Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Why Muslims Love the Month of Ramadan

Islam uses a lunar calendar—that is, each month begins with the sighting of the new moon, therefore because the lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, Islamic months “move” each year.  This year (2008) the Islamic month of Ramadan coincides almost exactly with the month of September.  For Muslims the coming of Ramadan is a source of joy and celebration; however, we celebrate in a way that may seem strange to people unfamiliar with the tenets of Islam.  Ramadan is not a month of parties and socialising, it is a month of worship.  To fast the month of Ramadan is one of the pillars of Islam.

Muslims express gratitude and love for the One True God by obeying and worshipping Him.  We worship according to His guidance revealed in the Quran and through the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad.  Ramadan is special.  It is a month of fasting, reading and coming to understand Quran and special extra prayers.  The mosques come alive at night when Muslims gather to break their fast together and pray.  The smooth rich sound of Quran recitation is heard throughout the long nights as Muslims stand shoulder-to-shoulder praying and praising God.

Muslims all over the world love the month of Ramadan and look forward to it with mounting excitement.  In the weeks preceding Ramadan lives are scrutinised, and plans are made for a month of serious worship and supplication.  The countdown begins and conversations start with how many weeks it is until the blessed month arrives.  Perhaps non-Muslims wonder why we look forward to fasting days and sleepless nights.  Ramadan offers the chance of redemption and great rewards.  It is a month like no other.  A month of spiritual reflection and prayer.  Hearts are directed away from worldly activities and towards God.

In the month Ramadan, all physically mature and healthy Muslims are required to fast:  to abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use and any kind of sexual contact between dawn and sunset.  Nevertheless, this is only the physical aspect there are also the spiritual characteristics, which include refraining from gossiping, lying, slandering and all traits of bad character.  All obscene and impious sights and sounds are avoided as a way of purifying thoughts and actions.  Fasting is also a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate and learning thankfulness and appreciation for all of God's bounties.

God said,

“O you who believe!  Observing the fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious.” (Quran 2:183)

The Prophet Muhammad also reminded us that fasting is not just abstaining from food and drink but there is a further dimension.  He said, “He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely (during the period of fasting), God has no need that he didn’t eat or drink.

Ramadan is also the month when Muslims try to establish or re establish a relationship with the Quran.  Although this may sound like a strange thing to say, the words of God are a guiding light and a mercy.  Nobody reads Quran except that it changes his or her life in some way.  The Quran was sent down in this month of Ramadan.  The two, Ramadan and Quran are inextricably entwined.  Being with the Quran, reading, memorising, reciting it or pondering its meanings is spiritually uplifting comforting and a source of strength.  Recitation in the night is particularly beneficial, the distractions of the day have faded away and closeness of God is palpable in the stillness of the night.  Special evening prayers are conducted during which portions of the Qur'an are recited.  These prayers are known as Taraweeh.  One thirtieth of the Qur'an is read on successive evenings, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur'an has been completed.

One of the last few odd-numbered nights of the month is Laylat ul-Qadr, the “Night of Power” or “Night of Destiny.”  It is the holiest night of the holiest month; it is believed to be the night on which God first began revealing the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.  This is a time for especially fervent and devoted prayer, and the rewards and blessings associated with such are many.  Muslims are told in the Qur'an that praying throughout this one night is better than a thousand months of prayer.  No one knows exactly which night it is; it is one of God's mysteries.

Ramadan is also the month of good deeds and charity.  Muslims try to give generously and increase their good deeds.  Charity can be as simple as a smile; there is no need for lavish displays.  Charity given quietly is better for the recipient and one who gives.  The Prophet Muhammad was always a generous person, never owning more than just enough to cover his immediate needs.  Any extra, he gave generously to those around him, however he was most generous in Ramadan.

You may be beginning to wonder if these are not qualities and virtues a Muslim truly devoted to God, should display in any month, and  you would be correct.  They most certainly are.  However, as human beings we all fall short, commit sins and make mistakes.  Sometimes the nature of life causes us to forget our real purpose.  Our purpose is to worship God and God in his infinite wisdom and mercy has given us Ramadan.  It is a month, which if used wisely, can recharge our spiritual and physical batteries.  It is a month full of mercy and forgiveness when God makes it easy for us to overcome our shortcomings, when He rewards us in abundance.  He is our Creator, who understands that we are far from perfect.  When we walk towards God, he meets us running, when we hold out our hand He reaches for us and bestows his forgiveness on us.  Muslims love Ramadan, it is a lifeline.  They stand shoulder to shoulder and bow their heads in submission.  Ramadan spreads across the world as Muslims begin and break their fast together, one body, one people, and one nation.  Ramadan arrives softly and her deeds ascend gently towards God.  Far from being a trial of deprivation, the month of Ramadan is a joy and a gift beyond compare.  Even before the month is finished Muslims begin to mourn the passing of this blessed month and try to extend the time by being with the Quran and worshipping God in the best way possible.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

The Status of Parents in Islam

All religions and all societies have given parents an honorable status. From a purely material viewpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, particularly our mother. She not only nourished us in her womb, but went through pain and suffering. She loved us even before we were born. She toiled when we were totally helpless infants. She spent sleepless nights caring for us. Our parents as a team provided for all our needs: physical, educational, psychological, and in many instances, religious, moral, and spiritual. Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it fully. In lieu of this, it becomes obligatory for us to show the utmost kindness, respect, and obedience to our parents. The position of parents, and the mutual obligations and responsibilities, have been addressed in Islam in great detail. The Qur'anic commandments, as well as the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sawaws) guide us in this matter. The parent-child code of behavior in Islam is unique, since rules were laid down by Divine command. 

References to parents have been made at least 15 times in the Holy Qur'an. There are numerous traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on this subject. I will first quote some of the Qur'anic verses here: 

"And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final goal." (Chapter31: verse14)

According to the above verse, gratitude to Allah (swt) and to parents go hand in hand. Gratitude to Allah (swt) is incomplete without showing gratitude to one's parents. Since being grateful to Allah (swt) is a form of ibadah (worship) which earns heavenly rewards, it can therefore be said that being grateful to one's parents also earns heavenly rewards.

"Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them,but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "my Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (17: 23,24) 

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." (46:15) 

Thus, Allah (swt) has enjoined on us to show kindness, respect, and humility to our parents. We are commanded to do this, even though they may have injured us. The only exception to the above command is made in the following verse:

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; but if they strive (to force) thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not." (29:8) 

Some of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and of the learned members of his family, about our responsibilities toward our parents are quoted here: 

  • "Paradise lies under the feet of the mother."
  • "Allah's pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and Allah's displeasure is in the displeasure of the father."
  • "He who wishes to enter Paradise through its best door must please his parents."
  • "It is a pity that some people may not attain Paradise, on account of not serving their old parents."
  • "If a person looks with love at his parents, Allah writes in his favor the reward equal to the performance of one Hajj." [Someone asked, "will this promise be good if one looks at his parents one hundred times a day?" The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, "even if one does so a hundred thousand times a day, Allah gives the reward accordingly."]
  • "A man or woman is bound to be good to his or her parents, even though they may have injured him or her."

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (A.S.), the great-great-grandson of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have quoted Imam 'Ali (A.S.) that, "disobedience to parents is a major sin." He also stated that, "if a person looks at the face of his or her parents with wrathful eyes, despite the fact that injustice was done to him or her by the parents, his or her salah (prayer) will not be accepted by Allah." 

According to one of the Hadith-e-Qudsi, the following is reported about the status of parents:

"Allah has commanded that if anybody prays equal to the invocations performed by the prophets, such prayers will do no good if that person has been cursed by his or her parents." 

It has also been related that the very first words which have been written on the Lauh-e-Mahfuz (The Heavenly Preserved Tablet) are: 

"I am Allah, and there is no deity except Me. I am pleased with those with whom their parents are pleased, and I am displeased with those with whom their parents are displeased." 

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: "On the Day of Judgment, my person will not be seen by those who drank liquor, those who on hearing my name did not invoke the blessings of Allah on me, or those who were cursed and disowned by their parents." 

'Ali ibn al-Husain (A.S.) is reported to have said: "The right of your mother on you is that you should know that nobody could endure the trouble and the conditions under which she protected you and nourished you with the juice of her life, and tried with her heart and soul to satisfy all your needs in relation to hunger, thirst, dress, etc. She passed sleepless nights, suffering anxieties. She provided you with shelter against heat and cold, and protected you from ailments. It is not possible for you to compensate her, or thank her enough for all the services, except that Allah may give you guidance for that. The right of your father on you is that you should know that it is he who brought you into existence, and you are a branch of the tree of his life." 

According to a reliable tradition, it is related that a man came to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and asked him to whom he should render kindness. The prophet told him to be kind to his mother. Three times he put the same question to the prophet, and three times he got the same answer. When he asked the question the fourth time, he was told to be kind to his father, indicating that the mother's right took precedence over that of the father. 

Parents' duties: Islam has assigned certain duties to parents that they must fulfill. If they fail in those, they will be questioned about it. Besides providing the basic necessities of life, Islam requires that the parents teach their children about the Oneness of Allah (swt), the Quranic commandments, values, the Prophets and their teachings, and the moral code of Islam as according to the Quran and the Sunnah (teachings) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). 

Let us pray to Allah (swt) that He guide us to be respectful, kind, and obedient to our parents, and that we continue to show them humility regardless of the power, position, wealth, and influence we may possess. Let us also pray that we be patient, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with our children, as we guide them through their lives, and that we discharge our responsibilities towards them as required by our religion, so that Allah (swt) may be pleased with us, and may He Bless and reward us, both in this world and in the Hereafter; Ameen.  


- Holy Qur'an, Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali's Translation

- Bedtime Stories, by Peermohammed Ebrahim Trust 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016


Children are a precious gift from God to the family and whole of mankind. Arrival of a new baby is a special time in a person's life, as well as a time of great change. Children are heralds of a promise: the renewal of the world in and through the family. Our children, the springtime of the family and society, are always a sign of hope for the world.

Joseph   Smith founder of the Mormon Church said,  "The richest of all my earthly joys is in my precious children," he said. "Thank God!"
Children have the ability to bring the most wonderful sense of joy into our lives as well as the most overwhelming feelings of exasperation. 

Life is a wonderful thing. Parenting is hard, but the rewards far, far outweigh the work. Bearing children--especially sons--was the greatest thing a woman could hope for, and represented her greatest fulfillment. These days, many women have found other ways to fulfill themselves, and although we still value our children highly, the negative sides of motherhood get much more press than they used to. Further, there is a distinct sense in today's society that if a woman is "just a mother," she has somehow fallen short of her potential as a human being. 

Still, bearing children remains a desirable and even crucial goal for many millions of women in our society. Women, who want children but are unable to have them, for whatever reason, continue to feel the age-old pain of the childless woman. And women who have gone through the pain of labor continue to feel the joy-the joy that a child is born into the world. Both the pain and the joy are real. 

In the Islamic tradition the Muslims introduce the new arrival to the family, friends and the community  by performing the Aqeeqah. 

Definition of Aqeeqah

Aqeeqah is an Arabic word originally derived from the key word 'aq' which means to cut and shred. To cut or shave the hair of the child.

The occasion is associated with 'cutting' because the child's head is shaven on the 7th day after birth.  One scholar's  opinion is that 'aqeeqah' designates the child's hair itself at the time of birth.  A child is a gift of God. Child is adored and cherished. We give thanks to Allah (SWT). Aqeeqah is an expression of Thanks and gratitude to Allah for the gift.  This pleasure is shared with the family, friends and community.

Hadeeth: Whoever has a child born to him and wishes to offer a sacrifice, then let him sacrifice......

The aqeeqah is a sunnah (the traditions or way  or practices of  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)). When a child is born to a family, the father is strongly recommended by the Prophet to slaughter one or two sheep and to invite relatives and neighbors to a meal, in order to allow the community to share in the happy event. 

If the Aqeeqah is made a general invitation - then it should not be restricted to the well-off to the exclusion of the poor, since this was forbidden by our Prophet Muhammad The aqeeqah is recommended to be carried out shortly after the birth of a baby, preferably on the seventh day of his/her  birth. It may be delayed for a week or two or perhaps a little longer. However, when it is delayed for a long time, the very purpose of it is lost. 

Aqeeqah: Is it obligatory? 

The aqeeqah refers to a sacrifice given by a family on the occasion of the birth of a son or a daughter. One sheep is adequate for the aqeeqah for either a girl or a boy. The meat is distributed as follows: One third to charity and the remaining two thirds to be distributed amongst friends and relatives. It should be eaten, fed to people and given in charity"

It is optional as to whether the meat is distributed raw or cooked.

