13 November, 2018 | 4 Rabi al-Awwal, 1440 H

"Silence saves you from regret"

- Imam Ali (as)

Full Transcripts

Core Curriculum

 
 

1 God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction


 
1.1 The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

The greatest spiritual crisis that humans will ever face is the problem of evil and suffering. The question goes like this, if God is all good, why does He permit evil and suffering? Why doesn’t He stop it? After all, if He loves His creation, He would protect them just like a mother protects her children.

 

In this lesson, we look at two aspects of the problem of evil in this world. The first is the intellectual problem of evil and suffering. The second is the emotional problem

 

of evil and suffering. On the latter, we will give some pointers on how to deal with suffering in the modern world.

 

 BODY OF TEXT

 

 Answering the Intellectual Problem of Evil

 

 The intellectual problem of evil sees God and evil as mutually incompatible. If God is all-good and all-loving, then He would naturally want to alleviate suffering from us and get rid of evil. Since there is great suffering and evil in the world, then God is either

 

  1.  powerless to do anything about suffering and evil
  2. or careless and callous about His creation
  3.  or He does not exist

 

Obviously none of these options are good as they do not help the case for any monotheistic conception of God. Since God is the creator of the universe, it is impossible that He be powerless. Many people see God as All-Loving and All-Good which means that He would or should stop evil if He did indeed exist. Since evil still persists, many atheists will say that this is proof that God, or at least the Abrahamic understanding of God, does not exist.

 

 This is a rather simplistic depiction of the intellectual problem of evil since there is another way of looking at the problem of God and evil that is logically sound.

 

 Yes, God is All-Good and All-Loving, and as the creator of the universe, He is also All-Powerful. So why does He allow evil to exist?

 

 A popular answer that theologians give is the following: God brought us unto this earth in order to test us. If God interferes in every single instance of evil in this world, then what is the point of free will and testing? It is by being tested on this earth that we grow spiritually. With constant divine intervention, we as individuals cannot grow spiritually.

 

 The second answer is that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to exist. This means that our knowledge and awareness of things is very limited. God sees things from eternity and knows all possible outcomes. He allows evil to exist to the extent that it will have a positive effect in the world or the afterlife or both. We

 

may not be able to see the good of it as of now, but on the “macroscale” of things it does lead to an ultimate good no matter how bad it seems in the short-term.

 

 This last part thus requires some honesty and humility. We can’t predict with 100% accuracy what will happen five minutes from now, how can we ever make a judgment on the effects of evil acts throughout the span of human history in this world and the Hereafter?

 

 The Emotional Problem of Evil

 

 The emotional problem of evil is about people’s dislike or even hatred of God who permits suffering in the world. People lose their loved ones, their health, their jobs or see society around them fall apart where much of it is due to evil acts such as murder or illnesses and disease brought about by war. They are angry that God doesn’t do anything about it.

 

 Remember that often enough, this kind of attitude stems from a subtle and hidden assumption that there is no afterlife. The person expressing such anger may outwardly believe in the Hereafter and God’s Final Judgment, but deep down inside he or she isn’t really certain about it.

 

From an Islamic perspective, and indeed from an Abrahamic perspective, God has the last word on the Day of Judgment. Our lives here are limited, and those of us who live in the 21st century will notice that time goes by super-fast. Know that you will soon die and on your death-bed, you will forget most of the evil and suffering that came your way.

 

 This world, as we said earlier, is a world where God tests our free will. If we didn’t have free will, we couldn’t be truly good. In order to be truly good and reach union with God, one must be able to choose good over evil. For God to get rid of evil in the world, which is the result of human intentions, he would need to get rid of our free will. But if he did this, he would also take our ability to truly love and do good.

 

 For Allah, this isn’t worth the price. Why should Allah sacrifice our potential for infinite greatness and good for the sake of some evil people? And it’s not like they’re going to get away with it, they will be accountable for every single thing they do in their lives whether it is a small lie or or a big thing like murder.

 

 But what about those who suffered from evil? According to Islam, God will reward those who suffered from evil on the Day of Judgment. He will do this on multiple levels. First, their suffering will be a means for having their sins forgiven. Second, they will get extra rewards in heaven.

 

 Third, there are some forms of evil that may cause long term psychological pain for its victims. On the Day of Judgment, God will make some people forget the horrible things they suffered in this world in order to fill them with inner peace. It will be as if none of it ever happened.

 

 Finally, remember that suffering is our best teacher. We learn more from suffering than from our happy days. Our happy and comfortable days tend to make us heedless, whereas suffering wakes us up and makes us realize that nothing in this world is dependable. We can only depend on God.

 

 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
1.2 God, Allah and Religion Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

God, Allah, what is the difference? For people who come from non-Muslim backgrounds, these two beings often sound like they are two different Gods.  

 

This, however, is not correct. Allah just means God in Arabic.  

 

In this lesson, we will briefly introduce you to the concept of God in Islam.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Say, "He is Allah , [who is] One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent." (Chapter 112, verses 1 to 4 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

God, or Allah in Islam is the creator of the universe. He is not just a creator like an engineer who makes a car, no, He is what brought all being into existence.  

 

Whether the whole of existence has a beginning or is eternal, He is the one who sustains it and is the ultimate explanation as to why anything exists at all.  

Unlike the God of deism, Allah is not a callous God. He is the all-Compassionate, the All-Merciful, the All-Forgiving and the All-Loving.  

 

Out of His love and compassion He created humanity and all life in the world.  

 

According to Islam, God did not create humankind out of play, but created it so that it might find spiritual perfection. He created us human beings so that as freely willing agents, we may purify our souls and become compassionate, merciful, loving and wise beings in a way that is analogous to the source of these wonderful attributes, namely God Himself.  

 

In order to do this, Allah sends down His special revelation in the form of religion to guide humankind to spiritual perfection. Revelation comes in the form of constitutive instructions on how to lead the good life and cleans our hearts from spiritual impurities such as pride, anger, hatred and jealousy among other things, and therefore lead our hearts to be filled with the living light of God. With the light of God in our hearts, we become wise, insightful, patient, forgiving and loving like God Himself.  

 

In this sense, we see that the default position of God is that we enter heaven, unless we use our free will for the sake of evil and destroy our souls. But even then, the God of Islam still wishes redemption for evil doers and will do what He can to give them excuses and forgive them on the Day of Judgment. 

 

For those who betray themselves and their souls, there is a punishment. Yet as J.R.R Tolkien once said, God’s punishment is also His reward. This is because suffering is our greatest teacher; it is a process of pain that opens the doors of our perceptions and ability to selflessly love others. 

 

It not only shows our hearts our wrongs, but it also creates room in our hardened hearts for compassion, a compassion that partakes in and feels the suffering of others. In this compassion for the pain of others is where divine love is born in the heart once again and hence why Allah’s punishment is also His reward.  

 

This is the God of Islam, Allah. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
1.3 Introduction to Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION & BODY OF TEXT TOGETHER

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

Islam began in the 7th century Mecca which is located in modern day Saudi Arabia. It is the second largest religion in the world. As articulated by its sacred text the Qur’an, it is God’s final religion on earth. Islam was revealed by God’s last Prophet on earth, Muhammad the son of Abdullah (s).  

Islam is an Abrahamic religion, meaning that it is a monotheistic religion that accepts most of the Old Testament and New Testament Prophets, including Abraham, Noah, Moses and Jesus among other Prophets sent by God to earth.  

Islam also believes in the Devil, in angels, including the Archangels Gabriel and Michael, as well as the Day of Judgment. Like Christianity, Islam deems charity to be mandatory. Withholding help and charity is an immoral and sinful act according to it.  

However, unlike Christianity, it rejects the concept of the Trinity and upholds God as absolutely one. Jesus (as) according to Islam was only a divinely guided Prophet and not God Himself.  

Islam is the fastest growing religion on earth and it has over 1.5 billion followers.  

The ultimate sacred text for the Muslims is the Qur’an. The Qur’an was originally revealed in Arabic and is believed to be the literal word of God that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and expressed verbatim by him to the Muslim community.  

According to the Qur’anic narrative, Islam does not see itself as a new religion. It sees itself as the culmination of thousands upon thousands of generations of Prophetic messages which began at the time of the Prophet Adam (as), unto the Prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus among others, and ending with the Prophet Muhammad (s).  

The Qur’an is the only divinely revealed sacred text to explicitly and unequivocally claim that it is God’s last religion on earth. But why is this the case? Why can’t we have more religions? One answer is that as previous divinely revealed religions outlined guiding principles for humankind, Islam simply completed these principles to the extent that no more was needed. Everything humans need for salvation can be found in Islam in its completest form.   

This is easy to observe. Islam is a large synthesis of both an orthopraxy and an orthodoxy, meaning that both “right action” and “right belief” culminate under one religion. In this sense, on some level, it is like a perfected fusion of both Judaism and Christianity.   

As such, it addresses everything in our lives, from aspects of ritual purity, foods we can eat and can’t eat, social laws as well as issues of theological doctrine, such as the nature of God’s attributes. It also lays down social principles that act as blueprints for both honorable living in this world and salvation in the next.  

So to recap, since Islam contains everything needed for divine guidance until the Day of Judgment, there is no longer a need for another religion.  

But what does Islam exactly mean?  

Islam is an Arabic word. It means to serve or submit, and a Muslim is someone who serves and submits to God. Islam and Muslim are verbal nouns, in other words, they don’t just denote a state of belief, but a state of being, a state of action. Outward submission is only a small part of the story.   

The goal of Islam as a divinely revealed religion is not only to elicit outward conformity with God’s will, but its ultimate aim is to have the human heart submit to God in an act of devotion and love. In this act of total servitude and emptying of one’s soul of anything other than God, the heart finds inner peace, tranquility and joy. This inner transformation according to Islam is the beginning of heaven. It begins on this earth and finds its peak in the next life.  

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
1.4 What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways? Download Topic

INTRODUCTION & BODY OF TEXT 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

At first glance, we all think we know what religion is. Religion is often defined as a system of thought organized around the belief of a supernatural entity, usually some form of god or gods and a series of rituals and social regulations that stem from this belief.  

 

Religion in this sense can be in many different forms. For one, there is animism where totems and magic rituals form a central part of its worldview concerning the supernatural and the natural. 

 

Then there are other forms of polytheism which posit the existence of many gods who perform tasks specific to them, such as controlling the rain, love or fertility. 

 

Then you have monotheistic religions that believe in one creator God and that there is no deity aside this God. Among these religions we find Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc.  

 

Then you have other earth based religions that do not make a distinction between natural and supernatural, such as shamanistic religions among some ancient Central Asians and Native Americans. 

 

So, what purpose do all these religions serve? There have been plenty of answers to this question. Some, like Karl Marx, have said that religion serves to distract people from their economic problems and class struggles and by making them think positively of their situation and accept their oppression. Others like Sigmund Freud argue that religion is the product of some psycho-social illness. 

 

Other early 20th century sociologists like Emile Durkheim argue that the purpose of religion is to create social cohesion and solidarity. In other words, it is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things that ultimately function to unite society under a single morality which Durkheim called a “Church.” 

 

Others like Clifford Geertz saw religion as a system of symbols intended to create strong emotions in people through the formulation of a general order of existence. 

 

Now as you can see, it isn’t really clear what religion means, nor is there an agreement as to what its purpose is, at least in current academic Western debates. Something we think so simple is actually quite complex. Even explanations of why “religion” is failing is full of disagreements. 

 

Some say that an increasing globalization and exchange of ideas means that people aren’t so sure about their religious beliefs anymore. Others blame materialism, and others blame secularism as a political system that has stripped the public consciousness of religion where direct encounters with religion are no longer allowed or discouraged in public places.  

 

They argue that naturally, humans will attach themselves to whatever they are exposed to the most. Since in schools, in the media and other public arenas religion is largely absent, people will naturally grow heedless and disinterested in it.  

 

So what does Islam say about all of this? Well, we will look into Islam’s understanding of the meaning and function of religion in our next lesson. But here we will give you a brief overview before we go.  

 

Talal Asad, the most prominent anthropologists in Western academia today, argues that the term “religion” - as a conceptual term in English - is a modern creation, and more specifically, the creation of the modern nation state and a direct by-product of secularism.  

 

For secularism to target, isolate and relegate “religion” to the private sphere, it must first define what it is and thus put it into its neat little box; but the problem of defining also leads to an essentializations and generalization of what “religion” is. In order to create a category called religion, you must semantically shape the term so that it serves your power, but by doing so, you allow some definitions and disallow others. Defining what is “religion” therefore becomes a play of power by the nation state. 

 

As such, Asad opts for defining religion as a constitutive activity in the world. This definition is seen as fair and is quite similar to how Islam defines “religion.” The Arabic word for religion is dīn (deen) which is originally taken from the old Persian word dā’inah, meaning a way of life.  

 

Dīn is therefore a way of life that is guided by one ultimate purpose and concern, whatever it may be. A person’s dīn may be polytheism, or it can be nationalism, or finance and money, whatever it is, it is a cognitive state and a system of knowing and desiring that guides and determines all of one’s ways of looking at and acting in the world and all the various commitments and ways of organizing that come as a result of it. 

 

From this Islamic perspective, religion is not failing, it is always there. Even atheism is a way of life and hence a dīn. What is failing is a religion which primarily sees itself as being guided and determined by God. The relationship with God is what is being lost, but this way of approaching life whilst ignoring or denying God is still a way of life and hence a dīn.  

 

Please tune in to our next lesson for a larger discussion on the matter. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. 

 


 
1.5 A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION & BODY OF TEXT 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) was born around the year 570 A.D in the city of Mecca.  

 

Mecca is in the Arabian Peninsula. The land the Prophet was born in was largely a desert land. The most valuable commodity was fertile land and access to water through wells. 

 

Of the most important cultural practices of the time was the recital of poetry. The Arabs of Mecca were largely divided into tribes. The tribes played some positive roles in that they were social safety nets for vulnerable members of the community. They often acted as safety nets for the children of the tribe who were orphaned and for women who were widowed or divorced.  

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) was from the Tribe of Quraysh and the clan of Banu Hashim. 

 

The Arabs, and particularly the Meccans, were plagued with troubles as well. Tribal wars were rampant not only because tribal conflicts were often resolved through violence, but because war was also culturally glorified. People simply loved war. 

 

Although a select group of women found financial success and social status, most women, especially those of the lower ranking classes of women did not fare well. For one, women were often inherited from father to son. This meant that a boy’s stepmother would become his wife after his father’s death.  

 

Having daughters was a big no no. Many men were poor and could not afford to raise many children. As a result, they often killed their daughters by burying them alive in order to make room for sons. Daughters were not just less preferable, but they were a burden as well.  

 

Slave women fared the worst. Slave women were forced into prostitution by their masters and were subjugated to starvation and brutal beatings. Male slaves did not do well either; they were often raped, beaten and only given junk to eat. 

 

Most of the Arabs of Mecca were polytheists. They worshiped over three hundred different gods and idols. Most of them did not believe in the Afterlife and did not believe that Allah, the creator of the universe, was involved in the lives of people. 

 

There were, however, a small group of people who were not polytheists and idol worshipers. These were Hanifs, a group of monotheists that followed the religion of Abraham, the father of the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  

 

This is the background that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was born into. Like that small group of people, the Prophet Muhammad (s) was also a Hanif. He traced his family back to Ishmael or Ismāʿīl as it is said in Arabic. 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) found himself orphaned at a very young age. His father had passed away before he was born and his mother passed away a few years later while he was still a child.  

 

As tribal custom usually had it, the Prophet Muhammad (s) was adopted by his grandparents, and after they passed away, he was adopted by his paternal uncle Abu Talib (as) who eventually became one of the staunchest supporters of his prophethood. 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s), even before his first encounter with the Angel Gabriel (as), was a very spiritual man. From a young age, he rejected all forms of idolatry. As a young man, he was always truthful which is why he was called al-Amīn, meaning the truthful one. People trusted his honesty as well as his modesty and wisdom. 

 

The Prophet (s) would spend many nights meditating in the cave of Hira. It is on such a night when he was forty years old that he was visited by the angel Gabriel (as) in which he was given revelation by God in the shape of the Qur’an, the holy scripture of Islam.  

 

At this moment, the Prophet Muhammad (s) officially began his career as a Prophet (s) and spread the message of Allah to the masses.  

 

The Prophet’s (s) message was essentially the Qur’an. The Qur’an was the verbatim word of God.  

 

The Qur’an was to become a book divided into a 114 chapters with over 6000 verses. As a divine book of guidance, it sought not only to correct people’s theological beliefs, but it also provided a social commentary in order to rectify Meccan and indeed global moral corruption.  

 

It began by dismissing the power of idols, whether they were physical in the form of statues, or the more sinister ones found in the minds of men and women, namely the worship of the self and desires called hawa in Arabic. 

 

The message, although for all of humankind, taught the Meccans that there was only one single deity in all of existence and that was God, the creator of the universe. Allah was not distant; He was closer to us than even our jugular vein. He was the sustainer of all of existence and was intimate in the guidance of all of humanity.  

 

He cared for the wellbeing and salvation of humanity and sent Prophets to guide humankind via angels. The Prophets of Islam, included, among others, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Joseph and Jesus.  

 

The Qur’an accepted previous scriptures such as the Torah, the Gospels, and so on and so forth; however, it did express reservations in so far as some of their texts may have changed over time. As such, the Qur’an offered a corrective over these changes. 

 

The Qur’an frowned upon the Arab love of war. It forbade incest with stepmothers as well as the prostitution of female slaves. Islam made it mandatory that slaves be treated as human beings and be given the same food as their masters were given.   

 

The Qur’an expressed horror at the practice of killing female children. It not only forbade it, but it also subverted Arab gender discourse by seeing female children as equally valuable as male children. 

 

As such, the Qur’an taught that a Muslim, that is, a follower of the religion of Islam, was to put all his or her trust in God and God alone. A Muslim was to be peaceful, disdain war, choose justice even if it meant going against one’s own tribe.  

 

Being a Muslim meant that a person had to be modest, hygienic, educated, compassionate and treat all humans, including women, as equal creations of God. Women, orphans, animals and the environment were no longer to be abused but cherished as masterpieces of God. 

 

In short, being a Muslim was to be reborn in the image of God and fulfilling one’s destiny as God’s vicegerent on earth.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

2 Foundations of Islam - Theology


 
2.1 Entering Islam: The Shahada Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

The shahāda is the Islamic confessional creed. It is the the fundamental key to entering Islam. The word “shahāda” comes from the verb sha-hi-da, meaning “to testify” or “bear witness.” In reciting the shahāda, a Muslim bears witness that:

 

1) There is no deity but God alone and 2) Muhammad is His Messenger. Together, they are known as the shahāda, the Muslim testimony to faith.

 

Not only does the shahāda form the bone marrow and crux of Islam, it is also necessary to testify to it in order to become a Muslim. Without acknowledging the shahāda, a person cannot become a Muslim!

 

In this lesson, we will go over the meaning of the shahāda as well as some of the basic features, practices, and implications associated with converting to Islam.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Indeed they, when it was said to them, "There is no deity but Allah," were arrogant. And were saying, "Are we to leave our gods for a mad poet?" Rather, the Prophet has come with the truth and confirmed the [previous] messengers. (Chapter 37 of the Holy Qur’ān, verses 35 to 37)

 

In order to become a Muslim, one must pronounce the shahāda. It is common practice to utter the shahāda in Arabic. If you are not a Muslim and you are seeking to convert to Islam, please repeat after me: Ash-ha-du… an Lā ilāha …illAllāh …wa Ash-ha-du … anna … Muhammadan … rasūlullāh. These Arabic words can be translated in the following way: I testify that there is no deity but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

 

If you said these words with real sincerity, then congratulations, you are now a Muslim! It does not matter who you are, how you were born or what you did in the past. By sincerely testifying to the shahāda, all of your past sins are erased. In short, you are born again!

 

Before discussing some of the practices that become necessary after conversion to Islam, it’s important to look into the deeper meanings of the shahāda.

 

The word shahāda literally means to witness and to testify to a fact, just like how one would testify in a court setting. Notice that the word “I believe” is not used and this is an important point to remember for the following reasons: When one enters Islam, mere belief where one only thinks that something may be true is not enough. One is expected to testify to the truth and fact that Allah exists. One is expected to testify to the fact that He is the only God and that Muhammad is His Prophet and Messenger for all of humankind.

 

But what do these two statements really mean?

 

The first part of the testimony of faith, Ash-ha-du an Lā ilāha illAllāh or “I testify that there is no deity but Allah,” can be understood in several complementary ways. First, it is a rejection of polytheism*. Unlike other religions who believe that there are many gods, Islam rejects the very existence of multiple gods.

 

Rather, it states that there is only one God and that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all of existence.

 

Recall our discussion of God in Islam and how He is not an object that exists alongside other objects in in the world. He is the unconditioned source and cause of all existence.

 

The second, complementary meaning of Ash-ha-du an Lā ilāha illAllāh means that there is no deity worthy of worship except for Allah. Although someone may believe in one creator God and reject the existence of other supernatural gods, he or she may still worship things other than God. This may be the worship of money, fame, power, food, or other things. The Arabic word for worship, ʿibādah literally means to “enslave oneself to something” for it comes from the root word ʿabd or slave.

 

When we say “worship,” in Islam, it means to enslave one’s heart and soul to something to the point that that entity is all one thinks about. For example, a person’s whole life may be devoted to their physical appearance. As a result of this, this person may sacrifice prayer, going to the Masjid, or even abandon fasting altogether for the sake of working out at the gym. This would be considered a worship of an entity other than God.

 

Ash-ha-du an Lā ilāha illAllāh means to testify that no one or no thing takes priority before Allah. The love of money, fame, power, love of oneself or anything else must not come before Him. In order to achieve this, one must therefore free oneself from any form of enslavement to Allah’s creation in order to be a true Muslim!

 

The second testimony of faith, Ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasūlullāh, or I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, can also be understood in several complementary ways.

 

First, it is to testify that Muhammad was a truthful Prophet and that he was selected by God to deliver His message to all of mankind, primarily through the revelation of His Holy Book, the Noble Qur’an. It is also to testify that he was the last and final Prophet and Messenger from God. After him, there are no more Prophets or Messengers.

 

Among other things, this message confirmed the Prophethood of previous Prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The message confirmed that there is an unseen world (ghayb) in which angels, spirits, demons, heaven and hell exist. It confirmed the coming Day of Judgment where all of mankind’s deeds will be judged before God. The message also contained God’s will to humankind where they were instructed to pray, fast, help the poor and be compassionate to His creation.

 

The most important message of the Prophet Muhammad (s), however, was his instruction to follow the Imams from his Holy Household, or Ahl al-Bayt, after his death, starting with his cousin, son-in-law and first Imam of the Shias, ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib. This is why Shias sometimes include wa Ashhadu anna ʿAlīyyun Wālīullāh after the shahāda, which can be translated the following way: “and I testify that Ali is the Saint of Allah.”

 

Shias believe that the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) are of fundamental importance for Islam. Among other important reasons, they are the keys to properly and correctly understanding the teachings of Allah and His Messenger. Without the Ahl al-Bayt who succeeded and preserved the message of Islam, all we would be left with would be fallible opinions and interpretations of Islam. Only the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) had perfect and infallible knowledge of Islam. Only they had an unerring understanding of Islam and only through them can a person reach perfection of faith.

 

The other complementary meaning of the second part of the shahāda is that the Prophet Muhammad is supposed to be the primary role model for our lives. This means that we should adopt his mannerisms, which include, among other things, respecting and serving humankind, especially our parents and the poor.

 

It also means that one should always control one’s temper and show compassion to all of God’s creation, including animals and the environment. These of course, are only examples and no

 

way exhaust the vastness of the Messenger’s Prophetic example! But I hope that you got at least a glimpse of what it means to take the Prophet Muhammad (s) as a role model and example to follow in life.

 

After one converts to Islam, there are a series of religious obligations that one must follow through. The first obligation is to perform ghusl, or a ritual bath that spiritually cleanses a person and readies him (or her) for obligatory ritual practices. These practices, among other things, include the following: 1) praying five times a day, 2) fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan, 3) paying the zakat tax to the poor and needy and if possible, 4) performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a person’s life.

 

These fall under the rubric of Furūʿ al-Dīn, or “Practical Branches of Islam.” We will look into these rituals in more detail in the following lessons, but for now you should just keep in mind that these practices are meant to keep you in constant remembrance of Allah and help remind you that He must take priority in all aspects of your life.

 

In addition to practices, one must also be mindful of the core beliefs in Islam which are needed in order to attain a proper understanding Allah and His message. These core beliefs fall under the rubric of what we call uṣūl al-dīn or “the principles of religion.” The principles of religion include the following core beliefs:

 

  1.  Tawḥīd, or Oneness of God: where God is the one and only Creator of the universe.
  2.  ʿAdālah, or Justice: where God is Just and does not mistreat or do any evil against His creation. God’s justice, however, is balanced and overwhelmed by His mercy. If humans received what they truly deserved, few would find salvation .
  3.  Nubūwwah, or Prophethood: where God, since the creation of mankind, has sent a 124, 000 Prophets, one after the other, to spread God’s message so that they may be guided to Him.
  4.  Imāmah or Divine leadership: where God appoints divine leaders to continue guiding humankind and preserve Islam after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  5.  Qiyāmah or Resurrection: where God will resurrect mankind and hold each and every person accountable for the deeds that he or she has done. The state of a person’s soul will ultimately determine whether the person goes to heaven or hell.

 

In the next lesson, we will have a more detailed overview of the uṣūl al-dīn, inshā’ Allāh.

 

With that being said, the following is very important to keep in mind: Entering Islam and uttering the shahāda is not simply acknowledging a set of doctrines, beliefs and ritual practices. If it was, then the shahāda would be a very feeble thing for it would not take you very far in your spiritual and moral life.

 

Instead, the shahāda is meant to be a transformation of one’s entire being. If one simply believes, but his or her life is not completely transformed, then he or she has not really testified to Ashhadu an Lā ilāha illAllāh wa Ash-ha-du anna Muhammadan rasūlullāh.

 

The shahāda is not just a matter of what’s in our heads. The shahāda must be ever present inwardly and outwardly in every aspect of our lives. It is to know that God is watchful of everything we do in this life and that we will be accountable to Him in the unseen world to come

 

The word for religion in Islam is called dīn, which comes from the old Persian word dā’ina, meaning “a way of life.” The sixth Shiʿi Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (as) explains the wider transformative implications of acknowledging Islam as one’s religion in the following ḥadīth: if you want to know the religion of a person, do not look at how much he prays and fasts, rather, look at how he treats people.

 

What does transformation mean in Islam? Transformation means that one’s life is based on loving God with all of his or her being, obeying and following His commands, loving and serving His creation (even one’s enemies), and above all, observing inner humility for without real humility of the heart, no transformation can be possible.

 

How can an arrogant person ever want to really change? With humility, one acknowledges that this material world is not the only world. One acknowledges that there is an unseen world (ghayb), like the Afterlife where we will be judged with God's justice and mercy.

 

 


 
2.2 The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.  

 

Thank you for tuning back in to the Muslim Converts Channel. In our previous lesson, we overviewed the basic Muslim creed through which one enters and converts to Islam. The creed which one utters before conversion is called the shahāda. The shahāda is a testimony, that is, a testimony to a fact and not just a thought that one can do away with! 

 

Stating the shahāda is the door through which one enters Islam. Accepting the contents of the shahāda naturally means that we must accept that which is taught to us by Allah (swt) through His revealed Book (the Qur’an) and His Messenger Muhammad (s).  

 

The shahāda contains within itself the foundations of Muslim beliefs called the usūl al-dīn or “principles of the Muslim religion”. All Muslims must believe in these principles for their faith to be complete.  

These principles or foundations are the following: Tawḥīd, ʿAdāla, Nubuwwa, Imāma and Maʿād. In this lesson, we will briefly introduce these principles. In the following lectures, we will discuss them one by one in more detail, inshā’ Allāh.  

 

These five foundational principles form the core beliefs of Islam. The usūl al-dīn guides the worldview of a believer and provides him or her with the proper grounding in how to think about God and the world.  

The rest of Islam’s beliefs, and even practices, are based on these five principles. Failure to believe in any one of them will lead to a faulty understanding of Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O You who have attained faith, hold fast unto your [correct] belief in Allah, His Messenger and the Book [the Qur’an] which he has bestowed upon His Messenger as well as the Scripture He sent down to those before [him.] Those who deny Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Last Day, has indeed gone astray. (Chapter 4 of the Qur’an, verse 136) 

 

The uṣūl al-dīn, or principles of the Islamic faith, are a group of five basic tenants which a Muslim must hold for their Islam to be complete. It is the basic covenant that a Muslim holds with God. The uṣul al-dīn are Tawḥīd, ʿAdāla, Nubuwwa, Imāma and Maʿād. Here we will give a brief outline as to their significance and insha’Allah, we will expand on them more fully in the lectures to come. 

 

Tawḥīd: Tawḥīd refers to the “oneness” of God in Islam. Tawhīd is the most important foundation of Islam. Without Tawhīd, none of Islam or the Qur’an would make sense. It is therefore the vital life source that animates the whole of Islam.  

 

The term has a multilayered meaning. Its first layer of meaning is that there is only one God or deity. This deity is the one who brought all of existence into being.  

 

The other meaning is that only He is worthy of worship and only He maintains, sustains and administers the world of creation. As the One and Only God, He has no other divine partners in any of His actions. 

 

ʿAdāla: ʿAdāla means Divine Justice. In Islam, we do not believe that concepts of good and bad are arbitrary. We believe that things have intrinsic moral worth, either good or evil. As a corollary* of tawhīd, we believe that goodness and justice are part and parcel of tawḥīd. In other words, Allah is a good and just God. Whenever He commands something, He always acts in, and commands goodness.  

 

All His actions, therefore, have purpose and they are aimed for the greater good. God, according to Islam, never does any wrong, nor does He do anything without purpose. He seeks the Good in everything and never breaks His promises. In this sense, ʿadāla is a system of balance.  

 

God makes it obligatory upon Himself and to humankind. Transgressing this balance leads to corruption. ʿAdāla will be fully manifest on the Day of Judgment where everyone is measured against this vital balance. 

 

Nubuwwa: Nubuwwa means Prophethood. As the Creator of mankind, part of Allah’s divine justice is that He guides humankind towards salvation. This means that the goal and purpose of the creation of humankind is to reach closeness to Allah.  

 

As a result of His justice, God sent Prophets to teach humankind on how to purify and save their souls and ultimately reach closeness to Allah. The last and most important of these Prophets was the Prophet Muhammad (s). Prophets who receive Holy Scriptures are called Messengers. The Prophet Muhammad (s) was also a Messenger since he delivered the Holy Qur’an.  

 

Imāmah: Imāmah means divine leadership. Since the Prophet Muhammad (s) was the last Prophet and Islam was the last religion to be revealed by Allah, Allah appointed leaders to guide humanity. These divinely guided leaders were tasked to preserve and protect the authentic message of Islam. These divinely guided leaders are called Imāms.  

 

The Imāms are able to fully protect the message of Islam as they receive divine knowledge from Allah and are infallible and perfect in knowledge.  

 

The 12 Imāms are from the Holy Household of the Prophet Muhammad (s). The Holy Household of the Prophet (s) are a group of pure individuals from his family who are selected by God to guide humankind. 

 

Māʿād: Maʿād (also called Qiyāmah) means resurrection, as in the resurrection of all of humankind that will take place on the Day of Judgment. As a Just and Good God, Allah is concerned about the spiritual health of humankind.  

 

He has therefore set a system of reward and punishment in order perfect people's spiritual state and outward behavior. Those who are successful in this endeavor will enter Heaven, whereas those who are not may enter the Hellfire. 

 

Maʿād is the result of God’s justice to humankind where He rewards the good with good just as He promised, and He lets those who chose evil witness the bad consequences of their choices.  

 

These five principles are foundations of a complete Islam. As principles, they are “hardcoded” in Islam and are not up for interpretation. Their details and implications, however, are subject to interpretation.  

 

Before we end this lesson, it is important to state that there is an even smaller set of principles which one must believe in order to be a Muslim even if one’s Islam is “incomplete.” These are called the ḍarūrīyāt al-dīn or “necessary foundations in order to be considered a Muslim.” The ḍarūrīyāt al-dīn are four: Tawhīḍ, Nubuwwa, Maʿād and items which all Muslims agree upon (e.g. obligatory of prayers).  

 

Without belief in these core concepts and one cannot be a Muslim. However, one can still be a Muslim if, for example, a person was to reject Imāmah without being aware of its truth as it is not part of the ḍarūrīyāt al-dīn.  

 

For this reason, the uṣūl al-dīn as such are all necessary for a complete Islam that is in accordance with Allah’s will upon mankind, but they are not all necessary in order to be a Muslim. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
2.3 Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Thank you for tuning back to our Channel. In our previous lesson, we covered the concept of the uṣūl al-dīn in Islam. The usūl al-dīn, as you recall, refer to the fundamental articles or principles of the Islamic faith.  We learned that they are necessary for proper guidance. 

 

The most important of these principals is the principal of Tawhīd. Tawhīd refers to the absolute Oneness and Unity of God. It is the most important and fundamental aspect of all of Islam. Without Tawhīd, none of Islam or any other of the uṣūl al-dīn make any sense. We say this as all beliefs in Islam are predicated on the idea of a One and Indivisible God.  

 

In this lesson, we will outline the major implications of tawhīd regarding the nature of God in Islam, and regarding our behavior with ourselves and God. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And verily, We have sent among every community a Messenger [proclaiming]: “Worship Allah [Alone], and shun false deities” Then among them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some who were deserving of error. So travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who denied [the truth.] (Chapter 16, verse 36 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Say He is Allah, the One, the Eternal, He does not beget nor is He begotten, and there is none like Him (Chapter 112 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Tawhīd is the Absolute Oneness and Unity of God. Tawhīd is shahāda summed up in one word. It denies the existence of any deity or god except for the God who brought forth all of existence. It holds that God is of one essence only and is incompatible with any form of polytheism. 

 

Tawhīd also means that God has no partners in any action He does, either in creating the world or in sustaining it. Yes, He does have angels and other beings who perform tasks, but they do so as His servants and not His partners. He is in no need of them and can manage existence without them. 

 

Tawhīd is not just an abstract belief about the nature of God, it has direct implications in terms of how we are supposed to live, worship and relate to others. First, it means that only God alone can be worshipped. Worshiping other imaginary deities and idols is futile.  

As discussed earlier when we covered the subject of shahāda, worship is not only outward worship of gods and idols. The Arabic word for worship is ʿibāda, which literally means to “enslave oneself to something” as ʿibāda comes from the root word ʿabd, meaning slave or servant.   

 

When we say “worship,” in Islam, it means to enslave or submit one’s heart and soul to something to the point that it takes full priority in our thoughts and in our goals in life. One may, for example, submit and enslave one’s heart to a particular person, to one’s own ego, or material objects like money. Tawhīd implies that one’s heart and mind must submit and serve Allah only and must hold priority over any other thing. 

 

With that said, tawhīd is the antithesis of shirk. Shirk is a term that may refer to polytheism, idol worship or ascribing partners to God. Although many people may deny the most apparent form of shirk, there is a second form of shirk that is more common.  

 

This form of shirk is where a person ascribes particular attributes of Allah to creation. Sometimes people deify their Prophets and religious leaders, which is a form of shirk. At other times, they believe that particular human beings, like their bosses, are their sustainers in this world, whereas in reality, only Allah is the true Sustainer.  

 

From an Islamic point of view, God is the only provider and sustainer and hence His name al-Razzāq, meaning the Sustainer. If a human being happens to give you paychecks, know that they do so by the will of Allah (swt). Whatever comes to you via the creation, it is originally from Allah. No one can reduce or raise your salary without the will of Allah. 

 

There is an even subtler form of shirk that many people are guilty of. The Qur’an says: 

 

And most of them believe not in Allah except that they associate others with him (Chapter 12 of the Qur’an, verse 106) 

 

The 6th Imām of the Prophet’s Holy Household, Jaʿfar as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) remarked on this verse: it is because people often say “if it weren’t for such and such person I would have been ruined” 

 

We often attribute actions to God’s creation whether it is nature or other human beings. We think that they are the reason for our success or failure in life. Although our own choices do play a role, everything is ultimately in the hands of God.  

 

According to Imām as-Sādiq, tawhīd implies that Allah is the one who controls and sustains everything, and to ascribe control to someone else is a form of shirk. This does not mean that we are not responsible for things. To the contrary, we are responsible for our efforts. The final results that come about, however, are in the hands of Allah. Without effort, Allah will not give us results. 

 

This then, should make us think about the events that happen in our lives. We often get sad that we didn’t reach a certain goal that we wanted, or lost someone we loved. Tawhīd means that whatever happens in this world is through the will of God.  

 

God always has morally sufficient reasons for letting the things that happen in the world happen even if we don't understand or know them at that moment. Put differently, although we may interpret things as “going the wrong way,” a person who adopts the worldview of tawhīd will never be disappointed, for he knows all is under the control of Allah. Everything therefore moves towards the ultimate good. 

 

What we often interpret as Allah being “unfair” to us is our own shortsightedness. The only way we could ever make such a judgment is if we know the beginning and end of all things. Since our knowledge is very limited, we can never make such a judgment. As responsible and mature Muslims, we must therefore trust Allah only for only He knows the beginning and end of all things and knows what is best for us. 

 

Remember earlier we said that without tawhīd, none of Islam or the uṣūl al-dīn makes sense. We have Prophets and Imāms because they are sent by the One God to guide mankind.  

 

We have objective notions of good, bad, justice and corruption because we can attribute them to a source outside of human opinions. The Day of Judgment only makes sense if there is One God who judges our actions in accordance with the scale of justice and mercy.  

 


 
2.4 Adala: Divine Justice in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome to the Muslim Converts Channel. In our previous lesson, we looked over the concept of Tawhīd in Islam. Tawhīd is, as understood by Muslims, is the Absolute Unity, Oneness and undivided nature of God. In this lesson, we will look at one of the most essential attributes of God in Islamic theology called ʿadāla, or Divine Justice.  

 

Our first step will be to look at it from a theological perspective, namely what it means for God to be “just.” Second, we will look at it from an anthropological (human) perspective, that is, what are the implications of Divine Justice for individual persons and humankind as a whole.  

 

 BODY OF TEXT 

 

Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people in anyway, but it is people who are wrong themselves (Chapter 10, verse 44 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Tawhīd implies that God, in His absolute unity, is completely perfect and devoid of any faults. By faults we mean shortcomings like ignorance and need. The God of Tawhīd is Absolutely Unique and transcends all forms of limitations and imperfections. He is perfect in every sense. This means that He is absolutely self-sufficient, He is in need of nothing and no one, He is all-knowing (that is, He knows everything) and is All-Wise.   

 

Evil, according to Islam, is the product of a defect, ignorance, and need. God in Islam, in His perfection through tawhīd, is devoid of evil. People often commit evil deeds because they need or are lacking something. As a result, we see them trying to satisfy their own egos or their need for revenge. Or we see them pursuing power which they are lacking, or aim for purposeless pleasure. Sometimes they do so because of simple ignorance and foolishness.  

 

God in Islam is also known by his attribute al-Ghanī (the self-sufficient) meaning that He is fully rich in Himself and needs nothing. He is also al-ʿAlīm, the All-Knowing. He is also al-Ḥakīm, or the All-Wise. The combined result is that He is not ignorant, foolish or in need or lack of anything. So here we can conclude that He cannot commit evil by the very fact of His own nature.  

 

As He is devoid of all evil, He must be Absolutely Good and Just. Divine Justness in Islam (which stems out of God’s perfect Goodness) is called ʿadāla. ʿAdāla in Arabic literally means to keep a form of balance in weight.  In His treatment of humankind, Allah makes ʿadāla obligatory upon Himself and therefore always acts within goodness and justice. This means that He never wrongs His creation.  

 

For example, Allah is the ultimate Judge of deeds on the Day of Judgment. On that Day, God will establish justice and will not punish people with more than what they deserve. Yes, He may punish them with less than what they deserve out of His Absolute Mercy (for His Mercy takes precedence over His Justice) but He will never punish someone more than what he or she deserves.  

 

The opposite is also true. Allah makes a number of promises to His creation, one of which is to reward those who trust in Him and do good. The Qur’an says: 

 

But the ones who truly trust in God and do righteous deeds; We will admit them to gardens in which rivers flow beneath where they will live in forever. [This is] the promise of Allah  and [it is] truth. And whose word could be truer than God’s? (Chapter 4, verse 122 of the Holy Qur’an). 

 

Another part of Allah’s justice is that He does not test people beyond their capacity for it would be unfair and unjust to do otherwise. He tests with what they could potentially bear. For this reason, the God of Islam says in the Qur’an: And We task no soul except [with that which is in] its capacity, and with Us is a record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged. (Chapter 23, verse 62 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

In order for all of existence to reach the Absolute Good, everything needs to be held at a perfect balance. Just as the balance of the nuclear force or the balance between matter and antimatter in the universe is essential to sustain it, there is a moral balance that must be observed among human beings. Any transgression from this balance of justice leads to corruption. 

 

According to the Ahl al-Bayt (as) or Holy Household of the Prophet Muhammad (s), good, bad, evil, justice, injustice all have intrinsic worth. Goodness and justice are not moral notions that God arbitrarily decides on. Goodness (which justice stems from) is part and parcel of Allah’s own essence. This means that whatever God creates, and whatever moral worth there is in creation, it is the expression of God’s own essence as the Absolutely Good.  

 

Notions of good, evil, justice and injustice are therefore not arbitrarily decided  nor are they subjective. For this reason, human beings cannot ultimately decide what is just and what is not. They cannot invent them for themselves and apply them to the world.  

 

They must therefore acquire them through God’s special revelation on earth and apply it first and foremost to themselves, and then to the world. According to Islam, any person who believes that he or she can solely decide questions of justice and injustice for himself or herself without any reference to God is considered a tāghūt. Tāghūt literally means one who “crosses limits” or “transgresses boundaries.”  

 

Just as idol worship is tāghūt, so is trying to act like God and set the ultimate terms of morality and justice. God, in His All-Knowing and All-Wise nature, set the balancing terms for justice for us, any transgression of this balance will lead to corruption, both within the heart as well as in the person's conduct in the world. Evil, according to the Qur’anic narrative, is always a product of “transgressing boundaries” and hence going out of the bounds of justice. 

 

The Qur’an says: those who have true faith fight for the cause of Allah whereas those who knowingly reject the truth fight in the cause of the tāghūt. So fight the friends of Satan. Indeed, Satan’s guide is weak! (Chapter 4, verse 76 of the Holy Qur’an).  


 
2.5 Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our Channel. In our previous lesson, we overviewed the concept of ʿadāla in Islam. As you may recall, ʿadāla referred to Allah’s Divine Justice. Divine Justice, put simply, is Allah’s fair treatment of His creation.

  

We know that God created humankind and that one day (the Day of Judgment) He will resurrect and hold all of humanity accountable for their deeds. For God to be fair, He needs to warn us about this Day and give us the proper guidance in order that we be successful   . In Islam, the means through which God does this is called nubuwwa, or Prophethood.  

 

 In this lesson, we will overview the meaning, basics and purpose of Prophethood in Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Nubuwwa is an Arabic term that is often translated as Prophethood. On the same scale, the term nabī is usually translated as Prophet. This translation can, however, be problematic at times. In the English language, the word “prophet” is usually understood as someone who has a connection with God, is a teacher inspired by God, or someone who proclaims God’s will on earth.  

 

Although these definitions are true for the Islamic term nabī, not all people who have a connection with God and are inspired by Him  or proclaim His will on earth are considered nabīs in Islam. For this reason, we need to be careful when we use the word Prophet.  

 

We need to make sure that our understanding of the term is in accordance with how it is understood in Islam and not other religions or its conventional use in the English language.  

 

In Islam, a nabī is a person who receives inspiration from God, like dreams, visions, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. This kind of unmediated inspiration is called ilhām in Islam. Nabīs, however, also receive something that is called wahī. Wahī is a special kind of direct revelation that Allah reveals to nabīs through the medium of the Archangel Gabriel or Jibrā’īl in Arabic. Those who are not Nabis may receive inspiration, but only nabīs receive revelation through the angel Gabriel (as). 

 

When God reveals (through wahī) a new system of laws to a nabī, this nabī also assumes the rank of a rasūl, which literally translates as “Messenger.” Someone who is a nabī can also introduce a new law, but this is usually in the form of a specific law that complements a previous system of laws that was revealed via a Messenger.  

 

For example, the Prophet Shuʿayb (as) was tasked by Allah to propagate a law prohibiting cheating in business, but this law only complemented the larger system of laws that was set in place by the Prophet Abraham (as). In this sense, you may think of a rasūl as bringing a new constitution, and a nabī as making amendments to that constitution (i.e. adding, slightly changing and so on). 

 

As such, all rasūls are nabīs in Islam, but not all nabīs are rasūls! 

 

Understanding basic Prophethood in Islam is critical. Prophets reveal to mankind the correct way to live in order to attain salvation. They bring the “manual” of how to live a life that is pleasing to God and teach it so that people may find spiritual and material success both in this world as well as in the Hereafter.  

As teachers, Prophets also play the critical role of being role models for us. Prophets are therefore liaisons who bring the message of guidance from Allah to humans. They live it themselves in front of us so that we may learn by their example on how to implement theory into practice.  

 

In other words, they bring us the message, explain it and demonstrate it to us via their actions. Their actions are what we call sunnah in Islam, which literally means their “tradition,” “practice” or “culture.” In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (s), his sunnah is preserved in a oral tradition called the ḥadīth, which refer to his sayings or maxims or describe some of his practices as described by his contemporaries. 

 

In Islam, we believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s), as a nabī and a rasūl, was the final Prophet sent by God to mankind. This is because Islam is considered as the final and perfect religion. It contains all solutions for mankind’s spiritual problems. It contains everything we need to know in order to attain salvation in God. Since the religion of Islam is perfect and complete and is meant for all of mankind in all places and all times, there is no more need for any new revelation from Allah.  

 

The veracity of a Prophet is established through miracles which no one else can perform or repeat. The Prophet Muhammad’s greatest miracle, among other miracles, was the Qur’an whose eloquence not even the most eloquent of Arabs could mimic.  

 

The Qur’an, the Divine Scripture of the Prophet, was not a miracle solely based on its eloquence, but it was also based on the power of its messages in the form of true stories, allegories and clear arguments. When the Qur’an challenged  the doubters to bring a single verse like it, the Arabs could not do so and had to opt for a decade long war instead. 

 

Although the content of its message could not be challenged, its interpretation could be distorted. For this reason, Allah chose Imāms from the Ahl al-Bayt, that is, the Holy Household of the Prophet, to protect the interpretation of the Qur’an after him.  

 

We believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was the most knowledgeable of all Prophets and that He was the best of all role models. Each Prophet had a special form of knowledge that was unique to him, and each Prophet had specific manners and ways of being that was special to him.  

 

The Prophet Muhammad contained within him the knowledge of all of the divinely revealed Prophets and more. Furthermore, we believe that he was the best of all role models and displayed the most perfect moral character. 

 

There has been a total of 124, 000 Prophets sent by God according to Islam. Some of these major Prophets were Adam, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. They brought with them Divine Scriptures, such as the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus. Adam is considered to be the first of these Prophets. Jesus was also a Prophet but unlike Christianity, Islam does not believe that he was God nor was he the son of God. 

 

Historically speaking, nabīs in Islam were dispatched by God for specific regions only. With the exception of the Prophet Abraham (as), the Prophet Muhammad (s) was the only universal Prophet for he was the Prophet of the end of times. As religion was always evolving, Islam became the peak of that evolution.  

 

It doesn’t matter whether you live in Africa, East Asia or North America, the divine message revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, as well as his moral and spiritual example, are meant for all peoples in all places and in all times.  

 

When the basic shahāda is recited, it is always good to testify that the Prophet Muhammad “is the seal of all Prophets” in addition to “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." This means that he is the last and final messenger and prophet.  


 
2.6 Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad. Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Last time we spoke about the role and importance of nubuwwa, or Propethood, in Islam.

 

According to Islam, the last of these Prophets was the Prophet Muhammad (s). The Prophet Muhammad was the last of the Prophets because the divine message he delivered was complete.

 

It was a universal message for all peoples in all places and in all times. This does not mean that previous messages were somehow faulty, but it just means that the fullness of divine revelation had to wait until the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad (s).

 

But isn’t this unfair? How can he be the last Prophet? Shouldn’t humanity always have a divine guide on earth to guide them to God? Shouldn’t God have emissaries on earth to protect His last religion?

 

The answer to these questions is a loud yes!

 

In Islam, we believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was succeeded by twelve divinely appointed emissaries or leaders who were tasked to protect the final religion of God and guide humankind to salvation. These non-Prophet emissary leaders are what we call “Imāms” who work within the framework of an already revealed religion.

 

In this lesson, we will go into the meaning of Imāmah and why it is so important in Islam. Given the hot discussions that this subject often generates among Muslims, we will also delve into how Imamah differentiates the two major expressions of Islam today, namely Sunni and Shia Islam.

 

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…We raised among them Imāms guiding [people] by Our command when they were patient and had sure faith in Our signs (Chapter 32, verse 24 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The point of religion is to guide humans to salvation. A religion without a guiding person cannot fulfill this task. For this reason, we need God to send people human examples and role models who can properly convey, interpret and embody God’s guiding principles. Islam was the peak of God’s revelation on earth. It was revelation at its fullest.

 

The task of conveying this final message was given to God’s last Prophet, the Prophet Muhammad (s). The Prophet Muhammad was indeed the last Prophet as there was no more need for new revelation. Revelation in Arabic is called wahī.

 

The institution of non-prophetic guidance after the Prophet Muhammad (s) is called Imāmah in Islam. Imāmah literally means “leadership” and the one who embodies the institution is called an Imām, which literally means “leader.”

 

When the Prophet Muhammad (s) was nearing his death, he appointed ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib as his successor. Imam Ali was his #1 and life long student. He was also his son-in-law who married to the Prophet’s (s) only daughter Fatima al-Zahra (as). This meant that after the Prophet’s (ṣ) death, ʿAlī (as) was to assume the title of Imām. An Imām is a divinely guided leader who is infallible from sins and mistakes.

 

Although the Prophet Muhammad (s) was also an Imām, Imām ʿAlī (as) differed in so far as he was not a Prophet, meaning that he did not receive revelation. Prophetic wahi usually contains a new message for humankind. As the Imams did not received prophetic wahi, the only message they preached was that of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and nothing new.

 

According to Islam, Imām ʿAlī (as) was the first Imām in a line of 12 Imāms. These 12 Imams were to guide humankind until the Day of Judgment. These Imāms were all to be from the Ahl al-Bayt, that is, the Holy Household of the Prophet (s).

 

The Imāmah of the first 11 Imāms lasted approximately 249 years, beginning with Imām ʿAlī (as) after the demise of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣ) 632 A.D

 

These two and a half centuries were the formative years of Islam. All of Islam’s major schools of law and theology can be traced back to that time. One feature of these formative years is that they were ripe with disagreements and differences of opinion.

 

This of course is natural as these opinions were produced by fallible people who had no access to divine knowledge. However, the Imāms who succeeded the Prophet (s) were present during these years and helped preserve authentic Muhammadan Islam. This Islam can still be found today in the Muslim school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

 

Muslims have Twelve Imāms:

 

The first of these Imāms was ʿAlī b. Abī Tālib, (b. stands for bin) the first and foremost of the Prophet’s students. The second Imām was Imām ʿAlī’s (as) son Imām al-Ḥasan (as).

 

The third Imām was Imām ʿAlī’s (as) other son Imām al-Ḥusayn (as). The fourth Imām was Imām al-Ḥusayn’s (as) son Imām ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn (as).

 

The fifth Imām was Muhammad b. ʿAlī al-Bāqir (as), the sixth was Imām Jaʿfar b. Muhammad al-Ṣādiq (as), the seventh Imām was Mūsā b. Jaʿfar al-Kāẓim (as), the eight Imām was ʿAlī b. Mūsā al-Ridā (as), the ninth was Imām Muhammad b. ʿAlī al-Taqī al-Jawād,

 

The tenth Imām was ʿAlī b. Muhammad al-Naqī al-Hādī, the eleventh was Imām Ḥasan b. ʿAlī al-Askarī (as). 

 

And finally the twelfth Imām, who is our current Imam, is called Muhammad b. Hasan al-Mahdī (aj).

 

The only Imām who was not directly present in public was the 12th Imām (may Allah hasten his return). The 12th Imām, due to political persecution, went into occultation or hiding and will emerge during the end of times to restore justice and peace all around the world.

 

He will rise as the Mahdī, or the promised messiah and savior of the world. The Imām has been in occultation for centuries now, but this is not something to raise eyebrows over as God can make anyone live as long as He wants.

 

Now the following question may be asked: if we always need a divinely appointed Imām to guide humankind, doesn’t the absence of the 12th Imām defeat its purpose? What use is an Imām whom no one, or at best, very few people have access to?

 

The answer is the following: guidance comes in many shapes and forms. Guidance may be direct, where an individual goes and asks an Imām a particular question. At other times the Imām may come to that individual, or group of individuals, and give them advice.

 

In the case of the 12th Imām, we know that he will always have a number of individuals whom he has under his wing and through them guides humankind to salvation.

 

Another form of guidance is esoteric. Here the Imam is also able to guide humankind from a metaphysical frequency. In other words, just like Satan can whisper in the hearts of millions of people in the world, the guiding light of an Imām can also instill and inspire millions of hearts with good thoughts.

 

One day, one of the Prophet’s companions, Jābir ibn ʿAbdullāh, was informed about the coming of the 12 Imāms. When the Prophet reached the subject of the 12t Imāms, he said the following:

 

…he it is who will remain hidden from his followers and friends for a such a long period that no one will remain firm on the belief of his Imamah except he whose heart has been tested by Allah for faith…

 

For which Jābir asked:

 

'O Messenger of Allah! Will his followers get any benefit from him during his occultation?' (The Prophet, s.a.w.a.) said: 'Certainly, by Him Who has sent me with prophethood! they will be guided by his light and benefit from his mastership during his occultation as people benefit from the sun when it is hidden in cloud. O Jabir! this is part of the hidden secrets of Allah. So keep it hidden except from the people who deserve to know.1

 

So when we look at it this way, present or not, people can always count on the Imām of the time to guide them!

 

A final topic we would like to touch on is the role of Imāmah as a dividing marker between Sunni and Shia Islam, that is, the two major sects or expressions of Islam today.

 

So far our description of Imāmah has been in line with the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), which is also known as Shia Islam or Shiʿism. Sunni Islam does not believe in a divinely guided succession of Imāms from the Holy Household of the Prophet.

 

For most Sunnis, Imāmah, when discussed, can refer to various things. These include, among other things, the political leadership of regular people, or the holding of religious leadership roles by fallible people.

 

These people are no different than lay men and lay women except that they have received higher training in the religious sciences. Ideally, this group of individuals are supposed to be more pious than your regular folk.

 

Examples of these kinds of imams are Friday prayer leaders, scholars of law, scholars of theology.

 

1 The original Arabic of this hadith can be found in al-Shaykh al-Sadūq’s Kamāl al-Dīn, volume

1 p. 253. The translation used is from Saeed Akhtar Rizvi.

 

In its literal sense of leadership or religious leadership, Shia Islam also accepts the existence and need of such an “Imāmah.” But Imāmah, as a divinely appointed form of guiding leadership, is what really distinguishes it from other expressions of Islam.

 

Just like Islam would not make sense without tawhīd, Shia Islam would not make sense without Imāmah. For Shia Islam, without the presence of an Imām along with his guiding light on earth, guidance and salvation would not be possible and the world would come to an end. With the death of the 12th Imam, Shia Islam believes that the world will end and Judgment Day will begin.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 

 


 
2.7 Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! So far, we have discussed the first four aspects of the usūl al-dīn. The last principal we will look into is the fundamental belief in the Day of Judgment. Whether it is Divine Justice (ʿadl), Prophethood (nubuwwa) or Divine Leadership (Imāmah), all of these principles culminate into this last fundamental belief.  

 Without the doctrine of the Day of Judgment, none of these principles would make sense.  Without belief in the Day of Judgment, one cannot be a Muslim.

Life in this world is the first phase of human life. In this life, there is choice. The life in the next world is the second, eternal stage where we will reap the consequences of the choices we made in the first stage of our lives.

 In this world we can make choices on how to lead our lives. Just because one can make choices, it does not mean that the right ones are being made. The Day of Judgment is about coming to God having made the right choices.

 In this lesson, we will look into the idea of the end of the world in Islam, the general features of humankind’s resurrection after its destruction. We will also look at humanity's accountability to God as well as notions of rewards and punishments in the Afterlife.

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 Say: it is Allah who gives you life, and then causes you to die, and then He will assemble you on the Day of Resurrection, which is beyond doubt, but most do not understand (Chapter 45 of the Qur’an, verse 26)

 Among other names, the Day of Judgment (yawm al-dīn) is also known as the Day of Resurrection (yawm al-qiyāma). Another name for resurrection is maʿād, which literally means to “come back” as in coming back to life after death.

The Day of Judgment in Islam is the day when all humans will be resurrected after their death. The event prior to the Day of Judgment is the total destruction of the world and all life on earth. When the world reaches its peak in corruption and its lowest point in religious faith, a final war between good and evil will take place.

 The religion of Islam holds that at the peak of the world’s darkness, God will send a savior. This savior is the 12th Imām of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) who is known as al-Mahdī. He is believed to come and rectify the world’s corruption and bring justice and faith to all of humanity.  

This final event of Imām al-Mahdī’s (aj) reappearance will set the stage for the total end of the world. The Mahdī is believed to be the promised messiah of Islam. His death will mark the end of the world and the beginning of the Day of Judgment.  

 According to Islamic tradition, when Allah wills to bring the Day of Judgment into effect, He will send down the Archangel Isrāfīl who will blow his trumpet and destroy the world with all life in it. Isrāfīl will then blow his trumpet and the world will come back again and all the humans that ever lived on the eath will be resurrected to life again.  

 As resurrected people, every single human on earth will stand before God and account for all his or her deeds. Foremost of all, people will account for the state of their spiritual hearts. When they lived, how much of a role did God have in their lives? How did they treat people, animals and nature? Did they waste their lives pursuing trivial matters? What was their relationship with God’s Prophets? Did they reject them out of hand even after coming to know the truth?

 According to Islam, each human being will be given a book where all their deeds will be written in. The misdeeds that they did will be shown in front of them. Perhaps you can think of a video that recounts all that you did, except that at this point it will be available for all to watch.  

 When humans will be questioned by God and His angels, people at times will not even be able to speak; their body parts will start speaking on their behalf and confess the kind of deeds they did whilst they were alive.

 It is not known when the Day of Judgment will begin, but it can be said that on some level, it begins in the grave after one dies. When humans die, people are visited by two angels called Munkir and Nakīr who come to test the state of people’s souls and their relationship to God in the grave.  

 Part of the process of testing is asking them questions regarding Allah. If they led godly lives while they were alive, they will be able to answer the questions in a positive way and pass the initial phase of judgment.  

 However, if they spent their lives rejecting God, they will have a harder time answering these questions the right way.  

So as you can see, the questioning by angels is the beginning phase of the Day of Judgment.

 On the Day of Judgment, a person's deeds and his or her relationship with God will be questioned.  

But we shouldn't forget that salvation does not depend only on human actions, but also on the justice and mercy of God. If Allah were to judge humanity solely based on His justice, very few would be able to enter heaven, if none at all. However, according to Islam, the mercy of God supersedes His justice. This means that although many will fall short, they will enter paradise by the grace of God.

 So let's recap and see how the Day of Judgment is connected to the other principles of the Usul al-Din:

 On their own, humans cannot know about the Day of Judgment or the requirements needed for salvation. As such, out of His justice, Allah must send Prophets to warn humankind of the Day of Judgment and prepare them for it by giving them guidance. Imāmah is a guardianship mechanism whereby the original instructions and correct form of guidance is preserved after Prophethood ends.


 
2.8 The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! So far we’ve been dealing with the usūl al-dīn or fundamental beliefs of Islam. We have discussed the central role they play in the salvation of humankind.  

 

Islam is not just about theory nor is it just about beliefs. Throughout our discussions so far, especially in the introduction of this section where shahāda was discussed, we learnt that Islam is about testifying to a fact concerning the reality of the world, namely that there is one God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all of humankind and that the Prophet Muhammad (s) is His Messenger.  

 

He is our role model and guide in helping us attain salvation in God. The shahāda, as we saw, has various entailments, the most important of which are the usūl al-dīn.  

 

Yet the usūl al-dīn also has its own important implications and entailments in the real world. In other words, Islam is not just about having particular beliefs in your mind. Islam also has a set of responsibilities that are meant to discipline the human heart and help humans find salvation on the Day of Judgment.  

 

These set of responsibilities that the usūl al-dīn entail coalesce under an institution called the Sharīʿa. In this lesson, we will overview the meaning of the Sharīʿa, its purpose and the scope of its practice.  

 

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And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and be on your guard [against evil]. And if you turn away - then know that upon Our Messenger is only responsible for conveying the message. (Chapter 5, verse 92 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The term Sharīʿa literally means “way” as in the way to God. Sharīʿa is generally associated with Islamic law, but this is only partially correct. The Sharīʿa is a general term denoting God’s general will upon humankind of which “law” is a part of.  

 

From the time of Adam (as) to the Prophet Muhammad (s), Allah has revealed to humankind the “how to” of successfully living in this world and attaining salvation in the next.  

 

These instructions are comprehensive, and the supreme manifestation of this message is the Qur’an, the authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and their explanations by the 12 Imāms. 

