Tawaf and Sa’ii – the Umrah of Hajj Qiraan – Hajj chronicles 2

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah (peace be with you and the blessing of God),

To continue from the previous post, we reached Makkah after a day’s travel from Madinah. In the time of the prophet (peace be upon him), traveling on foot, this journey would have taken about a week. And what a journey it must have been, to be all together in ‘ihram’ (=sanctified pilgrim state, see previous post for detail) along with the blessed beloved messenger of God, Muhammed (peace be upon him) and making that long walk (it was encouraged, and still is, to walk as much as possible during the Hajj) chanting the talbiya together.

When we arrived in Makkah, we performed the ‘umrah’ (=visitation, the lesser pilgrimage). Performing Umrah can be done at any time of year, but it too like Hajj, requires that one be in ihram. There are three methods to perform Hajj, which I won’t go into now. Suffice to say, one of them is Hajj Qiraan. This is the Hajj the blessed prophet (peace be upon him) performed and the one we chose to do (the other two methods may be considered easier). It is where you perform an umrah as soon as you enter Makkah and then remain in your ihram waiting till the 8th of Dhul Hijjah to begin the rights of the Hajj.

It was the night of the 4th of Dhul Hijja when we entered Makkah. Umrah can be completed in a few hours and so we performed this before the 8th of dhul Hijja with ease. An umrah entails two main rituals and some minor ones. The main ones are that you ‘circumambulate’ (- a terrible English word translators have been fond of using for the right called ‘tawaf’ in Arabic. It means ‘circling’ (!), so I will just say to circle or stick to tawaf) the ‘ka’ba’, the cube shaped structure that is the holiest place for all Muslims. It is a structure built by the prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and venerated for centuries from way before the time of Muhammed (peace be upon him), as a place for pilgrimage, as a ‘house of God’.

Indeed many of the rights of the Hajj are closely linked to the establishment of Makkah as a place of habitation. In the Quran, and in the Bible, the valley of what is present day Makkah, where the ‘ka’ba’ (=literally meaning cube, it is cube shaped…we say the mathematical ratios of the sides have significance in how we understand the Divine. Also, the four corners of the ‘ka’ba’ point to the four directions; north, south, east and west) is, is referred to by the more ancient name ‘Bakkah’

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيتٍ وُضِعَ لِلنّاسِ لَلَّذي بِبَكَّةَ مُبارَكًا وَهُدًى لِلعالَمينَ
TRANSLITERATION
ʾinna ʾawwala baytin wuḍiʿa li-n-nāsi la-lladhī bi-bakkata mubārakan wa-hudan li-l-ʿālamīna
TRANSLATION
Indeed the first house to be set up for mankind is the one at Bakkah, blessed and a guidance for all nations.
Quran 3:96

The Biblical reference is Psalms 84. , though there is difference of opinion among Biblical scholars as to whether this is present day Makkah or not.

Makkah or Bakkah was a nondescript location in the stark and barren Arabian dessert. Abraham (peace be upon him) was commanded to leave his wife Hagar (=’Hajara’ in Arabic. Arabic, along with Hebrew, are still existent languages that are closely related to the ancient Sumerian or Syriac languages that it is likely Abraham peace be upon him, spoke. Certainly Arabic is closely connected to Aramaic, the language the blessed Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, may have spoken). I find it interesting that her name is so linguisticaly similar to the word ‘Hajj’. The meaning of ‘Hajara’ is ‘to be independent/not in need of anyone/to avoid others’ (root word used in Quran 73:10), and indeed what an apt description of the strength and courage of our mother Hajara (and indeed of the pilgrim state itself). She is, in my opinon, one of the bravest women of all time, with a faith as giant as that of her husband.

According to Muslim scholarly tradition when Abraham (peace be upon him) left Hajara and her little baby in the dessert and turned to go, Hajara ran after him questioning him as to what he was doing. She is supposed to have asked him several times ‘Ya Ibraheem (=O Abraham), what are you doing, are you leaving us in this barren place…’ (I put this in my own words). Abraham (peace be upon him) did not reply, but walked on. We know that the prophets (peace be upon them) are the best of humanity, chosen to be messengers, due to their strength of character, their moral uprightness and their vast compassion and wisdom

[the Quranic narrative and Muslim scholarly tradition does not allow any blemish of character attributed to a prophet – male or female – many Muslims hold Mariam, the blessed virgin Mary, as a prophet. How can we look up to them, take them as role models or follow them otherwise? In general Muslim tradition holds that prophethood is too heavy a weight to be placed upon female shoulders by a loving God, so they are predominantly male. However the great female leaders in our tradition, are highly revered, and are our role models in every sense of the term. They are our mothers, peace be upon them all. The prophets (peace be upon them all) were the most tested of mankind, all of them without exception were driven out by their people and faced untold persecution. In Muslim tradition all of their endings though are good and every story has a ‘happy ending’. This is what Muslims believe also in respect of the blessed Isa (=Jesus), peace be upon him, and Muslims look forward to his return and then a happy ending. Something most non-Muslims are surprised by]

..So it is impossible Abraham (peace be upon him) would do something so cruel- a complete antithesis to what a loving husband would do, and certainly to the actions expected of a prophet of God. So Hajara (peace be upon her) followed him, asking him this and he did not reply. She finally asked him ‘Ya Ibraheem, is it your Lord that commands you do this?’, at this, Ibraheem (peace be upon him), still did not turn around…but stopped, and nodded his head. (I often think, that had he turned his head and looked at his wife and baby, his resolve would have failed him. Surrounded by the harshness and barrenness of the dessert of Makkah, this feeling was deeply re-enforced).
..When Hajara (peace be upon her) realized this, then she said ‘Go, Abraham, our Lord will not forsake us’. Her strength and faith still takes my breath away!
..He left. In sometime, her baby, also destined to be a prophet, Ismael (=Ishma’el) began to cry. She must have run out of milk by this time. A desperate mother…she ran seven times between two hillocks called Safa and Marwa located about 400m apart, scanning the horizon for anyone and shouting for help. Her struggle is forever honored by God, as a central right of the Hajj. It is also a central right of the Umrah. On the seventh trip, she comes back to where she had placed her dying baby and finds by him water was spouting from the ground. She shouted ‘zam zam’ (=’stop,stop/hold it, hold it’, basically not wanting the water to run off into the dessert sand) and quickly fashioned earth around the spout to collect the water. The water saves her baby and herself. Soon after a passing trade caravan stops by. And now, where there is water in the dessert, people settle, and soon the town/city of Makkah is born.