Relatives and neighbors are invited, because this is a joyous occasion to be shared with the immediate community. As cited earlier, the aqeeqah is a Sunnah, which means that it is strongly recommended.  When we say it is strongly recommended, this means that it is not obligatory. 

If a family cannot afford to sacrifice a sheep, then no blame is attached to it for failing to do so. "God does not charge a soul with more than it can reasonably undertake." This is the translation of a Qur'anic statement. A poor family that finds it difficult to make both ends meet is not expected to observe the aqeeqah. The child will not be affected in any way for his/her parents' failure to observe a Sunnah, even when they can afford it. 

The Act of Aqeeqah

It is clearly evident from numerous ahaadeeth that aqeeqah should be performed 7 days after a child is born. Or later if circumstances do not permit. 

The sacrifice for the child is required from the father - since he is the one addressed by the prophetic ahaadeeth. However, it is also correct if done by someone else. So it is permissible for a near and beloved relative - such as the grandfather, uncle and brother to take on the responsibility of the 'Aqeeqa and donate it. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as a Maternal Grand Father, gave the 'Aqeeqah of his two grandsons, Imam al-Hasan and Imam  al-Husain - and their father was present. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas has reported, "The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam sacrificed two camels at the aqeeqah occasion of Hadhrat Hasan (RA.) and Hussain (RA.)."

The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned the sacrifice without assigning a particular person to do it.


The child's hair should be shaven, weighed and the equivalent amount of silver given to charity. 

On the birth occasion of Hadhrat Hasan (R. A.), the Noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa sallam) instructed Hadhrat Fatima (R. A.) to donate the equivalent amount to charity. The Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi Wasallam) also donated the equivalent amount to the weight of Hadhrat Fatima's hair to charity. 

Hadhrat Imam Mohammad Baqir (R.A.) narrates, "Hadhrat Fatima (R.A.) gave the amount equivalent to her daughter Zainab's (R.A.), Umme Kulthum's (R.A.), and her sons Hasan's (RA.) and Hussain's (RA.) hair to charity."(Mu'atta Imam Mohammad pg. 286).

The above narrations show that to offer the equivalent amount of the weight of a child's hair in silver is Sunnah. But if one were to give the charity in gold, then it would not harm anyone, if one can afford to. That giving silver in charity is easily managed by any person - as opposed to gold, which is more expensive. 

Is Charity to be given in Gold or Silver?

What is established in the authentic ahaadeeth is that it is to be silver, it is confirmed in the authentic Sunnah - that charity be given with the weight of the child's hair in silver. But if  one were to give the charity in gold, then it would not harm since it is reported from a group of the Salaf. But silver is better for two reasons: 

(i) It is what is established in the many authentic ahaadeeth as has preceded.

(ii) That giving silver in charity is easily managed by any person - as opposed to gold, which is more expensive.

What we should do is to work out the value of the appropriate amount of silver in modern currency. That is done by weighing the hair in grams then finding out the current value of that amount of silver. The result will then be the amount of charity that is to be given. 

An example: For hair, which weighs 2.5 grams, i.e. approximately one dirham. We multiply this by the price of a gram of silver - which is not fixed - let us say that it is  $0.16 per gram.  Then the amount of charity to be given will be 2.5 x0.16 = 40 cents and this is an amount of charity, which will be easy for every Muslim - rich or poor.

However, if this were measured in gold, it would be harder since a gram of gold may cost about $10.00  or more, - so upon our example the amount of charity to be given if it were given in gold would be 2.5 x $10.00 = $25.00.

When a child was born Hadhrat Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz (RA.) would recite the adhaan in the child's right ear and the iqaamah in the left."

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (A.S.)

The month of Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar year. An important and tragic event took place on the tenth of Muharram that shook the Muslim world. It was the murder of Imam Husain (A.S.), his family members, and his close friends by the army of Yazid. Yazid was at that time the despotic ruler of the Muslim world, who came to power as the self-proclaimed “sixth caliph of Islam” after the death of his father, Mu’awiya. Yazid gave himself the title of ameer-ul-mu’mineen, meaning “commander of the faithful.” 

Husain was one of the two grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.), and the younger of the two sons of Hazrat Fatima (A.S.), the daughter of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet loved his two grandsons, Hasan and Husain, dearly, and since he had no surviving sons of his own, he used to call them his “sons,” out of affection. 

There are numerous traditions, recorded by many historians, which indicate the great love and respect the Holy Prophet had for his grandsons. According to one tradition, the Holy Prophet declared that Hasan and Husain were the “Princes of the Youth of Paradise.” Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.) took his grandsons with him, along with his daughter Fatima and son-in-law Imam ‘Ali (A.S.), to face the challenge of the Christian delegation from Najrain, which had come to dispute with the Holy Prophet about his divine mission. The Christians were awe-struck at the sight of the Holy Prophet and his family, and withdrew the challenge. This event became known as Mubahila, and is recorded in the Holy Qur’an in chapter 3 verse 61. 

Historical Background

During the caliphate of Imam ‘Ali, Mu’awiya declared himself the governor of Syria. After the assassination of ‘Ali by a Kharijite, ‘Ali’s elder son, Imam Hasan, succeeded him, being judged as the most qualified and deserving by the people. By this time, however, Mu’awiya had amassed enough support in and around Syria to unilaterally declare himself caliph of whole Islamic world. In order to avoid bloodshed, preserve unity, and in fact to save the religion of Islam from destruction, Imam Hasan signed a peace treaty with Mu’awiya. The treaty included these terms: (1) Mu’awiya would be the temporal political head of the Muslim empire; (2) Mu’awiya would not appoint his own successor, but would leave the caliphate to the will of the majority (which favored Imam Husain); and, (3) Mu’awiya would allow the Muslims to live in peace, free from oppression, especially those belonging to the Hashimite tribe (the tribe of the Holy Prophet and his family). 

Mu’awiya violated the terms of this treaty and, near his death, designated his son Yazid as his successor. Yazid was an immoral and ruthless man with no sense of justice. He employed bribery and coercion to win support. Imam Husain, as the protector and guardian of the religion established by his noble grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.), refused to swear allegiance to him. Yazid realized that he could never legitimize and consolidate his rule without the allegiance of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. Consequently, he decided that he would either force the Imam to submit to his rule, or else he would have him killed. 

