Maryam Al-Siddiqah (=Mary, the truthful/sincere)

Dear Readers, Assalaamu alaikum (=peace be with you all),

I hope you are all very well. In today’s world, it is something indeed to be thankful for if you are in relative peace and prosperity, able to sit in a secure place and read this. So trusting, that your reading this is proof of the same, we give thanks and continue.

Maryam (=Mary), along with Fathima, is one of the most common names for girls in the Muslim world, a testimony to the depth of love professed for her. She is given the title Al-Siddiqah (pronounced ‘as-SiddiqaH’, and meaning ‘the truthful one, or the sincere one’. It means someone who is pure, sincere, trustworthy and never lies). It is a high honorific given to only a few, and the titling of Maryam appears first in the Quran, therefore, the title upon her is bestowed directly from God, and is a mighty word.

مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ – Surah 5: verse 75

Transliteration –

Ma almaseehu ibnu maryama illarasoolun qad khalat min qablihi arrusulu waommuhu siddeeqatunkana ya/kulani attaAAamaonthur kayfa nubayyinu lahumu al-ayatithumma onthur anna yu/fakoon

English Interpretation by Shakir –

The Messiah, son of Marium is but a messenger; messengers before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food. See how We make the communications clear to them, then behold, how they are turned away.

Her story is one all us Muslim women constantly draw strength from. The task assigned to her – a virgin birth – was tremendous, extremely difficult and one in which she would have no human being to help her. There is no Joseph in the Muslim narration, no one who is by her side as she delivers, except her Creator. There is no man around who will help or honor her as she faces pregnancy at a very young age. Having being orphaned at a young age, she is looked after by her guardian the prophet Zachariah (peace be upon him), however when she is informed that she is to bear a blessed virgin birth, she herself makes the difficult choice to move away from him, in order to save his good name, recognizing that there is no thing he can do to save her or himself from slander once news of her pregnancy is known. This is an example of her deep wisdom, and her extreme strength of character, peace be upon her. These are some of the qualities we Muslim women absorb from her station and presence.Her story resembles the narrative of that of our brothers and sisters, the Christians, in many ways, and there are also certain notable differences. In a commendation of a academic book ‘Mary, the blessed virgin of Islam’ by Professor Aliah Schleifer (which I link here), praise is given to the work by Christian clergy, who say, it contributes useful information to the Christian narrative and therefore useful to all to read.

Among the commonalities, the most important is the virgin birth. Among the differences that are most striking is the manner in which she gave birth, which I mentioned above. A second point, Muslims commentators on the Quran will draw attention to is the story of the birth of Maryam herself. The lady Hannah (=Anne in English), her mother a devout woman, dedicated her child-to-be-born, to the service of God in the Jewish temple. This is given in the 3rd Surah in the Quran, called A’li Imran (=the tribe or people of Joachim…who is Maryam’s father). The important point is that she delivered a female child! and this was strange as only boys served in the temple.

So from the beginning we see that there is a male bias in society,  and God counters this by honoring and elevating a girl.

إِذْ قَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ عِمْرَانَ رَبِّ إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِي بَطْنِي مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّي ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ – 3:35

فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ – 3:36

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا ۖ كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقًا ۖ قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّىٰ لَكِ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ – 3:37

Quran Surah 3: verses 35-37

English interpretation by Shakir –

When a woman of Imran said: My Lord! surely I vow to Thee what is in my womb, to be devoted (to Thy service); accept therefore from me, surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing.

So when she brought forth, she said: My Lord! Surely I have brought it forth a female– and Allah knew best what she brought forth– and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Marium, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed Shaitan.

So her Lord accepted her with a good acceptance and made her grow up a good growing, and gave her into the charge of Zakariya; whenever Zakariya entered the sanctuary to (see) her, he found with her food. He said: O Marium! whence comes this to you? She said: It is from Allah. Surely Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure.

The above verses also show how lovingly God protected and nurtured the upbringing of this ‘chosen daughter’.

The second difference is the delivery itself. The Quran gives the delivery scene is terms strikingly revealing for ancient times. They are intimately related. It is mentioned how the labor pains were so great, that this great lady, Maryam (peace be upon her), chosen and purified and strengthened, was still driven crazy by it, and cried out wishing to be dead rather than bear this.

I especially find this narration very touching. It is nothing like what a man would write of a labour scene – one can imagine a man would gloss it over, be too shy to even mention it, or if very magnanimous, may cloak the mother in a saintly halo during the birth. There is none of this, there is very raw, very personal, very great – PAIN. I guess any woman who has gone through a natural delivery will say, ‘yep, that’s what it is’. Nothing reduces from the greatness of motherhood, of course, but biology is the way it is.

I am not sure if it is different or not, but it is her baby, the blessed beloved Isa (=Jesus), peace be upon him, who defends her honor, speaking miraculously as a baby. Indeed, even during the birth itself according to one way of reading  the Quranic text.

This beautiful part of the story is given in Surah 19 of the Quran. The chapter or Surah, is titled ‘Maryam’, and in Quranic recitation, the language of the Surah is known to be among the highest in musicality and is very beautiful to be listened to – its recitation.

