June 10, 2023 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 21, 1444
Living The Quran
Al-Nur (Light) - Chapter 24: Verse 45
"God has created every animal from water; and among them are such as creep on their bellies, and such as walk on two legs, and others yet on four. God creates what He wills. Surely God has power over all things."
Here the Quran states in a very simple way a great fact that confirms that the origin of all creatures is water. This could mean that water is the basic component of all living species. It could also mean what contemporary scientists have been trying to prove, namely that life started in the sea, making water its first origin. Later, numerous species came into existence.
We, however, do not like to link any fact stated in the Quran with scientific theory, because such theories admit change, modification, or abrogation. Hence, we take this statement at its face value, confirming its truth which makes clear that God has created all living things from water. This means that having the same origin, they present, as we clearly see with our eyes, a wide and rich variety: crawlers creep on their bellies, while man and birds walk on two legs, but most animals use all four limbs when they walk. All this takes place in accordance with the laws of nature God has set in operation. Nothing occurs by chance or coincidence. “God creates what He wills,” unrestricted by form or shape. The laws that operate in the universe have been established by God’s will: “Surely God has power over all things.”
With the great variety that we see in all creatures, an almost endless range of shapes, sizes, colours and characteristics is set before us. Yet they all originate from the same source. This suggests that it is all intended as such, reflecting the elaborate planning in the universe at large. It portrays as false the notion that life started by mere coincidence. What coincidence could give birth to such planning or such great variety? It is all the work of God who, in His wisdom, has given every living soul its shape and form and guided it to what suits it best in this life.
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 336, 337
From Issue: 824 [Read original issue]
Understanding The Prophet's Life
Islamic discourses on the nature, and function of dogs are representative of a range of tensions regarding the roles of history, mythology, rationality, and modernity in Islam. In fact, the debates surrounding the avowed impurity of dogs, and the lawfulness of possessing or living with these animals were one of the main issues symbolizing the challenging dynamic between the revealed religious law, and the state of creation or nature.
According to one tradition attributed to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form [Musnad] Although this report did reflect a part of pre-Islamic Arab mythology, it had a limited impact upon Islamic law. The vast majority of Muslim jurists considered this particular tradition to be falsely attributed to the Prophet, and therefore, apocryphal. Nevertheless, much of the Islamic discourse focused on a Prophetic report instructing that if a dog, regardless of the color, licks a container, the container must be washed seven times, with the sprinkling of dust [Muslim] in one of the washings. Different versions of the same report specify that the container be washed once, three, or five times, or omit the reference to the sprinkling of dust. The essential point conveyed in these reports is that dogs are impure animals, or, at least, that their saliva is a contaminant that voids a Muslim's ritual purity.
Despite the attribution to the Prophet of a large number of traditions hostile to dogs, for a variety of reasons, many pre-modern Muslim scholars challenged this orientation. The Qur'an, the divine book of Islam, does not condemn dogs as impure or evil. In addition, a large number of early reports, probably reflecting historical practice, contradicted the dog-hostile traditions. For instance, several reports indicated that the Prophet's young cousins, and some of the companions owned puppies [Muslim]. Other reports indicated that the Prophet prayed while a dog played in the vicinity [Muslim]. In addition, there is considerable historical evidence that dogs roamed freely in Medina and even entered the Prophet's mosque [Fath al Bari]. A particularly interesting tradition attributed to the Prophet asserted that a prostitute, and in some versions, a sinning man, secured their places in Heaven by saving the life of a dog dying of thirst in the desert [Fath al Bari].