In the 61st year after Hijra (680 AD), Imam Husain, while performing the pilgrimage in Mecca, received the news that assassins had been sent by Yazid to kill him. Desiring to protect the sanctity of the Holy City, he interrupted his pilgrimage and headed towards Kufa, in modern-day Iraq on invitation of the people there to come and teach them about Islam. He took with him his family members and close friends, including his six-month-old infant son, Ali Asghar. His journey to Kufa was intercepted by a detachment of Yazid’s army, led by a commander named Hur. Hur had orders to re-direct the Imam to camp in the desert plains of Karbala, on the banks of the River Euphrates. In order to avoid bloodshed, Imam Husain chose not to resist, and followed Hur’s directions. He and his companions were forced to camp at a great distance from the river, which was the only source of water in the area. 

On the seventh day of Muharram, Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufa, ordered that food and water supplies were to be blocked from reaching Imam Husain’s camp. In the meantime, the ranks of Yazid’s army were increasing by the thousands. The blistering sun scorched the desert sand, and the thirst was becoming unbearable in Husain’s camp. The children especially were becoming dehydrated and weak, and Imam Husain pleaded with Yazid’s army to supply water at least to those children, but to no avail. 

On the tenth day of Muharram, Yazid’s army was ready to attack the small band of defenders in Imam Husain’s camp. One by one, his friends and relatives took permission to go out and fight and each one laid down his life in the defense of Islam. Two of his nephews, who were only ten years old, were among the brave soldiers who died fighting. The commander of Husain’s forces was Abbas, his brother, who had inherited his chivalry from his father ‘Ali, the Lion of Allah. Abbas asked Husain’s permission to go and fight his way through to the river and bring back some water for Sakina, Husain’s four-year-old daughter, and the other children. The Imam reluctantly gave him permission to go and fetch water. Abbas took an empty flask, charged into Yazid’s army, cut through the ranks, and arrived at the river. While he filled the pitcher with water, he himself did not drink a drop, for he reasoned that he could not do so while Imam Husain, Sakina, and the others were still thirsty. Abbas did not make it back to the camp, however. The whole army of Yazid converged upon him. He died defending the precious pitcher of water. 

Imam Husain’s six-month-old son, Ali Asghar, was on the verge of death from dehydration. Husain brought him out of the tent to show his pitiful condition to the soldiers in Yazid’s army, pleading for at least enough water to save the infant’s life. The enemy denied his request. A heartless archer from the enemy army shot an arrow that struck the infant, killing him in his father’s own arms. 

Soon, Imam Husain was left alone to face Yazid’s army, since all the able-bodied male members of his camp had died fighting one by one. He made a final plea to the army of Yazid, reminding them of his kinship with the Holy Prophet of Islam, the love and respect which the Holy Prophet had used to show him, and the numerous traditions in which the Holy Prophet had warned the Muslims not to disobey or injure him. He reminded them of his desire to uphold the truth and his status as one of the true protectors of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet. He asked to be allowed to leave the Muslim kingdom, so that Yazid would not perceive him as a threat to his power. Finally, he clearly warned them that by shedding his blood, they would be subjected to the wrath of Allah (S.W.T.) and they would lose any hope of the intercession of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W.). The commanders of the opposing army were unmoved, and reiterated their desire to kill Imam Husain unless he chose to submit to the authority of Yazid. Husain was left with no choice but to take a firm and final stand against falsehood, and to fight for the preservation of Islam. He fought bravely, and in the end he achieved martyrdom. 

The Significance of Imam Husain’s Martyrdom 

Immediate outcome of Imam Husain’s actions: Muslims and non-Muslims alike have acknowledged that Imam Husain saved Islam from destruction by sacrificing his life. Yazid had been successful in winning over the allegiance of the great majority of Muslims, and the rest of the Muslim world was in a state of moral slumber. The principles of Islam were being plundered, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet was being tampered with, and phony traditions were being concocted to justify the rule of Yazid. It was the singular sacrifice of Imam Husain and his faithful followers that shook the Islamic world out of its slumber. The Muslims were forced to ask themselves why the beloved grandson of the Holy Prophet had been murdered so brutally. It then dawned upon the people what the true nature of Yazid and his supporters was.

Long term outcome of Imam Husain’s actions: Imam Husain, by challenging Yazid and in the process laying down his life, changed the world and re-shaped human destiny forever. Yazid, and indeed all future despots, were put on notice that they would not be tolerated, and that truth and justice would be upheld and would ultimately succeed, regardless of the costs. The Iranian revolution that uprooted and overthrew an unjust government, and the liberation of Lebanon from foreign occupation are two of the more recent exemplars of these principles laid down by Imam Husain. 

Imam Husain’s Philosophy:

Professor Syed Jafar Raza Bilgirami beautifully describes Imam Husain’s philosophy. He states that at Karbala, Imam Husain came to rebuild a system of life. He gave a practical embodiment to the rational concept of justice. He successfully placed the spirit (savage, war-making qualities in man) and the appetite (greed for material things and lust for power) under the command of reason (‘Aql). In Karbala, he formulated a new code of life to safeguard the peace and security of human society for all times to come. 

Imam Husain’s Foresight and Planning for the Battle of Karbala:

Imam Husain chose not to flee or hide from Yazid, because that would not have exposed Yazid’s corruption of Islam and would have served to legitimize his unjust rule. He knew that by rejecting Yazid’s demands, he would most likely be killed. However, he also did not want to die like any other martyr. He wanted his death to serve as a starting point for a revolution that would strengthen justice and oppose tyranny for all times to come. This type of stance needed planning and wisdom. As pointed out by scholars, Imam Husain’s planning encompassed three factors: 

1. The choice of location;

2. The choice of companions; and,

3. Foolproof arrangements for passing on the event to the annals of history. 

The Choice of Location:

Imam Husain chose not to stay in Mecca because he did not want his blood to desecrate the Holy Precincts. Besides, if he were to be killed by hired assassins, then the killers’ motives would not be clear and his death would fade away on the pages of history. So he chose to travel to Iraq (the den of the tyrant himself), where his mission would receive the maximum publicity, and where Yazid’s evil would be best exposed. The events of history proved that Imam Husain was right. 

The Choice of Companions:

Hujjatul-Islam Maulana Ali Naqvi has written that in Karbala, the largest number of true Muslims gathered in the entire history of Islam. Imam Husain was not seeking the best fighters, since his goal was not to fight to win a physical war. He was looking for men of principle, true Muslims, firm and patient, who would go through the utmost hardships successfully. 