The link is below. There is a great deal of rhyme and rhythm and most verses end with the sound ‘aiyyah’. It’s too much to copy the Quranic text refering to the scene here, but it comes between verses 20 to 29 in chapter 19. The part mentioned above, is from about min 4 to 6 in the video.

Recently there is a beautiful movie released on youtube made based on the Quranic narration on the story of Maryam, peace be upon her. I hope you can watch it. It is beautifully done and will provide much lost insight into this gentle, pious, sincere and completely honest lady, who the entire Muslim world honors, and deeply reveres. I do not think the scene of her delivery is done justice too and its a bit different from the Quranic interpretation I am used to, but then again, it is hard to do justice to, and likely the director (God bless him) is male :).

It is the last movie I watched with my beloved mother, who I call ‘Mumsy’. She had many qualities that remind me of Maryam – her gentleness and absolute honesty among them. As the anniversary of her death approaches (may God elevate her soul and make her grave among the gardens of the gardens of paradise, and join us to her swiftly in his highest heaven), I think of Maryam and so wanted to share the movie.

It is long, but well worth the watching. It does nicely capture the patriarchical attitudes in society then (which we still fight today), and which the Quranic narrative draws attention to. We watched the original Farsi version with English subtitles, but I am linking one dubbed in English (its strange watching Middle Easterners speak in English, but maybe easier for you my dear readers). I suggest you make yourself a nice cup of tea and sit down to this, this beautiful long weekend in Canada, and wherever else you may be.

 

Peace be upon you all.

 

Imam Haddad, the mujaddad (renewer) of his time, and ‘Ramadan Mubarak!’

Dear Readers, Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you,

Hope you are all well.

On this last day before the start of the blessed month of Ramadan (crescentwatch estimates a good chance of sighting the new crescent on the night of Friday May 26th, heralding the lunar month of Ramadan tonight in many parts of the world – hope you will go out to ‘sight’ the moon tonight!), I want to highlight Imam Abdullah bin Alawi Al Haddad (d 1719 CA), who many consider the mujaddid of the 12th Islamic century.

The mujaddid (=renewer), is a title given to a person who Muslims believe renews the faith. The muhaddid is said to be born once in 100 years and by his presence and teaching the message of Muhammed (peace be upon him) is renewed and continued. We are now in the 15th Islamic century, and while some have speculated as to who the present day mujaddid is, it is not for me to relay here who it may be.

The knowledge of the mujaddid is taught in a famous hadith (=narration) from the beloved, the messenger of God (peace be upon him)

“Allah will raise for this community at the end of every hundred years the one who will renovate its religion for it.”

— Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), recorded in Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 37: Kitab al-Malahim [Battles], Hadith Number 4278

 

It is not always only one mujaddid, some centuries there are more than one. The mujaddid attains a stature in the tradition that is unquestioned and generally leaves behind a vast corpus of spiritual and other texts or a body of very famous students who become masters in their own right. As I mentioned in a previous post, they are often leaders who are shunned by or feared by the Islamic political leadership of the time, as they do often ‘call out’ sultans and qaadis (=magistrates) etc. Often they are persecuted by the ruling elite, as has been the case for so many of the great scholars in our tradition. The torture the founders of the four sunni schools of legal jurisprudence; Imam Malik, Ahmed, Shaafi’ and Hanafi is well known in the Muslim world.

In fact the present day descendants of Imam Haddad, who represent one of the oldest unbroken lineages of sound Islamic scholarship in the Sunni tradition, and who still call the city of Tarim in Yemen their home, were and are often still persecuted. If I recall correctly, Imam Habib Omar’s (who is the present day leader of the ‘Alawi scholars, who take their name from Imam Haddad) grandfather himself a great scholar, was tied to a vehicle and dragged through the streets of Yemen not too many years ago by the government of that time, and I believe his father was asked to appear before some government agency and ‘disappeared’ thereafter. So this is nothing new, sadly.

Spiritual Islam has always been attacked by ‘political islam’, constantly seeking to divide Muslims along sectarian lines and use the religion for power-grabbing. In fact, if we Muslims would stop listening to political leadership and start studying the religion we will find little difference among Sunni and Shias, and much that is the same. On those lines, I have often found it striking in my travels to the old Muslim Sunni cities, how deeply a love for the prophet’s family – his beloved daughter, Fathim Al-Zahra (= the resplendent one), her husband, Imam Ali, karamallahu wajha (=may God ennoble his face), Imams Hassan and Hussain – is evinced. For example, in old Morocco, the doorknobs are often shaped after a delicate female hand – said to be the ‘hand of Fathima’, that bringer of gentleness, healing and repose. Here is an image below, the lion’s head may represent Imam Ali who is considered a great warrior in our tradition…karamallahu wajha

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Imam Haddad himself is a descendant of this blessed couple, his lineage below (from www.muwasala.org, where you can read more of the Alawi scholars) Each time you read ‘bin’ think ‘son of’ – it’s like ‘Mc’ in the Scotts traditions:

He is al-Imam al-Habib `Abdullah bin `Alawi bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin `Abdullah bin Muhammad bin `Alawi bin Ahmad “al-Haddad” bin Abu Bakr bin Ahmad bin Muhammad bin `Abdullah bin Ahmad bin `Abd al-Rahman bin `Alawi `Amm al-Faqih (uncle of al-Faqih al-Muqaddam), bin Muhammad Sahib Mirbat, bin `Ali Khali` Qasam, bin `Alawi, bin Muhammad Sahib al-Sawma`ah, bin `Alawi, bin `Ubaydullah, bin al-Imam al-Muhajir il-Allah Ahmad, bin ` Isa, bin Muhammad al-Naqib, bin `Ali al-`Uraydi, bin Ja`far al-Sadiq, bin Muhammad al-Baqir, bin `Ali Zayn al-`Abidin, bin Husayn al-Sibt, bin `Ali bin Abi Talib and Fatimah al-Zahra’, the daughter of our Master Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets ﷺ.