 

Islam means submission or surrender. It is the surrendering of one’s will to that of Allah. The Sharīʿa shows us how God wants us to surrender to Him. 

 

The Sharīʿa is there principally to show how a Muslim should live his or her life by surrendering to Allah’s will. If followed correctly, the Sharīʿa upholds human and civil rights and greatly encourages compassion, peace and tolerance of human beings. 

 

Unfortunately, the wrong interpretation of the Sharīʿa or Islamic law has created a number of unIslamic practices which fundamentalist Muslims have adopted worldwide.  

 

Sadly enough, these practices often result in the loss of human rights, respect, dignity and life which are fundamental parts of Islam and Islamic law in general.  

 

It is important that a person chooses an educated and compassionate scholar as a source of Islamic teachings. Please send us an email and we can help connect you with proper scholars. 

 

The God of Islam not only establishes laws for our betterment, such as prayer, or abstinence from evil deeds, such as murder, but He also establishes them in order to test us on whether or not we are ready to set aside our own will and selfish desires and surrender to Him instead.  

 

The Sharīʿa as such is a way of life. It is a beautiful and joyful surrender to God. 

 

When we speak of the Sharīʿa as a way of life, we speak of it in terms of its universality. It is applicable to all individuals and can be lived anywhere in the world. Even if one lives in a non-Muslim country, one can still live the holy life of surrender.  

 

One does not need to be in a Muslim majority country to pray, feed the poor, fast, show kindness and gratitude to one’s parents, or abstain from evil deeds such as murder, theft, lying, fornication and so on and so forth.  

 

For example, the Qur’an says the following: 

 

[The true servants of Allah are] they [who] fulfill their vows, and stand in fear of a Day which is bound to spread far and wide, and they give food in spite of their need intense want for it unto the needy, the orphan and the captive [saying in their hearts] “we feed you for the sake of Allah alone: we desire neither reward nor gratitude from you”  

 

"They (the true believers) give food, out of love for Allah, to the poor, the orphan and the slave, saying: We feed you only for Allah's pleasure - we desire from you neither reward nor thanks." (Chapter 76, verses 7-9 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

These responsibilities can be fulfilled anywhere in the world.  One does not need to be in a Muslim majority country to feed the poor or fulfill a vow!  

 

One important question that is often asked is if the Sharia can be implemented in non-Muslim countries. By this they mean the implementation of specific laws at the governmental level.  

 

According to mainstream understandings of Islamic law, there is no necessity to establish the Sharia in this way in non-Muslim countries. One can go on living a full life of surrender without having to enforce the Sharia's codes on others. 

 

If anything, mainstream Islamic law makes it obligatory upon Muslims to follow and obey the laws of non-Muslim countries when they are living in them as long as the laws do not contradict the explicit foundations of Islamic practice.  

 

For example, if a Muslim were asked not to pray anymore, he or she would be under no obligation to obey such a command. However, a Muslim would, according to the mainstream understandings of Islamic law, have to obey civil laws, such as stopping at red lights, obeying copyright laws, etc.  

 

In conclusion, the Sharīʿa is a way of life to God. Ideally speaking, it is a life of joyful and blissful servitude to God and a process of inner purification through which one attains salvation. It is universal and can be lived in almost every circumstance.  

 

The commands of the Sharia are meant to instill obedience to God. Without commands, how can there be obedience? 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
2.9 The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In our last lesson, we talked about the Sharīʿa. We learnt that the Sharīʿa is a way of life. More specifically, it is way of reaching closeness to God through a life of servitude and surrender to Him. We do this by following his commands.  

 

We also learnt that humans by nature are always in a state of servitude, either serving their delusions and attachments, or serving God Almighty. The goal of the Sharīʿa is to instil a specific discipline in the human soul whereby it can rechannel itself and surrender to God through the habit of obedience.  

 

Obeying God is an internal struggle. One the one hand, we have the desire to want to do our own thing, but on the other, God is asking us to do what He wants. The platform and the grounds in which this struggle takes place is inside the human soul. Simply put, it is a struggle against the evil inclinations of the ego, or nafs as it is called in Islam. In this lesson, we will go over the types of nafs in Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

For unto him who shall have transgressed the bounds of what is right, and preferred the life of this world [over God and the good of his own soul,] the Hellfire shall be his refuge. But unto him who shall have stood in fear of his Sustainer’s presence, and held back his inner self from base desires, then indeed Paradise shall be his refuge (Chapter 72, verses 37-41). 

 

So far in our current section we have had little trouble in translating Arabic terms to English. Today’s discussion is about the concept of the nafs which is an Islamic term with NO equal meaning in the English language and may mean different things depending on the context. 

 

In this lesson, we will be discussing the part of the nafs that commands to evil which is otherwise known as nafs al-ammarah in Arabic. According to Islam, the inner dimension of person is divided into two camps, the first is the spiritual self - commonly known as the fitrah – and the lower or base self which commands us to evil, commonly known as the nafs. The nafs that commands to evil is the realm that produces delusion and attachment to mental illusions. It is the center of our unruly desires, base thoughts and heedlessness. 

 

These mental illusions include, among other things, the need for power, fame, excessive money, and worst of them all, pride and arrogance which most of the aforementioned desires stem from. Pride and arrogance are especially problematic for they are the grounds through which humans defy Allah.  

 

Allah commands humans to do good and to obey Him for the sake of their own souls, but it is the pride and arrogance which the nafs produces that refuses to surrender to God and instead, surrenders unto its own whims or hawā as the Qur’an calls it. 

 

So the battle against the nafs is a battle against inordinate and spiritually subversive desires. It is a battle against desires that support and facilitate a lifestyle of heedlessness (ghaflah) towards God. 

 

Seeing how the nafs is the prime source of a human’s downfall, it is the prime target of Shaytān who whispers in the human self and tries to compel it to do evil. The way one protects oneself from Shaytān is self-control, that is, control of the nafs. God has given every human ability an inner gage that helps us orient ourselves towards God.  

 

A diseased self is where this inner gauge and will to control the nafs becomes corrupted. As one sins, darkness develops inside. As this darkness develops, it becomes harder to fight one’s nafs. One must not despair however, for not only does God forgive but despite one’s circumstances and mistakes, God has given us a way to win this battle.  

 

How does one go about in winning this battle? Recall that the battle is between the nafs and the fitrah. Whichever one wins depends on which one we feed the most. If we spend our lives indulging in every whimsical and carnal desire, such as gluttony, drugs, cigarettes, or wanting to show off, we will simply make the evil nafs stronger.  

 

As time goes by, it will be harder and harder to fix ourselves if we get into the habit of submitting to our selfish desires. Yet if we spend more time on spiritual activities, such as prayer, reading the Qur’an, and saying no to the whims of the nafs, then one strengthens the fitrah. As one repeats this over and over again, it becomes easier and easier to say no to the nafs. 

 

If you haven’t noticed already, the key factor that determines which side wins in the battle of the self is habit. Our habits are what determine the inherent strength of our fitrah or our nafs and hence why so much of Islam is about repetition. Acquiring healthy habits is the basis of purifying the self in Islam. 

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

The Day where neither wealth nor children will benefit anyone except for he who comes to Allah with a pure and sound heart. (Chapter 26 of the Qur’an, verses 88-89) 

 

A subject that has often been repeated in our lessons is that of the pure heart or al-qalb al-salīm. The pure heart is what truly determines success in the eternal life to come. The pure heart is a heart that is full of God’s remembrance and is empty of sin, pride and other spiritual pollutants. This comes about through feeding the soul with spiritually “nutritious food.”  

 

Doing it once or twice, or haphazardly is not enough. Long vigils of prayers here and there are not sufficient either. In fact, sometimes it can be spiritually detrimental. What does work is consistency whatever spiritual practice one does. That is the key to success in winning the battle against the nafs. Simply asking God’s forgiveness is not enough. One must couple it with action! 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
2.10 Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

 

This will be the last lesson of our section. Among other things, we have so far looked at the shahāda,  the usul al-din as well as the concept of the evil nafs.  

 

In today’s lesson, we will do a quick overview of the connection between humans, Satan and jinns. Furthermore, we will be looking into the psychological effects of demonic influences on the human mind and their relationship to the evil nafs. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

[Allah] said: Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant here. Go then, among the debased shall you be. [Satan] said: Grant me respite until the Day where we will be resurrected. [Allah] said: Indeed you will be among those who will be granted respite. [Satan] said: now that you have thwarted me, I will surely ambush [mankind] along your Straight Path and shall most certainly fall upon them openly and secretly, from their right and from their left, you will surely find most of them to become ungrateful. (Chapter 7, verses 13-17 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Physical life is not the only kind of life that exists in the world. In addition to physical beings like humans, Allah also created spiritual beings who are alive, and like humans, are highly intelligent. Among them, two of them stand out, namely Angels and Jinns. First, we have angels. Angels in Islam are made out of light and unlike other beings, they cannot sin. 

 

There are different reasons as to why this might be, some traditions say that they have no free will whereas others say they don’t sin because they have no desires. Whatever the case may be, we know that they cannot sin.  

 

Furthermore, archangels, that is, the highest ranking angels, cannot make mistakes either. Mistakes may be possible for lower ranking angels such as the angels of the earth (malā’ikat al-arḍ) since we have no evidence in our religious sources stating or implying that they are infallible from mistakes. 

 

Angels are part of God’s legions, they not only manage the universe, but they also play a role in managing our guidance. For example, we have angels on each of our sides, one registering our good deeds, and the other registering our bad deeds. We also have angels that whisper or encourage good deeds. Other angels play the role of protecting our lives (in the West we often call them “Guardian Angels”) and we die when Allah commands them to cease protecting us.  

 

The higher realm angels are responsible for bringing down divine revelation on earth. For example the Archangel Gabriel is the angel that brings down revelation. Others are responsible for bringing about the Day of Judgment, like the Archangel Isrāfīl. 

 

We also have another race of spiritual beings called the Jinn. The Jinn are intelligent beings who are made out of smokeless fire. Unlike angels, Jinns can commit sins as they have desires and free will. Although some are good, many are also evil.  

 

The leader of the evil Jinn is called Iblīs, commonly known as Satan or the Devil. He is the worst of the Jinn. When Adam (as) was created, God asked Satan to bow down to Adam. Satan, in his conceit and pride refused to obey Allah's order. 

 

Satan thought that he was far superior than a being that was made out of clay since he as a Jinn was made out of smokeless fire. Why prostrate to an inferior being Satan asked himself! 

 

 Until that point, Satan had been a Jinn who was ranked on the same level, if not higher, than the angels. On a side note, you can see that Islam does not believe that Satan was an angel, but a Jinn given that angels cannot sin.  

 

As a form of revenge against humankind, Satan promised that he would spend his whole life trying to deviate humankind from God. He gathered innumerable other Jinns and put them to task. The way Jinns work is that most often, they cannot influence us physically. However, what they may do is whisper evil thoughts into our hearts. The intention behind these whispers is to get people to act upon them. By acting on them, Satan wants us to become sinful and ungrateful towards God. 

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

Truly, Shaytān is an open enemy to mankind (Chapter 12, verse 5 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Shaytān and his legions want the destruction of humankind. He encourages immorality, sinful pleasure, and pointless fun. Worst of all, he and his legions push people into despair and depression by suggesting all sorts of depressing and evil thoughts in their minds. 

 

Humans are free to reject these demonic suggestions, but the Jinns, particularly Satan, has a lot of experience in countering our resistance. He often does not ask a person to sin outright, but he does try to get a person to slowly take the necessary steps that will eventually lead to sin. For example, Satan may tempt a man to associate with an unrelated woman, thinking that what he’s doing is for the greater good or that he's just being "friends" with her. 

 

Often enough, this is how the path to fornication begins, that is, it is through good, permissible intentions that Satan whispers in people. Eventually, step by step, Satan will influence such a person to fornicate. 

  

Our inner selves and the spiritual battles that take place in them are therefore not empty of outside influences. As we battle our evil inclinations, Jinns, that is, demons, attempt to whisper thoughts in our minds so as to entice us to evil. On the opposite spectrum, the Prophets and Imams of God, in addition to angels, try to do keep us from evil and entice us to the good. Whichever one we choose however, is entirely up to us.


 
2.11 The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

The greatest spiritual crisis that humans will ever face is the problem of evil and suffering. The question goes like this, if God is all good, why does He permit evil and suffering? Why doesn’t He stop it? After all, if He loves His creation, He would protect them just like a mother protects her children.

 

In this lesson, we look at two aspects of the problem of evil in this world. The first is the intellectual problem of evil and suffering. The second is the emotional problem

 

of evil and suffering. On the latter, we will give some pointers on how to deal with suffering in the modern world.

 

 BODY OF TEXT

 

 Answering the Intellectual Problem of Evil

 

 The intellectual problem of evil sees God and evil as mutually incompatible. If God is all-good and all-loving, then He would naturally want to alleviate suffering from us and get rid of evil. Since there is great suffering and evil in the world, then God is either

 

  1.  powerless to do anything about suffering and evil
  2. or careless and callous about His creation
  3.  or He does not exist

 

Obviously none of these options are good as they do not help the case for any monotheistic conception of God. Since God is the creator of the universe, it is impossible that He be powerless. Many people see God as All-Loving and All-Good which means that He would or should stop evil if He did indeed exist. Since evil still persists, many atheists will say that this is proof that God, or at least the Abrahamic understanding of God, does not exist.

 

 This is a rather simplistic depiction of the intellectual problem of evil since there is another way of looking at the problem of God and evil that is logically sound.

 

 Yes, God is All-Good and All-Loving, and as the creator of the universe, He is also All-Powerful. So why does He allow evil to exist?

 

 A popular answer that theologians give is the following: God brought us unto this earth in order to test us. If God interferes in every single instance of evil in this world, then what is the point of free will and testing? It is by being tested on this earth that we grow spiritually. With constant divine intervention, we as individuals cannot grow spiritually.

 

 The second answer is that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to exist. This means that our knowledge and awareness of things is very limited. God sees things from eternity and knows all possible outcomes. He allows evil to exist to the extent that it will have a positive effect in the world or the afterlife or both. We

 

may not be able to see the good of it as of now, but on the “macroscale” of things it does lead to an ultimate good no matter how bad it seems in the short-term.

 

 This last part thus requires some honesty and humility. We can’t predict with 100% accuracy what will happen five minutes from now, how can we ever make a judgment on the effects of evil acts throughout the span of human history in this world and the Hereafter?

 

 The Emotional Problem of Evil

 

 The emotional problem of evil is about people’s dislike or even hatred of God who permits suffering in the world. People lose their loved ones, their health, their jobs or see society around them fall apart where much of it is due to evil acts such as murder or illnesses and disease brought about by war. They are angry that God doesn’t do anything about it.

 

 Remember that often enough, this kind of attitude stems from a subtle and hidden assumption that there is no afterlife. The person expressing such anger may outwardly believe in the Hereafter and God’s Final Judgment, but deep down inside he or she isn’t really certain about it.

 

From an Islamic perspective, and indeed from an Abrahamic perspective, God has the last word on the Day of Judgment. Our lives here are limited, and those of us who live in the 21st century will notice that time goes by super-fast. Know that you will soon die and on your death-bed, you will forget most of the evil and suffering that came your way.

 

 This world, as we said earlier, is a world where God tests our free will. If we didn’t have free will, we couldn’t be truly good. In order to be truly good and reach union with God, one must be able to choose good over evil. For God to get rid of evil in the world, which is the result of human intentions, he would need to get rid of our free will. But if he did this, he would also take our ability to truly love and do good.

 

 For Allah, this isn’t worth the price. Why should Allah sacrifice our potential for infinite greatness and good for the sake of some evil people? And it’s not like they’re going to get away with it, they will be accountable for every single thing they do in their lives whether it is a small lie or or a big thing like murder.

 

 But what about those who suffered from evil? According to Islam, God will reward those who suffered from evil on the Day of Judgment. He will do this on multiple levels. First, their suffering will be a means for having their sins forgiven. Second, they will get extra rewards in heaven.

 

 Third, there are some forms of evil that may cause long term psychological pain for its victims. On the Day of Judgment, God will make some people forget the horrible things they suffered in this world in order to fill them with inner peace. It will be as if none of it ever happened.

 

 Finally, remember that suffering is our best teacher. We learn more from suffering than from our happy days. Our happy and comfortable days tend to make us heedless, whereas suffering wakes us up and makes us realize that nothing in this world is dependable. We can only depend on God.

 

 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

3 Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts


 
3.1 Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our last section has mostly been about the principles of faith in Islam. All of the usūl al-dīn we discussed had to do with centering and grounding a proper and correct religious worldview. This is important for it keeps our thoughts in line with the Truth and safeguards us from error.

 

But beliefs can only take us so far. Islam is not just a religion of beliefs, it is a religion of practice. Without practice, there is no Islam. In this lesson, we will overview the importance of works and practice in Islam. Religious practice in Islam is called ʿamāl.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. (Chapter 2, verse 25 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

One of the unfortunate calamities to befall religion during the Enlightenment period in the 18th century was having religion stripped of everything it had except for its beliefs. Indeed, this is how some forms of Protestant Christianity came about where they held that “belief” without works was sufficient for salvation.

 

There was, of course, a political reason why this happened. What we call the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) which offset a war between the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Church was really a war between the emerging modern nation state and the Catholic Church.

 

Over the centuries, the Catholic Church had consolidated most Western institutions and lands. Modern nation states were trying to grab these lands and institutions from the Church.

 

If you notice today, modern states control every aspect of your life, from how you give birth to how you die to how you raise and educate your children. As a new power, the emerging modern state wanted to take away everything the Church had. The war it waged against Catholicism was not just through rebellions and armed warfare, but it was also on ideological grounds.

 

Under the guise of the Protestant Reformation, and non-Protestant movements that were inspired by it, the new state argued that belief was the only thing that was needed in order to find salvation in the Hereafter. Belief in Christ was enough, one did not need to do good works and put faith into action to get into heaven.

 

The Enlightenment period that followed after this adopted this new view of religion as well. As the state attempted to isolate religion and clip it of its wings, all religion “was” was a set of beliefs and nothing more. By clipping its wings and privatizing it, the state made sure that religion could not interfere in the affairs of the government and the Capitalist elite. Action and works, on the other hand, was no longer to be determined by religion, but by the new, all-powerful, omnipresent State.

 

Although this view of a reduced religion might work with some forms of Christianity, or even some other religions, it is a hard sell for Islam.

 

First, Islam is not JUST a noun, it is a verb. This means that Islam is not just a belief, but an ongoing activity. Worship of God in Islam is a state of mind, and beliefs and actions are what produce states of mind. Being a Muslim is therefore not a private belief, but a constitutive activity in the world.

 

Now please pay attention. When we talk about putting faith into action in Islam, this is not an option. It is not a choice where one choses to do it or not, it is an obligation that is made directly by God upon humankind.

 

This is because accepting the shahāda is a covenant between man and God with a set of strict obligations and commandments to follow.

 

If a person has to abstain from pork or alcohol, and has to pray five times a day and fast during the holy month of Ramadan, he or she cannot exercise choice and decide not to do it. If one fails to do so, then he or she has disobeyed God, broken the covenant and fallen into a sinful state.

 

A sinful state is deviation from the Straight Path of Allah, and one will be held accountable before God on the Day of Judgment.

 

In fact, with some obligations, like the obligation to take care of one’s spouse, children, or not heeding prohibitions like abstaining from from alcohol, one may be punished in this world according to Islamic law.

 

From an outsider’s perspective, all of these may seem all too absolute and strict. But the idea of belief-in-action as a non-choice matter is for our own benefit and the benefit of the believing community. The objective of Islam is to reshape our souls and hearts; it is to purify them through proper discipline and rules.

 

Just like the kinds of foods we eat or the quality of exercises we do affect the health of our minds, foods and actions affect our hearts and souls. Pork, alcohol, fornication are not just breaches against God’s covenant, but they also destroy our spirits. Similarly, prayer, marriage, fasting, feeding the poor  etc. help purify them.

 

Obligations also help maintain a healthy believing community, that is, a Muslim community. Islam establishes a series of obligations between husbands and wives, parents and children, the rich and the poor, humans and the environment, the powerful and the weak, Muslim and non-Muslim, all so that there may be a proper equilibrium.

 

A healthy community (both spiritually and materially) is where a healthy spiritual heart grows in. Where there is rampant corruption, injustice, and oppression, growing in faith becomes a much more difficult task.

 

A final note here must not be forgotten. Anyone can claim to believe in God. Anyone can profess faith. But how can true faith be proven? How can it be demonstrated? It is when God gives us a series of obligations to fulfill, which, when we fulfill them, shows our devotion to God.

 

It is in the realm of action that a real Muslim and a real believer stands out, not in the realm of ideas and concepts only! If ideas and concepts were all that mattered, then the Devil would be the best of all believers since he knows the truth better than all regular human beings!

 

As you recall, Satan refused to bow down to Adam after God ordered him to do so, and it is in this realm of action that Satan’s true faith (or lack thereof) was shown.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
3.2 Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Religion is not always an easy thing. For many people, believing in Islam isn’t too hard. More difficult than this is practicing Islam and its commandments. This is often where the real struggle lies. 

 

However, there is a struggle that we don’t see which put frankly, is the most difficult of our struggles. Recall in our last section we discussed the issue of the nafs that commands us to evil. The duty of a Muslim is to struggle against evil. The hardest evil to fight against is the evil of ourselves. 

 

As in the case with the nafs, evil begins from the inside which everyone must struggle against. Sometimes this evil manifests itself outwardly as well so if you are evil inside, you may also do evil things on the outside. 

 

The evil within and without must be struggled against. This struggle in Islam is called jihād. Jihād is the 6th item of the furūʿ al-dīn and is one of the most critical religious practices of Islam. In this lesson, we will look at the two kinds of jihad, the major and minor. The major jihad is the internal jihad, and the minor jihad is the external one. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

“O Prophet! Encourage the believers to go for Jihad. If there are twenty patient ones amongst you, you will overcome 200...” (Chapter 8, verse 65 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Imam Jaʿfar al‑Sādiq (a) said: The Messenger of Allah (s) dispatched a contingent of the army (to the battlefront). Upon their (successful) return, he (s) said: Blessed are those who have performed the minor jihad and have yet to perform the major jihad. When asked, What is the major jihad? the Prophet (s) replied: The jihad of the self (struggle against self). 

 

Jihad literally means struggle. In Islam, it means to struggle for the sake of Allah. This can be done in two ways. The first way is through something we call the “Minor Jihad” and the second way is what we call the “Major Jihad”.  

 

The Minor Jihād or al-Jihād al-Asghar, is the most well-known kind of Jihād because there is so much coverage of it on TV nowadays. The minor Jihad is sometimes known as “holy war” and it is a means for self-defense. This Jihad can also be looked at as an “outer jihad” or a “fighting jihad”. Its portrayal in the media, of course, is not really correct even if some fundamentalist Muslims encourage and stick to this false narrative.  

 

First, according to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Imāms of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), this fighting Jihad is not supposed to be offensive. If you look at the life of the Prophet (s), there is not a single instance where he went to war with non-Muslims who were at peace with him. The God of Islam is a God of peace. 

 

All of his wars were defensive in nature. This kind of defensive Jihad was also practiced by the Imams like Imam Husayn (as) at Karbala. 

 

So basically the minor Jihad is when an aggressing army attacks you, or your village or town is invaded and you defend yourself. It is a defense of the Muslim community or Ummah. The defense takes place as long as the aggressing party is attacking you. In Islam, if they want to make peace, then we are advised to accept peace and turn away from war as much as we can.  

 

This jihad comes with strict rules and regulations. Even in a state of defense, Muslims are not allowed to kill innocent civilians, including old men, women and children. Furthermore, they are not allowed to destroy property or even trees. 

 

Sometimes this jihad can also take place in other “outer” forms. For example, one can have a jihad of the pen where one defends Islam against vicious propaganda. In this sense, it is a defense of one’s religion. At other times, one can lead a “jihad” against poverty. What all these have in common is that they are a jihad or struggle against evil.  

 

The second form of Jihad is called the Major Jihad or al-Jihād al-Akbar. According to the Prophet Muhammad (s), this is the most difficult evil to fight for it is a struggle for one’s own soul. Within ourselves, there is an inner self called the nafs al-ammāra, or the nafs which commands to evil and immorality.  

 

This is in contrast to one’s “good” self that has two levels. The first is the nafs al-lawwāmah or the reproaching self. This is where we resist our evil thoughts and inclinations. The second level of the “good self” is the nafs al-mutma’innah, that is, the peaceful soul, where one reaches such a high degree of self-control that the struggle barely takes place anymore.  

 

So the jihād al-akbar is the jihad against the evil self. This one is the hardest because it is an on-going struggle inside our hearts against bad desires and sins (like wanting to lie, gossip, fornicate, being jealous etc.) throughout our lives.  

 

In this sense, this jihad is a struggle between 1) the divine and angelic powers that we have inside us which command us to the good and  2) the satanic forces that want us to follow our bad desires. 

 

How does one win this battle though? It sounds like a pretty tough struggle. Remember we had a specific discussion on the nafs previously. Winning this inner battle means winning against our bad habits and developing new and good ones. The more we get used to saying no to our bad desires, the stronger our will becomes and the easier it becomes to say “no” to them overtime. But if we are constantly submitting to whatever desires our evil selves push us to, we will get used to that and over time, it will get harder and harder to say no to the bad desires. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
3.3 Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In this lesson, we will have an overview of the first and the most important of the furūʿ al-dīn called salāt.  

 

More specifically, we will look into the difference between ritual prayer and supplication as well as the different kinds of obligatory and non-obligatory prayers in Islamic law. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And observe prayer (salāt) for it restrains one from immorality and wrongdoing and remembrance of God is indeed the greatest [good.] (Chapter 29, verse 45 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The term for ritual prayer in Islam is called salāt. In pre-Islamic Arabic, salāt meant different things. The most common meaning, however, was that of an invocation, as in invoking God. The meaning, of course, is much more specific in Islam. When we talk about salāt in the furūʿ al-dīn we are talking about the five obligatory ritual prayers which all Muslims must believe in. 

 

The times of these prayers are not static but dynamic as they follow the movement of the sun.  

 

The first prayer is the morning prayer. In Arabic it is called salāt al-fajr and it begins at dawn.  

 

The second prayer begins at noon and is called salāt al-dhuhur,  

 

the third is the afternoon prayer and it is called salāt al-ʿasr,  

 

the fourth praying is the sunset prayer called salāt al-maghrib  

 

and finally, the last prayer is called salāt al-ʿishā which is the night-time prayer.  

 

Each prayer has units called rakʿats where you bow with your hands on your knees. The total amount of times a Muslim must do this is 17 times across 5 prayers throughout the day.   

 

The five obligatory salāt are the most important rituals of Islam. Knowingly dismissing their obligatory nature is tantamount to apostasy in Islam. It is important for it is the foremost method of worship in Islam and it is the central practice which keeps a Muslim connected to Allah.  

 

In one hadīth from our fifth Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (as), he said the following about salāt: 

 

The prayer is the pillar of religion and its parable is that of the pole of a tent – when the pole remains upright, the pegs and ropes remain straight and upright, but when the pole bends or breaks neither the pegs nor ropes remain straight. 

 

Salāt is the foundation of religion. Without it, none of Islam’s other practices or beliefs will stand. We say this because salāt is what establishes our relationship with God. 

 

 But prayer must be done on God’s terms. We often think of praying to God in the form of a supplication where we supplicate to him in our own personal manner and on our own time.  

 

In Islam this is called a duʿā, which is different from salāt as the latter is obligatory and involves special physical movements such as bowing and prostrating. Duʿā, although a highly recommended act, is not obligatory to do. 

 

But a relationship of servitude means that we must pray to God the way He wants and how He wants. This is how ritual prayer develops with its own specific movements and recitations. 

 

Prayer is the only ritual in Islam that a person cannot be free from. One may be relieved from fasting, or Hajj, or any other ritual, but with prayer one may not do away with it as long as one is conscious, sane and reached puberty.  

 

If we are too sick to pray for example, we can pray sitting down. If we are too sick for that, then we can pray lying down. If we cannot pray this way either, we can pray with our eyelids by opening and closing them as a sign of prostration. If our eyelids don’t open, then we can pray inside our minds. Either way, we cannot escape from this obligation as long as one we are conscious.  

 

There is another set of obligatory prayers in Islam, but they are less regular. These are called the Prayers of the Signs called salāt al-ayāt. These prayers are performed when special natural events happen. As a response to these events, like earthquakes, or special eclipses, it is obligatory for a Muslim to perform the salāt.  

 

There are also funeral prayers for the dead called salāt al-mayyit which are obligatory on the community. This means that as long as a group of people fulfill this obligation, then others are relieved of it. 

 

The other set of prayers in Islam are what we call “recommended” prayers. The word for recommended in Arabic is mustahab. Among other prayers, these include the Friday Prayers (called Salāt al-Jumuʿa in Arabic) and the two Eid Prayers. The first Eid prayer marks the end of Ramadan, and the other marks the end of the Hajj season. 

 

Connected to the daily obligatory salāt is a set of prayers we called nāfila. Nāfila prayers are extra prayers that one offers after an obligatory prayer. The most important of all of these extra prayers is what we call the late night prayer. The late night prayer is known as salāt al-layl in Arabic.  This prayer is the most recommended of all extra prayers and it is the one prayer that is characteristic of spiritually high achieving Muslims.  

 

In one hadīth from the Prophet Muhammad (s), he said the following about salāt al-layl: 

 

When the servant of Allah turns to his Lord in the middle of the dark night, and whispers to Him, Allah establishes His light in his heart . . . then He tells the angels: O my angels, look at my servant. He has turned to Me in the middle of the dark night while the false ones are playing, and the heedless ones are sleeping; bear witness that I have forgiven him. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
3.4 Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa Download Topic

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

In many religions across the world, ritual purification is often required before performing a certain ritual. In Islam the state of ritual purity is called tahāra. The opposite of ritual purity is ritual impurity, called najāsa.

 

In this lesson, we’ll look into the meaning and purpose of tahāra in Islam. We will also look into the different kinds of ritual purification and najāsa in Islamic law.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Do not stand [for prayer] within it - ever. A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in. Within it are men who love to purify themselves; and Allah loves those who purify themselves. (Chapter 9, verse 108 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

If a Muslim wants his or her prayer, fasting or Hajj to be valid, then he or she must be in a state of ritual purity before performing those actions. In other words, one must be tāhir. To ritually purify oneself, one can do one of three things, perform wudū (minor ablution), ghusl (major ablution) or tayamum (purification through the use of earth or dust).

 

Examples of when you have to do wudū

 

Wudū is when you take water with your hands and wipe your face, wipe your forearms down to your hands, wipe the top of your head and wipe your feet. Wudū is a must if you want to pray or touch the Qur’an. If you fall asleep and wake up, you will lose your state of wudū and will have to redo it again. If you go to the bathroom and go #1 or #2, or pass wind, then you must also perform wudū if you want to pray or touch the Holy Qur’an.

 

Examples of when you have to do ghusl

 

If you lose your wudū, you lose your minor state of ritual purity. However, you do not necessarily enter a state of major ritual impurity if you lose it. Entering a state of major impurity is called janāba. Things which make a person enter a state of major impurity are, among other things, sexual intercourse with one’s spouse or bleeding during one’s monthly cycle. If a person wants to pray or fast for example, the major ablution, that is, ghusl must be performed. Ghusl consists of washing the whole of one’s body. Ghusl may also be performed by submerging oneself completely under water, this is called ghusl irtimāsī in Islamic law. Once ghusl is performed, one does not need to perform wudū as ghusl automatically puts a person in a state of wudū in most cases. Ghusl is also needed if a person touches a dead body.

 

Tayamum

 

When performing wudū or ghusl, one must do so with ritually pure water. This means that, for example, the water cannot be discolored (or have its odor changed) with ritually impure things, such as feces.

 

When a person is unable to find water, or does not have enough water, or does not have ritually pure water, or if performing ghusl would take too long and prayer time is about to be over, then a person can purify oneself with clean earth. Tayamum is done through wiping one's forehead and hands with earth or dust. Tayamum has the same effect as ghusl.

 

For more information on how exactly to perform wudū, ghusl and tayamum, please see the links below the screen:

 

http://www.al-islam.org/articles/laws-practices-how-perform-wudhu-and-tayammum#how-perform-wudhu-and-tayammum

 

http://www.al-islam.org/islamic-marriage-syed-athar-husain-sh-rizvi/major-ablution-ghusl-janabat

 

A common misunderstanding about tahāra and najāsa is equating the terms with cleanliness and dirtiness. But this is incorrect. Tahāra and najāsa refer to ritual purity and impurity, meaning that they are pure or impure within the context of religious rituals. For example, items that are najis or ritually impure include pigs, dogs, blood, semen, or feces among many other things. But this does not mean they are necessarily dirty. A pig or a dog may be given a bath and thus be considered clean in the conventional sense but still ritually impure.

 

Similarly, it doesn’t mean that if something is tāhir is necessarily clean. For example, bird excrement may be considered tāhir, but many people would consider it dirty. Another example would be a person who comes out working in a mine. He or she will be considered very dirty in the conventional sense, but still be considered tāhir and able to perform prayer as long as he or she is still in a state of wudū.

 

This distinction is really important to understand because often enough, it is used as a point to attack Islam. For example, a woman who is in her menses or who just gave birth will be required at some time to perform ghusl if she wants to pray again. But some people mistakenly interpret this as a form of sexism where they think that women's biology is dirty according to Islam. They forget that men can also enter states of ritual impurity, like when they discharge semen. So these kinds of ignorant statements should be discarded because 1) both genders have states of ritual impurity and 2) ritual impurity does not necessarily mean dirty!

 

Before we let you go, it’s important to clarify another matter. Although ritual purity or impurity does not necessarily translate to cleanliness or dirtiness, Islam also emphasizes on cleanliness anyways. The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: “cleanliness is half of one’s religion”

 

For more information on how to get rid of ritual impurities, you may want to look at the following link under the screen:

 

http://www.al-islam.org/ritual-and-spiritual-purity-sayyid-muhammad-rizvi/i-najasat-taharat

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 

 

 


 
3.5 The Five Categories of Islamic Law Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

There are five categories of law in Islam.  

They are the following: wājib, mustahab, mubāh, makrūh and harām. In this lesson, we will explain what these terms mean and give appropriate examples to help you understand them better. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: The halal is clear and the haram is clear, and between them are matters unclear that are unknown to most people. Whoever is wary of these unclear matters has absolved his religion and honor. And whoever indulges in them has indulged in the haram. It is like a shepherd who herds his sheep too close to preserved sanctuary, and they will eventually graze in it. Every king has a sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Allah is what He has made haram. There lies within the body a piece of flesh. If it is sound, the whole body is sound; and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Verily this piece is the heart. 

 

Every single action we do, or situation we put ourselves in will affect our souls for the good or for the bad. For this reason, Allah has outlined and set guidelines and boundaries on everything we do so that our hearts may be protected from pollutants.  

 

In order to nurture us, God has set five categories in the Sharīʿa (or Islamic law). They are the following: 

 

  1.  Wājib: Wājib means that something is necessary and obligatory. It means that if we don’t perform this duty, then we become disobedient to God and are sinful. We have plenty of duties in Islam that are obligatory, like respecting our parents, praying, fasting, going to Hajj etc. Within the category of wājib, there is something called fard.  

 

Fard is a wājib act that is explicitly found in the Qur’an. If we are to translate it to English, probably the best term would be “Qur’anic obligation.” Prayer and fasting are good examples of acts that are fard in Islam since they are explicitly in the Qur’an. Fard or wājib are themselves divided into two further categories. These are called fard of wājib kifāya, and fard or wājib ʿayn. Kifāya means that something obligatory upon community until a certain number of people fulfill the obligation. When the obligation is fulfilled by some members of the community, then the others become free from the duty.  

 

However, if no one fulfills the obligation, then the sin is on all of the Islamic community. An example of this is becoming an Islamic judge (qādī). Many Muslim scholars believe that the Muslim ummah must produce judges. As long as there is a sufficient number of people becoming judges, others are relieved of the duty.  

 

ʿAyn on the other hand means that something is obligatory for everyone. A good example of this is prayer. It is incumbent on every single individual who is eligible for prayer. So if you're the right age, sane and conscious, you have no choice but to pray. 

 

  1.  Mustahab: Mustahab means recommended. It means that the act in question is not obligatory  but if one does it he or she will receive tremendous rewards from God. An example of a mustahab act is performing the minor ablution (wūdū) before sleep. 
  2.  Makrūh: Makrūh means disliked. If you do it, your not sinning, but if you keep away from it, then you will get rewards from Allah. An example of a makrūh act is divorce. It is permissible, however, it is hated by Allah. If one abstains from it, one will gain rewards from God in the Hereafter.  
  3.  Harām: Hāram means forbidden. If you do it, then you have sinned. An example of a harām act is eating pork. 
  4.  Mubāh: Mubāh is an action that is neutral, it is neither wajib, mustahab, makruh or haram. An example is drinking water regularly. If, however, you drink water so that you can stay fit and serve God better, then you will get rewards. 

 

Remember that all of these acts are subject to change depending on conditions. Something may be wājib like fasting, however, if it becomes really dangerous for your health, then it becomes haram on you. The same thing does for a mustahab act. If a mustahab act impedes on your wājib acts, then the mustahab act becomes impermissible for you.  

 

Again, something may be harām for us, but under certain conditions it may become wājib. For example, if you’re stuck in a desert and you have nothing to eat and drink except for wine and pork and you see that you may die from hunger and thirst, then it becomes wājib on you to drink wine and eat pork!   

 

On this subject, the Qur’an states: 

 

But as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclination to sin (i.e. the forbidden meats like pork) then surely, Allaah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Chapter 5, verse 3 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

So remember, the guiding force and light behind all of these acts are our intentions. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
3.6 Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

The last two elements of the the furūʿ al-dīn are called tawalla and tabarra. Tawalla is to love and follow Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt. Tabarra means to disassociate from people who are against Allah, the Messenger of Allah and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

Tawalla and tabarra are what ground us in our religious lives. They provide for us the guiding platform and gauging basis of our actions, including Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil. In this lesson, we will go over what exactly these terms mean, their purpose and connection with the rest of the furūʿ al-dīn.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

It is that of which Allah gives good tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous deeds. Say, [O Muhammad], "I do not ask you for this message any payment [but] only good will through kin [family]." And whoever commits a good deed - We will increase for him good therein. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Appreciative. (Chapter 42, verse 23 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Tawalla is conventionally defined as love for the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). Love of God is obviously a no-brainer here! Similarly, tabarra is generally translated as a command to disassociate oneself from the enemies of the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

So, let’s start with the first one! What is tawalla? Tawalla comes from the root word walā’ in Arabic which means friendship and allegiance. Tawalla is therefore a form of love, friendship and allegiance one has towards the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). But it doesn’t stop there!  

Tawalla is an umbrella term, meaning that this love and friendship is also inclusive of people who also love the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). So this means that we should love people who love the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt. 

 

The word tabarra comes from the word barā’a which means to free oneself or disassociate oneself from something. Tabarra thus means to disassociate from people who hate the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt.  

 

So for example, if you meet someone who loves Yazid and this someone is fully aware of what Yazid did to Imam al-Husayn (as), then it would be one’s duty to disassociate from such a person.  Similarly, anyone who follows in the footsteps of Yazid, embodying his evil (like many modern oppressors), one must also disassociate from him or her. This of course is unless you want to educate them. 

 

So what’s the point of dividing the world and people into these two groups? Can’t we all just get along? There are a few reasons why we have tawalla and tabarra in Islam: 

 

  1.  Tawalla and Tabarra are ways of centering our spiritual ourselves, that is, creating an identity. How do we know what is right and what is wrong? What is Islamic and what is not? What is a sin, what is not? We need a gauge, we need a center to guide us. Tawalla shows us who is on the right camp, and who is worthy of our friendship and love. Tabarra does the opposite, it shows us where not to go. By having the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) as our reference point and source of knowledge, we learn what is truth and what is authentically good and bad. In this sense, we find the way to authentic Islamic beliefs and practices. 
  2.  As Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil are external actions, tawalla and tabarra are the internal dispositions that allow these two actions to happen. Without tawalla and tabarra, there can be no amr bi al-marūf and nahī ʿan al-munkar. 
  3.  Tabarra is the grounds through which we are able to judge the activities of humankind. Its what allows us to call a spade a spade, that is, it allows us to call what is wrong wrong. Tabarra is the guiding light that allows us to recognize and speak out against evil. If we don’t protest against evil, it will be allowed to flourish in the Islamic community. Evil grows when good men and women don’t do anything about it.  
  4.  Tawalla and tabarra are a means to save our souls from bad influences. The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said that “a person follows the religion of his friends,” meaning that most people will be influenced by the beliefs and behavior of their friends to some degree. 
  5.  Tawalla and tabarra teaches us to chose our friends and surroundings carefully for they can make or break us in the Hereafter. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
3.7 The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Islam is a religion that is totally comprehensive, meaning that it covers all the aspects of our spiritual and worldly needs. 

 

For religion to be useful, it needs to address our worldly needs. Our spiritual lives are deeply connected with the everyday problems that we face. On the personal level, these include having roofs over our heads, food to eat, taking care of our kids and so on and so forth. How we fair in our personal lives affects how we lead our spiritual lives. Imam Ali (as) once said:  

 

“when poverty comes through the front door, faith leaves from the back door” 

 

A possible meaning behind this wise saying is that when we are overwhelmed with poverty and hunger, there is little else we can think about, including our religious duties and responsibilities towards God. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone as many people increase in faith when faced with hardship. But this doesn’t deny the fact that a lot of people lose faith when things don’t go well. 

 

Similarly, our social and communal institutions are also directly connected to our religious lives. These institutions include the Mosques, schools, religious centers, religious program networks like Satellite TV channels, seminaries where clerics are trained and so on and so forth.  

 

One thing that our personal lives and social or communal institutions have in common is that they need money or some kind of financing to sustain them. Without money, there is no roof over our heads, without money, there is no food in our bellies. Without money, there are no religious centers or programs.  

 

Given the importance of financial and material resources in our religious lives, and ultimately our salvation, Islam has devised a system of obligatory charity to help address this fundamental human problem.  

 

The fourth and fifth aspect of the furu al-din are zakat and khums. In this lesson, we will go over the importance of each of these forms of  charity in Islam, their differences and the distinct role they play in sustaining the Muslim community. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakat; and they were worshippers of Us. (Chapter 21, verse 73 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Zakat in the furūʿ al-dīn is an obligatory form of charity. Just as salāt is an obligation we have towards God, zakat in a way is an obligation that we have towards God’s creation. 

 

It is obligatory because it is a right that the poor have on those who are more fortunate. In other words, zakat is principally designed to help those who suffer from severe poverty. Zakat is also there to help people free themselves from slavery, or those who cannot provide for themselves because they are drowning in debt.  

 

Zakat cannot be paid with modern currencies in Islamic law as taught by the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). Zakat is usually paid from tangible items from one’s “sitting” assets like gold or silver. Other items may include wheat and barley, and also live stock like camels, cows and sheep. One usually pays 2.5% from this income. 

 

A separate zakat is also obligatory at the end of Ramadan when one marks the end of the month’s long fast. This kind of zakat, unlike the one that is extracted from one’s sitting income is payable in modern currencies like the dollar.  

 

As zakat is generally geared towards helping the poor, khums (which literally means 1/5th) is generally geared towards helping Muslim institutions. Indeed, khums may be used to help the poor and the less fortunate, but it is more expansive and for this reason, its tax rate is higher.  

 

Khums can be paid through modern currencies. It is to be paid on the following: 

 

  1.  Savings at the end of the year. After deducing one’s expenditures on maintaining one’s family, one has to pay 1/5th, that is, 20% of one’s final sitting income in Khums. 
  2. Mining income 
  3. If lawful and unlawful money gets mixed up. 
  4. Anything taken from the sea (like pearls) 
  5. War booty 
  6. If a Muslim purchases land from a non-Muslim who is living in a Muslim country. 20% of the value of the land goes into khums.  

 

Khums was originally meant to be offered to the Messenger of Allah (s) or an Infallible Imām. Since our last Imām is in occultation, Islamic law permits Muslims to pay their khums to a just marjaʿ (a high ranking scholar of law that is a source of legal emulation) or legitimate Muslim organization that collects on behalf of a scholar.  

 

The money gained from khums today is what funds Mosques and their respective programs, Islamic schools, live religious events, feeding the community during special religious days, paying the salary of a resident ʿālim, etc.  

 

As zakat mainly helps the poor, khums, in addition to helping the poor, helps keep alive and expand organizations that help the Muslim community stay together and participate in religious institutions and events.  

 

Probably the greatest benefit of paying khums to private sources is that it helps the Muslim community become independent from governments. Often enough, many Mosques and communities are at the mercy of governments as it is their major source of income.  

 

What this does is that it creates a large group of scholars and religious leaders who unfortunately become subservient and servile to the powers that be! The benefit of khums, despite its relatively high tax rate, is that it helps keep the Muslim community financially, and by extension, religiously independent from governments.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
3.8 The Hajj Pilgrimage Download Topic

 INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Today we will discuss the third element the furūʿ al-dīn, the Hajj pilgrimage.In this lesson, we will take a brief look at the ritual details of the Hajj in Islamic law, its history and origins and the its wider significance for the Muslim community. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass. That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days over what He has provided for them of [sacrificial] animals. So eat of them and feed the miserable and poor. Then let them end their untidiness and fulfill their vows and circumambulate around the ancient House." (Chapter 22, verses 27-29 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word Hajj literally means “pilgrimage”. The Hajj season begins in the last month of the Islamic calendar. This month is called Dhū al-Hijjah and the Hajj begins on the 8th of the month and ends on the 12th. The ninth day of the month is called the Day of Arafah. This is the central day of the Hajj and is the day where everyone must perform the Hajj rituals. 

 

Arafah means "to be acquainted.” As a day of love, it is said that the Day of Arafah is the day where one reacquaints oneself with God once more after having been distanced from Him for so long.  

 

The Hajj is the largest annual gathering of people on earth. During the week of Hajj, Muslims perform a series of rituals. Among these rituals, Muslims walk counter-clockwise around the Kaʿba seven times.  

 

The Kaʿba is a building in the shape of a cube and it is the point which Muslims direct their salāt towards.  The circumambulation that they perform is called the tawāf. The tawāf is the most popular and distinguishing act of the Hajj rituals. It’s the first thing you will notice when you see it on TV! 

 

Muslims then proceed to pacing between two hills call al-Safa and al-Marwa, drink from the Zamzam well and then stand vigil at Mount Arafat. After this, Muslims spend the night a plain called Muzdalifa and perform a symbolic stoning of Satan by throwing stones at three pillars. Finally, pilgrims shave their heads, sacrifice an animal and celebrate the end of the Hajj under Eid al-Adha which means festival of the sacrifice.  

 

Muslims may perform these rituals at other times during the year. This pilgrimage is called Umrah, but unlike the Hajj, it is not obligatory to perform. The Hajj is obligatory on whoever is physically, financially and legally able to do so at least once in their lifetime. 

 

The Hajj pilgrimage was made obligatory upon Muslims during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). The pilgrimage itself, however, goes back as far as the time of the Prophet Abraham (Ibrāhīm) (as). In Islamic history, God wanted to create a new center for His community of believers in an ancient location called Mecca.  

 

Abraham or Ibrāhīm as he is called in Arabic, was ordered to leave his wife Hajar and son Ismāʿīl (as)  alone in the a desert location called Mecca. As baby Ismāʿīl (as) was dying of thirst, his mother desperately ran between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but was not able to find water. Ismāʿīl, as he was kicking the ground, opened up a well where a fountain of water sprang up from beneath his feet.  

 

The well came to be known as Zamzam, and it became the reason through which this desert point grew into a vibrant city, thanks to its water.  

 

When Ismāʿīl (as) grew up, his father joined him and under the command of Allah, they built what is known today as the Kaʿba.  People were henceforth invited to perform the pilgrimage there circumambulating around it seven times, counter-clock wise. The rituals that Muslims perform today are an enactment of the tradition established by Abraham, as well as the desperate pacing of Hājar. 

 

During the Hajj, Muslims must take off clothes that distinguish them. They must wear a two-piece white robe (at least the males do). The Hajj, aside its ritual significance, is meant to absolve Muslims from their sins and renew the human soul and spirit. 

 

In addition to this, it is meant to establish a universal brotherhood and sisterhood of equality among all Muslims. It is meant to bring people together united as Muslims irrespective of their cultural, tribal or national loyalties.  

 

In this sense, the Hajj is meant to challenge and break ethnic, cultural, tribal and geographic boundaries. Historically speaking, this was indeed the case. No matter where a Muslim was from, he or she could join his or her brethren in Mecca as equals regardless of wealth, class, status or political privilege. 

 

The Hajj was also a center of intellectual flourishing. At a time where there was no telecommunications or printing, books were spread far and wide in a relatively short amount of time. This is because Muslims would share the books they had written during the Hajj pilgrimage. Over there, books would be copied and quickly spread across the world. Hajj became not only a symbol of unity and equality for Muslims, but also intellectual sharing and growth.   

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
3.9 The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our last lesson was more of a philosophical discussion concerning the idea of putting belief into practice. We argued that Islam is both belief and practice, without the latter, there is no Islam.  

 

We further argued that Islamic practices often come in the form of obligations, meaning that we have no choice but to follow them through, unless we want to oppose God’s commandments and fall into sin. Obeying the law is part of being faithful to our covenant to God. 

 

This lesson will be an introduction to the most fundamental practices of Islam called the furūʿ al-dīn.  These practices are obligations and they embody the core spirit of obedience to God. We will first establish their relationship to the usūl al-dīn and then we will briefly outline the ten obligatory practices that make up the furūʿ al-dīn. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. (Chapter 2, verse 25 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The usūl al-dīn are the fundamental principles of Islamic belief. The usūl al-dīn can also be literally translated as the “roots of religion.” Roots are what animate a tree, without roots, a tree cannot survive. The five fundamental beliefs of Islam are what give life to Islam. Without them, the tree of Islam cannot survive for long.  

 

Furūʿ al-dīn literally means the “branches of religion.” Just like the roots feed a tree and keep it alive, branches, along with their leaves, also nourish the roots in return. The furūʿ al-dīn are ten: ṣalāt (obligatory prayers), fasting, Hajj, Zakāt, Khums, Jihad, Commanding the Good (amr bi al-maʿrūf), Forbidding Evil (nahi an al-munkar), Tawalla and finally Tabarra. 

 

The furūʿ al-dīn are not only wājib, but they are also farḍ. In the English language, both mean obligatory, but what makes farḍ special is that it is an obligation that is clearly found in the Qur’an. So in this sense, salāt is not just wājib, but also farḍ since it is explicit in the Qur’an. For example, salāt is wājib, but since it is explicitly found in the Qur’an, it is also farḍ. 

 

The furūʿ al-dīn obviously don’t exhaust the entirety of Islamic law. They act as a legal umbrella that cover a series of rules that encompass most if not all of Islam’s commandments and prohibitions. For example, although the prohibition against stealing isn’t explicitly part of the furu al-din, it is a subcategory of “Forbidding Evil” , the 8th furūʿ al-dīn.  

 

The following is a brief outline of the ten furū al-dīn: 

 

Salāt: Salāt generally refers to the five obligatory prayers that a Muslim must perform on a daily basis. The five prayers are composed of 17 units in total and begin with the dawn prayer (fajr) and end with the night prayer (ʿishā). Salāt is different than supplications (duʿā) where one sits and personally speaks with God, or begs Him for things. The distinct practice of duʿā is not obligatory but salāt is. If a person denies its obligatory nature after being informed about it, he or she cannot be a Muslim. 

 

Fasting: Fasting, also known as siyām in Arabic, is the obligatory fast during the Holy month of Ramadan. One fasts for around 30 days from dawn until sun set and refrains from food, intimate relations, drink, smoking, as well as sins like gossiping. Fasting is there to help people psychologically detach oneself from things that are regularly allowed. This helps us resist things that are prohibited. 

 

Hajj: The pilgrimage that every capable Muslim must make to the Holy Kaba in the city of Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. The Hajj is an opportunity for Muslims from all around the world from all races and cultures to gather and worship God together as equals. 

 

Zakāt: Zakāt comes from the word tazkīyah, which means to purify, as in purifying one’s wealth by giving part of it to the poor. Zakāt is a special tax that all eligible Muslims must pay to the poor. The Zakāt tax is intended to help the poor and help them with their need for food and shelter.  

 

Khums: Khums means “one fifth.” Khums is a tax where one fifth of one’s unused sitting income at the end of the year is given to charity. Khums can be taken from other things, but we won't go into its details here. Khums is meant to help finance many of the religious institutions in Islam. 

 

Jihād: Jihād is of two kinds, one is inner and the other external. Jihad means to struggle. The inner jihad is a jihad against the nafs or egoic self that commands to evil. The external jihad is a self-defense mechanism whereby a person must defend himself or herself in case a warring group attacks his or her locality.  

 

Commanding the Good: In His religion, Allah has already established what is good. Among other things, these include telling the truth, marriage, establishing salāt, etc. Commanding the good is encouraging yourself and members of the Muslim community to do good. By commanding the good, one betters one’s community and its future. 

 

Forbidding Evil: Allah has also told us what is evil. These include fornication, lying, cheating, alcohol, stealing and so on and so forth. A Muslim’s duty is to forbid these sin through peaceful advice. 

 

Tawalla: Tawalla literally means to direct oneself, as in, direct oneself to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) and love them wholeheartedly. Only by loving them, and associating oneself with those who love them, does one gain closeness to Allah for they are His representatives and His dearest of creatures on earth.  

 

Tabarra: Tabarra is the opposite of Tawalla. It is to disassociate oneself from the enemies of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). This done for several reasons. The first is out of respect and love of Allah and avoiding those whom are hateful to God. Second, everyone is susceptible to influences by people. Associating with evil people will inevitably leave its mark on our hearts. As such, for our own sake, we must disassociate from such people just like one would disassociate from disease infested places.  

 

In the following lectures, we will discuss each of the furūʿ al-dīn in more detail.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
3.10 Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In our previous lesson, we saw how the salat is the most important practice in the entirety of Islam. This is so because it is the crux of one’s relationship with God. Without it, there is no proper relationship with God. Without it, there can be no Islam. 

 

If there is a practice which we may deem as the “second most important” practice in Islam, it is  siyām or fasting. In this lesson, we will look into the purpose of fasting in Islam in the furūʿ al-dīn, its how-to and some practical advice for those who are not used to fasting, at least in the way that it is practiced in Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O you who have believed, ordained for you is fasting as it was ordained for those before you so that you may remain conscious of God; [fasting] for a number of days. whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. (Chapter 2, verses 183-184 from the Holy Qur’an) 

 

When we speak about fasting in Islam, we are primarily speaking about the obligatory fast during the Holy month of Ramadan. The verse we just read contains within it the ultimate purpose of fasting. The ultimate purpose of fasting is to instill God consciousness (taqwā) in human beings.  

 

We have two kinds of desires, those that are produced by our physical bodies and those that are produced by our minds and imagination. With most human beings in the world, these two desires are intertwined with each other.  

 

The body has a number of urges and desires, and the mind creates images that it associates with them.  

 

As if the bodily desires were not enough, the kinds of images, attachments and covetous states that the mind produces makes these bodily desires much more intense.  

 

The body has its base cravings, but generally speaking, it is in the mind where addictions and compulsive behaviors are born. These include, among other things, addictions to food, drinking, smoking, drugs, intense love of money and so on and so forth.  

 

It is in the mind where we become slaves to our desires What does it mean to be a slave of one’s desires? It means to not able to say no to them! 

 

One cannot both be a slave of one’s desires and a slave of God. We have to choose who we want to serve. 

 

The purpose of fasting is to reduce our mental attachments to our daily habits and desires. By helping us psychologically detach ourselves from our desires, fasting is meant to strengthen our will and help us submit to God instead. 

 

Fasting also has a social value. Fasting helps us not only appreciate what God has given us in terms of food, drink and other things, but it helps us empathize with the poor. Without empathy, it is difficult to give charity to the poor. 

 

The obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan is usually 30 days. It begins at dawn and ends at sunset or sundown depending on how one interprets maghrib time. One must abstain from food, drink, intimate relations, smoking, as well as other forbidding things like gossiping, lying, cheating, backbiting etc.  

 

Failure to observe the rules of the fast will break one’s fast. Of course, if one eats or drinks accidentally, then one’s fast will not be broken. In fact, according to Islamic tradition, absentmindedly eating or drinking during Ramadan is considered a mercy from God. 

 

Only sane adults are required to fast. Those who are very advanced in age, or are sick, pregnant, under-aged, or have jobs that do not allow them to fast (like intense farm work in hot summers) are not required to fast. People who are usually eligible to fast but cannot do so due to special circumstances are required to make up for their fast at some later time. If they cannot, then they need to compensate for the fast by feeding the poor.  

 

The Eid al-Fitr is the festival which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan. There is a special prayer associated with it that is generally prayed in the morning before noon. After this a Muslim breaks his or her fast and resumes normal eating and drinking hours again.  

 

The month of Ramadan is the month that the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s). According to the Prophet (s), the month of Ramadan is where the demons or shayātīn are restrained and Muslims are allowed to grow spiritually at an accelerated rate. It is where sins are forgiven, and prayers receive more rewards than they usually do. 

 

Fasting during the month of Ramadan must begin with the intention or niyya of fasting. Before dawn, one wakes up for suhūr or the predawn breakfast. This ensures that a person can function during the day. Iftār on the other hand is when a Muslim breaks his or her fast at sundown or sunset. 

 

Fasting is recommended on most days of the year when desires become overwhelming. Fasting helps tame these desires. 

 

One cannot fast anytime one wants. There are times when fasting is prohibited. Fasting is prohibited when it seriously endangers a person's health, or when a person travels or when it is the Day of Ashura.  


 
3.11 Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

In this lesson, we will take a look at some more obligatory and forbidden acts in Islam and see how they are connected to the furū al-dīn.

BODY OF TEXT

And We have revealed to you (0 Muhammad) the Reminder (that is, the Qur'an) so you may clarify to the people what has been revealed to them, and so that they may reflect (Chapter 16, verse 44 of the Holy Qur’an)

The furūʿ al-dīn are the platform of Islamic law. This does not mean that they are the entirety of the law. Just because prayer or salāt may be the most important ritual practice of Islamic law, it does not mean that other practices are unimportant. Every aspect of Islam plays a specific role.

Think of it as a bunch of pillars in a building. Every pillar plays a critical role in upholding a building. Yes, some pillars may be bigger than the others, but they are all important in their own way. Here is a small list of other obligatory and forbidden acts in Islam:

Marriage can be wājib: If a person is afraid that by staying single, he or she will fall into sin, then marriage becomes obligatory. Remember that marriage is one of the most important foundations of the Islamic community’s salvation in the Hereafter since it protects them from zina.

Zina is forbidden in Islam. It is one of the major sins (kabā’ir, sing. kabīra). Zina is illicit intercourse in Islam between a man and a woman. Usually zina either takes place between two unmarried people, or takes place as a form of adultery. Zina carries a heavy penalty in Islam as it risks the health of the Muslim ummah by undermining the sanctity of marriage. According to Islam, marriage is the best institution for raising spiritually healthy children. Without marriage, the future of the next generation is put in danger.

Drinking alcohol or taking drugs is haram in Islam. Drinking alcohol is also a kabīra and is punishable in Islam. Alcohol is often the source of many of society’s crimes and family breakdown. But in Islam, alcohol’s worst effect is on a person’s soul, spirit and heart. It is detrimental to a person’s spiritual health for it opens the gates for Shaytān.

Gossiping (ghība): Gossiping behind people’s backs, that is, backbiting and exposing their faults is forbidden in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) have many hadiths stating that it is even worse than zina!

Respecting one’s parents is obligatory in Islam. The opposite, therefore, is also true. One is not allowed to disrespect them. Disrespecting one’s parents is ungratefulness to the people who brought us to the world and is a total lack of manners. Just these two things are enough to destroy a person’s soul.

It is forbidden to cut off relations with one’s family, and it is forbidden to ignore a Muslim for more than three days. Cutting off relation with one’s family is a major sin in Islam. It doesn’t matter how bad or rude they are; we must do it for the sake of Allah.

Providing for one’s wife and children is obligatory in Islam. In Islam, this is called nafaqa. Women have no obligation to work and “bring home the halal bacon.” This is the sole responsibility of a man. A woman, however, may choose to work if she wants. A man cannot do this. He must work and bring home money.

Gambling is one of the greatest sins in Islam. It is forbidden under any circumstance. Gambling is often the source of personal conflict, bankruptcy, heedlessness of God, and family breakdown. No Muslim community can be healthy when these things become common.

Lying, cheating, stealing or murdering are all forbidden in Islam. This of course is obviously a no-brainer. No community or society can function, either materially or spiritually if these sins are prevalent.

Shark loans and usury are forbidden in Islam. The Islamic term for usury is ribā. Many people have had their lives destroyed, or have had generations of their family in debt because of shark loans and usury. According to the Qur’an, taking usury from people is war against God.

Racism is completely forbidden in Islam. Plenty of hadiths teach us that racism leads people straight out of Islam. The only thing that makes a person superior in Islam is his or her piety.
Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
3.12 Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

  

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

  

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

  

The essence of Islamic law is something called niyya, which literally means intention, as in the intention behind our actions. In this lesson, inshā’Allāh, we will look at the meaning of niyya in Islam as well as its different kinds. We will then conclude with some of the common misconceptions that people have when it comes to niyya.  