His companions included men of different tribes, coming from different parts of Arabia and beyond. They included, among others, an elderly companion of the Holy Prophet, some liberated slaves, and a young newlywed Christian couple. The age of his supporters ranged from six months to a ripe old age of over 90. 

The heterogeneity of Imam Husain’s supporting group indicates that he did not want the confrontation with Yazid to be misrepresented as a struggle between two clans, or a campaign for gaining power. 

Preserving His Sacrifice in the Annals of History:

Imam Husain took women, children, and all of his family members with him. This strategy ensured that after his death, his message would be spread through his family members, and that Yazid would not be able to suppress the truth or falsify Imam Husain’s motives. History proves that it was a brilliant move. His sister Zainab (A.S.), through her scholarly and bold speeches, and with no fear of the tyrant Yazid, eloquently proclaimed the truth and exposed the falsehood of Yazid in his own court. He was speechless and humiliated before her. His court was full of dignitaries, both local and from other nation-states, and his own supporters. They were shocked to hear the truth put forth so forcefully, and many were brought to tears. The same scene was repeated in the bazaars and marketplaces of the country, all along the travel route of the surviving captives. Husain had laid the foundation of the revolution with his blood. His sister Zainab stirred the revolution with her oratory. That revolution changed the world forever. 

Statements of Historians and World Leaders:

This unique historical sacrifice of Imam Husain and his small band of 71 male supporters has caught the attention of historians, scholars, and writers throughout the world, in all periods of history. Some of the more notable quotes and insights are given below: 

“Of that gallant band, male and female knew that the enemy forces around were implacable, and were not only ready to fight, but to kill. Denied even water for the children, they remained parched under the burning sun and scorching sands, yet not one faltered for a moment. Husain marched with his little company, not to glory, not to power of wealth, but to a supreme sacrifice, and every member bravely faced the greatest odds without flinching.” - Dr. K. Sheldrake 

“If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires, as alleged by certain Christian critics, then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.” - Charles Dickens 

“The best lesson which we get from the tragedy of Cerebella is that Husain and his companions were rigid believers in God. They illustrated that the numerical superiority does not count when it comes to the truth and the falsehood. The victory of Husain, despite his minority, marvels me!” - Thomas Carlyle 

“In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.” - Edward Gibbon 

“The tragedy of Karbala decided not only the fate of the Caliphate, but also of Mohammadan kingdoms long after the Caliphate had waned and disappeared.” - William Muir 

“Imam Husain uprooted despotism forever, till the Day of Resurrection. He watered the dry gardens of freedom with a surging wave of his blood, and indeed he awakened the sleeping Muslim nation. If Imam Husain had aimed at acquiring the worldly empire, he would not have traveled the way he did. Husain weltered in blood and dust for the sake of truth. Verily, therefore, he becomes the foundation of the Muslim creed ‘La Ilaha Il-lallah,’ meaning, there is no deity but Allah (God).” - Sir Mohammad Iqbal 

“A reminder of that blood-stained field of Karbala, where the grandson of the Apostle of God fell, at length, tortured by thirst, and surround by the bodies of his murdered kinsmen, has been at anytime since then, sufficient to evoke, even in the most lukewarm and the heedless, the deepest emotion, the most frantic grief, and an exaltation of spirit before which pain, danger, and death shrink to unconsidered trifles.” - Browne’s History of Persia


The Martyrdom of Imam Husain by Yousef N. Laljee

The Spirit of Islam by Ameer Ali

Imam Husain and Planning of the Incident of Karbala by S.G. Haider

Imam Husain and His System of Life by Syed Jafar Raza Bilgirami

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Political System in Islam - Islam a Total Way of Life

The West makes a natural mistake in their understanding of Islamic tradition, assuming that religion means the same for Muslims as it has meant for most other religious adherents ever since the industrial revolution, and for some societies, even before that; that is: a section of life reserved for certain matters, and separate from other sections of life.  This is not the Islamic world view.  It never has been in the past, and modern attempts of making it so are seen as an aberration.

Islam: A Total Way of Life

Islam is a “total way of life.”  It has provided guidance in every sphere of life, from individual cleanliness, rules of trade, to the structure and politics of the society. Islam can never be separated from social, political, or economic life, since religion provides moral guidance for every action that a person takes.  The primary act of faith is to strive to implement God's will in both private and public life.  Muslims see that they, themselves, as well as the world around them, must be in total submission to God and his Will.  Moreover, they know that this concept of His rule must be established on earth in order to create a just society.  Like Jews and Christians before them, Muslims have been called into a covenant relationship with God, making them a community of believers who must serve as an example to other nations by creating a moral social order.  God tells the Muslim global nation:

“You are the best community raised for mankind, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong…” (Quran 3:110)

Throughout history, being a Muslim has meant not only belonging to a religious community of fellow believers but also living under the Islamic Law.  For Islamic Law is believed to be an extension of God’s absolute sovereignty.

God is the Only Sovereign

God is the absolute sovereign in Islam, and is therefore the only Lord of heaven and earth.  Just as He is the Lord of the physical universe, to the true Muslim believers, God is the Lawgiver for every area of human life.  Just as He is the Master of the physical world, God is the Ruler of the affairs of men in Islamic doctrine.  Thus God is the supreme Lawgiver[1], the Absolute Judge, and the Legislator Who distinguishes right from wrong.  Just like the physical world inevitably submits to its Lord by following the ‘natural’ laws of the universe, human beings must submit to the moral and religious teaching of their Lord, the One Who sets right apart from wrong for them.  In other words, God alone has the authority to make laws, determine acts of worship, decide morals, and set standards of human interaction and behavior.  This is because,

“His is the Creation and Command.” (Quran 7:54)

The Separation of Institutional Religion & the State
As we have mentioned, in Islam God is acknowledged the sole sovereign of human affairs, so there has never been a distinction between religious and state authority.  In Christendom, the distinction between the two authorities are said to be based upon records in the New Testament of Jesus, asking his followers to render unto Caesar what was his and unto God what was His.  Therefore throughout Christian history until the present times, there have always been two authorities: ‘God and Caesar’, or ‘the church and state.’  Each had its own laws and jurisdictions, each its own structure and hierarchy.  In the pre-westernized Islamic world there were never two powers, and the question of separation never arose.  The distinction so deeply rooted in Christendom between church and state has never existed in Islam.

