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The Etiquettes Of Consultation

The Etiquettes Of Consultation

This article has been adapted from a Talk by Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakhrawi (DB), Darul Uloom Karachi on Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (ra)’s ‘Aadab-e-Muaashrat.’

[Translated by Lubna Zuberi and edited by Dr. Meraj Din]

 

Consultation, the word, or rather a principle, also known as Istishārah in Arabic, Mashwara in Urdu, and Mashawara in Persian, is at the heart of Quranic discourse and played a significant role in the life of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) bless him and give him peace). When discussing consultation and the evidence supporting it in Islamic legal texts, scholars and writers have tended to focus on two Quranic verses, namely, 42 (Surah Az-Zukhruf):38 and 3 (Surah ‘Ali-Imran):159. However, Muslims remain largely unaware of the importance and value of consultation with scholars, and common masses remaining somewhat undecided as to whether it is obligatory or not and what matters call for consultation.

This article offers the crux of a talk given by Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakhrawi in Darul Uloom Karachi on Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanvi’s book “Aadab-e-Muaashrat”. The book under discussion dwelt neither on definitions and linguistic analysis of the term, nor on points that are self-evident. Nor has the speaker concerned himself with lengthy introductions or digressions except within what he have deemed the necessary limits. Rather, his ongoing concern is to treat the issue to which he have made reference to in the introduction of his talk, as well as fundamental, current issues that serve to promote the practice of consultation and support efforts to on personal and collective level. The intention throughout is to bring the practice of consultation from a state of dormancy to one of effectiveness, from inertness to action, from passivity to responsiveness, and from dependency and subordination to a sense of mission and creativity.

Seeking Consultation: A Quranic Command

There are two levels of seeking consultation (mashwara). One takes the horizontal path (creation) and the other takes the vertical (Creator).  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to consult his companions despite revelation coming to him. In the Quran, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) orders the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to: “….consult them [i.e., the Muslims] in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” [Surah ‘Āli `Imrān: 3;159]

Seeking consultation in both religious and worldly matters carries deep meaning and helps one to avoid making grave mistakes regarding matters personal, political, or transcendental.

For example, the case that we might include in this category is the situation in which Abraham consulted his son about a command he had received from God. We read in the Holy Qur’an that,

 

“when the child had become old enough to share in his [father’s] endeavors, the latter said: “O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee: consider, then, what would be thy view!” The question of whether Abraham was to sacrifice his son had already been settled through a divine command. Nevertheless, Abraham said to his son, “Consider, then, what would be thy view.” In reply his son said, “O my father! Do as thou art bidden; thou wilt find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity.” [Surah Aş-Şāffāt:37;102]

Ashraf Ali Thanvi on Seeking Consultation

When seeking consultation, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) guides us to the following etiquettes. First and foremost, strive to do mashwara with your elders. If they pass away, ask people from the same age group as you. If they do not remain, seek consultation from those younger than you. At no point in life, must a Muslim become self-reliant. In essence, one must continue act upon all important matters after doing mashwara.

While the important question is whether all matters require consultation. Matters which are obligatory in religion, mentioned in Quran and hadith, do not require consultation: i.e., salah, fasting, zakah, hajj as ordained by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Such obligatory commands are supposed to be followed without interpretation. Similarly, one cannot seek mashawara to act upon forbidden activities deemed sinful by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) i.e., lying, backbiting, fornication, stealing, drinking alcohol, theft, or murder. One must act upon them as soon as one is aware of them.

Seeking consultation in permissible and optional matters is highly appreciated. Ordinary matters do not require consultation, and one can rely on own intelligence for opinion, if it is not against Islamic guidelines, or sinful. The basic method is: seek opinions, do istikhara, and see where the heart is inclined and act upon it.

Who Shall We Seek Consultation From?

 Not every person should be sought for consultation. Not everyone has the same intelligence, understanding, knowledge, and honest intention. Ashraf Ali Thanvi suggests that consultation is to be sought from people who have genuine concern for you, and also have the experience and expertise in the matters of your queries. Seek consultation from someone who is genuinely concerned, compassionate, and understands your goals. People with malice and enmity towards you can set you on the wrong path and meaningless direction.

People you seek consultation from should be well recognized as people who have the capacity and capability to guide you in the right direction [Ashab al-Rai]. He/she must have expertise, knowledge, and experience of the subject matter. Do not seek the opinion of the ill-informed or someone who is incapable of offering you anything meaningful in terms of consultation. For example, when seeking a partner, university, or country to move to, it is better to ask someone who has knowledge or personal experience with the matter sought. If he/she does not have experience or knowledge, how can he/she guide you. For example, medical issues require a doctor, woodwork requires a carpenter, building a house requires an architect/builder, stitching clothes requires a tailor.

The Manner of Seeking Consultation

One should not ask for mashwara at the wrong time or occasion, or the purpose will not be achieved. It is proper manners to politely request for a time for the consultation, whether it is by phone or in person. People are busy and you want the person to give you their undivided attention, not when they are in the middle of something. Do not look at your convenience, look at the convenience of the sought. Also, let them know the topic of consultation before the meeting; i.e., I want to seek consultation from you on a certain medical issue, domestic issue, cabinet installation, home buying, court case etc.

Be on time and present the person with the pros and cons of your situation, so the person can reflect and give you best option. Do not beat around the bush nor waste time with useless talk. When you waste valuable time and put the advisor in a painful situation, the person will lose compassion for you and not be able to give you good advice regarding your situation. Get to the point quickly: “This is my issue. I want to do this. I see these pros and these cons. What is your opinion?”

However, acting upon the consultation is your choice. Consultation is the act of seeking an opinion. It is not necessary for the seeker to act upon the opinion. One may seek several opinions from compassionate ashab al-rai (people of knowledge/consultation), reflect on which opinion best matches one’s needs, and opt to act upon whichever he/she deems suitable. Therefore, there should be no hard feelings from the opinion giver if his/her opinion is not followed.