That water is still there, it is called ‘zamzam water‘, it tastes very different as it has a unique mineral composition. It is a small well that has been supplying water to all of Makkah for centuries. Muslims believe this is a miracle. The water is found everywhere in Makkah, not just in the grand mosque, it is supplied to all the hotels for pilgrims to drink and also trucked to the Masjid Nabawi in Madinah. Muslims know the healing properties of ‘zamzam water’ well, and it is a prized drink among us. There is a Zamzam studies and research center, part of the Saudi Geological Society, worth checking out. It is interesting that the Bible contains a story that has several similarities with the Muslim tradition (Genesis 16:3), though there are several differences as well.

Here is a picture of the old well, that is now in a Musuem. Nowadays, the entrance is not open to the public – due to fears of overcrowding perhaps.

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According to Muslim traditin, Abraham returned often to visit this branch of his family, now settled and living in Makkah. On one of those visits, he (peace be upon him), along with Ishma’el (peace be upon him), built the ka’aba. And during another visit he (peace be upon him) was ordered to sacrifice his son. Muslim scholars differ as to whether the son was Ishma’el or Is-haaq (=Isaac), peace upon them both. The stronger opinion is that it is Is-haaq actually, though most Muslims don’t know this. More about this story later – it is a central part of the Hajj, but not the Umrah.

To get back to the chronicles, the Umrah consists of two main rights – the tawaf(=circling) and the Sa’i’ (=struggle). These are done consecutively and one symbolizes one has completed them by cutting a lock of one’s hair after which one can ‘exit the ihram‘. As we were doing the Umrah as part of Hajj Qiraan, we remained in Ihram after the Umrah.

The tawaf is performed as seven circles, and during each one the pilgrim goes around the ka’ba anti-clockwise. This motion (you’ll see it on TV if you’ve watched anything to do with the Haram – the grand mosque in Makkah), we say mirrors the motion of the planets around the sun (planets orbit anti-clockwise). And there are other meanings and intentions. More about this in other posts inshaallah (=God willing).

After the tawaf, the next major rite of the umrah is the ‘Sa’ii’ (=literally ‘hardship’ or struggle). The Sa’ii is our going in the footsteps of our mother Hajara, when she made that desperate search for water. We walk in her footsteps, between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa. Each time, when we ascend a hillock we too pause and pray for help. Safa and Marwa used to be outside the mosque in the time of the prophet (peace be upon him), now the grand mosque is so large it has absorbed what used to be the city of Makkah in the time of the prophet (peace be upon him), and therefor both Safa and Marwa are now within the mosque complex.

As in the Tawaf, several prayers are made during this walk, and there are spiritual meanings and intentions too much to go into here. But the Sa’i is a very special rite for one reason – it symbolizes the desperate search of a mother for help for her dying child. It is the epitome of the love, faith and courage of a woman and celebration of motherhood.

There is a section of the Sa’ii, where it is required that men run. This is required of men, but not of women pilgrims. This is the way the blessed beloved, Muhammed (peace be upon him) taught us. When we were beginning the Sa’ii our group leader told us that our mother Hajara had run for all of womankind so women were excused, but now the men must run! I loved that, and truly it was very emotional to witness men from all countries of the world, all walks of life, all ages…yes even the very old.. running in the footsteps of our beloved mother Hajara.

The Sa’ii is not too easy to do, even now, with all the air-conditioning and the smooth marble. What then, when it was done in the open, under the dessert sun. Up until about 60 years ago, it was still like that – one performed in the open and could climb the hillock of Safa and Marwa. Now, one can climb Marwa but Safa is enclosed behind glass. It is nevertheless powerful to be there, knowing Hajara was here, and so many who have honored her search, by running in her footsteps, over the centuries. Indeed, including the blessed beloved Muhammed (peace be upon him).

Safa and Marwa have been honored by mention by name in the Quran, where Allah subhahana ta’aala (=exalted and high), calls them from among the ‘signs’ of Allah. That is a great honor indeed, and should not be taken lightly. We recite these verses whenever we are on the hillocks, while doing the Sa’ii.

إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ (2:158)

Transliteration – Inna alssafa waalmarwata min shaAAairi Allahi faman hajja albayta awi iAAtamara fala junaha AAalayhi an yattawwafa bihimawaman tatawwaAAa khayran fainna Allaha shakirun AAaleemun

Translation – [Hence,] behold, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the symbols/monuments set up by God; and thus, no wrong does he who, having come to the Temple on pilgrimage  (i.e., Hajj) or on a pious visit (i.e., Umrah), strides to and fro between these two: for, if one does more good than he is bound to do-behold, God is responsive to gratitude, all-knowing.

Quran 2:158

Below are pictures, and also a documentary of the Hajj of a beloved scholar of Islam in the Western tradition – Dr. Martin Lings (Allah irhamhu, God have mercy on his soul). An Englishman who wrote a masterful biography of the blessed beloved Muhammed (peace be upon him), an authority on Shakespeare, and a Muslim spiritual luminary. If you watch this, you will see the purity of his soul shine through in the way he speaks. He made the Hajj in 1948 and again in the seventies. It is very impressive to hear his experiences.

In 1948 the hillocks of Safa and Marwa were as they had been for centuries, and he is one of the very few native English speakers who must have made the Hajj when the Sa’ii could still be done that way. He says of the transformation ‘I find it very hard to forgive the Saudi’s ‘… for how they have covered up half the hillocks and marbled/built over the sand track between them. How I wish it had not been done so. But as Dr. Lings says at the end of this documentary, “the baraka is unchanged”.

‘Baraka’ is another Arabic word hard to translate – roughly it means ‘blessing’. Indeed the immense spiritual gifts that come of being there, of walking in those footsteps and being a pilgrim, that has not changed. Indeed, the closeness to the Divine and to the giant spiritual role models, fathers and mothers of humankind, that has not changed.