The Imam’s diwan (=usually used to mean ‘throne’, or ‘government’ or ‘seat’ as in politcal seat ..’Sultan’s diwan’ etc… but here used to mean generally a collection of poetry. For scholars, a diwan generally means their collection of artistic works, often poetry, as all great sunni scholars were great poets), became very popular and a number of his compositions are still sung today. By the way, the presence of a diwan of poetry itself, speaks volumes to the types of people true scholars really are – very much aligned to the spiritual inner workings of man – which all true poetry speaks directly to.

I would like to write of his scholarly works, of which, a very small but profound volume, I had the honor to study. But it would be too much here, so I will continue with his diwan. Among his many poems, one especially ‘Qad kafani i’lmu Rabbi’ (=My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me) I adore, and the words in it, I can relate directly to, MashaAllah! (by God’s grace).

Here it is, with translation!

 

Many of his poems are sung, and you can find whole volumes of them sung by Indonesian Munshidas (=female singer of devotional music) on Youtube. The Alawi scholars have a great following in Indonesia/Malaysia/Singapore, where they are a major cause for the spread of Islam – again testifying to the falsity of the claim that Islam was spread by the sword – the largest Muslim population exists in Indonesia and certainly Islam only went there through scholars and merchants, the same is true for Western Africa, Central Asia, China… etc.

You can find munshidas singing many of Imam Haddad’s diwan at this website http://bukuhariannikita.blogspot.qa/. Unfortunately the translation is only in Bahasa.

And here is another very famous nasheed from the diwan of Imam Haddad, called ‘Ala yallah bi nadhra’

 

I found a rough English translation from http://ummualwi.blogspot.qa

Ala Yallah bi Nadzrah (Imam al-Haddad)

Chorus:

Ya Allah. Send down Your mercy by Your gaze
That will cure all my ailments in me

Oh my friend! Oh my friend! Don’t you be anxious and burdened
Leave everything to fate and you will be praised and rewarded
And be servants who accept what has been decreed by His Lord, which He has fashioned
And reject you not the decree of Allah, The Lord of the Throne

Be those who are patient and grateful
May you be successful and victorious
And be amongst those who have the secrets
That is, those who have hearts of light
Pure from filth; Pristine and refined

This world is dejected,
And the life of this world is insignificant, and life is short
And no one has greed for the world, except those who are blind
No intellect; that if he is of intellect he will reflect

Reflecting that this world does not last
And the sorrows are aplenty
And wealth is scarce
Hence, blessed is he, so blessed is he who is cautious of the world
And divorced himself from it, and prepares himself to obey Allah

Oh my eyes! Pour from you tears that descend
For a lover who had been sent

Slow tempo…

He was with us and now he has gone
Our hearts have become saddened at his departure

But suffice for me, Allah
That all things will return to You
And nothing lasts but You
May Allah pour down His mercy to the occupants of Basshar
And He is pleasured by them and sent glad tidings

There exists our masters and teachers
Our family and those whom we love
And they remain in our hearts
They reside in places where the dusts smelt a sweet fragrance

A resting place for the best of humanity
They are the leaders of mankind
In loving them there is happiness
How blessed are those who visit them with sincerity
And comes with awareness, so all his wishes will be facilitated.

 

Finally, as the ‘dawn’ of Ramadan of 1438 (Islamic year) is a few hours away, and as it is a month of great re-union with the Quran, family and all things delightful in our tradition, and as it is my first time to experience Ramadan living in a Muslim country (! – dear Readers, I moved to Qatar, so if any of you are here, do reach out! 🙂 ), I likely will not reblog to post my wishes for Ramadan unless I do it now.

So Ramadan Mubarak to all my dear readers, of all faiths, backgrounds, creeds and places – I wish you all a month of peace, blessing, generosity, re-connection with your inner soul and great harmony. May God, bring you all peace and prosperity and heal all our many wounds and bring peace to all countries at war, and especially bless and protect our children.

I will end with the Quran, as Ramadan is the month of the Quran. Here is a recitation from the very famous Qaari (=reciter of Quran), Sheikh Abdul Basit Abdul Samad – a great of the greats, Allah irhamhu (=God have mercy on his soul). He is reciting many verses from many different surahs (=’chapters’ roughly). I will not say which ones in order not to be tedious. The translation is given. He is reciting in the slow style, and using ‘makams’, which I blogged about before and here. I don’t know enough to say which makamaath he uses, but the effect is very beautiful mashaallah.