Istikhara: Seeking Consultation from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

After consultation with ashab al-rai (people of knowledge/consultation), one should do istikhara, the sunnah way to consult with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). This notion of consultation is to Allah Most High is called istikhara and is a nafl prayer for seeking guidance from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) regarding all matters in one’s life. Jabir raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us istikhara in all matters as he taught us the chapters of the Quran. Whether the matter is a great and a life changing decision like marriage, moving, employment, college admissions, business, or small, like getting woodwork done or where to go on vacation, the act of seeking consultation (mashwara) is important. This is not complicated. In simple words you ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) “O Allah, this option seems the best to me, if it is best for me and my family, make it happen for me. If not, make my heart turn away from it.” There are two ways of doing istikhara:

Short Istikhara: Recite “Allahummaghfirli wakhtarli” (O Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), forgive me and choose for me) while walking, standing, lying down, or after every salah. This is the easy way and does not require 2 nafl. It also completes the act of Istikhara.

 Long Istikhara: Perform 2 nafl salah, and then recite the dua’ of istikhara with the matter in mind. Some scholars prefer performing the salah and dua’ right before going to sleep without speaking to anyone and falling asleep reciting durood.

You can perform istikhara from 3-7 days. For important matters, do it for 7 days continuously. After that time, check the inclination of your heart, then trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and act upon your inclination.

It is important to note that after performing istikhara, and acting upon your inclination, the result may come in or against your expectations or inclinations. People say, “We did istikhara, but we faced such failure, troubles, and humiliation.” People expect the results of an istikhara to always be in line with their understanding of what is right. That is incorrect. Success and failure are predestined and written. Hence do not act upon important matters without istikhara or consultation. They are the acts of sunnah.

The main aim of consultation is to redirect every decision of your life towards the true reason of your existence. To make Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) the companion of every step and decision in your life. To shape your every dream, aspiration, and goal in such a way that it pleases Allah Most High.  The benefit of consultation (mashwara) is that the one who seeks it, does not make it about himself. Allah Most High says in the Quran,

 

“O you who have faith! Enter all together into submission whole-heartedly.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 2;208]

The foundation of the message of Islam is submission to the will of Allah Most High. The Quran says: “Say, ‘Indeed it is the guidance of Allah which is [true] guidance. And we have been commanded to submit to the Lord of all the worlds.” [Surat Al-‘An`ām: 6;71]

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to seek His consultation and the consultation of those who know and make this beneficial for us in this world and in the Hereafter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Source: Muslim Matters

All That Is In The Heavens [Part 12]: Hero Is Just A Word

All That Is In The Heavens [Part 12]: Hero Is Just A Word

Captain Yasin Rahman is hauled in front of a panel of officers for a debriefing, and is given a shocking mission.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.

This is a multi-chapter novel.  Previous Chapters:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11

 

LOCATION: PERSEUS ARM OF THE MILKY WAY GALAXY

YEAR: 4097 HIJRI – 565 UNITED ARMY CALENDAR

United Army Squad 3690 of the UA Starburst, in order of rank:

Yasin “Cutter” Rahman – Captain. Combat strategy master.
Weili Menco Zhang – Corporal. Xeno-geographer. Calm and cool in battle. Carries a lasgun and a tekpi (trident).
Ammar Abuzaid – Master Sergeant. Botanist and combat trainer. Oldest member of the squad. Quran hafedh.
Bilal Mustafa – Fleet Officer. Xenobiologist, married to Rowaida.
Rowaida Ali – Fleet Officer. Ship’s pilot, mechanic and fabricator, married to Bilal.
Samir “Smasher” Sufyan – Specialist. Drone tech and explosives expert. Carries an ax. Multiple awards for valor, but also repeated misconduct violations.
Ami Abdulghaffar – Specialist. Medic and psychotherapist.
Amina Quraishi – Private First Class. Computer tech and AI diagnostics. Hijabi. Silat expert. Fearless.
Hisham – Private. Grenadier, plus supplies & requisitions.
Summer – Private. Riflecarrier and food services.
Tarek – Private. Riflecarrier and janitorial. 18 years old.

* * *

Excerpt from The Life and Death of Yasin Rahman, By Dr. Ami Abdulghaffar:

What was I, the author, to Yasin Rahman? So often we can only guess what feelings and thoughts others harbor in the silent halls of their hearts. We hope, suppose, and conjecture. We rely on intuition, clues, words, and body language. But we never truly know.

This was not true in the case of myself and Rahman. Like Rahman, I was Transformed. I knew what Rahman thought and felt. So I speak with ‘ilm al-yaqeen, the knowledge of certainty. To be more accurate, if I do not know the actual, underlying reality of things – that is Allah’s realm – I do know what Rahman believed, as surely as I know that angels surround us from the earth to the heavens.

I say this because people sometimes lie to themselves. Even an empath can only tell you whether or not a person believes his own words.

We humans have begun to solve the mysteries of spacetime, and have settled hundreds of worlds. But the secrets of love have yet to unfold, no matter how we philosophize and wax poetic.

The mystery of love, two people looking at the starsI believe that a man can love more than one woman, and vice versa. It’s a matter of degree, or a matter of different flavors and the intensity of flavor, and even of simple timing. A seed of love that may have flourished at one time, under a certain sun, might never sprout in other circumstances, or might emerge pale and stunted. A man meets a woman when he is nineteen years old, falls in love, and marries her. But let the same man meet the same woman when he is thirty, and maybe the spark never catches. Timing might not be everything, but it’s as big as Besar.

Also, not all love is the same. If I say that Yasin Rahman loved me, many will accuse me of aggrandizing my role in his life for the sake of celebrity. I could say that he and I sometimes argued, or that he occasionally seemed to disapprove of my essential personality, or that we were friends in the way that the ocean and the beach are friends, coming together and moving apart. All these things are true. Make of this what you will, dear reader.

I mean no disrespect to Weili Menco Zhang, who was my true friend. Love is a broad and imprecise word, and encompasses many things.

