the major component of the ‘Deen’ in many lands.

Very importantly, there are characteristics of “national interest” that are purely faith-based, I would say even mythological. For if any given country has certain borders, with certain laws governing what happens within these borders, there is no logical reason to say that these borders or laws should remain or change, either through war or peace. It seems then, that the matter, from this perspective, is circular in its reasoning (i.e. the statement: “We need to wage this war or pass these laws in order to expand, maintain, or break up these lines on the world map and what they stand for”).

And also, the laws in any country are not formulated in a vacuum. Rather, there is a constant battle to create facts on the ground in terms of formal legislation, so that custom and other factors can solidify the legislation already in place, or create enough pressure for legislation to be revoked- and this is the peaceful mode, of course the war mode does exist as well, where physical land is fought over.

380.    I do not say that liberal secular nation-states are neutral with regards to religion: Rather, they are very much against organized religions in general, since the maxim of ‘religious freedom’ in fact denotes implicitly and perhaps even explicitly the permission to set up mock-religions, a setting up which will be protected by the secular nation-state. This is definitely not a neutral position, rather it is in favor of those who wish to denigrate and even eliminate what is established in organized religion.

Thus, the current path of legislation in many countries seems to be towards establishing/solidifying the extreme autonomy of the individual to enter into ad-hoc partnerships with other individuals or groups at the expense of formal organizations and institutions, be they concrete or abstract. The nation-state seems to become the vanguard of the individual in connection to the establishment of ‘mock religions’ as opposed to ‘serious organized religion’, or of the individual in connection with ‘casual sex’ as opposed to ‘family’, and so on with other similar mutually exclusive dichotomies.

381.    There seems to be a type of ‘soft fascism’ with regards to how Muslims’ allegiances are being doctored: That is, we are told to give up all strict and absolute obedience to the Islamic ‘Aqeedah and Shariah (basically to Islam itself), and substitute this for adherence to the values and norms of the country in question (this is above and beyond the obligatory obedience to the constitution, failure of which can lead to formal, legal repercussions). So it seems to be a ‘soft fascism’ at work in here rather than what former theorists of republican, secular democracy may have put forward [i.e. of a nation that could accommodate various pluralisms of absolute beliefs, absolute worldviews and absolute outlooks in its midst].

Then, again, this seems to be a very ambitious and even unattainable project, since the people may have different ‘absolute allegiances’ other than to their nation-state, and it is contradictory to expect every citizen to place his absolute allegiance in two conglomerates at the same time (their religion and their nation, their race and their nation, etc.)

382.    If we wish to gain a better understanding of the Qur’an, we should find out the different groups within which the Surah under consideration belongs to (such as Makkan/Madinan, Hadhari/Safari, Layli/Nahaari, Naasikh/Mansuukh, etc.) so that we do not focus only on one aspect of the Chapter but rather see how it relates to a wider interconnection within the Qur’an.

383.    People ask that how can the spiritual world be taken as true when the masses do not have direct access to it. We say that every field or specialty has a corridor that needs to be passed in order for someone to directly experience its reality. When naturalists speak of scientific findings, this is in fact something not available to the laity, but rather to those who have taken the steps to carry out the research and give us the reports of their results.

With regards to Islamic spirituality, there is a method as well to achieve the state where one can sense the spiritual world: This is why the Companions (RAA) said they could hear the praise of the pebbles in the hands of the Prophet ﷺ, or they could hear the food praising Allah while they were eating it, or when they heard the stone which had just fallen to the bottom of Hellfire, and other similar reports.

But why could they hear it? Because the pathway of communication between themselves and that world (that specialty) was open to them much more than it is open to us, either due to their own spiritual position, that of the Prophet ﷺ who was in their midst, or a combination of the two.

The important thing is that this pathway is open to us in this age as well, which is why one today also hears of those whose limbs and hearts are mentioning the name of Allah, or one may hear the name of Allah being mentioned supra-materially in the presence of certain pious individuals, and other such things – they can sense a portion of the spiritual world through this same “pathway of communication”, even if its intensity is not as great as it was in the previous generations. Thus, it is not something restricted to reports or “tales”, but rather with the proper methodology and channels, it may be perceived directly even today.