 

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The rock behind the glass is the hillock, ‘Safa’ at which end we begin the ‘Sa’ii’. It is very jagged rock. A prayer is made here. If you can see behind all the construction scaffolding, there is the ka’aba..the top of the black cube with the gold writing is seen.
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A better image showing Safa. The caligraphy on the ceiling includes the ayat from the Quran (2:158) given in the blog
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Making the ‘Sa’ii’. A still picture doesn’t capture the feel of the place, the energy, the motion and the many groups making ‘dhikr’ out aloud. It is a beautiful experience
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This is also taken close to Safa, you can see the ‘ka’ba’ more clearly in the background here… in the old days, it must have been clearly visible when doing the Sa’ii. The black lines on the floor, are the lines for prayer -that orient us to the ka’aba. Makkah is a place where the direction to prayer changes every 10 yards! – the only place on earth like this. Muslims face the ka’aba during prayer, wherever we are on the earth.

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Standing on Marwa and praying..or contemplating. It is a place when one sits down, it is hard to stand up…hard to leave. Time stands still.

And the documentary, I hope you can watch it…beautiful footage of the Sa’ii in 1948, and going by boat to do Hajj.

Hajj

My dearest sisters and brothers,

Alhamdulillah I have some of the best news a Muslim is ever blessed to share – yours truly has been invited to make the Hajj. Alhamdulillah! This great news has kept me very busy, as you can imagine, there are several preparations and arrangements to make. My Muslims sisters and brothers will know what this means. For my dear non-Muslim readers, I wish I had time to write more about it. But I leave in the morning and at least I want to gather a few links here before I leave.

So here are a few choice links for both my Muslim and non-Muslim readers. For the former, a beautiful expounding on the internal and external dimensions of this great obligation the One who made us has placed upon us, by a dear teacher, and a well-known guide of this day and age – Sheikh Mokhtar Maghroui (his physics PhD background often comes out in his talks, and I particularly love that :))

And for my non-Muslim readers, a few selected documentaries made by reputable sources. They are not Muslim sources, so the material, though watered down, is God willing easier to understand. And as a scientist – I prefer to share for my non-Muslim readers, from non-Muslim sources – to eliminate ‘ascertainment bias’ as we say. Forgive me if this often means deeper meanings are not communicated. But this post gathers from all sources, so you are free to chose what to enjoy!

Sh. Mokhtar on inner and outer dimensions of Hajj. As a personal preference, I think the inner takes precedence over the outer (think about the Meccan period coming before the Medinan period in the lifetime of our beloved, sallalaahu alaihi wasallam…), though both are important. I will therefore link the inner dimensions first and then outer dimensions as good ‘adab’ (=etiquette). I am sorry I can’t translate the beautiful and exalted du’a (=supplications/prayers) Sh. Mokhtar starts and ends with. He does often translate the Arabic words he uses in-between.

And a series of lesser-known tastefully made documentaries on the Hajj

Finally my dear readers, I ask that you pray for me for an accepted Hajj (from my Muslim readers) and that you forgive me if there have been any errors on this blog in what I’ve written or communicated. May God accept from me and guide me!

Peace be with you all

Eid Mubarak!

Eid-ul-Adha Mubarak ! (=May it be a blessed festival of sacrifice)

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum (=peace be with you)

The rights of the Hajj pilgrimage are over and it is time to celebrate. The hujjaj (=pilgrims) will be shaving their head or cutting locks of their hair off to symbolize their completion of the pilgrimage and soon the ‘udhhiya’ will be carried out. Udhhiya is the term given for the religious sacrifice of an animal, where each pilgrim must sacrifice a goat, sheep, cow or camel and distribute it’s meat to the poor. There are rules governing the distribution, with at least 1 third being obligated to be distributed to the poor.

This year, there would have been over 2 mill pilgrims amounting to about 500,000 sacrificial animals at least. It’s commendable that the Saudi government has put in place a system whereby the meat from this massive sacrifice is processed in modern facilities and then distributed to the poor of over 30 different countries. And though some of you may find this hard to believe there are plenty of people in many parts of the world where this is the only meat they see the whole year. I personally have heard of many such cases.

The sacrifice is an enactment of the willingness of the prophet Abraham (peace be upon him, the name is rendered ‘Ibraheem’ in Arabic) to sacrifice his son Ishma’el (peace be upon him, the name rendered ‘Isma’eel’ in Arabic) upon the command of God and Ishama’el’s willingness to comply. At the last minute, God sends down a ram to take the place of Ishma’el. There are many other events from the life of Abraham and his family (peace upon them all) that the hajj symbolizes, which I won’t go into here. And there are many places in the Quran where God, Exalted and High, speaks of these events. Here are one set of ayaath (=verses, literally ‘signs’). Interpretation in English from Sahih international, surah Saffat (=those arranged in ranks, or who set the ranks), verses 100-106

Bismillahi ar-rahman ar-raheem

In the name of God, the Most Loving, the Most Nurturing

37:100
My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.”
37:101
So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy.
37:102

And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”

37:103

And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead,

37:104

We called to him, “O Abraham,

37:105

You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good.

37:106
Indeed, this was the clear trial.

 

The lesson from the Hajj is about trust I think. Certainly the sacrifice is all about trust. Both Abraham and his son (peace upon them both) completely trusting of the will of God and that it is good for them. The pilgrimage is arduous and one is forced into circumstances and situations where one’s usual ‘props’ are all taken away. Everyone dressed alike and stripped of all the illusion we surround our souls with in terms of material possessions, we are confronted with our humanity. Confronted with our utter need and dependency. No wonder all who go have something to say about this life-changing experience.

I was searching for a video to share for Eid, and I found this 8 min clip of thoughts shared by returning pilgrims. The last speaker said what I found to be especially enlightening.

 

Eid Mubarak once more! I leave you with a clip of the hujjaj performing their final circumbulation of the ka’aba, symbolizing many things, among which, the muslims willingness to rotate their life around the axis of God, and aligning oneself with the movements of the planets and constellation and galaxies that we also believe are rotating around the axis of the One Creator. They chant as they go the ‘eid takbeer’, which we also chant in our homes during the times of Eid as we celebrate with them.