Rahman used to say that the key to his extraordinary success in combat was that he applied tactics according to how things actually were, rather than how he wished them to be. When the situation on the ground – or in the heavens – changed, his plan changed accordingly. He never tried to force events to follow a predetermined path.

The same is true for love. It is what it actually is, not what we wish it to be. We can’t force it to conform to our desires. We can only adapt ourselves to reality. As they say in doubleball, you have to carry the ball you’re given. That is all I have to say about that.

* * *

Paralyzed

Rahman dismounted the big transport hovercar, thanking the driver for the ride and the granola bar. He stood in front of a set of hardwood doors that were wider than doubleball goalposts. The doors were carved with heroic and garish scenes of human soldiers killing crabs. One scene in particular pictured a bare chested man holding two laser pistols, surrounded by a sea of crabs. It reminded Rahman of Lamya Jamshad, She was a real-life hero who’d done the exact same thing back on the queenship, holding off an army of crabs long enough for her squadmates to escape. She’d given up her life in the process. Would her image be carved on a set of doors somewhere?

He couldn’t imagine the cost of these doors. So much wood – a scarce commodity already – and on a highliner, no less. Furthermore, spaceships normally went to extremes to minimize weight. The extravagant ponderousness of these doors spoke to the power of the men behind them.

Rahman reached for the heavy brass handle – and his arm froze. It wasn’t that he chose to stop moving. His arm simply would not move. It hung in the air like a mannequin’s arm. He tried pulling it back. Nothing. Was he having a heart attack or stroke? But there was no pain or numbness. He just could not move his arm.

His heart thudded in his chest, and sweat broke out on his forehead as he strained. He took two steps back from the door, thinking that maybe something on the door was causing…  The thought was left unfinished, as it made no sense. He reached out with his left arm, which worked well enough, and tried to pull the right arm back, but the right arm was as rigid as plasteel.

The doors swung open smoothly. Two hulking Caucasian soldiers in blue dress uniforms with brass buttons stood just inside. Both saluted him. The uniforms were pressed and spotless, and smelled of lemon-scented laundry detergent. Rahman’s eyes were wide. What would he do?

Just like that, the paralysis was gone. Shaking slightly, he saluted the men with the formerly frozen hand, and strode into the chamber. Whatever had happened with his arm must be related to the recent surgery. A lingering side effect of the anesthesia, maybe.

UA Alpha

UA Alpha, planet sized cityThe room was huge, and featured wooden floors – more wood! His footsteps seemed to echo in the silence of the room. To his left, a massive window that should have looked out onto space, based on the location of this chamber, instead displayed the very real-looking nightscape of what Rahman recognized as UA Alpha. He’d never been there, but as the headquarters of the UA, its skyline was often featured in military brochures and propaganda.

It was a holocast, of course. The real UA Alpha was hundreds of light years from here.

UA Alpha, Rahman knew, was a large moon that orbited an agricultural planet on the outer edge of the Orion arm. Like Besar, it had gravity, atmosphere and water, and was entirely built up, consisting of a single unbroken and heavily fortified city that covered every inch of the moon’s surface. The image gave the impression that he was looking down upon the city from a penthouse apartment. He saw the streaming lights of hover traffic and air ships, and a million lit windows. But everything seemed to be moving far too fast.

“It’s in real time,” a voice said, drawling the word “time” so that it came out, tahhm. “Or delayed real-tahhm, anyway.”

Two Colonels and a General

In the center of the room, at a fairly plain looking table, sat three high ranking officers. In the center was a man that Rahman instantly recognized as General Aurangzeb. He had to be in his 70’s by now. He was tall, and as thick-chested as a papaya, and in spite of his Persian name he was white, with pale skin and a freckled complexion, meaty arms and hands, and white hair cut close to the scalp. His teeth were white, and his eyes blue. It was a face Rahman had seen in a thousand holocasts, delivering “state of the war” talks, awarding medals to soldiers, and shaking hands with heads of planets.

On Aurangzeb’s right sat a slender female colonel with black skin, short natural hair, and thin, sculpted limbs. She might have been fifty years old. She had a wan, bored look to her, but Rahman recognized something in her posture that spoke of combat experience. A lot of it, he thought. Her eyes flicked to study him, then looked away, at nothing in particular.

To the left of Aurangzeb was a muscular young Malay colonel. No more than forty five years old, perhaps. Rahman did not know him, but his features were classic Malay. He could have passed for one of Rahman’s own uncles on his mother’s side, if not for the burn scar that disfigured one entire side of his face. How strange. Thirty minutes in an autodoc could repair that scar.

Two colonels and a general. SubhanAllah. You’d think he was a head of planet, for sky’s sake. Rahman assumed center position, about two meters in front of Aurangzeb, and snapped a sharp salute.

Live Feed

“At ease,” Aurangzeb said. His accent was rolling and slow, like a rancher’s. “I’m General Aurangzeb. With me are Colonel Bakri” – he indicated the Malay officer – and Colonel Sani.”

Rahman nodded. “Sirs.”

Aurangzeb nodded to the viewscreen. “Like ah was sayin’, It’s not a holoscreen. It’s a lahve feed from UA Alpha. Because we’re movin’ at FTL, tahm passes much faster there. That’s why ever’thang looks accelerated. It’s a reminder that we can’t waste a moment. Ever’ second that we spend out heah, our families grow older and our worlds change. Our mission is to end this heah war as quick as possible, by any means necessary. You helped to do that.”

“Sir?” Rahman stood with his feet at shoulder width and hands clasped behind his back.

“Don’t be modest. You’re the hee-ro of Breena Fahv. Crap on a crab, son, you destroyed a queenship with a fox fighter! That’s nevah been done.”

Something must have showed on Rahman’s face, some aspect of apathy or bitterness, because the general said, “What is it? Speak your mind, son. We heah are in your debt.”

Hero Is a Word

UA carrier spaceshipRahman studied the three faces before him. He should be in awe. He should be nervous or subdued. But he was only tired. The three before him weren’t gods. They were two men and a woman. He doubted that any of them had seen as much death as he had.