Peace be with you all

 

 

The ‘maqamaat’

Assalamu alaikum dear readers, peace be with you

Continuing from the last post, where I talk about the tajweed method of recitation, here is more about the ‘maqamaat’ (=the stations). The maqamaat refer to the classical Arabic system of Music; similar to the Raga system in eastern music, a ‘maqam’ (=station, plural is maqamaat), refers to a “a set of notes with traditions that define relationships between them, habitual patterns, and their melodic development” as best defined by www.maqamworld.com.

In my last post, I mentioned that once the rules of tajweed are correctly implemented, the melody by which one recites Quran is completely improvised and up to the individual. Usually this just flows naturally and is not thought of. However, students of Quranic tajweed are advised to listen to ‘quraa’ (=reciters, plural of ‘qaari’=one who is specialized in Quranic recitation), who recite with as less melody as possible. Shaikh Khalil Husary of Egypt, God have mercy of him, is one of the best known in this genre and the ‘go-to’ sheikh for any student to listen to. A sample of Shaikh Husary reciting is below, mashaAllah impeccable tajweed!

Great qurra, have and do employ maqamat to beautify their recitation. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars about this practice; some consider it not permitted, others allow it but dislike it, others consider it part of the general Islamic teaching to recite the Quran beautifully. As in all things the principle is the hadith ‘verily, actions are by intentions’, and the important thing is to maintain sincerity about connecting with God, when reciting or listening to Quranic recitation. This is an excellent post about how maqamat play into beautiful recitation

Shaikh Mustafa Ismail (rahimahullah = God have mercy on his soul), is considered one of the greatest of the Qurra. He is known for his unique style, employing many maqamaat as he chose. He never formally trained in Arabic classical music. Many it is said, have tried to follow him, but none have come close. He was the official reciter for Egyptian radio, and requested his program slot be many hours long, as he would take hours to complete – often the entire night.

One of his ‘listeners’ (those who regularly attend recitations and listen, are known to greatly improve a reciter, as they become the best critiques and offer the most judicious advice, a bit like the peer review system for the academics out there :)) is Ahmed Mustafa Kamal. Sh. Mustafa Kamal, subsequently taught many a younger generation in the style of Sh. Mustafa Ismail, in the video below, he is reciting along with a young student of his, the qariyah Sumayya Edeb, while touring Turkey. It is beautiful to watch how he gently mentors her style. And to those who understand what is being recited, the beautification incorporated by sensitive recitation greatly impacts the heart. 🙂

A biography of some very famous names of qurra in the Muslim world is here…Abdul-Basit Abdul Samad, Minshawi, Husary…these names are as familiar to Muslims as the names ‘Bach’, ‘Mozart’ and ‘Bethoven’ are familiar to the English speaking world. The most famous qurra are from Egypt, no surprise as in the classical Muslim world a famous adage goes; ‘The Quran was revealed in Mecca, it is written in Turkey (old posts about this here) and recited in Egypt‘, meaning the art of calligraphy reached its pinnacle in Turkey, and the art of its recitation its pinnacle in Egypt.

Different maqams are said to evoke different moods/emotions (more here), and in the Muslim world, the call to prayer or ‘adhan’ can also be found rendered using different maqamat…more about that in another post inshaallah (=God willing). Common maqamat are; rast, nahawand, hijazi, bayati…

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into a very important aspect of Muslim culture. Below some select videos.

Peace be with you all

Shaikh Mustafa Ismail reciting verses from Chapter ‘Joseph’, which tells the story of the prophet Joseph (Yusuf in Arabic), peace be upon him

 

Shaikh Khalil al-Husary, reciting from chapter 4, Surah Nisa (The Women): verses 105-109

 

Shaikh Ahmed Mustafa Kamal with his protege, Sumaiya Edeb, reciting the opening chapter of the Quran, Surah Fatiha, I think on a Turkish TV program. At the end of the recitation, the call is made ‘al-fatiha’, signalling for all listening to recite the chapter to themselves, which you will see the audience do.

 

 

 

 

Islamic ‘music’ – tajweed of recitation

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

What a long time it has been since I last posted, my apologies. The past few months have been a period of transition as I prepare to move from one country to another. The state of my beloved mother, who suffers from a rare type of cancer, has also worsened, please keep her in your du’a (=prayer) my dear sisters and brothers. May whatever she is undergoing be a source of healing, purification and elevation of her state in this world and the hereafter! ameen.

وعنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الله عليه وسلم صلى الله عليه وسلم ، دخل علي أعرأبي يعوده وكان إذا دخل علي من يعوده قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏لا بأس، طهور إن شاء الله‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏رواه البخاري‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) visited a bedouin who was sick. Whenever he visited an ailing person, he would say, “La ba’sa, tahurun in sha’ Allah [No harm, (it will be a) purification, Allah willing].” [Al-Bukhari, book 7, hadith 907]

 In the meantime, many an idea to share has come and hopefully, won’t be gone! Here is beginning with the first one; I want to introduce you to the ‘tajweed’ (=’elocution’ the rules governing the correct pronounciation of Quranic sounds/Arabic) and to the ‘maqamaath’ (=’stations’) of recitation.
The Quran, as you may know, means ‘recitation’ roughly. It comes from a root word ‘qira’a’ which means to ‘recite’ or ‘read’, composed of the three letters, ‘qaf’, ‘ra’, ‘alif’. I have spoken about the Arabic root word/letter system before. It is a fascinating mathematical model, that coagulates meanings based upon sound and the structures in which they are organized; incredibly mathematical. You can read more here, and from that source, meanings of the term ‘Quran’ below;

ق ر ا  = Qaf-Ra-Alif = to recite/read, compilation, collection, reading, recitation, explanation, study, investigation.