  

  BODY OF TEXT 

  

The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: 

  

“…And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little…” (Chapter 4, verse 142 of the Holy Qur’an) 

  

The pivot which centers the purpose of all of our actions and beliefs in Islam is something called niyya. Niyya is the intention we have behind any religious act that we do as Muslims. What we would call a “good” niyya would be a something we do for Allah’s sake alone and not for someone or something else. In other words, as the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) have taught us, a good niyya is a means for Qurbatan illa-Allāh. 

  

Qurbatan illa-Allāh means “to seek closeness to Allah.” So when you do an action, your niyya may be considered good if your sole intention is to be closer to God. If you’re performing a religious act for the sake of something or someone other than Allah, then you’re in trouble! 

  

So it’s pretty simple to see that the intentions we have behind the things we do really determines whether or not we’ve actually sinned, or if we’ve done something that will help our salvation and the salvation of the Muslim ummah.  

  

Let’s stop talking in abstract terms and get more specific with examples. Say that you want to pray your wājib salāt in a group. You see members of the Islamic community coming into the room your praying in. At first you were alone and praying for God’s sake alone, but you were praying fast. Once people came in, you started praying more slowly, maybe shedding a few tears in order to get people to think your all religious and pious.  

  

In the first instance, your niyya may have been good as you were praying for God’s sake and no one else. But then when people entered, your niyya actually changed and you started praying for the sake of impressing others and not God! So this would be an example of a niyya gone wrong, or a bad niyya.  

  

There is a beautiful hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s) which describes the reality of niyya in Islam:  

  

“Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, his migration was for Allah and His messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.” 

  

If you do something for God’s sake, you will get your rewards. If you don’t, you won’t get them. But there is more. Sometimes we make honest mistakes, like accidentally eating pork. If our intention or niyya was not to sin, then Allah will not take us to task for that sin. So what does this tell us? Niyya isn’t something that you just say before you do something, niyya is a state of the heart, it is your heart and soul's intention.  

  

So that’s what niyya is really about, its about gaining closeness to God. That’s the real journey. When you go to Hajj for example, the pilgrimage only has value when you only do it for the sake of getting closer to God. 

  

However, there is more to this story. We often fall pray to the “good” niyya of others. In other words, they may have intended something good, but something bad happened. If we really want to have “good” niyya, that is, the kind of niyya that is pleasing to Allah, there are a few things we need to do: 

  

  1. The foundation of good niyya is to please Allah and to seek closeness to Him. One cannot do this if one doesn’t know what Allah actually wants or what pleases him. So the first step is to have sufficient knowledge and understanding of Islam. This is one way of preventing the evil of “good intentions.” It is no wonder that the Prophet (s) said that “seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” 
  2.  The second point of good niyya is to make sure that there is no selfishness involved. Sometimes we think what we’re doing is for the sake of Allah, but deep down inside it is for other reasons, like personal gain. So critical self-reflection is crucial for good niyya. 
  3.   Sometimes with good niyya we may fail at something or end up unintentionally hurting someone. A marker of good niyya is to be able to go out of one’s way to rectify the situation and make up for any damage or pain that one caused.  
  4.   Effort: getting good niyya is a struggle or jihād. One must adopt the mandatory skills, patience in order to meaningfully discharge the results of one’s niyya. Sitting and thinking that “good intentions” are enough is not sufficient for it to be worthy of Allah’s pleasure. This is what we may call “lazy niyya” thinking that as long as intentions are good, one can do the bare minimum. That is totally incorrect. Wanting to please Allah means that one must put in one’s maximum effort in trying to attain success in what one is doing.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
3.13 Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

The 7th and 8th items of the Furūʿ al-Dīn are called Commanding the Good (Amr bi al-Maʿrūf) and Forbidding Evil (Nahī ʿan al-Munkar).

Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil are important social duties in Islam. In this lesson, we will look at the important role these two principles play in the world of Islam.

BODY OF TEXT

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient. (Chapter 3, verse 110 of the Holy Qur’an)

The fifth Imām, Imām Muhammad al-Bāqir (as) once said, “Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil are the most important obligations [of Islam] because upon them depends the performance of all other obligations. If Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil are done, the earth will become a safe place, enemies will be defeated, and all other matters will be done appropriately."

Anarchy comes in two major forms. First there is political anarchy where no rules and punishments are enforced. Humans are free to do what they want. Unfortunately, many bad people take advantage of this and turn people’s lives into a chaotic hell!

Another form of anarchy is something called moral anarchy. Although there may be political authority and severe crimes like murder may be punished, in moral anarchy many moral codes that are inspired by religious values will be disregarded and ignored. In moral anarchy, you will see sins like adultery, fornication and drinking legalized.

The purpose of al-Amr bi al-Maʿrūf and Nahī ʿan al-Munkar is to address these problems. These principles teach us to encourage people to pray and to teach people that sins like fornication are immoral and evil.

Through the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Imāms of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), God has taught us what is good and what is bad. First we need to apply them to ourselves. Second, we need to apply them to others by educating them and encouraging them to do good and discouraging them from doing evil.

If you see someone not praying, try encouraging them to pray. If you see someone lying, try teaching them that lying is bad.

If the Ummah is healthy, we ourselves have a better chance at finding salvation. Think about it this way, will you or your kids be able to lead a healthy spiritual life in a sinful environment? It’s very hard to do so!

Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil comes with conditions in Islamic law:

We must be aware of the good and bad in Islam. So before doing anything, we need to make sure that we are aware of the basic moral and legal dos and don’ts of Islam. If you are unsure, ask a scholar or email your Marjaʿ.
We must believe that there is a possibility that we can enact change. If we are certain that nothing will happen, then it is no longer obligatory to Command the Good and Forbid Evil.

 

The person Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil must be sure that no harm will come to him or her, whether it is personal, bodily or financial.
If the problem, however, is so big (like mass murder and oppression) then the condition of possibility of change or self harm are no longer conditions, we must Forbid Evil regardless of consequences. Remember that evil is allowed to rise and take over a nation when good men and women don’t do anything.

Method of Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil

Talk to a person politely and gently ask them to perform a deed or abstain from an evil.
Being a good example (sometimes talking doesn’t work!)
One may report the matter to a scholar, or someone who is wiser and more knowledgeable who can better deal with issues, particularly with social evils.
If an urgent matter comes across that requires immediate action, like seeing someone assaulted on the streets, then one must put a stop to it.

Now this is really important to remember and pay attention to. All of these above actions will only be considered Amr bi al-Maʿrūf and Nahī ʿan al-Munkar if and only if you do it for the sake of Allah.

Remember that when practicing Amr bi al-Maʿrūf and Nahī ʿan al-Munkar, one is primarily doing this among Muslims. In many cases, we live in the West where people follow other religions. In this circumstance, a Muslim has no duty in forbidding something that another person’s religion allows.

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

4 Prophethood in Islam


 
4.1 A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 The history of Islam is a long one. Islam means to serve and submit to God. God has sent a 124 000 Prophets on earth and they have all taught the same singular message: submit your heart to God and serve Him even if it be against your carnal desires. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad were all part of this chain of prophetic guidance to the world.

 It is only in the metaphysical heart’s submission to God do humans return to their natural state of primordial bliss. By synching the soul with eternity, freedom from carnal delusion and union with God are made possible.

 In the chain of Prophetic guidance to the world, the Prophet Muhammad (s) was its last part. It is under him that the message of submission found its final completion and perfection thus preparing humankind for the final phase of the world before the Day of Judgment.  

 In this lesson, we will introduce the Prophet Muhammad (s) as the final Prophet and Messenger of God. We will begin with his early life, recount his role as a Prophet and the qualities and achievements that were peculiar to him.

 BODY OF TEXT

 PART I: The Prophet’s Childhood

 The Prophet Muhammad (s) was born in the year 570 A.D in the city of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Peninsula is known as the Hijaz in Arabic. The city of Mecca is located in modern day Saudi Arabia.  

 The Prophet Muhammad (s) was a direct descendent of Ishmael, or otherwise known as Ismāʿīl in Arabic. Ismāʿīl was the son of the Prophet Abraham (as). However, the Prophet Muhammad’s existence precedes his physical birth on this earth.

It an authentic ḥadīth reported by the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) close companion Jābir b. ʿAbd Allāh, he asked the Messenger of Allah the following question:

“O Messenger of Allāh, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, tell me of the first thing Allāh created before all things.” He said: O Jābir, the first thing Allāh created was the light of your Prophet from His light, and that light remained in the midst of His Power for as long as He wished, and there was not, at that time, a Tablet or a Pen or a Paradise or a Fire or an angel or a heaven or an earth. And when Allāh wished to create creation, he divided that Light into four parts and from the first made the Pen, from the second the Tablet, from the third the Throne, then He divided the fourth into four parts [and from them created everything else].
 
The tradition then continues to state:

Then He divided it into portions, and He created the understanding from one portion, and the knowledge and forbearance from another portion, and the (divine) protection and help from yet other portion, and He placed the fourth portion in the station of modesty as long as Allah wished. Then He looked at it with awe-inspiring eye, and that Light started perspiring, and one hundred and twenty-four thousand drops dropped from it; and Allah created from each drop the soul of a prophet and apostle. Then the souls of the prophets began breathing, and Allah created from their breasts the souls of (His) friends and the martyrs and the good ones.'"

The first thing Allah ever created was a conscious light. Through this light, God created knowledge, the destiny of the world and all life therein. Through his light, the souls of human beings and the souls of the prophets were brought about.  
 
Each Prophet that came down unto this earth was a manifestation of this primordial and creative light of God. In Christianity, this light is known as the Word except that in Islam, the Light or Word is a creation of God and not God Himself.
 
It is in the year 570 A.D that this promordial light became fully manifest in the body of the Prophet Muhammad (s). As said earlier, the Prophet Muhammad was a descendent of the Prophet Ismāʿīl, the son of the Prophet Abraham (as). As such, the Prophet’s forefather Hāshim, his grandfather ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, and his own father ʿAbd Allāh and uncle Abū Ṭālib were direct descendants of Abraham (as).  
 
The Abrahamic tribe of the Prophet was part of what was called Quraysh. His clan was known as Banu Hāshim, as in the sons of Hāshim, the forefather of the Prophet (s).  

 As a descendent of the Prophet Abraham (as), ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib was the leader of Mecca and the caretaker of the Kaʿba, the holy structure built by Abraham to serve God. The Kaʿba was the economic vein of Mecca as it was a site for pilgrimages from all over the Peninsula and sometimes beyond. However, over the years the Kaʿba became a center point for idol worship, the very thing Abraham had fought against. The Prophet Muhammad’s (s) later mission was therefore to restore the Kaʿba as a focal point of monotheism.

 The Prophet’s father ʿAbd Allāh had died before he was born. For the initial few years of his life, his mother Amina had taken care of him. At the age of 6, the Prophet’s mother passed away. For two years, the Prophet’s grandfather ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib took custody of him, but at the age of 8 years old, he also lost him and became an orphan for the third time.

 It is at this point that he was adopted by his paternal uncle Abū Ṭālib. In young age, Abū Ṭālib had treated Muḥammad just like his own son. Some reports even indicate that he treated him even better than his own children due to the special love he had for him. As the Prophet (s) grew, Abū Ṭālib became the one constant and reliable source of support against his enemies.  

 Even when Abū Ṭālib faced financial bankruptcy, illness, political and social humiliation, and threats to his own life and that of his family as a result of supporting the Prophet Muhammad’s truthful claim to prophethood, he never once wavered in his support.  

 In this sense, despite the tragedies that had befallen the Prophet, Allah had designed the tragedies in order to give the Prophet a father figure like no other in the Arabian Peninsula or even the world at the time.  

 As a token of Abū Tālib’s trust and love to Muhammad, he let him raised his own son Ali who was later to become the Prophet’s successor and first Imam of the Muslim community.

 According to Imām Jāʿfar al-Ṣādiq (as), Abū Ṭālib was in his own right one of God’s selected vicegerents on earth and a perfect role model for others. As a role model, Abū Ṭālib was humble, selfless, altruistic and compassionate to all his surroundings, the necessary ingredients needed for God’s apostleship which were to be transmitted to the Prophet (s) as well as the divinely appointed Imāms that were to succeed him afterwards.

 Abū Ṭālib was a Muslim from the get-go and accepted the Prophet Muhammad as a true Messenger of Allah. But in order to preserve his power so that he may protect the Prophet (s), he hid his beliefs from people.

 Please make sure to tune in the second part of this lesson. Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
4.2 Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III) Download Topic

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

  Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 PART II: The Prophet Muhammad (s) as a Prophet of God

 At the age of 25, the Prophet (s) began working for a wealthy lady of high status called Khadījah. Khadījah was older than the Prophet Muhammad (s) yet she was not married at the time. Many men over the years had proposed marriage to her, but Khadījah had rejected them all as she was not satisfied with them.  

 As an employee of Khadījah, the Prophet Muhammad (s) had shown a lot of valor, honor and honesty in his position as Khadījah’s trade representative to Syria. Remember that single women could not simply travel for trade at the time and as such, they needed to hire male delegates to do the trade for them.  

 Impressed by Muhammad’s character, Khadījah, through a third party, proposed marriage with Muhammad. As Muhammad had seen a pure heart in Khadījah as well, he immediately accepted the proposal.   

 The Prophet Muhammad (s) and Khadijah were to remain married for twenty-five years. In these twenty-five years, the Prophet remained in a completely monogamous relationship even though polygamy was very common at the time, especially for men of the Prophet Muhammad’s high social status. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad came from the Banu Hashim, the most honored family in Mecca.

 A favorite practice of the Prophet Muhammad was prayer and meditation. As a monotheist Hanīf, he worshipped God in his daily prayers. Hanīf usually referred to an Arab who followed the monotheistic message of Abraham (as).

 Although the Prophet worked in the world, he had a strong inclination for spiritual solitude by taking refuge in a mountain cave called Hira.  

 For the Prophet (s), the cave was a place of absolute silence where he could immerse himself in meditative prayer. This environment helped strengthen the Prophet’s interior silence.  

 Remember that many of us distance ourselves from God as there is too much noise in our minds. This noise blocks out God’s voice. We can live in a quiet place, and although this may be helpful, it is more important to achieve interior silence. You may, for example, get yourself out of New York, but what is primary is to take New York out of your mind.  

 The Prophet’s meditative prayer in the cave of Hira was part of the Prophet’s ascetic practice of partaking in God’s eternity. In a particularly high state of union with God, the Archangel Gabriel (as) revealed himself to the Prophet and revealed the entirety of the Qur’an to him. There the Messenger of Allah officially became God’s emissary to the world. That year was 610 A.D and he was 40 years of age which marked the beginning of his proselytizing mission to humanity.

 Although the Qur’an was revealed in complete form to the Prophet (s), he revealed it to Muslims incrementally in a space of over two decades until shortly before his death in 632 A.D.

 For the first few years of his Prophetic mission, the Prophet (s) shared the message of the Qur’an to individuals. As he did this, he gained many enemies but still, he responded in kindness, compassion and patience even to those who had mistreated him. At the time, since Abū Ṭālib was alive, few people could hurt him directly given the heavy protection he was under.

 The majority of the people who converted to Islam were of the lowest oppressed classes of society, many of whom were slaves. Although the Prophet was afforded protection from Abū Tālib and the Banu Hāshim, others did not fare well as this protection did not extend to them. Although the Prophet would have preferred this protection to extend to them, tribal rules as well as limitations in the Banu Hāshim’s power did not allow this to happen.

 In 614 A.D, those Muslims without protection fled to Abyssinia and sought refuge with the Christian king who ruled the land there.  Members of the Quraysh tribe opposed to Islam sent a delegation to the king to have the new converts returned to Mecca. Although they tried to bribe the king, he refused. The king showed his true honor at the time and his respect for Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

 Not long after this incident, the Quraysh imposed economic sanctions and social restrictions on the Prophet, the Banu Hāshim and the new Muslims. The Muslims suffered a lot under these sanctions but the sanctions eventually collapsed in less than four years. However, these sanctions had taken their toll on Khadija and Abu Talib who passed away soon afterwards.  

 This was the most difficult time of the Prophet’s life. He lost the people whom he had loved the most. With the loss of much of his former protection, the Prophet’s enemies attempted to kill him.  

 As a result, the Prophet migrated to the city of Medina in 622 A.D. This migration was called the Hijrah, meaning “migration” in Arabic. Some of the tribal chiefs of Medina had already converted to Islam when they had met him in Mecca, so Medina ended up being a safe haven for him.

 With the Prophet (s) in Medina, many Muslims started migrating to Medina for safety. Sensing the growing power and danger of Islam, the Quraysh tried to assassinate him in Medina, which fortunately did not work.  

They also opted for war which ended in the Prophet’s victory after almost a decade of fighting. In the year 630 A.D, the Prophet Muhammad (s) conquered Mecca.  

 It is noteworthy here that the Prophet never started a single war. Every war he partook in was defensive in nature. Even the conquest of Mecca was the result of the Prophet defending himself.  

 The Meccan elite had caused the Prophet many years of agony. They had killed and mutilated many of his friends and loved ones. They were responsible for the hardships that contributed to the deaths of his wife Khadijah and Abū Tālib. They had also mutilated his uncle Hamza and ate his liver.

 Despite this, the Prophet (s) showed no inclination for revenge. He forgave the Meccans for the injustices they had done to him.

 Instead, the Prophet (s) entered the city with his head bowed down in humility. All he asked the people around him was if he had fulfilled his duty to God. The Muslims in response answered in the affirmative.  

 The Prophet Muhammad (s) died in the year 632 A.D. In the same year, before he died, he made sure to appoint a successor. This successor was to take on the Prophet’s religious mission on earth. For this to happen, this successor had to inherit the primordial light of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and receive unmediated divine knowledge from God.  

 Since the message was complete and perfect, no new revelation was needed. As such, this successor did not have to be a Prophet. But by virtue of his divine appointment and as a manifestation of the primordial Muhammadan light in this world, he was to be called an Imām, that is, a divinely appointed leader for the guidance of humankind.  

 The new Imām, like the Prophet Muhammad (s) and Prophet Jesus (as) before him, was also to be the qutb of the world, that is, that perfect human being who was to be the cosmic and universal leader for all of God’s saints and the mediator between the divine and human realms.  

 The presence of the qutb or divine pole as God’s primordial light in the world was necessary for the continued existence of the earth for he was the channel through which God’s providence and mercy unto the world was made possible.  

 This new Imām and Qutb of the world was no other than ʿAli, the son of Abū Tālib. His was the beginning of the divine institution of Imāmate that was to last twelve generations until the Day of Judgment.  

 Please make sure to tune in the third part of this lesson. Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
4.3 A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III) Download Topic


Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.  
   
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

PART III: The Prophet’s Character

 Here we will list a number of qualities of the Prophet Muhammad in order to get to know his personality better.

  1.  The Prophet had the best of manners. He never swore at anyone, nor was he rude. Whenever he reprimanded someone, he did it with the utmost respect.
  2. The Prophet Muhammad (s) also had a lot of humor. Once a woman came asking the Prophet (s) where her husband was. The Prophet replied: “Oh you mean the man with the white on his eye?” The lady replied that God forbid, her husband was healthy and did not have “white” on his eye! The Prophet replied that he was just teasing for everyone has white on their eyes.
  3. The Prophet always sought peace instead of war. Whenever there was tension, the Prophet always resorted to making treaties to prevent war. The wars he did partake in were all defensive in nature.
  4. The Prophet was very kind to children. He would come down on his knees when speaking to them, never looking down at them. He would play games with them all the time and gave them sweets before parting.
  5. The Prophet was very kind and generous to the poor. He barely owned anything, he would give away all his wealth to the poor even if it meant starvation for him. The Prophet was hungry most of his days.
  6. The Prophet was very kind to women. He instructed Muslims in saying that the best of believers were those who were the best to women. The Prophet always preferred monogamy to polygamy. He spent most of his life being married to one woman. It is only at the height of battles did he marry extra women for the sake of tribal alliances. When the Prophet conquered Mecca, he was at the height of his power but he did not take an extra wife.  
  7. The Prophet gave the utmost importance to orphans. In a famous tradition by the Prophet, he is reported to have said that “The best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.”
  8. The Prophet hated cruelty against animals. He always insisted that people should be gentle and compassionate to their animals. In one incident, while the Prophet was preaching in the Mosque, a cat came and sat on his clothes while he was sitting. The cat soon fell asleep. When the Prophet wanted to leave, not wanting to disturb the cat, ripped part of his clothes so that he didn’t have to move the cat and wake it up.
  9. The Prophet was a strong proponent of protecting the environment. He disliked wasting of water very much. He taught his followers that they should not waste water even through splashing when they ran passed a river.
  10. The Prophet always paid great attention to his appearance. He always combed his hair, brushed his teeth, wore clean clothes and always put on perfume. His favorite perfume was musk.  
  11. The Prophet was very respectful of people of other religions. In a visit by a delegation of Christians, he let them sleep and pray in his own Mosque in Medina.
  12. The Prophet did not attach himself to worldly pleasures. Even at the height of power, he lived in a mud house and slept on the floor on a straw mat that would leave red marks on his face.
  13. The Prophet was kind to all people, even those who were at the lowest in terms of social status. Whenever he would shake their hands, he would always be the last to take his hand away. Whenever he talked to someone, he would make him or her feel as if he or she was the most important person in the world.
  14. The Prophet always smiled. This was indeed a distinguishing characteristic of his.


 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
4.4 The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! No discussion or book can ever possibly exhaust the greatness or the vastness of the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) virtues. Given the short nature of these lessons, we will obviously need to be selective in how we approach this great topic. Even in the virtues we select, we still have to be brief!  

 

So some of the major themes or virtues we want to cover regarding the Messenger of Allah (s) are the following: his status as a messenger, teacher, and what it means to be the “last of all prophets.” Now you may ask yourself, why these? Why not something else?  

 

We’ve chosen these themes given the time we are living in, that is, the modern 21st century. The Prophet Muhammad (s) was a Prophet for all times. By selecting these themes, we want to be able to demonstrate this statement and not abstract sloganeering!  So here we go! 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. (Chapter 33, verse 21 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) was called by many names. Let’s take a look at a few of these names and what these names mean:  

 

  1. The Prophet Muhammad (s) was a Messenger of Allah (s) which is the most popular of his titles. Being a messenger (rasūl) of God is the next level beyond being a prophet, for it means that the person in question is high enough to receive a new system of laws and even a divine scripture. A regular Prophet doesn’t get these, but a messenger does!   

 

But the Prophet Muhammad (s) was not just any messenger, he was a messenger of the highest degree. This is because his knowledge was perfect and he was at the highest level of infallibility.   

 

The Prophet was also known as the “Seal of all the Prophets.” This means that he was the last of all prophets. Since the message of Islam was perfect and was for all times, places and peoples, there was no longer a need for a new message from God. All that was needed were people to explain this message, which is the role that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) of the Prophet (s) took up. 

 

  1. Even before the Prophet revealed his prophethood to the public, he was given the epithet of al-Amīn, which means “the truthful.” Lying comes naturally for many people. It is either there to protect one’s interests, or protect a person from danger. Sometimes lying may be justified, at other times it may not. One thing that the Messenger of Allah (s) was known for was his truthfulness.  

 

Even when he was in danger, or things went against his interests, the Prophet Muhammad (s) always remained truthful. Perhaps a good example was his life as a merchant. The Prophet (s) never short changed anyone. There were times where he could reap great profits by selling goods at a greater price, but the Prophet (s) never sought to take advantage of anyone.  

 

In business, he was always honest. For this reason, people trusted him as a businessman which is why he ended up becoming so successful. This trait of his was so noticeable that it even got the attention of the rich and prominent lady Khadija. Lady Khadija had rejected every suitor that came to her up until she met the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad’s character as a truthful and honest man compelled her to ask him for marriage instead of the other way around!  

 

  1. The Prophet (s) was also known as al-Muʿallim and al-Tabīb. They mean “the teacher” and “the doctor” respectively. The Qur’an says that there is no compulsion in religion. One of the main reasons why the Qur’an says this is because there is no way you can force people to believe in things. In fact, if you try to do it, more often than not, you’ll just alienate them.  

 

In order to guide people and save people from sin and spiritual heedlessness, one needs to be a teacher. A teacher is compassionate, a teacher shows a person the right way and explains the consequences of wrong decisions. The right and experienced teacher doesn’t force his or her way on a person but manages a way to change a person’s heart and mind. This is how you bring a person on the right track when it comes to his or her relationship with Allah. 

 

The Prophet (s) was also a “doctor” as in a doctor for people’s souls and hearts. The #1 reason why the Prophet (s) was sent to humankind was to transform them by healing them of their diseases. The disease here is separation from God, which causes many spiritual illnesses, such as heedlessness, greed, anger, egoism, and so on and so forth.  

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) was there to show people the way to God and thereby open the door to spiritual healing. Spiritual healing involved closeness to God as well as opening the heart to compassion and humility. The way to God involved teaching people that they were equal before God and not superior to anyone on earth except in piety.  

 

By studying the life and teachings of the Prophet (s), one begins the journey to inner healing. Please make sure to pick up copies of the Prophet Muhammad’s biography which are available on Islamiclibrary.com. Please see the further reading list of this lesson. 


 
4.5 The Prophet and his Relationships Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current section is about the Prophet Muhammad (s). In each lesson that we cover in this section, we want to deal with a particular aspect of the Messenger of Allah (s). In this lesson, we want to look at the various kinds of relationships that the Messenger of Allah (swt) had.  

 

First we will begin with his relationship with God. Second, we will look into his relationship with the Qur’an, then his family, companions and finally his Islamic community.  

 

So let’s begin! 

 

 BODY OF TEXT 

 

Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad] - they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands. So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself. And he who fulfills that which he has promised Allah - He will give him a great reward. (Chapter 45, verse 10 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Prophet (s) and Allah 

 

The Prophet Muhammad’s (s) relationship with Allah was founded on absolute trust, obedience, sincerity and love to Him. The relationship was that of total servitude. In short, the best word we can find for this is Islam, which means to submit and serve God alone.  

 

Every action the Prophet took, or every word that he spoke, was founded on his love and dedication of Allah. The Prophet actually slept very little. He spent his nights worshipping Allah in his night prayers.  

 

Perhaps a good example from his life that shows his dedication to Allah is the conquest of Mecca. When the Prophet (s) conquered Mecca, he could have, like other leaders, come in arrogantly and boasted about his virtues. But no, instead, he entered the city with his head humbly bowed down not looking at anyone. This is because the Prophet knew that Allah does not like arrogant and boastful people. He like those who are humble and meek at heart.  

 

A telling part of one of his spiritual moral character was when he asked Muslims whether or not he had fulfilled his duty to Allah after his victory over the Meccan Arabs. His companions replied “yes.” He went ahead and asked the question two more times, and they replied “yes” to both. This event shows that the Prophet (s) was not concerned with worldly fame, or power, or reputation. All he was concerned with was his standing and reputation before Allah.  

 

 The Prophet and the Holy Qur’an 

 

Islam is a way of life. This means that our religious beliefs and practices cannot remain abstract. They must be materialized. The Qur’an was sent by God as a manual on how to lead the proper religious life. However, the Qur’an, as wonderful as it was, was still a book and was made up of words only. Perhaps the Prophet’s greatest relationship with the Qur’an, aside from having been the vessel for its revelation, was that he was the Qur’an in action. 

 

We have plenty of companions at the time of the Prophet (s) who described him as the “walking and talking Qur’an.” This meant that he was a total embodiment of the Qur’an’s message. This is why it is very important to study the Sunnah of the Prophet for it is one of the main ways of truly understanding the Qur’an. 

 

The Prophet and his Progeny 

 

No man lives forever. But the message of Islam had to continue. Furthermore, Islam had to have continuing role models, at least during the time of the first few generations of Muslims for those times were the formative years of Islam. Allah chose the Prophet’s (s) progeny or Ahl al-Bayt (as) as his religious successors in guiding humankind to salvation in there Hereafter. 

 

The Prophet (s), knowing the role they were to play, spent his life training them so that they would be prepared when he would have to depart this world. For example, the Prophet (s) took Imām Ali (as) under his care when he was just a baby and trained him so that he would take the mantle of Imāmah after him. The Prophet (s) did so similarly with Fātima (as) as well as Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husain (as).   

 

In short, the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were primed and prepped for inheriting the knowledge and the character of the Prophet (s). Obviously this was not the only means through which they gained knowledge as Allah also reveled knowledge to them through inspiration. But nevertheless, direct learning from the Prophet (s) still played a major role in the training of the early members of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

The Prophet and the Muslim Ummah 

 

The purpose of the Prophet being sent to humankind was to save their souls and spirits. He was sent to heal people’s hearts from various spiritual diseases, all of which stemmed from separation from God. In the Middle East, and eventually to the world, the Prophet Muhammad (s) preached monotheism. 

 

The Prophet (s) thus taught them, prayed for them and showed them compassion. No matter who they were, the Prophet always helped widows, orphans and the poor. By showing compassion, the Messenger of Allah (s) not only expressed to them the love that was in his heart, but by doing so he also opened their hearts to him and Allah. This is quite the good point to remember. If we are to guide people to Islam, the best and only way is through compassion and love, not hatred and force. This was the example of the Prophet and the example which we as Muslims should follow.  

 

The intention of creating a Ummah or Islamic community was to break down tribal, geographic and racial barriers. These identities that people have, whether they are racial or tribal, are all mental creations and beget hatred of others. The worst part of these attitudes is that they lead to alienation from God. By breaking these illusions, the Prophet wanted to bring everyone together as equal creations before Allah where the only merit of superiority was piety and fear of Allah. 

 

The Prophet and his Companions 

 

The Prophet (s) had good and bad companions. Some were good in his lifetime and continued to be good afterwards, like Salman and Abu Dharr. Others, however, may have been good in his life time, but deviated after his death. The Prophet obviously knew what would happen, but did not want to take away their chance of guidance. If he disowned them, then maybe that would ruin their chances of repentance sometime towards the end of their lives. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
4.6 The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! So far we’ve talked a bit about the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself.  We’ve talked about his life, virtues and relationships. Now we want to look into the sources that tell us about his life. 

 

Where are these sources? What are they? The place to look at is his Sunnah and the means through which we know the Sunnah, namely the hadiths. This lesson will therefore be an introduction to hadith! 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. (Chapter 33, verse 21 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Sunnah is the sum of the actions, sayings and moral character of the Prophet Muhammad (s). The Sunnah is the way we learn about his manners, ethics and religious life. But how do we know what the Sunnah is? The way the Sunnah gets transmitted to us is through the hadiths. If you recall, hadiths are a system of oral transmission that go back to people who were present during the time of the Prophet. These people orally transmitted what they saw or heard from the Prophet unto others. These oral transmissions were eventually written down. 

 

The same thing goes for the rest of the members of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). When people heard or observed their Sunnah, they related it to others in the form of hadiths.  

 

For a short period of time, the hadiths remained as an oral tradition. However, they were quickly written down in order to preserve them in a centralized and codified way. In the Islamic community, the Imāms of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) for example urged their followers and companions to write down their teachings in order to preserve them for future generations. The Imams taught that writing things down was much more effective for accuracy. 

 

Reference to hadiths are very important. Remember that the Qur’an contains the foundational elements of our religion. It is the prime source of our guidance. However, for practical reasons, the Qur’an cannot contain every single detail of Islam.  

 

If that were the case, the Qur’an would have had to be thousands of volumes and we all know that that would not have been practical. For this reason, the Sunnah and hadith were an essential tool in expanding the themes of the Qur’an, or in providing us with details that are not present in the text. 

 

Take for example the issue of prayer or the Hajj pilgrimage. The Qur’an tells us to pray (salāt) and to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. However, the Qur’an does not tell us how many daily units or rakats that we need to pray. Furthermore, the Qur’an does not tell us how we’re supposed to perform the Hajj. Or take another example. The Qur’an tells us to marry but never tells us how we’re supposed to get married!  

 

So in this sense, the hadiths open many doors for us. They help us understand Islamic law and beliefs better. They also help us understand the Qur’an better for they provide us with the explanations of the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) as to what specific verses really mean.  

 

But not all hadiths are equal. We have hadiths that are considered reliable and we also have hadiths that are not so reliable. And then there are others that are outright fabrications. Remember that hadiths come through oral transmissions. Most hadith books, when narrating a hadith, also have chains of transmissions in them. This means that within a chain of transmission, we can see who related what to whom. In Islamic terms, a chain of transmission is known as a sanad. 

 

So let’s take the first line of transmitters into perspective. The Prophet’s hadiths were narrated by two groups of people who were present during his time. On the one hand there were his companions, and the other his Ahl al-Bayt (as). We saw in our previous lesson that there were good and bad companions.  

 

If we see that a hadith is being related by a bad companion  - for example, a companion who fought against Imam Ali (as) - then this hadith would be automatically suspicious for us. However, if the hadith is narrated by a good companion whom we trust, then the hadith would have a pass and would be considered reliable.  

Obviously there is much more than this in making a hadith reliable, such as the assessment of middle transmitters, but this is a discussion for another time. 

 

With that said, when the Ahl al-Bayt (as) narrate a hadith, we know that this hadith is extremely reliable (that is, once it has been established that the Ahl al-Bayt (as) did actually narrated it!). Why? Because the Ahl al-Bayt were infallible from mistakes and sins. 

 

So referring to the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and what they related is a good way to solve some conflicts and confusions regarding the Prophet’s Sunnah. It happens quite often where we read hadiths and we see contradicting sayings from the Prophet. Again, this is where the Ahl al-Bayt become useful. 

 

As Abān bin Taghlib, one of the famous companions of the Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) once said, “whenever we see different and contradicting versions of what the Prophet (s) said, we take the version of Ali (as)” … so this means that the Ahl al-Bayt are a good way to ensure that what comes to our hands isn’t fabricated or changed in meaning.  

 

Again, remember, there is a whole science behind it that studies every single transmitter in a hadith’s chain of transmission as well as the content of the hadith. The general name of this science is called ʿilm al-hadīth or the “science of hadīth.” In a future lesson, we will, insha’Allah, go deeper into the science of hadiths.  

 

Some of the major sources of hadiths from the Ahl al-Bayt (as) can be found in some books we have today. Of these books, some of the more popular ones include Kitāb al-Kāfī by Shaykh al-Kulaynī, Man Lā Yahduruhu al-Faqīh, ʿUyūn Akhbār al-Ridā and al-Tawhīd by Shaykh al-Sadūq. 

  

There are also other books from our Sunni brothers and sisters where the hadiths of the Prophet are related mostly through the companions. Among the more popular of these books, they include Sahīh al-Bukhāri and Sahīh Muslim.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
4.7 Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! So you’ve been introduced to the subject of hadiths. Now is the time to take a look at some examples of hadiths. In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at two of the most important hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (s). These two hadiths are the hadith of Ghadīr and the other the sermon at Arafa.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. (Chapter 5, verse 67 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The two most important sermons that the Prophet Muhammad (s) delivered to the Muslim Ummah or Islamic community are the sermons at Ghadīr and Arafa. These sermons were given at the end of his life. The sermon of Ghadīr was the last. These two sermons were significant as they dealt with the two major elements of human life, 1) human salvation and guidance (which is what Ghadīr was about) and 2) the crisis of human relationships.  

 

Let us begin with the sermon at Arafah. The sermon of Arafa took place in the last year of the Prophet’s life in 10 AH or 632 CE. The Prophet (s) knew he was departing and he foresaw the crisis that humanity was to face in the future. The sermon is long so we won’t burden you with the whole passage. But here are some key points from it: 

 

“I enjoin good treatment of women, for they are prisoners with you, and you have no right to treat them otherwise, unless they commit clear adultery” 

 

In another passage from the sermon, he said: "O people! Indeed, your Lord is one and your father is one. Indeed, there is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, nor of a non-Arab over an Arab, nor of a white over a black, nor a black over a white, except by taqwa.” 

 

As you can see, with these two passages, the Prophet foresaw two major crises that humanity was to face until the Day of Judgment. First, it was the abuse and ill-treatment of women. He severely discouraged and banned Muslims from mistreating women for that was a sin and a great injustice. Mistreating women of course is not just in the form of physical abuse.  

 

The majority of the poor in the world are actually women. Furthermore, in most work spaces, women are paid less for the same kind of work than men are. This itself is also a form of injustice and ill treatment of women. A good and God fearing Muslim is one who treats women with dignity and fairness.  

 

The second crisis in humanity that the Prophet foresaw was that of racism. Much of the injustices that have taken place have been done on the basis of racism. Think of the extermination of Native Americans in the Americas, or the Holocaust during World War II, or centuries of black slavery. But it hasn’t ended yet. Today we have people who are jailed, profiled and discriminated against based on their race and skin color in many countries around the world. 

 

The Prophet Muhammad on the other hand was teaching us that everyone is equal and that race does not matter. The only thing that established the superiority of a person was his or her taqwa or piety, consciousness and fear of God. 

 

The sermon of Ghadīr took place in the same year. Ghadīr was a pond (the name of the pond was Khumm, and hence Ghadīr Khumm or the Pond of Khumm). At this pond, the Prophet delivered his last sermon at his farewell pilgrimage of Hajj. Preceding this sermon was the last verse delivered to the Messenger of Allah (s). In that verse, God said: O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. (Chapter 5, verse 67 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The sermon of Ghadīr was the greatest sermon the Prophet ever offered for it was delivered in front of an audience that was over 100 000 in number. This shows the significance of the sermon for the Ummah. 

 

Here are key parts of the sermon: 

 

"It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)." 

 

Then the Messenger of Allah continued:  

 

"Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?"  People cried and answered: "Yes, O' Messenger of God." 

 

Then followed the key passage where the Prophet appointed Imam Ali as his successor and leader of the Muslim ummah. 

 

The Prophet (s) held up the hand of 'Ali and said: "For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), 'Ali is his Leader (mawla)." 

 

The Prophet (s) continued: "O' God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him." 

 

Immediately after the Prophet (s) finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed: 

 

"Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion." (Chapter 5, verse 3 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The sermon of Ghadīr was a pivotal part of history. What it did was guarantee a line of divine leadership and guidance after the death of the Prophet (s). The sermon clearly established that guidance and authority in Islam comes from two sources, namely the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt (as). The first among the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to guide and take up the mantle of religious leadership was Imām Alī (as) who was to be the mawla or master of Muslims. 

 

If one were to follow Imam Ali (as) and the rest of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, who were to number 12 in total, both sincerely, obediently and whole-heartedly, one would find oneself in the Prophet’s pond in the Hereafter. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
4.8 Jesus and Mary in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our channel! If one were to think about the two most famous men in history, few would contest that they are the Prophets Muhammad (s) and Jesus (as). They are the most famous as they were the most influential figures in human history. Just by doing a google search, you will see that in the English language searches, Jesus has 29.5 million searches a month along side the Prophet Muhammad (s) who is searched 13.6 million times a month. 

 

If we speak about women, no one can doubt that Mary (as) is the most famous and influential woman in the history of the Western world. 

 

But much of the perception that exists concerning Jesus, especially in the Christian world, is that of his divinity. In other words, Jesus is not only the son of God, but he is also God in so far as he is the second person of the divine trinity, namely the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This thus makes Mary “the mother of God” according to this understanding. 

 

Islam, which is the world’s second largest religion, does not believe in any of this. For Islam, Jesus is neither the son of God nor is he God. Islam does not believe God has sons and it does not believe in the trinity. God is absolutely One and Jesus is simply a Prophet of God who was created by the the Almighty. In this lesson, we will look into the place of Jesus in Islam as well as his mother, Mary.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three" [Trinity]; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. (Chapter 4, verse 171 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Arabic rendering of Jesus is ʿĪsā and the Arabic rendering of Mary is Maryam. According to Islam, Jesus is not God, which means that Mary is not the mother of God either. Furthermore, Islam also denies the concept of the Trinity. The Trinity is the belief that God has three persons, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Islam believes that God is wholly One, in other words, He is undivided and has only One Person.  

 

If Jesus is not God, then what is he? According to Islam, Jesus is a Prophet and Messenger of God. He is not only a Prophet, but he is one of the greatest Prophets of the religion of Islam. 

 

If Jesus was not God, it naturally follows that Mary was not the mother of God. Even though Islam does not consider either of them as divine, it still has the highest respect for them. About Jesus, the Qur’an says the following:  

 

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. (Qur’an chapter 5, verse 46) 

 

As a Prophet and a Muslim (a Muslim is someone who submits himself or herself to God), Jesus guided people on to the Straight Path to Allah. The straight path to Allah means worshiping God in His Oneness and Unity, avoiding sins, having good moral character (akhlaq) with people and holding firmly to the unity of the Muslim community. 

 

Jesus taught people through the Injīl or Gospel which was revealed to him by Allah. As Muslims (and here we mean by those who follow the shahāda), we believe the Injīl to have been a divinely revealed Book, however, we do not believe it remained unchanged but its message was, over time, changed. Belief in Jesus and Mary, as well as in the original Injīl, is part of Islamic doctrine and without belief in them, one cannot be a Muslim.  

 

Similarly, the Qur’an holds Mary in very high status: 

 

And [mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. O Mary, be devoutly obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer]." (Qur’an, 3:42-43) 

 

Mary was not like other women. Like an exalted Prophet of God, the Angel Gabriel had revealed himself to her communicating the message of Allah to her directly. Although most Muslims do not consider her a prophetess, due to her high status with God, a minority of Muslims historically believed that she was indeed a prophetess.  

 

Islam and Christianity, the Qur'an and the Bible agree on many things when it comes to Jesus. However, despite this, there are still some major differences. They include the following:  

 

  1. The divinity of Jesus insofar as God being Jesus or Jesus being part of a Divine Trinity. Islam rejects this belief. 
  2. The crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ. The majority of Muslims interpret Chapter 4, verse 157 of the Quran as meaning that Jesus was never crucified. The Qur'an says: 

 

And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. 

 

  1. Islam believes that Jesus did not abolish Judaic law or its ritual practices. He merely fulfilled it by reviving the spiritual and moral implications of the law. For example, Jesus explained that it was not enough for adultery to be banned, lustful looking at another person was also adultery, although in the heart. According to Islam, Jesus taught that outer practice had to be accompanied by inner sincerity, and not that outer practice was to be abolished. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
 

5 The Qur'an and Hadith


 
5.1 Islam and Other Religions Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to our channel! Up until this point we’ve spoken a lot about Islam. We’ve covered quite a number of topics, from Islamic beliefs to Islamic practices. We’ve talked about law and we’ve also talked about spirituality.

 

One thing we haven’t talked about is Islam’s relationship with other religions. What does Islam say about other religions? What does it say about people of other faiths? How does Islam treat people of other religions?

 

These questions are really important given that not everyone in the world is Muslim. For those of us who are living here in the West, this question is even more urgent for the majority of people that most of us tend to deal with, whether it is at work or school, are non-Muslim. For those of us who are converts to Islam where most of our families are non-Muslim, these questions are even more pertinent.

 

In this lesson, we will overview some of the basic elements of Islam concerning its views and treatment of people of other faiths.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said:

 

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard to protected non-Muslims, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”

 

He also said:

 

“Whoever kills a person who has a made peace with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise.”

 

The Qur’an makes a distinction between two groups, the People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitāb) and polytheists and idol worshipers (mushrikīn). The mushrikīn are those who believe in, and worship gods other than Allah. The Ahl al-Kitāb refers to Jews, Christians and Sabians which are all, or for the most part, Abrahamic religions.

 

This means that the religions of the Ahl al-Kitab can trace themselves back to the universal monotheistic message of the Prophet Abraham (as). There are a few fundamental differences between these two groups and how Islam views them.

 

In terms of the mushrikīn, Islam believes that such beliefs are deviant and contradict the truth and reality. In fact, Islam goes as far as believing that worshiping idols is in essence a Satanic activity. As such, there is no truth behind idol worship but it is instead a deviation of God’s plan for humanity.

 

The Ahl al-Kitāb, or People of the Book, tace their origins traced back to a divinely revealed religion and a divinely inspired Prophet. Islam, for example, believes in Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them both), their teachings as well as the Divine Books that were given to them by God.

 

One cannot be a Muslim without belief in the divine nature of these religions. For this reason, Islam will allow Muslims to marry non-Muslims under specific conditions and contexts whereas under no circumstances does Islam allow Muslims to marry idols worshipers.

 

Even though Islam may believe that other religions are false, or have been distorted from their original true message, it in no way wishes to disrespect or insult them. The Qur’an for example states the following:

 

And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do. (Chapter 6, verse 108 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Qur’an is stating a simple rule. If you want others to respect you and your religion, you need to be kind enough to show them the same amount of respect. Disrespecting others is just a recipe for mutual fighting between human beings which the Qur’an wants to avoid completely. But there is another problem as well.

 

Some people think that respecting another person or system of belief means that one needs to accept it. This is absolutely incorrect. The Qur’an is very clear throughout its pages on the incorrectness of religions other than Islam. Respect in the Qur’anic view, however, means that one’s discussion or relating to others should not result in insults or mockery no matter how incorrect the religion may be. One must always uphold the highest of manners and be polite and respectful.

 

This is an important point to consider for those who interact with non-Muslims regularly whether they are co-workers, classmates or family. Taking a condescending tone and putting someone down is a recipe for making them hate Islam. The above verse is implying just that. If you want to bring someone of another religion to come into the light of Islam, you need to be respectful and uphold the best moral character or risk alienating them from Islam forever by having them insult Islam. The Prophet (s) brought people into Islam mainly due to his impeccable respect and manners:

 

So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were gentle with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Chapter 3, verse 159 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Qur’an is thus teaching us that the essence of Islam’s relation to other religions, and by extension, what it expects from Muslims and how they relate to non-Muslims, is that of gentleness, kindness and compassion. It is not taking away their rights, patronizing them or treating them like second class citizens. If a Muslim happens to mistreat a non-Muslim for no other reason than the person’s religion, then he or she will be at fault according to Islam and answerable to God on the Day of Judgment.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 


 
5.2 What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Convert Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we will look into the nature of the Qur’an. We will look at who revealed it, and how it was revealed. We are also going to look at the purpose and aim of the Qur’an, as well as outside factors that enable the Qur’an’s aims of guiding humankind to be realized. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah said:  

 

"I saw the Messenger of Allah - upon whom be God's peace and benedictions - in the course of his hajj pilgrimage on the day of ‘Arafah. The Prophet (S) was seated on his camel [named] al-­Qaswa', and was delivering a sermon. I heard him say: 'O people, I am leaving among you that which if you hold on to you shall never go astray: the Book of Allah and my kindred, my household." 

 

The Qur’an is the Holy Book of Islam. It would be an incorrect statement to say that the book is simply divinely inspired. The Holy Qur’an is the literal word of God that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s).  

 

None of the words contained in the Qur’an are the words of the Messenger of Allah. Think about it this way, if someone gives you a magazine article to read out loud which someone else has written, are you reading your own words or the words of someone else?  

 

Obviously it’s the words of someone else. The Qur’an functions in the same way, the words of God were delivered to the Prophet Muhammad (s) via the archangel Gabriel. The Prophet simply recited them to the people.  

 

The Qur’an sometimes seems confusing to some people. Unlike many sections of the Bible, it’s not really recounting stories from beginning to end, nor is it a straight forward philosophy book with a beginning, end and a conclusion.  

 

Furthermore, it is often claimed that the Qur’an, that is, the physical book which we hold in our hands, contains all of the information of the world. Yet when someone takes a look at the book (which is of average size) one realizes that this is a claim that is hard to believe.  

 

It’s not that Islam is making these claims, but it is simply a misunderstanding. The Qur’an is a book of guidance. It contains all the central principals for the guidance of humankind.  

 

The Qur’an says “And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear book. (Chapter 6, verse 59 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The book here is in reference to al-lawh al-mahfūz, a divine tablet or book and not necessarily the Qur’an. This book contains knowledge of everything in the world and is different from physical Qur'an that we have in our hands. 

 

The Qur’an is therefore a book of guidance for humankind. It contains all the central principals and guidelines we need in order to reach the salvation both as individuals and a collective Muslim community. In this sense, the Qur’an therefore acts like a constitution, that is, a guiding framework for our lives for avoiding sin, doing good works, having good manners and ultimately finding faith in God and success in the Hereafter. 

 

The Qur’an is therefore not some super encyclopedia that contains all the details of the world. You wont', for example, find knowledge of computer programming in the Qur'an! 

 

Many chapters and verses in the Qur’an are mixed and in non-chronological order. Topics do not always follow one another either. The reason for this is to make guidance easier. By reading a chapter, or part of a chapter, an individual reader will come across a variety of subjects thus giving him or her a good platform concerning how to lead the religious life.  

 

Not many people will read the Qur’an from beginning to end. The Qur’an therefore solves this problem by putting many subjects within a small space where even the shortest read will give you ample information. 

 

Despite the centrality of the Qur’an, it alone is not enough. Just like a constitution needs interpreters, so does the Qur’an. The Qur’an’s interpreter is the Messenger of Allah (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). The Qur’an thus needs a teacher so that humankind will be able to understand and implement the Qur’an properly.  

 

Now obviously people today tend to differ about the Qur’an even while claiming to follow the Prophet (s). This is because not everything that was related from the Prophet (s) was actually uttered by him. Many people actively worked to distort his teachings about the Qur’an. This is why Allah implemented a safety mechanism, that is, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), as a second set of teachers who would preserve the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings about Islam and the Qur’an. 

 

The Ahl al-Bayt (as), like the Prophet (s), are the infallible and sinless teachers of Islam. The Qur’an says: 

 

Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the Prophet's Household (Ahl al-Bayt), and to purify you with an [extensive] purification. (Chapter 33, verse 33 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

So what does all of this mean? The Qur’an is a framework and constitution of guidance for humankind. The Prophet (s) is the teacher and explainer of the Qur’an. He also puts it into action.  

 

However, the Prophet’s (s) teachings may also get distorted by people of ill intention, so his Ahl al-Bayt (as) are the source of the Prophet’s authentic teachings about Islam and the Qur’an. They are also the perfect examples on how to put Islam and the Qur’an in action.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
5.3 The Structure of the Holy Qur’an Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Convert Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to be looking at the Qur’an on a more “structural” level. Here we will look into how the Qur’an is divided, the geographical and temporal division of verses, as well as the origins of its descent unto the earth and the reason why the Book was revealed in the Arabic language. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: 

 

"…when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I raised my head towards heaven to see who was speaking, and Gabriel in the form of a man with feet astride the horizon, saying, "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I stood gazing at him moving neither forward nor backward, then I began to turn my face away from him, but towards whatever region of the sky I looked, I saw him as before." 

 

Indeed, it is We who have sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Qur'an step by step. (Chapter 76, verse 23 of the Qur’an) 

 

The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s) by Allah during the month of Ramadan on what is known as the Night of Power or Laylat al-Qadr. Laylat al-Qadr, the night of the Qur’an’s revelation, is the most important night of the Islamic calendar and praying on that night is the occasion through which Muslims can gain the most blessings from God.  For example, the Prophet (s) said the following about the greatness of Laylat al-Qadr: 

 

“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever stays up during Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of earning reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” 

 

The medium through which God revealed the Qur’an was the archangel Gabriel. The Qur'an was all revealed to the Prophet (s) at once, but it was gradually revealed to people over a span of two decades. 

 

Each verse that was revealed to the Prophet (s) was revealed in a particular context. The reason for this is because each verse in the Qur’an has practical applicability. The teachings of the Qur’an are not abstract or theoretical, they are concrete and directly relevant to human life in this world as well as the Hereafter. The occasions of revelation in the Qur’an are what are called the shan al-nuzūl.  

 

The occasions of revelation provide us with the historical context, moment, situation as well as the persons involved when the verse was revealed. Through this we are better able to apply the Qur’an’s verses in a practical way in most or all aspects of our lives. Some of the shan al-nuzūl are evident in the Qur’an, but others must be derived from the authentic hadiths or transmitted sayings of the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

 

One shan al-nuzūl that the Qur’an provides us with are the divisions between Medinan and Meccan verses. Medinan verses are those verses that were revealed during the Prophet’s (s) stay in Medina. The Meccan verses were verses that were revealed during the Prophet’s (s) stay in Mecca.  

 

A major indicator on whether or not a verse is, let’s say Medinan is the subject of its contents. If the verse is talking about Islamic rules, hypocrites, socio-political matters etc., we know the verse was revealed in Medina as this is where these subjects were dealt with. However, if the verses deal with matters of fundamental belief, polytheism, etc., then we know that the verse was likely to have been revealed in Mecca. 

 

The Qur’an is divided into a 114 chapters, also in non-chronological order. The order of the Qur’an, its chapters as well as its verses were all set by the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself in order to maximize the potential for guidance as we saw in our last lesson. 

We know this as the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself was the one who compiled the Qur’an, it was only during the time of the third Caliph Uthman that Imām ʿAlī (as) turned it into a standard book format to be mass produced. 

 

The Qur’an is in the Arabic language. The Arabic language in itself is not holy, but the Arabic language of the Qur’an is. According to a hadīth from the sixth Imām Jaʿfar al-Sādiq (as), the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic because the Arabs at that time were the worst of people. Allah, as Imām al-Ṣādiq (as) explains, always sends Prophets and Scriptures to the worst of people.  

 

According to Imām al-Sādiq (as), another reason why the Qur’an was revealed in Arabic is because the Arabs in their pride would never have accepted a book in a language other than Arabic. 

 

As a sign of respect, Muslims must handle the Qur’an carefully and make sure to have upmost respect for it. This means that one should never leave it on the floor, or throw it. When touching the Qur’an, one must always have ritual purity, in other words, be in a state of wudū before touching its letters.  


 
5.4 The Quran and Islamic law Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Convert Channel! Back in our section on the Furūʿ al-Dīn, we spoke a lot about Islamic law. One thing we did not really talk about are the sources of Islamic law. Where are they taken from? What source holds the most authority? 

 

In this lesson, we’ll briefly take a look at the sources of Islamic law and analyze how the Quran, Islam’s holy book, is the most authoritative source of them all. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

We have neglected nothing in the Book (Chapter 6, verse 38 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah  (Chapter 2, verse 2) 

 

Islamic law has four major sources, they are the following in hierarchal rank: 

 

  1. Qur’an 
  2. Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) 
  3. ʿAql (intellect) 
  4. Ijmāʿ (consensus of the community or scholars) 

 

The Qur’an is the ultimate source of Islamic law. It sets the general principles on how we should understand the law. It sets the ethical and moral paradigms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior.  

 

For example, the Qur’an rules against stealing the property of orphans or forcing women into prostitution. These rules are important for they set the parameters of how far we can interpret Islamic law. So if we take these two examples, we know that any interpretation that would somehow legalize forced prostitution or theft of an orphan’s property would be totally invalid. 

 

Allah says: 

 

And give to the orphans their properties and do not substitute the defective [of your own] for the good [of theirs]. And do not consume their properties into your own. Indeed, that is ever a great sin. (Chapter 4, verse 2 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

He also says: 

 

And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful. (Chapter 24, verse 33 of the Holy Qur’an)  

 

Knowledge of the Qur’an is therefore essential in understanding Islamic law, especially in our modern world. We often see extremists committing many barbaric acts and justifying them through a warped understanding of Islamic law.  

 

But any in-depth reading of the Qur’an, and careful consideration of the moral and ethical principles that it preaches will make one quickly realize how unislamic the behavior of some violent extremists are.  

 

The Qur’an, however, does not contain all of Islamic law. As we said, it sets the general principles, especially moral and ethical principles, which guide the law. For example, the Qur’an asks us to pray, but it does not tell us how many units of prayer we should perform. Similarly, it tells us to fast, but it does not give us the details as to how to fast.  

 

So where are we supposed to get these details from? They are to be taken from the hadiths of the Messenger of God (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). These hadiths give us the details, and the Qur'an gives us the general principles.  

 

Why is this the case? Well think about it, if every single detail of Islamic law, or any other religious matter, was in the Qur’an, then the Qur’an would have endless volumes and it would  become an impractical holy book! Imagine carrying a book that is hundreds of volumes long. Holy books are useful when we can carry them around and use them as sources of guidance!  

 

The Qur’an and hadiths are therefore the originators and establishers of Islamic law. As the Qur’an commanded Muslims to perform deeds, the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) taught Muslims on how to perform them and shared all the important details that people needed to know.  

 

Our third source of law is something we call ʿaql. Aql is in reference to the human intellect. One of the tools of the intellect which is useful in the Qur’an is the power of inference which in Arabic is called istinbāt. Inference is sometimes used when Muslim scholars try to derive a specific law that may not be too clear both in the Qur’an and in the hadiths because the legal case at hand is unprecedented.  

 

For example, we have a hadith from the Prophet and the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that “every intoxicant is forbidden” or “every thing that ruins your mind is forbidden.” Some drugs, such as methamphetamines did not exist during the time of the Prophet or the Imams. However, with our intellects, we understand that modern drugs like methamphetamines ruin the mind. As such, we can infer that these drugs are forbidden by Islamic law. 

 

The other source is called ijmāʿ or consensus. Consensus can refer to multiple things, either consensus of scholars or consensus of the Islamic community. The idea behind this is that if Muslims agree on something, or at least scholars agree on a certain matter, then we should assume that the position is legally sound.  

 

Now obviously there are many types of ijmāʿ in Islamic law, and it is a controversial source of law, especially among scholars. However, it does have some power in certain situations. For example, all Muslims agree that there are five obligatory prayers. The fact that all Muslims historically agreed on this is of great evidentiary value as it establishes, on a historical basis, that the Prophet (s) did in fact teach this. 

 

Unfortunately, some people get boggled up in these details and forget the elephant in the room when we speak of Islamic law, namely the Qur’an. The Qur’an holds the number 1 say in Islamic law.  Nothing supersedes it. No interpretation, or legal conclusion may contradict its ethical principles.   

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
5.5 The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to Muslim Converts! The Qur’an is not just a book. The Qur’an is a relationship, As a relationship, it exists in a relational web on multiple levels. These include its relation to Allah, Islam as a religion, the Prophet, his Ahl al-Bayt (as), as well as the Islamic community and humanity as a whole.

 

In this lesson, we will briefly go over what the meaning of these relationships are and how they exist holistically.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

And it was not [possible] for this Qur'an to be produced by other than Allah, but [it is] a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the [former] Scripture, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds. Or do they say [about the Prophet], "He

 

invented it?" Say, "Then bring forth a surah like it and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful." (Chapter 10, verses 37-38 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said:

 

“The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it"

 

He also said:

 

“Allah has His own people among mankind.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” He said: “The people of the Qur’an, the people of Allah and those who are closest to Him'"

 

The Qur’an is the holy word of God. It is an expression of Allah’s will upon humankind in the form of a book. God's will is to guide people away from sins and spiritual diseases and towards salvation and spiritual healing.

 

The Qur’an says: This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – (Chapter 2, verse 2 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

It also says:

 

Indeed, We sent down to you the Book for the people in truth. So whoever is guided - it is for [the benefit of] his soul; and whoever goes astray only goes astray to its detriment. And you are not a manager over them. (Chapter 39, verse 41 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

In this sense, the Qur’an is the foundation of all of Islam. The Qur’an sets the foundational beliefs of all Muslims, which includes tawhid, that is, belief in the absolute oneness of God, the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s) as well as the reality of the Day of Judgment.

 

Many times over, we’ve seen how the Prophet (s) is the explainer of Islam’s Holy Book. What we haven’t touched upon much, however, is how the Holy Qur’an is proof of the Messenger of Allah’s (s) truthfulness, that is, it is a proof of his claim that he was indeed a Prophet from God. Every Prophet of Allah that wishes to establish himself as genuine Prophet must produce miracles.

 

The Qur’an was and is still the miracle of the Prophet Muhammad (s) for its sheer eloquence in Arabic was something which the Arabs of the time could not reproduce despite being having the top experts of Arabic eloquence in their communities.

 

One of the primary reasons for the existence of the Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt was for them to expand and explain the Qur’an for us. Without the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the Qur’an remains incomplete, and similarly, without the Qur’an, the Ahl al-Bayt (as) cannot fullfill their mission.

 

Towards the end of his life, the Prophet (s) said:

 

"It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray

 

after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."

 

The Qur’an is not only a guidance for Muslims, but also for humankind. The Qur’an gives Muslims the general principles of how to lead an ethical and moral life, and it also shows them the basics of proper belief in God. It teaches them how to be kind, and how to avoid sin. But this is also relevant to humanity. Remember that the purpose of the Qur’an is to guide people towards salvation.

 

The Qur’an says:

 

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. (Chapter 2, verse 185 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Qur’an establishes the criterion or balance for what is truth and what is falsehood. It establishes the criterion for what is morally good and what is morally bad. For example, the Qur’an says that there is only One God. This is not a subject that is up for a person’s choice or taste, it is establishing a universal fact.

 

Similarly, when the Qur’an says that it is wrong to murder or commit adultery, it is not establishing a rule of Muslims only, but a general moral principal for all of humanity. According to the Qur’an, its core message is not supposed to be controversial. It is only controversial when people are ignorant and lack knowledge.

 

The Qur’an says:

 

Rather, they have denied that which they encompass not in knowledge and whose interpretation has not yet come to them. Thus did those before them deny. Then observe how was the end of the wrongdoers. (Chapter 10, verse 39 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

So here we can see the relational web between the Qur’an and the world. The Qur’an is the word of Allah (swt) and is meant to guide Muslims and humanity as a whole. It is also the proof which establishes the veracity of the Messenger of Allah’s (s) claim to prophethood. It is also one of the existential reasons for why the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were there in the first place, namely as explainers and fulfillers of the Qur’anic message.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
5.6 Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations Download Topic

 INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to Muslim Converts! 

 

In this lesson we’re going to overview the difference between hadith and Sunnah, something which confuses many. We’re then going to look at the role of the hadiths in the creation of Islamic law, and some of the different kinds of hadiths that exist out there. This lesson won't be about hadith reliability, that's for our next lesson! 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and beware. And if you turn away - then know that upon Our Messenger is only [the responsibility for] clear notification. (Chapter 5, verse 92 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Hadiths and Sunnah are often confusing terms for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The distinction between the two are sometimes hard to make so what we’ll try to do here is try to unwrap some of these concepts so as to get a better understanding going.  