“Hero is just a word,” he said finally. “It means nothing. On the battlefield you make decisions in the moment. You try to keep your people alive, that’s the main thing, and if that means destroying the enemy then that’s what you do. No thought about anything but what’s before you. You do your best. If you analyze my actions by that standard, then I failed. More than half my squad are dead. I failed to control one of my own men, resulting in more needless death. If a hero is supposed to be fearless then again I failed, because I was terrified at times, as I often am in battle. If there’s anything to be said for me it’s that I don’t surrender and I don’t stop fighting, no matter what. Like any good soldier. My mother once told me to be the man Allah intended me to be. I don’t know who or what that is, but the process of trying to find out – the act of walking the path, even when the path is in the stinking hold of a crab queenship – is what matters. That, and the survival of my crew. I don’t care about your statistics or labels, I don’t even care about the war. I’m sick of it all. Throw me out of the UA if you want, court martial me, put me in the brig.”

When he was done, he stood stock still in astonishment at his own words. He hadn’t meant to say all that. But it was true. He didn’t care anymore.

The panel watched him in silence. The Malay officer was frowning, the African colonel had a slight smile on her face, and Aurangzeb studied Rahman from under lowered brows, tapping a finger on the table.

When Aurangzeb looked up, there was a change in his demeanor. “Are you done?” There was a sharp edge to his voice. Rahman remembered Abuzaid’s words. A dangerous man. Those who oppose him have a way of disappearing...

“Well… Yes, sir.”

“You might be the most honest man ah’ve eveh met. I don’t know if that’s a good thang or a bad one, but I’ll tell you this. I’d promote you to colonel if I could. From now on, though, show some respect. We three heah have a hunnet and fifty yeahs of collective war experience. Nothing you have said is new to us.”

Debrief

The African woman, Colonel Sani, spoke for the first time. “Tell us in your own words what happened in the battle. Take us through from your decision to ram the queenship.”

This was what Rahman had expected. Back on familiar ground, he spoke quickly but clearly, detailing his thought processes and the actions he’d taken, leaving out only the fact that he’d downloaded SAI into his own brain drive. He genuinely feared the consequences of revealing that.

He described the ramming of the queenship, the battle that ensued, and the push to the pyramid, including Smasher Sufyan’s repeated disobedience of orders. It might not make Rahman look good that he could not control his own man, but he didn’t care. He needed the guy gone.

Satria Malay

When he was done, Aurangzeb nodded. “A li’l question for ya. I understand that one of your men sometimes says a certain thang before going into battle. Sergeant…” He turned to Colonel Sani. “What was his name?”

“Ammar Abuzaid.”

“Rahht, that one. Tell me about that.”

Rahman sensed the hidden landmine. He had warned Abuzaid that his constant use of that ayah would annoy command, but he’d never thought it would come to the attention of someone as powerful as General Aurangzeb. Abuzaid was like family to him. He could no more betray him than he could cut out his own heart.

“He says Satria Malay.”

Aurangzeb looked to Colonel Bakri, who translated. “Malay heroes. A common war cry.”

Aurangzeb studied Rahman with a face as flat and unreadable as a plasteel wall. “What else does he say?”

“He says Satria Malay,” Rahman repeated. “That’s what he says. Period.”

Requests

“Watch yourself Captain,” Colonel Sani advised. Her stare was intense. Rahman met it, and did not flinch. Just the opposite. He felt a rebellious spirit rising inside him. Starry sky. He did not care what they did to him. He didn’t know if it was the physical hunger he was experiencing – he was ravenous – or the anger at losing so many of his crew, or simple post-battle stress, but he was fed up.

“I will not watch myself.” He felt his heart in his throat. “And I have requests.”

Colonel Sani rose to her feet. Behind him, Rahman sensed the two big guards at the door walking toward him. This situation was going to the crabs. He tensed, preparing himself for whatever came, then forced himself to relax. If they were going to arrest him, he would cooperate, for the sake of his crew.

Aurangzeb waved off the two men and gestured to Sani to sit. “What are your requests?”

Rahman exhaled deeply. “One. I want Samir Sufyan court martialed for insubordination. He disobeyed me repeatedly, and lives were lost. Two. I want reassurance that Maryam Munir will not be disconnected from life support. She’s a warrior. Give her a chance to fight. Three. Promote Ammar Abuzaid to Master Sergeant. He’s a phenomenal fighter and a loyal soldier. Four. My people need time off. At least a couple of weeks. Five. All my people deserve medals for bravery, but especially Layla Jamshad, who saved our lives on the queenship.”

Aurangzeb made a slight finger gesture to Sani. She spoke: “Your request regarding Samir Sufyan is denied. He killed a crab queen. You see this as a violation of the rules of war. We do not. In fact, it is a major boost to morale among the troops. Furthermore, he has more crab kills to his name than anyone in the division, except for you.”

Rahman had not known that fact, that he himself had more kills than anyone. At one time he would have been proud of such a distinction. Now it left a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Then assign him to someone else.”

“Again denied. You and he make a good team. How is he as a drone technician?”

Rahman pursed his lips. “Highly competent.”

Sami made a small gesture with her hand, as if to say, There you go. “Whatever the source of friction between you, work it out. As for your other requests, they are all granted. Maryam Munir will be kept alive, Abuzaid will be promoted, your people will be granted shore leave, and you will all receive medals. In fact, the medal ceremony is scheduled for twelve hundred hours tomorrow.”

Rahman opened his mouth, closed it. He had not expected his requests to be granted. If the price was the continued burden of Smasher Sufyan, he would bear it.

“Thank you,” he said finally. “I wasn’t asking for a medal for myself.”

“Nevertheless, you will receive one.”

Shore Leave

Two moons“Now some info,” Aurangzeb said. “We’re on route to rendezvous with orbital station Hira, in the Jabal system.”