The Vision of an Islamic State

The vision of an Islamic state and the purpose of its political authority is to implement the divine law.  Thus, the ideal Islamic state is a community governed by the Law revealed by God.  This does not entail that such a state is necessarily a theocracy under direct rule of the learned men of religion, nor is it an autocracy that vests absolute power in the ruler.  The function of the Islamic state is to provide security and order so that Muslims can carry out both their religious and worldly duties.  The Caliph[2]  is the guardian of faith and the community.  His role is not so much checked by the ulama (religious scholars), but enhanced by them because they provide him religious and legal counsel.  He also appoints judges who resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Law.  There is a certain level of flexibility in regards to the system of governance and its establishment in Islam, however, religion must be implemented fully into state and society.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Fourth Caliph, Ali (656-661 A.C.)

Ali's Election

After Uthman's martyrdom, the office of the caliphate remained unfilled for two or three days. Many people insisted that Ali should take up the office, but he was embarrassed by the fact that the people who pressed him hardest were the rebels, and he therefore declined at first. When the notable Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) urged him, however, he finally agreed.

Muhammad Ibnu Al- Hanafiah (Ali's son) said: I have been with my father (Ali) when Uthman was killed, the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) came to Ali and said: This man was killed (they mean Uthman) and the people should have an Imam, we do not find anyone who deserves this position more than you... Ali said: Do not do it (giving the bay'ah) I am better as a wazeer (minister) than as an Amir. They said we are not leaving until we give you the bay'ah. He said: Then it should be in the mosque, my bay'ah should not be hidden and it should be after the consent of the Muslims. (see Tareekh Al-Tabari, vol. 3, page 450, see also Al-Bay'ah Fi Al-fikr Al- Siasi Al-Islami, "The bay'ah in the Islamic political thinking", by Mahmoud Al-Khalidi, page 107-108).

According to Muslim chronicles, Ali was a trusted advisor of the first three caliphs on legal matters; however, with regard to administrative and political matters, Ali disagreed vehemently with his predecessors, and during Uthman's reign (644-656) he aligned himself with the opposition. His failure to punish Uthman's murderers after his accession in 656 provoked outrage.

Ali's Life

The fourth caliph (655-661) and Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. Ali converted to Islam shortly after Muhammad's wife, Khadija; he was at that time a boy of eleven years old. When Muhammad emigrated to Medina in 622, Ali was chosen to stay behind and occupy his bed in order to thwart an attempt on Muhammad's life. More than that, he had grown up in the Prophet's own household, later married his youngest daughter, Fatima, and remained in closest association with him for nearly thirty years.

Ali was ten years old when the Divine Message came to Muhammad (peace be on him). One night he saw the Prophet and his wife Khadijah bowing and prostrating. He asked the Prophet about the meaning of their actions. The Prophet told him that they were praying to God Most High and that Ali too should accept Islam. Ali said that he would first like to ask his father about it. He spent a sleepless night, and in the morning he went to the Prophet and said, "When God created me He did not consult my father, so why should I consult my father in order to serve God?" and he accepted the truth of Muhammad's message.

When the Divine command came, "And warn thy nearest relatives" [26:214], Muhammad (peace be on him) invited his relatives for a meal. After it was finished, he addressed them and asked, "Who will join me in the cause of God?" There was utter silence for a while, and then Ali stood up. "I am the youngest of all present here," he said, "My eyes trouble me because they are sore and my legs are thin and weak, but I shall join you and help you in whatever way I can." The assembly broke up in derisive laughter. But during the difficult wars in Mecca, Ali stood by these words and faced all the hardships to which the Muslims were subjected. He slept in the bed of the Prophet when the Quraish planned to murder Muhammad. It was he to whom the Prophet entrusted, when he left Mecca, the valuables which had been given to him for safekeeping, to be returned to their owners.

Apart from the expedition of Tabuk, Ali fought in all the early battles of Islam with great distinction, particularly in the expedition of Khaybar. It is said that in the Battle of Uhud he received more than sixteen wounds.

The Prophet (peace be on him) loved Ali dearly and called him by many fond names. Once the Prophet found him sleeping in the dust. He brushed off Ali's clothes and said fondly, "Wake up, Abu Turab (Father of Dust)." The Prophet also gave him the title of 'Asadullah' ('Lion of God').

Ali's humility, austerity, piety, deep knowledge of the Qur'an and his sagacity gave him great distinction among the Prophet's Companions. Abu Bakr, 'Umar and Uthman consulted him frequently during their caliphates. Many times 'Umar had made him his vice-regent at Medina when he was away. Ali was also a great scholar of Arabic literature and pioneered in the field of grammar and rhetoric. His speeches, sermons and letters served for generations afterward as models of literary expression. Many of his wise and epigrammatic sayings have been preserved. Ali thus had a rich and versatile personality. In spite of these attainments he remained a modest and humble man. Once during his caliphate when he was going about the marketplace, a man stood up in respect and followed him. "Do not do it," said Ali. "Such manners are a temptation for a ruler and a disgrace for the ruled."

Ali and his household lived extremely simple and austere lives. Sometimes they even went hungry themselves because of Ali's great generosity, and none who asked for help was ever turned away from his door. His plain, austere style of living did not change even when he was ruler over a vast domain.

Ali's Caliphate

As mentioned previously, Ali accepted the caliphate very reluctantly. Uthman's murder and the events surrounding it were a symptom, and also became a cause, of civil strife on a large scale. Ali felt that the tragic situation was mainly due to inept governors. He therefore dismissed all the governors who had been appointed by Uthman and appointed new ones. All the governors excepting Muawiya, the governor of Syria, submitted to his orders. Muawiya declined to obey until Uthman's blood was avenged. The Prophet's widow Aisha also took the position that Ali should first bring the murderers to trial. Due to the chaotic conditions during the last days of Uthman it was very difficult to establish the identity of the murderers, and Ali refused to punish anyone whose guilt was not lawfully proved. Thus a battle between the army of Ali and the supporters of Aisha took place. Aisha later realized her error of judgment and never forgave herself for it.

The situation in Hijaz (thc part of Arabia in which Mecca and Medina are located) became so troubled that Ali moved his capital to Iraq. Muawiya now openly rebelled against Ali and a fierce battle was fought between their armies. This battle was inconclusive, and Ali had to accept the de facto government of Muawiya in Syria.

However, even though the era of Ali's caliphate was marred by civil strife, he nevertheless introduced a number of reforms, particularly in the levying and collecting of revenues.