 

Sunnah means tradition and practice. As such, Sunnah refers to the practice and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and at times, that of his Ahl al-Bayt (as). Of course, everything the Prophet did was his own Sunnah, but in technical terms, sunnah refers to the good practices the Prophet did that are not necessarily obligatory. So, for example, one of the “sunnahs” of the Prophet was that he used to brush his teeth before prayer.  

 

The following hadith is an example of Sunnah. 

 

A companion of the Prophet related that the Messenger of Allah (s) would get up during the night and he would clean his mouth thoroughly with a brush. 

 

Brushing teeth would therefore be called “Sunnah mustahabba” meaning “recommended Sunnah.” Some Muslims are under the impression that every Sunnah of the Prophet (s) is necessarily recommended, but according to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), that is incorrect. There are practices of the Messenger of Allah (s) that from an Islamic perspective are neutral and would not necessarily be mustahabb.  

 

For example, the Prophet (s) used to ride a camel which in a broad understanding would be considered a Sunnah of his, but this does not mean that it is recommended for Muslims to ride camels. Riding camels would be considered neutral and if anything, looked down upon in Islam if it acts as an impediment in one’s life given that cars now exist! 

 

So how do we know what is recommended and what is not? We know a Sunnah is recommended from a religious perspective when the Prophet (s) himself emphasized on people practicing it, or when the Ahl al-Bayt (as) notified us of its recommendation.  

 

The following hadith is an example of a saying from the Prophet Muhammad (s) stating the recommended nature of brushing teeth: 

 

“Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the toothbrush (siwāk) at every time of prayer.” 

 

So what are hadiths and how are they different from the Sunnah? Hadith means “saying,” in other words, it refers to the transmitted sayings of the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). When we say transmitted, we mean that they were transmitted by a chain of people who heard the teachings of the Prophet and related it down onwards to other people until it was compiled into a book. 

 

So as the Sunnah refers to the practices of the Prophet, the hadiths are the vehicles through which much of the Sunnah is transmitted to us from. Now whether or not hadiths are reliable is a discussion we will follow up on in the next lesson.  

 

Remember that the word hadith literally means saying so it can also be another word for the saying of the Prophet as opposed to Sunnah which may refer to a practice instead. These multiple distinctions in so far as their several meanings are concerned are important to take into consideration. The best way to know is to look at the context of the hadith. 

 

Not all hadiths are sayings of the Prophet (s), just like not all Sunnahs are the Sunnah of the Prophet (s). In addition to the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) having their Sunnah and Hadiths, so does Allah. So God’s treatment of humans throughout history would be considered His “Sunnah.”  

 

We know that the Qur’an is the literal word of God, however, not everything God has said is in the Qur’an. These sayings or words of Allah were transmitted to us by the Prophet and made themselves not into the Qur’an but into the hadith books. These hadiths, as they are originally from Allah, are called Hadīth Qudsī, that is, Holy Hadiths!  

 

The following is an example of a hadith qudsi that was related to us by the Messenger of Allah (s) 

There are three (1) whose adversary I shall be on the Day of Resurrection: a man who has given his word by Me and has broken it; a man who has sold a free man (2) and has consumed the price; and a man who has hired a workman, has exacted his due in full from him and has not given him his wage 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātu


 
5.7 The Reliability of Hadiths Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to our channel!  

 The greatest elephant in the room when discussing hadiths is the question of their reliability. As we saw last time, a hadith is a saying of the Prophet or the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that is orally transmitted through a short or long chain of transmitters.  

 The objection that is often raised is, how do we know this system is reliable? Isn’t this just hearsay? Hearsay, as we often experience nowadays, is not something that is reliable. In fact, it is often inadmissible in courts!

 Any introductory study of hadiths will make us realize that Muslim scholars already pondered these self-evident questions from day one and as a result, set a system or science of verifying and sorting out what hadiths are reliable and which ones are not. In this lesson, we’re going to go into some of the mechanisms that Muslim scholars developed over the centuries in trying to overcome some of these problems.

 BODY OF TEXT

 And whatever the Messenger has given you - take; and what he has forbidden you - refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty (Chapter 59, verse 7 of the Holy Qur’an)

 When Islam is attacked, it is often through the means hadiths. The idea is that hadiths are just hearsay and there is no way to know if people made mistakes or if the transmitters of the hadith are liars. Perhaps an issue that makes the matter even more complicated is how we have contradicting hadiths. Obviously if hadiths contradict each other, that means that they aren’t reliable, right? Well, not necessarily!  

 So let’s begin. Muslim scholars grade hadiths into a number of categories, the most popular of these categories are called sahīh (meaning reliable) and daʿīf (meaning weak). Obviously this does not exhaust the grading of categories for there are many more, but we just want to get an idea across at this point.  

 So a hadith is composed of a chain of transmitters. A chain of transmission in a hadith works like this. Imagine person A hears that the Prophet said X from person B. Person B says he heard the hadith from person C, and person D says he heard it from a companion of the Prophet (s) who was present when the Messenger of Allah (s) stated X.  

 So now if we go back to our question, how do we know these people are truthful? Early in Islam’s history, Muslim scholars painstakingly researched about narrators. Often enough, they were contemporaries of these narrators. Through in depth study of these individuals, Muslim scholars would compile biographical dictionaries outlining their assessment of hadith narrators.  

 If all the narrators were reliable (both in their moral integrity and their memory) and the chain of transmission was unbroken, then the hadith would be labeled as sahīh, meaning authentic or reliable. If the chain of transmission contained people of dubious character, known to be dishonest, or at the very least, someone with a bad memory, then the hadith would be considered daʿīf or weak.

 By no means did this mean that the hadith was reliable from a historical perspective. All it meant was that Muslims were giving the hadith the benefit of the doubt and a probable chance of being an authentic utterance of the Prophet (s) or his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 If there were two hadiths that contradicted one another, then Muslim scholars set a number of mechanisms to resolve them. For example, if a hadith stated that something X was haram, and another stated that it was halal, Muslim scholars reconciled them by stating that the prohibiting hadith simply meant that the issue was disliked (makrūh) and not literally forbidden.  

 If reconciliation was not possible, Muslim scholars often opted for the more reliable hadith and put aside the less reliable one.

 As we said before, assessing chains of transmissions were not necessarily a means of establishing the historical veracity of the hadith. The way we know whether or not a hadith is historically reliable is by assessing its tawātur, that is, the number of times it has been narrated through independent chains of transmission.  

 If there were enough independent chains of transmission relaying the same hadith, then it was understood that there would not have been a lapse of memory, or any kind of conspiracy to fool people into believing the hadith.  

So for example, the hadith of Ghadīr is considered to be mutawātir, or having a high level of tawātur as it has innumerable independent chains of transmission. On this basis, we are certain that the Prophet (s) uttered the sermon concerning Imām ʿAlī’s (as) appointment as the Messenger of Allah’s successor.  

 Sunnis and Shias have their own major compendiums of hadith. The major hadith books of our Sunni brothers and sisters are the following:

 Sahih al-Bukhari

Sahih Muslim

Sunan Abu Dawud

Jami al-Tirmidhi

Sunan al-Nasa’i

Sunan ibn Majah

Muwatta Imam Malik

 The major compendiums of Shia hadiths are the following:

 Kitab al-Kafi

Man Lā Yahduruhu al-Faqih

Tahdhib al-Ahkām

Al-Istibsār

 Both of these sets of compendiums contain hadiths from the Prophet (s). Their major differences are the following:

 The Prophetic hadiths in the Sunni compendiums are mostly transmitted through a select number of companions of the Prophet whereas most of the Prophetic hadiths in Shia books are transmitted through the Ahl al-Bayt (as) of the Messenger of Allah (s).

The Sunni hadith books contain many narrations from companions, whereas the Shia books will contain many, if not mostly, hadiths from the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). However, despite the Imams narrating most the hadiths, the Imams made sure to state that whatever they taught originated first from the Prophet. As such, nothing the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) said were from their own thoughts, they were all the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (s).  

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
5.8 A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts channel!  So far our way of approaching the audience has been through introducing various topics. Our aim this time is to do something a little different. We want to bring three verses from the Holy Qur’an and reflect on their possible meaning. There’s an important reason why we are doing this.  

 

One of the unfortunate tendencies we find with some individuals today is that they sometimes find reading the Holy Scripture boring. This is not so much a problem with the text of the Qur’an, but the unfortunate state of the reader.  

 

There are many reasons why this is the case, but here we’ll mention two. One of the primary reasons we get bored is because our interests and minds are largely shaped by the kind of lives we lead. Often enough, our primary concerns are with worldly things which are largely based on the pleasure of worldly gain and the fear of its loss. Our point here is not to say these are not legitimate concerns, but these concerns are a problem when they become the sole object of our focus. 

 

Now, how does this relate to the Qur’an? Well, when the world becomes the sole object of our focus and love, how can the subject material of the Qur’an, that is, the salvation of the human soul, be of any interest to him or her? Boredom is therefore not produced by the Qur’an, it is, instead, produced by the way we lead our lives.  

 

A second reason is that a lot of commentaries on the Qur’an, although excellent works of scholarships, are often irrelevant to the lives Muslims live today. If they are relevant, the way they are written are often not very inviting and sometimes pedantic.  

 

Here we will offer a very brief commentary or interpretation on the possible meaning of three verses in the Holy Qur’an concerning the Prophet Yaʿqūb’s (as) role as a parent. Our intention here is to try to tie the verses to modern experiences. We feel that this approach will further encourage daily reflections on Allah’s Holy Book. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And they came to their father at night, weeping. They said, "O our father, indeed we went racing each other and left Joseph with our possessions, and a wolf ate him. But you would not believe us, even if we were truthful." And they brought upon his shirt false blood. [Jacob] said, "Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe." (Chapter 12, verses 16-18 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Prophet Joseph (or Yusuf in Arabic) (as) was Prophet Jacob’s (or Yaʿqūb in Arabic) favorite son. Prophet Yusuf’s (as) brothers were indeed jealous of their father’s affection towards him. The brothers, out of jealousy, had wanted to get rid of Yusuf one way or another. They came up with a plan to take him on a trip. On that trip, they put him down a well and came back to their father with a fake bloody shirt claiming that their younger brother was eaten by a wolf.  

 

Yaʿqūb (as), as a Prophet and wise man, and was very much aware that his sons were lying. He knew that they were guilty, but instead of punishing them, or yelling at them, he decided that patience was better. The question here is why? Didn’t the brothers commit a crime and weren’t they deserving of punishment?  

 

Here comes the wisdom of Yaʿqūb. His guilty sons were already distant from the path of Allah (swt) and His religion. He knew that at this point there was nothing he could do to bring his son back. He knew that by punishing his older sons nothing would change Yusuf’s situation.  

 

The only thing that would happen would be that his sons would be driven away further from him and from Allah (swt). Yaʿqūb therefore swallowed his pain and opted for patience lest his reaction drive his sons further way from the path of Allah. 

 

What is the primary reason why our children lie to us? One of the main reasons why our children lie to us is because they have difficulty trusting us. They believe that by telling us the truth they will get punished or be shamed.  

 

The fact that they have to lie to us may indicate that they are distant and aliened from us, at least to a certain extent. As parents, we are often the source of religion for our children. It is quite common to see that the alienation of children from their parents also results in alienation from religion, and in our case, alienation from Islam.  

 

Sometimes this alienation is not our doing as parents. It is the product of many factors, including the time and place the children were raised which are different than ours. It is also the kinds of friends they have, and/or the type of media the consume. Whatever the reason may be, Yaʿqūb (as) teaches us that our primary role and gut reaction with our children is not to attack or punish them, but to show beautiful patience (sabr).  

 

Through patience, we have the possibility of lessening this alienation and gap between us and our children. As the story of Yaʿqūb shows, in the end, his sons, through years of patience and kindness, found their way back into assuming good moral character, turning away from sin, and living the Godly path.  

 

Notice how much we unraveled from the Qur’an from just a brief meditation over a few verses. Now imagine how much more treasure we can dig out if we reflect even more, and take, let’s say,  a 100 verses. How many life lessons can we derive from them?! 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
5.9 Hadith al-Thaqalayn Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Convert channel! In today's lesson, we’re going to look at the most famous hadith of the Islamic tradition, namely hadith al-Thaqalayn. Hadith al-Thaqalayn was one of the last sermons of the Prophet (s) where he established what the sources of guidance would be for the Muslim community after him. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

 "I, Husayn ibn Sabrah and ‘Umar ibn Muslim went to see Zayd ibn Arqam. When we sat down with him, Husayn said to him, 'O Zayd, you have been greatly fortunate. You have seen the Messenger of Allah, heard his speech, fought with him in battles and have prayed behind him. Indeed, O Zayd, you have been enormously fortunate. Narrate to us what you have heard from the Messenger of Allah.'"Zayd said: 'One day the Messenger of Allah, addressed us near a pond called Khumm between Makkah and Madinah. He praised God and extolled Him and preached and reminded (us). Then he said, "Lo, O people, I am only a human being and I am about to respond to the messenger of my Lord [i.e. the call of death]. I am leaving behind two precious things (thaqalayn) among you. The first of the two is the Book of Allah. In it is guidance and light. So get hold of the Book of Allah and adhere to it." Then he urged and motivated (us) regarding the Book of Allah. Then he said, "And my Ahlul Bayt (family). I urge you to remember God regarding my Ahlul Bayt. I urge you to remember God regarding my Ahlul Bayt. I urge you to remember God regarding my Ahlul Bayt"'" .... (Sahih Muslim) 

 

The hadith we just read is called hadith al-thaqalayn. Thaqalayn means the two weighty or precious things. The term weighty is meant to represent the sense of their importance in so far as guidance is concerned. These two weighty things in the hadith we just read were the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt (as) of the Prophet Muhammad (s).  

 

The Qur’an is important as it is the constitution of our salvation. It holds all the general principles of how to conduct our spiritual and worldly lives. The Ahl al-Bayt (as), as we have mentioned multiple times over various lessons, are the teachers of the Qur’an. Like the Messenger of Allah, they were the living, talking, breathing and walking Qur’an.  

The Prophet was only human and could not have lived forever. Islam had to have continuing role models, at least during the time of the first few generations of Muslims, as those times were the formative years of Islam. Allah chose the Prophet’s progeny or Ahl al-Bayt (as) as his religious successors in guiding humankind to salvation in this world and the Hereafter. 

 

The question here is, who are the Ahl al-Bayt (as), how do we know that they were who we say they are, namely Fatima, Imam Ali, Imam al-Hasan, Imam al-Husayn and his descendants (peace be upon them all)? There are plenty of sources that can help us in this regard. One important source is a hadith we call hadith al-mubahala.  

 

Mubahala refers to an incident in history where the Prophet and his family and a group of Christians were to pray against each other to see whom God would favor. This ritual was meant to establish the truth of Islam. The following verse of the Qur’an provides us with the context of the hadith: 

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem 

Should anyone argue with you concerning him, after the knowledge that has come to you, then say: ‘Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars’. (Chapter 3, verse 61 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The following is part of the hadith: 

 

When the Prophet (s) called the Christians for mubahala, they said:  

 

'Let us return and think over it.' When they were alone, they asked al-'Aqib - and he was a man of good judgment among them: 'O 'Abd al-Masih! What is your opinion? , He said: ' By Allah! You are well-aware, O Christians, that Muhammad is a prophet sent by Allah, and that he has brought to you the decisive word about your Companion ('Isa). By Allah! Whenever a nation has entered into mubahala with a prophet, their elders have perished and their youngsters have died. And if you do it, we shall surely perish; but, if refuse, for the love of your religion and (want) to remain on what you have at present, then make peace with the man and go back to your towns." So they came to the Messenger of Allah; and he had come out in the morning carrying Husayn in his lap, holding the hand of Hasan, with Fatimah walking behind him and 'Ali was behind her; and he was saying: 'When I pray, you say "Amen" '. Then the Bishop of Najran said: 'O Christians! Surely I see the faces that if they ask Allah to remove a mountain from its place, He would surely remove it. Therefore, do not do imprecation, otherwise you will perish, and there will not remain any Christian on the face of the earth, upto the Day of Resurrection’."Then they said: 'O Abu'l-Qasim! We have decided that we should not enter into imprecation against you; and that we leave you on your religion and we remain on our religion.' 

 

The hadith of mubahala shows that Fatima, Imam Ali, Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn (peace be upon them all) were the Ahl al-Bayt of their time. The sheer weight of their spiritual light, as demonstrated in this hadith, is consonant with the Prophetic command of the Ahl al-Bayt’s successorship, for  in the end, who can surpass them? These were of course the Ahl al-Bayt (as) who were alive during that time. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
5.10 Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha. Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Perhaps one the greatest distinguishing features of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as) are the hadiths of Imam Ali (as). Imam Ali’s (as) hadiths are known to be pithy and full of wisdom. They are often short but more inspiring than any book out there with the exception of the Holy Qur’an. The most famous book containing Imam Ali’s (as) wisdom is called Nahj al-Balāgha.  

 

In this lesson, we will have a brief overview of this book, and quote a number of inspiring passages from it. Hopefully this will inspire our audience to purchase the book if they don’t have it, and use it as a continuous source of guidance and salvation in their lives.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Nahj al-Balagha is not just a contribution to Islam, but a contribution to religion. Within the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), Nahj al-Balagha is the most famous book after the Holy Qur’an. Nahj al-Balagha is a collection of sermons, letters and short maxims from Imam Ali (as). The sermons and sayings in Nahj al-Balagha were mostly delivered during Imam Ali’s Caliphate. The text itself was compiled by the famous Muslim scholar al-Sharīf al-Rādī who died in the year 1015 AD. 

 

The language of the book is quite complex. Even the most advanced scholars of Arabic have difficulties reading the work as the language is high. In Egypt for example where some of the greatest faculties of the Arabic language exist today, Nahj al-Balagha, as a work of Arabic literature that is usually studied at the doctoral level.  

 

Despite the intentions behind the book, one cannot compile the sayings and sermons of Imam Ali (as) and be left unguided. Everything Imam Ali (as) ever said was in essence a form of guidance and a light from the Ahl al-Bayt of the Messenger of Allah. Reading Nahj Al-Balagha is an important book in helping our salvation in the Hereafter.  

 

The following are just some passages from Nahj al-Balagha. 

 

Part of Sermon 28: 

 

Surely this world has turned its back and announced its departure while the next world has appeared forward and proclaimed its approach. Today is the day of preparation while tomorrow is the day of race. The place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell. Is there no one to offer repentance over his faults before his death? Or is there no one to perform virtuous acts before the day of trial? 

 

 Beware, you have been ordered insistently to march and been guided how to provide for the journey. Surely the most frightening thing which I am afraid of about you is to follow desires and to widen the hopes. Provide for yourself from this world what would save you tomorrow (on the Day of Judgement). 

 

The following are some short sayings or maxims from the book: 

 

He who adopts greed as a habit devalues himself; he who discloses his hardship agrees to humiliation; and he who allows his tongue to overpower his soul debases the soul. 

 

Miserliness is shame; cowardice is a defect; poverty disables an intelligent man from arguing his case; and a destitute person is a stranger in his home town. 

 

Knowledge is a venerable estate; good manners are new dresses; and thinking is clear mirror. 

 

Meet people in such a manner that if you die they should weep for you and if you live they should long for you. 

 

The most helpless of all men is he who cannot find a few brothers during his life, but still more helpless. is he who finds such a brother but loses him. 

 

Whenever a person conceals a thing in his heart it manifests itself through unintentional words from his tongue and (in) the expressions of his face. 

 

Imam Ali (as) gave the following advice to his son Imam al-Hasan (as) 

 

O my son, learn four things and (a further) four things from me. Nothing will harm you if you practise them. That the richest of riches is intelligence; the biggest destitution is foolishness; the wildest wildness is vanity and the best achievement is goodness of the moral character.  

 

O my son, you should avoid making friends with a fool because he may intend to benefit you but may harm you; you should avoid making friends with a miser because he will run away from you when you need him most; you should avoid making friends with a sinful person because he will sell you for nought; and you should avoid making friends with a liar because he is like a mirage, making you feel far things near and near things far. 

 

More sayings of Imam Ali (as) from Nahj al-Balagha 

 

The sin that displeases you is better in the view of Allah than the virtue which makes you proud. 

 

Victory is by determination; determination is by the turning over of thoughts; and thoughts are formed by guarding secrets. 

 

There is no wealth like wisdom, no destitution like ignorance, no inheritance like refinement and no support like consultation. 

 

If you are met with a greeting, give better greetings in return. If a hand of help is extended to you, do a better favour in return, although the credit would remain with the one who was first. 

 

Whoever places himself as a leader of the people should commence with educating his own self before educating others; and his teaching should be by his own conduct before teaching by the tongue.The person who teaches and instructs his own self is more entitled to esteem then he who teaches and instructs others. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
5.11 Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 In this lesson, we will be looking at two issues in Islamic law. The first is a concept called taqlīd which is a process of following a Muslim jurist as a source or reference for Islamic law. The second issue is the tawḍīh al-masā’il  which are treatises on Islamic law that contain answers on Islamic practice.

 BODY OF TEXT

 The Messenger of Allah once said:

 One who proceeds on a path in the pursuit of knowledge, God makes him proceed therewith on a path to the Garden (Paradise). And, verily, the angels spread their wings for the seekers of knowledge out of delight. Verily, every creature of the heaven and the earth asks forgiveness for the seeker of knowledge, even the fish in the sea. The merit of the ‘alim (the learned) over the ‘abid (the devout) is like the merit of the moon over the stars on a full-moon night. The learned are the heirs of the prophets, for the prophets did not leave behind a legacy of wealth but that of knowledge. So whoever partakes of it derives a plenteous benefit.

 And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent revelation-- so ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know (Chapter 16, verse 43 of the Holy Qur’an)

 Few people have the time or ability to become scholars of Islamic law. Knowing the law and how it is derived is not an easy thing to do. It takes years of study, practice and time.  

 In our day to day lives, we constantly refer to sources of authority. When we are sick, or have medical questions, we go to medical doctors. When we want build a house, we go to architects and engineers.  

 No one can know everything, except for Allah. Muslim jurists or scholars of Islamic law, are just like doctors. They are a group of people who have studied the law for years in order to uncover truths about divine law.

 The process of following a scholar of law is called taqlīd, which literally means to “imitate” where we imitate his laws. For taqlīd to be valid, the scholar in question must hold a number of characteristics. These characteristics include, among other things, being just, not having committed major sins and being knowledgeable about Islamic law.

 Since we're not experts, it is obligatory to do taqlīd. We must do personal research or ask knowledgeable members of the community on who the most knowledgeable marjaʿ is. A marjaʿ is a jurist whom one does taqlīd of.  

 There are, of course, other alternatives to taqlīd. The most obvious one is for you to be a scholar of law yourself. Another alternative is something called ihtiyāt or precaution where one studies the rulings of all the top Marjaʿs and after we've done this we take the most conservative opinion.

 When a marjaʿ gives a definitive verdict on a legal matter, this verdict is called a fatwa. Fatwas can be obtained in various ways. A popular way to get a fatwa nowadays is online. A person can find his or her marja’s website and look through the question and answer section of the site.  

 Sometimes the subject or answer we’re looking for cannot be found, so the website will have another option of emailing the Marja’s office directly. In the vast majority of cases, the Marja himself does not answer the questions, it is usually the Marja's students who are familiar with his legal positions. When students don’t know the answer, they will usually ask the Marja himself.

 There is no set deadline for the questions to be answered. It all depends on the resources that a Marja has and the number of staff working under him. It also depends on the type of question that is being asked and whether or not the question must be redirected to the Marja’ himself.

 A Marja’s fatwas and legal views can usually be found in a genre of legal literature called Tawḍīḥ al-Masā’il, which can also be pronounced as Tawẓīh al-Masā’il - meaning  “explication of legal questions/problems.”  

 The word Tawḍīh al-Masā’il is usually used when the contents of the work are in Persian. Arabic versions of Tawḍīh al-Masā’il are usually called Minhāj al-Sālihīn which means “the path of the righteous.”

 These works are usually short in nature and rarely go over two volumes. They’re meant to be compact for believers so that they can carry them around. The contents of these works cover most of the major areas of the law.  

 The chapters begin with Taqlīd, and then go into ritual practices related to ritual purity (tahāra), prayer, fasting and then move on to non ritual laws like marriage, business transactions, and so on and so forth.  

 This genre of legal literature therefore gives us the foundations of correct Islamic practice. Reading these books are pursuits of genuine knowledge that can teach us how to obey God and avoid sin.

 The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said the following about the importance of gaining knowledge:

 "If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.

 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

6 Measuring Good and Bad in Islam


 
6.1 The Effects of Our Actions in this World Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

 

In this lesson we will look at how every act according to Islam has an effect our souls and the world. We will also look at how everything we do has a consequence in the realm of the divine as well. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: 

 

“Beware of sins which are treated as being minor, just like a people who encamp in the center of a valley, so someone brings a stick of firewood and someone else brings a stick until they are, therefore, able to bake their bread. Likewise, sins which are treated as being minor, and for which the person is taken to account, will destroy him.” 

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) also said: 

 

Should I not inform you of that which I fear for you even more than the dangers of the Anti-Christ? It is the hidden idolatry: Showing-off (riyā); a person stands to pray and he beautifies his prayer because he sees the people looking at him". 

 

Every single action in this world has an effect. When we walk, our feet press on the ground and disturbs any small creature it touches. When we sit on our chairs and breath, the act of breathing alters the make up the air in our room as we breath in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. 

 

Our good or evil acts also work the same way. They not only affect our souls, but they also affect our families, societies and even the environment.  

 

Let’s start with the soul. According to a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s), every time a person sins, a black spot appears on his or her soul. A sin isn’t always or necessarily a pure evil act. One of the words for sin in the Qur’an is khattā, which in old Arabic was an arching term meaning to “miss the mark.” 

 

With the context of sin and guidance, sinning is to miss the purpose of life, which is friendship or wilāya with God. When one sins, one chooses a pleasure over friendship with Allah. In this sense, one deviates more and more from God. This distance creates a disturbance in the soul whereby a spiritual black stain appears. Enough of these stains ruins a person’s salvation and substitutes heaven for hell. 

 

The personal effects of sin are many. Distance from God’s light makes us vulnerable to Shaytān for he comes to fill in the void. As Shaytān or the devil comes closer, the more susceptible we become to his suggestions. Perhaps the worst of his suggestions or “whispers” or waswasa are those of despair, worry and anxiety which usually come in the form of panic attacks.  

 

Remember that sins are not just sins of ritual, or the obvious sins of theft and murder, they also include the sins of prejudice, judging people, gossiping and slandering, or being dishonest, pretentious and holding negative opinions and grudges against people (this usually comes in the form of being bashful of people). 

 

When one looks at sin like this, is it really worth it? The worst enemy a person can have is himself or herself. It is the nurturing of the inner tyrant that ruins our lives with torturous thoughts. One can live in a mansion and have everything in the world but still be a prisoner inside the mind. This is what distance from God does to a person.  

 

So to sum this argument up: anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity, an insecurity that is created through distance from God. This distance is exacerbated by sin as one chooses base pleasure over friendship with Allah.  

 

Sins also have an affect on our families and society (especially the Muslim community). Remember that behavior is inherited. Our children often do not do the things we say, they do what we do. If you’ve ever heard the saying, “monkey see, monkey do,” that’s how it works with our kids.  

 

Our kids pick up on our behavior and turn it into a lifestyle without even knowing it. If we embark on sinful behavior, like lying, gossiping, being bashful, our kids will most certainly inherit them, either in part or in whole. 

 

Our families are not the only ones who pick up on our behavior. Other people also copy us directly or indirectly.  

 

First, like family members, they pick up on our auras. Sin creates bad auras, and auras are transferred to others. How many children and adults today are directly or indirectly under the influence of movie stars and singers? As famous sinners have effects on people through TV or other forms of media, we affect the people whom we interact with on a regular basis. They pick up on our behavior and mimic it without even noticing it.  

 

Have you ever met a person who was depressed and sad, and you came out of your meeting with that person a bit sadder, a bit more bitter? It is very difficult to avoid. Sinfulness leaves a ripple in the fabric of society, and people pick up on it and repeat it. It is, in short, a chain reaction.  

 

The other way around is also true. When we choose good, when we chose the moral life, the life of obedience and surrender to God, we chose the friendship of God over base pleasures and grow closer to Him. By growing closer to him, Shaytān is further distanced from us, we weaken the inner tyrant and become less susceptible to spiritual vices such as extreme forms of anxiety and panic attacks. The good we do is also inherited by our family, children and society. The more good we do as individuals, the more others are encouraged to do the same. It’s just human nature. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.2 The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our channel! It’s really easy to talk about the haram and halal, and at times, it is also easy to talk about right and wrong. But there are issues that are not so easy when it comes to things that aren't black and white but are somewhere in between. What moral standing do those things have? That’s what we will try to answer in this lesson. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: 

 

The halal is clear and the haram is clear, and between them are matters unclear that are unknown to most people. Whoever is wary of these unclear matters has absolved his religion and honor. And whoever indulges in them has indulged in the haram. It is like a shepherd who herds his sheep too close to preserved sanctuary, and they will eventually graze in it. Every king has a sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Allah is what He has made haram. 

 

Haram and halal are pretty clear in Islam. Something that is haram is morally wrong to commit. It is morally wrong in one or two ways. The act is either intrinsically wrong, such as murdering an innocent person for the sake of money. At other times, the act is morally wrong in so far as it is an act of disobedience to Allah (swt), like a Muslim eating food that Islamic law forbids. 

 

Other acts, just like haram things, are intrinsically good or circumstantially good. For example, helping the poor and helpless are often intrinsically good acts. Brushing one’s teeth may be circumstantially good if done for the sake of Allah.  

 

These acts are not hard to categorize. There are, however, other categories and deeds that are more difficult to categorize as either good or bad deeds. Most of these deeds fall under the legal category of “mubāh” meaning that something is legally neutral and hence morally neutral.  

 

There are a lot of examples of how this could be. For example, simply sitting on a couch would be considered mubāh. It is not haram or halal, wajib or mustahab or makruh. It is legally and morally neutral. However, remember that a simple act of sitting can change in its legal and moral status if one’s intention changes. For example, sitting for a specific purpose may be morally neutral. However, sitting as a sign of respect for one’s parents within the context of it being for the sake of Allah would be legally mustahab and a good deed.  

 

As you can see, much of what we consider to be good or bad deeds, at least in areas that fall in the “gray” area are largely determined by our intentions and goals.  

 

What about makrūh acts? Makrūh acts are a different kind of category. A mustahab act is obviously permissible and encouraged within the law, but it is also morally good. For example, helping a neighbor for the sake of Allah is legally encouraged but it is also morally good even if it is not obligatory. Mustahab acts are deeds which people may reap great rewards from.  A makrūh reprehensible, but still legally permissible. 

 

Let’s look at a few examples. Probably the most well known of makrūh acts is divorce. Divorce, unless there are urgent issues that require it (like serious cases of abuse), is a morally reprehensible act. The Messenger of Allah (swt) once said about divorce:  

 

“among lawful things, divorce is most hated by Allah”  

 

A question that is often asked is the following: if something is reprehensible, why does Allah allow it in Islamic law? Know that life among human beings is far than simple. Imām Jafar al-Sādiq (as) one said that 

 

 “the intelligent person is not the one who can distinguish between right and wrong, but one who can distinguish between the greater of two goods and the lesser of two evils.” 

 

Sometimes something may be wrong, but preventing it may cause too much hardship and lead to even greater evils. That’s the reality of human life. In the case of divorce, perhaps one of the reasons why Allah allows it is that if He were to forbid it, perhaps it may lead to greater rates of adultery or abuse. Rising rates of adultery would obviously be worse for the Muslim community (Ummah) than an act of divorce.  

 

Whatever Allah’s suggestions may be, whether something is made makrūh, mustahab or otherwise, it is always to our benefit in the end of the day. The Qur’an says: 

 

Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. But if good comes to them, they say, "This is from Allah "; and if evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you." Say, "All [things] are from Allah ." So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand any statement? 

 

What comes to you of good is from Allah , but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad], to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is Allah as Witness. (Chapter 4, verses 53-54 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Before we end our lesson, an important piece of advice is needed. A good basic knowledge of Islam will teach us right and wrong in Islam. But many times situations are in the gray. We really don’t know whether they are good or bad. What the hadith at the beginning of this lesson taught is that it is best to avoid them. If we spend too much time doing things that are morally questionable, it may result in us taking actual sins lightly and committing them – God forbid.  

 

So if you fall into a morally shady area, it is best to avoid it.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.3 Heaven and Hell in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

A common theme in Abrahamic religions, and in almost every other religion in this world is belief in heaven and hell. On many grounds they are similar, but they are also different. A common similarity is that heaven is usually a place of bliss filled with gardens. Hell on the other hand is a place of fire and pain where evil-doers are punished for the evil they committed while they lived on earth. 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at the effects that belief in heaven and hell have in the lives of Muslims. We will then expand on “how” people will dwell in heaven and hell. We will then address the questions that are usually raised concerning eternal damnation.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

"Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring. Angels shall enter from every gate (with the salutation): 'Peace be with you, that you persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!" (Chapter 13, verses 23-24 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

“They will not hear therein ill speech or commission of sin. But only the saying of: 'Peace! Peace!'" (Chapter 56, verses 25-26 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

According to Islam, as taught to us by the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), heaven and hell exist right now. The words for heaven and hell are Jannah and Jahannam respectively. According to the kind of life people live, they are, in a sense, already partaking in heaven or hell. However, this only becomes fully apparent in the Hereafter when the “curtain” will be lifted. Sometimes, for people who are more spiritually advanced, they may be able to have spiritual visions of heaven and hell which gives them a glimpse of the unseen (al-ghayb).  

 

In terms of this world, there is a general understanding that knowledge of heaven and hell’s existence is supposed to alter our behavior in this world. Human beings are primarily driven by two factors, the want for happiness and pleasure, and the fear of loss and pain. Much of what we do in this world, whether in school or work is driven by these two things.  

 

Allah tells us in the Qur’an that those who hold fast unto God and are conscious of Him, and lead the good moral life will attain heaven. 

 

Heaven is a place where everything in life has purpose. It is a place of complete comfort, joy and happiness where all human and divine relationships reach perfection. The Qur’an often describes heaven as a place that is mostly immersed in nature, with rivers, trees and all kinds of fruits. It also describes it as a place where one’s marital relations are in complete harmony.  

 

Allah’s description of heaven in the Qur’an, which by no means exhausts the full reality of it, is meant to entice human beings to be better. If pleasures in this world must be sacrificed for the sake of Islam, that kind of sacrifice will be compensated for with something even greater in the next life. The point, however, is that in the meantime, one must cultivate oneself spiritually and abstain from sin in order to find salvation. 

 

A question here may arise: if heaven is eternal as Islam teaches us, won’t people get bored after a while, say, after a few thousand years? 

 

Remember that in heaven, one is in direct communion with Allah. As Allah is eternal and infinite, in heaven one is totally immersed into the infinite beauty and bliss of Allah.  One only gets bored with finite realities whereas the reality of God is infinite. As such, boredom in heaven is impossible no matter how long one dwells in it.  

 

Now let’s look at the subject of hell in Islam. Hell is a terrible place to be. It is dark, full of fire and horrors. In the Qur’anic narrative, it is meant to be a warning to people who want to commit evil in this world instead of choosing the proper moral life. The fire in hell is not the same fire of this world, but it is real. It not only puts bodies in pain, but it also burns the souls.  

 

The effect of belief in hell is to make one desist from committing bad deeds in this world. Sometimes people commit evil when they think no one can see them and they think they can get away with whatever they do. However, when a person knows that God looks over everything people do, and that hell exists … then real and genuine belief in hell will often restrain a person from committing those immoral acts.  

 

People must not make the mistake and think that hell is not a punishment.  Hell is a punishment for the evil people committed in this world. However, hell is also a hospital of some sorts, it is meant to purify people of the pollution that has taken over their souls.  

 

The Qur’an teaches us that some people who are facing damnation will ask for forgiveness, but God will not let them exit their hells as their pleas are not genuine and sincere … that is, if they were allowed to come back into the world, they would just go back to the way they were and commit evil all over again.  

 

Yet this point is quite suggestive. Perhaps the greatest objection against the “moral status” of hell is that people will be punished forever in the hell fire for a finite amount of deeds. Isn’t this injustice? According to Islam, the people who remain in hell forever stay there out of their own choice. 

 

In other words, they are people who genuinely do not want to repent and do not want God’s friendship. If they do ask for forgiveness, it is only for the pain to cease. They don’t really regret anything they did. However, when a person seeks true and genuine forgiveness then God may forgive them and take them out of hell.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.4 Life and Death in Islam Download Topic

 INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our channel! 

 

In this lesson, we will be looking at the concept of life and death in Islam and how it is directly connected to the idea of guidance in Islam.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

But those who disbelieve say, “The Hour (i.e. the Day of Judgment) will not come to us.” Say, “Yes, by my Lord, it will surely come to you. [God is] the Knower of the unseen.” Not absent from Him is an atom’s weight within the heavens or within the earth or [what is] smaller than that or greater, except that it is in a clear register - That He may reward those who believe and do righteous deeds. Those will have forgiveness and noble provision. But those who strive against Our verses [seeking] to cause failure (i.e. to undermine their credibility) - for them will be a painful punishment of foul nature. (Chapter 34, verses 3-5 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Muslims believe that this life is a trial and test in preparation for the Hereafter. Allah says the following in the Qur’an:  

 

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Chapter 51, verse 56 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The purpose of our creation is not simply belief in Allah. If belief in Allah is all that counts, then there is no reason for Iblīs or the Devil to be cursed by God. The purpose of human existence, and the ultimate preparation for the Hereafter is to establish a healthy and good relationship with God. By purifying our souls and having a good relationship with Allah, we find salvation.  

 

This world therefore acts as a nurturing ground for our souls to be saved in the next life. As the Prophet Muhammad (s) once said, “this world is the farming field of the Hereafter” 

 

In this world, we learn from our mistakes, we face problems and learn to overcome them. By learning to tame our desires and our egos, we purify our souls and open them up to the Light of God. The purified soul or heart is the only thing that counts in the next life.  

 

Allah says in the Qur’an says: 

 

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart." (Chapter 26, verse 88-89 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Without belief in life after death, one cannot purify the heart. Denial of the after life results in nihilism. Nihilism is a world view where there is no ultimate purpose or meaning to anything. Without belief in the Hereafter, morality becomes totally subjective and spiritual progress becomes completely meaningless.  

 

If there is no Hereafter, all of morality becomes inconsequential. Spiritual progress also becomes meaningless for it leads to no where. The spirit only has value if it it can live beyond the lifespan of the body. 

 

As life is a test, death is the end of the test. It is when people need to put their pencils down and hand back their exams to the invigilator. Death, according to Islam, is not a tragedy in the strictest sense. Some people complain that death is evil. How can God allow the death of a young person? Should not the person have  the chance to live a longer life? 

 

If life stopped in this world only, that statement might have been true. But true life, that is, eternal life, begins after the death of our bodies. Death in this world is not evil, it is merely the end of a test and the beginning of eternity. As the Hereafter is eternal, it is all the more important that we take advantage of our short time here to lead the best possible life in the next.  

 

The accumulation of good deeds and closeness to God is what makes us pass this test and find success in the next life. The Qur’an says: 

 

[For such is the state of the disbelievers], until, when death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back that I might do righteousness in that which I left behind (i.e. in that which I neglected).” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected. So when the Horn is blown, no relationship will there be among them that Day, nor will they ask about one another.  

 

And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] - it is they who are the successful. But those whose scales are light - those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally. The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles (i.e. their lips having been contracted by scorching until the teeth are exposed). (Chapter 32, verses 99-104 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Historically speaking, many of the Prophet's companions became moral people after they learnt about the Hereafter. This demonstrates that often enough, the lack of belief in the Hereafter leads to an immoral life. As Dostoevsky once remarked, if God does not exist, everything is permitted. 

 

Here is a question that people often ask. We know how belief in life after death benefits us in the next life but how does it benefit us in this world?  

 

Genuine belief in the Hereafter brings peace and happiness in this world. Think about it, if you know that you will only live a few years in this life (half of which is spent in sleep) and that eternity awaits you in the next, few things can sadden you in this world.   

 

This is because you know that in the long wrong, your short lived suffering is nothing compared to the eternal bliss that awaits you. It is like waiting in line and being uncomfortable, but being mentally at ease for you know that in a few minutes you will be out of the line and on the way to where you want to go! 

 

In fact, even thinking about hell is a therapy for humans for it belittles any tragedy that this world has to offer.  

 

Although in our minds we know that one day we will die, our hearts are often not convinced. We suffer much as we subtly believe that we’re going to live forever in this world and by extension, suffer forever. Understanding and really grasping the impermanence of this world and the reality of death is freedom from the temporary suffering of this world.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.5 Guidance According to Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our channel! 

 

What is the point of religion? More precisely, what is the point of Islam? The question is rather simple, but how we answer it can either make or break someone’s Islam. Many Muslims today make the claim that Islam is the solution to all of humanity’s problems and hence the point of Islam is to solve all of humanity’s problems.  

 

Although at face-value this may be correct, we believe that unqualified answeres like these are not helpful. Think of it this way, can Islam, as a religion, directly solve and provide answers for the coding problems of my website? Think about it ... 

 

So we need to be a bit more precise when we talk about the “point” or “goal” of Islam. Strictly speaking, the point or goal of Islam is guidance towards God, that is, closeness and intimacy with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.   

 

A good word to sum this up is the word salvation. The point of Islam is the salvation of the human soul.  

 

In this lesson, we will overview some of the basic characteristics of salvation in Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Qur'an is the best source in explaining what salvation in Islam means. Here we will outline some verses in the Qur'an and hold a brief discussion on them. 

 

Guide us to the straight path (Chapter 1, verse 6 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Say, "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason." 

 

And do not approach the orphan's property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember. 

 

And this is My path, which is Straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous. (make sure to emphasize and look hard at the camera on this word my path) 

 

(Chapter 6, verses 151-153 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Guidance and salvation comes under many names in the Qur’an. The word for guidance is called hidāyah. But perhaps the most all-encompassing term for guidance and salvation in the Qur’an is something called Sirāt al-Mustaqīm, which means the Straight Path.  

 

What the above verses teaches us is that being on the Straight Path, that is, being in a state of guidance is not simply a matter of belief. Indeed, one must be strictly monotheistic and not associate any other gods to Allah. 

 

But in addition to belief, what is integral to guidance in this world is also developing moral character, leading the morally good life which above all means to choose what is good and right over wrong and evil no matter how difficult it may be. Without the moral life, one cannot be guided and simple beliefs (no matter how correct the beliefs are) are of little value. 

 

What is the moral life? What are the right choices? What is evil? The verse gives us a few good examples. They are: being good to parents, our families as a whole, treating people with dignity and helping them when they are in need. It is also being kind to those who are weaker than us. When doing the good, avoiding pretentiousness and being sincere is necessary in Islam. 

 

Proper moral character in Islam also includes not shedding blood or being part of a system that facilities the killing of innocent people. It is also being kind, just and fair to others and looking after the most vulnerable members of our society. It is also managing our expectations of people and not burdening them beyond their capacity.  

 

Salvation and moral character is knowing that Allah is our only true sustainer and that we must not sacrifice our honor, dignity or moral standing due to the fear of loss either in wealth or in our relationships. 

 

The moral life, that is, doing what is right and avoiding harm is what strengthens and purifies the heart. Good and bad essentially stems from the human heart according to Islam. The Qur'an says: 

 

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart." (Chapter 26, verse 88-89 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

So when you are reciting Surah al-Fātihah and you reach the 6th verse, remember that being on the Straight Path is not just about belief and rituals, but also leading the morally good life. As our 6th Imām Jaʿfar al-Sādiq (as) once stated:  

 

If you want to know the religion of a man, do not look at how much he prays and fasts. Look at how he treats people. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.6 Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Fate is commonly understood as a series of developments or events that are beyond a person’s control. In Abrahamic religions, these events are usually regarded as having been determined by God Himself.  

 

In Islam, there is no question that fate itself exists. God determines a large sequence of events in existence that are beyond anyone’s control. The continued existence of the world, the movement of subatomic articles, the existence of gravity in the universe, or the movement of photons across space are all physical events that are beyond anyone’s control.  

 

Islam, however, also believes that we have free will, that we are able to make choices and through these choices, we can, through God's permission and will, influence some results. It is based on these choices that we make that Allah takes us up to task, whether we sin and ruin our souls, or rise ourselves spiritually and attain salvation.  

 

If all was determined by God, then there would be no reason for Allah to send Prophets unto this earth, including the Prophet Muhammad (s) as well as his successors, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

 

In this lesson, we want to briefly look at the consequences of the free will that Allah has given us. As a matter of expediency, we won’t dwell into philosophical discussions of predestination (called qadar in Arabic) vs. free will as those kinds of discussions are rather complex and require care, something which a 10 minute lecture cannot cover.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. (Chapter 30, verse 41 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent. (Chapter 32, verse 21 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

According to Islam, our free will in this world is limited. Much of what we think is under our control, such as the results of many of our actions, are actually not in our hands. There are millions of factors that play into how our choices and events unfold in this world.  

 

These include our environment, upbringing and a predetermined set of rules, such as unconscious cultural and social norms that mediate our choices as well as the results of these choices.  

 

For example, we may be raised in such a way that would make us more likely to commit a deed that society would consider a crime (like not paying taxes) and based on that deed, a set of rules (beyond our control) would be applied to us, like imprisonment. 

 

Despite our environment, we still have some limited maneuverability in choosing the direction we want to take in life. Allah sends Prophets and Divine Books in our lives to show us, despite what our environment tells us, what right and wrong is. Based on these teachings, we are given some space in making some form of God-directed, rational choice.   

 

The primary recipient of these consequences are our selves, that is, our souls. Every single choice that we make in this world brings about two things, either they take us away from God, or they strengthen the bond and relationship we have with the Creator of the world.  

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) taught us that we are either servants of this world or servants of God. The Qur’an instructs us to prayer and repentance so as to exalt us to God.  

 

By pulling us into friendship with God, we free ourselves from the environmental dictates of our surroundings. For example, the world may tell us that we have no hope in healing our sickness, whereas the verses we recite in our prayers tells us that no, God is the owner and master of all of existence and that through prayer, we may find healing despite what doctors tell us.  

 

Through a relationship with God, limited choice becomes vastly expanded. But this doesn’t come easy. As humans, we are very prone to sink into a life of heedlessness and forgetfulness. For this reason, God makes sure that our actions in this world also have consequences in this world.  

 

When we do evil deeds, God makes us see their consequences in this world so that we may pay heed and desist from what may destroy us. Through these tests and “karmas,” God betters us as human beings so that we may be better examples for others, create better families and better communities (in our case, Muslim communities).  

 

The tests we face in this life, and the karma that Allah makes us see in this world are meant to build us spiritually. They are there to guide us in making better, “free-er” choices which only a state of closeness to God can produce.  

 

Verily, We shall put you to test with some fear, and hunger, and with some loss of wealth, lives, and offspring. And (O Muhammad) convey good tidings to those who are patient, who say, when inflicted by hardship, "Verily we are of God and verily to Him shall we return;" upon them is the blessings of Allah and His mercy. (Chapter 2, verse 155 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

So whatever actions we choose, along with the intentions behind them, find their greatest impact internally. Our internal states cannot be discounted for these are the primary determinants of how others are affected by us. The effect that our words have, on their own, are limited. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.7 The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! There’s been a long debate on what makes us what we are, nature or nurture? Are we born the way we are, or does the environment determine it instead? Well, we know for sure that the environment does play a definitive role alongside other factors.  

 

Within the context of religion, the debate is similar. we know that we have free will and we know that we have some traits that we are born with, but we also know that our environment definitely affects us. Our environment includes cultural influences, our families, the kinds of things we watch and the kind of friends we have.  

 

In this lesson, we’ll take a brief look into how our cultures and environment shape our religious choices. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: 

 

"The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows (respectively). So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith's bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him." 

 

Islam acknowledges the large role the environment plays in our religious life and by extension, the choices we make in the kinds of deeds we do, good or bad.  

 

Many hadiths from the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) ask us to look at the family backgrounds of those whom we want to marry. It also asks us to be proper role models for our kids and warns us about the kinds of people we choose as friends.  

 

The above hadith, for example, tells us about the effect of friends. A lot of times we think that we are immune to the influences of the people around us, we think that we are strong and won't be influenced by them. 

 

The Prophet (s) however, taught us otherwise. He taught us that even if we don't end up becoming just like them, we will stil take on some of their characteristics. It’s a bit like a sickness. If you hang out with people who are sick, eventually you’re gonna catch the cold whether you like it or not.  

 

Allah warns us about whom we choose as companions as well: 

 

“And it has already been revealed to you in the Book (this Qur’aan) that when you hear the Verses of Allaah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; (but if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them (Chapter 4, verse 140 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Probably the biggest influence in our lives is our parents. We often think that we are completely different from them, that they grew up in a different generation than we did. But we are often unaware of how much they’ve influenced us in terms of our patience, anger control, anxieties or even manners. No matter how strained our relationships are with our parents, we inherit a lot of our attitudes from them. 

 

Much of the teachings of Islam plays on our free will. It teaches us that we are to keep whatever good traits we inherited from our environment and direct them living a God-pleasing life. On the other hand, it teaches us to forgo the negative traits that we inherited from our parents, friends, tribes, culture and so on and so forth.  

 

None of this can happen in one day. Islam shows us the correct way to behave, and clearly outlines what good and bad deeds are. Our bad behaviors are years of built up habits. It can sometimes take up to years to do away with bad habits by consistently replacing them with good habits. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we win. What Allah tests us on is our perseverance which is called istiqāma in Arabic. Allah says in the Qur’an: 

 

So persevere firmly [on the right course] as you are commanded together with those who turn in repentance with you, and transgress not. Verily, He is All-Seer of what you do. (Chapter 11, verse 112 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

 He tests us on how hard we try and how sincere we are. As the Most Merciful and Compassionate, He forgives us for our shortcomings as long as we fight the good fight and stay dedicated to Him. 

 

Our dedication is what truly counts. Allah does not take us to task for the things we cannot change, or the things that are completely out of our hands. He takes us to task for the things we can change and do something about. When we fail to do so all the while being able to do them, that’s when the trouble starts.  

 

Allah says: 

 

And the Day the wrongdoer will bite on his hands [in regret] he will say, "Oh, I wish I had taken with the Messenger a way. Oh, woe to me! I wish I had not taken that one as a friend. He led me away from the remembrance after it had come to me. And ever is Satan, to man, a deserter." (Chapter 25, verses 26-29 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The verse talks about how Satan deviates a person from the right path. The reason why a person will be in a state of regret is because he or she knows that change was possible, that taking the good path was an option but it wasn't taken. As powerful as influences may be, Allah has given us the power and the ability to overcome them through the power of our own habits and through His help.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.8 Major Sins in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In this lesson, we will outline some of the major sins in Islam. A major sin in Islam is the kind of sin that not only ruins the spiritual heart, but it also ruins the Muslim community and one’s salvation in the Hereafter by bringing about direct damnation.  

 

In other words, major sins (or kabā’ir) are the kind of sins that will directly lead one to the hell fire unless one repents from them. In this lesson, we will outline 4 major sins in Islam. Obviously they don’t exhaust them all, but see this as a starting point so as to start thinking about the most dangerous acts of disobedience towards God. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Shirk (polytheism) 

 

Allah says the following in the Qur’an: 

 

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners be set up with Him (in worship) but He forgives other than that to whom He pleases; and whoever sets up partners with Allah (in worship), he has indeed invented an enormous wrong." (Chapter 4, verse 48 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Shirk is the greatest sin in Islam. Shirk is often translated as polytheism in Islam. However, according to the Qur’anic narrative, it is having objects of worship other than, or in addition to, Allah. The word for worship in Islam is ʿibādah, which means to enslave oneself. In the context of shirk, it is to take something as one's greatest point of devotion and love.  

 

The goal of our lives is to take Allah as our sole point of worship. By synchronizing our hearts with God, our hearts become purified and get spiritually elevated. With this we become true human beings.  

 

The following things are objects that we often take for worship: imaginary deities, money, status or people. To open our hearts to them is to choose illusion instead of truth. It is to direct the heart away from that which purifies our hearts (God) to that which darkens it (worshiping other than Him).  

 

Despair (Yas) 

 

“...and despair not of Allah’s Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s Mercy except the unbelieving people.” (Chapter 12, verse 87 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Despair or yās is another major sin in Islam. It is a major sin for despair is to have a bad opinion of Allah. Despair is of two types: 

 

  1.  To despair of Allah’s mercy. It is to believe that we are in such a bad state that Allah will never forgive us. One of Allah’s greatest names is al-Rahmān, which means the All-Merciful. To think that He will not forgive us is to think badly of Him, that is, to believe that there is some lack of kindness and mercy in Him.  
  2. To despair in this world. Our life in this world is temporary, however, Allah helps us and provides for us. He (metaphorically speaking) extends His hand to us to help, but it is also our duty to extend our hand to Him by relying on Him so that the help may be given. To not extend one’s hand to Him is to reject Him, to believe that He is unwilling to help us is a sin. A point here is important to take into consideration.  

 

When we say Allah will help us, it is to the extent that He will help us with what is beneficial to us and not necessarily what we want. Sometimes having too much of a comfortable life in this world makes us heedless. Out of His love for us, Allah will provide for us but will also make us go through difficulties so that we remember Him and worship Him.  

 

Murder 

 

Every human life is sacred. It is a life that Allah has breathed into it from His own self. We do not have the permission to arbitrarily take the life of another without proper right.  

 

Allah says in the Qur’an: 

 

“And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.” (Chapter 4, verse 93 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Murder is one of the worst evils one can commit. It is evil as it is not simply an isolated harm that one does to another. Most people have loved ones, family and people who depend on them. When one murders a person, one murders a son, daughter, husband, wife, mother or father. One destroys a family and a social order in which that person was an integral part of. For this reason, the Qur’an says: 

 

“Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men.” (Chapter 5, verse 32 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Like shirk, murder leaves a big dark hole in one’s heart. Notice people who have killed a lot in their life time, they are usually people who have utter lack of compassion and love in their lives, items which are at the essence of our true humanity. They are also they basis of our imān and relationship with Allah.  

 

According to the Prophet (s), a heart that is devoid of mercy and compassion cannot contain Allah. 

 

Disobedience to Parents (Āq al-Walidayn) 

 

“And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed.” (Chapter 19, verse 32 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Disobedience to parents is a major sin for many reasons. Here we will outline one: 

 

Our parents are those who gave us life. They are the ones who fed us and clothed us when we were incapable of doing anything by ourselves. In short, we owe our lives to them. Being disobedient to them is a form of ungratefulness for all of the good they have done for us.  

 

If one is ungrateful to one’s parents, how will one be grateful to Allah?  

 

Our parents are a testing ground for us on how we will act with Allah. Now remember that the only time we don’t need to obey our parents is when they ask us to disobey Allah. That is the time when disobedience to them is not a form of ungratefulness. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.9 Why Allah Allows People to Sin Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome to the Muslim Converts Channel! There are many reasons why people come to believe in God, and there are also reasons why people come to disbelieve in God. The most popular reason why people chose to disbelieve in God, at least here in the West, is why God allows people to commit heinous crimes and evil in this world. 

 

In many monotheistic religions across the world there is a belief that God allows respite for sinners and evil-doers on this earth.  People are allowed to sin and commit evil without God intervening and stopping that action from taking place. A God who allows people to commit evil deeds is a God that some people choose to reject. 

 

They sometimes object with the following example: if a loving parent sees their child being attacked by a criminal, the parent, out of love, would protect the child and stop the criminal from hurting him or her. If God is supposed to be All-Loving and caring for His creation, He would stop people from hurting others. But since there is no one miraculously stopping people, then there must be no God according this view or at the very least, this God is callous and careless. 

In this lesson, we will explain why Allah allows people to sin in this world without stopping them and therefore answer some of the objections that have been raised against Allah’s existence, such as the one we just mentioned.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Then has there not been a [single] city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time. And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed - all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers? (Chapter 10, verses 99-100 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

On this earth, we have the ability to go about in two ways. We may either choose good or moral paths, or we may choose evil and immorality. Allah has given us the ability to do good. However, the ability or choice to do good comes at a price. This price is the ability to do evil as well.  

 

This ability we speak of, that is, the ability to do good or evil is what we call free will. Free will is the ability for us as individuals to make choices. In technical terms, it is the power of acting without the constraint of necessity, determinism or fate. It is the ability to act at one’s own behest or discretion.  

 

 If Allah were to take away our ability to do evil, then He would have to take away our free will. In other words, the price of taking away evil is to take away good. Now few people would think that that is a good thing! 

 

So that’s our first reply to the objection. There is another way of looking at the matter as well. God’s intervening in our sinful behaviors and oppression of others is a total package. When we ask the question of why God doesn’t intervene when people commit sins or evil acts in this world, we should be careful as to what we are wishing for. For example, why doesn’t God zap our mouths when we lie? Why doesn’t He twist our wrists when we cheat in our exams or taxes?  Why doesn’t God zap us when we insult and belittle our spouses or children or when we gossip about others?  

 

In a world like that, people would essentially be robbed of their own free will, or at the very least, the world would lose its purpose of being a testing grounds for us and a place that nurtures our spiritual growth. 

 

If our lives were simply limited to this world, perhaps, and that’s a big “perhaps,” there may have been some credibility to this objection. However, what does God have in mind? Does He want short term comfort in this world as opposed to long term, eternal salvation? By our own actions, we create the path to heaven and by that same ability, we create our own paths to damnation. Physical well-being or pain are minor compared to the well-being or pain that we feel in our souls in the Hereafter.  

 

By giving us free will, God gives us the opportunity to acquire eternal joy for ourselves. By allowing us to sin, He allows us to rectify our mistakes and learn from them. By learning from our mistakes and turning towards God, we mature spirituality and attain union with Him.  

Allah says in the Qur’an:  

 

Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing. Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful. (Chapter 76, verses 2-3 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

These two verses are important. It states that our birth in this world, that is, our coming into this world was so that we would be tried. Through trials, mistakes, sins, repentance, all under God’s guidance, we are taught to become grateful and thus gain experiential knowledge of God’s grace on earth.  

 

Now …a final point is worth mentioning. God does often punish us for our sins in this world. Most people have the ability to see the consequences of their evil actions in this world, but there are a number of people who wish to ignore them. These are people who wish to ignore God’s grace and guidance.  

 

There is another group of people and insha’Allah they are in the minority; they are people who completely lack God’s grace. These people are not directly punished in this world and are completely blinded from the consequences of their own actions due to their egos and arrogance.  

 

The reason for this is because God is saving His full punishment in the Hereafter which is much worse than anything one can experience in this world. Punishment in the next world is where one is confronted with the full spiritual and physical pain of one’s misdeeds at much lengthier periods of time which for some is eternity. 

 

In the end, no matter how one looks at it, all our actions, big or small, will one day be held to account, either in this world or in the Hereafter. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
6.10 Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

 

Disobeying means incurring Allah’s displeasure. However, we know that Allah is the Most-Merciful and the Most-Forgiving. Due to His kind nature, Allah has provided us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes and “turn back to Him” by having us ask Him for forgiveness.  

 

Asking for forgiveness is called repentance. In this lesson, we will go over what it means to ask Allah for forgiveness and to repent, and the different kind of ways through which we can go about in acquiring Allah’s forgiveness.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

“O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)!  Despair not of the Mercy of God: verily, God forgives all sins. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Chapter 39:, verse 53 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Arabic word for repentance is tawbah. Tawbah literally means to “return” or to “turn back.” In other words, when we sin and disobey Allah, what we’re doing is that we’re turning away from Him instead of moving towards Him. The act of tawbah is to know that one made a mistake and by acknowledging that mistake, one turns around to God and seeks His forgiveness.  

 

Allah forgives us as He knows that we are weak and fallible. He knows that we get distracted and we make wrong choices. He knows that we make mistakes, sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes out of selfishness whilst knowing better. By giving us the opportunity to repent, and the opportunity to be forgiven, Allah demonstrates that He is not interested in punishing us or throw us in hell, He is interested in reforming us and making us better people who live moral lives and are God-conscious in all that they do.  

 

When Allah sees that we have repented and have tried to change, He even takes our sins and turns them into good deeds. This is proof that punishment and hell is the last thing Allah wants for us. Allah says in the Qur’an: 

 

“"And those who do not supplicate to another god along with Allah, nor do they kill a person that Allah has made forbidden (to kill) except with just cause, nor do they commit fornication. And whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled for him on the Day of Resurrection and he will abide therein in disgrace. Except those who repent and believe and do righteous deeds; for those, God will change their sins into good deeds, and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Chapter 25, verse 68-70 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

There are also other forms of repentance in Islam.  Shafaʿah is one of them. Shafaʿah means intercession on the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment, there will be a group of people who will be condemned to hell. However, through the intercession of the Prophet, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) or other righteous people, where they will ask Allah to forgive these people who are bound to hell, and Allah may forgive them.  

 

Here is an important question, Allah doesn’t need people to intercede in order to be merciful. Remember that as people who are faithful to Allah, we are all one community. When we come together as a community, even on the Day of Judgment, in order to vouch for one another, we display great forms of compassion. This kind of compassion, especially coming from the righteous among Allah’s creation, is something that is very pleasing to Allah.  

