Fishing for an Ideology

We have to be extremely careful in dealing with a legacy as old and as comprehensive as that of Islamic knowledge, a legacy that dealt with many aspects of life, one that was employed by many communities to deal with all sorts of circumstances. I see different people, groups, and ideologies that are somewhat opposite yet they are all relying on the very same legacy to support their views. For example, one can scan this large body of knowledge, note all the aspects that talks about spirituality, and come up with an ideology that Islam is but a spiritual recipe. Another can follow the political involvement of such knowledge and focus more on its involvement of wars for example, and arrive at an ideology of violence. A third can follow the many mentions of encouraging peace, forgiveness, and patience, and form a pacifist ideology from the same body of knowledge.

Isn’t that weird? What wrong do we do for that to happen. Well, let me share a couple of important points that we should keep in mind to be able to understand this legacy the way it should be understood:

  1. Know that what is considered the guidance of Islam is 1) what is in the Book of Allah, the Qur’an, and 2) the AUTHENTIC tradition of His Messenger. Anything else–even though it is important to study especially that which is closer to the prophet’s time, is still people’s views and interpretations and should only be attributed to them not to Islam.
  2. Having a pre-conceived ideology, THEN scanning the legacy of knowledge to support it is definitely the wrong way to go. Rather, one should form his/her ideology based on Islam and not the other way around. (very tough I know)
  3. It is very harmful to focus on partial knowledge and, intentionally or unintentionally, ignore other parts that address the same subject at hand.
  4. Be very mindful that context plays a major role: what applies to certain times, societies, or cultures can be quite different from what applies to others. Simply taking a society’s understanding of Islam and borrowing it to another society is very problematic to say the least.
  5. Scholarly opinions under certain political and social circumstances may not be accepted when these circumstances change.

I wish I have time to swamp you with examples of each points. I also wish I have time to show how these examples can be very harmful to us as Muslims and to the image of Islam itself. But I don’t 🙂

However, I will conclude with my view of a very famous hadith in which the prophet (pbuh) said that Allah sends to this Ummah every century that who will renew its religion. This religion and its pure source of guidance (mentioned in 1 above) interact with societies, cultures, and peoples, and get understood within those societies, interacting with those cultures, and applied by those peoples. This cause the pure message of Islam to be covered by people’s interpretations and understanding, which is acceptable. Someone (or some people) will come every now and then (every century as the Hadith said) and remove those layers and dig deep to the pure source (that is preserved and protected from alteration) and bring it to life in the current context and circumstances.

A Bird’s View – #aWordAboutHadith

One of the most important advice I received regarding dealing with the Sunna (and the Qur’an for that matter) is to put my hands on different pieces of the Sunna that talks about a subject before deducing conclusions on this subject.
A little simple, yet very telling, example is praying while injustice is committed against you. I have heard someone telling another who was praying against an unjust tyrant, “You can’t pray against him. You should pray for him. The Prophet prayed for his people even though they oppressed him and his companions.”
Even though the prophet prayed for his people even though they oppressed him, but he also, according to authentic reports, prayed against them when they harmed him. In addition, there are many reports about the prayer of the person whom injustice is committed against and how definite it is that Allah accepts it.
Now that these pieces of Sunna are in front of you, it becomes clearer what would the right choice be–at least the decision is not as it is had you only focused on one piece.

Who said Hadith is as authentic as the Quran? – #aWordAboutHadith

Not a single scholar ever said that the words of the Prophet are as authentic as the Quran except the very few that reached us in the same method of narration as that of the Quran.
The rest of his words (peace be upon him) has always been subject to a scientific process of acceptance or rejection. For that purpose, a lot of sciences was invented, terminology was established, and tremendous amount of work was published.

The scholars have always been using these sciences to research the authenticity of the words of the Prophet; had they not done so, the Prophet’s words would have been lost in the huge amount of fabricated and weak ones. Until this moment, this very critical process are being used for the same purpose.

I tried to learn about these sciences and spent some time reading about them. I was humbled by the oceans of knowledge and the tireless effort spent on this, humility that disallowed me to engage in it without the proper knowledge, tools, and skills.


4 Main Reasons for ISIS to Exist

[WARNING: a little long and not proof-read. So apologies for typos and sloppiness]

First of all, I have to start by saying that the whole idea of ISIS is blown out of proportion by the US and its allies to facilitate yet another ugly and evil intervention in the area. As a matter of fact, the crimes done by other groups and regimes are way more sever in nature and in the number of victims than those committed by a group like ISIS. A quick look at Hoothies in Yemen, and Bashar in Syria, and Shii’s in Iraq would give you a clear idea that ISIS case is just being used to legitimize US military intervention.

However, I follow the writings of many people and I see that ISIS and similar groups have only gained more popularity, support, and power; not just the fake popularity our media shows but real popularity among people whom I never though they may support such a group. In this relatively long post, I will share some of my thoughts on why a group like ISIS would gain such popularity. It is important to say that despite this popularity they are gaining, they are still representing a very tiny minority in the Muslim world. But mark my word, if the world continues to move in the same direction it has been moving in, this minority is only going to get more popular and more powerful. Take a quick look at the world in 1990 when Bush the Father launched his first war against Iraq and the world right now!

Listing those few reasons (or causes) does not mean I find it legitimate or reasonable to do what ISIS do. These are not excuses. This is just a humble attempt to put our hands on the cause of the problem AND try to solve it in case there exist amongst us some wise people, who think outside the box of ‘launch military attacks against them. We are the most powerful country in the world’ 😦

REASON 1: Oppression

I grew up in Egypt. I did not personally face oppression. My parents worked very hard to provide me and my brothers with care and education. But having a look at people around me in my own country, I see a huge amount of injustice: the majority of the population is suffering from the lack of food, lack of health care, lack of education, and even lack of living as dignified human beings. I saw people eating from the garbage, people dying because they are not accepted in hospitals, a whole generation that lacks quality education, and many die while migrating in their pursuit of escaping poverty. Morality is only going down and corruption has become the norm in the society. Continue reading