 

The ten days of Dhul Hijja

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you) dear readers,

Things are slowly settling in the new place and I am recovering from a few ailments past as well as some new developed during the move. For my Muslim readers, I ask that you please keep me in your du’a (=prayers) for a speedy and lasting recovery ‘hasana’ (=good, beauty, excellence, nobility) in this world and most importantly in the hereafter for me and my family, especially my mother who is fighting a cancer discovered last year. I ask this especially during the ten days that are about to be upon us (God grant we meet them). The first ten days of Dhul Hijja.

Dhul Hijja is the name of the last month of the Muslim year. It is during this month that the annual Hajj pilgrimage is performed. The ‘eid’ (=festival) of Hajj, in this case called ‘eid-ul-adh’ha’ (=festival of sacrifice) is on the 10th of the month and marks the end of the rights of the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is an obligation upon a Muslim who has the means (monetary and physical) to make it, and due at least once in a lifetime. It is the fifth of the five pillars of Islam. The others being the testification of faith, the salah (=five times a day ritual worship), the fasting in Ramadan, and the giving of 2.5% of one’s savings to charity called ‘zakat'(=purification) – an annual ‘tax’.

I have been longing to go but visa restrictions still prevent me. My beloved grandmother (and I ask you for your du’a upon her too, is mostly bed-ridden now, yet a smile never leaves her face. Allah bless her abundantly!) performed the pilgrimage when she was 75 by the grace of God. She needed to spend some days in a nursing home to recover when she came back severely dehydrated. She told me to go when I was young, so I would have the strength to fulfill the rights of pilgrimage and spoke highly of the multitudes of young women from Indonesia she saw performing the pilgrimage. In the old days it used to be that a village would gather to bid farewell to a pilgrim, not really expecting to see them return and many are the pilgrims who go in the mental state of not expecting to come back. They prefer death in the blessed land close to where the beloved, the messenger of God, Muhammed (peace be upon him) lived. Though it is not so long ago, I did hear of people who did not come back from the Hajj when I was a child. It was difficult for the families but there was always a sense of peace with this news. Inna lilllaahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon (=from God we come and to Him we return).

Yet, these 10 blessed days are open to all in terms of their merit in drawing near to God and many Muslims engage in extra acts of worship at home. Anse Tamara Grey, a ‘sheikha’ living in the USA organizes the annual ‘pilgrims at home’ event for sisters. Here is a link FYI.

Commemorating the sacrifice our father, the prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was so ready to make of his son, the blessed prophet Ismael (peace be upon him), we follow rituals that remind us of this event as well as of the struggles of Hajar, the blessed mother of Ismael. She, when left with her baby (Ismael in infancy) in that barren dessert, ran from hilltop to hilltop looking for help…crying for water. It was then that she discovered the well of water that had sprung up by the feet of her infant son. She was desperate to collect the water and built a ridge of sand around it, crying ‘zam zam’ (=stop, stop)…so the water would not run off. That well to this day has been supplying all the inhabitants of Mecca with water. Pilgrims will often fill what bottles and vessels they can with it and bring it back home, and then distribute it as a precious gift from the hajj. It is a sacred gift, and I have drunk of it. It has a particular taste, attributed to its higher than usual mineral content. Nowadays the water from the well is managed in a modern way and pumps are used to draw it up to supply the pilgrims and others. More information can be found here at the ZamZam studies and research center in Saudi Arabia website.  , part of the Saudi Geological Society.

I pray one day I can go, and I pray I can go soon. For the news of the mega-construction projects all around the haram (=sanctuary, another way of terming the ‘ka’aba in Mecca and the prayer enclosure around it) are very depressing to the spirit. I used to love to see photographs of the haram in the past. Now with that gargantuan clock-tower complex towering over it, the sense of aesthetic is severely dampened. It is an eye-sore, I have to be honest. The haram itself is undergoing major renovation I heard, and soon it may not be possible to see the ‘ka’aba (=literally, ‘cube’. Guess where the English word cube came from? 🙂 ) unless close to it. I have read, though I pray it is not true, that the graceful, elegant and aesthetically so pleasing porticos built during the Ottoman time by the great architect Mimar Sinan (I blogged about him here) may be torn down. What a tragedy that would be. Muslim art and architecture has always had a quality of grace, of being able to transport the spirit out of the body. I am not sure the modern day Saudi government appreciates that quality!

I wanted to point you to a very nice article written by a recent hujjaj (=pilgrim) appearing in the New Yorker. It is beautifully written and contains pithy and poignant little pieces of wisdom and insight. My dear non-Muslim readers may find it especially informative and an easy read. It is too long to copy-paste here. Here is the link. Called ‘Modern Mecca; the transformation of a holy city’. My Muslim readers also may find it very informative.

Finally to end I thought to share a documentary link on the hajj. Youtube is filled with them. I recommend one by National Geographic tracing the journey of three different hujjaj from around the world, even a Biology professor from Texas. But I picked this one to share, about 5 hujjaj from China. So as to shed light on the 20 million strong ethnic Chinese Muslim community (below). Watching it I could not but help thinking of the pure hearts of the hujjaj highlighted in it. We believe that it is only God who knows a person’s heart, and indeed that all and any act of worship is only acceptable to God or not, based on the sincerity in that heart. That it is done for the sake of pleasing the Most Beautiful One, only. A glimpse into their simple lives brings serenity to the heart. May God bless their beautiful souls.

We believe that should the hajj be acceptable to God, one returns from it as pure as a new-born babe! May Allah shower His abundant grace upon the hujjaj of this year, and accept their efforts, granting them this high state. And may we one day be among them.

Peace be with you all

 

 

Mezquita de Grenada

Dear readers,

Alhamdulillah (=praise and thanks to God) I am returned after completing a very educational and blessed tour of Andalusia. The tour was run by Andalucian routes, a company that offers tours of the ‘western Muslim world’ (as Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia/Islamic Spain used to be known) not just for pleasure, but with a definite educational slant. They also work with empowering ‘ghetto-ized’ Muslim youth in the UK, via teaching them their history. And they work to bring back to modern-day Europe, the spirit of co-existence and mutual respect between different faith groups that the Andalusian kingdoms of old Europe were famous for. So famous that a term was coined to describe this – ‘convivencia’. Check out Project Convivencia for more information on the work Andalucian routes staff do on this front. The tour was organized by the Swiss Muslim Events group and included by invitation, Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, who is well known in western Muslim circles. One of the earliest western Muslim scholars, he has in addition to his formal Islamic knowledge training, a Masters and PhD from McGill University and specializing in History. He has made some fascinating documentaries on the old very rich (in wealth and knowledge) African kingdoms of Mali and Timbuktu. Here is a link to a short video on this topic. Do check them out, you may be quite surprised at what you find.