 

Repentance, however, is not just restricted to this world. Allah gives us the opportunity to repent sincerely in the grave, on the Day of Judgment, as well as in hell. But this point here needs to be expanded upon. 

 

Let’s first start with repentance in this world. Just merely saying astaghfurallah (God forgive me) is not enough. Tawbah is to return to God, which means that one must sincerely regret what one did and do one’s best to put a stop to that sin. In other words, tawbah, for it to be fully complete, must come about through a change of heart. 

 

On the Day of Judgment and in hell, there will be many people who will ask Allah for forgiveness. But as the Qur’an teaches us, their repentance is not sincere for if they were given the chance to live again, they would commit the same sins over and over again.  

 

However, if a person on the Day of Judgment or in hell has a genuine change of heart, then he or she will be forgiven on the Day of Judgment or in hell and will go to heaven. 

 

Real repentance and full forgiveness is a matter turning to Allah sincerely. Allah says in the Qur’an: 

 

“Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them…” (Chapter 8, verse 38 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Repentance is therefore a state of being, and not merely an utterance of words. Islam teaches us that Allah loves the repentant sinner but dislikes the person who does good deeds but becomes arrogant as a result of it. 

 

Allah says the following in the Qur’an: 

 

"Verily, Allah loves those who repent and those who purify themselves." (Chapter 2, verse 222 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.11 The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! The Arabic word for right in Islam is haqq. The word haqq has many derivative meanings. One meaning is truth. Allah, for example, is known as al-Haqq, meaning The Truth. In terms of rights based relationships, the word haqq does not only mean right, but it also means responsibility. In other words, every right in Islam is also a responsibility. 

 

There are three kinds of rights in Islam. The rights of the self (haqq al-nafs), the rights of others (haqq al-nās) and the rights of God (haqq Allah). These rights are what make up the borders of sin and the borders of the salvation of our souls. They are at the core of a healthy Muslim community. In this lesson, we’re going to briefly outline what these rights are, along with examples.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Rights of the Self 

 

Our fourth Imām, Imām Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn (as) says the following about the rights of the self: 

 

And the right of yourself incumbent upon you is that you employ it in obeying God; then you deliver to your tongue its right, to your hearing its right, to your sight its right, to your hand its right, to your leg its right, to your stomach its right, to your private part its right, and you seek help from God in all that. (Risālat al-Huqūq) 

 

If we were to write an entire book on the rights of the self in Islam, we still wouldn’t exhaust the topic. The rights of the self includes respect for one’s body. This means that we should eat and sleep properly, maintain proper hygiene and not endanger our health nonsensically, be it physical or mental.  

 

The right of the self is also to dignify oneself as well as the hadith from our fourth Imam is suggesting. This means that we should not waste our short time on this earth doing frivolous things. We need to make sure that we lend our ears to what is worth while and what will benefit us, and lend our sights to what is right. For example, we shouldn’t listen to nonsensical music, or waste our time aimlessly going on youtube watching random videos!  

 

Another theme the Imam mentions is to respect how we conduct our intimacy with other peoples. This means that we should avoid zina and keep intimacy in marriage only. Remember that any relationship we engage with is essentially an exchange of spiritual energies. Having relationships with people who do not observe God’s commands means that we will absorb their negative, and perhaps Satanic energies. 

 

The Rights of Others 

 

There is no possible way we can cover all rights of people. For the sake of brevity, we’ll just stick to one example from the fourth Imam in terms of the rights that others have on us. This example is that of a neighbor:  

 

Our fourth Imām once said:  

 

The right of your neighbor is that you guard him when he is absent, honor him when he is present, and aid him when he is wronged. You do not pursue anything of his that is shameful; if you know of any evil from him, you conceal it. If you know that he will accept your counsel, you counsel him in that which is between him and you. You do not forsake him in difficulty, you release him from his stumble, you forgive his sin, and you associate with him generously. And there is no strength save in God. 

 

 The neighbor refers to people who are close to us. Our duty is to honor them in their absence, meaning that we should protect them and not betray them with things like gossiping. If they are oppressed or evil is committed against them, we should defend them. If they do something wrong, we are to conceal their bad deeds from people and if possible, even make excuses for them.  

 

Remember that if we make excuses for people in order to protect them and their reputation, God will also do the same for us, in this world as well as the next.  

 

We often dump our friends when they are in difficulty. The neighbor, who is also our friend, has the right that we help them in his or her times of difficulty, be it in sickness or in financial difficulty.  

 

Rights of God 

 

Our fourth Imam once said: 

 

The greatest right of God against you is that you worship Him without associating anything with Him. When you do that with sincerity (ikhlas), He has made it binding upon Himself to give you sufficiency in the affair of this world and the next. 

 

We often think of worshiping others as an act of polytheism and idol worship. In other words, we think that shirk in Arabic simply means polytheism. This, however, is not correct. The word shirk means to associate others with God, especially in his powers. We often think that our jobs are really in the hands of our bosses, or that our longevity depends on our genes and how we treat our health.  

 

Our actions do have consequences in this world, both in our financial lives as well as our health. However, according to Islam, Allah is the one who allows these consequences to take place. Without His permission, nothing can happen. If He wills something, no action from our part can stop it. Shirk means to associate the powers of others to that of God, thinking that somehow they can do things independently in this world.  

 

This worldview is wrong and part of the rights of God is that we reject this erroneous belief. Part of the rights of God is also that we trust Him, that we know He wants what is good for us and that He will be there to help us, only if we have faith in Him.  

 


 
6.12 Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Sins can be divided into multiple levels. On the basic level, any sin that we commit in this world affects us directly. They also affect others indirectly as the damage we do to ourselves leaves an imprint in this world.  

 

They not only pollute us but they also pollute the air around us. Think about a cold, you get sick and you sneeze. When you sneeze, the virus goes air born and people catch it.  

 

But looking at it from the context of “indirect effect” we aren’t held fully accountable by God for the indirect effects of our sins. That’s part of God’s mercy. However, there are sins in which we not only damage ourselves, but we also directly affect others.  

 

This is when we commit deliberate acts of evil against others. In this lesson, we will look at two things. First, we will list some of the direct sins we commit against others. Second, we will look into the question of why God sometimes delays His punishment of people who commit these deeds. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

“And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (Chapter 2, verse 281 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

When we talk about the kind of evils we commit against others, the first thing that comes to most of our minds are things like murder or theft. But the kind of evils we commit against others are much more than these two, and they are more subtle. The following are a list of some sins we commit against others: 

 

Backbiting (ghībah) 

 

Backbiting or ghībah is speaking ill of someone behind their back. Ghībah is saying something that is true about someone, but is something that a person does not want exposed. In one hadith from the Messenger of Allah (s), the following is narrated: 

 

The Prophet (s) once gave counsel to Abu Dharr (r) , saying: “O Abu Dharr! Beware of backbiting, for backbiting is graver than adultery (zina’).” Abu Dharr (r) said: “Why is that so, O Messenger of Allah?” He (s) replied: “That is because when a man commits adultery and then repents to God, God accepts his repentance.  However, backbiting is not forgiven until forgiven by its victim.” (wasā’il al-shīʿah) 

 

The hadith tells us that ghībah is worse than zina or fornication. Why is it so? Remember that the Muslim community is a cradle the nurtures our souls. It is in a healthy community where there are strong religious bonds of trust that people spiritually grow the best in.  

 

By backbiting or lying which is also harām and a sin, erodes the bonds of our community by instilling hatred and mistrust of others. 

 

Lying  

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said the following about lying: 

 

“When a believer utters a lie without a valid excuse, he is cursed by seventy thousand angels. Such a stench emanates from his heart that it reaches the sky and because of this single lie Allah writes for him a sin equivalent to that of committing seventy fornications. Such fornications that the least of which is fornication with ones mother.” (Mustadrak al-Wasā’il) 

 

Like ghībah, lying also erodes the trust that exists between people. Without trust, there are no bonds between people and without bonds, there is no ummah. But the problem goes even further. Lying leads to feuds between people, it leads to wars and economic corruption. It not only erodes trust, but it ruins the lives of whole nations.  

 

Most of the injustices, corruption and poverty people face in countries stems from one vice: lying. Much of the wars and poverty people suffer from are due to lies. This is why lying is worse than zina!  

 

Breaking Promises 

 

Imam Jafar al-Sādiq (as) once said:  

 

“A believer’s promise to his believing brother is a vow that has no expiation (It cannot be broken). But one who goes back on his word declares his opposition and enmity to Allah, and invokes the anger of Allah.” (wasā’il al-shīʿa) 

 

Breaking a vow is another sin that directly affects another person. Like backbiting and lying, it also erodes trust between people, corrupts the ummah which again, is essential as it is the nurturing womb for people’s souls.  

 

Breaking promises does something else as well, and this one is very detrimental. Breaking promises sows the seeds of hypocrisy in our hearts. What is hypocrisy? It is saying one thing but doing another.  

 

Hypocrisy is an act of deceit, it is deceiving others by creating the appearance of virtue while succumbing to sin. In other words, it is choreographing and maintaining an illusion to others. So the question here is, can anything stand on an illusion?  

 

Why Allah Delays His Punishment of Sinners 

 

We’ve talked about sins that are committed against others. But a question that is often asked is the following: if Allah hates injustice and evil, why doesn’t He punish it immediately? Why the delay? Doesn’t this encourage people to do more bad deeds?  

 

This question can be answered on two levels. The first level is that when Allah punishes a sin to its full extent in this world, it is an act of mercy for punishment in the next world is much, much worse. If a person fails to see much of a punishment vetted out against him or her in this life, you know that he or she is in real trouble.  

 

The second level is that all sins are punished in this world. What we call delay is a delay in “full punishment”. Consider the following hadith about backbiting from the Prophet Muhammad (s): 

 

“Whoever backbites a Muslim spoils his fasts and breaks his wudu', and shall come on the Day of Resurrection with his mouth's stench more putrid than a carcass', and it shall irk those who are with him in his station (mawqif).  If he dies before repenting, his death is like that of one who dies while considering permissible that which is prohibited by God, the Exalted and the Glorious.” (wasā’il al-shīʿa) 

 

Notice that people don’t get a mouth that stenches due to backbitting. People will only see that on the Day of Judgment, and the sin will be punished in its fullest in hell. Yet people are still punished in this world, as in the previous one we quoted earlier about God humiliating us in this world for speaking ill of others.  

 

So people are punished in this world for all the misdeeds they do. First, the punishment comes through the pollution and darkening of one’s soul. Second, God is often subtle in His punishments where it comes to us in ways we don’t expect or notice.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
6.13 Kufr in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! The present lesson is a special one. It is special because it is an overview of a very misunderstood subject, namely that of kufr. Kufr is often translated as disbelief …as in disbelief in God, His Prophets and His religion.  

 

However, we feel that this translation does not fully convey the Qur’anic implications of what the term means. In this lesson, we will overview the various meanings of the word kafir, or so-called disbeliever and what their implications are.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And when there came to them a Book from Allah confirming that which was with them - although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved (kafarū) - but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it; so the curse of Allah will be upon the disbelievers. How wretched is that for which they sold themselves - that they would disbelieve in what Allah has revealed through [their] outrage that Allah would send down His favor upon whom He wills from among His servants. So they returned having [earned] wrath upon wrath. And for the disbelievers is a humiliating punishment. (Chapter 2, verse 89-90) 

 

Among Abrahamic religions, particularly with Christianity and Islam, there is a popular approach to salvation. This approach states that in order to enter heaven, you need to have believed in a particular set of religious doctrines. To disbelieve in them means to enter Hell in the next life.  

 

The word kufr is used ubiquitously in the Qur’an. Just a moment ago, we mentioned how kufr is often translated as disbelief and kafir as disbeliever. However, we said that according to the Qur’anic world view, this understanding of kufr is highly problematic.   

 

Let’s look at the verse that we quoted just now. It said that “there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it”. The word used for disbelieve is kafarū which comes from the root word kufr.  

 

Kufr literally means to bury or cover something. In its religious sense, it means to cover up the truth. If one is covering up the truth, doesn’t mean that you believe in it on some level if you've acknowledged it’s the truth? In this sense, kufr is much more than just disbelief.  

 

It is only in this way that one can make sense of the verse, for how can you disbelieve in something that you just recognized? To recognize is to believe! But if kufr means to bury the truth, the verse makes a lot of sense, as one sees the truth, but decides to bury it as it is not convenient to his or her goals and plans in life, or way of going about things.  

 

By looking at this verse this way, the more accurate way to translate it would thus be: “there came to them that which they recognized, but they willfully rejected it.” In other words, they rejected it whilst knowing its truth. 

 

Here’s another verse that can help understanding the concept of kufr in the Qur’an: 

 

And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of those who committed kufr” (Chapter 2, verse 34 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

We all know that Iblis is the Devil. Who can claim that the Devil doesn’t believe in God’s existence? No one can claim that the Devil doesn’t believe that the Prophet Muhammad (s) was a Prophet from God!  

 

The verse says that Iblis committed kufr when he was commanded to perform a certain action, namely prostrating before the Prophet Adam (as). How is it possible for him to stop believing in God’s existence because he was commanded to prostrate to Adam? Wasn’t he with Allah at the time? Obviously this doesn’t make sense.  

 

Kufr here means that Satan rejected the truth, that is, he rejected God by refusing to obey Him out of His own arrogance.  

 

Another verse, which describes the event of Iblis’s disobedience confirms that kufr means to reject God’s command: 

 

And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Adam," and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange. (Chapter 18, verse 50 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Kufr, however, is not simply a mental state of rejection. Kufr in the Qur’an is always associated with evil or more specifically, evil actions for the state of kufr is that of arrogance, pride and hatred against the truth.  

 

The Qur’anic concept of kufr therefore teaches us that one can believe in God and His religion and His Prophet (s) yet still be Kafir. In other words, you can have it all in your mind, but in action reject it all.  

 

Unfortunately, we are often guilty of sin and transgressing against Allah’s commands despite believing in Islam. Our transgressions often stem from our arrogance because we think that we are somehow above the law. Here we must be careful for as the previous verse showed us, arrogance can lead to kufr, that is, a rejection of God Himself and thus land us in a lot of trouble on the Day of Judgment.  

 

As such, we must be very careful in not disobeying God for it brings about a spiritual disposition that may lead to kufr and ruin our souls. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
6.14 Trivializing the Harām Download Topic

 INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! When driving on roads, most people are conscious of red lights. Even to the detriment of their own breaks, most people will make abrupt stops when they realize that they are about to pass a red light. Why is this?  

 

For some, it’s a moral choice. They know that passing the red light may result in some kind of tragic accident. Not only will it endanger their own lives, but it will also endanger the lives of others. Most people, however, will obey traffic light rules because they are afraid of fines which can be quite hefty.  

 

When it comes to observing the halāl and harām, it is unfortunate that we don’t see the same rate of “consciousness” as we do with traffic light rules. Part of it is understandable even though it is not justifiable! Most people are deterred by immediate punishments. You pass the light, a police officer stops you right away and gives you a ticket. When we break God’s rules, things, at least at face value, don’t happen that fast. We don’t get those immediate fines with visible ink.  

 

Yet the toll it takes on us is much heftier than a simple fine or a point reduction. In previous lessons, we’ve seen how sins darken our hearts. In this lesson we will continue this theme by looking at how belittling sins and trivializing the harām also destroys our souls and our chances at salvation.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil (tāghūt) and believes in Allah has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing. Allah is near [and a friend] to those who have true faith, taking them out of deep darkness into the light – whereas near unto those who are bent on denying the truth are the powers of evil that take them out of light into darkness deep: it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide. (Chapter 2, verses 256-257 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

We live in society. We are all brought up within particular cultures.  These cultures teach us a variety of dos and don’ts, virtues and taboos. Some of what is culturally learnt is in sync with Islam, but others are not. An unfortunate reality is that the sins that we consider culturally unproblematic are often taken lightly.  

 

Some of our cultures, for example, may not consider backbiting or having intimate relationships with the opposite gender as a moral problem. Unfortunately, this is not unheard of among some Muslim communities nowadays. 

 

Although Islam condemns backbiting and fornication, sometimes these sins are trivialized as they are culturally accepted. A common approach is to play on God’s mercy where it is argued that God is so infinitely merciful that He will forgive these sins in the Hereafter. 

 

The first and most obvious problem with this view is that it assumes that God will forgive these sins. Although He is merciful, there is no guarantee that He will not take us up to task on the harām acts we’ve committed. This approach is as presumptuous about God as it is naïve. It assumes a false certitude that we know what God will do.  

 

The second, and perhaps greater problem is that it discounts the effect of committing harām deeds has on our souls. The Qur’anic verse we read earlier taught us two things: the point of our lives is to establish a friendship with God.  

 

This friendship is established by doing what God, in all His Infinite wisdom, has deemed healthy for our souls. Friendship with Him is to our benefit for it takes us from darkness into light. That is, it takes us from a state of inner darkness and corruption to inner light and purity.   

 

Committing sins, that is, doing what is harām isn’t just about being taken to task by God for disobeying Him, what is really at stake is the poisoning of our inner souls.  

 

For example, it is illegal to take drugs. If one is caught taking drugs, one will get punished by the law. However, if we don’t get caught, does this mean that no harm has come to us? Any rational person will know that the harm that a drug like heroin does to us is much worse than any kind of punishment (jail, fines, probation etc.) that the police and a court judge can throw at us.  

 

Choosing the harām is choosing friendship with the powers of evil, the head of which is Satan, over friendship with God. In the former, we poison and corrupt our souls, whereas in the latter, we chose what will benefit them. It is the choice between the life of light and the life of darkness.  

 

By committing the haram we are not harming God in anyway, who we are harming first and foremost is ourselves. If Allah gets “angry” with us (please indicate some quotation to note that this word is used figuratively) it is out of His infinite love where He wants what is best for us and does not want us to destroy ourselves by our own devices. 

 

Allah says the following in the Qur’an: 

 

[And said], "If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves." (Chapter 17, verse 7 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Even if God forgives us for our sins on the Day of Judgment, remember that the action, regardless, kept us from growing spiritually and rising to higher levels in Paradise. Our goal in this life is not simply to avoid sin, but it is to grow spiritually.  

 

To trivialize the harām is to trivialize our own souls. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.15 Benefits of Islamic Law in this World Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In Islam, the effects of good deeds and bad deeds don't only happen in the Hereafter only.  The good deeds that Allah asks us to do in this world and the bad deeds He asks us to refrain from also benefit us in this world.  

 

In this lesson, we will look at some good and bad actions in Islam that directly affect our material lives in this world.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Everything we do in this world, every action we undertake inevitably affects our souls. Directly or indirectly, these actions play a role in our salvation. The purpose of our lives is to worship Allah. 

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me 

 

(Chapter 51, verse 56 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

This verse does not mean that the reason Allah created us was to have people worship Him, it means that the goal of our life in this world is to worship Allah. In other words, the goal of our lives is not simply believing that God exists, but it is to have a good relationship with Him.  

 

As Allah is our Creator and Nurturer, He also wants us to live good lives in this world. A good life does not necessarily mean a life of luxury, but it does mean a life of dignity and honor. These are characteristics which either poor or rich can assume. Living a dignified and honorable life requires a certain degree of harmony in all aspects of our lives and in all our relationships.  

 

 Let’s take a look at some examples where Islamic law betters our life in this world: 

 

Marriage 

 

Marriage is one of the foundations of faith in Islam. It is highly encouraged, and if one is prone to sinning, it becomes obligatory. The Prophet Muhammad (s) taught us that marriage is half of our faith. It is half of our faith for multiple reasons. For one, it prevents fornication which is an act that pollutes the human heart and soul.  

 

It is also half of faith for it forces us to learn patience. Patience, as Imam Ali (as) once said, is the “head” of faith or īmān. With patience we are better able to tolerate the adversities of this world and thus grow closer to Allah.  

 

Marriage also has worldly benefits.  

 

One of the worst calamities to befall humans is a life of loneliness. There is only so much we can do with friends for in the end, they go back to their homes and we  go back to ours.  

 

Marriage on the other hand, if managed properly, can make us happier in life and make us live longer. According to various studies done on marriage, people who are happily married live 15 years longer than single people!! 

 

Having Children 

 

Having children is not an easy thing. Islam encourages procreation and having offspring. Islam teaches us that our righteous children will intercede on our behalf on the Day of Judgment and possibly save us from total damnation.  

 

 However, children also have worldly benefits. 

 

All young people will one day grow old. One of the greatest difficulties that the senior generations are currently facing at the moment is the crisis of loneliness. Many elderly people are forced into nursing homes or live alone in their homes. They seldom meet people and converse with them.  

 

The government may provide us with financial and medical help, but they can’t remedy our social needs. Having children is helpful in that one day they will hopefully grow up to take care of us when we are old just like we took care of them when they were young. It means that we may be surrounded by family in old age and continue to live a happy and fulfilled life.  

 

Not Drinking Alcohol 

 

Drinking alcohol is completely forbidden in Islam. The Qur’an teaches us that alcohol makes us more susceptible to Shaytān, forgetting Allah and committing immoral deeds. In short, alcohol, a ritually impure substance, pollutes our souls and endangers our salvation in the Hereafter.  

 

However, alcohol also has many bad effects in this world as well. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 2.5 million people die because of alcohol related illness and injury. Nearly 4% of deaths worldwide are related to alcohol.  

 

But this is just talking about deaths. There are countless people who are abused daily by family members because of alcoholism. Countless people make life changing mistakes because of alcohol and unfortunately, they have to live with their consequences for the rest of their lives.  

 

An important point must be made regarding all of these examples. A big mistake that Muslims often make is that they think the social and worldly elements of obligations and prohibitions are the primary reasons for Allah’s divine commands. This is completely false.  

 

The primary reason is always the salvation of humans in the Hereafter. It is the saving of souls through obedience to Allah. We perform deeds because we want to obey Allah and thereby establish a good relationship with Him. 

 

Although the worldly benefits of Allah’s commands concerning good deeds and bad deeds are important in themselves and benefit us in this world, they are not primary. This is important to keep in mind as not all examples of Allah’s commands have clear cut and direct benefits in this world that everyone can see and understand. It's not that Allah doesn't have reasons, its just that our knowledge is limited! 

 

Also, look at it this way. Our understanding of their negative or positive worldly benefits also change over time. For example, how many contradictory studies have you seen concerning the so called benefits or harms of wine? If we were to solely depend on that, then Islamic law would have to change every time a new medical article about alcohol is published!  

 

So make sure to always see the spiritual and Afterworldly effects of good deeds and bad deeds in Islam as primary. There are benefits to these rulings in this world, but they are not the primary cause of them! 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
6.16 Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! The greatest and most distinguishing feature of a human being is that of choice. From the day we are born, until the day we die, our lives are all made up of choices, either by ourselves or by other people. Without choice, our entire social order would cease to exist.

 

Often times, we don’t make the right choices. This is for various reasons. Sometimes doing the right thing means going against our interests, or because our carnal desires want something else. At other times, it is simply because of ignorance, we just don’t know any better. Regardless of what it is, Allah is our Lord and our Nurturer.

 

His primary interest in us is not to make us happy, but to make us grow in spirit and in wisdom and thus purify our hearts. Allah uses various ways to encourage us to reach this lofty goal.

 

In this lesson, we will briefly look over the question of choice in Islam. Secondly and lastly, we look at how suffering in this world is a means to push us in making better choices.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided. (Chapter 28, verse 56 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

It is often thought that a person can refrain from making choices. Perhaps no where is this more common than with the question of right and wrong, or religion itself. Being irreligious is a choice in itself.

 

Similarly, by not choosing right and wrong, one does make a choice and that choice is not only acquiescing to what is wrong, but it is also choosing to live a life of heedlessness. Heedlessness is a life of indifference and negligence towards one’s duties with Allah.

 

Avoiding choice is thus impossible unless one is dead, unconscious or afflicted with some serious condition that robs us of a normal life. Choice is an essential part of being a human being.

 

All of our choices play a direct role in shaping our hearts. By hearts we mean our souls. If everything in life is centered on choice, then everything affects our hearts. They can either purify our hearts, or corrupt them.

 

How is the soul or heart purified and how is it corrupted? A pure heart is a heart that has nothing in it except for God. It is a heart that is focused on pleasing God and doing good for humankind.

 

It is a heart that is devoid of spiritual vices like arrogance. One of the major features of arrogance is thinking we are better and know more than others, which sometimes includes thinking we know better than Allah Himself.

 

It is quite self-evident where this kind of arrogance may lead to. We commit crimes and hurt others in various ways since we think they are not worthy of respect or that they are inferior to us.

 

Similarly, we sin against Allah as we sometimes implicitly think that we know more than Him even though we care not to admit it.

 

But Allah wants to purify our hearts. He wants to get rid of all thoughts but Him. He wants to take out evil and put only good in our souls. He wants us to stop being arrogant and become humble servants of Him. He wants us to be doers of good in this world.

 

Sometimes living the easy life is good in this world, but it can be the most terrible thing that can befall the human soul. For many people, comfort and ease may lead us to a life of carelessness.

 

Why improve oneself? Why reexamine one’s life when everything is going smoothly? People often turn to God in hardships, but at times of ease, they forget Him.

 

As we are creatures with free will, and free will is the only way to attain good (for how can you be good if your actions are not of your own?), Allah will not force us to make choices. What He will do, however, is to put us in circumstances that will make us more likely to turn back to Him.

 

For example, people turn to God when they fall very ill, or when some large tragedy is about to happen. They see that nothing in the world can save them except for the All Mighty Creator of the universe!

 

By turning back to God we often realize the ugly nature of our bad deeds and bad choices. It offers us the opportunity to reform ourselves to become better people and better servants of Allah.

 

The Qur’an says:

 

“If God helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in God (Alone) let believers put their trust.” (Chapter 3, verse 160 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

In order to make us mindful of sins and encourage a state of mind in us that would lead us to salvation in the Hereafter, Allah sometimes afflicts us with difficulty in this world so that we may “snap out” of our slumber and heedlessness and thus turn back to Him.

 

The Qur’an says:

 

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Chapter 2, verse 155 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

This only happens under one condition and that’s having sufficient awareness. Sometimes we are so blinded by pride that we don’t see our weaknesses and failures. We don’t see that the only way to tranquility and peace is in God.

 

In this way, suffering has little effect. But for many other people, suffering opens them up to compassion. It opens them to the reality that they are indeed helpless and that only God can help them. This is where we find something called “redemptive suffering.,” that is, suffering that helps us grow spiritually.

 

And I leave you with the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:

 

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. "Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people." (Chapter 2, verse 286 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

7 The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)


 
7.1 Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!   

 

In this lesson, we will earn what knowledge and education mean in Islam. In other words, we will see how knowledge and education are fundamentally tools of salvation and spiritual reform and enlightenment, something which Islam shares with the older tradition of the Christian West but is now unfortunately forgotten.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, "Are those who know equal to those who do not know?" Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (Chapter 39, verse 9 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word for knowledge in Islam is ʿilm. Just like many Arabic words, there are root words that have varying but interconnected meanings. One of the root meanings of ʿilm, in addition to knowledge, is an imprint. So for example, you will see the word ʿalāmah, whose root word is ʿilm, means sign or imprint in Arabic.  

 

The word for teaching in Islam is taʿlīm, which means to instill knowledge in someone, but it also it means to imprint. The connection between these two is very important. In Islam, knowledge is not just information where you know something about something or someone. In Islam, the ʿilm, and the act of taʿlīm is to leave an imprint on someone. 

 

It is to imprint on someone’s heart and soul and to transform them to the better. Acquiring knowledge in Islam is therefore an act of transformation. So in this sense, knowledge, in the technical Qur’anic sense, is not just simple random facts and information, it is instead a way of being, a way of existing which is inexorably bound to God. Interestingly enough, the word knowledge in English comes from a old 12th century word that meant to acknowledge worship of God.  

 

How about education? The word education comes from the latin word educatio which meant to “rear” or to “bring up.” Similarly, the word for education in Islam is tarbīyah, meaning to rear, bring up or nurture someone.  

 

Education and the acquisition of knowledge therefore function in two ways in Islam:  

 

  1. Knowledge is not random facts and information. The ultimate goal of knowledge is not careerism or about making money either. Knowledge is supposed to leave an imprint on a person’s heart and soul. It is to transform them to the better, it is to set a person to the path of enlightenment and closeness to God. 
  2. Education or tarbīyah works hand in hand with knowledge. Tarbīyah is there to make us dignified human beings. It is there to fundamentally transform us into loving, compassionate and moral beings. It is a form of both spiritual and as well as bodily discipline. One is trained to want the good in others, to control one’s emotions, to develop empathy and compassion for others and so on and so forth.  

 

The ultimate goal of knowledge and tarbīyah is the creation of a mu’min, that is, someone who has true faith in God and in whose heart one finds the living light of God. In one perspective, Islam, as a social system, is therefore there to act as a cradle to nurture īmān.  

 

Who are we to gain knowledge and education from? In Islam, we are encouraged to ask others when we do not know. However, we are also asked to make sure that our sources of knowledge are credible. A troubling phenomenon that exists today is that of self-created scholars where people think that simply by reading books one can become a scholar.  

 

In Islam, we believe that books are not enough, we are in need of proper and credible teachers. As such, we must be careful in choosing which people we take as our sources of information. We must make sure that these scholars are properly trained and are part of a tradition of learning that goes back to the Prophet (s) and His Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

In other words, scholars are not self-made, they are taught by other people whom in turn are also taught by others. The best teachers are those teachers whose chain of learning comes back to the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bait (as). 

 

So in one way or another, we must always be connected to the Prophets and Apostles of God. The first place where learning and education take place according to Islam is at home. Parents must therefore take proper care in learning Islam both from credible teachers as well as reading relevant books in order to transmit Islam properly to their children, both in terms of knowledge and in social and spiritual comportment.  

 

Knowledge and education are therefore a means of exaltation to God, and this starts from home. 

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

O you who have believed, when you are told, "Space yourselves" in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you. And when you are told, "Arise," then arise; Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Chapter 58, verse 11 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.2 The Ahl al-Kisa Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! One of the most important hadiths regarding the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is the hadith of Kisa. The Hadith of Kisa is the hadith that sets up the Ahl al-Bayt (as) as the foundational and infallible guides of Islam.  The hadith mentions the divine role of the 5 holy ones, namely the Prophet, Imam Ali, Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. The 5 are mentioned as they were the only ones who were living at the time and were the ones who came under the cloak

 

 We thought that perhaps an explanation or commentary would be due, but the hadith is so complete that it speaks for itself!

 

 BODY OF TEXT

 

Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) narrates from the authority of Lady Fatima, the beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet (peace be on her) that she said:

 

"One day when my beloved father, the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H.), visited me in my house,

 

he (P.B.U.H.) said: 'O Fatima! Peace be on you.'

 

I replied: 'O father! Peace be on you too.'

 

He then said: 'I am feeling some weakness within me.' 

 

I said: 'Allah forbid that you may be sick.'

 

Then he said: 'Fatima! Fetch me a Yemenite cloak and wrap it round me.' I brought the Yemenite cloak and covered my dear father with it. I then noticed that his face was glowing like a full moon.

 

 A moment later, my beloved son, Hassan came and said:

 

 'O my dear mother! Peace of Allah be on you.'

 

 1 replied: 'O my loving son, the apple of my eyes, the delight of my heart! Peace be on you too.'

 

 He then said: 'O my dear mother! I am smelling the fragrance of my loving grandfather!'

 

I said: 'Yes, your beloved grandfather is here under the cloak.'

 

 Hassan then went forwards his grandfather and said: 'O my grandfather! Peace be on you. May I enter the cloak.'

 

 My loving father replied: 'O my son, the owner of my fountain (of Kauthar)! Peace be on you too. Yes; you may enter.'

 

 Thus Hassan entered the cloak. Soon after, my loving son, Hussain came and said: 'O my dear mother! Peace be on you.'

 

 1 replied: 'O my loving son, the apple of my eyes, the delight of my heart! peace be on you too.'

 

 He then said: 'O my dear mother! I am smelling the fragrance of my affectionate grandfather!'

 

 I replied: 'Yes, your loving grandfather and your elder brother Hassan, are inside the cloak.'

 

Hussain then went near the cloak and said: 'O my dear grandfather, the chosen Prophet of Allah! peace be on you.

 

 May I also come inside the cloak to be with both of you.'

 

 My loving father replied: 'O my son, the interceder of my Ummah! peace be on you too. Yes you may enter.'

 

 Thus Hussain too entered the cloak.

 

 Then Ali-Ibn Abu Talib came and said: 'O beloved daughter of the Holy Prophet! peace be on you.'

 

 1 replied: 'O Abul-Hassan, Commander of the Faithful! peace be on you too.'

 

 He then said: 'Fatima! I am smelling the fragrance of my brother, the son of my Uncle.'

 

 I replied: 'Yes! He along with your two sons is inside the cloak'

 

 Ali then proceeded towards the cloak and said: 'O Prophet of Allah! peace be on you. May I also come to you inside the cloak!'

 

 My beloved father replied: 'Peace be on you also my brother, my vicegerent, my successor, my standard bearer! You may also come inside.'

 

 Thus Ali also went inside the cloak,

 

 Then I went near the cloak and said: 'Peace be on you, O my loving father! O Prophet of Allah! May I also come to you inside the cloak.'

 

 My loving father replied: 'Peace of Allah be on you also, my beloved daughter! All

 

dear heart! You too have my permission.'

 

 Thus, I also went inside the cloak.

 

 Now when all of us got assembled inside the Cloak, my affectionate father held the two corners of the cloak and raising his right hand towards the sky said:

 

 'O Allah! These are my Ahlul-Bayt.

 

 They are my confidants and my supporters.

 

 Their flesh is my flesh and their blood is my blood.

 

 Whoever hurts them, hurts me.

 

 Whoever displeases them, displeases me.

 

 Whoever makes peace with them, will make peace with me.

 

 Whoever has enmity against them, will have enmity against me.

 

 Whoever is a friend to them, is a friend of mine. It is because they belong to me and I belong to them.

 

 O Allah! Bestow Your peace, Benevolence, Mercy, forgiveness and Your Pleasures on me and on them.

 

 And keep them aloof from uncleanliness and keep them pure and thoroughly purified.'

 

Then the Lord, Almighty Allah said:

 

 'O my Angels! O inmates of the heavens!

 

 I created this solid firmament, well-stretched earth,

 

 well-lighted moon, shinning sun, rotating planets, rippling oceans, floating boats,

 

 and all other things for the sake and love of these five persons who are inside the cloak.'

 

 At this, the Archangel Gabriel asked:

 

 'O Lord! Who are they inside the cloak?'

 

 The Lord said: 'They are Ahlul-Bayt of the Prophet and the assets of the Prophethood. They are Fatima, her father, her husband and her two sons.'

 

 Gabriel said: 'O Lord! permit me also to descend to earth and join them as the sixth inside the cloak.'

 

 The Lord said: 'You are permitted.'

 

 Thus Gabriel, the Archangel came down to earth and said:

 

 'O Prophet of Allah! peace be on you. The Gracious Lord, the Almighty Allah sends His Greetings to you to bestow on you His Grace and Mercy and says:

 

 "By My Grace and Grandeur! I have created this solid

 

firmament, well-stretched earth, well-lighted moon,

 

shining sun, rotating planets, rippling oceans, floating boats and

 

all other things for the sake and love of you and

 

your chosen people."

 

 And the Lord, Almighty has given me the permission to join you inside the cloak

 

O Prophet of Allah!

 

 May I come in and be with you?'

 

 The Holy Prophet replied: 'O Bearer of the Divine revelations! Peace be on you also. Yes, you may come in.'

 

 Then Gabriel too came inside the cloak

 

 Thereafter, he spoke to my affectionate father: 'Allah sends His revelation to you people and says:  "Surely, Allah has decided that He should keep you and your Ahlul-Bayt clean of all pollution and purify you people with a thorough purification."'

 

Then Ali said to my loving father:

 

 'Tell me! What merit the coming under this cloak has before Allah ?'

 

 The Holy Prophet replied: 'By that Being, Who made me His Prophet and Who, for the salvation of mankind appointed me to prophethood! When any of our Shiites and supporters will assemble in a  gathering of the inmates of this earth and narrate this Hadith, Allah will bestow on them His Blessings and Mercy; angels will encircle them and as long as they do not disperse,

 

the angels will pray for the forgiveness of their sins.'

 

 At this, Ali said:

 

 'By Allah! We and our Shiʿas have now become triumphant.'

 

 Then the Holy Prophet said:

 

 'O Ali! By that Being, Who made me the righteous prophet and appointed me to the prophet-hood for the sake of people's salvation, whenever in the gathering of the inmates of this earth our Shiites and friends will assemble and narrate this Hadith of ours, and if some-one amongst them will be in agony, Allah will remove his trouble; and if someone was sorrowful, Allah will relieve him of his sorrows; will answer his needs.'

 

 Then Ali said:

 

 'By Allah! At this moment we have been crowned with success and Blessings; and by the Lord of Kaabah, in the same way our Shiites too have become triumphant and blessed in this world and the Hereafter.'


 
7.3 Imamah in the Qur’an Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts! The central guiding source-text of Islam is the Holy Qur’an. It is in the Qur’an that we find the central themes of salvation for humankind.

 

These central themes are quite vast, they include the importance of belief in one God, the importance of the moral and virtuous life, the centrality of prayer in human salvation, the viciousness of sin and protecting one’s soul from it, the importance of preparing for the Hereafter, the centrality of having a united Muslim community, and many, many other things.

 

We know that the Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasized the importance of Imamah in the salvation of humankind as well as it being a source for authentic Muhammadan Islam. All the topics that we mentioned are, in our common understanding, explicit in the Qur’an. Yet there are some who feel that Imamah is not talked about in the Qur’an.

 

In this lesson, we wish to shed light on this little misunderstanding and demonstrate how Imamah, according to the Qur’anic narrative, is central in the guidance of humankind.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Ibrahim (as) had been tested on many grounds. One of his first tests was being thrown into the fire. Ibrahim (as) had been preaching Allah’s message to the idol worshipers of his time, but its people weren't too happy about it and threatened to burn him alive if he didn't stop. Ibrahim (as), out of sheer courage and devotion to Allah, continued to preach Allah's message and as a result, was thrown into the fire.

 

Allah says in the Qur’an:

 

He said, "Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you? Uff to you and to what you worship instead of Allah . Then will you not use reason?" They said, "Burn him and support your gods - if you are to act." Allah said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham." And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers. (Chapter 21, verses 66-70 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

Ibrahim (as) was tested several more times throughout his life, including putting his son in the middle of a desert, or following the command of beheading his own son. The Qur’an says

 

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." And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, "O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision." Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. (Chapter 37, verses 102-106)

 

The Prophet Ibrahim (as) had spent a long time yearning for a child, especially a son who would succeed him in righteousness and in guiding humankind after him. At an old age, Allah miraculously granted him the gift of a baby son named Ismaʿil (as). Isma’il was the treasure and fruit of his life, yet Allah, wishing to test Ibrahim’s resolve in Allah, asked Ibrahim (as) to sacrifice him. Ibrahim (as) as obedient as he was, went ahead to carry the task but Allah stopped him, informing him that he had passed the test.

 

After a long series of tests over the years, and having passed them all with flying colors, Allah elevated Ibrahim’s (as) status. God says the following in the Holy Qur’an:

 

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. [ Allah ] said, "Indeed, I will make you a leader for the people." [Abraham] said, "And of my descendants?" [ Allah ] said, "My covenant does not include the wrongdoers." (Chapter 2, verse 124 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

At this point Ibrahim (as) was already a Prophet (s) and in the conventional sense, he was also a leader for humankind for that’s the role that Prophets assume. So the word Imam, although literally understood as leader, cannot mean a leader in the conventional sense. The word Imam also does not mean a political leader, as in a head of state or government.

 

If this was the case, then the Qur’an would have mentioned something about Ibrahim’s (as) life in that capacity. However, from history and Islamic source-texts, including the hadiths, we know that this wasn’t the case.

 

So Imāmah therefore takes on its own meaning. Allamah Tabataba’i, the great commentator of the Qu’ran, explains the verse in the following way:

 

We find in the Qur'an that whenever it mentions imamah it puts guidance side-by-side - it looks as though Allah was using the latter to explain the former.

 

Allah says in the story of Ibrahim: And We gave him Ishaq and Ya'qub as a further gift; and We made (them) all righteous ones; and We made them Imams, to guide (people) by Our command... (21:72 - 73); and He says in another place: And We made of them Imams to guide by Our command as they were patient, and they were certain of Our signs (32:24).

 

Here the imamah is explained, or rather defined, in terms of guidance, and then further qualified with the proviso, "by Our command." Clearly, the imamah does not mean any type of guidance; it is a guidance, which emanates from the command of Allah.

 

And the reality of that command is described in these words: His command, when He intends anything, is only that He says to it: "Be", and it is. Therefore glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom of every thing... (36:82-83); And Our command is but one, as the twinkling of an eye (54:50).

 

He further states:

 

Imam is a leader who guides by a Divine Command, which is closely associated with him.

 

The imamah, in its esoteric sense, is al-wilayah (guardianship, authority) over the people in their actions and activities; and its guidance entails conveying them to the final destination by the command of Allah.

 

(See his full commentary in Tafsir al-Mizan under Chapter 2, verse 124 of the Holy Qur’an. The commentary can be found in almizan.org)

 

The Prophets before Prophet Ibrahim (as) were local Prophets for their own people. By becoming an Imam, Ibrahim became the first Prophet to be a guide for all of humankind instead of being confined to one region only.

 

As a product of having becoming an Imam, the Prophet Ibrahim (as) also assumed power over creation and became the metaphysical light through which humankind could to be guided towards God, either through direct personal guidance, or indirectly through his guiding light without meeting the person.

 

In other words, just like Satan could misguide millions of people through the metaphysical realm, Ibrahim (as), by the permission of Allah, could guide millions of people across the world through the metaphysical realm as well.

 

This was a new status that no one had attained before him. This is then the meaning of Imamah according to the Qur’an and is the status which the twelve Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) inherited.

 

So what’s the difference between Prophethood and Imamah? Prophethood is where a person receives direct revelation from God in order to carry out a particular task in the world, such as conveying a message or fulfilling a specific mission. Imamah is a cosmic status, it is where a person becomes the metaphysical vehicle of guidance for all of the world and acquires power over all of creation.

 

One does not necessarily need to be a Prophet in order to acquire this status but the only non-Prophets who were worthy of this status were the Imams of the Messenger of Allah’s Household. The Prophet Muhammad (s) was the greatest of all Imams.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.4 Fatima al-Zahrah (as) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current series is an introduction the 14 Infalliables of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). This lesson will be a brief introduction to Fatima al-Zahra (as), the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (s), wife of Imam Ali (as) and the person whom all the other eleven Imams are descendant from.

 

In this lesson, we will talk about her background, her life struggles, and her important role in Islam. We will also list a few spiritual sayings from her.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. (Chapter 33, verse 33 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Prophet (s) once said:

 

"The four greatest women in the Universe are Mary, Asiya, Khadija, and Fatima."

 

Fatima bint Muhammad (bint means daughter of), or better known as Fatima al-Zahra (as), was born around 615 A.D. and died around the year 632 A.D. She was the only living biological child of the Prophet (s) who survived until adulthood. She was born from the Prophet’s (s) first wife Khadija.

 

Fatima was also the wife of the first Imam, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). Fatima is important in Islam for many reasons, however, the most outstanding of these reasons is being the mother of all of the 11 Imams. In other words, all eleven Imams, starting from her own direct sons Imam Hasan (as) and Imam Husayn (as), are descendants of her. Without Fatima, Imamah would not have continued in this world and would have ended with Imam Ali (as).

 

Fatima (as) is also the means through which some of the most important practices of Islam were conveyed to Muslims. For example, the Tasbīh of Fatima al-Zahra (Fatima al-Zahra’s Glorification of God) is a contemplative and meditative practice of recalling God through prayer beads. In almost all of the ritual practices that Muslims have been recommended to do, the Tasbīh of Fatima is one of the most meritorious and the most widely practiced among Muslims today.

 

So what is the tasbih of Fatima? Well, it’s very simple. After prayer, it is recommended to say “Allahu Akbar” 34 times, “Al-Hamdulilah” 33 times, “SubhānAllah” 33 times. The counting, depending on how fast one says the words, usually takes about a minute or two.

 

The tasbīh’s merits are many. According to our 5th Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as), it is said that:

 

“One who recites the Tasbih as performed by Fatima al-Zahra (as) and after that asks for forgiveness from Allah (swt), he/she will be forgiven (by Allah). This Tasbih on the tongue (dhikr) is 100 times, but its weight on the scale of deeds is counted as one thousand (good deeds), it will distance Shaytan from one’s self, and will make the Beneficent (Allah) pleased.”

 

One of Fatima al-Zahra’s main goals in life was to feed the poor. She would always forgo herself and would remain hungry for long periods of time because she would give away everything she had to the poor. She would spend her whole day working to take care of her family until her hands would wear out.

 

Despite the good she did for others, she was not treated well by Muslims. Her sole property called Fadak, which her father had given her, was stolen from her by the ruling powers after the death of her father.

 

Fatima’s defense of her husband’s right cost her her life. When the Prophet (s) died, Imam Ali (as) refused to swear the oath of allegiance to those who usurped his right to the Caliphate. The same group of people, as a response to this non-allegiance, invaded his home. Fatima defended her husband’s right from behind the door, but her husband’s enemies would have none of it and flung the door at Fatima, broke her rib and caused her to miscarry her unborn son Muhsin (as).

 

Due to the injuries she sustained, Fatima (as) passed away at the young age of 18. Yet despite her death, her memory and teachings continue to inspire countless Muslims today.

 

Here are some examples of her teachings:

 

Allah made prayer obligatory [to people] in order to eliminate pride [from their hearts].

 

What is the fasting person doing with his fast if he is not guarding his tongue, hearing, sight and limbs from sin?

 

Allah has made injustice incumbent as a source of tranquility for the hearts.

 

Allah made the commanding of the good and the forbidding of evil for the amendment and correction of society and the common folks.

 

Imam Hassan (as) said, "on Friday night I saw my, mother (Fatima (sa)) standing in her arch of prayer. She was continuously kneeling & performing prostration till the dawn broke. I would hear her pray for the faithful men & Women, but she did not at all pray for herself. 1 said, “Oh mother why did you not pray for yourself like you prayed for others?' so she replied, 'Oh my son, first thy neighbor & there after your own house."

 

The book of Allah is the guide of its followers towards the pleasure of Allah. Listening to it carefully leads to the salvation. The enlightened, conspicuous evidences and proofs of Allah can be obtained through it...

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.5 A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current series is an introduction to the 14 Infallibles of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

In this lesson, we will be continuing with the lives of the infallibles. We have so far covered Imam Ali (as) and Fatima al-Zahra (as). Here will continue by briefly discussing the lives of Imam Hasan (as), Imam Husayn (as), Imam Zayn al-Abideen (as) and Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as).

As this is only a ten minute lecture, our coverage will naturally be limited. Please tune into the further reading list of this lecture for more information.

BODY OF TEXT

Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification. (Chapter 33, verse 33 of the Holy Qur’an)

Imam al-Hasan (as)

Let us begin with Imam al-Hasan (as). Imam Hasan (as) was born in 625 A.D and was the second Imam in the line of 12 Imams. His father was Imam Ali (as) and his mother was Fatima al-Zahra (as). Naturally, his grandfather was none other than the Messenger of Allah (s).

One of the features of Imam Hasan (as) that stood out was his striking resemblance to the Prophet (s) himself. The resemblance was so striking that the Prophet Muhammad (s) once stated that “Hasan has my form and my nobility.”

Imam Hasan (as) grew up being raised by Imam Ali (as) and the Prophet Muhammad (s). In addition to knowledge, he inherited much of the compassion, mercy and wisdom of his father and grandfather.

This wisdom became useful during his short tenure as Caliph. Muawiyah, Imam Ali’s archenemy, had given an ultimatum to Imam Hasan (as) to step down from the Caliphate and hand it over to him after bribing his followers to betray him. Imam Hasan, in his compassion for Muslim lives, gave up power in order to avoid bloodshed.

Imam Hasan (as) died in the year 670 A.D after being poisoned by his wife. His wife was hired by Muawiyah to assassinate with the false promise of having the opportunity to marry his son Yazid.

Imam al-Husayn (as)

Imam Husayn (as) was the brother of Imam Hasan and the third Imam. Like Imam Hasan, he was the son of Fatima al-Zahra and Imam Ali (as) as well as the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (s).

Some of the outstanding traits he inherited from the Prophet Muhammad (s) was his generosity and bravery.

The most distinguishing feature of Imam Husayn’s (as) life was the event of Karbala. Karbala was where Imam Husayn (as) refused to bow down to the tyrant of his time, Yazid, son of Muawiyah.

Unlike his predecessors who subverted Islam behind the curtain, Yazid was subverting Islam publically. He murdered, led prayers drunk, and would even recite poetry against the Prophet Muhammad (s). With all this, Yazid wanted to force Imam Husayn (as) to give allegiance to him, but Imam Husayn (as) refused.

As a result, Imam Husayn (as) was killed along with most of his family. He died in 680 A.D. See one of our later lectures on a larger account of Karbala.

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as)

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) was the son of Imam Husayn (as) and was the fourth Imam. Zayn al-Abidin means “adornment of the worshippers.” He was also known as Imam al-Sajjad, the prostrating Imam. He was called such because of his intense devotion to prayer.
The Imam was born in 658 A.D and his real name was Ali ibn al-Husayn. He had wanted to take part in the Battle of Karbala, but having been afflicted with a severe sickness, he could not participate. In this way Allah save his life and kept a living Imam for the Muslim community.

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) lived mostly a quiet life, knowing that involvement in politics would kill him and jeopardize Imamah on earth. Instead, Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) spent his time teaching Muslims the true nature of Islam and making sure that it took hold on the grass roots level.

The Imam could not do this too outwardly, so he taught much through Du’as or supplications instead, where all of the major teachings of Islam about God or the religion in general could be found. The most famous compilation of this Du’as is called al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya.

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) died in 713.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as)

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) was the son of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) and was the fifth Imam. He was born in the year 676 A.D. Al-Baqir is a title given to him meaning the “one who opens knowledge.”

Like his father, Imam al-Baqir (as) had taken a step back from involvement in politics. He knew that at this point it was futile and his arrest or assassination would be a disaster for Islam. The Imam took the necessary approach of staying quiet and teaching Islam to the masses.

What was unique about what he started was that he began training people to become scholars of Islam so that they could carry on spreading the authentic version of its message to the Muslim community.

As Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as) taught much about correct worship and relations with Allah, Imam al-Baqir (as) focused a lot on the law, making sure that people understood Islamic law well in a world where so many distortions of the Shariah had taken place.

As such, Imam al-Baqir (as) is credited for laying the foundations of a self-contained school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) that was to preserve and teach Islam in all its fullness. For this reason, when one of the companions of the Prophet (s), Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari (ra), asked about the names of the Imams who would succeed him, the Prophet (s) replied:

“O Jabir, you will have a long life, and although you will go blind, but you will meet the 5th in line of my descendants whose name will be my name, who will walk like me and who will be the 5th Imam of the time. When you will meet him, give my salaams to him”.
The hadith thus demonstrates the important role Imam al-Baqir (as) was to play in Islam.
In our next lesson, we will cover the 6th Imam until the 11th insha’Allah.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.6 A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current series is an introduction the 14 Infallibles of the Ahl al-Bayt (as).

In this lesson, we will be continuing with the lives of the infallibles. We have so far covered Imam Ali (as) and Fatima al-Zahra (as). Here we will continue by briefly discussing the lives of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq, Imam Musa al-Kadhim, Imam Ali al-Rida, Imam Muhammad al-Taqi, Imam Ali al-Naqi, and Imam Hasan al-Askari (peace be upon them all).

BODY OF TEXT

Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as)

The School of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is sometimes known as the Jafari school of thought in Islam which takes its name from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) who was born in 702 A.D.

It is called the Jafar school of thought because it was under Imam Jafar that the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) became a full fledged, self-contained school of thought in Islam. Why was this important? By the time Imam al-Sadiq (as) became an Imam, Islam had already faltered to many competing sects that diverged greatly from one another.

The importance of Imam al-Sadiq (as) at this time is perhaps best summed up by his companion Aban bin Taghlib who, when asked what Shi’ism (following the Ahl al-Bayt) meant to him, he said:

“When there are differences in terms of what the Prophet (s) taught, we take the version of [Imam] Ali, and when there are differences of opinion as to what Ali taught, we take the version of [Imam] Jafar al-Sadiq.”

As such, Imam al-Sadiq (as) completed the established of Shi’ism as both a legal and theological school of thought.

Imam al-Sadiq (as) died in the year 765 A.D

Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as)

Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) was the son of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq and was the 7th Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). He was born in the year 745 A.D. Imam Musa was called al-Kadhim, which means “one who suppresses his anger.” Imam Musa was called such as he was a very patient man despite all the evil people had done to him.

Imam Musa (as) spent many years of his life in prison as the Caliphate at the time saw him as a threat. Despite this, Imam al-Kadhim (as) was not bitter. He was kind and generous to his enemies. Even prison guards expressed great admiration for him.

Perhaps one of the greatest legacies of Imam Musa (as) is how most Sayyids, that is, people who are descendants of the Prophet (s), come through Imam al-Kadhim’s (as) bloodline. Remember that it is thanks to the efforts of the Sayyids that the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as) managed to survive during those times.

Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as) died in prison in the year 799 A.D. He was poisoned by the authorities.

Imam Ali al-Rida (as)

Imam Ali al-Rida (as) was the 8th Imam and the son of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (as). He was born in the year 766 A.D. By the time of Imam al-Rida (as), the previous Imams had established a fully functioning system of theology and law in Islam.

Imam al-Rida' (as) worked on this trend by expanding further into mysticism and spiritual ethics. During al-Rida (as)’s lifetime, many mystics had risen and Sufism was flourishing across Muslim lands. Al-Rida (as), making sure that mysticism and spiritual practices and beliefs stayed within the fold of authentic Islam, began teaching the subject.

Many students were appointed as his emissaries in spreading Islamic mysticism and spirituality in conformity with pure Muhammadan Islam.

Today, many spiritual groups trace their teachings back to Imam al-Rida (as).

Imam al-Rida (as) died of poisoning (at the hands of the Caliph of his time) during the year 818 A.D

Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (as)

Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (as) was the son of Imam al-Rida (as) and he was born in the year 811 A.D. He is also known as Imam Muhammad al-Jawad, which means “the generous” (al-Taqi means the “pious.”)

A distinguishing feature of Imam al-Taqi was the fact that he became an Imam when he was less than 10 years old. In fact, he had been appointed as his father’s representative at Madina at the age of 4. People were incredulous at this, but when they would ask him questions, they were amazed at his mature and scholarly answers. Imam al-Taqi (as) was to set the precedent for the 12th Imam who was to be an Imam at the age of 5.

Imam al-Taqi (as) died in the year 835 A.D by poisoning.

Imam Ali al-Naqi (as)

Imam Ali al-Naqi, also known as Imam Ali al-Hadi, was born in the year 829 A.D. Like his father, he became an Imam at a very young age (around 7 or 8). The powers that be at his time had tried to steer him away from the Imamate by appointing a teacher for him to brainwash him away from the religion of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) However, the teacher was shocked at the Imam’s knowledge at such a young age who knew more than his teacher and was able to outsmart him in any Islamic topic.

Again, the Imam’s young age was setting a precedent for the community for the coming of the 12th Imam who was to be an Imam at the age of 5.

Imam Hasan al-Askari (as)

Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) was the son of Imam Ali al-Naqi (as) and was born in the year 846 A.D. Al-Askari means someone who is in house arrest in a military garrison.

An unfortunate characteristic of the 11th Imam’s time was that the Qur’an’s meaning was in disarray. Some people questioned the Qur’an’s integrity, and others deviated its meaning for the sake of their own interests. Despite being in house arrest for much of his life, Imam al-Askari (as) took the pains to restore the Qur’an and its true meaning in the Muslim community.


Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.7 A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Our current series is an introduction the 14 Infallibles of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). So far we have covered all of the Infallibles, including the first 11 Imams.

This lesson will be the final part of our series covering the 12th and final Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (aj).

BODY OF TEXT

Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (aj) is the son of our 11th Imam, Imam Hasan al-Askari (as). Al-Mahdi means “the guided one.” He was born in the year 869 A.D. He is also known by other titles, such as Imam al-Zaman, or Sahib al-Asr, meaning the Imam of the Time, or the Master of the Time.

His mother was a slave named Narjis. He was born in a very tumultuous time. Towards the end of Imam Hasan al-Askari’s life, the authorities of the Caliphate were fed up with the existence of Imamate. Over the generations, they had tried through various means to eradicate the power and influence of the Imams over the Muslim community.

They had tried war, they tried murdering Imams in public, they tried poisoning them or imprisoning them. None of it had worked, the Imams had been present in adulthood and left their mark on the community.

They even tried to coax them into accepting the legitimacy of the Caliphate, either by appointing them as so-called successors to the throne or by trying to teach and brainwash them at a young age, but none of it worked.

Their only option by now was to prevent the birth of an Imam from happening in the first place. There were rumors and traditions that the Prophet had predicted the coming of al-Mahdi, that is, a guided savior, who would overthrow oppressors and establish justice on earth.

The political authorities suspected, and they did so rightfully, that the 12th Imam would be that Imam that would overturn oppression in the world and establish justice. For these reasons, they desperately attempted to rid themselves of the 12th Imam. They would, for example, send spies and soldiers to check and see if there were pregnant women in the household of Imam al-Askari (as).

By Allah’s power, the pregnancy of Narjis was concealed from site. Imam al-Mahdi (aj) was thus miraculously born in the year 869 A.D. Due to the man-hunt that was orchestrated to kill Imam al-Mahdi, he was hidden from the community until the death of his father at the age of 5. It was at Imam al-Askari’s (as) funeral that Imam al-Mahdi (aj) made his first public appearance and led the funeral prayer.

Immediately after the funeral, Imam al-Mahdi (aj) went into what was to be known as the lesser occultation (ghaybat al-sughra). While in occultation, he kept in contact with the community for almost 70 years through a series of emissaries who would deliver his teachings and letters to people. But it was in the year 941 A.D that the Imam withdrew completely from the community and went into the greater occultation (or major occultation) called ghaybat al-kubra.

The Ghaybat al-Kubra was an indication that Imam al-Mahdi (aj) was the Imam of the End of Times (Akhir al-Zaman). Although he would remain in the background and guide the Muslim community either by privately appointing representatives, or guiding them spiritually with his metaphysical light.

His final task would be to reappear in the end of times and overthrow all oppressive governments around the globe and establish an order of global justice.

In his mission to establish global justice, the Islamic tradition believes that Jesus (as) will be sent to earth to accompany Imam al-Mahdi (aj). Jesus’ main task will be to bring Jews and Christians under the fold and guidance of the living Imam.

The death of Imam al-Mahdi (aj) is believed to trigger the complete end of the world and the end of life on earth. After the death and destruction of the world, the world will be brought back and humans will be resurrected for their final Judgment by God.

There are a number of important questions that need to be resolved. The first question is concerning the longevity of Imam al-Mahdi (aj). If the Imam went into occultation in the early 10th century, this means that he has been alive for over a thousands years … how is this possible?

The answer to this is why not? Isn’t Allah the originator and ender of life? Why can’t God make someone live longer than the normal human lifespan? He does so with some trees that have lived for almost 10, 000 years, why not a human?

The second is why is the occultation so long? It is long because at the time of the Imam’s birth, it was not the ending point of the world yet. One of the Imam’s major roles will be just that, he is the Imam that will prepare it for its end.

The third question is what is the benefit of a hidden Imam for those who have not and will not witness his reappearance (zuhur) in the end of days. As we said before, the Imam still continues to appoint representatives who help guide the community on his behalf, particularly scholars. There are many instances of this having happened as reported by reliable scholars who have testified that they have met the Imam.

The second way we benefit from him is through his guiding light. Just like the Devil or Shaytan can misguide people from the metaphysical plain by whispering evil thoughts into people’s hearts, the Imam can do the opposite by guiding them and inspiring their hearts to do the good. The Imam, just like the angels, is a means through which Allah guides humankind, and particularly the followers of the Imam, on earth.

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.8 Salawat and Atonement in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In any Mosque that one goes to, that is, Mosques (Masjids) that follow the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), one will always hear praises and blessings of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). These blessings are called salawat in Islam. 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at the definition, practice and importance of the salawat in Islam.  The second part of the lesson will look at the concept of atonement and how it may be problematic according to Islam. The final, but brief part will also look into the practice of conferring God’s blessings and peace upon others, such as our neighbors, friends or even one’s enemies.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [ Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [ Allah to grant him] peace. Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. (Chapter 33, verses 56-57 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word salawat is plural which means to send blessings. In Islamic practice, the salawat is conferring blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). The salawat can be said in almost any context. In all five daily obligatory prayers, one has to confer blessings upon the Prophet and His Family. The formula is as follows: 

 

Allahumma Sallī ʿAlā Muhammad wa Āli Muhammad 

 

“Oh Allah, send your blessings upon Muhammad and upon the progeny of Muhammad” 

 

According to all major schools of Islam, if the salawat is not said during prayer, the Islamic prayer will be considered null and void.  

 

There are, however, more benefits to saying the salawat in addition to having it as a necessary condition for the acceptance of prayer.  