The Death of Ali

It was the fortieth year of Hijra. A fanatical group called Kharijites, consisting of people who had broken away from Ali due to his compromise with Muawiya, claimed that neither Ali, the Caliph, nor Muawiya, the ruler of Syria, nor Amr bin al-Aas, the ruler of Egypt, were worthy of rule. In fact, they went so far as to say that the true caliphate came to an end with 'Umar and that Muslims should live without any ruler over them except God. They vowed to kill all three rulers, and assassins were dispatched in three directions.

The assassins who were deputed to kill Muawiya and Amr did not succeed and were captured and executed, but Ibn-e-Muljim, the assassin who was commissioned to kill Ali, accomplished his task. One morning when Ali was absorbed in prayer in a mosque, Ibn-e-Muljim stabbed him with a poisoned sword. On the 20th of Ramadan, 40 A.H., died the last of the Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam. May God Most High be pleased with them and grant to them His eternal reward.

The detailed study of the bay'ah of the first four Khulafah gives us the outline for a method to choose the Khalifah in our contemporary times. First of all no one can become Khalifah without the bay'ah (pledge) of the people. This bay'ah is valid if it taken without any force. The matter of bay'ah proceeds after debate to establish suitable candidates, then one of them is elected as a Khalifah, then the bay'ah is taken for him from the people. Although this matter was evident in the consultations made for Abu Bakr, it is very clear in the case of the bay'ah given to Uthman as discussed in the previous message. In the case of Uthman the nominees for the Khilafah were limited to the group named by Umar after the Muslims had asked him to do so. Abdul Rahman ibn Auf, after he withdrew himself from the nomination to the Khilafah, took the opinion of the Muslims about who would be the Khalif. He then announced the name of the person who the Muslims wanted after consulting with them. After he announced the name of the person who the people wanted, the bay'ah was given to him and he became Khalif by this bay'ah.

Therefore the Hukm shari'i (Sharia rule) concerning the appointment of the Khalifah is to limit the nominees for the Khilafah by those who represent the opinion of the majority of the Muslims. Then their names are displayed to the Muslims and they are asked to select one of the nominees to be Khalifah for all. Then it is determined whom the majority of the Muslims have chosen, and the bay'ah from all Muslims is taken for him, whether each person had specifically chosen him or not. This is the method because of the Ijma' of the Sahabah (consensus of the Sahabah) about Umar limiting the nominees for the Khilafah to specific number of persons (in that case it is six, but the exact number is not important) and the consensus of the Sahabah that Abdul Rahman takes the opinion of all the Muslims about who will be the Khalif for them, and the consensus to give the bay'ah to the one who Abdul Rahman announced as the person elected by the Muslims as a Khalif is clear when he said "I viewed the matter of the people and did not see them compare anyone with Uthman." All these points clarify the Hukum shari'i concerning the appointment of the Khalif.

With the death of Ali, the first and most notable phase in the history of Muslim peoples came to an end. All through this period it had been the Book of God and the practices of His Messenger - that is, thc Qur'an and the Sunnah - which had guided the leaders and the led, set the standards of their moral conduct and inspired their actions. It was the time when the ruler and the ruled, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, were uniformly subject to the Divine Law. It was an epoch of freedom and equality, of God-consciousness and humility, of social justice which recognized no privileges, and of an impartial law which accepted no pressure groups or vested interests.

After Ali, Muawiya assumed the caliphate and thereafter the caliphate became hereditary, passing from one king to another.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Third Caliph, Uthman (644-656 A.C.)

Uthman's Election

When Umar was stabbed,the Muslims asked him to appoint a successor for him but he refused. They insisted, so he mentioned six of the Sahabah. After his death, the nominees appointed one of them as a representative who was Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf. He referred to the opinion of the Muslims and consulted them. Then he declared the bay'ah to Uthman. The Muslims stood up and gave their pledge to Uthman, and their by he became a Khalif by the pledge of the Muslims and not by the announcement of Abdul Rahman. In the following two Hadiths Umar first does not appoint anyone and in the next Hadith Umar mentioned the name of the six people. In Muslim he reported the same thing in a different Hadith. But from both, Al-Bukhari and Muslim, we find that Umar appointed the six people after the Sahabah insisted on him to do so.

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of 'Abdullah bin 'Umar: It was said to 'Umar, "Will you appoint your successor?" Umar said, "If I appoint a Caliph (as my successor) it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Abu Bakr) did so, and if I leave the matter undecided, it is true that somebody who was better than I (i.e., Allah's Apostle) did so." On this, the people praised him. 'Umar said, "People are of two kinds: Either one who is keen to take over the Caliphate or one who is afraid of assuming such a responsibility. I wish I could be free from its responsibility in that I would receive neither reward nor retribution I won't bear the burden of the caliphate in my death as I do in my life."

Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Amr bin Maimun when Umar was stabbed to death: "The people realized that he would die... The people said (to 'Umar), "O chief of the believers! Appoint a successor." Umar said, "I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah's Apostle had been pleased with before he died." Then 'Umar mentioned 'Ali, 'Uthman AzZubair, Talha, Sad and 'Abdur-Rahman (bin Auf) and said,"Abdullah bin 'Umar will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule.

His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling. If Sad becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty." 'Umar added, "I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honour and sacred things. I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Medina before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them.

I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the 'Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the 'Arabs and the material of Islam.

He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah's and His Apostle's protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfil their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability." So when 'Umar expired, we carried him out and set out walking. 'Abdullah bin 'Umar greeted ('Aisha) and said,"'Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission." 'Aisha said, "Bring him in." He was brought in and buried beside his two companions.

When he was buried, the group (recommended by 'Umar) held a meeting. Then 'Abdur-Rahman said, "Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you." Az-Zubair said, "I give up my right to Ali." Talha said, "I give up my right to 'Uthman," Sad, 'I give up my right to 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf." Abdur-Rahman thensaid (to 'Uthman and 'Ali), "Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses." So both the sheiks (i.e. 'Uthman and 'Ali) kept silent.

'Abdur-Rahman said, "Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?" They said, "Yes." So 'Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. 'Ali) and said, "You are related to Allah's Apostle and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select 'Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him." Then he took the other (i.e. 'Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When 'Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, "O 'Uthman! Raise your hand." So he (i.e. 'Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. 'Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then 'Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance.