Therefore, in the preservation of the Quran, not only the original language (i.e., classical Arabic or ‘fus-ha’), but also the specific way by which the beloved messenger of God, Muhammed (peace be upon him), used to recite/pronounce the sounds, has been meticulously preserved.

The method of authentic pronounciation is called ‘tajweed’. There are ten authentic ‘qira’a’, or recitations that can be traced back to the beloved (peace be upon him). They differ in small details, that apply to a very small percentage of text. For example, the word ‘malik’ in the first chapter, in verse three, can be authentically read as ‘malik’ or ‘maalik’, when reciting. Reading it as ‘maleek’ is not allowed, as it is not a method the beloved (peace be upon him) ever used.

This is a lengthy topic, that those who are specialized in the arts of recitation among the Islamic sciences, will know volumes about. So I will stop,  hopefully by giving you an idea of a topic likely very unfamiliar to western understanding. Nevertheless, to end by saying the rules of tajweed are extremely exacting and the tajweed teachers known to be among the most strict! (cute video here of a little boy mimicking his tajweed teacher, that went viral in Muslim circles 😀 – reminds me of all the hours I’ve spent trying to get the back of my tongue to raise to elocute ‘ra’…can’t be a flat tongue!)

However, once the correct pronounciation is established, the melody by which a reciter delivers is entirely individualized. It is often very personal, and improvised. You can watch the fascinating documentary ‘Quran by heart’ made by a Western musicologist who lives in Cairo and studies the art of Quranic recitation on youtube, and thus presented in way familiar to a Western audience. There are many information sources about this in Arabic, but they would be very unfamiliar.

The documentary is woven around the annual ‘Quranic recitation’ competitions, that are global affairs, and where competitors from all around the world gather. The Quran (meaning the Quran in Arabic, in any other language, Muslims don’t consider it the Quran, but only a human interpretation of its meanings) is the only text known to be preserved without any change since the time it was first revealed. It’s preservation, is not in books or recordings, but in the hearts of people. Muslims do consider the Quran a living miracle, and the greatest of the miracles given to the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

[By dedicating one’s life to its memorization and transmission, it has been preserved for us for close to 1.5 millenia. Muslims believe, that once the Quran is erased from the hearts of people, that that would be a major sign of the coming of the end of humanity.]

 

InshaAllah I will continue soon on the maqaamath, this post has become too long so I will stop now, leaving you with a taste for Quran recited in tajweed, this is verse 190-194 of the third chapter in the Quran, called ‘A’li-Imran’ (=’the people/tribe/family of Imran’, to whom belongs the blessed Mary, peace be upon her). Recited by Qariah (=’female reciter’, title given to one specializing in tajweed recitation) Hajjar Boosuq of Morocco.

Qariah Hajjar will repeat many times, phrases or sections of verses. I will give the translation and transliteration of the verses below, so you may try to follow her along as she takes you through the meanings. She begins with the ‘basmallah’, the traditional opening for Quranic recitation; ‘audhu billahi min ash-shaytaan ar-rajeem/ bismillah ar-rahman ar-raheem'(=I seek refuge with God from the accursed satan/ In the name of God, the most loving/kind, the most gracious/merciful/loving…hard to translate the basmallah!), and ends with saying ‘al-fatiha’, which means the audience is asked to recite to themselves, the opening chapter of the Quran called ‘al-fatiha’ (=the opening). The interpretation in English is by Shakir.

It is about 10 mins long, I highly recommend good quality earphones, and to close your eyes when listening. In Islamic spirituality, it is the hearing that is the sense that is most closely connected to the heart (not the sight), hence the Quran is fundamentally an oral transmission, and thus transmitted from ‘heart to heart’ 🙂

Peace be with you all.

 


 إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ 

Inna fee khalqi assamawatiwal-ardi wakhtilafi allayli wannaharilaayatin li-olee al-albab
[3:190] Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day there are signs for men who understand.

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ 

Allatheena yathkuroona Allahaqiyaman waquAAoodan waAAala junoobihimwayatafakkaroona fee khalqi assamawati wal-ardirabbana ma khalaqta hatha batilan subhanakafaqina AAathaba annar.
[3:191] Those who remember God standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire:

رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ مَنْ تُدْخِلِ النَّارَ فَقَدْ أَخْزَيْتَهُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِنْ أَنْصَارٍ

 Rabbana innaka man tudkhili annarafaqad akhzaytahu wama liththalimeenamin ansar
[ 3:192] Our Lord! surely whomsoever Thou makest enter the fire, him Thou hast indeed brought to disgrace, and there shall be no helpers for the unjust:

رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا سَمِعْنَا مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي لِلْإِيمَانِ أَنْ آمِنُوا بِرَبِّكُمْ فَآمَنَّا ۚ رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الْأَبْرَارِ

 Rabbana innana samiAAnamunadiyan yunadee lil-eemani an aminoobirabbikum faamanna rabbana faghfirlana thunoobana wakaffir AAannasayyi-atina watawaffana maAAa al-abrar
[3:193] Our Lord! surely we have heard a preacher calling to the faith, saying: Believe in your Lord, so we did believe; Our Lord! forgive us therefore our faults, and cover our evil deeds and make us die with the righteous.