 

According to one hadith from Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as), it is said that: 

 

One who sends 10 Salawat on the Prophet and his family, Allah and the Angels send 100 Salawats upon him, and one who sends 100 Salawats upon the Prophet and his family, then Allah and the Angels send 1000 Salawat upon him. Have you not heard the words of Allah, Glorious and Magnified be Him, (here the Imam’s own words ends, and he recites the following verse[Symbol]) “It is He who confers blessing upon you, and His angels [ask Him to do so] that He may bring you out from darknesses into the light. And ever is He, to the believers, Merciful.” (Chapter 33, verse 43) 

 

This hadith is quite telling as it outlines the function of the salawat. The salawat activates or establishes a celestial response whereby God and His angels send their blessings upon the one reciting it. The act of God sending His blessings upon a person is grace. As such, reciting the salawat is a means through which one acquires the grace of God. Grace refers to God's unmerited favor that He confers upon us.  

 

But why does sending blessings upon the Prophet and his family come with such a great response? Well, one way of looking at it is the example of a garden. Imagine there is a person who loves his garden very much and a man comes along and shows love to his garden by giving the plants some water. The owner of that garden will naturally be pleased and happy with the person who showed care to his garden.  

 

Sending the salawat upon the Prophet and his family does the same thing. Allah loves the Messenger of Allah and his Ahl al-Bayt. When He sees a person sending blessings upon those whom He loves so much, He will send His own blessings upon that person and warrant him with His grace.  

 

This point is quite important as it shows the unique position and unmatched greatness of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). It is proof that the companions or sahaba of the Prophet Muhammad (s) were on a completely different league than the Ahl al-Bayt (as). One can lead a proper religious life and do practices without mentioning anything about the companions, yet none of a Muslim’s prayers will be accepted if the salawat  on the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is not mentioned. 

 

However, it is crucial to note that the salawat is not a form of atonement in Islam. There are various understandings of what atonement is, but the kind Islam has an issue with is the idea that somehow just believing in Islam is enough to save a person or the Muslim community in the Hereafter.  

 

Just saying salawat will not get one saved. The effect of salawat becomes truly real when it is combined with various factors, including sincerity in belief and love for God, being kind and generous to others, being compassionate, humble of heart and obeying the commands of Allah. 

 

Yes, people sin and have shortcomings and through asking God’s forgiveness and reciting the salawat, one may acquire God’s saving grace. However, the salawat must be accompanied with good action and good intentions. 

 

So some problematic concepts of atonement are dangerous for they create a certain kind of heedlessness, carelessness, apathy and a false sense of belief that one is on the right path just because one believes in something. This is something that Islam completely rejects.  

 

The act of sending blessings is also something that regular humans should do among themselves. The greeting of peace between Muslims, that is, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh (may the peace of God be upon you, as well as His mercy and blessings) is also a way of conveying one’s blessings unto other persons.  

 

Islam emphasizes on this so much that one is highly recommended to say it to others. In Islam, we are obligated to return the salams when someone says it to us. In this sense, there is no discrimination. If a sinning Muslim, or  a Muslim who has done us wrong gives us their salams, we are obligated to say back to them. The salams therefore functions as a glue for the Muslim community. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.9 The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  The people who surrounded the Prophet (s) consisted of many people. They included his direct enemies, and among his companions, were honest and sincere friends and helpers. Not all his companions were good as a number of them were hypocrites at heart. 

 

The general term that encompasses the concept of a companion in Arabic is sahabi (pl. sahaba). In this lesson, we’re going to briefly look at the meaning of the term as well as the role it plays in differentiating the two major sects of Islam, Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful. (Chapter 3, verse 144 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

In another verse, it is said: 

O you who have believed, what is [the matter] with you that, when you are told to go forth in the cause of Allah , you adhere heavily to the earth? Are you satisfied with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But what is the enjoyment of worldly life compared to the Hereafter except a [very] little. 

 

If you do not go forth, He will punish you with a painful punishment and will replace you with another people, and you will not harm Him at all. And Allah is over all things competent. (Chapter 9, verses 38-39 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word companion in Arabic and Islam is sahabi, and its plural is sahaba. Historically speaking, we are aware that the Prophet (s) had good companions. In the Qur’an, a good companion is called a “follower of the Prophet” or muttabiʿ. However, as in the verses that were  just read out from the Qur’an, we see that God is quite critical of the Prophet's companions. 

 

The verses show that some of these companions were reluctant, or all together rejected defending the Prophet. It also sheds doubt on their long-term loyalty. 

 

This is not an entirely new concept in Islam. According to the Qur’an, this had happened many times before with previous Prophets. For example, the Qur’an states: 

 

"Has not the time yet come for those who believe that their hearts should be submissive for the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And (that) they should not be like those who were given the book before, but the time became prolonged to them, so their hearts hardened, and most of them are transgressors.” (Chapter 57, verse 16 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

It also states: 

 

“Let there arise out of you a nation, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong, and these it is that shall be successful. And be not like those who became divided and disagreed after receiving clear signs and these it is that shall have a grievous chastisement. 

 

On the day, some faces will be white (lit up) and some faces will be black (in the gloom), to those whose faces will be black (will be said): Did you reject the faith after accepting it? Taste then the chastisement for rejecting the faith. But those whose faces will be white, they will be in Allah's mercy, therein to dwell" (Chapter 3, verses 106-107 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

We all know that many of the companions of the Prophet Musa (as) (Moses) had left his religion after he left his community for 40 days. Most of his companions left monotheism altogether and began worshiping a golden calf they made out of jewelry. The idea of the unfaithful companion is therefore nothing new to the Qur’an, in fact, it seems to be the majority description of the Prophet's companions. 

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

And the people of Moses made, after [his departure], from their ornaments a calf - an image having a lowing sound. Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to a way? They took it [for worship], and they were wrongdoers. And when regret overcame them and they saw that they had gone astray, they said, "If our Lord does not have mercy upon us and forgive us, we will surely be among the losers." 

 

And when Moses returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said, "How wretched is that by which you have replaced me after [my departure]. Were you impatient over the matter of your Lord?" And he threw down the tablets and seized his brother by [the hair of] his head, pulling him toward him. [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, indeed the people oppressed me and were about to kill me, so let not the enemies rejoice over me and do not place me among the wrongdoing people." (Chapter 7, verses 148-150 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The story is a clear cut example of a whole community going astray after the departure of a Prophet. Yet one of the major disagreements between the two largest sects of Islam, the Shia and the Sunni, is precisely the status of the companions. For most Sunnis, being a companion of the Prophet (s) automatically makes a person good, faithful and just. This was the opinion of many Sunni scholars of hadith, including Abu Hatim al-Razi (d. 890), the great 10th century Sunni scholar of ilm al-rijal (ilm al-rijal is the science of assessing hadith transmitters). 

 

For others, as the argument goes, the companions may have had flaws, but in general, their flaws were the outcome of mistakes in their understanding of Islam and not ill intent.  

 

For the Shia however, this narrative of the companion contradicts the Qur’an. The Qur’an, the Shia believe, and like the numerous verses we read so far, attests that the companions of the Prophet can not only be unjust, but they can also be hypocrites and enemies of Islam. This doesn't mean that they are all bad, but it just suggests that being a companion of the Prophet doesn't automatically make a person good.  

 

We leave it to our listeners and readers to determine what position is right. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
7.10 Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Most, if not almost all religious communities across the world have clerics. By cleric we mean some kind of a priest or religious leader. These leaders are either ordained, like in the case of Catholicism or through institutional appointments (without official rites and ceremonies) like in Islam.  

 

In other cases, more knowledgeable members of the community organically spring up and take leadership roles. Either way, religious leadership is there.  

 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at some of the religious or clerical hierarchies that exist in Muslim communities, particularly Shia Muslim communities. In addition to the hierarchies, we’ll also look at the functions that clerics have in Islam in the day to day affairs of Muslims.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

“Are those who know equal to those who know not? It is only men of understanding who will remember” (Chapter 39, verse 9 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: “ …Verily the Ulama (scholars/theologians) are the heirs of the Prophets, verily the Prophets do not leave behind gold nor silver (wealth), they only leave behind religious knowledge” 

 

There are various terms for clerics in Islam, here we’ll go over some of the more popular ones. 

 

Alim, pl. Ulema 

 

An Alim means someone who knows. The term is general and applies to all clerics or scholars regardless of the rank. In some cases however, Alim can be restricted to a highly learned scholar. As you can guess, there is no standard usage of the term except that it is used for clerics in general. 

 

Clerics in Islam are usually trained in special seminaries called Hawzas. A Hawza literally means a fountain, as in a fountain of knowledge. Clerics will spend 5 to 50 years studying in those seminaries. The two major seminaries or hawzas are in Najaf (Iraq) and Qum (Iran).  

 

Ayatollah 

 

The word ayatollah means “sign of God.” If taken literally, all of creation is a sign of God so in this sense calling someone an Ayatollah is not controversial at all, at least from a Qur’anic perspective. However, in Shia Muslim institutions, the word ayatollah has a specific meaning.  

 

The first rank that a person attains after studying for a few years in the hawza is Hujjat al-Islam (Proof of Islam) or someone who is an authority in Islam.  

 

The mid-ranking clerics (after having studied for a longer period) are called Hujjat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen) which means someone who is an authority in Islam and an authority among Muslims.  

 

The higher ranking cleric, after having completed his studies, is called an Ayatollah.  

 

When an Ayatollah becomes sufficiently seasoned enough and is of very high caliber knowledge, he becomes a Marja or a source of legal emulation. A Marja is also an Ayatollah, but he is often referred to as Ayatollah al-Udhma meaning Greater Sign of God.  

 

The equivalent of an Ayatollah in Sunni Islam is a Mufti. 

 

Mujtahid 

 

A mujtahid is someone who is able to do ijtihad, in other words, as we saw before, it is someone who is knowledgeable enough and has gained enough mastery over religious sources to derive Islamic rulings on his own. A person who is a mujtahid is usually called an Ayatollah in Islam. 

 

 In previous decades, not all mujtahids would be considered Ayatollah. They had to spend over a decade teaching advanced level classes in Islamic law and jurisprudence and manage religious taxes. The term is a bit looser nowadays. 

 

Maulana 

 

Maulana means “our master.” It is a term of endearment to a cleric of any degree. The term is mostly used by South Asian communities. 

 

Imam 

 

Remember here we are not talking about Imam as in the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), we’re talking about Imams as religious and clerical functionaries in Islamic centers. Imam means leader. In functionary terms, it is a term that is usually used for two kinds of clerics.  

 

The first refers to high ranking clerics, usually Ayatollahs who assume political leadership roles. The second meaning refers to clerics who are resident scholars of particular institutions or Mosques (Masjids). 

 

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Clerics play an important role in the Muslim community. Not everyone can become a scholar, or set the time to appropriately become experts in Islamic law. As such, we need to follow a Marja in order to quickly learn about our legal duties in Islam and get answers for pressing questions. As we saw in a previous lesson, the practice of following a Marja in issues of Islamic law is called taqlid.  

 

Before the internet, Muslims used to call or send letters to their Marjas. Marjas themselves, or their students, would respond to these emails. With the advent of the internet, things have radically changed. People can now send emails asking their questions to their Marjas. Answers usually don’t take too long to come. Most Marjas nowadays have their official websites, so if you have a Marja, take a look at his website if you haven’t already! 

 

Clerics in Islam play other functions as well. For many Muslims, they are the ones who marry us and divorce us when relationships go sour. They play important roles in educating the community about the basics of Islam.  

 

They are also important arbitrators. Like any other human community, conflicts happen between people, either between spouses, parents and children, or friends. Clerics play a critical role in Muslim communities in helping to resolve these conflicts.  

 

In order to find your local Imam, try searching it online. Most Mosques or Islamic centers tend to have a website and in that website the center’s email or phone number is available. Through using that contact info, you can easily get into contact with a resident Imam who can also offer the center’s religious services to you. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
7.11 Mosques in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  Religious buildings like churches, temples or synagogues are present in most religious traditions across the world.  

 

These centers are critical for the survival of religions as they not only offer an important place for various forms of worship, but they also function as places where communities can gather and thrive.  

 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at Mosques in Islam which are similar to churches in Christianity or synagogues in Judaism. We’re going to look at the various functions of a Mosque both in terms of religious practice as well as being public spaces for the Muslim community to gather in.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided. Have you made the providing of water for the pilgrim and the maintenance of al-Masjid al-Haram equal to [the deeds of] one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and strives in the cause of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah . And


 
7.12 The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In this lesson, we’re going to look at the philosophy and lessons we can learn from the tragedy of Karbala. We are also going to look at how we can apply these lessons to our daily lives.

 

The themes we will be looking at are humility and friendship. We will also be looking at the modern commemoration of Karbala and its significance.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Philosophy of Karbala and the Goal of Imam al-Husayn’s Martyrdom

 

We have lots of different accounts as to what the goal or philosophy of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) sacrifice was. But who is better to ask than his own son, an Imam himself, who witnessed the event?

 

Imam Zain al-Abidin, also known as Imam as-Sajjad (as), was one the longest serving Imāms. His Imāmah spanned 34 years in total. By virtue of his direct relationship with Allah (swt) and his own father Imam al-Husayn (as), as well as his presence during the tragic event of Karbala, Imam al-Sajjad (as) was the best candidate for conveying the goal of Imām al-Ḥusayn’s (as) martyrdom.

 

The following are quick pointers on why Imām al-Sajjād (as) is the best source available on the tragedy of Karbala:

 

  •  He was a divinely appointed Imām and son of Imam al-Husayn.
  • He received divine knowledge from Allah directly as well as from his father
  •  He witnessed the entire tragedy of Karbala.
  •  No man had the courage to deliver the message of Karbala at the time but him.
  • Imam al-Sajjad: delivered this message in the following ways:
  1.  Duʿās
  2. (al-Sahifah al-Sajadiyah) (pronounced al-Ṣaḥīfah al-Sajjādīyah)
  3.  Interactions with people

 

Our fourth Imām’s compendium of supplications, al-Ṣaḥīfah al-Sajjādīyah, is one of the best and most credible sources available to us delineating the true message of Karbala. Perhaps one of the most poignant stories of Imām as-Sajjād (as) tragic life was the initial phase of his captivity. The Imām was deprived of food, ridiculed and dragged around even after seeing his family slaughtered.

 

Humayd ibn Muslim was an individual tasked by Yazīd’s army to guard over Imām al-Sajjād and the remaining members of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). Despite his harsh treatment, Ḥumayd expected anger from the Imām. But instead, he saw him humbly looking down and crying whilst reciting the following supplication to Allah (swt):

 

Let good flow out of my hands upon mankind and dissolve it not by having them feel indebted. Give me the highest of moral dispositions and protect me from haughtiness. (supplication #20 in al-Ṣaḥīfah al-Sajjādīyah)

 

Imām al-Sajjād (as) was not concerned with revenge or destroying Yazid. He knew that by destroying one Yazīd at that moment, three more would replace him. Instead, he was concerned with the moral improvement and spiritual self-building of humankind. Any crime that takes place in this world is rooted in a deficiency somewhere in one’s akhlāq or moral disposition.

 

Fakhr, or haughtiness, is a moral shortcoming in which one feels superior to others by perceiving them to be his or her inferiors. Fakhr is dangerous because it is the first step to a sense of entitlement through which one justifies his or her own misdeeds.

 

Imām as-Sajjād, having experienced the tragedy of Karbala, is teaching us that even in the darkest of moments we should strive for the greater good, not seek rewards from people and above all, maintain inner humility.

 

Imām as-Sajjād thus teaches us that the purpose of Karbala and Imām al-Ḥusain’s (as) mission was to impart on humankind the importance of maintaining integrity, proper spiritual and moral disposition even in the darkest of times.

 

In other words, just because things go bad, even when they are as bad as Imam al-Sajjad’s case where he witnessed the murder of his entire family, one should not lose one’s morals, temperament and good upbringing. Improvement in akhlāq or one’s moral and ethical life should be our goal in life. Without good akhlāq, we cannot reach spiritual perfection.

 

Philosophy of Majalis

 

One of the most distinct practices in the Shia world are the majalis of Imam al-Husayn (as) during the Islamic month of Muharram where the tragedy of Karbala occurred. The word majalis comes from the word majlis. Majlis is a place of sitting or gathering or more specifically in this case, a religious gathering where Muslims come together to commemorate the death of Imam al-Husayn (as) and the overall tragedy of Karbala.

 

The Majalis have a number of prominent features. They include the following:

 

  1. Poetry recited in honor of Imam al-Husayn (as) and his family
  2.  Chest beating in order to demonstrate grief at that tragedy
  3. Imam al-Husayn (as) blood drives where Muslims donate blood
  4.  Food offered to the community after commemoration processions
  5. Husayn Day Peace Walks where Muslims walk through the streets in order to mark the tragedy of Karbala and promote peace vis-à-vis the injustices that happen in the world.

 

The Majalis are therefore a practice to keep the memory of Karbala alive in the minds of Muslims. They are a reminder of the sacrifices the Imam made in order to save the moral message of the Prophet Muhammad (s). This moral and spiritual message is:

 

  1.  Seeking the greater good, even if it be against our selves
  2. Maintaining inner humility and not having fakhr.

 

What is inner humility? Inner humility is not only getting rid of the illusion that we are superior to others, but it is also a deep sense of selflessness, love of others and wanting to serve them. In this sense, it is less about thinking less about yourself and thinking more about others.

 

It is no wonder that God only descends to humble hearts and not hearts that are full of pride. As salt is needed for all kinds of food, so is humility for spiritual virtues.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
7.13 A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION & BODY OF TEXT 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

Ali ibn Abi Talib, or Ali the son of Abu Talib, was the successor of the Prophet Muhammad (s). As his successor, Imam Ali (as) became the first Imam after the Prophet in a chain of twelve Imams that is to last until the Day of Judgment. An Imam is a divinely appointed leader for humankind. Although not a Prophet in the strict Islamic sense of the term, Ali ibn Abi Talib was the Imam and Qutb of the world. 

 

Qutb literally means “pole.” In the Islamic sense of the term, it meant that like the Prophet Muhammad (s) before him, he was that perfect human being who was to be the cosmic and universal leader of all of God’s saints and the mediator between the divine and human realms.  

 

The presence of the qutb or divine pole as God’s primordial light in the world was necessary for the continued existence of the earth for he was the channel through which God’s providence and mercy unto the world was made possible.  

 

He was the cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad. His wife was Fatima al-Zahrah, the mistress of the women of the universe and the secret door to God’s special and hidden providence to the saints of the world.  

 

Imam Ali’s (as) father was none other than Abū Tālib, the guardian of the Kaʿba and the protector of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (s). Abū Tālib was therefore one of the greatest Muslims to have ever lived in the world. 

 

Imam Ali (as) was born around the year 599 A.D. He was the first and only person ever to be born inside the Kaba. His mother was Fatimah bint Asad. Fatimah not only raised Imam Ali, but also raised the Prophet Muhammad (s) in his childhood.  

 

Fatimah, like her husband Abū Tālib, was one of the first to believe in the Prophet’s message. She emigrated with him to Medina when persecution in Mecca was at its highest. Given the all the care and sacrifices she had shown the Messenger of Allah, the Prophet wrapped her with his own clothes as a sign of devotion and gratefulness to her. 

 

Imam Ali (as) was the first male to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (s). The Prophet Muhammad had taken Imam Ali into his household and raised him like a son. There he taught him the inner secrets of spirituality, morality, justice and knowledge of God. Imam Ali was to grow up to be the staunchest of the Prophet’s supporters and defenders.  

 

In one instance, the Prophet’s enemies used to throw rocks at him, yet Imam Ali in his youth would forcefully step forward and offer himself as a shield against the rocks.  

 

Imam Ali (as) was with the Prophet throughout the two-plus decades of his Prophetic mission. During the first 13 years in Mecca, he suffered through all of the persecutions that the Prophet Muhammad himself faced.  

 

Towards the end of his stay in Mecca when assassins went looking for him in order to kill him, he slept under the Prophet’s sheets in his home pretending to be the Prophet in order to lure the assassins to him and distract them while the Prophet escaped. Fortunately, the assassins saw that it was Imam Ali and not the Prophet before striking. 

 

Imam Ali (as) also spent 10 years with the Prophet in Medina. During these years, he participated in almost every war, always risking his life in order to save that of the Prophet (s). 

 

In 632, shortly before the Prophet (s) passed away, he appointed Imam Ali (as) as his successor during the event of Ghadeer. On the details of Ghadeer, please see the detailed lesson of the event in section four of our curriculum. 

 

However, in a turn of events, Imam Ali’s (as) right to political succession to the Prophet (s) was taken from him even though it went against the Prophet’s wishes. 

 

Those groups of people who supported Imam Ali’s claim to the Caliphate, that is, the Prophet’s successorship, were either ostracized, exiled or had war unleashed upon them.  

 

Imam Ali’s (as) house was attacked and in the process, his wife sustained fatal injuries. Imam Ali was put under house arrest until the new powers-that-be had consolidated all their power.  

 

However, the political aspect of Imam Ali’s (as) successorship was only a small part of his role. Although it was his right, it was not a necessary condition for being an Imam. What was necessary was that the institution of the Imam, that is, Imamate, be a form of religious and spiritual guidance for humankind. In this sense, Imam Ali (as) fulfilled his role as the Prophet’s successor.  

 

Imam Ali’s Imamate lasted around 30 years, however, for almost twenty-five years he was prevented from assuming his political right. 

 

After the previous three rulers or Caliphs died, there was no one left that the community could agree upon to be a trustable ruler. Corruption in the previous Caliphate had tired many, and this time people looked for someone they could trust 100%.  

 

The only candidate available was Imam Ali (as) and as such, they insisted that Imam Ali become the new Caliph. Imam Ali (as) only accepted if it was run on his own terms, and those terms were that his rule was to be in accordance with the tradition of the Prophet (s). 

 

Imam Ali (as) turned out to be the best ruler. No one had ever seen the amount of justice and fairness meted out as it was during the time of Imam Ali (as). He improved the infrastructure of the region and turned many of its cities into hubs for people to visit.  

 

A signature reform of his was fixing the water system of the major cities of the Muslim Empire, particularly Medina and Kufa where his reform of the water supply and irrigation systems transformed both their access to clean water and the health of the community by preventing all kinds of diseases. 

 

The poor loved him, and so did non-Muslims who were overwhelmed by his sense of fairness, justice and deference of the poor. Imam Ali (as) set up communal and political organizations to help the education of the young and poor, and set up safety nets for widows and orphans that would give them a second chance at life instead of locking them into abject poverty on a permanent basis.  

 

For Imam Ali (as), poverty was not simply to be addressed through charity. Poverty, for Imam Ali (as), was a structural problem that could only be rectified by ridding society of elite corruption and restructuring a socio-economic system that prioritized the plight and suffering of the marginalized, oppressed and the poor. 

 

The corrupt elite who had been appointed by previous Caliphs had benefited much from political and economic corruption. They had lied, schemed and murdered their way to political power and wealth. Imam Ali (as) was determined to put an end to this structural problem of evil that existed in the Muslim community. Naturally, the corrupt elite were not happy with this.  

 

As a result, they created pretexts - such as the murder of the third Caliph Uthman – to justify their aggression against Imam Ali (as) where they blamed him for Uthman’s assassination. This was, of course, a pure lie. 

 

For five and a half years Imam Ali (as) spent his time defending himself from wars instigated not only by the corrupt rich elite, but also by religious fanatics who believed that anyone who disagreed with their views should be put to death. 

 

Imam Ali (as) won these wars, but they were won at a great cost. Many of his resources, time, energy as well as the lives of many innocent Muslims were sacrificed so that the Islamic realm would not fall into absolute chaos.  

 

In the year 661 A.D, Imam Ali (as) was struck with a poisonous sword whilst praying. While the Imam was dying, he asked how his assassin was being treated in prison. When he learned that he was not being given proper food, he refused to eat his own food until his assassin ate the same as he did. He made sure that he was treated well and did not have his hands tied together too tightly so as to cause him pain.  

 

Imam Ali (as) was succeeded by his son Imam al-Hasan (as). Imam al-Hasan (as) was not only to assume the religious and spiritual position of the Imāmate, but he was also became the political Caliph of the time, even though it was only for a short while. This is because Imam Ali’s enemies did not simply stop at his death, but continued their animosity towards his family until the last one, the 12th Imam, was forced into occultation. 

 

In order to learn more about Imam Ali (as) and his teachings, please see the further reading section of this lesson. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
7.14 The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

Modern day Karbala, is a Muslim holy city in Iraq. It is best known for hosting the largest religious gathering of humans in the world. As of the year 2016, almost 30 million people converged unto this city.  

 

In a previous lesson, we looked over the philosophy of Imam al-Husayn’s (as) sacrifice in Karbala and what lessons we could draw from it in our contemporary lives.  

 

With that in mind, here we wish to briefly go over the history of the battle of Karbala in terms of what the catalyst for the battle was, and how the battle unfolded on that tragic day of Ashura. 

 

 BODY OF TEXT 

 

The battle of Karbala took place in the 10th of Muharram, 680 A.D, otherwise known as Ashura, meaning the 10th.  Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar.  

 

The battle of Karbala took place between Imam al-Husayn (as) and a small group of his family members and 72 of his companions on the one hand, and the Caliph of the time, Yazid ibn Muwiyah.  

 

In light of Imam Husayn’s (as) small group of supporters in Karbala, Yazid’s army counted in the thousands. Unfortunately, Imam Husayn (as) and his companions were almost all slaughtered. Only a few were spared from the massacre. 

 

So what led the Ahl al-Bayt (as) to this tragic end? There were a number of catalysts that brought it about.  

 

Muawiyah, Yazid’s father, had led a coup against the Caliphate of Imam al-Hasan (as) who was Imam al-Husayn’s brother. As Muawiyah had bribed most of Imam al-Hasan’s core military supporters, Imam al-Hasan (as) was left with no choice but to accept a forced treaty with Muawiyah that would have handed over power to Muawiyah himself. However, part of this agreement was that Muawiyah would hand over the Caliphate to Imam al-Husayn (as).  

 

This, however, did not materialize. Muawiyah broke every single point of the agreement he had made with Imam al-Hasan (as). Instead of designating Imam al-Husayn (as) as his successor, he designated his own corrupt son Yazid to power and therefore turning the Caliphate into a dynasty.  

 

The breaking of the treaty was only the first step in bringing about the tensions that would lead to the tragedy of Karbala. Imam al-Husayn (as) may have settled with this kind of trickery if it was just that. However, the corrupt nature of Yazid’s personality was simply too much for Imam al-Husayn (as) and he could not, as a result, submit to the request of giving him his oath of allegiance.  

 

Yes, corrupt rulers had existed before, but Yazid completely stood out. Although Muawiyah had been an enemy of Islam, he nevertheless kept some kind of a semblance of Islam in his rule no matter how distorted or mocking it was.  

 

Yazid on the other hand would publically ridicule and mock Islam. He would recite poetry against the Prophet Muhammad (s) and would lead Friday prayers while in a state of intoxication. Subverting Islam as a hypocrite was one thing, but to subvert it openly was a level of shamelessness that had not been seen before. 

 

This wasn’t all. Yazid brutally oppressed Muslims from innocent men to innocent women. He would kill and torture anyone who would question him. At least Muawiyah did it discreetly most of the time, but Yazid would openly commit massacres and violate people’s honor in the streets.  

 

Yazid was also involved in the highest level of financial corruption the Caliphate had ever seen and appointed the most immoral and corrupt of human beings to sensitive political posts. He was, in a sense, Muawiyah on steroids. 

 

Despite the open mockery of Islam and the open oppression of Muslims living under him, Yazid nevertheless asked Imam al-Husayn (as) to pledge allegiance to him. Naturally, Imam al-Husayn (as) could not under any circumstances do such a thing. 

 

Yazid, however, would not tolerate any form of dissent and set a plan to kill Imam al-Husayn (as) and massacre his family or use them as leverage against him. Imam al-Husayn (as) did not want to have blood shed either in Mecca or Medina, the two cities that he was usually present in.  

 

Faced with this dilemma, Imam al-Husayn (as) received a letter from his supporters in Kufa. A number of the Kufans claimed to be able to give him and his family shelter and support him against the oppressor Yazid.  

 

In order to save Islam’s holy cities from bloodshed, Imam al-Husayn (as) headed to Kufa along with his family members. Yazid’s army, however, found out about Imam al-Husayn’s (as) plans and intercepted him before he reached Kufa in a town called Karbala. 

 

Although Yazid was not present in Karbala, he had instructed his army to give him the option of pledging allegiance to him or death. Imam Husayn’s (as) strong sense of morality and justice could not allow him to pledge allegiance to a tyrant as bad as Yazid.  

 

As a result of this refusal, Yazid’s army went into battle against Imam al-Husayn (as). Although the Imam inflicted a lot of damage on the attacking army, their sheer number ensured that Imam al-Husayn, his family and his small group of companions were slaughtered in the field of Karbala. 

 

Imam al-Husayn (as) himself was beheaded and his infant children were slaughtered. Only a handful survived and they were taken captive. Among these were his son Ali Zayn al-Abidin, the future fourth Imam, and his sister Zaynab.  

 

An important question that has to be asked is the following: what did Imam al-Husayn’s sacrifice achieve? Why didn’t he just give allegiance and in the process, spare his life and that of his family’s?  

 

The reason is because although Yazid subverted and mocked Islam publically, he was nevertheless considered a representative of God on earth by virtue of being a Caliph. The Caliph’s word was sacred and gospel. Imam Husayn, by virtue of his respected position in the Muslim community, shattered this perception through his martyrdom as his death sent shockwaves across the Muslim Ummah. 

 

As a result, a whole new generation of scholars, both Shia and Sunni, were born that were not only independent of the Caliphate, but at times defined themselves in opposition to it.  

 

The corrupt rulers of the Muslim Ummah were no longer to define Islam and Imam al-Husayn’s (as) sacrifice took away the authority over Islam that the rulers had and gave it back to the people. 

 

Before we let you go, it’s important to clarify that this short recounting of the history of Karbala is by no means exhaustive. It is only a small glimpse as to what happened in this tragic event. Please check out our further reading section to learn more about Imam al-Husayn (as) and the battle of Karbala. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
 

8 Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts


 
8.1 Misconceptions about Shi’ism Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to go over a list of some misconceptions about Shi'I Islam and correct them. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Misconception #1: Shias Believe that the Qur’an Has Been Altered (Distortion of the Qur’an) 

 

This is one of the most common misconceptions about Shias. The accusation is that Shias believe that there were Qur’anic verses where the names of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were explicitly mentioned but were censored out sometime after the death of the Prophet (s). But this is false. Mainstream Twelver Shi’ism throughout history believed in the integrity of the Qur’an. That is, from the earliest days, scholars like Shaykh al-Saduq who died in  991 AD believed that the Qur’an we have in our hands today is the same Qur’an that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (s) with nothing added, subtracted or changed from it. 

 

Scholars who believed the Qur’an had verses subtracted from it were a small minority among Shias and Sunnis. Their views, however, have systematically been refuted throughout history. They do not represent either Shi'ism or Sunnism. 

 

The Islamic term for the distortion of the Qur’an is known as Tahreef al-Qur’an. 

 

 Misconception #2: Shias believe that Imam Ali (as) was God and they worship him 

 

This is another common misconception. Some Muslims believe that Shia Muslims worship Imam Ali (as). That is, they believe that Ali is God or Allah. This is not correct. Shias believe that there is one God only. Shia Muslims believe, just like the Qur’an teaches, that God is not human and that no human can be God. 

 

Allah transcends absolutely everything. In fact, Shias go as far as saying that God transcends all space, time and matter. In this sense, Shias state that it is impossible for one to see God with the physical eye.  

This obviously contradicts the notion that God can become a human being. It is, instead, extremists and Wahhabis who believe that God has human or physical attributes, such as hands and feet, or that He is literally sitting on a chair. 

 

Shia Muslims believe that Imam Ali (as) and the rest of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) were human beings only and that they were appointed by God on this earth to guide humankind and the Muslim community. In short, like the Prophet Muhammad (s), Imam Ali (as) was a servant of God and that he worshipped Him. 

 

Misconception #3: Shias worship stones in their prayers 

 

Shias do not worship stones in their prayers. What they do use is a turba or a piece of baked clay that they prostrate on in their prayers. The reason for this has to do with Islamic ritual laws. In Shia Islam, we are not allowed to prostrate on things that, for example, can be eaten or worn during prayers.  

 

This ruling is there in order to prevent idol worship or monotheism. According to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), only earth, leaves, stones or other permissible natural elements can be prostrated on. This is the way that the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) prayed. 

 

Misconception #4: Shias don’t believe in the five daily prayers, they only pray three prayers a day 

 

This is also not correct. Shias, like other Muslims, believe in the 5 daily obligatory prayers. What they do, however, is that they combine the Dhuhur and Asr Prayers, as well as the Maghrib and Isha prayers. In this way they allocate three specific periods throughout the day to pray, but in those three periods they pray the 5 daily prayers. 

 

Shias believe that one is free to combine one’s prayers in this way, or pray them separately. However, according to all Muslims, one can combine one’s prayers during travel time or in days of sickness. Does this mean that one is praying 3 times a day? Absolutely not.  

 

Shias are just simply more liberal with their attitudes at combining prayers given that this was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

 

Misconception #5: Shias Believe that Sunnis are non-Muslims 

 

This is another misconception. Shias believe that Sunnis are Muslims given that they believe in the Shahada. If you recall, the Shahada, or Islamic creed, is the testimony that there is no deity by Allah alone and that Muhammad is His chosen and final messenger and prophet.  

 

As Sunnis believe in the Shahada, Shias consider them as Muslims. Shias believe that Sunnis are ritually pure and that their food is permissible. They also believe in the permissibility of marriage between Shias and Sunnis.  

 

Although Shias may disagree with Sunnis on certain topics, these differences are by no means a justification for declaring Sunnis as non-Muslims. 

 

Misconception #6: Shias don’t believe in Zakat 

 

Like other Muslims, Shias believe that Zakat is obligatory. According to Shia Islam, if a person knowingly rejects the obligatoriness of zakat, then he or she may not fulfill the requirements of being a Muslim.  

 

The difference between Shia Muslims and others is that Shias don’t believe zakat can be paid in cash. They believe that zakat can only be paid through tangible material, like gold, silver or live stock among other things. If a person does not own these things, then they are not obligated to pay it because they don’t have the material to give in the first place.  

 

However, if they do have this material, then they need to pay zakat on it.  

 

Misconception #7: Shias believe that the Angel Jibril (as) made a mistake as he was supposed to give revelation and prophethood to Imam Ali (as) and not the Prophet (s).  

 

This is false. No Twelver Shia scholar has ever believed in this. 

 

Misconception #8: Shias believe that the 12th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (aj), has been hiding in a cave for over a thousand years and when the time is right, he will come out of the cave and conquer the world. 

 

This is false. No Shia scholar has ever believed this. This false misconception was popularized by the 14th century anti-Shia cleric Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) for polemical reasons.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
8.2 Major Sects of Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

In this lesson, we will overview some of the major denominations of Islam. We will also discuss how one’s zeal in faith does not mean that a person is on the right path. Finally, we will also look at how unity can still be achieved despite differences.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O you who have believed, fear Allah and be with those who are true. (Chapter 9, verse 119 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Islam has many different sects and schools. The following are the major ones: 

 

Sunni Islam: Sunni Islam is the majority sect of Islam today. Sunnis believe in the legitimacy of the first era Caliphs which include Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. Sunnis also acknowledge Imam Ali (as) as the legitimate fourth Caliph. They believe that the companions of the Prophet as well as his wives were the primary sources of understanding Islam and the Prophet’s (s) Sunnah.  

 

Shia Islam: The most popular and dominant version of Shia Islam is 12ver Shi’ism and hence why when Shia Islam is mentioned, people usually mean Imami or 12ver Shi’ism (Imami and 12ver are just different names for the same thing).  

 

Shia Islam believes that God chose twelve successors to succeed the Prophet Muhammad (s). These twelve successors were to be from his Holy Household, or known as the Ahl al-Bayt in Arabic. 

 

The Ahl al-Bayt (as), as Shi’ism believes, were the infallible sources of understanding Islam, the Qur’an and conveying the Prophet’s Sunnah and teachings. 

 

Wahhabism: Wahhabism is a fundamentalist movement that was born out of Saudi Arabia in the 18th century by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792 AD). We have separated out Wahhabism from Sunnism as many mainstream Sunnis consider it to be a movement that is distinct from traditional Sunnism. 

 

Wahhabism was born out of the British colonial project in the Arabian peninsula. The goal of British imperialism in the region was to destroy Ottoman power. One of the methods that the British employed was to created so-called reformist movements to subvert the traditional Islamic religious establishments that existed at that time. These establishments or institutions were important as they kept Muslim communities intact. 

 

Wahhabism was one of these reformist movements. Wahhabism is different from other Islamic denominations today in that it holds a belief in an anthropomorphic God, that is, a God that is physical and holds physical features like hands and feet. Wahhabism also holds that God literally sits on a throne. It also has a high propensity to excommunicate other Muslims from Islam and is not shy to encourage the killing of Muslims who hold different opinions. 

 

As such, violence and intolerance are some of the prominent features of the Wahhabi movement today of which ISIS and other terrorist groups are an intellectual offshoot of. The greatest victims of Wahhabism are primarily Sunnis and then Shias. 

 

We’ve only mentioned two major sects in Islam. There are, of course, other sects in Islam, like the Ismaʿilis, the Zaidis, and many other groups but we cannot cover them here due to time constraints. 

 

All of these sects can be quite confusing for people. Finding the “right” sect (show quotation marks with your hands) may seem to be an arduous task. However, the Qur’an gives us the solution to this problem: 

 

(Remember) the day when We will call every people with their Imam; then whoever is given his book in his right hand, these shall read their book; and they shall not be dealt with a whit unjustly. (Chapter 17, verse 71 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The central mechanism of human guidance is the kind of religious leader and role model you choose for yourself.  So the question one should ask is the following: who is the right leader? Did the Prophet Muhammad (s) leave anyone behind as leaders for us? As we’ve seen previously, we know this answer to be in the affirmative.  

 

The Prophet (s), as evident from the event of Ghadeer and Hadith al-Thaqalyn, left us with two sources of guidance, one being the Qur’an and the other being his Ahl al-Bayt (as). As the Prophet (s) explained to us, if we follow these two we will never be deviated. 

 

So by choosing the right leaders or Imams, that is, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), one can be assured that he or she will be part of the right sect. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
8.3 Islam and Religious Conflicts Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Interreligious conflict is a staple of almost all religions in the world, if not all of them. Splits within religious communities usually happen right after the death of their founder. 

 

In this lesson, we will look at some of the common reasons for religious conflict in general.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And We did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things and preferred them over the worlds. And We gave them clear proofs of the matter [of religion]. And they did not differ except after knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ. (Chapter 45, verses 16-17 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it - after the clear proofs came to them - out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Chapter 2, verse 213 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

 

Conflicts Within Religious Traditions 

 

Sectarian conflicts happen for many reasons. Here we will list a few reasons as to why: 

 

  1. After a religion is revealed, and especially after its founder dies, there is usually a power vacuum that comes about even if its founder designated a successor. This happens as hypocrites within the religion see the death of a founder as an opportunity to consolidate power. When there is a competing, legitimate successor, there is often jealousy involved and violence is often used to eliminate competition.  

 

These different groups often grow into major opposing groups over the generations as each line develops its own set of doctrines and creed and hence a competition is born for not only truth, but also power. 

 

  1. Many people are not interested in what God has to say as it is not always in line with their desires. They create movements within the religion, distort and twist its message in order to have the religion say what they want it to say.  

 

For example, in Islam, there are some people who do not like many of Islam’s laws as they find them restrictive and contrary to what their desires want. For example, there are movements within Islam today that try to further a reformist agenda that seeks to repel many of Islam’s fundamental laws, like the obligation of Hijab. They are not interested in what God’s ruling is per se, but more interested in making Islam say what they want it to say. 

 

 Conflicts Between Religions 

 

Like the above, conflicts between religions happen for multiple reasons. Here are two reasons: 

 

  1. Political and Economic: Wars need pretexts. Often enough, religious pretexts work the best, even for people who are not religious. Wars are an opportunity to expand political and economic power. Political leaders often exploit religion to legitimize their quest for power and money. 

 

This also happens through elections. The best way of being elected is to instill fear in the populace and convince them that you are the one who can save them from people of other religions. 

 

Think of some European countries today where members of parliament or ministers hop on the islamophobia wagon and wag their fingers at Islam and Muslims as the new threat, just like they did against Jews not so long ago. 

 

  1. Sometimes conflicts come about because of real religious beliefs. Some people feel that it is God’s work they are doing when they oppress members of other religions. 

 

These people often act as terrorists. They are a minority group in most religions, but they are loud and dangerous. They exist among Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of other faiths.  

 

Conclusion (take a pause and take a tone where now you are speaking in general) 

 

Remember that the lists we gave are not exhaustive by any means. Second, the reasons for inter-religious conflicts may also apply to sectarian conflicts. The point however, is to help us get think in more complex ways and understand the nuance of religious conflicts and tensions.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
8.4 Islam and Rights Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

  

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we will briefly introduce an Islamic perspective on rights. We will then discuss the issue of rights more specifically with women’s rights and non-Muslim rights in Islam.   

 

BODY OF TEXT  

 

Truly God commands you to give back trusts to those to whom they are due, and when you judge between people, to judge with justice....  (Chapter 4, verse 58 of the Holy Qur’an)  

 

...And act justly.  Truly, God loves those who are just.  (Chapter 49, verse 9 of the Holy Qur’an)  

 

...And let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice.  Be just: that is nearer to piety....  (Chapter 5, verse 8 of the Holy Qur’an)  

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: {O people!  Your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one.  An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white tinged with red) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety. 

 

In Islam, the fundamental denominator of human relations are rights, duties and responsibilities. The word for “right” in Islam is called haqq (pl. huquq). Incidentally, the premodern Islamic word for duties and responsibilities is also haqq.  

 

What this tells us is that both go hand in hand, in other words, rights don’t exist in a vacuum, any right that is accorded to a person also comes with a series of responsibilities. For example, in Islam, a child has the right to be nurtured by his or her parents, however, this child also has the responsibility of obeying his or her parents.  

 

As such, haqq is dualistic in nature.   

 

Haqq is not only the denominator of all of our relations, but it is also the denominator of all of our sins. Any sin in Islam goes against a certain kind of haqq. For example, one has a responsibility in ensuring one’s own salvation by keeping one’s faith and spiritual heart clean. This means that one should avoid doing things that will harm one’s self, both physically, mentally as well as spiritually.  

 

Our community also has a right to live in a clean spiritual environment that is devoid of spiritual polluters. Therefore, committing the sins of adultery, for example, are infringements upon the rights of a community. This is because sins like adultery break down families, ruin the lives of children, and set precedents that if repeated enough times, become normalized in the eyes of people.  

 

Haqq is also a responsibility that humans must have towards God. Above all, the greatest responsibility of humanity is to be grateful to Allah for it is He who has given us life and the opportunity for eternal joy and bliss in return for a few acts of obedience. 

 

Establishing haqq is, above all, an establishment of justice. The word for justice is adl in Islam, which means to keep a perfect balance, that is, a balance of one’s rights and responsibilities. By maintaining the balance of rights and responsibilities, social justice is maintained. 

 

This in brief is how human rights is understood in Islam from a general perspective.  

 

So now let’s look at some specific cases of rights in Islam.  In order to be brief, we’ll look at two cases only,  1) Islam and women’s rights and 2) Islam and non-Muslim rights. 

 

Women’s Rights in Islam  

 

According to the Qur’an, men and women are spiritually equal. The Qur’an states: 

 

O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer. (Chapter 4, verse 1 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Furthermore, women have equal economic rights, just as men do: 

 

"Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and whatever women earn, they have a share in that." (Chapter 4, verse 32 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Men and women have many rights in common.  They are also equal in spiritual terms and in creation. However, Islam has given different responsibilities to men and women. For example, it is the husband’s sole responsibility in Islam to provide maintenance for his wife. If the wife works, she has full discretionary right over her wealth. On the other side of the equation, a wife has the responsibility to meet a set of marital responsibilities in the home.  

 

Non-Muslim Rights in Islam  

 

In chapter 2, verse 256 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says that “there is no compulsion in religion” 

 

This means that no one can be forced to convert to Islam. It also means that if someone is forced to convert through the threat of physical punishment or some kind of psychological or emotional blackmail, then the perpetrator of this act is sinful and the person’s conversion to Islam will not be valid.  

 

In Islam, non-Muslims are accorded the same rights of security, happiness, life, marriage, family, shelter, medical care as Muslims do. These are of course just a few differences. What the mainstream media likes to talk about though is the poll tax which is known as jizya in Islam. 

 

The jizya was an extra tax that non-Muslims had to pay. However, Muslims on the other hand had to pay other taxes that non-Muslims did not have to pay such as zakat and khums. Furthermore, non-Muslims who did pay the jizya were exempt from going to war for defending Muslim lands. 

 

Islam considers the lives of non-Muslims to be just as sacred as those of Muslims. In one famous hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Messenger of Allah is reported to have said: 

 

"Beware!  Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment." 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
8.5 Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments. Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!   

 

In this lesson, we will offer a general outlook into the history of Sunnism as well as a parallel history of Shi’ism. We will look at these two major sects of Islam were born and developed over time. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

There are many ways to define what Sunnism and Shi’ism are. In the case of Shi’ism, the sect solidified over two centuries as various successive Imams worked to create a self-contained and systematic Islamic school of thought. The foundation that the Imams laid down were to be further codified by later Twelver Shia scholars.   

 

What is understood as Shi’ism is a school which sees select members of the Prophet’s (s) family, starting with Imam Ali (as), as his only legitimate and divinely appointed successors. As successors, they were the only infallible source for divine guidance and Islam's interpretation. 

 

Sunnism is a variegated tradition with many different, competing narratives of itself. If there is one thing that unites Sunnis today, it is the belief in the legitimacy of the first four caliphs, namely Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Imam Ali (as). It is the belief that these four caliphs and companions of the Prophet (s) were righteous and sources of Islamic guidance and knowledge.  

 

 Sunnis also believe that the majority, if not all the companions of the Prophet (s), as well as his wives, were righteous servants of God and authentic sources for transmitting and teaching knowledge about Islam.  

 

What we call Sunnism today went through two major phases in history. The first phase is called proto-Sunnism, and the other is Sunnism which consolidated in the 11th century as an off-shoot of the Ahl al-Hadith movement. 

 

Proto-Sunnism official began after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in 632 AD. It was a movement of a select number of companions and their followers who assented to the legitimacy of the first three caliphs, namely Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman. 

 

This was in opposition to a group of other companions who supported the claim of Imam Ali (as) as the only legitimate successor to the Prophet Muhammad (s). The early tensions began in four stages: 

 

  1. The selection of Abu Bakr as the Caliph at Saqifah in opposition to the Prophet’s (s) appointment of Imam Ali (as) as his successor. 
  2. The attack on the house of Fatima (as) where she, her family and close supporters were gathered in. Fatima (as) died of her injuries as a result of the sustained attack on her house by the supporters of the new Caliphate.  
  3. The placing of Imam Ali (as) in house arrest by the powers that be. 
  4. The two subsequent wars against Imam Ali (as) led by Ayesha and Muawiyah when he was caliph. This split the Muslim community into two groups, the supporters (Shia) of Imam Ali (as) and the supporters of Ayesha and Muawiyah. After the death of Imam Ali (as), the division was further deepened by Muawiyah’s command that all Mosques curse Imam Ali (as) during prayers, especially Friday Prayers.  

 

The clearest break between the communities and solidification of what we know as proto-Shi’ism and proto-Sunnism is the event of Karbala. As we saw earlier, the event of Karbala pitted the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and their supporters against Yazid whom the mainstream community either directly supported or tacitly submitted to.  

 

The Shia of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) had been oppressed before beginning with the death of the Prophet (s). However, the death of Imam al-Husayn (as) brought about about a new level of oppression where the Shia of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) and anyone who supported them were systematically hunted down, imprisoned, tortured and killed. 

 

At this point, due to political tensions, Shi’ism and Sunnism had not developed distinct self-contained schools of thought. 

 

It is during the times of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) and his son Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) in the 8th century that Shi’ism grew into a self-contained legal, theological and ethical school. By self-contained I mean a school that in its religious world view could be clearly distinguished from others from all or most angles.  

 

For example, the Shi’i view of daughters fully inheriting from their fathers became a distinguishing feature Shi'ism. It is at this point that the foundations of Shi’ism as a religious school of thought were completely solidified which eventually came to be known as 12ver Shi'ism. 

 

Later scholars like Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Tusi (ra)  (d. 1067) and Allamah al-Hilli (ra) (d. 1325) were to further refine the school and codify it in educational and institutional books. 

 

Another example was the belief in the Qur’an as the created word of God, as opposed to mainstream proto-Sunnism which believed that the Qur’an was eternal. 

 

Proto-Sunnism was still a disparate group with a very large number of different legal, theological and creedal schools. 

 

Its state remained as such until the 11th century and when the war between the Seljuq Dynasty and the Ismaili Shias reached its peak. Ismaili Shias were a group of Shias who split off after Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) and followed Imam Jafar’s dead son, Ismail ibn Jafar.  

 

As Ismaili Shias mounted their defensive attacks against the Seljuq Turks, the Turks, through the might of their political power, forced all disparate proto-Sunni groups to unite. Disunity among them put the risk of the Seljuq empire at risk against the Ismai'ili threat. 

 

The Seljuq Turks established three platforms upon which the various proto-Sunni groups united on. 

 

The first platform was the standardization of Sunni legal doctrine by emphasizing and promoting the 4 Sunni legal schools, namely the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools.  

 

The second platform was through creed. In other words, people had to believe in the legitimacy of the first Four Caliphs, known as the Rashidun Caliphs, that is, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Imam Ali (as). The second belief was the belief that the Qur’an was the eternal word of God. 

 

The final platform was the standardization of Sunnism based on the two major corpuses of hadith, namely Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. These books were to provide the newly created, self-contained movement of Sunnism, its sources of beliefs and laws. Deviance from these books was tantamount to deviance and for some, outright apostasy from Islam.  

 

Shi’ism and Sunnism are therefore like buildings. The bricks were laid down at the inception of Islam, however, it is only over time that the building was built. For the Sunnis, the building was made in the 11th century, and for the Shias, during the 7th and 8th centuries by the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

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9.1 Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam! Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! So now you’re a Muslim. Welcome to Islam! Converting to Islam is not a new thing. Many people convert to Islam. However, not many people, including people who were born into the religion, are aware of the implications of being a Muslim aside some basic beliefs and some ritual actions.  

 

Our curriculum is full of lessons covering the basics of Islam, its creed and dos and don’ts. So as you can guess, our goal here isn’t to rehash all of that. You can simply browse and learn on your own at this point.  

 

What we do want to do though is go over some of the things you’ve achieved as a new Muslim as well as the challenges that you will face as a Muslim. From our own experience, we’ve seen that the challenges usually revolve around personal and social struggles rather than issues with Islamic creed.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Now that you’re a Muslim, it’s likely that your going to be part of some Muslim community. If not, then you’re still going to be part of a human community. Whether you’re with Muslims or non-Muslims, as a believing and practicing Muslim, you will inevitably become a representative of Islam. 

 

Your knowledge, and more importantly, the way you behave with others is going to reflect on people’s reflections about Islam. As a Muslim among other non-Muslims, your actions are going to be noticed more. People will see that you don’t eat and drink the things you did before, they’ll notice that you go off to prayers and on special days, you fast.  

 

It’s likely that they will see physical changes in you as well. You might start growing a beard if you’re a man (which is obligatory for males in Islam) or you might start wearing the hijab (which is also obligatory for women in Islam).  

 

As people will see you as a Muslim, you need to be extra careful in how you carry yourself and respond to others. Physically speaking, the Prophet Muhammad (s) recommended that Muslims be clean, neat, well dressed and smell good.  

 

In terms of our attitudes, we need to be extra careful in how we conduct ourselves. For example, if someone insults you, it is important that you don’t insult them back. Instead, the Messenger of Allah (s) recommended that we respond in kindness and compassion. In other words, he recommended that we take pity on them and give polite responses and set aside any form of animosity.  

 

Even the worst of people will take notice of this kind of good behavior. 

 

As a new Muslim, all of your past sins are forgiven. Yet being a Muslim also brings about its own set of difficulties, especially when it comes to our interactions with others.  

 

So what are these challenges? Let’s look at some of the most common ones: 

 

Loneliness  

 

If you go to most centers, you’ll notice that most Muslims tend to come from select ethnic backgrounds. The majority of these groups tend to be South Asians, Arabs or Iranians. These groups don’t only treat Islamic centers as religious centers, but treat them as cultural centers as well.  

 

Many converts who come to these centers are often outside of these cultural spheres so it’s natural that they feel a bit left out. In some centers, people are welcoming but in others, they are not always welcoming, especially when they see people who are not part of familiar cultural backgrounds. 

 

Many communities are quick to accept newcomers, but others may take time. The key here is to show great patience and to make oneself familiar to the community. During this time, talk to people and make friends. Over time you will be accepted and feel comfortable.  

 

Not all centers are English friendly, but English friendly centers are growing, especially in the United States. If you can, make sure to visit Islamic centers that have English programs. 

 

Despair 

 

Despair is a common symptom for all human beings, not just converts to Islam. In the case of converts, despair usually comes for many reasons. They include, among other things, difficulties in getting the right answers to tough questions, difficulties in finding a spouse or the extent of time it takes to make new friends who share your faith.  

 

There are no easy solutions for these problems, but there are ways to manage them. 

 

As a convert, remember that the internet is your best friend. The internet is filled with books from competent Muslim scholars. Here you can refer to Islamiclibrary.com where thousands of books exist where you can find all sorts of answers to burning questions. If that doesn’t work, remember that our website also connects you with scholars. 

 

Although it is your best friend, you should always be careful as there is bad material out there as well. Make sure to go to legitimate websites and read stuff that's written by credible authors. 

 

The internet is also a place for many converts to find spouses. There are many Muslim matrimonial sites that are there to help. 

 

The internet again is a good place to make new friends who share your interests. Social media is one, but so are posting and chat forums which again, we offer over here on our site! 

 

Remember that Allah created a world where there is always a way out for our despair. The key is to keep our eyes open, minds open, be patient. I know that words are worth a dime a dozen, but this is something to think about. 

 

If you see that your despair is not ending, try talking to an Islamic counselor at your local Islamic center or an experienced and trustable Muslim who can guide you through this time of darkness. 

 

Muslims Giving Islam a Bad Name 

 

Yes, you will come across Muslims who give Islam a bad name. You will see this on the media, on social media, or in person at work or at an Islamic center. Personal experiences like these can be discouraging, but they are only discouraging if our knowledge of Islam is limited.  

 

Make sure to learn about Islam, the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). Learn to judge Islam based on its own merits and not by its followers. Remember that the Devil worshipped God for over 6000 years yet with one test he deviated. What do you expect of regular Muslims who have only been around for a few years? 

 

Don’t judge Islam by its followers, even if some of them are clerics, judge it by its own merits and people will not discourage you! 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.2 Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! When people first convert to Islam, they will quickly realize that their lives are significantly different when compared to the lives they had before converting to Islam.  

 

Islam is not just a religion of beliefs. It is a religion of action. As such, it is a religion that makes demands on people from the time they wake up until they go to sleep. In this lesson, we’re going to go over some of the major areas where you will see your life change as a convert to Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT  

 

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger - those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favor of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (Chapter 4, verse 69 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

When you start practicing Islam, either as a convert or someone who was culturally Muslim, you will notice big differences in your life. Here are some of the major changes that you will see in your life as a newly practicing Muslim: 

 

Waking Up Very Early in The Morning 

 

Most of us are used to waking up 6-7am for work or school. For some of us, it’s a bit earlier, like 5:30am, if we need to beat traffic. For others, they may wake up at 8am. 

 

For those who don’t work on the weekends, Saturdays and Sundays are days where people get to sleep in. 

 

Despite the differing times, one thing that many people don’t do as non-Muslims is to getting up for morning prayers. If you thought 5:30am was early, try waking up between 3 and 4am for morning prayers. Yeah, many times throughout the year, depending on the season, you will find yourself waking up that early not for work or school, but for prayers.  

 

As such, one of the biggest changes you will see in your life is that you’re going to have to reorganize your time, including the time you sleep and wake up. Islam has obligatory night prayers (isha) as well as morning prayers (fajr). 

 

Here in the West, our days revolve around eating times. We separate our times between breakfast, lunch and dinner. In Islam, times revolve around prayer times. As such, your going to have to reschedule your time and how your day goes about and wake up very early! 

 

Cleanliness and Ritual Purity 

 

We all need to clean ourselves when we go to the bathroom. In Islam, cleanliness is just about being clean, although that’s important. Cleanliness is also needed for ritual activities such as prayer.  

 

This means that your going to find yourself washing yourself in different ways than you are used to. In the bathroom, you’ll notice that your going to have to follow a step by step process of cleaning yourself with water which might be more stringent and thorough than what you’re used to. To know more about these rulings, see the Tawzīh al-Masā’il or legal treatise of your Marja. 

 

The second change you will see is how you pray. We’re not talking about prostrating and bowing, that’s evident enough even for non-Muslims. What you will see though is how you need to ritually wash yourself with water before prayers, something which not many religions mandate as stringently as Islam does. 

 

Cleanliness also means that as a Muslim, you are highly discouraged to walk home with your shoes on. This is because our shoes contain many things that are considered ritually impure. So as a Muslim, you are highly encouraged to take off your shoes before entering your home.  

 

This is something you’ll notice with the Muslim community, shoes are usually taken off! 

 

Sexual Relations with your Spouse 

 

Relations with your spouse will also start to differ. There are a few dos and don’ts in Islam that are not too different than what you will find in in common sexual practice among non-Muslims. 

 

What you will see, however, is that you can’t immediately go about your day after having sexual intercourse, or go to sleep after. The reason for this is because after intimate relations, Muslims must perform the major ablution called ghusl. Without ghusl after intimate relations, you cannot pray. To know more about these rulings, see the Tawzīh al-Masā’il or legal treatise of your Marja. 

 

As prayers happen throughout the day, you will notice that you will have to do this regularly.  

 

Ghusl also applies to women after their monthly period. After the bleeding ends, women are required to do ghusl so that they may resume praying again. 

 

Eating and Drinking Halal 

 Muslims can’t just eat anything. The meat they eat must be halal or permissible to eat. To process of making it halal is called zabiha where an animal is ritually slaughtered in accordance with the rules of Islamic law.   

 

In addition to morning prayers, eating halal is probably one of the most difficult things for people who have just started practicing Islam, at least for those who live among non-Muslims. Yes, there are some cities that have plenty of halal restaurants and meat stores, but not all places are like this.  

 

Eating halal often means that converts cannot eat at the restaurants they used to, or at least order the meat dishes they used to order as non-Muslims. It also means that meat might be more expensive as halal is usually more costly in many places across North America.  

 

Eating halal isn’t just restricted to zabiha. Eating halal also means that a person cannot eat pork anymore, or eat other animals which are forbidden. For people who are used to having their bacon in the morning and their ham sandwiches at noon, this presents a big difficulty that needs to be overcome.  

 

Eating is not the only thing. Drinks like alcohol, or drinks that have alcohol in them, also become forbidden. 

 

If you live with family or friends, this is a big thing people will notice as you won’t be able to eat and drink with them as you used to. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.3 Halal Food and Zabiha Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  One of the biggest challenges newly practicing Muslims have to face is eating halal.  

 

Why do you ask? Well, that’s because people love their food and it's a hard thing to take away the food they are used to eating. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

 He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Chapter 2, verse 173 of the Holy Qur’an)  

 

Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. (Chapter 5, verse 3 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Zabiha, or dhabiha, literally refers to something that is slaughtered. In technical terms, it refers to the ritual slaughtering of animals that are permissible to eat in Islam. Once the ritual slaughtering is done, the meat of the animal is permissible to cook and eat as long as the animal is not forbidden to eat from the get go. 

 

For example, ritually slaughtering a pig, dog or cat does not make it halal to eat! The animal has to be “okayed” by Islam before the ritual slaughter is even valid. So in addition to pigs and dogs, the zabiha of dead animals or animals who have been sacrificed to pagan gods are not permissible.  

 

So let’s look at four of the major rules of zabiha

 

  1.  The zabiha must be done by a sane, adult Muslim. A minority of scholars within the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), however, believe that the animal can also be slaughtered by someone from Ahl al-Kitab, that is, a Jew or a Christian. The tendency to accept meat slaughtered (not electrocuted!) by the Ahl al-Kitab is more popular among Sunni Muslims. 
  2.  While slaughtering the animal, one must say the name of God as the Qur’an says "Therefore eat of that on which Allah's name has been mentioned if you are believers in His communications." (Chapter 6 verse 118 of the Holy Qur’an) 
  3.  One must led the blood of the animal drain out. 
  4.  The slaughtering must be done by hand. The cut should be made on the neck.  

 

When slaughtering an animal, Muslims usually give the animal water to drink and cover its eyes so that it doesn’t see the knife. Muslims also sharpen the knife and make sure that it is big enough so that it gets killed as quickly and as painlessly as possible. Muslims also commonly face the animals towards the Qibla when slaughtering it. 

 

When meat is properly slaughtered, it gets the label as zabiha. A question that often gets asked is the following: are all zabiha or halal labels that I see really halal?  

 

Well, it depends. According to the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), the animal must be hand slaughtered. Other schools of thought in Islam permit animals to be slaughtered by robots and machines in factories. Although the meat may be halal according to them, it is not halal by Shia standards. 

 

So whenever you see a label zabiha, if you know for sure or with reasonable confidence that it was slaughtered by a machine, then it won’t be permissible to eat. Otherwise you are welcome to eat the zabiha of other Muslims.  

 

In some Western cities, people are blessed with many halal options. There are halal restaurants and halal meat markets everywhere. But for some, they aren’t so lucky. Sometimes there are no halal restaurants or halal meat markets anywhere near by, so what is one to do? 