Rahman’s breath caught. The Jabal system was home to NewMalaysia, as well as two other inhabited worlds and several orbital colonies. They were going to his homeworld. That could not be a coincidence. Were they picking up new recruits? Or were some of his crew being medically discharged? Maybe Rahman himself was being discharged. The thought flooded him with hope. To finally go home, to be free of war and death. The thought was like a dream.

Aurangzeb saw the look on his face. “That’s rahht. You and your crew will be given a week o’ shore leave on NewMalaysia. Y’all earned it. While you’re there, we’ll have a little mission for ya. And when that’s done, we’re givin’ you a new ship for a long range mission that is crucial to the success o’ this heah war. I’ll let Colonel Bakri fill you in. Good luck, son.”

With that, the general and Colonel Sani stood and left the room. A moment later, Colonel Bakri gestured to the two guards at the door to leave the room. They did so, closing the door behind them. Rahman found himself alone in the great room with the Malay colonel.

Get Yourself Together

“The general,” Bakri said softly but clearly, “has made men disappear for less than the disrespect you showed here today.”

The colonel’s demeanor was mild, which had the effect of bringing Rahman to attention. Even though half of the man’s face was twisted by a burn scar, Rahman paid it no mind. He’d been a soldier for a long time. Scars did not trouble him.

“You destroyed a queenship,” Bakri went on, “and with that you bought yourself some leeway. Get yourself together, Captain Rahman.”

Rahman nodded. “Yes sir.” The gift of shore leave on his homeworld excited him. He’d finally get to see his family again. At the same time, however, he was disappointed that it wasn’t longer, or that he wasn’t being discharged altogether. Of course you’re not being discharged, you night-drunk idiot, he told himself. You have twelve years left to serve.

“As the general said, we have a mission for you.” The colonel picked up a brown leather satchel that had been sitting on the ground beside him, placed it on the table, and drew forth a small metallic device with a flat base and a conical body. He touched a button on the device, and a burst of pain shot through Rahman’s artificial eye. Rahman covered the eye with a hand, but the pain faded, and he saw a shimmering field of silver light emitting from the tip of the device. Overlaid on his vision in the top left corner were the words, “COMMUNICATIONS SUPPRESSION FIELD.”

He understood that this machine was designed to suppress any type of eavesdropping or recording device. The field it emitted would not be visible to a human eye, but his artificial eye could somehow see it. Whatever Bakri was about to say, there would be no record of it anywhere, ever.

“Pardon,” Bakri said. “I did not consider the effect on your eye. I myself have no artificial implants. Not even a skinpad.”

“I’m okay.” Rahman knew of such people. They were called naturals. They wouldn’t even get i-links or artificial joints. The naturals had their own province on New Sarawak, the northern island continent on NewMalaysia. But he’d never heard of a natural achieving an officer’s rank.

Top Secret Alef

Bakri nodded. “The following mission is classified Top Secret Alef. If you reveal any portion of it to anyone at all, you will be executed for treason. Not only that, your family members and crew will be tainted by association.”

“That’s crazy,” Rahman replied. “My family has nothing to do with anything.”

“Nevertheless.”

“Then I reject the mission. Give it to someone else.”

“Aurangzeb has chosen you. Your experience and physical abilities are unparalleled.” Bakri lowered his voice. “You must carry out this mission, Captain. I tell you as a fellow NewMalaysian that everything depends on it. Far more than you imagine. The survival of NewMalaysia itself is at stake.”

Rahman’s jaw was tense, his teeth clenched together. “What is the mission?”

Bakri’s face was grim. “We want you,” he said quietly but firmly, “to assassinate the president of NewMalaysia.”

* * *

Next: All That Is In The Heavens, Part 13 – Truth and Lies

 

Reader comments and constructive criticism are important to me, so please comment!

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels – including Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters and Zaid Karim Private Investigator – are available in ebook and print form on his author page at Amazon.com.

The post All That Is In The Heavens [Part 12]: Hero Is Just A Word appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Source: Muslim Matters

Tilawah of the Qur’an: Meaning and Blessings

reading Qur'an

As the tongue recites and words flow from the lips, the mind ponders, the heart reflects, the soul absorbs, tears well up in the eyes, the heart quakes and trembles.

Tilawah is the word that the Qur’an uses to describe the act of its reading. No single word in English can convey its full meaning. ‘To follow’ is closest to its primary meaning. To read is only secondary, for in reading too, words follow each other, one closely behind the other, in an orderly and meaningful sequence. If one word does not follow the other, or if the sequence and order is not observed, the meaning is destroyed.

So, primarily, tilawah means, move closely behind, to go forward, to flow in a sequence, let go in pursuit, to take as a guide, leader, master, a model, to accept the authority, to espouse the cause, to act upon, walk after, practice a way of life, to understand, to follow the train of thought – or to follow.

Hence, reading the Qur’an, understanding the Qur’an, following the Qur’an – that is how those who have any right to claim faith in it relate themselves to it.

All-Inclusive Act

Tilawah or recitation is an act in which your whole person, soul, heart, mind, tongue and body, participates. In short your whole existence becomes involved.

In reading the Qur’an, mind and body, reason and feeling lose their distinction; they become fused. As the tongue recites and words flow from the lips, the mind ponders, the heart reflects, the soul absorbs, tears well up in the eyes, the heart quakes and trembles, the skin shivers and softens just as the heart does, there no longer remains any duality between the two, even your hair may stand on end.

And ”so he walks in a light from his Lord”  (Az-Zumar 39:22) “that is God’s guidance, whereby He guides whomsoever He will.” (Az-Zumar 39:23)

To read the Qur’an thus, as it deserves to be read, is not a light task; but nor is it too difficult or impossible.

Otherwise the Qur’an could not have been meant for laymen like us, nor could it be the mercy and the guidance that it surely is. But obviously it does entail much travail of heart and mind, soul and intellect, spirit and body, and requires that certain conditions be observed and obligations be fulfilled – some inwardly, some outwardly. You should know them all, now, and endeavour to observe them before you enter the glorious world of the Qur’an.