رَبَّنَا وَآتِنَا مَا وَعَدْتَنَا عَلَىٰ رُسُلِكَ وَلَا تُخْزِنَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۗ إِنَّكَ لَا تُخْلِفُ الْمِيعَادَ

Rabbana waatina mawaAAadtana AAala rusulika wala tukhzinayawma alqiyamati innaka la tukhlifu almeeAAad
[ 3:194] Our Lord! and grant us what Thou hast promised us by Thy messengers; and disgrace us not on the day of resurrection; surely Thou dost not fail to perform the promise.

With thanks an award

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you all

Alhamdulillah (=praise and thanks to God) I am returned home after a deeply amazing time in the mountains of Albany, NY at sheikh Mokhtar’s Tazkiyathun Nafs retreat. Indeed it is reviving an ancient Islamic scholarly practice of khalwa (=retreat) to be able to be quiet, meditate, engage much in dhikr (=remembrance of God) and learn from authentic texts and high-calibre teachers, who teach not only during lesson time but more so out of it, and then to enjoy time immersed in the amazingly bounteous creation of God most high. I was very blessed to be selected to go.

It was doubly nice to return to the happy news that my dear sister Keidi (http://anchorwithkeidi.wordpress.com) has kindly nominated me for a Muslim blogger award. Graciously do I accept and here is what I must do to do so. I must display the award and follow a number of steps. So here goes;

Image

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
Display the Award anywhere on your Blog.
Announce your win anywhere within a blog post and link back to the Blogger who awarded you, to thank them.
Optional: Include an English translation of one of your favorite surahs or verses from the Quran, with Book & Verse notation.
Optional: Present at least 7 deserving Bloggers with this Award, if you are able. If you are not able, the award is still yours – Congratulations!
If you are able to generate another round of this award, please Link your Awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded with a comment (or a pingback).

 

Both the optional conditions are difficult – it is very hard to pick just one favourite ayat/surah from the Quran, and also hard to nominate bloggers who have not already been nominated 🙂 But I will try

A favourite ayah (=’sign’, loosely translated as verse) of the Quran is the ayatun Nur (=verse of light) that comes in the Surah of the same Nur (=light). It is ayah number 35 of surah 24. It is too beautiful for my poor efforts at commentary to do anything but dishonor, so I will just give the ayah with translation. I wish my readers could hear it recited too, it is beautiful. So much do I wish it, that I’ve sourced a youtube of the recitation of this ayah. The video has the recitation of a few more verses after as well.

24:35

 

Sahih International Interpretation

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.

 

And here are nominations for the award

http://diffrntstrokes.wordpress.com/

http://northcountytutoringcenter.com/

http://asqfish.wordpress.com (I have found via their latest post that I know this beautiful lady, mashaAllah!)

http://islamwich.com

http://urwatulwuthqa.wordpress.com/

http://adventuresofsufigirl.wordpress.com/

http://deensisters.wordpress.com/

http://therevertmiyabhai.wordpress.com/

http://healing-hearts-blog.com

http://fajr-literary.com/

 

 

Al-Latif

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Al- Latif is one of the ‘names’ of God that I most love. It is another word hard to translate into English. I have a very beautiful Arabic-English dictionary of the Holy Quran (linked for your reference) that is essential for any one from an English language background hoping to read and understand the original Arabic of the Quran. And indeed, we Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God. It has been preserved without a single change since its revelation to that most blessed of Messengers, Muhammed (peace be upon him). BTW on this I recently realized most people are not aware of how Muslims view prophets or messengers, peace be upon them all. Briefly we do not elevate them to divinity, believing they are human beings, but neither do we consider them ordinary people, rather we consider them the best of mankind, who were great lights upon the earth, who had the most beautiful comportment, manners and daily transactions – and this for all of them, without reservation or question, peace be upon them all. The Quran is very clear in this and addresses this special noble people in the most beautiful salutary terms. Surah (=chapter) 21 in the Quran, is called ‘The prophets’ and gives the stories of some of them. It is one among many other places in the Quran they are mentioned. I am going off on a tangent so I will stop, but inshAllah (God willing) I will post about this more later on. I actually had no idea people could think badly of any of them (peace be upon them all), i.e., that they would commit major sins such as tell lies etc. until recently and that was shocking to me.