 

Well, there are still options. First, you can always opt for fish or vegetarian menus at restaurants. Some restaurants offer imitation meat that’s made out of soy, so those can be eaten as well. In terms of buying halal meat for the home, there are some options as well. What some Muslims do is they go on car trips and buy a large load of meat and then bring them back home and freeze their meat so it can last them a while.  

 

If that doesn’t work, there is also the option of buying imitation meat. Nowadays, markets are full of imitation ground beef or imitation chicken. Those foods tend to be quite delicious. 

 

Finally, there is also switching to a fish and a vegetarian diet. Although for some this might not be the option they want (that is, if they don’t like imitation meat) it is still a healthy option. Remember that many of our diseases come from our overconsumption of meat. So although difficult, the fish, seafood and vegetarian option may be a healthier option and thus a blessing in disguise.  

 

Remember that Islam does not ask the impossible from us. In cases where we are starving and where there is a serious danger to our health, we are allowed to eat meat that would usually be categorized as haram. The Qur’an says: 

 

 Say, "I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine - for indeed, it is impure - or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful." (Chapter 6, verse 145 of the Holy Qur’an) 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
9.4 Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION  

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.  

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!   

 

In this lesson, we’re going to go over some of the duties and responsibilities which God, through the Messenger of Allah and the Ahl al-Bayt (as), has ordained for families. Here you we will see how parenthood is integral to the salvation of the Muslim community as well as humanity.   

 

BODY OF TEXT  

 

In a famous hadith, a companion of the Prophet (s) once remarked:  

 

I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back. 

 

Our Duties As Parents: Mother and Father  

 

There are a set number of parental duties that are well known to most Muslims. We know that it is obligatory for mothers to breastfeed their children when they are first born.   

 

We also know that it is obligatory for fathers to provide for their children when it comes to clothing, shelter and food.   

 

Parents, however, also have moral/religious duties to their children. (say moral slash religious duties)  

 

Both parents have the responsibility of being moral examples for their children. An unfortunate reality today is that many kids pick up vices like lying from their parents. Have you ever seen a parent telling his or her spouse that “they aren’t there” when someone calls? Well, that’s a form of lying, and kids see that and pick up on it.  

 

The same goes for other acts of dishonesty, such as parents lying to each other. Here is another example, angry children often pick up their anger from their parents. Similarly, anxious and fearful kids also inherit much of their fears and panic attacks from their parents.  

 

Parents therefore have the duty to be proper role models for their children in Islam. Parents need to be morally upright and also be calm sources of emotional security, not emotional ruin!  

 

Parents also have the duty to educate their kids about Islam. First, they need to teach them the basic principles of Islam, both the usul al-deen where the basics of Islamic creed are taught.  

 

Second, kids need to learn the proper rituals and dos and donts of Islam. So they need to learn how to pray, fast, do wudu and also know what is impermissible and ritually impure.  

 

Some parents think that by sending their kids to Islamic schools they’ve done their job and they don’t need to teach them anything. But remember that words can only go so far. If kids see their parents not practicing Islam, the teachings of Islam won’t mean anything.  

 

When parents don't practice, kids often think about Islam the following way: "if Islam isn’t good enough for my parents to practice, why should it be good enough for me to practice?"   

 

So you or a school can teach, but central here is parental practice of Islam.   

 

Mothers and fathers also have their own specific duties.  

 

Obviously there are many, and unfortunately we don’t have the time to go over all of them.   

 

Here a few pointers:  

 

Mothers Duties to Daughters  

 

Mothers have the duty to teach their daughters the female-related rulings of Islam. It can be awkward for a father to teach his daughter about menstruation laws for example. So these things are best coming from a mother for Islamic law is not just about knowing things in theory, but also about getting practical advice!   

 

Mothers must also be an example of modesty for their daughters. It is hard for a daughter to be modest if her mother is not modest.

 

The same goes for behavior. If a mother wants her daughter not to gossip, then she also needs to learn not to gossip herself!  

 

Father’s Duties to Sons  

 

Fathers have the duty to teach their sons about male related rulings in Islam. In this case its not really about the sense of awkwardness as many boys are still more comfortable with their moms. But like the previous point that was made, there is theory and then there is experience.  

 

What fathers can offer their sons, in addition learning about Islamic rulings in theory, is practical advice which they had to go through themselves. These includes advice on various kinds of sins, temptation, and how to better control oneself. The practical advice that a father may give as a male may be more valuable than what a mother may say.  

 

This is the necessary and difficult role a father must play in order to save his son from destructive sins and behavior. Often enough, friends, especially at a young age, won’t push their friends to abstain from sins. Unfortunately, they tend to encourage them! So developing a relationship of trust is very important. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
9.5 Marriage in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

 

Many parents think that by being “good parents” their kids will be raised well. Being good parents is only half way in being an actual good parent. The other half of being a good parent is being a good spouse.  

 

Now what on earth does that mean? Well, there are two levels to this. 

 

First Point 

 

The most important grounds for your child’s success in the future is not what kind of job or degree he or she gets. As a believing and practicing Muslim, the most important sign of success is how good of a spouse they will be for this will partly determine the future health of the Muslim community.  

 

A great deal of where kids learn marriage behaviors are from their own parents. Often enough, people who are bad spouses often had parents who were bad spouses as well. So being a good spouse and meeting your Islamic responsibilities will be something that your kids will inherit.  

 

Second Point 

 

There’s big misunderstanding that is super prevalent among people today. It is the belief that marriage and attention to one’s spouse must be sacrificed or reduced for the sake of children.  

 

In other words, more love and attention must be given to one’s kids. The kids are first. The spouse is secondary. The attitude is that spouses are adults so they should understand that kids require most the love and attention. In short, this is what it takes to raise emotionally and religiously healthy children. 

 

This is a myth. Plenty of studies have shown that the primary source from which kids take their emotional security needs are from the love that parents show each other. The closer and more love parents show each other, the more the kids will grow up emotionally healthy. 

 

What this means is that the love and priority that parents show each other is more important for the mental and emotional wellbeing of kids than then love that parents show to their kids. So if a parent wants to put their kids first, they need to learn to put their spouse first. Ironic isn’t it? 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to go over some of the basic rules, rights and responsibilities in Islamic marriages. Abiding by these rules will, inshallah, help strengthen your marriage and the well being of your children. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Responsibilities of Husbands in Islam 

 

Husbands have many responsibilities in Islam. In terms of numbers, men have more responsibilities towards their wives than the other way around. Here we will go over the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). 

 

The primary responsibility of a husband is to provide his wife with maintenance. In Islam, this is called nafaqa. This means that it is his sole responsibility to be the financial provider at home. The wife has no obligation to go out and work. If the husband goes away and the wife has to work in order to provide for herself, the husband must pay her back the money she earned while he was away. 

 

The amount that must be paid back is the amount that was spent in covering the necessities which the husband should have provided for.  

 

These necessities include the following: 

 

  1. Shelter 
  2. Food that satiates 
  3. Adequate clothing 
  4. Creams, perfumes, cosmetics 
  5. Things which she was used to under her father’s house 

 

If a wife requests it, a husband must provide his wife with a maid to help around in the house. If the husband cannot afford to do so, then he must become the maid himself. Yah, that’s what the fiqh of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) teaches us. 

 

According to Islam, the act of serving one’s wife in household or domestic affairs brings about the grace of God and also great spiritual reward. So it is in the husband’s interests that he helps his wife. 

 

In one hadith, the Messenger of Allah (s) said: 

 

“O Ali, I do not speak except what is revealed to me. Anyone who helps his wife in her domestic affairs obtains a reward of one year of worship equal to the amount of hair on his body. This year of worship will be as if he has fasted during its days and prayed during its nights. Allah will reward him equal to the reward of all the patient ones, that is, the Prophets David (as) and Jesus (as). 

 

Another responsibility of the husband is for him to be available for his wife. This means that Islam is against men who constantly ditch their wives, even for religious practices. What do we mean here?  

 

Some Muslim men are zealous about their religion. This is good. But sometimes this gets in the way of their primary responsibilities. For example, husbands are highly encouraged to give precedence to spending time with their wives over spending time in the Mosque.  

 

Unfortunately, some men, especially during the month of Ramadan or Muharram, tend to disappear from their homes to spend time in Masjids. Although this is good in Islam, it is not good when it comes at the expense of spending quality time with one’s family. 

 

 Responsibilities of Wives in Islam 

 

Compared to husbands, wives have less responsibilities in marriage. Like husbands, wives are to encourage their husbands in leading the morally and religiously good life. If the husband falters in his religious and moral duties, wives, like husbands, must remind their spouses of their responsibilities on this earth. 

 

Like husbands, wives are also to be the gate keepers of their husbands’ secrets. A problem that is not too rare is that some women (just like some men) tend to expose their husbands’ flaws to their friends. Even worse, sometimes women speak about their sex lives to their friends.  

 

Unless there is an immediate and urgent manner for advice, Islam frowns upon such behavior and according to the religion, God’s wrath descends upon people who humiliate their spouses in matters of intimacy. 

 

Women have no financial obligations to their husbands. Contrary to cultural practice, women have no obligation to cook or clean the house. In fact, they can even charge their husbands a fee for breastfeeding children. 

 

The only responsibility and obligation that women have towards their husbands is being available for sexual relations. It is not allowed for a wife to refuse or deny her husband unless she is in her monthly cycle, making an obligatory fast or suffering from some form of serious sickness. 

 

This may sound a bit weird or even offensive to some, but we need to understand where Islam is coming from with this ruling. According to Islam, the greatest sin that humans, especially men are prone to are sexual sins and sins of immodesty. This means that men in particular are susceptible to gazing at the haram or engaging in zina, that is, fornication. 

 

As Islam sees it, and as people can often observe, many men are prone to compulsive sexual behavior. So just like the husband is obligated to work and provide for his wife and fulfill her intrinsic need for security, a wife must also make sure to protect her husband from sin and spiritually damaging behavior.  

 

In the end though, this ruling is in benefit to women. Sex with permanent partners is usually the primary means where men can be fulfilled emotionally. Sexually available spouses usually create an environment where husbands are kinder, emotionally more attached and committed to their wives.  

 

When women consistently deny their husbands, we often find the opposite behavior. Men become emotionally unfulfilled, withdrawn, unloved which then erodes their commitment to their marriage. Unfortunately, as women do not have the same kinds of desires as men, it isn’t rare to see a lack of sympathy. 

 

As such, Islam asks women to understand the nature of men and be patient with them. Overtime, their sacrifice and patience will lead to reciprocity and create an environment where the wife herself is also emotionally fulfilled.  

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that the husband should be passive. No, absolutely not. But as we’re talking about the wife’s responsibilities here, our primary audience is obviously women now.  

 

Before we end this, a final note is necessary to make. Yes of course, we do have aberrations where some men no matter what, they will be cruel. But remember that here we are talking about a certain range of disposition that exists in “normal” men.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.6 Islam and Sex Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts channel! In many conservative cultures, sex is seldom talked about publically. Within the Muslim community, this is often the case as well. Human sex, however, is of central importance in understanding salvation in almost any religious tradition.  

 

In Christianity, and in the New Testament in particular, we are taught how sexual deviance alters our intellects and warps our conceptions of morality. In an identical manner, Islam also teaches us the same message.  

 

In Islam, halal intimate relations can lead to closeness to God. Plenty of hadiths talk about how married couples are blessed by God’s angels when they are intimate with one another. Haram relations have the opposite effect.  

 

They darken and corrupt the human soul. They remove Allah’s saving grace from one’s life. Sexual sins open up spiritual wounds through which demons can enter our being and make us even more prone to their evil suggestions.  

 

In this lesson, we will look Islam’s view on specific types of sexual sins. As we have limited space, we will focus on two in particular, zina and liwat.  

 

Zina 

 

Zina refers to illicit sex. The two English words that are often used for zina are fornication and adultery, both of which are applicable. In our current modern context, zina can refer to illicit sex outside of marriage, such as premarital sex or adultery outside the bounds of marriage. 

 

Zina specifically refers to the act of intercourse. Lustful premarital or extramarital kissing and touching are not technically zina in Islamic law, but they are nevertheless prohibited and sinful. In fact, they are considered preliminaries to zina itself.   

 

In this way, we can speak of forms of “informal” zinas which are available in the traditions of the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). In one hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (s) lists them as follows: 

 

“The eye commits ‘zina’, and the palm of the hand, the foot, the body, the tongue and private part of the body confirm it or deny it.” 

 

Zina first begins with the eye, and then the hands, feet, body, tongue and private parts follow in its lead. By looking, temptation is created and thus sin begins.  

 

The Prophet (s) then proceeds to explain what some of these kinds of zina mean: 

 

"Allah has written for the children of Adam their share of ‘zina’ which he commits inevitably. The ‘zina’ of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the ‘zina’ of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it." 

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) here is speaking about the steps of zina. First it begins with the eyes, and then when temptation is established, the person will proceed to talking and flirting which in the end may result in illicit sexual intercourse.  

 

Zina is a terrible sin. The Prophet (s) goes as far saying: 

 

“If one of you were to be stabbed in the head with a piece of iron it would be better for him than if he were to touch a woman whom it is not permissible for him to touch”. 

 

Zina is not only terrible on the spiritual level, but it is also terrible on the social level. For any community to survive and be healthy, it needs to have stable and healthy marriages. Zina undermines the health of marriages in three ways.  

 

First, when zina is prominent, people are less willing to marry. Second, zina while being married destroys marriages. Third, whether zina is premarital or extra marital, it often results in children being born outside the safe and healthy confines of an Islamically ideal and healthy marriage which is necessary for the spiritual health of children. 

 

Liwat 

 

Liwat refers to sodomy between men. It is the classical term for homosexual acts. Homosexuality is a hot topic today and the tensions between pro-gay activists and traditional religious views are quite intense.  

 

Most arguments against the prohibition of homosexuality center around the theory that homosexuals are simply “born that way.” Now here we’re not going to go into whether this statement is true or not as it is beyond our point.  

 

In Islam, whatever orientation a person has isn’t a sin. Just because you have a tendency or liking for a sinful act doesn’t mean that you have sinned. After all, we all have vices in us that we either are predisposed to genetically, or have been nurtured into through social influence.  

 

In Islam, homosexual orientation is not a sin, homosexual acts are sinful. So here it doesn’t really matter whether one was born a homosexual or not, the sin is the ACT, not the ORIENTATION.  

 

But why are homosexual acts sinful but not heterosexual ones? 

 

Every action we do in this life has an effect on our hearts. There are certain actions that we commit that darken the human soul and by darkening it, humans distance themselves from the light of God. These kinds of actions are called sins in Islam. Some of the top actions that darken the soul are zina and liwat. 

 

Repentance 

 

A person shouldn’t despair if he or she falls into sin as God is always forgiving of those who sincerely turn to Him and repent. The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said:  

 

“There is no major sin if one asks for forgiveness, and there is no minor sin if one persists in repeating it”. 

 

In other words, we are forgiven for major sins if we sincerely and truly repent, and a minor sin may turn into a major sin if on persists in repeating it. 

 

Allah also says: 

 

Do not despair, for Allah the Most Exalted and Glorified said in the Quran "Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." 

 

(Chapter 39, verse 53 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
9.7 Modesty in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! When non-Muslims are asked about what their first thought is about Islam, the first thing that pops in the minds of many is the Muslim hijab.  

 The hijab is usually in reference to the headscarf that women must wear in front of certain men. As a clothing of modesty, it is only a tiny part of the world of modesty in Islam.  

 In this lesson, we will go over the concepts of modesty for both men and women in Islam and how they are fundamental to its social and moral values. We will then go into the different types of clothing that exist among Muslims and what kinds of dress are allowed and what kinds are not.

 BODY OF TEXT

 Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.  

 And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof.  

 And [tell them] to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.  

 And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.  

 (Chapter 24, verses 30-31 of the Holy Qur’an)

 Modesty is central to Islam. Modesty can mean different things. Modesty can be in speech or in behavior where one becomes unassuming and humble in how one talks or relates to others.  These are virtues that Islam obviously accepts, encourages and even makes mandatory.

 Modesty can also be in dress, which is the subject of this lesson. By modesty in dress, Islam means a mode of dress AND a mode of behavior that goes along with it. Both are intended to decrease the likelihood of sexual attraction.  Purposefully dressing or behaving in such a way that incites sexual attraction is forbidden in Islam.  

 Sexual relations in Islam can be a good and bad thing. It can be a good thing in that it strengthens the bonds of marriage. But it can also be a bad thing if it is done out of wedlock. This is the social side of things. Sexual relations outside of divine limits also damages the soul.

 As a precaution, Islam demands that we be modest. For women, it means that they need to cover all of their bodies except for their hands and face as Islam considers women’s hair to be a source of sexual attraction. The covering of the head and hair is traditionally called “hijab” which means a veil. In the Qur’an, the head covering is called the khimar. However, hijab can also be inclusive of one’s entire body.

 In Islam, women need to cover their hair but men do not need to do so.

 Just covering the hair and body, however, is not enough. Clothes must also be loose fitting so as to cover the shape of one's body. It is therefore forbidden to wear tight pants and shirts even if the head covering or head hijab is observed.

 Men also need to be modest. Although they don’t need to cover their hair, they need to wear clothes that are loose fitting and cover most of their bodies. Wearing armless shirts and tight sports pants for example is considered inappropriate in Islam.

 What is equally mandatory for both men and women is that they should be modest in behavior. This means that they should not talk, walk or behave in such a way that would elicit sexual attraction. For example, flirting with someone is forbidden in Islam unless that person is your spouse.

 In Islamic cultures around the world, there are plenty of variations in women’s hijab and overall modesty. Here are a few:

 Chador  

 In Iran, women wear the chador which is a large piece of cloth that covers the head, upper and lower body. Islamically speaking, this is the closest to what the Prophet’s wives and the women of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) used to wear.

 Hijab

 This is the regular hijab where only the head is covered with a piece of cloth. The rest of the body is covered with regular loose fitting clothes. As we mentioned earlier, in the Qur’an, the word for hijab is khimar.

 Burqa
 
There is also something called the Burqa which is an enveloping outer garment that also covers the entire body, including the face.

 Niqab

 Niqab refers to a piece of clothing that covers the face. So women, in addition to hijabs or chadors, will also wear the niqab. According to most scholars of Islam, both Shia and Sunni, the niqab is not obligatory. Only a minority of Shia and Sunni scholars believe that it is obligatory to wear for women.  

 In Islam, one is free to wear any kind of clothing as long as the clothing respects one's cultural limits and abides by Islam's standards of modesty. This doesn’t mean that one needs to be modest at all times. There are times when Islam encourages the opposite.  

 Among married couples for example, Islam encourages immodesty both in terms of dress and in behavior as it wants to encourage sexual attraction between the couple.  So Islam doesn’t have a problem with sexual attraction per se, it only seeks to keep it within health limits.


 
9.8 Women’s Menstruation in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Islamic law is an all-encompassing way of life. It covers our relationship with God and our relationship with humans. It deals with public matters as well as the most intimate and private realm of our lives. 

 

Perhaps one of the greatest shockers for recent converts to Islam are private issues revolving around hygiene and ritual purity. Without proper ritual purity, most ritual actions cannot be performed. These include, among other things, fasting and praying.  

 

It is therefore important to consider the basic points of ritual purity in Islam. As we’ve covered some of this previously, we thought it important to give a special look at issues concerning women’s ritual purity in Islamic law. As this subject is very large, we’ve decided to stick to the most common issue that women have to deal with in Islam when it comes to ritual purity: and that is, menstruation. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Menstruation  

 

Menstruation, according to Islamic law, leads to ritual impurity. This means that one cannot pray, fast or touch the Arabic letters of the Qur’an. Women are not being singled out here, as men also become ritually impure through other means that are particular to them.  

 

From a Sharia point of view, there are different types of blood. These include the loss of virginity, injuries to the vaginal area or post-natal bleeding. Menstruation in Islam has its own rulings which are different than other categories. Menstruation in Islam is known as hayd (pronounced hayz in Persian and Urdu). 

 

The most popular opinion in Islamic law states that women are generally considered pubescent at the completion of the age of 9 in lunar years. Menstruation in Islamic law has three signs: 

 

  1.  warmth of the blood 
  2.  the blood is dark red or black in color 
  3.  there is pressure or slight burning in the discharge 

 

If these three signs are found in a female at the age of 9 lunar years or more, then she will be considered to be in a state of hayd. 

 

If a girl sees blood before the 9 lunar years, then that blood may not be considered menstruation from a legal point of view even if the three signs are there. Remember that menstruation in Islam is seen from a legal and not necessarily a biological perspective! 

 

Similarly, from a legal perspective,  menopause for women starts at the age of 50. If women are to see blood at this age, then again, from a legal perspective, it will not be considered hayd. If, however, a woman of the age of 50 sees the three signs, then as a matter of precaution, she should observe the rulings of hayd until the age of 60. So as you can see, menopause in Islam is also a legal category. 

 

If she keeps seeing these signs at 60, then she does not need to observe the rulings of hayd anymore. This kind of bleeding is considered istihada, that is, irregular bleeding. In case of istihada, unlike hayd, a woman must still pray. 

 

There are a list of things that are forbidden for women when they are menstruating. We already mentioned some, but here we will go into more detail. 

 

  1. Sexual intercourse is forbidden when women are menstruating.  The Qur’an says: “And they ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is a harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves." (Chapter 2, verse 222 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Other forms of sexual activity that does not involve intercourse or playing with the body between the navel and the knees is fine.  

 

Couples may resume intercourse after the menstruation ends. There is a difference in opinion among Muslim scholars whether ghusl is needed before intercourse can take place once the menstruation ends, so be sure to check with your Marja. 

 

  1. Touching the script of the Qur’an as well as the names and attributes of God, the names of prophets, Imams and Fatima al-Zahra (as). 
  2. Staying or entering a Mosque. You can pass by if you are menstruating, but you need to enter and exit. The exception here is the Kaaba or the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina as well as the Shrines of the Imams. In these places a menstruating woman cannot even enter. 
  3. A menstruating woman cannot fast during the month of Ramadan. However, once the month is over, she has to make up for them. Making up for missed ritual actions like fasting or prayer is called qada (qaza in Persian or Urdu). 
  4. Similarly, a menstruating woman cannot pray either. Unlike fasting however, there is no qada for missed prayers. If a woman begins her menstruation while she is praying, then she should stop her prayer as it is no longer valid. Once her menstruation ends, a woman must perform ghusl in order to resume prayers again. Without the ghusl, even when the period is ended, a woman cannot pray. If she misses her prayers during this time, she must make up for them.  
  5. Although it is permissible for women to recite the Qur’an, it is better that women disdain from it from a Sharia perspective. 
  6. Menstruating women are not allowed to recite verses where prostration is obligatory, namely verse 15 of Chapter 32, 37 of Chapter 41, 62 of 53, and verse 19 of Chapter 96. In fact, it is best to avoid reciting these chapters altogether. 

 

Before we leave, it’s important to make a point here. Some people view these rulings as misogynistic, meaning that they are hateful of women. They feel that these rulings treat them as impure or dirty beings. This is not true.  

 

Remember that there is a difference between dirtiness and ritual impurity. Ritual impurity just means that you cannot perform a ritual act, that’s it. It doesn’t mean a person is bad or dirty. There are no verses or reliable hadiths that even remotely suggest this. 

 

And remember that ritual impurity laws are not just exclusive to women. Men also have their own exclusive laws. If men release semen, then like women, they cannot fast, pray, touch the Qur’an or stay in a Mosque. Almost all the rulings of hayd apply to men in this case.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.9 Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

We all know what goes on in parties even if we’ve never been in them. These parties usually have five things: music, alcohol, drugs, fornication and eating pork. In Abrahamic traditions, many of these things are considered vices, or at the very least, inadequate use of them are vices. Islam is by far the strictest when it comes to their prohibition. 

 

In this lesson, we will look into Islam’s position on these five vices and when adequate, make comparisons between Islam’s position and that of other Abrahamic religions. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist? And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and beware. And if you turn away - then know that upon Our Messenger is only [the responsibility for] clear notification. (Chapter 5, verses 90 to 92 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Music 

 

Music is part of every culture in the world. It is simply universal without any exception. Despite its prevalence, Islam has misgivings about music. Although some of it may have some therapeutic elements, Islam also believes that it can be destructive in influence.  

 

Music has a tendency to inflame our passions. They can make us sad, happy, angry, depressed or courageous. They can either make us want to do good for people, or hurt them in some way. In sum, music has an immense influence over our moods and emotions which can cloud our minds.  

 

This is not to mention the problematic lyrics that some songs have. With seductive beats, music can warp our sense of morality with lyrics we would not accept if the beats weren’t there. 

 

For these reasons, Islam is very cautious when it comes to music and may forbid a lot of it. In order to know more about Islam’s position on the subject, please make sure to contact your Marja or resident scholar at a Masjid near you to learn more about music and Islamic law. 

 

Alcohol 

 

Christianity and Judaism allow alcohol. Alcohol is often used in religious rituals and ceremonies. Just because these religions condone alcohol does not mean that they endorse over consumption of it.  

 

Islam’s position on alcohol is stricter. Not even a single drop of alcohol is permitted in Islam. This is so for multiple reasons. 

 

  1.  Alcohol is one of those substances that often has its limits stretched by its consumers. Thinking that they can control themselves, many people go over the border and get drunk. As a result of their drunkenness, they say or do many shameful acts which they otherwise wouldn’t do in a normal state. Islam therefore has a zero tolerance policy. Just like a red light, everyone has to obey the rules, no exceptions! 
  2.  Alcohol is ritually impure in Islam. This means that its consumption pollutes the human soul and makes it impermissible for a person to enter into prayer while in a state of drunkenness. The ritual impurity itself, which can come about even with a drop, is considered poisonous to the health of the human soul. 
  3.  The Qur’an does see some benefits in alcohol, but it says that its harms outweigh its good. But the Qur’an’s main central argument is that alcohol causes heedlessness and forgetfulness of God. So pay attention: the #1 reason why Islam forbids alcohol is because of its negative effects on the soul. 

 

Alcohol is only permissible in Islam under times of extreme duress. For example, if you find yourself dying of thirst in the middle of a desert and all you have is a bottle of alcohol, then according to Islam it is permissible to drink alcohol and even obligatory in order to save your life. 

 

Drugs 

 

Drugs are not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an. However, there are some general principals in the hadith literature that makes any kind of recreational drug impermissible. The hadiths state that all forms of intoxicants and things which get us out of our normal state of minds (or aql) are forbidden. 

 

This means that cocaine, heroin and even marijuana are forbidden in Islam. The question of pain killer drugs, like morphine, Vicodin or even medical marijuna are a different matter. Although these drugs can cause highs and interfere with our normal states of thinking, they can be taken if they are prescribed by a doctor for serious health reasons.  

 

If one just wants to feel good with the drugs and go on a high, then it is forbidden. 

 

Fornication 

 

Fornication or zina is also forbidden in Islam. Fornication is generally understood as intimate relations outside of marriage. Traditionally speaking, Abrahamic societies considered this to be a vice for many reasons. For one, it eroded the institution of marriage which is necessary for proper parenthood and healthy and stable societies. 

 

Second, intimate relations outside the proper bounds that are set by God lead to spiritual corruption. As Islam and Christianity teach, fornication and adultery open up spiritual wounds by which demons or evil jinn can enter us. These demons can wreck havoc in our hearts and minds and distance us from God. 

 

Pork 

 

Pork is a specific dietary vice in Islam, Judaism and early Christianity. Islam believes that certain kinds of foods can be spiritually polluting even if they don’t intoxicate us. Pork, like alcohol, is ritually impure. For this reason, and perhaps others, it is forbidden to eat as it has a detrimental affect on our souls even if we don’t perceive it directly. 

 

CONCLUSION 

 

 Being a Muslim isn’t always easy, especially if your converting to it. Here are a list of vices that people need to abstain from when they convert to Islam: 

 

Music 

 

Islam is very cautious when it comes to music and may forbid most kinds as it has a way to encourage sin. In order to know more about Islam’s position on the subject, please make sure to contact your Marja or resident scholar at a Masjid near you to learn more about music and Islamic law. 

 

 Alcohol 

 

Islam’s position on alcohol is the strictest of all religions. Not even a single drop of alcohol is permitted in Islam. 

 

 Drugs 

 

Drugs are not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an. However, there are some general principals in the hadith literature that makes any kind of recreational drug impermissible. The hadiths state that all forms of intoxicants and things which get us out of our normal state of minds ( or aql) are forbidden. 

 

Fornication 

 

Fornication or zina is also forbidden in Islam. Fornication is generally understood as intimacy outside of marriage. Traditionally speaking, Abrahamic societies considered this to be a vice. 

 

Pork 

 

Pork is a specific dietary vice in Islam, Judaism and early Christianity. Islam believes that certain kinds of foods can be spiritually polluting even if they don’t intoxicate us. Pork, like alcohol, is ritually impure.


 
9.10 Islam and Science Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we will overview science as a rational enterprise and its relation to Islam, and particularly the Islamic way of viewing the world. Here we will argue that there is, in fact, no tension between what we call science today and the Islamic faith.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: “Seeking knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim, male and female.” 

 

Science vs. Faith, Reason vs. Faith? 

 

Before we get into the nitty gritty of Islam and science, there is an important philosophical discussion that we first need to get out of the way.  

 

There is a prevalent idea going around nowadays, especially in the modern atheist crowd, claiming that science is incompatible with religion. The argument goes something like this: faith is belief without evidence, whereas science is belief with evidence. Since religion is all about faith, it is incompatible with science. 

 

The argument is obviously fallacious. Whether in Islam or other Abrahamic religions like Christianity, faith does not mean “belief without evidence.” 

 

The atheist definition of faith assumes that Muslims or Christians believe that faith is an epistemological category. Epistemology has to do with “knowledge” and “how you know things”  

 

But that’s not how Islam defines faith. Faith, or īmān in Islam means having deep trust in God in all things. This includes having faith that He will give you what is best for you, and it also means having faith that everything He has revealed to us is true. Faith is therefore a moral category in Islam, it has something to do with having a right attitude, character and disposition towards Allah.  

 

Belief in the truth of Islam, or the existence of God, is somewhat different. The Prophet Muhammad (s), nor the Ahl al-Bayt (as) or any decent Muslim scholar ever asked people to believe in God or Islam without evidence.  

 

In fact, the Qur’an is full of rational arguments for the truth of the Qur’an, Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (s). If faith was “belief without evidence” why would the Qur’an bring arguments to convince its audience? Why would the Messenger of Allah throughout his lifetime cite rational arguments and use miracles to prove his claim to divine prophethood? 

 

So faith is a moral virtue in Islam and not “belief without evidence” as some erroneously believe. 

 

Islam and the Scientific Method 

 

The oxford dictionary defines the scientific method as thus: "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses" 

 

In short, the scientific method is a method whereby we obtain a certain theory or view about material reality based on a specific set of experiments, measurements and texts. This view or theory may affirm, modify or reject our hypothesis.  

 

There is nothing in Islam that prohibits or frowns upon the scientific method. In fact, plenty of Muslim scholars in the premodern era conducted experiments to test their hypotheses about the created world.  

 

There are plenty of religious Muslim scientists today who work with the scientific method in all fields whether it is chemistry, biology or physics. None of these are incompatible with Islam or the Qur’an. In fact, the Qur’an always encourages us to observe and contemplate on the world of creation and to use our abilities to reason. 

 

What Islam is incompatible with, however, is something called materialism. Materialism, also sometimes called naturalism or physicalism, is a worldview that assumes that all that exists is ultimately material. Only matter is real, anything beyond that is untrue and not real.  

 

Muslim philosophers reject this view of the world as fallacious and incoherent. This is because conflating all of existence with physical reality is itself a metaphysical worldview and an unprovable assumption. It is a metaphysical worldview as it is making a claim about things beyond physical reality, namely that there isn’t such a thing as something beyond physical reality!  

 

Closely related to materialism is something called scientism. Scientism holds that the scientific method is the only way to understand existence, or at the very least, that the empirical sciences are the most “authoritative” worldviews and have the most legitimate claim on truth and knowledge.  

 

Muslim philosophers also reject this. They argue that there are plenty of truths that we, including advocates of scientism, believe in without using science. These include logical truths (for example: law of causality), mathematical truths, aesthetical truths (that is, statements about beauty), moral truths (for example: killing babies is morally bad) or even metaphysical truths (for example: the material world that I experience is real and not an illusion).  

 

In fact, science itself presupposes logical and mathematical truths without which it cannot function. As such, scientism itself is also fallacious and something that Islam rejects.  

 

Science and the Religious Life 

 

Islam believes that observing and studying nature is a way to grow closer to God. In this way, science is a good way to strengthening one’s belief in God for it reveals to us the complex but beautiful way Allah’s created world works.  

 

From this vantage point, Islam therefore encourages scientific research. It also encourages us to even make a living out of it for it is an honorable profession as long as we don’t use science as a means for sin and immoral actions. For example, Islam doesn’t allow you to create weapons of mass destruction. 

 

How can science be used for immoral purposes? Well, as science has given us a lot of good, like curing diseases or bringing sanitary water to people’s homes, it has also given us the atomic bomb or the creation of deadly diseases which was used in biological weapons. 

 

Science is a tool, it can either be used for good or bad. Islam supports science when it is a means for good, but opposes it when it becomes a means for evil. 

 

In our pursuit of science and knowledge, we must always keep in mind that our pursuit must always be for the sake of God. Imam Ali (as) once said: 

 

 “Do not seek knowledge for four aims: (1) Self-glorification in front of people of knowledge(2) Quarrelling with the ignorant(3) Showing off in gatherings of people (4) Attracting attention of people in order to secure an office of authority.”

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.11 A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Converting to a religion is an overwhelming experience. Perhaps the most daunting task of entering a religion for the first time, or wanting to seriously learn about a religion for the first time is the problem of knowledge. Where should we look to learn? What books should we read? What should we start with first?  

 

In this lesson, we’re going to list a few books we think are important and ideal to read when the quest for Islamic knowledge begins. The books will be in chronological order of importance.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The books we will introduce here, as a reading list, are by no means exhaustive. So let’s start! 

 

The Qur’an 

 

The Qur’an is the most important book of Islam. It is the sacred scripture of the religion. The Qur’an does not contain every bit of information in terms of how you need to lead your religious life.  

 

For example, the Qur’an won’t tell you how many rakats you need to pray.  

 

What the Qur’an does contain are general principles on the most fundamental aspects of Islam.  

 

This begins with tawhid or the oneness and unity of God, prophethood, as well as moral principles of Islam. These points are usually illustrated through stories. 

 

The Qur’an is the only infallible written text that we have in our hands nowadays. This, therefore, makes it critical for Muslims as it is the one thing we know that we can fall back on that is 100%, completely error and mistake free.  

 

There are plenty of translations of the Qur’an. Although they all have their particular strengths, we would recommend the Ali Quli Qarai translation of the Qur’an. The language is simple and it offers a phrase by phrase translation of the sacred text.  

 

When reading the Qur’an, we recommend that one have access to a commentary as well. There are a number of them available in English today. The following are some good ones: 

 

  1. Ayatullah Puya Yazdi’s commentary. 
  2. Al-Mizan by Allamah Tabatabai (although the translation of the commentary is not complete as of the date of this recording) 

 

Nahj al-Balagha 

 

Nahj al-Balagha is a compilation of Imam Ali’s (as) sermons, letters and sayings. It was compiled by al-Sharif al-Radi around the late 10th century CE.  

 

The book has much value for Muslims. It outlines the theological outlook of Imam Ali (as) to the world. It speaks of God’s Unity in beautiful poetic language, it encourages and inspires trust in God as well as deep reflection on every day social and political issues.  

 

Tawzih al-Masa’il (also pronounced Tawdīh al-Masā’il) 

 

The tawdih al-Masa’il genre of literature are works produced by Marjas or experts in Islamic law who outline in detail the dos and donts of Islamic law. They talk about ritual purity laws, prayer laws, fasting laws, marriage laws and much more. Few of us can become experts in Islamic law, so these books are very handy to have.  

 

Each marja produces his own book. So once you know who you are doing taqleed of, make sure to obtain his tawdih al-masā’il. Most the tawdīh al-masā’il of the Marjas today have been translated to English. If you have questions that are not present in the book, you can always ask your resident Alim, or email the Marja through his website.  

 

 Al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya (pronounced al-Sahīfat al-Sajjādīyah) 

 

The Sahifa is a book that contains all the major duas or supplications of our 4th Imam, Imām al-Sajjād (also known as Imam Zayn al-ʿAbidīn). Some have seen these supplications as the Psalms of Islam as it has some similarity to the Psalms of David (as) in terms of style.  

 

The supplications are important for the they act as proper examples in teaching us how to supplicate to Allah in different contexts, whether it is a supplication to God based on fear of debt or poverty, or supplicating to Him and thanking Him for all the good He has given us in our lives.  

 

Jamiʿ al-Saadat (The Collector of Felicities) 

 

This is a work written by Allamah al-Naraqi. The work is about spiritual ethics and the religious moral life. It mostly talks about the spiritual diseases that exist inside of us, such as pride, anger, greed, avarice, miserliness and much more. These spiritual disease are what keep us far from God even when we pray regularly and obey the exoteric rulings of Islam.  

 

This work is about disciplining the inner self, the soul, so that our outward religious actions and duties may gain their fullest merit.  

 

Mizan al-Hikma (Scale of Wisdom) 

 

Mizan al-Hikma or Scale of Wisdom is a modern compilation of hadiths regarding spiritual ethics. It was compiled by a scholar called Ayatullah Rayshahri. It contains thousands of hadiths and they are divided into multiple subjects, such as anger, fear of poverty, hope with God, marriage and other important themes. The translation to English is a very good one and is a useful source of inspiration for all Muslims. It contains a number of hadiths on most issues that we face regularly in our daily lives.  

 

Fundamentals of Islamic Thought by Murtada Muttahari 

 

This work takes Islam’s teachings and juxtaposes it with modern challenges to religious faith, including the relationship between science and faith, the role of reason in Islam, theology and other important subjects. The translation is sound and the ideas in it are life changing.  

 

Faith and Reason by Ayatullah Hadavi 

 

Faith and Reason is a book by Ayatullah Hadavi. This book is particularly useful as answers some of the common but tough questions modern people ask about Islam. It provides real answers from a real scholar. The questions that are dealt with in this book include the status of non-Muslims and hell, or whether animals have souls. This book is a MUST read for all Muslims. It is very simple and to the point and contains short answers as well as long and detailed answers.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
9.13 Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! If Islam is known by anything, it is its ritualistic prayers. You see it on TV, thousands of Muslims gathered together praying to God, bowing and prostrating at the same time. 

 

Islam has many kinds of ritual prayers called salat. Some of these prayers are obligatory, and some of them are recommended. In addition to this, Islam also has supplications (duʿa). In some other religions, prayers and supplications are often the same thing. In Islam, although both are performed together, they are theoretically distinct.  

 

Prayers are the ritual movements that a person must do. They require special conditions and ablutions before one can perform them. We’ve spoken about these conditions before so we’re not going to go into them now.  

 

Duʿas are a bit different. Duʿas don’t have ritual actions that accompany them, they are simply supplications that one utters to God, either during salāt or outside of it. When done outside of ritual prayers, there is no obligation to do wudu or ghusl, or be in a special place. One can make them at any time.  

 

Duʿas don’t have to be formal either, whereas prayers have to. If you don’t do your salāt the right way, you have to correct yourself somehow, either by making up for some missed units, or repeating the entire salāt again. In duʿas, there is no such thing.  

 

As long as one maintains proper respect to Allah, they are fine. So you can say them in a language other than Arabic, and you can say them in a state of ritual impurity. You can simply pour your heart out to God and you can do it anywhere at anytime. 

 

We do, however, have standard duʿas that are present in the Qur’an as well as in the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). These are important not only for their majestic beauty, but they are also important because they teach us the proper ethics of how to supplicate to God. 

 

As will follow, we will give you a brief list of the kinds of salat we have in Islam, as well as some of the different duʿas the Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) taught us. We’re not going to cite all the kinds of prayers and duʿas that we have, but we’ll simply outline some of the most important ones in Islam. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Obligatory Salat 

 

There are five main obligatory ritual prayers or salāt in Islam. They are as follows: 

 

  1. Salat al-Fajr (Dawn Prayer) 
  2. Salat al-Dhuhur (Noon Prayer) 
  3. Salat al-Asr (Evening Prayer) 
  4. Salat al-Maghrib (Prayer after Sunset) 
  5. Salat al-Isha (Night-time prayer) 

 

In addition to these prayers, we also have other salat that are obligatory in Islam. Here are some others: 

 

Friday Prayers (Salat al-Jumuʿa). There is a disagreement as to whether this prayer is obligatory during the absence of the 12th Imam, so please make sure to check with your Marja on the subject. 

 

Prayer of the Signs (Salāt al-Ayāt).  These salats or ritual prayers are performed when an eclipse, earthquake or any other event that causes fear in people takes place. It is called “Prayer of the Signs” because events like earthquakes are “signs” of Allah’s power. These prayers are reminders that Allah is the Master of this world.  

 

Right when we think we are under control, the witnessing of these events shows us how powerless we actually are! We are in a constant state of forgetfulness, but natural disasters have a mysterious way of reminding us of Allah.  

 

As a result, despite the terrifying nature of these disasters, we should find ways to be grateful for them as well for their potential as reminders of Allah. Salāt al-Ayāt is obligatory. If you happen to miss it for some reason, you need to make up for it whenever you can. 

 

Here are the occasions when the Salāt al-Ayāt are offered: 

 

  1. Earthquakes 
  2. Thunder and lighting (that instills fear in people) 
  3.  Storms that have black and red winds  
  4. Solar Eclipse 
  5. Lunar Eclipse 

 

Salat al-Mayyit (Prayers for the Dead). Prayers for the dead are a social obligation. This means that when someone dies, the Muslim community in one’s locality must have someone do the prayer for the deceased person. Once this obligation is fulfilled, the obligation is lifted from the other members of the community. If not, then the whole community is sinful. 

 

Other kinds of Salāt 

 

Outside these standard obligatory salat, we also have other prayers which are generally not obligatory. Here are a few: 

 

Salat al-Eidayn (Prayer of the Two Festivities) 

 

There are two festivities where prayers are offered. The first is for Eid al-Fitr which is a prayer offered during the last day of Ramadan. The other one is during Eid al-Adha in the Hajj season where one offers his or her absolute devotion to God.  

 

Salat al-Haja (Prayer of Need) 

 

The prayer of need is a two rakat prayer you offer whenever you are in great need of something. You offer the prayer with a special duʿa, and then you pour your heart out to God.  

 

Salat al-Layl (Late Night Prayer) 

 

This is a late night prayer that usually starts at midnight and ends at dawn. This prayer is one of the most recommended of prayers even if it is not obligatory. The night prayer is especially powerful as it brings about God’s grace into one’s life through His night angels. There is a tradition that states that if you want the world from God, do Salat al-Layl; if you want the Afterlife from God, also do Salat al-Layl! 

 

Duʿas 

 

Duʿas can be both formal and non-formal. Non-formal duʿas are the ones you make yourself and speak to God in your own words. Formal duʿas are the kind of prewritten supplications that come from the Qur’an, the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as). So all you do here is either read them from a paper or memorize them and just repeat them.  

 

For formal duʿas, we have many of them. Each of the obligatory and non-obligatory prayers have formal duas that are recommended that to recite after they are done. This means that each of the five obligatory prayers have their own specific prewritten duʿa.  

 

Remember that it is important to actually know the meanings of the words you are saying. Formal duʿas, which are in Arabic, are not like the Qur’an. You can recite Qur’an without knowing the meaning and you will still get rewards, but for duʿas, in order for them to be effective, you need to know the meanings of what you’re saying. So make sure to carry some kind of translation with you so you at least have a general idea of what you’re saying! 

 

Outside of prayers, there are other occasions in which we have prewritten duʿas. Please see our further reading list for books that contain these duʿas during special occasions. Here are just some examples of occasions that we have prewritten duʿas for: 

 

  1. Duʿa for attaining paradise 
  2. Duʿa for release from prison 
  3. Duʿa for avoiding bad thoughts and temptations 
  4. Duʿa for having a child 
  5. Duʿa for wealth and prosperity 
  6. Duʿa for decrease in debts  

 

These are just some examples. Before we let you go though, remember that duʿas are not magic spells. In the end, they’re acceptance by God are dependent on multiple factors. For example, God may not grant our dua if He sees that it will destroy us in the Hereafter, or if we keep sinning over and over again. 

 

What this means is that there is no guarantee that we will get from God what we want. The only guarantee is that we get from God what He deems fit. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
9.14 Death & Burial Rituals in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Just like drinking water, death and burial rituals are universal in all cultures. Islam’s death and burial rituals are some of the most complex in the world.  

 

In this lesson, we’re going to take a look at some of them.  

 

Before we begin though, please note we will be giving you a general outline of death and burial rituals in Islam. Given the scope and time limit of this lesson, it is not possible to cover every aspect or every detail. For more information, please contact your Marja’s office.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

According to Islamic belief, when a person dies, he or she immediately begins life in the afterlife. In Islam, the afterlife begins in the grave itself. Everything turns dark, but then the angels Munkir and Nakir show up and question the person about their life and deeds. According to the Prophet Muhammad (s), this process is an excruciating one.  

 

When the questioning is done, for most people, everything turns blank until the person is woken up again when the Day of Resurrection begins. Only two types of people do not see their existence go blank during this period, the really evil people and the really good people.  

 

The really evil people begin their punishment in the world of barzakh or purgatory. The really good people who led morally good lives and were faithful to God live in bliss. In the next work, they live in a heavenly purgatory before the real heaven. 

 

While these are happening, we who are alive have responsibilities for the dead. Immediately after a person dies, these rituals must begin without delay. Here we will outline some of the key funeral rituals and practices of Islam. 

 

Death and funeral rituals are obligatory on the community. Only when the obligation is fulfilled by some people is the rest of the community relieved of the obligation.  

 

Ghusl al-Mayyit (Washing of the Dead Body) 

 

The first step in Muslim funerals is to wash the dead body. This ritual washing is called ghusl al-mayyit or the washing of a dead body.  The body is to be washed of all ritually impure entities, such as urine, stool and blood. When washing the body, a person must make the intention (niyyah) of washing the body. While the body is being washed, the private parts should be covered with a cloth.  

 

The body should be washed by a person of the same gender. If such a person cannot be found, then a family member who is mahram should do the washing. Again, the body should be covered with a cloth while this happens. 

 

One is not allowed to be paid for the ritual washing. If one is paid, the ghusl is void. 

 

For more specific details on what to say and what water to use, please see our further reading list.  

 

Once the washing is done, the body should be dried.  

 

Tahnit (Applying Camphor to the Body) 

 

When the washing is complete and the body is dried, the other step is to apply camphor to the seven parts of the body which touch the ground when a person prostrates in prayer. These are the forehead, the palms of hands, the knees, and the toes. They can also be applied to the nose and chest. The process of applying camphor to the dead body is called tahnit (pronounced tahnīt). 

 

Like the ghusl, the process of tahnit also requires a niyyah. 

 

Kafan (Shrouding) 

 

The third step is to shroud and wrap the body with three pieces of clothing. These pieces of clothing are: 

 

  1. Loin cloth (which is like an apron): covers the front and back part of the body from the navel to the ankles. 
  2. Long shirt: this is a big shirt that covers the shoulders up until the knees. It’s preferable that it goes up to the ankles.  
  3. Large cloth: this is a large cloth that covers the entire body and should overlap at the front. The bottom parts can be tied with a string. 

 

There are some other recommended clothes that one can add in addition to these three, please see what your Marja says on the subject. 

 

It is recommended that the cloths be white and the body facing the Qibla while shrouding. It is also recommended that one recites verses of the Qur’an while shrouding the body. 

 

Salat al-Mayyit (Prayer for the Dead) 

 

The prayer for the dead (salat al-mayyit) is the fourth obligatory step of the funeral process. The prayer is usually done in congregation. What is different about this ritual prayer is that there are no rukus (bowing) or sujud (prostration). 

 

On how to perform the salat al-mayyit, please refer to the “further reading list” of this lesson. 

 

 Dafan (Burial) 

 

The final physical process of the body is to be buried. The body must be buried in a Muslim graveyard or a graveyard where a part of it has been reserved for Muslims only. If this is not possible, then the body is to be shipped to a Muslim country and be buried there. If this is not possible for some reasons, then the body can be buried in the graveyard of the Ahl al-Kitab, that is, Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians. 

 

During the burial, among other steps, the body must be placed on its right side facing the Qibla. This part is obligatory. Some of the kafan should also be untightened and have some earth put under the cheek of the dead. A pillow made of earth is to be made so that the head may rest on it.  

 

Ghusl For Having Touched a Dead Body and Salat al-Wahsha 

 

Touching a dead body where the body has gone cold makes one ritually impure. As a result, one must make ghusl if one is to pray afterwards.  

 

In order to help the souls of those who have died, especially on the first night which is the hardest for the soul, one should do a two rakat prayer for the departed soul on the first night of the funeral between Maghrib and Isha prayers. In Islam, this is called salat al-wahsha.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
9.15 The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Many of the world religions have some kind of a vision as to what the end of the world will look like. Of these religions, a common theme is the idea of an end of times savior who will battle against evil and bring about God’s new order on earth.

 

 Islam has a fairly detailed account as to how the final battle for Armageddon will be like. This battle will include such figures such as Jesus (as) and Imam al-Mahdi (aj). In this lesson, and to the best of our knowledge, we will look over some of the events that will happen in the end of times.

 

 BODY OF TEXT

 

 The Messenger of Allah (s) once said:

 

 “Those of you who live up to the Dajjal’s time should recite over him the opening verses of Surat al–Kahf, for they are your protection from his trial. We [the Prophet’s companions] asked: How long will he remain on the earth? He replied: Forty days, one like a year, one like a month, one like a week, and rest of his days like yours. We asked: Messenger of Allah, will one day’s prayer suffice us in this day which will be like a year ? He replied: No, you must make an estimate of its extent. Then Jesus son of Marry will descend at the white minaret to the east of Damascus. He will then catch him up at the gate of Ludd and kill him”

 

 The Islamic hadiths site a number of events that will act as signs for the end of times. Some of these signs are as follows:

 

  1.  The number of men will decrease and the number of women will increase.
  2.  Men will marry men, and women will marry women.
  3.   Women will wear clothes but it will be as if they are wearing nothing.
  4.   Buildings will be taller than mountains
  5.  Alcohol will be drunk in large quantities
  6.   Knowledge will be taken away and replaced with ignorance
  7.   The worst people will be the clerics of Islam
  8.   Fornication will be widespread
  9.  Time will pass more quickly
  10.   Trustworthiness will be lost
  11.   Injustice will be widespread, so will bloodshed.
  12.   People will stop praying
  13.   Dishonesty will be the new way of life
  14.   Usury will be permissible and seen as good
  15.   Elderly people will be forgotten and disrespected
  16.  People will openly worship Satan. This will be common around the world.
  17.   People will dance all night with musical instruments on their heads (or ears).
  18.   People will be able to see and communicate with each other although there is an ocean separating them.
  19.   People’s pockets will notify them of what is going on in their homes when they are away from home.
  20.   People will pierce tunnels through mountains.
  21.  People will travel very fast

 

 When these signs appear, we will be near the end of times. When corruption reaches its climax, the battle for Armageddon will begin. There are a number of major events that will happen. Remember that the hadiths on the subject are plenty and it is often difficult to put an exact chronological date on the sequence of events. Here we will do our best to outline them.

 

 At the climax of evil, two major antagonists are reported to emerge in the end of times. These two antagonists are the Dajjal and the Sufyani. The Sufyani will be a descendent of Banu Ummaya (Tribe of Ummaya) and will be responsible for the murder of many followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). He will take over Greater Syria and parts of Iraq and rule from Damascus.

 

 It is reported that the 12th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (aj) will battle the Sufyani until he submits to al-Mahdi’s order. Other reports, however, state that the Dajjal, a more global and more powerful evil, will succeed in eliminating the Sufyani by invading his land and consolidating his evil reign on earth.

 

 The Dajjal, is also known as the Anti-Christ (the full name is al-Masih al-Dajjal, which literally means “the Lying Messiah”). He will establish a new world order around the globe towards the end of times, as opposed to the Sufyani who will yield power in Greater Syria only. Once the Sufyani is put down, the final battle will take place between the Dajjal and Imam al-Mahdi (aj).

 

 The Dajjal will claim to be a god on earth. Many Muslims will flock to him and fall to his deception. The Dajjal will kill a great portion of the world’s Muslims. He will reign down food to his friends from the sky and punish his enemies by sending down ‘smokeless fire.’ Some have interpreted this to be sophisticated missiles that don’t leave smoke trails.

 

 Part of the Dajjal’s power will be from famine. Much famine will take over the world along with lack of water. The Dajjal will offer food and water to his allies.

 

 The Dajjal is said to be one eyed and a recognizable sign on his forehead stating that he is an ingrate or kafir. For this reason, some scholars have opted to say that the Dajjal is a system and not a person. Others have stated that he is a demon or jinn under the orders of Satan and will operate from behind the scenes by guiding powerful governments to kill innocent people and spread corruption on earth.

 

 At that moment, Jesus (as) is to reappear on earth. On earth, he will reveal the truth about himself in that he is not Allah and will repudiate the notion of the trinity, like many Christians believe. Jesus will pledge his allegiance to Imam al-Mahdi and pray behind him. According to Prophetic traditions, Jesus will appear before Imam al-Mahdi (aj).

 

 Along with Jesus, Imam al-Mahdi will gather 313 generals and go to the final battle of Armageddon against the Dajjal. He will defeat the Dajjal and the Dajjal will perish thereafter. At this moment, Imam al-Mahdi (aj) will fill the earth with good and justice whereas previously it was filled with evil, corruption and oppression.

 

 Imam al-Mahdi (aj) will reign on the earth for a few years and afterwards he will die. Some traditions report that he will be killed by a woman. When Imam al-Mahdi (aj) dies, the world will finally end. The Angel Israfil (pronounced Isrāfīl) will blow the trumpet of light and end all life in the world, including that of Satan. With another blow to the trumpet, Israfil will bring the world back and resurrect humankind and the jinn.

 

 At this point, the Day of Judgment will begin. God will exact His punishment on evil doers by sending them to hell whereas He will bless and forgive the innocent as well as those who have redeeming qualities in them.

 

 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.16 The Muslim Calendar Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Not many new converts to Islam realize that Islam has a different calendar until they fast for the first time. They realize that Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar. They also realize that how months go by in Islam is kinda weird and different from what they’re used to with the standard Gregorian calendar in the West.

 

December happens sometime during the winter and it stays the same. Yet when it comes to Islamic months like Ramadan, it changes every year. One year Ramadan will be in the summer, and a couples of years later it will be in the winter.

 

In this lesson, we’re going to go into some of the details of the calendar, how it works and what the months are as well as some of its special dates.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]. (Chapter 9, verse 36 of the Holy Qur’an)

 

The Muslim or Islamic calendar is officially known as the Hijri calendar. The word hijri comes from the word Hijrah, which means migration. More specifically, it refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) migration from Mecca to Medina when he was fleeing his assassins.

 

The migration therefore marks year one in the Muslim calendar. The Muslim calendar has 12 months just like the Gregorian calendar, and it has around 354 or 355 days.

 

The Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar. The difference between the solar and lunar calendar is that the solar calendar is a measure of the earth’s rotation around the sun which is around 365 days. The lunar calendar is a measure of the moon’s rotation around the earth which is about 354 days. For this reason, the lunar calendar is shorter so you will see a drastic change in a month’s season as the years ago by.

 

The current year in the Islamic calendar is 1437 and there is usually an “A.H” that follows it, meaning “After Hijrah.”

 

The names of the Islamic months are as follows:

 

  1. Muharram: Muharram means forbidden or sacred and it is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is called so because battles are forbidden in this month. It is also the month where Imam al-Husayn (as) was martyred. This day is called Ashura which is on the 10th of Muharram.
  2. Safar: Safar the second month of the Islamic calendar. It means “void” as Safar was usually the month of battles and things were looted until nothing was left. This month is important as mourning for Imam al-Husayn (as) still continues.
  3. Rabi al-Awwal: Rabi al-Awwal means “the first spring” and is the third month of the Islamic calendar. The month is important as it is the month when the Messenger of Allah was born in.
  4. Rabi al-Thani: Rabi al-Thani means “the second spring” and is the fourth month of the Islamic calendar. This month is important as it is when the birth of the 11th Imam, Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) was born.
  5. Jumada al-Awwal: Jumada al-Awwal is the fifth month. The word Jumada comes from a word meaning “parched land” as this was a month of no rain and dryness. This month is important as it marks the birthday of Zainab, daughter of Imam Ali (as) and sister of Imam al-Husayn (as).
  6. Jumada al-Thani: Jumada al-Thani is the sixth month. It is important as it marks the birth and death of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah al-Zahra. These days were the 3rd and 20th days of the month respectively.
  7. Rajab: Rajab is the 7th month of the Islamic calendar. The word means respect as it was a month where fighting was prohibited in pre-Islamic times. This month is important on many grounds, above all, Imam Ali (as) was born on the 13th of this month.
  8. Sha'ban: The month of Sha'ban is the 8th month. It means to separate as it is a time when Arabs split up to search for water. The month is one of the most important ones as the 15th of the month marks the birth day of our 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi (aj).
  9. Ramadan: The month of Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed, and it also marks the month where Muslims fast for 30 days. The 21st of the month of Ramadan is when Imam Ali (as) died.
  10. Shawwal: The month of Shawwal is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Shawwal means to “carry” as it is the month where female camels carried their fetus in their wombs. On the first of the month, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan. The 15th of Shawwal also marks the death of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as).
  11. Dhu al-Qa'dah or al-Qi'dah: This is the 11th month. It means “possessor of truce” as it is a month where battle used to be forbidden. This month is important as it marks the birthday of our 8th Imam, Ali al-Rida (as). It also marks the death of our 9th Imam, Muhammad al-Jawad (as).
  12. Dhu al-Hijjah: Dhu al-Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. Dhu al-Hijjah means “possessor of the pilgrimage” as it marks the month of pilgrimage or hajj in Islam. The Hajj is performed on the 8th, 9th and 10th of this month. The day of Arafah takes place on the 9th. Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice for the Pilgrimage), the second most important festival of the Islamic calendar, takes place on the 10th of this month. This month also marks the death of our fifth Imam, Muhammad al-Baqir (as) on the 7th of the month. For more information on the Hajj, please see our previous lessons.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.17 Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Nothing is more contentious nowadays when it comes to Islam than what the Western media calls “Shariʿah law.” The Shariʿah literally means “the way” and is simply another word for Islamic law.  

 

The Shariʿah is God’s will upon mankind and their way to spiritual discipline and salvation in God. The Sharīʿah covers all aspects of life, from the day you were conceived in the womb up until after your death when you are buried.  

 

It is an all-encompassing system of organizing one’s life. As you’ve guessed it till now, the Sharīʿah isn’t just about punishments or asking women to cover themselves, those are only tiny parts of Islamic law.  

 

The Shariʿah also has to do with prayers, charity to the poor, taking care of orphans, marriage, helping the environment, dealing with the old and sick, and much much more.  

 

Just like the Shariʿah has something to say about Muslims, it has something to say about non-Muslims as well. It regulates the lives of Muslims who live under non-Muslim countries as well as non-Muslims who live in Muslim countries.  

 

In this lesson, we will be looking at two major issues of the law: 1) how the Shariʿah regulates the rights and obligations of Muslims living under non-Muslim governments and 2) what rights and obligations it frames for non-Muslims living under Islamic governments.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

 In a hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s) he is reported to have said: “Whenever you see a funeral procession, stand up till the procession goes ahead of you”.  

 

One day a funeral procession passed in front of him and he stood up. Some protested and complained that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, "Is it not a living being (soul)?"  

 

The Messenger of Allah (s) also used to visit non-Muslims who were sick, including Christians and Jews.  

 

This historical background of how the Prophet Muhammad (s) related to non-Muslims is a key basis that informs much of the Shariʿah’s treatment of non-Muslims. We say this from the perspective of the Sharīʿah as understood by his Ahl al-Bayt (as) and not the violent and uneducated understanding of the Shariʿah by fringe groups that have taken up much of the media’s attention today. 

 

The Shariʿah and Non-Muslims 

 

The Qur’an is clear that no one can be forced to convert to Islam. Allah says: 

 

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”  (Chapter 2, verse 256). 

 

Non-Muslims, just like Muslims, who live peacefully, have inalienable rights under the Shariʿah. These means that non-Muslims have the right to work, live in safety, access to healthcare, right to property and inheritance and all the basic rights that Muslims have.  

 

Muslims have no right to be cruel or disrespectful to non-Muslim minorities living in their countries. The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: 

 

"Beware!  Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority (dhimmi), curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment." 

 

In another hadith, the Prophet (s): 

 

“Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise.” 

 

Under the Shariʿah, Muslims are obliged to pay two taxes, namely the zakat and the khums taxes. If non-Muslims are living under an Islamic government, they are not obliged to pay these two taxes as they are specific to Muslims. By the way, a non-Muslim living under and Islamic government is called a dhimmi, meaning “protected person.”  

 

Here we are differentiating between a Muslim majority country and an Islamic government because not all Muslim majority countries have Islamic governments where the Sharīʿah is the official, real and supreme law of the land. 

 

However, a Muslim government may impose another tax on them called the jizyah tax. The jizyah tax is not applicable to the poor among the non-Muslims and is only applicable to the male head of the household.  