There are many special places we visited, in addition to the better known Alhambra and the Mezquita of Cordoba. And there were special people we got to meet, skilled artists and pure souls. What a blessing it is to be able to travel in this way. I pray you all also have these opportunities! For this post, I will only talk about a rather new place in Granada – a mosque that was built a few years ago. It is the main mosque in Granada, and called the Mezquita de Granada in Spanish.

The Mezquita (easy to figure out that the Spanish word for Mosque comes from the Arabic ‘Masjid’) de Granada was built recently. It is on a hill that overlooks the Alhambra. It is built in the Moroccan style, which by no accident, is very much the Spanish style of building. In front of the masjid is a beautiful garden, with roses and jasmine and little fountains. Pictures below. The sound of the rippling water, the wind that blows the fragrance of the flowers as you sit in the welcome shade of the trees, and you feast your eyes on the flowers and yes, even the still resplendent walls of the Alhambra that evokes so much memory of history and of wise lessons of life.. and you wait for the Muazzin (=the person who makes the azan) to call the Azan (=call, the poem sung to inform the faithful it is time to pray) to prayer…what bliss! It was a piece of paradise. I made a video of the muazzin giving the call, I missed the first couple of lines. It is the first time I have heard the azan in this way, not through a loud-speaker. It must have always been like this in the past. It is very beautiful to hear the human voice wafting on the wind like this, sans technological input. No wonder the minarets (from where the muazzin makes the call) are high…the minaret on this mosque was not too high, yet I was surprised we could hear, though we were quite far away. Also I loved the style the azan was delivered in, distinctly European overtones I thought! I love this about the Azan, you will hear different styles (though the words and the language has never and will never change) depending on where in the world you are.

The garden is open to all, but the mosque is very small and can’t hold too many people, so it is not open to anyone except Muslims as yet. We were there on the Friday and got to participate in the Friday prayer. It was the first time I heard the khutbah in Spanish 🙂 (khutbah= literally meaning ‘speech’. the name of the two sermons given in place of two of the units of the noon prayer on Fridays. So we listen to the two sermons and then only offer 2 more units of prayer, thereby completing the prescribed 4 units of the noon prayer. There are guidelines of what a sermon should include and should not include in our tradition. Now that I am studying all of this, I sigh more thinking of how little the sermons I have sometimes heard in places like the subcontinent conform to this model. But I digress). It was a beautiful experience praying next to my Spanish brothers and sisters, many of whom can trace back their ancestors to Spanish Muslims who lived in Andalucía centuries ago.

Even more beautiful was to be able to attend the sunrise prayer there…walking up the hill in the night when it is darkest just before dawn, and then to sit in the quiet of the mosque. The Imam recited from Quran after finishing the offering of the prescribed short dawn prayer. He is a hafidh of Quran (one who has memorized the Quran. Hafidh is a beautiful word, it is translated as memorizer, but really it comes from the root word which means guardian or protector. And Al-Hafidh is one of the ‘names’ of God. It means then ‘The One of who protects’. And God is the ultimate and only real protector of all. But this is an example of the metaphysical meanings that Arabic is able to capture, as to memorize something denotes that one is then a protector and guardian of it). And he sat there and recited for a long time from memory. A young man, likely his student, was siting in front of him and reciting as well. I was following along with my mushaf (the actual written copy of the Quran) and not a single mistake could I detect in the recitation of the Imam, Al-hafidh al-Quran (=the hafidh of Quran. A title given to a memorizer of the Quran as Muslims greatly respect people who have done this). Allah ihfidhhu (= O Allah protect him!)

Here are some pictures of the ‘Mezquita’

The garden, facing the front of the masjid
The garden, facing the front of the masjid
A view of the Alhambra from the mosque garden
A view of the Alhambra from the mosque garden
cool fountains and the sound of flowing water
cool fountains and the sound of flowing water
The masjid, you can see the minaret where the muazzin gives the azan from in the distance
The masjid, you can see the minaret where the muazzin gives the azan from in the distance
Children love to play with water!
Children love to play with water!
The muazzin is ready to begin
The muazzin is ready to begin

When the Moors ruled in Europe

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)

Bi fadhlillah al-adheem (= by the immense bounty of God, the most High) I am currently in Spain, in the province of Andalusia which is the modern form of the Arabic name, Al-Andalusia. Al-Andalusia comes from how the Arabs called the ‘Vandals’, the old European tribes that lived in this area.

Now many of my readers, as indeed I was a few years ago when yet again, this period of lost history was revealed to me, would be surprised to know that there was a long period of Islamic rule in Spain. It began only 80 years after the death of the prophet (peace be upon him) and ended with what the Spanish call ‘The reconquest’ and Inquisition of the 15th century – a period of over 700 years. Yet, my history books certainly never breathed a word of it. It is a very interesting history and Muslims derive many teachings by it. It is also very interesting how many Islamic civilizational practices came into European culture by it, such as for example the ‘three course meal’ and apparently even the tradition of traveling musicians ‘troubradours’.

I am most interested also for a personal reason which I will share; Sri Lankan Muslims are commonly considered descendants of Arab traders who settled over the centuries (and integrated with the local communities, via marriage and adopting local languages while Arabic was preserved only in the written form and that too with interesting variations on the text itself…that are now being corrected with the Internet-age), however we are ethnically called ‘Ceylon Moors’. I always wondered where the term Moor came from. Some said it was because the British who coined it during their rule of what was at that time Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) were only familiar with Muslims from Spain so they called any Muslim a Moor. That seems rather simplistic to me. An alternative I have heard is that we may indeed be descendant of those Spanish Muslims who fled Grenada when it fell to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who then initiated a brutal and comprehensive inquisition which lasted many decades if not centuries. This happened in the year 1492 CE, the same year the same couple blessed the voyage of Chistopher Columbus! Its outcome is that the Muslim history in Europe was almost wiped out. But not quite, and this is good, for no matter what religion or group we belong to, history is a common human treasure and must be preserved.