Matchless Blessing

Only then will you reap the full harvest of blessings that await you in the Qur’an. Only then will the Qur’an open its doors to you. Only then will it let you dwell inside it and dwell inside you. Nine months spent in the womb of your mother have transformed a drop of water into ‘you’ – hearing, seeing and thinking.

Can you imagine what a lifetime spent with the Qur’an – seeking, hearing, seeing, thinking, striving – can do for you?

It can make you into an entirely new ‘being’ – before whom even angels will feel proud to kneel. Ascending at every step taken within the Qur’an and every moment spent therein, you will reach towering heights. You will be gripped by the power and beauty that breathe and move within the Qur’an.

From `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas: The Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) said: “The companion of the Qur’an will be told: recite and ascend, ascend with facility as you used to recite with facility in the world. Your final abode is the height you reach at the last verse you recite”. (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and An-Nasa’i).

_________________________

The article is excerpted from the author’s book “Way to the Qur’an”.

 

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Moving Beyond The Left-Right Culture Wars: A Dilemma For Muslim Communities In The West

Moving Beyond The Left-Right Culture Wars: A Dilemma For Muslim Communities In The West

The Muslim community in the West has to carve out its distinctiveness beyond the narrow social and political debates in society.

Speaking at the annual US Conservative Conference (CPAC) in early August, Hungary’s controversial prime minister Viktor Orban declared that Conservative Christians on both sides of the Atlantic had to unite to take back power. To rapturous applause, he spoke of the evils of illegal migration, globalism, transgenderism, feminism. and the clash of civilizations; a litany of conservative grievances echoed within European and America’s resurgent white nativist circles. Liberals, it is said, had conspired to weaken Western civilization, and it was the duty of all conservatives to defeat them.

The speech confirmed many of the objections propelling this movement into public consciousness, broadly characterized as an exclusivist white nativist grouping. In Europe, Orban has courted controversy for railing against multiculturalism, calling for secure borders against the ‘suicide’ of Muslim migration and recently speaking of the ills of mixing European and non-European cultures – a thinly veiled affirmation of racial hierarchy. Orban is not alone; across the crusading west, much of the social and political unrest we are witnessing reflects what some call a backlash against progressive liberalism. It incorporates several grievances, some real, some perceived. Dubbed a ‘culture war’, it is likely the next decade will be a polarizing one for the West, with some commentators talking of the potential for real civil strife and even civil war as opportunist politicians like Boris Johnson in Britain incite resentment for political ends.

I have previously written that this movement acts as a conveyor belt. Politicians incite for their narrow ends, feeding on real resentments that come from a flailing west. In such combustible times, ‘retribution’ soon follows. The New Zealand Mosque attacker was fed on a diet of white alienation, contained within ‘The Great Replacement Theory’ – the idea that the white race would soon die out because of inter-marriage, the fall of Christendom, and birth rates within non-white races. This ‘genocide’, according to his manifesto, was exacerbated by a progressive establishment that had conspired to bring down the West. Such rhetoric is echoed in the social media postings of multiple mass shooters across the United States in recent months.

White Nativists in Suits and Armani Jeans

But whereas these assailants dress in army fatigue, those in suits do the rounds on respectable television channels and fill column inches that stir this cauldron of angst. Douglas Murray, a culture-war warrior, recently published ‘The War on the West’, looking to capitalize on the zeitgeist. He observes that dark forces have coalesced to undermine the liberal (small ‘l’) West. As I argued in a previous piece, Murray’s real aim is to forge a new alliance, not dissimilar to the clarion call of Orban, against all that look to undo the privilege the West has acquired through the systematic use of violence. For years, Islam was his invading army – today, as priorities shift, China poses an existential threat to Western universalism.

And let’s not forget the men that peddle these anxieties beyond traditional media. Jordan Peterson, an enthusiastic proponent of Murray, echoes this sense of crisis in the West and, like his more high-brow counterparts, offers his pseudo-intellectual prescriptions that feed this conveyor belt. As the astute researcher Yayha Birt points out, he represents one part of this White-nativist continuum. The angle of these pseudo-intellectuals is to focus on the worthlessness felt by young men in a society where their role is traduced. This is why in Britain, the vile Youtube influencer Andrew Tate commands respect within some young Muslim male circles – for he endorses a life of manhood and masculinity – a backlash against the new supine variety supported by liberal modernity. These are all different iterations of the same phenomenon, White nativism.

The Muslim Community’s Dilemma

Within this polarizing environment, the Muslim communities, primarily in the West, find themselves forced to take a position. This is not surprising, since much of what happens in the mainstream directly impacts our communities. Muslim parents worry about their children’s exposure to problematic social relationships and a growing sexual hedonism that undermines moral family values. In Europe, the growth of the interventionist state means that options right-minded believers may have had are slowly being narrowed. As New York Muslims flee to Texas to claw back some religious autonomy, some Muslims in Europe migrate to the Muslim world. But these options are the luxury of a few.

This immense pressure the community is subject to has led some to support the political right; Orban or Trump may have some objectionable views, but it is claimed that they are fighting for the same social causes we believe in. At the same time, many, especially young Muslims with a different set of priorities, have signed up to the left’s promise of equality and fairness in the hope that they can find security away from the racism and Islamophobia that emanates from conservatives. A trade-off is made, which camp will act in a way that best serves Muslims, but this trade-off comes at a high price.

Young Muslims are forced to embrace many of the thick values that accompany social liberalism, and those that hook their fortunes on the political right must accept the second-class status that comes with such a Faustian bargain. In Britain, Conservative Party Member of Parliament Nusrat Ghani was sacked as a government minister because of her ‘Muslimness’–  the message was simple: Muslims who want to get involved with the party must dispense with any displays of Islam or support for Muslim causes. Within time, Muslims appear to parrot the talking points of the culture wars. Feminism and toxic masculinity, abortion, and a woman’s right to choose; spark an explosion of polarizing debate, most pronounced on social media. These disputes are rarely productive and, like in broader society, help to further divide Muslims on political, gender and generational lines.