To get back to my topic, so I opened the dictionary to look up the best way to translate this word for you, my dear readers, and found something very special that I will share further down. Especially my Muslim brothers and sisters who are reading this, I think if you did not know it, you will feel happy to know it. The word ‘latif’ comes from the root ‘latufa’ meaning to be delicate, graceful, elegant, gentle, kind, fine. ‘Lateef’ means to be Gracious, Kind, Gentle, Subtle, Sharp-sighted, Acute (the dictionary capitalized each word so I am doing the same, I think this is on the intensive form of the word so that is why). As the name of God, ‘Al-Latif’ = The ‘Latif’, it means roughly, ‘The All Subtle Being’, ‘Unfathomable’, ‘Incomprehensible’, ‘The Gentle’ and so on. We say the Arabic can never really be translated, only interpreted. Actually Muslims don’t consider the Quran in any other language other than the Arabic as the Quran. That is, while we are obligated to be in a state of purity, having taken wudu (see here for a description of this ritual washing) before touching the Arabic Quran, this rule does not apply to it in any other language. This is what I specially wanted to share about what I found in the dictionary;- The word that appears at the very middle of the Quran (and remember when I say Quran, I am talking about it in Arabic) is ‘Walyatalattaf’ (this is a complex form derived from ‘latif’, in arabic you can get a whole sentence just by using the rules of derivation upon a triliteral root word). It means ‘And let him be courteous, let him behave with great care, conduct himself with caution’. In Arabic, there are 8 letters to this word, exactly 4 belong to the first half and the rest to the second half! Isn’t that amazing! Subhahanallah (=exalted is God). It comes in ayat 19 of sura 18. As if a central admonition to us Muslims is to be gentle!

I just looked up Surah 18, it is actually Surah ‘Kahf’ (=the cave). And the passage is about the sleepers in the cave. I am not sure, but I think the Bible has this story as well? BTW I got to visit this cave which is in present day Amman, Jordan. InshAllah I will share more about that later on. Surah Kahf is a surah the prophet peace be upon him, used to recite every Friday and told us to recite every Friday too. My Muslim readers will know the specialness of this surah. It contains many stories, in addition to the ‘sleepers in the cave’ full of wise meanings and messages.

I wanted to write about this word, ‘latif’ as it denotes a trait I love. And Muhammed, peace be upon this most strong yet most gentle of human beings had many wise sayings about how to be gentle. I wanted to post because of these ahadith (saying, narration from the blessed prophet) that I love;-

He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.

(Muslim)

Keep to gentleness and avoid harshness and coarseness. Gentleness is not found in anything without adorning it, and is not withdrawn from anything without shaming it.

(Muslim)

And on this note, here is a story from the traditions of the prophet peace be upon him, that I do love. It shows the gentleness of his approach toward teaching people religion. As you may know, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast. It is not just an external fasting (abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations) from dawn till dusk, it is also an internal one (abstaining from telling lies, gossip, backbiting, slander, being careful to not look at unlawful images etc). How much we are able to adhere to this is another story. But indeed the month is meant to train us and to help us regulate ourselves. It is like an annual cleanse you could say. A most special time (it’s only 4 months away! so excited looking forward to it. May Allah grant I have the felicity to meet another Ramadan!). I took this story from an article in the Baltimore Examiner, referenced here. However the story itself is well known and found in a many places, it is considered a very ‘authentic’ narration. The way ahadith (plural of hadith) are graded is a science itself, and there are Muslim scholars who specialize in this. Unfortunately these days due to the dearth of sound Muslim scholars, there are many deviant or fallacious ahadith floating around and many Muslims who don’t know a sound narration from a bad one, who would end up following the falsified ones. Before I go off on another tangent, albeit it is an important topic, here is the story. It is about this man who couldn’t keep his fast and came and confessed to the prophet (peace be upon him) and wanted to know what he could do to compensate –

“A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! I am ruined!’

The Prophet said, ‘Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you)!’

The man said, ‘I have done sexual intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.’

The Prophet said, ‘Manumit a slave.’

The man said, ‘I cannot afford that.’

The Prophet said; ‘Then fast for two successive months.’

The man said, ‘I have no power to do so.’

The Prophet said, ‘Then feed sixty poor persons.’

The man said, ‘I have nothing (to feed sixty persons).’

Later a basket full of dates were brought to the Prophet and he said (to the man), ‘Take it and give it in charity.’

The man said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I give it to people other than my family? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, there is nobody poorer than me in the whole city of Medina.’

The Prophet smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and said, ‘Take it.’”

(Bukhari, Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 185)

Peace be upon you all my dear readers. Al-Latif be with you!

Celebrating the change of the seasons with music that is divine

Fall is my favourite season. The depth and range of shades on a single maple tree….Subhahanallah! (praise and glory to the Pure and High), it is beyond description. Beyond the ability of this meagre slave to extol with words, beyond the capture of any camera lens. Surely, this time if at no other, some inner chord vibrates to the call of the Creator, surely at this time if at no other, some inner voice speaks and finds resonance. You are a special creation of a magnificent Creator. The human soul is not to be belittled, denigrated to a heartless scientific experiment, not to be relegated to the happy outcome of a series of accidents. No, you are greater than this, created to do great things, understand great truths, come into great states of knowing, of understanding, of transcending, of being. Don’t let time slip by you, don’t let distraction upon distraction take away precious moments of reflection and thought, precious moments of connections and communication.

I think all great musicians have known in some deep way some knowledge of the divine, how else can they create these great timeless works, unless through inspiration. And what is inspiration except from the Creator. The source of all is The One, and there is no other. Subhahanallah!