Having said that, I will endeavor to share more of what I learn here, but for now a very well produced documentary from a great historian, Bettany Hughes, that will introduce the subject well I believe and that I feel you will enjoy. It is called ‘when the Moors ruled in Europe’

BTW I can’t help but say that I love the segment where Bettany speaks with a very honorable princess of the modern-day Royal family in Spain (if I recall correctly). I love the way she holds herself, her simplicity and her clear presentation of facts.

Enjoy, peace be with you all

 

 

Modern influential Muslim women

Dear readers, Assalamu alaikum

Now, a couple of posts ago I promised to follow up with a more detailed post highlighting modern influential Muslim women at the request of my dear reader ‘genometalk’. This is a reminder to myself never to promise something with a definite time-line attached unless I can be sure to meet it. Please forgive me for the tardiness of this post, it should have come a few days ago. But I’ve had a couple momentous life-events come to pass in the meantime and was a little unwell due to that as well, and this I hope will excuse me. Allah forgive me. Breaking a promise is a sign of the ‘munafiq’ (=one whose is in a state of ‘nifaaq’, which means hypocrasy) and being a munafiq is a terrible state to be in indeed. We know this from the well authenticated hadith of prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him)-

Muahmmed (peace be upon him) said, “There are three signs of “Munafiq”; When he speaks he Lies, when he promises he breaks those promises and when he is entrusted, he embezzles.” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim).

So with the prayer this fulfills my promise and thanks to be able to do it;-

Here are some names that have been coming to mind the past few days that I have enjoyed contemplating on this post. They are in no particular order and not the outcome of extensive research, rather of some moderate research and names that are well-known in the Muslim community. I purposely wanted to include examples of leaders/exemplars in the religious and secular fields.

Dr. Ilham Al-Qaradawi

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Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is professor of Physics at Qatar University and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University in Qatar. She received her Ph.D. working in the field of positron physics from University of London, UK in 1991.

Over the past decade, she has established a positron laboratory at Qatar University and successfully built the first slow positron beam in the Middle East. She has also established an environmental radiation measurement laboratory. Dr. Al-Qaradawi is involved with Europe’s CERN in the Antihydrogen experiment AEGIS. She is the founder of the Qatar Physics Society. Dr. Ilham Al-Qaradawi is a fellow of the institute of Physics and a member of many international societies. She also sits on the advisory committee of the World Nuclear University Radiation Technology Summer School and the World Council on Isotopes, and has lectured in the World Nuclear University Summer Institute for the past four years.

Prof. Ilham Al-Qaradawi has been awarded many awards for excellence in research, for Arab Women in Science and outstanding contribution to science. She has had many appearances on Al-Jazeera channel and several other TV channels and newspapers and magazines.

She has been listed by the Arabian Business magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in the State of Qatar and one of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world for the year 2012 and 2013 and one of the top 28 Arab scientists in the world and by CEO Middle East magazine as one of the100 Most Powerful Arab Women for the year 2012.

Above is taken from her website, www.ilhamqaradawi.com

[Interesting to many of my Muslim readers maybe (and perhaps for my dear non-Muslim readers also) is that she is the daughter of a very prominent orthodox scholar in the Muslim world, the Eygptian theologian, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who was exiled from Egypt for 30 years during the Presidency of Hosni Mubarak. I believe he delivered the Friday sermon in Tahrir square soon after the overthrowing of Mubarak. On this note, a prayer for my Egyptian brothers and sisters – Allah ease their present difficulty and increase them in what is pleasing to Him, SWT (=subhahana wa ta’ala, most Exalted and the most High)]

 

Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed (Ustadha is a title meaning something like ‘teacher’. It is affectionately given, She is not of the stature of a shaykha in terms of religious knowledge acquired, but she is certainly a recognized teacher by the community)

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A gifted and powerful speaker, she is raising young Muslims to new heights of self-awareness. Here is her bio from her website, it doesn’t do her justice. I have personally met many sisters who say her teachings have personally benefited them through life-events, and I can say the same. I also had the great delight of meeting her briefly, a simple and humble person. Allah bless her

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as a youth coordinator. She also worked as a writing instructor at Cardinal Stritch University and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Yasmin recently released her new book, Reclaim Your Heart, which is now available worldwide. Visit her website, yasminmogahed.com, where you can find a collection of her articles, poetry, and lectures.

 

Dalia Mogahed

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The sister of Yasmin Mogahed. Her forte is different to that of her younger sister, but no less powerful. I will let her bio from the Huffington Post speak for her

Dalia Mogahed is Chairman and CEO of Mogahed Consulting, a Washington, D.C. based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim societies and the Middle East. She is former Executive Director of and Senior Analyst for the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies where she led the analysis of surveys of Muslims worldwide, including in the U.S. and Europe. With John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she is coauthor of the book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Dalia was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where she served on the Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation Task Force. Arabian Business magazine recognized her as the most influential Arab woman in the world, and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre included Mogahed in their list of the 500 most influential Muslims. Ashoka named her the Arab World’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010, and Mogahed received her alumni association’s prestigious Forward Under 40 award for outstanding contributions by a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. She is a WEF Young Global Leader and serves on the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arab World.

 

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

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The past president of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America). I blogged about her here.

 

Anse Tamara Grey

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I mentioned this dear Shaykah in a previous post. Here is more about her

Anse Tamara Gray was born in 1966 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Soon after converting to Islam in 1984, she traveled to Damascus, Syria; where she lived for almost twenty years while studying core subjects of the Islamic tradition such as theology (aqīda), hadith, Qur’anic exegesis (tafsīr), and Islamic law. She also received a certification (ijāza) in Qurʾanic recitation from the late preeminent scholar of the Qur’an, Shaykh Abū al-Ḥasan al-Kurdī, in 1997. Anse Tamara Gray holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science and elementary education from Macalester College and a Master’s degree in curriculum theory and instruction from Temple University. Her career as an educational consultant includes curriculum design and implementation, administrative support, teacher training, and sensitivity training. Her speaking engagements encompass women’s issues in Islam and the Middle East, education, geographical issues, and other matters related to education, social issues, and Islam. She currently resides in St. Paul and serves as the founder of Rabata, which organizes educational activities for Muslim women in the form of online classes, workshops, and weekend intensives.