As to the issue of purity, the main point of contention was as to whether there is a rational basis for the command to wash a container if touched or licked by a dog [Bidayat al-Mujtahid]. The majority of jurists held that there is no rational basis for this command, and that dogs, like pigs, must be considered impure simply as a matter of deference to the religious text. A sizeable number of jurists, however, disagreed with this position. Jurists, particularly from the Maliki school of thought, argued that everything found in nature is presumed to be pure unless proven otherwise, either through experience or text. Ruling that the traditions mentioned above are not of sufficient reliability or authenticity so as to overcome the presumption of purity, they argued that dogs are pure animals. Accordingly, they maintained that dogs do not void a Muslim’s prayer or ritual purity. Other jurists argued that the command mandating that a vessel be washed a number of times was intended as a precautionary health measure. These jurists argued that the Prophet's tradition on this issue was intended to apply only to dogs at risk of being infected by the rabies virus. Hence, if a dog is not a possible carrier of rabies, it is presumed to be pure. A small number of jurists carried this logic further in arguing that rural dogs are pure, while urban dogs are impure because urban dogs often consume human garbage. Another group of jurists argued that the purity of dogs turn on their domesticity - domestic dogs are considered pure because human beings feed and clean them, while dogs that live in the wild or on the streets of a city could be carriers of disease, and therefore, they are considered impure. It is clear from the evolution of these discourses that as nature became more susceptible to rational understanding, complex and potentially dangerous creatures, such as dogs, became less threatening for Muslim jurists.
In the contemporary Muslim world, dog ownership is common only among Bedouins, law enforcement, and the Westernized higher classes. As a matter of fact, it is rather striking that, to a very large extent, modern Muslims are unaware of the pre-modern juristic determinations that vindicated the purity of dogs. Nevertheless, this in itself is a measure of the ambiguous fortunes of the dynamics between Islamic law and nature in modernity. In the pre-modern age, Islamic law evolved in near proportion to the advances achieved in the human knowledge of nature. But as the institutions of Islamic law were deconstructed by European Colonialism, and with the rise of puritanical movements in contemporary Islam, Islamic jurisprudence has ceased to be a forum for creative thinking or dynamic interactions with the vastness of nature.
"Dogs in the Islamic Tradition and Nature" - Khaled Abou El Fadl
From Issue: 984 [Read original issue]
- Umar ibn al-Khattab established the Islamic Calendar uniting the different dating methods of his time by counting back to the year of the Hijrah (migration to Madina) to determine when to start.
- 16 July, 622 CE = 1 Muharram, 1 AH
- Islamic Calendar begins with sacrifice (hijrah of the Prophet and the Muslims to Madina) and ends with sacrifice (hajj, hijrah of Hajira).
- Not from someone’s birthday, or some king or ruler’s orders, but from the foundation of the Islamic community - on brotherhood and unity we begin and end.
- Lunar: Based upon the moon - accurate, close, visible, reminder of the beauty, order, submission of Allah’s creation but also its imperfection, its rise and fall, it needs the sun to shine. We interact with the signs of Allah when we look for the new moon every month, it is not passive time-keeping and time-passing, it’s natural. Animals, sea-creatures, oceans, plants, even human cycles are lunar timed.
- We rotate through the seasons - dynamic, perpetual. Summer is not just in June. Eid is not just in winter. A nation of all times and all seasons, we remain steadfast no matter what the season.
- Note the meaning of the names of the months:
- Muharram ["Forbidden" - it is one of the four months during which time it is forbidden to wage war or fight]
- Safar ["Empty" or "Yellow"]
- Rabi al-Awwal ["First spring"]
- Rabi al-Thani ["Second spring"]
- Jumada al-Awwal ["First freezing"]
- Jumada al-Thani ["Second freezing"]
- Rajab ["To respect" - this is another holy month when
fighting is prohibited]
- Shaban ["To spread and distribute"]
- Ramadan ["Parched thirst" - this is the month of Islamic daytime fasting]
- Shawwal ["To be light and vigorous"]
- Dhul-Qida ["The month of rest" - another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
- Dhul-Hijja ["The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
- Nadwi: "The Islamic Era did not start with the victories of Islamic wars, nor with the birth or death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), nor with the Revelation itself. It starts with Hijrah, or the sacrifice for the cause of Truth and for the preservation of the Revelation. It was a divinely inspired selection. God wanted to teach man that struggle between Truth and Evil is eternal. The Islamic year reminds Muslims every year not of the pomp and glory of Islam but of its sacrifice and prepares them to do the same."
- We look at history through the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the greatest life ever lived, everything is either before or after Hijrah. “Allah has renewed time”, it’s a universal new beginning in the history of man and civilization with the Hijrah of the Prophet and our forerunners at its centre piece.
"Making Resolutions That Matter" - YoungMuslims.ca
From Issue: 609 [Read original issue]