How we navigate the minefield that is western political polarization will say a lot about the Muslim community. Both the left and the right harm us and, more importantly, damage how we understand our faith. Unless we discover our distinctiveness, we will be co-opted into this battle.

Our current predicament is not surprising; since the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate, Muslims have had to define our faith in the shadow of dominant ideologies. Embracing liberalism came with the promise of eternal progress and prosperity; those that rejected it, to safeguard their families, had to gradually adopt a host of ‘strict’ Islamic opinions to carve a division between themselves and the corruption around them. This only furthered the generational divides as young people exposed to Western norms saw little in this defensive version of Islam to help them.

It is not rare today to find Muslim scholars and influencers that outlaw women’s education because it ‘”leads to fitna”- a catch-all term that supposedly gives them the right to turn the allowable (mubah) into haraam (forbidden), or employs the most obscure and often harshest views in a vain attempt to secure the imaan of young people. At the same time, many young Muslims, even those that profess to remain steadfast in their deen, incorporate the logic of the left in their engagements; trans rights are personal, women and men have equal roles and responsibilities, Islam and socialism are at one, motherhood is secondary to pursuing careers – positions that are at odds with any sincere reading of Islam.

This is not how fiqh is developed; classical scholars were at pains to understand the reality (tahqeeq al manat) as it was and then look to Islamic text to find a solution; not change Islam to respond to or confirm foreign ideologies. Islamic scholarship is not about adopting strong or soft opinions to placate the times; instead, it aims to find the solution from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) regardless of how it may be perceived.

Beyond the Left and Right

Both the left, whether this is represented by liberals or socialists, and the conservative right, have a different ideational framework by which to view life. As the Muslim academic Professor Joseph Kaminski argues in his scholarly book on Islam and Liberalism, there may be congruencies with Islam in some areas, but this should not be misunderstood to be an endorsement of Islam. These philosophies are peculiar to the European experience. Yahya Birt, a convert himself, laments with incredulity how some white Muslims have detached themselves from an ummatic paradigm that places Islamic justice at its heart and looks to eradicate racial barriers, and instead have jumped head-first into the White nativist reservoir, calling for ‘Islam for Europeans’ and endorsing positions on migration that would not be out of place in any right-wing party. At the same time, many young Muslims on campus ally with the left on social and international causes, only to incorporate their mores and eventually their ideas. I recently came across a young Muslim who told me with little sense of contradiction that he was a practicing Muslim, a social liberal, and a socialist in economics.

How, then, should the Muslim community move forward? There is a dire need, especially for young Muslims, to fully appreciate and find a compelling critique of the Western traditions. When Imam Ghazali was troubled by the absorption of Greek philosophy and how it undermined Islamic thought in eleventh-century Baghdad, he sought to systematically deconstruct and critique its fundamentals and expose it as antithetical to Islam.

Many today are sleepwalking into the morass of Western civilization and are being consumed by its culture wars. There must be a programme incorporated into traditional classes on tarbiyyah, especially when children reach an older age, to address these thoughts in a reasoned way.

Building a critique of Western thought, of all its iterations and permutations, has to be built on an objective and serious study of its ideas. Too many internet personalities seek to caricature liberal or conservative views, hoping that young Muslims will steer clear of their excesses. Building straw men, however, only takes the argument so far. In an era of muscular liberalism, schools and university educators see it as their duty to unlearn a Muslim’s attachment to Islam.

It is also essential to not over-pathologize how these ideologies impact individual behaviors. Today, feminism and liberalism are seemingly found in every activity by keyboard warriors. When a woman asks for her rights, she is “responding to feminism,” or when a Muslim man shows emotion, he has been “emasculated by liberalism”. The problem with this approach is that it hinders a much-needed discussion about these ideas’ impact on our worldview. But it also then makes these terms meaningless. These unproductive approaches harden opinion and serve little purpose in furthering thought in our community.

 

But beyond this, it is the responsibility of all Muslims to walk back from falling prey to the culture wars. As the West turns in on itself, the Muslim community should act as an example of people that are confident in what they believe and practice, undisturbed by the noise around them.

 

Related reading:

Response To Jordan Peterson’s Message To Muslims

Response To Jordan Peterson’s Message To Muslims

The False Promise Of Identitarianism

The False Promise Of Identitarianism

The post Moving Beyond The Left-Right Culture Wars: A Dilemma For Muslim Communities In The West appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Source: Muslim Matters

Book Review – Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America

Book Review – Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America

Zainab bint Younus writes a book review of Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America – edited by Muhammad A. Ali, Omer Bajwa, Sondos Kholaki, and Jaye Starr

“Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America” is a collection of essays on the topic of (obviously) Islamic chaplaincy in North America.

The Editors’ Introduction is detailed and discusses how Islamic chaplaincy in North America requires professional training and certification, rather than being open to just anyone with a “religious” background. This is important to note, as several writers emphasize that chaplaincy is very different from the types of da’wah we are usually accustomed to (i.e formal teaching, intra-Muslim services etc).

Reflective and Insightful

The book itself is a mixed bag. There are some amazing essays that truly stand out – Sohaib Sultan and Azleena Azhar’s contributions made me tear up; Tricia Pethic’s essay had valuable advice about chaplain self-care; Fiazuddin Shuayb’s “Islam at Alcatraz of the Rockies” was a fascinating glimpse into Muslim inmates in a high security prison.

I genuinely appreciated “A Chaplain’s Call for Pastoral Care in the Masjid,” which explored the role of a chaplain -not an imam- within a masjid. While the author, Joshua Salaam, ended up leaving that position, the lessons he brings up are powerful; the role of a community chaplain is truly very distinct from that of an imam or shaykh, or that of a social worker. Rather than providing religious rulings or issuing formal Islamic knowledge, a community chaplain’s role is to “compassionately accompany people as they journey and explore their spiritual struggles.”1 To see the author’s articulation of chaplaincy and pastoral care within a masjid context provided significant food for thought, and I consider it a valuable read for anyone involved in da’wah and community work.