 

Dr. Feryal Salem

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Dr. Feryal Salem received her ijaza in Qur’anic recitation from the late Syrian scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Kurdi in 1998.  She has since then studied a number of related Islamic sciences including: Shafi’i and Hanafi jurisprudence (fiqh), Islamic theology (aqida), the Prophetic biography, Arabic grammar, Muslim inheritance law, classical logic, Qur’anic sciences (ulum al-Qur’an), and Islamic legal methodology (usul al-fiqh).  In 2009, she received a degree in the hadith sciences from the Nuriyya Women’s Hadith Institute of Damascus attached to the ancient Umayyad Mosque complex and whose program of study includes studying various hadith texts and classical commentaries.  In addition to her traditional study, Dr. Salem has completed a PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on hadith methodology from the University of Chicago. She currently resides in Hartford where she is Assistant Professor of Islamic Scriptures and Law at the Hartford Seminary as well as Co-Director of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and Director of the Imam and Muslim Leadership Graduate Certificate Program.

 

Baronnes Warsi

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Voted Britian’s most powerful Muslim woman recently, she is a powerhouse. Here are excerpts from her bio here

A lawyer, a businesswoman, a campaigner and a cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet and the foremost Muslim politician in the Western world.

One of five girls born to immigrants of Pakistani origin in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Sayeeda studied law at Leeds University, going on to work for the Crown Prosecution Service before setting up her own legal practice. Her father, a former millworker and bus driver who set up his own business, instilled in her values of freedom, responsibility and aspiration.

 In 2007 she was elevated to the House of Lords aged 36, making her the youngest peer in Parliament. Later that year she travelled to Sudan and famously helped to secure the release of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was on trial for blasphemy.

In 2010 she was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron as Minister without Portfolio, becoming the first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet.  In 2011 she provoked support and controversy when she famously declared that Islamophobia had ‘passed the dinner table test’. In 2012 she led the UK’s largest ever ministerial delegation to the Vatican, gaining global coverage for a speech which called on Europe to strengthen its Christian identity. Outspoken and challenging on the issues that many people seek to avoid, she has become an interesting and distinct voice on topics previously considered taboo. She led the government’s campaign to criminalise forced marriage and spoke out on the sexual grooming of children by gangs. Her business background and her passion for manufacturing have made her a champion for British business both at home and abroad, and as a result she has played a key role this government’s foreign policy priorities. Her campaign to ensure that Britain became the first western country to issue a Sukuk (Islamic bond) succeeded when Prime Minister Cameron announced the UK’s intention to implement this in 2014.

 

This young lady is no stranger to most of my readers I think. My inspirational little sister, Malala Yousufzai.

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Her courageous stand for what is right no matter the situation she is in, is such a powerful reminder of the personality of the women who were the vanguard of this Ummah (=nation, a word Muslims use to refer to the entire Muslim community. It has a more personal meaning than that, as Muslims do consider ourselves to be part of one very large very diverse and very old family). I won’t include a bio here, as she is so well known.

Another well known modern highly influential Muslim woman; Tawakkul Karman.

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Most of my readers would likewise be familiar with her story I think. I never tire of hearing her speak. What is most striking about her when she speaks, is her honesty and simplicity. Another personal thing I love about her is something she had likely nothing to do with – her name :). For my non-Arabic speakers, it has a very special meaning. Something Muslims remind each other to do all the time. ‘Tawakkul’ means to have trust in God/rely on God/be God-conscious. Again, it comes from a grammatical derivation of a root word which is composed of the three letters ‘w k l’. From it is also derived one of the ‘names’ of God, Al-Wakeel, meaning ‘The Guardian’. As in it is only God who is the protector of all. A very beautiful hadith on this topic I have to share

  Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying, “If you all depend on Allah with due reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it to the birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with full bellies at dusk.” (At-Tirmidhi)

That tangent aside, here is an excerpt from an article in the Guardian about this remarkable lady, recipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 2011 and tireless campaigner for human rights and freedoms. And all of this within the fold of Islam. Fighting to bring justice back to so-called Muslim leaders who have forgotten that justice is a cornerstone of the way of the prophet (peace be upon him)

Known to some of Yemen‘s opposition movement as the “mother of the revolution”, Tawakkul Karman has emerged as a crucial figure among the youth activists who began camping out at Change Square in central Sana’a in early February, demanding the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade rule. In Yemen, a 32-year-old mother of three may seem an unlikely leader of the fight to overthrow the president, but Karman – a journalist and human rights activist – has long been a thorn in Saleh’s side and has been jailed many times. She was catapulted into the international spotlight this January after being seized from her car and slung into prison. Thousands of people poured on to the streets of Sana’a calling for her release. It was a key moment in Yemen’s uprising when the tide began to turn against Saleh

 

Here is someone I doubt many of you would have heard of, despite the fact that TheMuslim500 calls her likely the most powerful Muslim woman in the world.

Sheikha Munira Qubaysi

No picture is available of her as she like many Muslim women I know, prefer not to have their photograph circulated. Here is a bio of her and her movement. Taken from the above linked The Muslim 500 (chronicles top 500 influential Muslims) and other sources. She is given the title ‘Her Eminence’ in the Arab world

Munira Qubeysi is the head of the largest women-only Islamic movement in the world. It offers Islamic education exclusively to girls and women. Qubeysi commands around 80 schools in Damascus alone, teaching more than 75.000 students. She is one of the most significant Islamic scholars in the world; her movement focuses on learning the Qur’an and six Hadith collections by heart. Qubeysi is arguably the most influential Muslim woman in the world, albeit in great discretion. By training a new generation of female Islamic scholars, Sheikha Qubeysi has made Islamic knowledge widely accessible.