384.    From a lecture delivered in the 1990’s, it was said that Christian preachers had stopped rebuking their congregations with regards to adultery – it was so common there was no point admonishing them about it. But now we see that even homosexual practices are being formally accepted by a number of churches…who knows, maybe even incest, necrophilia and bestiality may be formally accepted/tolerated in their “church constitutions”, if future cultural traits dictate it. It also seems to indicate that some religious organizations see their relevance as more important than proclaiming what they believe to be the truth. (For our part, the Muslims must be very vigilant that such trends do not impact the conveyance of truth – unfortunately some of this is already seen in Muslim communities, and may be even more pronounced given the minority status of Muslims in many lands.)

385.    People are generally of two temperaments, Jalaali and Jamaali. The first group are those who are (for lack of a better phrase) geared towards the Attributes of Allah that signify His Majesty, while the latter are more oriented towards those Attributes that signify His Mercy and Beauty. One should not seek to totally change a person of one temperament to the other, but he should work with what he has; it is also mentioned that if he has a large preponderance towards the “Majestic” attributes, he should try to incorporate some of the Jamaali traits as well, so that he may become more like the Prophet ﷺ, who had a balance of both temperaments, with a slight predominance for Jamaali traits.

As an example, concerning knowledge, it was mentioned that this is a Jalaali trait; this is why one notices Qur’an teachers always stern and serious when listening to their students, since we are talking about the proper transmission of revealed knowledge. Also, when one learns the basics of the religion and what is to be necessarily attributed to Allah and is to be necessarily not attributed to Him, there is also a lot of Majesty in this, since one realizes the incapability of humans to understand the reality of Allah the Exalted.

386.    We may see that a Hadeeth has a dozen or so chains of transmission, and that due to this it is classed as Mutawaatir as per the definition of a certain scholar. But, a crucial question is, does this mean that the certainty of this narration is like that of well-known Islamic practices (like how many units of prayer there are for each prayer)?

In fact, no, the narration is not as certain as the question of the Raka’ats, since the practices are much more common and well-known than what can be ascertained from a dozen or so chains. To explain this a little more, if it is asked that one should bring the proofs that Dhuhr prayer is 4 Raka’ats, someone may collect all the chains, and say that they have found 200 chains for this. But this is in fact an injustice upon the issue at hand: The entire community of Muslims from the time of the Prophet ﷺ numbering in the thousands knew and practiced this, then transmitted this to tens of thousands, and so on until we have millions of people who know that Dhuhr prayer is 4 Raka’ats.

And very crucially, this is also the case with the Qur’an. One might find written that there are a thousand chains for the Qur’an. But if we think about it, how many people know Chapters like Al-Kawthar and Al-Faatihah? Hundreds of millions now, who took it from others all the up to thousands of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ.

387.    We see that almost everything mentioned in the Qur’an ‘in theory’ is related one way or the other with the Prophet ﷺ and his Household (RAA) – even adultery and how this process is to be formally presented and evaluated, as seen in the charge levelled against Ayesha (RAA).

388.    Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq (RA) mentioned that one needs to make Tawbah (repentance) even for having delayed making the original Tawbah. There is the sin, then the Tawbah that should be made for this sin, and this repentance should be done immediately after recognizing the sin as such. But if there is a delay, then we should make an additional Tawbah for the delay. Also, we know that the committed sin should not be mentioned to anyone (in the sense of boasting about it, talking about it in a good way, etc.). If such is done, then according to many scholars, one must make Tawbah again.

389.    From an advice of the Shuyookh: Even if part-time Islamic studies are all we can do, we should go ahead and do it. Additionally, the scholars say that we will never have “sufficient” or “optimal” time or money for studies, because this idea is a trick from the Shaytaan to keep us from formally learning the religion and being a preserver and defender of the Deen. We need to know that things in the world are almost never “perfect” or “proper” for starting endeavors; but when we have the determination, we will find the way to push through with our undertakings, regardless of our situation throughout the journey.