The details of what Abdul Rahman did is clear in the next narration. Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Al-Miswar bin Makhrama: The group of people whom 'Umar had selected as candidatesfor the Caliphate gathered and consulted each other. Abdur-Rahman said to them, "I am not going to compete with you in this matter, but if you wish, I would select for you a caliph from among you."

So all of them agreed to let 'Abdur-Rahman decide the case. So when the candidates placed the case in the hands of 'Abdur-Rahman, the people went towards him and nobody followed the rest of the group nor obeyed any after him. So the people followed 'Abdur-Rahman and consulted him all those nights till there came the night we gave the oath of allegiance to 'Uthman. Al-Miswar (bin Makhrama) added: 'Abdur-Rahman called on me after a portion of the night had passed and knocked on my door till I got up, and he said to me, "I see you have been sleeping! By Allah, during the last three nights I have not slept enough.

Go and call Az-Zubair and Sa'd.' So I called them for him and he consulted them and then called me saying, 'Call 'Ali for me." I called 'Ali and he held a private talk with him till very late at night, and then 'Al, got up to leave having had much hope (to be chosen as a Caliph) but 'Abdur-Rahman was afraid of something concerning 'Ali. 'Abdur-Rahman then said to me, "Call 'Uthman for me."

I called him and he kept on speaking to him privately till the Mu'adhdhin put an end to their talk by announcing the Adhan for the Fajr prayer. When the people finished their morning prayer and that (six men) group gathered near the pulpit, 'Abdur-Rahman sent for all the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar present there and sent for the army chief who had performed the Hajj with 'Umar that year. When all of them had gathered, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah," and added, "Now then, O 'Ali, I have looked at the people's tendencies and noticed that they do not consider anyboy equal to 'Uthman, so you should not incur blame (by disagreeing). "Then 'Abdur-Rahman said (to 'Uthman), "I gave the oath of allegiance to you on condition that you will follow Allah's Laws and the traditions of Allah's Apostle and the traditions of the two Caliphs after him." So 'Abdur-Rahman gave the oath of allegiance to him, and so did the peopleincluding the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar and the chiefs of the army staff and all the Muslims.

Uthman's Life

Uthman bin Affan was born seven years after the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). He belonged to the Omayyad branch of the Quraish tribe. He learned to read and write at an early age, and as a  Islam Uthman had been noted for his truthfulness and integrity. He and Abu Bakr were close friends, and it was Abu Bakr who brought him to Islam when he was thirty-four years of age. Some years later he married the Prophet's second daughter, Ruqayya. In spite of his wealth and position, his relatives subjected him to torture because he had embraced Islam, and he was forced to emigrate to Abyssinia. Some time later he returned to Mecca but soon migrated to Medina with the other Muslims. In Medina his business again began to flourish and he regained his former prosperity. Uthman's generosity had no limits. On various occasions he spent a great portion of his wealth for the welfare of the Muslims, for charity and for equipping the Muslim armies. That is why he came to be known as 'Ghani' meaning 'Generous.'

Uthman's wife, Ruqayya was seriously ill just before the Battle of Badr and he was excused by the Prophet (peace be on him) from participating in the battle. The illness Ruqayya proved fatal, leaving Uthman deeply grieved. The Prophet was moved and offered Uthman the hand of another of his daughters, Kulthum. Because he had the high privilege of having two daughters of the Prophet as wives Uthman was known as 'The Possessor of the Two Lights. '

Uthman participated in the Battles of Uhud and the Trench. After the encounter of the Trench, the Prophet (peace be on him) determined to perform Hajj and sent Uthman as his emissary to the Quraish in Mecca, who detained him. The episode ended in a treaty with the Meccans known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya.

The portrait we have of Uthman is of an unassuming, honest, mild, generous and very kindly man, noted especially for his modesty and his piety. He often spent part of the night in prayer, fasted every second or third day, performed hajj every year, and looked after the needy of the whole community. In spite of his wealth, he lived very simply and slept on bare sand in the courtyard of the Prophet's mosque. Uthman knew the Qur'an from memory and had an intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances relating to each verse.

Uthman's Caliphate

During Uthman's rule the characteristics of Abu Bakr's and Umar's caliphates - impartial justice for all, mild and humane policies, striving in the path of Allah, and the expansion of Islam - continued. Uthman's realm extended in the west to Morocco, in the east to Afghanistan, and in the north to Armenia and Azerbaijan. During his caliphate a navy was organized, administrative divisions of the state were revised, and many public projects were expanded and completed. Uthman sent prominent Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) as his personal deputies to various provinces to scrutinize the conduct of officials and the condition of the people.

Uthman's most notable contribution to the religion of Allah was the compilation of a complete and authoritative text of the Qur'an. A large number of copies of this text were made and distributed all over the Muslim world.

Uthman ruled for twelve years. The first six years were marked by internal peace and tranquility, but during the second half of his caliphate a rebellion arose. The Jews and the Magians, taking advantage of dissatisfaction among the people, began conspiring against Uthman, and by publicly airing their complaints and grievances, gained so much sympathy that it became difficult to distinguish friend from foe.

It may seem surprising that a ruler of such vast territories, whose armies were matchless, was unable to deal with these rebels. If Uthman had wished, the rebellion could have been crushed at the very moment it began. But he was reluctant to be the first to shed the blood of Muslims, however rebellious they might be. He preferred to reason with them, to persuade them with kindness and generosity. He well remembered hearing the Prophet (peace be on him) say, "Once the sword is unsheathed among my followers, it will not be sheathed until the Last Day."

The rebels demanded that he abdicate and some of the Companions advised him to do so. He would gladly have followed this course of action, but again he was bound by a solemn pledge he had given to the Prophet. "Perhaps Allah will clothe you with a shirt, Uthman" the Prophet had told him once, "and if the people want you to take it off, do not take it off for them." Uthman said to a well-wisher on a day when his house was surrounded by the rebels, "Allah's Messenger made a covenant with me and I shall show endurance in adhering to it."

After a long siege, the rebels broke into Uthman's house and murdered him. When the first assassin's sword struck Uthman, he was reciting the verse, "Verily, Allah sufficeth thee; He is the All-Hearing,the All-Knowing" [Qur'an 2:137]

Uthman breathed his last on the afternoon of Friday, 17 Dhul Hijja, 35 A.H. (June. (656 A.C.). He was eighty-four years old. The power of tHe rebels was so great that Uthman's body lay unburied until Saturday night when he was buried in his blood-stained clothes, the shroud which befits all martyrs in the cause of Allah.