 

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser (Here sheikha does not refer to her religious standing but is simply a title)

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From her website; In Qatar, her home, her highness serves as Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), a private non-profit organisation founded in 1995. Its flagship project is Education City, which covers over 14 million square metres and houses branch campuses of renowned international universities and institutions. QF also is engaged in numerous scientific research and economic and social development projects. Sheikha Moza serves as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Council of Health and she also served as the Vice Chair of the Supreme Education Council from March 2006-February 2012. In these roles, she has helped enact major top-down reforms of Qatar’s public schools and healthcare system. Also, more recently, she chairs the Sidra Medical and Research Centre, a new training and research hospital that is envisaged to become a leading institution for women and children’s specialty care.On a regional and international level, Sheikha Moza has launched multiple projects including the International Fund for Higher Education in Iraq, the Silatech initiative to address the growing challenge of youth employment in the Middle East and North Africa, and Education Above All, a policy research and advocacy organization concerned with a single policy area: protecting the right to education in conflict-affected areas.

I realize I can continue this post for quite a bit longer. So I will stop now. I think the above gives you a glimpse of the variety of prominent roles women play in the Muslim world. I suppose due prevalent misinformation and due to unfamiliarity with a foreign system, many in the West think of women in the Muslim world as subjugated and backward. It is true there is patriarchy in the Muslims world, but that is true in the Western world as well – it may only be not so open (e.g., look at salary scales for men and women for the same jobs). What is true in the Muslim world is that women are more modest in their dress – and this has always been considered a strength rather than the opposite. I don’t want to go into a hijab discussion in this post, so suffice to say that the headscarf is usually considered by Muslim women a symbol of empowerment and not otherwise. It has always traditionally allowed us to move freely in male dominated societies and be respected for our prowess and intelligence and allowed us to interact with men sans a superimposition of our sexuality. That said, let me close this post by highlighting a poster from MuslimScience.com; It is their list of top 20 Muslim women scientists globally. As a young scientist myself I was ecstatic to find it. I hope the names are readable, if not, link here

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Finally I want to end by sharing a letter of appreciation written for a great teacher by her student, upon her death. I wanted to share this, as for me, it beautifully portrays the great place women and women-scholars have always had in our tradition. This letter has been translated to the English here, from where I take it. It was written notably, by a male student and given in the dignified and honorable Arabic style of presentation that I am coming to love more and more the more I study it. Most people are not aware of the movements of preserving knowledge going on in the Muslim world. Indeed I did not know either until recently. An unfortunate side-effect of my colonial education, albeit it was very good in many other ways.

Here is the letter, it is about Dr. Da’ad al-Husayni

al-Ḥāfiẓa al-Jāmiʿa Dr. Daʿad al-Ḥusaynī (1938-2009)

The people of Greater Syria have a beautiful quality, namely that they love the men and women of sacred knowledge.  With this merit also comes a shortcoming in that many of them do not become aware of their scholars until after they have passed.  Before our tears had yet to dry for our dear brother and teacher, al-Ḥāfiẓ al-Ustādh ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Ṭabbāʿ, God willed that another great and noble scholar, whose likeness is rare to find, be taken to the eternal abode.  The scholars of Damascus and the carriers of God’s book submitted their affairs to His divine will with the death of Dr. Daʿad al-Ḥusaynī (may God have mercy on her).

 Dr. Daʿad earned her PhD in mathematics from the Soviet Union and was one the oldest professors of mathematics in the Department of Science at the University of Damascus.  She was born in 1938 and her father was the late teacher and guide Muhammad ʿAlī Ḥusaynī al-Jazāʾirī.  She was an individual of many talents. During her youth she studied in Moscow and taught in Algeria before settling at the University of Damascus.

She became devoted to her faith and transformed both in heart and action.  She was a leader of the Islamic women’s movement in Syria and one of its most senior teachers.  She was certified (mujāza) in all ten recitations of the Qurʾān (acquiring the station of al-ḥafiẓā al-jāmiʿa li-l-qirāʾāt) at the hands of the blessed scholar of Syria, Shaykh Abū al-Ḥasan al-Kurdī—may God preserve him and continue to benefit the Muslims from him.

Hundreds of women graduated under her tutelage as certified reciters of the Qurʾān.  The students of these reciters then produced thousands of other women reciters of the Qurʾān.  She was rigorous in her precision and exactitude in Qurʾānic recitation.

She spent her life as an upright spiritual guide, a devoted wife, a dedicated mother, and a great scholar.  This is attested to by all who interacted with her and witnessed her qualities of distinction and leadership.  I was privileged to have been her student in mathematics at the university during the late seventies.  Later, I was honored to have met with her many times at the meetings of the board of directors of the Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī Foundation for Sacred Sciences.  She was an individual who possessed strength of character while maintaining a balance in her life that was further exemplified by her farsightedness.  Until now, I recall her firm command over a college lecture hall of hundreds of students whose eyes had never been exposed to a woman in a headscarf who was capable of instructing them in mathematics (keeping in mind that she was one of the rare women in the universities at that time who practiced Islam to this level).  I can also testify with all honesty that she was one of the most proficient professors with whom I had studied mathematics and to this day, I possess in my heart the greatest of respect and gratitude towards her.

While she published only a small booklet on the science of tajwīd, she engraved the Book of God on the hearts of thousands of our mothers, sisters, and daughters.  She also published books on mathematics, problem solving, and numbers.  She possessed—may God have mercy on her—the most lofty of good character, exceeding benevolence and had a luminous smile that encompassed both resolution and kindheartedness.

She is survived by her husband, Muḥammad Nadhīr al-Māliḥ, as well as a son and daughter.  Her funeral prayer was held on Thursday the 23rd of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, 1430 AH or March 19, 2009 CE at the Shāfiʿī mosque in West Mezze Damascus.  She was buried in the Najhā cemetery.  Her funeral was attended by an abundance of scholars of sacred knowledge and people of spiritual excellence.  It was also witnessed by thousands of men and women who are carriers of the Book of God in their hearts.

O Allah, have mercy on her in the grave and soothe her loneliness by the truth of Your Book that was her best companion, and make her and our brother ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Ṭabbāʿ of those who intercede on our behalf. O Allah, make those whom she has left behind from among her children, homeland, and students to receive the utmost of goodness and exchange this loss to the Muslim community with another bounty.  Indeed, God does not take or give except that everything is set in a balance. Innā lillāh wa innā ilayhi rājiʿūn.

Composed by one of her students and sons in knowledge, upbringing, and virtue: Aḥmad Muʿādh al-Khaṭīb al-Ḥasanī.

 

Peace be with you all