390.    It is a fallacy to think that because someone accepts the many positive qualities and high ranks of the Ahl ul Bayt (RAA), then he must despise the Companions such as ‘Umar and Abu Bakr (RAA). Rather, the middle path is the correct one, where there is no hatred or enmity for anyone who the Prophet ﷺ ordered us to love, respect, and follow. Of course, there are technical issues of the Usool of Sunni belief as to why certain narrations which are presented are taken in a certain light and not in another one, but this is the very brief presentation.

391.    The Battle of Uhud was like a drill in some ways; importantly, it trained the Muslims as to what to do when the Prophet ﷺ would eventually pass away. Thus, Allah informed them of the right and wrong things they did when they heard the rumor of the Prophet’s ﷺ passing away. Then, when the Prophet ﷺ really did pass on to the next world, the Muslims did feel it to be a disaster, but were able to sustain Islam as a religion.

Otherwise, with the events that unfolded around them (wars of apostasy against many tribes, engagements against other non-Muslim foes, etc.) the Islamic polity and Islam as a religion could have very easily been wiped out, since Madeenah could have been easily overrun under ‘normal’ circumstances, or if the Muslims were ambivalent about the protection of the religion. So we see how a seemingly negative incident became in fact a positive point for Islam and the Muslims in general.

392.    (Taken from a lecture): According to a Saheeh Hadeeth, the reason why people were created differently and with different ranks is so that Allah may be thanked.

393.    Ayaat (miracles) have a lot of Jalaala (Majesty associated with Allah) about them – since one is forced to believe in the Prophet (Alayhi as-Salaam) on whose hands they have been manifested; otherwise, punishment is awaiting in this world and the next – which is again a sign of Divine Majesty.

394.    Many people ask about contradiction where the phrase ‘the entity cannot exist at the same time with different attributes’ is brought up. This has to do with time being a ‘quantity’ indicating change, so the contradiction as far as I see it is in saying that there is change yet no change.

395.    It is mentioned that the ‘Aql (intellect) is the sign of the Meethaq (covenant taken from the Children of Adam in the world of Arwaah).

396.    A lot is made by anti-Islamic persons about the violence that was supposedly unleashed by the Prophet ﷺ during his lifetime. But if we study the Seerah, we see that the full death toll in the battles of Islam during the Prophet’s ﷺ time was 1018 deaths, about 700 unbelievers and 300 Muslims; a figure definitely much lower than many ‘battle-oriented states’ in history.

397.    Many scientists and naturalists belittle Muslims for speaking of “hidden, magical powers such as a God”, saying that whenever we do not understand something material we fall back on a ‘God of the Gaps’ explanation. It must be noted, that as far as Islam is concerned, this is inaccurate, we do not say everything is determined by nature and there are things where Allah has to fill in unexplained phenomena. Rather, we say everything whether it is apparently explained by formulas and theories or not, is directly attributable to Allah’s Creative Power.

398.    There is the famous story about how al-Baaqilani (RA) averted bowing to the Emperor by turning his back and entering the door backwards. I know most people may think this is not something worth mentioning, but we see the protocol that was expected at that time, and how the Christian emperor tried to ‘force’ the man of Muslim learning into bowing down to him, and how this plan backfired. (It is mentioned, that this is almost certainly just a legend, but Allah knows best).

399.    On how people are called ‘barbarian’, we find something interesting which is that every community calls the outsiders ‘barbarians’, it was as common to the Japanese viewing the Americans as it was to the Europeans viewing the Africans, or Romans when they encountered warring tribes on their frontiers.

400.    (An Ash’ari response to a pro-Mu’tazili position) Concerning those who say that the mention of ‘Yadd’ absolutely and exclusively refers to Power without any other possible interpretation, this is incorrect, since the ‘Yadd’ are mention as dual or plural in a number of instances in the Qur’an, and it is impossible that Allah may have two or more Attributes of Power. This is as opposed to us creatures, since we may have many ‘created powers’ within us that arise and vanish at every new instant.