Many of the essays were reflective, imbued with spiritual lessons, and had me thinking about my own role in da’wah and gaps in services within the community. Those which were related to oft-forgotten demographics such as incarcerated Muslims, or patients in hospitals and long-term care, were particularly moving. It became all too clear that unfortunately, despite Islamic exhortations to visit the sick and care for the needy, our communities tend to fall into the mindset of “out of sight, out of mind.” The essays by hospital and prison chaplains were a stark reminder of how spiritual work never ends, not even -and especially not when- a Muslim is incarcerated or ill.

Problematic Essays and External Agendas

Mantle of MercyThen there were the truly problematic essays, which should never have been published in my opinion, but the fact that they were highlights how much corruption has seeped into our community and been normalized in the name of “inclusivity.”

Jamal Bey’s entire essay is  American military propaganda, and it is appalling that the editors allowed it into this anthology, without even a disclaimer or editorial note or commentary. His less-than-subtle attempt at painting himself as a victim -not of the military imperialistic complex, but of Muslims who find his position and support of the American military despicable- is utterly loathsome. Not only does he openly talk about how he literally compromised fasting in Ramadan for his military training, but even attempts to justify it: “the reason I could not do what my Creator instructed me to was because I was in a place that I thought would improve my life and my din (faith).2

Bey makes a point of creating a false scenario where “immigrant Muslims” are those who object to his position in the military, while the Warith Deen Mohammad community -which he holds up as an indigenous community to the United States- is portrayed as supportive to military service. He pointedly ignores the fact that many African Americans strenuously object to joining the American military on ethical as well as spiritual grounds; most notably, and ironically, Muhammad Ali (pre-Islam, at that!). Nowhere does he acknowledge the many evils of the American military and its imperialist operations overseas, including and especially in Muslim lands where the US army is infamous for committing crimes against humanity.

Indeed, Bey insults readers further with statements like “military life as a Muslim over the past decade has often left me feeling isolated, unjustly distrusted, and alienated from my Muslim community and my military community.”3 Never does he pause to reflect as to why other Muslims have every valid and legitimate reason to distrust him, considering his active involvement in oppressive, unjust invasions of Muslim lands.

He continues to demonstrate his complete lack of connection with reality by talking about the “moral injury” experienced by “Muslim service members” “by observing the actions of residents where the U.S. military operates. The practice of those residents may be viewed as heretical or against what the service members view as a sound religious practice, such as suicide bombings, the use of civilian spaces (including masjids), schools, and hospitals for waging combat, or the prohibition of female students.”4  Certainly, all those actions are indeed antithetical to Islam – but so is the unjust invasion of Muslim lands, and the murder of fellow Muslims.

While Bey waxes lyrical in claiming “moral injury”, he never stops even once to acknowledge the very real, often fatal, physical injuries of the Muslims IN those Muslim lands, who are being invaded, raped, and tortured by U.S. military members. Bey’s entire essay is nothing more than American military propaganda, and it is appalling that the editors allowed it into this anthology.

El-Farouk Khaki was another individual whose submission should not have been included. Khaki is most known for being openly gay, an LGBTQ+ activist, and the “imam” of el-Tawhid Juma Circle and the founder of Salaam Queer Muslim Community. His essay was little more than telling Muslims who do not accept that homosexuality is acceptable in Islam that they MUST validate the sexual orientation of LGBTQ+ Muslims in order to be good chaplains.

Khaki spends a significant amount of  time not just encouraging Muslim chaplains to be welcoming to all Muslims -regardless of their sins-, but rather explicates upon “Vivienne Cass’s framework for understanding the process of gay and lesbian identity formation”5 in order to inform Muslim chaplains how they must support LGBTQ+ Muslims in pursuing and living in accordance to their queer identities.

There is a far cry from saying that someone cannot be Muslim because of their sins -indeed, all Muslims agree that sinful actions by themselves do not take people out of Islam- and that someone must be affirmed and encouraged to take their desires as a point of literal pride and identity. One of the foundational principles of Islam is the jihad an-nafs in pushing back against our baser desires, especially those which push us into prohibited actions. To demand the opposite goes far beyond being empathetic or compassionate towards Muslims who are sinners (as in, every Muslim!); rather, it is a clear rejection of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Commands.

Finally, Khaki ends his essay by attacking “A Joint Muslim Statement on the Carnage in Orlando” issued by hundreds of imams and Muslim community leaders: “When this not-so-joint statement declared ‘most Muslims adhere to a strict Abrahamic morality,’ it failed to define what such morality means, and inaccurately presented the Abrahamic traditions as monolithic and exclusionary of LGBTIQ people.”6  Khaki makes it clear: if any Muslim leader, imam, or chaplain dares to uphold the belief that homosexuality is haraam, they are to be considered as harmful to the well being of queer Muslims in general – regardless of how else they are engaged with or approached.

While there were some other problematic essays, Bey and Khaki’s submissions were absolutely the worst, and represent the dangerous ways that even something as seemingly harmless and wholesome as “Islamic chaplaincy” is being actively poisoned by external agendas – whether that be enforcing acceptance of American military invasions in Muslim lands, enforcing acceptance of homosexuality and other queer identities amongst the mainstream Muslim community and leadership, or others.

Conclusion

All in all, “Mantle of Mercy” is certainly an interesting read, with wonderful advice in most of the essays.  I would recommend this to Muslims with a solid Islamic background who are involved in da’wah work, but I would not recommend it to the average layperson.

 

Related reading:

Book Review: Better, Not Bitter by Dr. Yusef Salaam

Book Review: Better, Not Bitter by Dr. Yusef Salaam

Muslim Chaplains In An Evolving Profession

Muslim Chaplains In An Evolving Profession

 

 

1    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg 155
2    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg. 187
3    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg 189
4    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg 190
5    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg105-107
6    Kholaki et al., 2022, pg 108

The post Book Review – Mantle of Mercy: Islamic Chaplaincy in North America appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Source: Muslim Matters