So I am sharing one of my all time favourite pieces below. Listening to this, it takes you higher to that heavenly realm. Vivaldi’s four seasons, apt too now that the leaves are changing. May God’s light, blessing and love be with you. May you come to know Him, as He is to be known. And having said that, none of us can really ever know God, at least not in our present limited state of creation. This is the orthodox Muslim view. We have been taught

‘Laisa kamithlihi shai’

‘there is nothing like unto Him’

Quran 42:11

So whatever comes to your mind about God, He is other than that. Beyond the constrains of time and space, beyond change. How can you then grasp this fully. So study the creation to know the Creator. Study the creation and love the bounty and beauty of Allah, and Allah will love you back. When Allah loves you, your life will transform. We Muslims have lost our spiritual core, now it is just some diluted corrupted tribal nonsense we are pandering in the Muslim world. Forgive my outspokenness, but I am heartily sick of all these brutal barbaric wars and people committing humanly unthinkable acts in the name of Islam, so cruel even the ancient barbarian hoards would be cringe at committing them, and yet people do this and take on the exalted pure name of ‘Allah’ while doing so. I fear for them, for I would be shivering in my boots to do even a petty crime in the name of Allah. For Allah is swift in punishment (this too is Quranic), and yet they openly flout the teachings of Islam. Allah’s swiftness is not our swiftness, but it is swift and certain.

We Muslims who know and love and study and practice our religion the way it is meant to be have a lot on our shoulders. To our non-Muslim friends, I say, help us out. We are speaking out, living and being the best citizens we can be. Very grateful to live in countries of social justice and civics and ethics, so dear to the Muslim heart and mind. We will continue to fight against all those who claim to be Muslim and violate the sacred tradition of Islam and malign the pure and noble name of our beloved Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Please do also read about Islam, about our dear prophet, the chosen one. Read from authentic sources. May God help us all and may we truly become who we are created to be.

God’s peace and blessing be upon you all. Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you!)

 

 

 

 

The Quran heals all ills

Assalamu alaikum, peace be upon you all!

Here is a beautiful recitation of the 80th chapter in the Quran, it is a short chapter called ‘Abasa’, meaning ‘he frowned’. According to commentary it was revealed when the prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon his pure soul) once didn’t attend as was required of him to a blind man who came up to him interrupting the teaching he was engaged in. Muhammed (peace be upon him) was known for his matchless generosity and patience and gentleness, but there was a slight moment he was impatient..and this chapter was revealed. Glory be to God! He Almighty wants us to be of the highest order in behaviour, manners and etiquette. May Allah help us to be better!

This recitation seems to be from during a communal prayer as it begins with the opening chapter ‘Al-Fatiha’ (The opening). Seven short verses that are chapter 1 of the Quran, which is how each unit of prayer is begun. Then Surat ‘Abasa is read. A heart moving recitation.

Listening to this makes me realize how little I have thanked Allah for His loving care of me when I was in my mother’s womb, and for He beautiful fashioning of me there. All thanks and praises are due to the One, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Eternal Refuge, My beautiful Lord. Allahu Akber! (Allah is the greatest)

The interpretation by Yusuf Ali into English is below. It is a chapter with 42 ayaath (literally ‘sign’ as we consider every verse of the Quran we consider to be a miraculous sign)

In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful

(The Prophet) frowned and turned away

Because there came to him the blind man (interrupting)

But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)?-

Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him?

As to one who regards Himself as self-sufficient,

To him dost thou attend;

Though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding).

But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly,

And with fear (in his heart),

Of him wast thou unmindful.

By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction:

Therefore let whoso will, keep it in remembrance.

(It is) in Books held (greatly) in honour,

Exalted (in dignity), kept pure and holy,

(Written) by the hands of scribes-

Honourable and Pious and Just.

Woe to man! What hath made him reject Allah;

From what stuff hath He created him?

From a sperm-drop: He hath created him, and then mouldeth him in due proportions;

Then doth He make His path smooth for him;

Then He causeth him to die, and putteth him in his grave;

Then, when it is His Will, He will raise him up (again).

By no means hath he fulfilled what Allah hath commanded him.

Then let man look at his food, (and how We provide it):

For that We pour forth water in abundance,

And We split the earth in fragments,

And produce therein corn,

And Grapes and nutritious plants,

And Olives and Dates,

And enclosed Gardens, dense with lofty trees,
And fruits and fodder,-

For use and convenience to you and your cattle.

At length, when there comes the Deafening Noise,-

That Day shall a man flee from his own brother,

And from his mother and his father,

And from his wife and his children.
Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others.

Some faces that Day will be beaming,Laughing, rejoicing.

And other faces that Day will be dust-stained,

Blackness will cover them:Such will be the Rejecters of Allah, the doers of iniquity.

Quran Chapter 80

 

Closeness

Closeness

Mercy descends in a voice that recites

After a hard days work into a long calm night

Bathed in splendour of good, lovingly looked upon

by a Lord most beautiful, beauty with love adorned

Lulled into a calm and refreshing repose

Tranquil in trust that rest will come

From The One to the one,

sleep brings a delightful glimpse of closeness

Light upon light

Refreshed to greet, if Allah wills, another dawn

***

Joymanifest (C) 2013