 

The jizyah tax predates Islam and can be rooted in Zoroastrian Persia before the coming of Islam. When Islam spread to Persia early in Islam, Muslims imposed a tax system that was already there. In fact, the word jizyah is not even an Arabic word, but taken from the old Persian word gazīd or gazīt meaning poll tax. 

 

When non-Muslims pay the jizyah tax, they are not obliged to come to the defense of the country that they are living in. In other words, they don’t need to join the army whereas Muslims must join the army if their land is attacked.  

 

Muslims living in non-Muslim Majority Countries 

 

The Shariʿah obliges Muslims to obey all rules when living under a non-Muslim government as long as the rules don’t explicitly and directly ask them to disobey God. For example, if a government were to ask a Muslim to stop praying, the Muslim would be under no obligation to follow it. In cases of extreme hostility, the Shariʿah may ask or request that the Muslim leave the country. 

 

As far as we know, this isn’t the case with most non-Muslim countries, especially those in the West. Muslims are therefore urged to obey all traffic rules, tax laws, and conduct themselves as peaceful and productive citizens of their country.  

 

Remember that the Shariʿah is much, much more than just political laws. If you look at manuals of Islamic law, you will notice that most of their pages are devoted to prayer, fasting, marriage, and all sorts of rules and regulations that you can practice anywhere in the world. So if you are living in the United States, there is nothing keeping you from living your life as a full Muslim all the while obeying the countries laws and living as an upstanding citizen.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
9.18 A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to our channel! In one of our previous lessons, we overviewed the difference between the Islamic and Gregorian calendar.  

 

The Islamic calendar began when the Prophet Muhammad (s) migrated to Medina from Mecca. This happened in the year 622. This means that there is a discrepancy of 620 years between the Islamic and Gregorian calendars. But this has changed over the years. 

 

But here’s a little trick, whenever you see an Islamic date, try adding around 6 centuries or so and you will get a rough idea as to when this happened in the Gregorian calendar. So for example, we know that our 12th Imam was born in the year 255 after Hjirah. If you want to know when this happened just add those numbers you will get something around the middle-end of the 800s in the Gregorian calendar. That’s pretty close as precise calculations show us that our 12th Imam was born in the year 869 in the Gregorian Calendar.  

 

In this lesson, we will quickly look into some of the key moments in the Islamic time line from the perspective of the Gregorian years. The Gregorian calendar is also known as the Common Era and is abbreviated with the letters CE. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

570 CE Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (s) 

 

610 CE The Prophet (s) receives revelation from Allah through the medium of the Angel Gabriel (as).  

 

610-22 CE The Messenger of Allah (s) preaches to the Meccans. 

 

622 CE The Hijira begins – The Prophet Muhammad (s) and his companions flee to Medina. The Islamic calendar begins. 

 

632 The Prophet Muhammad (s) passes away. Imam Ali (as) becomes the first Imam after his death. 

 

656 Uthman is murdered; Imam Ali (as) becomes the 4th Caliph. 

 

661 Imam Ali (as) is murdered and Mu'awiya usurps the caliphate from Imam al-Hasan (as). The Umayyad Caliphate beings and ends in 750. 

 

680 Tragedy of Karbala and the death of Imam al-Husayn (as) 

 

732 The Muslim empire reaches its furthest extent. Battle of Tours prevents further advance northwards. 

 

940 The 12th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (aj) goes into the greater occultation. 

 

Late 900s West Africa begins to convert to Islam 

 

1099 Christian Crusaders take Jerusalem. 

 

1100-1200s Sufi orders (turuq) are founded. 

 

1171 Fatimid power ends in Egypt with the conquests of Saladin. 

 

1174 Saladin declares himself sultan of Egypt and Syria. 

 

1193 Death of Saladin; most of Crusader states have returned to Islam. 

 

1200s The Assassins are eliminated by the Mongols.  

 

1221 The Mongols enter Persia. 

 

1241 Mongols take the Punjab. 

 

1258 Mongols capture Baghdad; city is sacked and caliph is killed. This spells the end of the Abbasid Caliphate. 

 

1281-1324 Reign of Uthman (also pronounced Osman). He founds the Ottoman Empire. Muslim merchants and missionary Sufis settle in South East Asia. 

 

1366 Capital of Ottoman Empire moved from Bursa to Adrianople. 

 

late 1300s Ottomans take control of the Balkans. 

 

1400s Islam reaches the Philippines. No Muslim army ever made its way beyond India. All converts from Indonesia to the Philippines are done through missionaries. 

 

1453 Mehmet Fatih (rules 1451-81) conquers Constantinople. The two halves of the Ottoman Empire are united and the sultan becomes the Byzantine emperor. 

 

1501 Shah Ismail Safavi takes over Persia and establishes it as a 12ver Shia empire. 

 

1700s Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab rejects Sufism and most of the historical tradition of Islam as found in Sunnism and Shi’ism. He founds the ideology which brings about the birth of the Saudi Arabian kingdom. 

 

1738 Mughal empire, the Muslim empire of India, is invaded by the Afghans. 

 

1908-18 Last decade of Ottoman rule. Rise of nationalistic "Young Turks." The Ottoman empire is later ended.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. 


 
9.19 Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel. The Qur’an is the revealed book of Allah. It is the foundational book of Islam and contains all the necessary principles to lead an Islamic life. Like anything in this world, the Qur’an has its own story and history.  

 

In this lesson, we’ll go over some brief facts and pointers on the Qur’an. We will look at where it came from, what its about and what our responsibilities towards it are. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

The Qur’an’s Background 

 

The Qur’an was God’s revelation to the Prophet through the medium of His archangel Gabriel (as). The process of the revelation took a little over two decades. Towards the end of the Prophet’s (s) life, the Qur’an had all been written down.  

 

It was only after the Prophet’s (s) death that, by the order of the Messenger of Allah (s), Imam Ali (as) compiled the Qur’an into a standard edited manuscript.  

 

Imam Ali (as) offered that book to the ruler of his time, Uthman bin Affan. The work was accepted, but Imam Ali’s (as) commentary was not. The rulers took the copy and declared it as their own official copy.  

 

Although the refusal to acknowledge Imam Ali’s (as) hard work was unfortunate, his endeavor made sure that the Qur’an’s message would remain preserved, unaltered and unchanged. This is why the Ahl al-Bayt (as) always accepted what came to be known as the “Uthmanic Codex” for it was really compiled by Imam Ali (as). 

 

How the Qur’an is divided 

 

The Qur’an has 114 chapters called Surahs. The first chapter of the Qur’an is called al-Fatihah and the last one is called al-Nas. It also has 6, 236 verses called Ayat which literally means “signs.” This makes it just about the size of the New Testament in Christianity.  

 

It is a common myth that the Qur’an has 6, 666 verses. This myth was invented by some extremist Christians who were hostile to Islam. What they were trying to do is to associate Islam with the devil given that the devil’s number in the Bible is 666.  

 

The Qur’an has 30 equal sections called Juz. These divisions don’t fall evenly in chapters and they usually break from one another even in the middle of a chapter. The purpose of this is to make reading easier during the month of Ramadan. In other words, we’re encouraged to read the Qur’an every day, and as Ramadan has 30 days, its good that the reading gets divided up evenly.  

 

Why the Qur’an doesn’t follow a chronological order 

 

We all know how books are. They have a beginning, middle and end. They have an introduction and some kind of conclusion. If these aren’t there, at least they have some kind of chronology. One thing that stands out with the Quran is that it doesn’t obey any of these rules. 

 

For someone who just started reading the Qur’an, he or she will notice that there is no beginning and no end. The first chapter was not the first chapter revealed, and the last chapter was not last. While reading the Qur’an, you will notice that while the book is talking about one subject, it will suddenly switch to another one. Although some people will be frustrated, there is actually a reason why the Qur’an is ordered like this.  

 

As the great 20th century Muslim scholar Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim al-Khu’i once remarked, not everyone has the luxury to sit and read a whole book in a short time span. The Qur’an is not a story, nor a book of history, like many chapters in the Bible are. (think of the book of exodus for example). It is a book of guidance. This means that the Qur’an must be optimized in order to meet this goal. 

 

The way the Qur’an is structured is that if you read one regular sized Surah, you will find a mishmash of different subjects so that in one sitting, you can really take the gist of what Islam and its fundamentals are really about. If you read just part of one Surah, you will learn that God is one, you will learn about the general moral and social principles of Islam, and you will also learn about some of your duties towards God and how to develop a relationship with Him.  

 

When it comes to other books though, you usually have to read a lot of it until you get what its essence is really about. The Qur’an is structured in such a way where this doesn’t happen, any short reading will give you a very straight idea of what Allah has in mind for us with His revelation.  

 

So What’s in the Qur’an? 

 

The Qur’an was revealed in the Arabic language. Its primary message is tawheed or the absolute unity of God. This means that God is one and undivided and the creator of all the universe. It also teaches us to take the prophets, and especially the Prophet Muhammad (s) as our role models in the religious life.  

 

The Qur’an teaches us how to develop a good relationship with God by trusting Him. It teaches us on how to lead the moral life by being humble and helping the poor and needy. It teaches us not to judge other people and to always be kind to them. It teaches us that nature, and particularly animals are conscious beings who worship God and as such, we are to respect and cherish them. 

 

In short, it is a manual on how to live a life that is pleasing to God. 

 

How to Read the Qur’an 

 

If you don’t know Arabic, you can always read a translation of the Qur’an. A good translation out there is Ali Quli Qara’i’s wonderful work. It’s a simple phrase by phrase translation that is ideal for those who want to memorize the Qur’an after they’ve learnt the Arabic script.  

 

If you want to learn how to recite verses in their proper way, please go to http://www.recitequran.com where you can learn how to recite the Qur’an word by word with translation.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 


 
9.20 The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) was the sixth Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt (as). The Imams after the Prophet Muhammad (s) were 12 in total.

 

The 12ver Shi’i school of thought is known by various names. Sometimes it is called the Imami branch of Islam, and at other times it is called the Jafari branch of Islam. If we have 12 Imams, why is Imam Jafar so important? Why isn’t the school called the Husayni or Hasani school of Islam?

 

In this lesson, we will answer this question and go into the qualities of the school that Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) established.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) was born in the year 702 of the common era and he died in the year 765, which is the 148th year of the Hijri calendar.

 

He was the son of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as), the grandson of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as), the great grandson of Imam al-Husayn (as). Imam al-Sadiq (as) became an Imam when he was in his mid-thirties.

 

Since the beginning of the Imamate of Imam Ali (as) until the Imamate of Imam Zayn al-Abidin (as), the Imams were overwhelmed with political turmoil. Despite this, they still managed to educate their followers on the basic precepts of Islam.

 

Despite the restrictions that confined much of Imam Zayn al-Abidin’s (as) intellectual life, he still managed to spread his theological doctrine by means of duas. So if you look at his duas, you will notice that they are not just duas but they are also lessons in theology!

 

Although the Imams had taught various subjects until this time, it is only during the time of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) that organized schools began to be established. In his capacity as an official teacher, Imam al-Baqir (as) began teaching various subjects, the most popular of which was Islamic law.

 

But it is during the time of his son Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) that things reached its peak. The Ummayads and the Abbasids at the time were waging wars against one another so they were too busy to oppress the Imams and keep them from spreading the authentic and unadulterated message of Islam.

 

Imam al-Sadiq (as) had thousands of students, much more than his father. He taught all subjects, Qur’anic exegesis, theology, history, law, ethics, science and more. For a limited time in his life, he was relatively free to teach, his students also had some more space to spread the message as well, although they still had to be careful. Unfortunately, this did not last too long as the authorities were quick to come and control him and his followers through the threat of death.

 

Thanks to this brief window of freedom, if you open any of our major works of hadith, you will see that the majority of these hadiths go back to Imam al-Sadiq (as).

 

The 8th century was the most critical period of Islamic history. It was the formative period of Islam. This is when all the various schools of Islamic law and theology were being founded. The 8th century was the century of Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas, Muhammad al-Shāfiʿī and even Ahmad ibn Hanbal – although the latter spent most his life in the 9th century.

 

This period was a period of flourishing. All the questions and answers people had were crystalizing into recognizable schools. What was so important about this period is that whatever we have today, whatever we believe Islam to be, really goes back to that time. Today we have Mālikis, Hanafis, Shāfiʿis, Hanbalis among our Sunni brothers and sisters and they all go back to that time.

 

Although this was a time of intellectual flourishing, it was also a time of severe disagreement. Schools really differed from one another and it was difficult to know what Islam actually taught. I

 

mean really, if there are so many opinions, how can we be sure what the Prophet (s) actually taught?

 

This is why Imam al-Sadiq (as) was so important. He was an infallible Imam, he received knowledge from Allah and made no mistakes in his teachings about Islam. Everything he taught was exactly in line with what the Prophet (s) had taught. In the midst of intellectual chaos, Imam al-Sadiq (as) made sure to create a school that would go beyond this chaos, a school that we could, with certainty, say was purely Muhammadan.

 

Now you may ask yourself this question, don’t people who subscribe to the school of Ahl al-Bayt have disagreements about what the Imams themselves taught? Isn’t this the same problem all over again? Well, here is the answer. There is about 75% agreement among Shia scholars when it comes to Islamic law. When it comes to theology and ethics (that is, akhlaq) then our agreement is above 90 or even perhaps 95%. That’s a pretty good when it comes to consistency.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 

 


 
9.21 Major Fields in Islamic Studies Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

In this lesson, we will look at the major fields of study in Islamic studies. They include theology, philosophy, logic, law, and ethics.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Theology 

 

Theology is the study of God. It comes from the word “theo” which means God in Greek, and logy which means “study of.” In Arabic, the equivalent term for theology is ilm al-kalām, which means “science of discourse” as in ..”discourse about God.” 

 

Theology in Islam is multifaceted. It studies the attributes of God, such as His justice, mercy and wrath. It also tries to study the nature of God. It tries to demonstrate, for example, that God cannot be more than two. It also studies things like God’s “word” and “speech” … For example, is God’s word and speech eternal or created? Yeah, it’s tough stuff. 

 

Falsafah 

 

Falsafah is the Arabic word for philosophy. It is a specific kind of philosophy that is inspired (mostly) by Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy. It doesn’t mean that those who do falsafah agree with everything the Greek philosophers said, but they do cover a lot of themes that the Greeks did, except that they add to it, change it, and sometimes challenge it when it is outright wrong.  

 

Subjects that are dealt with in falsafah include, among other things, questions about existence or epistemology. Epistemology has to do with how we know things. So in Islamic knowledge, you will see a lot of discussions about the philosophy of knowledge and philosophy of mind. 

 

Logic 

 

The word for logic is mantiq. Mantiq comes from the Arabic word nataqa, meaning to speak. Mantiq is speaking inside your head and hence “logic.” Mantiq in Islam deals with issues like the law of non-contradiction (for example, something cannot exist and not exist at the same time) or how the whole cannot be smaller than the part. Logic at times can be very simple, but sometimes complex. 

 

Law 

 

The Arabic word usually used for Islamic law is fiqh. Fiqh means deep understanding, as in deep understanding of the law. Fiqh deals with all the rulings in Islam from prayer to marriage. Fiqh is the largest discipline in Islam and has more books written about it than any other subject. 

 

Related to law is Islamic legal theory or usul al-fiqh. Usul al-fiqh is the study and critical analysis of the origins, sources, and principles upon which fiqh or Islamic law is based on. 

 

An example of usul al-fiqh is when we have two reliable traditions give contradictory accounts on the permissibility of a certain thing or action. Principles in usul al-fiqh will give suggestions on how to reconcile these kinds of traditions, or how to prioritize one over the other. 

 

Ethics 

 

Ethics or the science of akhlaq. Akhlaq deals with spiritual ethics. In other words, it deals with our deep rooted emotional and psychological problems that impede on our religious life. They include the study of anger, pride, jealousy, depression, hopelessness and much, much more! 

 

Closely related to akhlaq is the science of Irfan or Islamic mysticism. Since our behavior and emotions all revolve around the state of our souls, our akhlaq is directly connected to our mystical experiences of God since it is from the soul or heart that God is witnessed. 


 
9.22 The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

In this lesson, we will overview the concept of the Caliphate in the perspective of our Sunni brothers and sisters. Since we have talked a lot

 

about the Islamic view of the Imamate, we will only briefly compare this view of the caliphate to that of the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as).

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

The word Caliph comes from the Arabic word Khalifah. Khalifah in Arabic means vicegerent or successor, as in successor of the Prophet Muhammad (s). In the Qur’an, the term is used differently. It refers to humankind as God’s vicegerents on the earth.

 

In Sunni Islam, a Caliph is only secondarily a religious leader, he is more primarily a political leader. This is why in Sunni law a Caliph does not need to be a scholar of Islam.

 

But despite his primary role as a political and worldly leader, he still has some religious functions, such as determining special days like Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the month of Ramadan. Although he does not have to be a scholar, he is still expected to have some acceptable level of knowledge when it comes to Islam.

 

In Sunni Islam, successorship to the Prophet Muhammad (s) is not necessarily determined by the Prophet himself. It can be determined in three other ways as well:

 

  1. Through selection by a small but select group of the Prophet’s companions.
  2. Personal designation by the previous Caliph
  3. Self-declaration or self-appointment
  4. Let look at each of these in a little more detail.

 

1. Selection by a small but select group of the Prophet’s companions

 

This happened three times in Islamic history.

 

The first time this happened was during the first Caliph’s ascension to the Caliphate. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad (s), a small handful of companions gathered in a place called Saqifa and selected Abu Bakr as the first Caliph of Muslims.

 

The second time this happened was with Uthman, the third Caliph. The second Caliph Umar had selected a small number of companions to choose the third caliph in the event of Umar’s death.

 

The third time this happened was during the time of Imam Ali (as). This incident was somewhat different as it wasn’t just a small group of companions who wanted him as Caliph, it was a large group of companions and a large crowd of Muslims who gathered to his house begging him to accept the political version of the Caliphate.

 

2. Personal designation by a previous caliph

 

This means that a Caliph personally selects who will succeed him after his death. In the history of the Caliphate, this has been the most prominent way Caliphs have assumed power.

 

The first person to practice this was Abu Bakr who selected Umar as his successor and second Caliph.

 

3. Self-declaration or self-appointment

 

This means that that someone can declare himself as Caliph without being selected by anyone. In Sunni law, the only condition for this kind of self-appointment to be legitimate is that enough people accept the self-appointment. What counts as “enough” is usually not clear and there is no agreement as to what is.

 

The first person to have become Caliph through this method was Muawiyah b. Abi Sufyan.

 

Muawiyah asserted his claim to the Caliphate through extreme violence.

 

Through the threat of violence, he managed to get Imam al-Hasan (as) to resign from the Caliphate. Then with violence and bribery, he got others to pledge allegiance to him after he declared himself Caliph.

 

In Sunni Islam, there is disagreement as to the legitimacy of Muawiyah’s Caliphate and his standing as a Muslim. Some Sunnis reject Muawiyah's Caliphate and view him as a violent politician who was merely pretending to be a Muslim.

 

Now that we've reviewed the Caliphate from the Sunni Islamic perspective, let's briefly review the Caliphate from the Shia perspective.

 

In Shia Islam, the Prophet’s successor can only be chosen by God himself. Unlike Sunni Islam, the office of the Caliphate is primarily a religious one. The Caliph must be the most knowledgeable person on earth at that time, he must be infallible, and he must be divinely inspired. The primary role of the Caliph is the religious guidance of humankind. Political office is only secondary. In Shiʿa Islam, a person can still be the Prophet’s caliph or successor yet not hold political office.

 

According to this view, only an Imam can succeed the Prophet Muhammad (s). For more information on Imamate, please view our previous lectures.

 

In Shiʿa Islam, God sends revelation or inspiration to the Prophet Muhammad (s) or a living Imam informing him who the next Imam and Caliph will be.

 

From this, we conclude that the Prophet Muhammad (s) designated Imam Ali (as) as his successor during the event of Ghadir, right before he passed away.

 

The word for this type of designation is called “nass” in Arabic. Like Imam Ali (as), all the other Imams were also appointed as Imams and Caliphs in this manner.

 

Until Next Time, thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh

 


 
9.24 Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

 

One of the greatest tragedies to befall humanity is the disease of racism. Racism has existed on many levels and has come about in many different shapes and forms. In recent history, the racism exhibited by whites against Africans and Native Americans has been noteworthy. Millions of Africans were brought into slavery. In the United States and South Africa, African Americans were discriminated against on every level of society. This still continues to happen today. 

 

The historian David Stannard estimates that over 90 million native Americans were killed in the first three centuries of the invasion of the Americas by European invaders. Up until the 1970s, Native American children were forcefully abducted from their homes in Canada and forced into schools where they were taught to forget their heritage and become “white.”  

 

Another form of prevalent racism is what we call anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism comes in many forms. The most prominent form of anti-Semitism is against Jews. Jews had to face pogrom after pogrom in Europe until it culminated into the widespread genocide committed against them by Nazi Germany.  

 

Unfortunately, no civilization or religious group have escaped racism. Racism, unfortunately, has also existed among Muslims. 

 

In this lesson, we will look at Islam’s position on racism and its promotion of equality, whether it is between races or genders. Our point here is to show that even if Muslims display racism at times, it completely goes against the values of Islam.   

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Islam and Racism 

 

Our other lessons usually take the shape of a standard lecture. Here we want to do less of that formal talk and instead let Islam speak through its verses and hadiths. So what we’ll do is quote verses from the Qur’an and sayings from the Prophet (s) concerning racism and give some short commentaries regarding them.  

 

And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference. (Chapter 17, verse 70 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The children of Adam refers to the whole of humanity. God is talking about His absolute preference for them over His other creation, including animals and jinn. When God says He “honored the children of Adam” it means that He has honored both men and women, children and adults, and humans of all races and economic and social classes. 

 

 

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Chapter 49, verse 13 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Some people think that God honored all of humankind, but somehow He honored some more than others. They think that He honored whites over blacks, of blacks over whites, or men over women, or women over men, or rich over poor. 

 

The honor, however, is an equal honor that applies to all. The ONLY people are superior to others is in piety, consciousness of God and righteousness. In other words, the closer you are to God, the higher in rank and value you are in the eyes of God. 

 

A hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s) also confirms this: 

 

The Messenger of Allah said: O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no virtue of an Arab over a foreigner nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message? 

 

Islam and Misogyny  

 

Misogyny, that is, dislike or prejudice again women, has no place in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said: 

 

O people, Allah has removed the slogans of ignorance from you and the exaltation of its forefathers. The people are only two kinds: either a righteous, Godfearing believer dignified to Allah, or a wicked, miserable sinner insignificant to Allah. The people are all the children of Adam and Adam was created from dust. Allah said: O people, We have created you male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most noble to Allah is the most righteous of you. 

 

The above hadith is also speaking about the equality of all human beings. Both men and women are mentioned. Men and women only surpass each other in righteousness, that’s all. Being equal of course does not mean their responsibilities are the same. Islam has delegated different responsibilities and rights for them, but this does not mean that as humans or in the sight of God that one has more value than the other! 

 

Islam and Anti-Semitism 

 

Islam is also against anti-Semitism, that is, it is against racism against Jews. The Qur’an says: 

 

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. (Chapter 2, verse 62 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The Qur’an states that Jews also have a chance at salvation, that is, if they are faithful to God and believe in Him, the Day of Judgment and do righteous deeds.  

 

The Qur’an also says: 

 

O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you; and of Me, Me alone, should you be afraid. (Chapter 2, verse 40 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Allah obviously saw some good in Jews when He bestowed His favor upon them. He also sees good in them to the extent that they can even find salvation in God.  

 

Yes, the Qur’an is full of criticisms of Jews, but this in no way justifies anti-Semitism. If the Qur’an criticizes Jews, the Qur’an criticizes Muslims and Arabs even more. In fact, it even criticizes the Prophet’s (s) companions and wives. So these criticisms in no way are restricted to Jews.  

 

If the Qur’an even assumes that most Jews are bad, that’s because the Qur’an also assumes that most humans are bad, so again, it is nothing specific to Jews. Want the proof? Well look at this verse: 

 

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. (Chapter 6, verse 116 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 


 
 

10 Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies


 
10.1 Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.  

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! This lesson will be an overview of one of the primary fallacies concerning God. The fallacy in question is the objectification of God. Objectifying God means seeing God as a limited and contingent being* akin to any other object in the universe existing within time, space and matter. 

 

Although this conception of God was always present throughout history, even among Muslims, it was categorically rejected by the Prophet Muhammad and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  This is because it went against the real nature of God. Our intention, however, is not to put all theists in one basket, but to point out an incorrect understanding of theism.  

 

We will then observe how modern atheists have adopted this common but erroneous understanding of God and made it the grounds for rejecting His wholesale existence. In this lesson, we argue that the God which atheists reject is also rejected by Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).  

 

We begin our series of lectures with this question as without a proper understanding of Tawhīd*, none of Islam makes sense. We also feel that for many Muslims, an incorrect understanding of the Islamic God is often the main source of doubts and misgivings about Islam. Our attempt in the next series of short classes is to rectify this problem which, unfortunately, is pervasive among many believing theists. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

Say, ‘Do you order me worship other than Allah, O [you who are] ignorant of Allah?’ (Quran: Chapter 39, verse 64) 

 

Within the last fifteen years, a great deal of literature has been published aiming to disprove the existence of God. God, this genre of literature claims, is merely a delusion akin to fairies. His existence is not verifiable or provable in anyway.  

 

Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist writer and scientist living today, writes the following in his book The God Delusion, I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf…I just go one god further.  

 

For atheists like Richard Dawkins, the God of monotheism, often known as Yahweh, Allah or Khoda (among other names), is just another version of a god akin to those of Greek and Hindu mythology. The Abrahamic God, they argue, is no different than the gods of polytheism except that this “god” is much more powerful, longer in duration, omniscient and most distinguishing of all, alone. Damon Linker summarizes the atheist argument in the following way: 

 

Without exception, our clamorous and combative atheists treat God as if he were the biggest, most powerful object or thing in, or perhaps alongside, the universe. Then they use the findings of science to show that there is no evidence for such an immensely powerful object or thing. And ipso facto, there is no God. 

 

When we talk about the “objectification” of God, we mean that God, like the smaller gods of polytheism and mythology, is conceived as an object among other objects in existence. In other words, God is a being among other beings, either within the universe or alongside it. If God is an object or being treading somewhere in or beyond the universe, then this begs the question of where this “god” is. Has anyone seen him? Where in the world is he exactly? Can he be detected? Can his existence be concluded via the scientific method?  

 

Atheists answer that this God cannot be observed or detected in any way, meaning that like Zeus or Krishna, there is no reason to believe that he exists.  

 

Some theists will reply that this God is like a spirit, which is why he cannot be seen or detected. Atheists, however, retort that such a claim in no way helps the case for God’s existence for all it implies is that by virtue of being undetectable, there will never be evidence for his existence.  

 

As atheists like Dawkins conclude, a rational person only believes in the existence of things which there is evidence for, only a deluded and non-sensible person believes in things without evidence. 

 

According to Islam’s school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), there are five usūl al-dīn, or principals of religion. The first principal is that of Tawhīd, or oneness of the Muslim or Islamic understanding of God.  

 

The principal of Tawhīd states that there is nothing like God and that He transcends all that we can imagine, including space, time and matter. He is not contingent nor is He conditioned by anything. He is not an object among other objects, nor is he a being among other beings like the gods of Greek and Hindu mythology. The Qur’an rejects the existence of such gods: 

 

They worship besides Allah that which can neither cause them harm or bring them any kind of benefit; and they say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you inform Allah about something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth?’ Immaculate is He and he is exalted above having any associates which they ascribe [to Him]! (Quran: Chapter 10 verse 18). 

 

He is not “in” or “alongside” the universe other contingent beings or objects would be. He is, instead, the source and fountain of all being and existence without whom nothing can exist, not even for a split second.  

 

As the transcendental and unconditional grounds for all of existence, he is not subject to scientific inquiry as only contingent objects (like objects that depend on space, time and matter) can be observed in this way. Simply put, science is the study of finites and God is infinite, so we must use other methods to derive the existence of God.  

 

The evidence for God, according to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), is to found in logic and in the experience of the human spiritual heart. 

 

This will be covered in more detail in the next series of lectures. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
10.2 Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

 Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In our last lecture, we examined some of the incorrect conceptions of God which are unfortunately ripe among many theists, including many Muslims. We also saw how atheists have taken advantage of this mistaken view of God and have used it for their advantage to deny His existence.

 

 Put shortly, this incorrect understanding of theism holds that God is a being and object like any other being and object in the world of existence with the exception that he is longer in duration, more powerful and more knowledgeable.

 

 One of the primary reasons as to why this happens is because people often rely too much on their physical senses to learn. In other words, in order for something to be worth learning, it has to be tangible and objectifiable. Too many people refuse to consciously and intentionally acknowledge the existence of phenomena that go beyond the limits of tangibility. This is despite the fact that people regularly but unconsciously accept the existence of such phenomena like the reality of human consciousness, love, or even logical and mathematical truths which are abstract and non-tangible, but fully real.

 

 This understanding of the Abrahamic God makes him no more different than the gods of Greek or Hindu mythology. This erroneous understanding of God presents us with many problems. First, it fuels many of the doubts that people have towards God. If God is just another being in the realm of existence, why can’t we see Him? Why can’t He be detected? Why aren’t scientists across universities proving his existence?

 

 There are, unfortunately, many poor defenses of God. For example, calling him an “invisible spirit” only makes it more unlikely, if not impossible, to ever prove His existence. Atheists are more than happy to conclude that it is non-sensical for people to believe in such an immense and incredible being without evidence. Faith, they conclude, is belief in the absence of evidence. Only “uneducated people,” or people who “lack the ability to think critically” can accept the existence of God.

 

 In this lecture, we will examine in more detail what the Islamic conception of God is as understood by the Prophet Muhammad and his Holy Household (the Ahl al-Bayt). We will demonstrate how the correct theistic notion of God is diametrically opposed to the kind of simplistic understanding of God which many atheists and theists unfortunately share.

 

 BODY OF TEXT

 

 [He is] the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you from your own selves, mates, and among the cattle, mates [as well]; He is the one [who] multiplies you. There is [absolutely] nothing like unto Him yet He is the all-Hearing, the all-Seeing. (Chapter 42 of the Qur’an, verse 11)

 

 The understanding of the Muslim God centers around the idea of Tawhīd. This notion holds that God is absolutely one and unique. It also holds that there is nothing we can imagine that even comes close to being Him. Perhaps one of the best explanations of Tawhīd in Islam comes from the first Shia Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as). As the divinely guided infallible successor of the Prophet Muhammad and inheritor of his knowledge, the words of Imam Ali (as) are essentially the words of the Prophet Muhammad.

 

 In this sense, we must be aware that anything that is uttered by Imam Ali is, in reality, directly taken from the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In sermon 186 of Nahj al-Balaghah which is famously known as the “Sermon of Tawhīd,” Imam Ali (as) states the following:

 

 He who assigns to Him (different) conditions does not believe in His oneness, nor does he who likens Him grasp His reality. He who illustrates Him does not signify Him. He who points at Him and imagines Him does not mean Him. Everything that is known through itself has been created, and everything that exists by virtue of other things is the effect (of a cause)…

 

 Times do not keep company with Him, and implements do not help Him. His Being precedes times. His Existence precedes non-existence and His eternity precedes beginning…It cannot be said that He has a limit or extremity, or end or termination; nor do things control Him so as to raise Him or lower Him, nor does anything carry Him so as to bend Him or keep Him erect. He is not inside things nor outside them. He conveys news, but not with the tongue or voice.

 

 He listens, but not with the holes of the ears or the organs of hearing. He says, but does not utter words. He remembers, but does not memorize. He determines, but not by exercising His mind. He loves and approves without any sentimentality (of heart). He hates and feels angry without any pain. When He intends to create someone He says "Be" and there he is, but not through a voice that strikes the ears.

 

 His speech is an act of His creation. His like never existed before. If it had been eternal it would have been the second god. It cannot be said that He came into being after He had not been in existence because in that case the attributes of the created things would be assigned to Him and there would remain no difference between them and Him, and He would have no distinction over them.1

 

 No amount of explanation could possibly exhaust the brief but powerful words of Imam Ali (as). What we will offer instead is a brief reflection on the implications of Imam Ali’s understanding of the Islamic God. Imam Ali’s understanding of God is diametrically opposed to the incorrect conception of God that many atheists and some theists unfortunately hold.

 

 The Muslim God is the transcendent fountain and grounds of all of existence. When Imam Ali says everything that is known through itself has been created, and everything that exists by virtue of other things is the effect (of a cause)… His Existence precedes non-existence and His eternity precedes beginning, God is the unconditional cause of everything that exists.

 

 As the Necessary Existent or Being*, He is the source through which all of contingent reality is made possible. Something which exists “necessarily” is something which does not depend on anything other than itself to exist. Every contingent thing that exists does so by virtue of the effect of something else, be it space, time, or matter or something else. In other words, a contingent being does not exist in and of itself. Without God, the universe, the Big Bang, the multiverse, or any

 

1 See p. 20 of Nahj al-Balagha available in the following link: http://islamiclibrary.com/Scripts/BookReaderDemo/ViewPdf.aspx?cd=EN1524#page/24/mode/2up

 

actuality and reality could not be. Remember that we are not exclusively speaking of physical reality, but of existence itself.

 

 The distinction between physical reality and existence is a very important one to keep in mind. Physical reality is discerned through empirical observation and may be subject to the scientific method, whereas existence is presupposed by science without which it cannot function.

 

 Knowing about the “whatness” or make-up of a thing is what science deals with, but the fact that the object exists, regardless of how it’s made, where it came from, or what it really is, is a totally different question. A person must acknowledge that something exists before doing any further “science” about the object in question.

 

 For example, science can tell me what a piece of chicken is made out of, how many grams of protein it holds or how warm it is. However, the fact that there is a piece of chicken in front of me is a question of existence. Without acknowledging that the chicken first exists, we can’t even begin to know about it scientifically! This means that existence is not predicated on what we scientifically know about the universe, but is predicated upon our consciousness of being.

 

 Insha’Allah, we will go into more detail concerning this question in our next lecture titled “Arguments for God’s existence: The Argument from Being”

 

Some may argue that matter is an illusion, but even an illusion is a form of reality that is contingent upon perception. For an illusion to exist, a being must be able to perceive it and is thus part of the grand chain of existence. To be able to doubt existence, one must first exist. The fact that a person is conscious of existence as a whole is proof that existence is an objective reality.

 

 We know that an infinite chain of contingent beings is logically impossible for it implies infinite regress. Without a starting point, nothing can exist. In other words, if A’s existence depends on B’s existence, and B’s existence depends on C’s existence, and C’s existence depends on D’s existence, and the chain of existential dependence would go on in an infinite regress, nothing would ever exist as one would never reach a beginning point from which all of existence logically starts from. But the fact that A already exists means that somewhere, there is a starting point, that is, a source for all of existence.

 

 Every contingent being is conditioned by a being and reality external to it. A contingent being by definition does not exist necessarily (i.e. it does not exist in and of itself) but depends on something else. We already demonstrated that there must be a starting point for existence. Let us call this starting point of existence “S” (s as in the term starting point).

 

 By virtue of being the starting point of all being and existence, S must exist in and of itself, meaning that it must exist unconditionally and necessarily. S must therefore be the source and grounds of all of reality, being and existence. Without S, there would be no existence let alone physical reality.

 

 According to Islam, God is point S in the “symphony” of existence. When we say God exists, we don’t mean that He exists in the same way as a planet or universe would exists. He is what grounds

 

the existence of every conditioned and contingent being. He is the condition of possibility for anything to exist at all.

 

 When atheists, adopting an incorrect understanding of theism, argue that there is no evidence for God’s existence, they mean that there is no physical, scientific and empirical evidence for His existence. Imam Ali (as) explains that God’s existence precedes non-existence and His eternity precedes beginning…It cannot be said that He has a limit or extremity, or end or termination… meaning that He is infinite and eternal in being for any form of physical or temporal limitation would make him contingent upon space (makān) and time (zamān). Science is the study of finites, but God is infinite.

 

 More importantly, however, is our following response to the atheist claim: If God is just another being and object existing alongside other objects and beings, then their claim may have some kind of merit. We give them this little “merit” because demonstrating the reality of such a being would require empirical and scientific evidence akin to the existence of galaxies or black holes.

 

 But this is not how the God of Islam exists! According to the God of Tawhīd, as understood by the Prophet Muhammad and his Ahl al-Bayt (as), the unconditioned reality of all of existence and grounds through which the existence of any contingent being is made possible is called Allah which in English, translates as “The God.”

 

 The basis through which we come to know the existence of the Islamic God is not through empirical evidence, but through the objective fact of existence itself which science and empiricism presupposes. Among other things, the evidence for God can therefore be found in

 

  1.  Our own consciousness of reality which proves that there is such a thing as existence. To even doubt existence, we would have to exist in the first place. As such, existence is an objective fact and as there is “existence,” there must be a starting point in the chain of existence. The only other alternative is infinite regress, which, as we showed earlier, is impossible.
  2. Logic… which science also presupposes. In other words, science does not prove logic, it depends on logical truths without which it cannot function. For example, the law of cause and effect is not discovered by science, it is presupposed by it! You must first accept that there is such a thing as causality before you can do any kind of science! Through logic, we know that there must be a starting point and that an infinite regress is impossible thus leading us to the starting point of existence.

 

 None of these two points depend on the discoveries of science. It does not matter what science says now or what it will say in the future, the discussion of existence is an entirely separate matter from the discussion of physical reality.

 

Our understanding of physical reality is largely subjective which is why science is always in a state of self-revision, whereas existence is an objective fact and a self-evident truth. By experiencing existence, one directly experiences God but it is only when the spiritual heart is pure that one becomes fully aware of this fact.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.3 God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd) Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

 The following discussion will deal with our first argument concerning God’s existence. In our last session, we discussed how God is not an object or being that exists alongside other objects or beings. He is, instead, the source of all of existence and the grounds which makes the existence of any contingent being possible. This is according to the correct theistic worldview espoused by the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as).

 

We then discussed how knowledge of God’s existence is not dependent on scientific evidence as some atheists try to argue but on logical evidence coupled as well as our consciousness of being. This is because the question of existence is different from the question of physical reality. Science deals with physical reality, not existence. In the following session, we will pick up on where we left off last time and expand on the argument for God’s existence from the concept of being or existence. In Arabic, existence is called wujūd.

 

There are about eleven or twelve major arguments for God’s existence. In our following series, we will deal with the three most popular ones, which include the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Argument from Design and the Argument from Being which is sometimes called Burhān al-Wujūd in Islamic philosophy. Today’s lesson will cover the Argument from Being.

 

BODY OF TEXT

 

That is Allah, your Sustainer! There is no deity but He, the Creator of everything, therefore worship Him for He is the guardian of everything (Chapter 6 of the Holy Qur’an, verse 6)

 

The Argument from Being, as understood by Muslim scholars, particularly those who follow the school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as), can be summarized as follows:

 

We experience reality in two ways, one is through “quiddity” or “whatness” which is called māhīya in Islamic philosophy and theology. Māhīya refers to the makeup or whatness of existing objects. This includes, among other things, their physical processes and forms, how they come into physical existence, how they change, evolve, stagnate or what form, color, mass they take. In other words, māhīya is an account of contingent reality. Contingent reality is inclusive of physical reality.

 

Among Muslim philosophers, the 17th century Shia Muslim philosopher and theologian Mulla Sadra (d. 1640), believed that our knowledge of māhīya is fundamentally subjective. This is because we interpret reality by means of a context, which includes all of our senses and how we were socially and culturally brought up to know and understand things.

 

Our knowledge of the world, therefore, is limited by our biology, senses and cultural upbringing. Certainty is very difficult to attain when it comes to knowledge of māhīya. Perhaps a good example is the following: how do you know the chicken you are eating “tastes like chicken”? Maybe it really tastes like beef but our minds are tricking us into thinking they taste differently! How do we know what we see in our telescopes are really real? How do we know the world around us is not an illusion? Or how did physical reality come about?

 

In every generation, there are new theories concerning how the world began and works, but in the end, we know that we will never have all of our answers in terms of how physical reality began to exist because we are contextually limited. So what does science have to do with any of this? Science is the attempt to know māhīya.

 

Our other experience of reality is through being or existence or wujūd as it is known in Arabic. When we experience an object like our own bodies, our knowledge about the object may be subjective. We’ll ask questions like how was I made? What am I made of? How do I look in the mirror? … but our knowledge of its existence (whatever form it maybe) is objective.

 

This means that our knowledge of wujūd is objective and one of the few things we can know objectively. As such, our contextualized and limited status as knowing beings is irrelevant when making this truth claim, just like how some mathematical truths, like 2+2 = 4 are objective facts.

 

To give you a quick example from the 17th century French philosopher and mathematician Renee Descartes, when he stated cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I exist), he meant that I, as a being, without a doubt exist because I have to first exist before I can doubt my own existence. Therefore, even doubting my existence is an objective and incontrovertible proof that I exist since I could not doubt it if I did not exist in the first place! It is a pure and unmistakable truth!

 

We may experience something else and it may be an illusion and not concrete, but that thing still exists as an illusion whose existence depends on our minds.

 

On the basis of wujūd and not māhīya, Muslim philosophers attempt to lay the grounds for God’s existence. The argument’s foundation on wujūd rather than māhīya means that God’s existence can be proven independent of what we know or may not know about our universe or even multiverse because being or wujūd is logically prior to physical reality. This means that before we can even think about physical reality, there must first be existence! The “is” factor of an object is logically prior to its “whatness”

 

It doesn’t matter what scientists may discover or not discover in the future, we are not concerned with physical reality per se. Science does not prove or even demonstrate wujūd, it presupposes it without which there can be no science. This means that knowledge of existence gives us more certainty compared to scientific knowledge because the former is objectively and incontrovertibly certain.

 

So where does God fit in to all of this? God becomes relevant when we ask the question: why is there something rather than nothing. In other words, why is there such a thing as existence? Note that this is different than asking about the how of something.

 

Existence can only be of two kinds, either something exists contingently or necessarily. A contingent existent is that which does not exist in and of itself. Put differently, it depends on other than itself to exist. Remember, its existence depends on something outside and other than itself.

 

So any being that is spatially limited and changes from one state to another is therefore time-bound, finite and composite. It exists contingently as it depends on other than itself to exist. So by definition, physical and material reality – that is, the universe or multiverse - exists contingently and not by virtue of itself.

 

Some atheists like Richard Dawkins try to argue that perhaps the universe in its entirety exists necessarily. This, however, just goes to show that he does not understand what it means to exist contingently.

 

Why? Because logically, if all the parts of the universe are contingent, then the whole world will also be contingent! It would be the equivalent of making the absurd statement if every human on earth is mortal, then the world’s population is immortal.

 

Existing contingently implies that there is a chain of being or chain of existence where one thing depends upon another to exist. I am conscious that I exist and I know that I exist contingently. Therefore, I am part of a chain of being in which my existence depends on something other than me where that thing depends on something else other than itself and so on and so forth.

 

However long, short, small or big this chain is does not matter. Remember, we are not talking about māhīya here, so the physical/procedural how of things is irrelevant. The chain may have existed eternally or started a finite time ago, but I know that the chain of being cannot go back infinitely because it is logically impossible and my own existence is incontrovertible proof that the chain of being is finite.

 

Here is a good analogy to help us think about this: Imagine someone, let’s call him A, wants to race. But A says he won’t start running until B runs. B in turn says he won’t start running until C starts running. Now imagine this chain of “I won’t start running until X starts running” goes on infinitely, will A ever start running? Will there be any running?

 

The answer is obviously no. If there is no first runner, the running will never start. But say we see X running, this means that there is a first point in the chain where the running starts. Now substitute running for existence. If there is no beginning point in the chain of existence in which all existence today depends on – that is, when we regress in the chain of being - then there can be no existence at all because the chain of regression in existential dependence would never end no matter how far back we go. In this case, existence will never start.

 

The fact that I exist is proof that the chain of being is finite just like X running is proof that the chain of runners is finite.

 

It does not matter if this chain of being has existed eternally or not. For example, the early Christian theologian, St Augustine of Hippo, gives the example of a footprint on sand. It does not matter if the footprint has been there since eternity; the footprint still depends on the foot for its existence.

 

So now we know that the chain of being or existence must have a beginning to it. This means that the first point of this chain of being cannot exist contingently as it would depend on something logically prior to it in order to exist and thus cannot be the first point anymore. Before we continue, however, we must make sure we understand what “logical priority” means.

 

When we say something is logically prior, we are distinguishing it from temporal priority which means priority in time. X for example, may exist simultaneously with Y (no temporal priority) but X may be logically prior to Y in that it is the simultaneous cause of Y’s existence.

 

A good analogy is the footprint example we gave earlier on where the footprint depends on the foot for its existence, even if the foot has been on the print from eternity.

 

In terms of the chain of being (chain of existence), this first “starting” point must therefore exist necessarily. In other words, the Necessary Existent must exist in and of itself. In terms of its existence, it is not dependent on anything outside of itself which means that its existence is not contingent but is part and parcel of its own essence. Just like in day to day terms, it can be said that 180 degrees is part of the essence of a triangle, existence is part of the essence of the Necessary Existent and it cannot not exist.

 

The Necessary Existent, by virtue of existing necessarily and not contingently, is timeless, eternal, spaceless, changeless and immaterial. It is the transcendental source of all of existence. Since it is the source of all that exists and its relevant powers, it is also all-powerful.

 

In other words, since it is the condition of possibility for anything to exist, it is all-powerful in that it has power over all things. This is why the Qur’an says: Indeed, Allah has power over all things, Chapter 2, verse 148 of the Holy Qur’an.

 

So up to this point, there is a Necessary Existent that is the all-powerful, eternal, changeless, spaceless and immaterial source of all reality and existence. We can say with confidence that up to this point the argument cannot be dismissed without leading its critic into logical incoherencies, absurdities, fallacies and contradictions. Furthermore, remember that the argument up until this point is not dependent on whatever science may say or not say in the future.

 

The final question left is whether or not the Necessary Existent is conscious or not. That is, is it intelligent and self-aware? Let’s see. The Necessary Being is that which brought all of reality into being and sustains the whole chain of being.

 

The action of bringing reality into existence and sustaining the chain of being is the product of an impetus. If there was no impetus to create, there would be no creation. The impetus for bringing existence into being cannot be external to it as it is the Necessary Existent. Therefore, the impetus for bringing reality into being must be internal and thus part of its essence.

 

This, by definition, is what we call volition, or more precisely, pure will. If there is volition, then there is consciousness and self-awareness, if there is consciousness and self-awareness, then the Necessary Being is a conscious and intelligent being.

 

There is also another way of demonstrating the Necessary Existent as an intelligent and self-aware being. As we just saw, the Necessary Existent brought all of reality and its relevant powers into being, therefore, it has power over all things and is all-powerful. We human beings have intelligence and consciousness.

 

The Necessary Existent - having brought all of existence into being and having power over all things - must have something analogous to consciousness and intelligence as these are our relevant powers. In other words, if intelligence is to exist in this world in the first place, its potentiality in the source must exist beforehand or it could not have come about in us. The Necessary Existence is therefore self-aware and conscious.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.4 God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

 In our last lesson, we covered the Argument from Being for the existence of God. The argument from being does not depend on scientific facts, it only depends on human logic which science itself depends on and presupposes.

 

The modern version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is an argument that partly relies on current discoveries in science.

 

Throughout history, the argument has gone through different phases. In this lesson, we will cover the modern version of the argument. What is different with the Kalam Cosmological Argument is that it is not only in some ways simpler, but its premises are also supported by scientific discoveries in modern cosmology.

 

So let us begin!

 

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The Kalam Cosmological Argument, as it is termed today, goes back to the 11th century. Contributors to this argument were Muslim thinkers like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and even al-Ghazzali.

 

In recent times, the argument has been revived, modernized and strengthened with modern discoveries in physics and cosmology.

 

The argument goes like this:

 

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
  2. The universe began to exist

 

Therefore

 

  1. The universe has a cause
  2.  If the universe as a cause, then that cause is God.

 

Therefore

 

  1. God exists

 

 I know what you’re thinking, how do you jump to the assumption that God caused the universe to exist? Well, wait a second, let’s open up the arguments one by one:

 

1) Nothing can begin to exist without a cause. To believe so means that something can come from nothing which is impossible. As one popular Christian philosopher and theologian puts it, to believe this is even worse than magic. It is worse than pulling a rabbit out of a hat for at least with magic you have a hat and a magician. Here you have nothing at all!

 

a. If things can pop into existence out of nothing, then why don’t we see this happening all the time? Our everyday experience and science confirms that nothing can come out of existence from nothing. And hey, if you’re thinking about virtual particles in quantum physics, then no, they don’t come out of nothing, they come out of a quantum vacuum.

 

2) What about the universe beginning to exist? Can’t it be eternal? No.

 

a. First, there is the second law of thermodynamics. This law tells us that the universe is slowly running out of useable energy. If the universe had been existing from eternity, then we wouldn’t be observing energy in the universe at this moment.

 

b. The Standard Big Bang Theory teaches us that the universe had a beginning and was finite. The fact that the universe is expanding shows that the universe came from a single point in the finite past.

 

c. Some will try to give alternative models of the big bang. However, three leading physicists and cosmologists, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth and Alexander Vilenkin have shown that the universe has a beginning. I quote: “any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be eternal in the past, but must have an absolute beginning.” End quote. As they continue, scientists, quote “can no longer hide behind a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” End-quote.

 

d. Yeah, this applies to all models of the universe, including the theory of the multiverse!

 

Now, we know that it is very plausible that the universe had a beginning and thus a cause. But how can we conclude that God is that cause? Well, let’s look at it this way:

 

We know that the universe cannot cause itself, as it would have to exist prior to itself and cause it to begin. The logic here is circular and self-contradicting.

 

Our universe, or even the multiverse, are made up of space, time and matter. The cause, being beyond the universe since it created it, must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused and very, very powerful.

 

We only know of two candidates that fit this description, abstract numbers and an unembodied mind.

 

Abstract numbers, however, do not fit into this as they are not “very powerful” and do not stand in causal relations.

 

The only other option we have left is an unembodied mind.

 

So the universe was caused by something that is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, very powerful and has an unembodied conscious and intelligent mind. This is very close to the definition of God.

 

This was a short and quick version of the argument. The argument is larger than what we just presented. In order to learn more about it as well as the facts that support its logical premises, please take a look at our further reading section.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.5 God’s Existence: The Argument From Design Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

The argument from Design brings us to our last argument for God’s existence. Note that there are about 11 to 13 arguments for God’s existence, but we’ve chosen the three most prominent ones.

 

The argument from Design has a wide range of different arguments. At its most basic level, this argument states that if we observe design in nature, we can often conclude that there is a designer behind the design since random chance is impossible or nearly impossible.

 

There are plenty of arguments from design. The two prominent ones stem from biology and cosmology.

 

In this lesson, we’re going to cover the cosmological version of the argument from design and we will support it with arguments from recent discoveries in cosmology.

 

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The cosmological version of the argument from design is known by different names such as the teleological argument or the argument from fine-tuning.

 

The argument goes like this:

 

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.

 

So let’s open the argument up

 

Physical Necessity

 

A life-inhibiting universe is far, far more likely than a life permitting universe. The universal constants that currently exist that make life possible in the universe are infinitesimally unlikely. The alternative is much more likely and as such, physical necessity is out of the question here. There is no evidence that fine-tuning is physically necessary.

 

Let’s look at some numbers:

 

Scientists have discovered the numbers of physical constants that permit life in the universe. They fall within a very narrow life permitting range. If these numbers were to alter even by a little bit, life in the universe could not exist.

 

The force of gravity for example is set by a gravitational constant, if this number varied by just one in 10 to the power of 60, no human would exist.

 

Another example is the cosmological constant. If its value changed by one part in 10 to the power of 120, the universe would either expand too rapidly or too slowly, in either case the universe would be life-prohibiting.

 

If the current distribution of mass and energy changed by 1 part in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123, the universe could not host life.

 

Chance

 

The probabilities involved are so remote that all of these measures and numbers would come into one place in our universe is practically impossible. Most scientists don’t even consider this. In order to explain our current fine tuning, they tend to argue for the existence of a multiverse where the existence of enough universes, or an infinite number of universes, would make the existence of our fine tuning possible.

 

In other words, if there are enough universes in existence, chances are that one universe like ours may come about and we’re just the lucky ones. The problem with this argument is that there is no evidence for a multiverse as the top physicist Roger Penrose argues.

 

Design

 

So what’s left here that the current constants and numbers are the product of design and therefore a designer. In monotheistic religions like Islam, we believe that God is just another name for the Designer of the universe.

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.6 The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain Download Topic

INTRODUCTION

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.

 

 Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!

 

The greatest spiritual crisis that humans will ever face is the problem of evil and suffering. The question goes like this, if God is all good, why does He permit evil and suffering? Why doesn’t He stop it? After all, if He loves His creation, He would protect them just like a mother protects her children.

 

In this lesson, we look at two aspects of the problem of evil in this world. The first is the intellectual problem of evil and suffering. The second is the emotional problem

 

of evil and suffering. On the latter, we will give some pointers on how to deal with suffering in the modern world.

 

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 Answering the Intellectual Problem of Evil

 

 The intellectual problem of evil sees God and evil as mutually incompatible. If God is all-good and all-loving, then He would naturally want to alleviate suffering from us and get rid of evil. Since there is great suffering and evil in the world, then God is either

 

  1.  powerless to do anything about suffering and evil
  2. or careless and callous about His creation
  3.  or He does not exist

 

Obviously none of these options are good as they do not help the case for any monotheistic conception of God. Since God is the creator of the universe, it is impossible that He be powerless. Many people see God as All-Loving and All-Good which means that He would or should stop evil if He did indeed exist. Since evil still persists, many atheists will say that this is proof that God, or at least the Abrahamic understanding of God, does not exist.

 

 This is a rather simplistic depiction of the intellectual problem of evil since there is another way of looking at the problem of God and evil that is logically sound.

 

 Yes, God is All-Good and All-Loving, and as the creator of the universe, He is also All-Powerful. So why does He allow evil to exist?

 

 A popular answer that theologians give is the following: God brought us unto this earth in order to test us. If God interferes in every single instance of evil in this world, then what is the point of free will and testing? It is by being tested on this earth that we grow spiritually. With constant divine intervention, we as individuals cannot grow spiritually.

 

 The second answer is that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to exist. This means that our knowledge and awareness of things is very limited. God sees things from eternity and knows all possible outcomes. He allows evil to exist to the extent that it will have a positive effect in the world or the afterlife or both. We

 

may not be able to see the good of it as of now, but on the “macroscale” of things it does lead to an ultimate good no matter how bad it seems in the short-term.

 

 This last part thus requires some honesty and humility. We can’t predict with 100% accuracy what will happen five minutes from now, how can we ever make a judgment on the effects of evil acts throughout the span of human history in this world and the Hereafter?

 

 The Emotional Problem of Evil

 

 The emotional problem of evil is about people’s dislike or even hatred of God who permits suffering in the world. People lose their loved ones, their health, their jobs or see society around them fall apart where much of it is due to evil acts such as murder or illnesses and disease brought about by war. They are angry that God doesn’t do anything about it.

 

 Remember that often enough, this kind of attitude stems from a subtle and hidden assumption that there is no afterlife. The person expressing such anger may outwardly believe in the Hereafter and God’s Final Judgment, but deep down inside he or she isn’t really certain about it.

 

From an Islamic perspective, and indeed from an Abrahamic perspective, God has the last word on the Day of Judgment. Our lives here are limited, and those of us who live in the 21st century will notice that time goes by super-fast. Know that you will soon die and on your death-bed, you will forget most of the evil and suffering that came your way.

 

 This world, as we said earlier, is a world where God tests our free will. If we didn’t have free will, we couldn’t be truly good. In order to be truly good and reach union with God, one must be able to choose good over evil. For God to get rid of evil in the world, which is the result of human intentions, he would need to get rid of our free will. But if he did this, he would also take our ability to truly love and do good.

 

 For Allah, this isn’t worth the price. Why should Allah sacrifice our potential for infinite greatness and good for the sake of some evil people? And it’s not like they’re going to get away with it, they will be accountable for every single thing they do in their lives whether it is a small lie or or a big thing like murder.

 

 But what about those who suffered from evil? According to Islam, God will reward those who suffered from evil on the Day of Judgment. He will do this on multiple levels. First, their suffering will be a means for having their sins forgiven. Second, they will get extra rewards in heaven.

 

 Third, there are some forms of evil that may cause long term psychological pain for its victims. On the Day of Judgment, God will make some people forget the horrible things they suffered in this world in order to fill them with inner peace. It will be as if none of it ever happened.

 

 Finally, remember that suffering is our best teacher. We learn more from suffering than from our happy days. Our happy and comfortable days tend to make us heedless, whereas suffering wakes us up and makes us realize that nothing in this world is dependable. We can only depend on God.

 

 Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.7 Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

Sometimes you have your really critical questions about God and religion such as the following ones: “how do we know that God exists?” or “why does God allow evil?”  

 

There are other questions that people wonder about that can be just as important as these ones. 

 

A common question we want to tackle here is the following. Why did God create us in the first place?  

 

Related to this question is the following: what’s the point of God creating humanity if so many people are bad? 

 

In this lesson, we will attempt to answer these questions. 

 

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I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. (Chapter 51, verse 56 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play. (Chapter 21, verse 16 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

If God is all great, what was the point of Him creating us? What need did He have in doing so? 

 

Especially with all the evil that we see in this world, the question is a baffling one. Even the angels, in some way, protested when God declared His intention to create humanity.  

 

The Qur’an says: 

 

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not." (Chapter 2, verse 30 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

This reasoning doesn’t need much explanation, we all experience human evil, either directly or through the news. With all this bad stuff going on, why did God create humans anyways? 

 

The first way of looking at it is this way. God has lots of attributes, and some of these attributes are part of His essence. In other words, just like water is wet, God has attributes that are part and parcel of Himself. Of these attributes, we know that God is all-loving (al-wadūd) and all-merciful (al-rahmān).  

 

Since God is all loving and all merciful, He created us humans out of this love and mercy. It is out of His care and compassion that He wanted to give us life and give us the opportunity to earn eternal happiness in exchange for limited, finite acts of good and obedience to Him that He really doesn’t need. He only asks us to do them because it is for our own good! 

 

In this sense, we see the purpose of our lives. The purpose of our lives is to attain eternal happiness. But how is this done? The only way this happens is when we synchronize our hearts and souls with the essence of all of existence, the essence of all being, namely God.  

 

This act of synchronization in the Qur’an is called ibādah, or servitude to God. This isn’t just external servitude, but it is, fundamentally, an interior reality. In other words, it is our heart’s submission to God and acceptance of His light into the dark depths of our being. 

 

God doesn’t need this worship or servitude of ours. It is we who need it because it is the only way we can purify our inner selves. God is the source of all love, good, compassion, wisdom and everything in between. It is only by linking our hearts with Him that we can acquire these attributes in their fullest sense possible. 

 

So what is God doing for us? Well, He’s promised us eternal life and happiness if we accept a plan that will transform our souls and make us better people. It is a win win situation where it is not God that benefits, but it us who benefit in every sense you can think of. 

 

Now let’s turn back to the question of evil. We know that there is lots of evil in this world, but God still created us. A lot of times, it seems that there are more bad people than good. So wasn’t this all a waste anyways? What’s the point of creating us out of love if we’re just going to do evil? 

 

We can answer this in two ways. First, not everyone is evil in this world. There are also lots of good people. There are also some bad people who are really good but became bad because they were victims of their circumstances. God will judge all of us according to our circumstances so it is only He who can judge which one of us is truly good or evil. 

 

In Islam, God also sees hope in every single one of us. He sees hope that we may turn back and change, perhaps not in this world, but in the grave, the Day of Judgment or maybe even in hell. So not all is lost if we don’t make it in this world.  

 

Second, there are many humans who have fulfilled the ideal of being God’s vicegerents on earth. In other words, they are people who have purified their hearts and fulfilled what God expected of them. Why should these people be denied their existence because others would be bad? Why should evil people have a veto over the existence of Good people? 

 

Some may ask the following question: well why didn’t God just create good people only? The answer is the following: maybe the reason why these good people existed and continue to exist is because good people will descend from them, perhaps their grandchildren or their offspring many generations later will become pious servants of God? 

 

Consider, also, the following. Perhaps if evil people didn’t exist to test potentially good people, these so called good peopel wouldn’t be so good?  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.8 Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

A chief idea in the modern secular world is that religion is pointless. One of the definitions of a secular society that the Canadian social philosopher Charles Taylor gives us is a world where an encounter with God is no longer necessary. It is a way of social organization, thinking and approaching the world in where God is absent, at least in so far as the subject’s mind is concerned. 

 

If God is not necessary in our lives, then by default neither is religion.  

 

But this idea plays into the faulty assumption that without religion, people somehow become free to think and chose what is right. 

 

As cultural anthropologists teach us, this is a total myth. If we don’t follow, say Christianity, Judaism or Islam, we’ll end up following another kind of social dogma and doctrine that will guide our actions, the way we think and the kind of decisions we make. This can be nationalism, consumerism, feminism, atheism and much much more.  

 

We cannot live in this world without having some set of assumptions and beliefs that guide our choices and actions. Often times, we aren’t even aware of these sets assumptions that mediate so much of what we do.  

 

The word religion in Arabic is deen (dīn), which is originally taken from the old Persian word “dā’ina” meaning “way of life.” In this sense, everyone has a way of life, a set of unquestioned or sacred principles that guide their particular truths in this world.  

 

Islam is one of these “deens” in the world, a program for life that is aimed at cultivating īmān in us; in other words, it is aimed at creating a deep seated relationship between us and God. 

 

In this lesson, we’re going to look at why Islam is the best of these choices and thereby explain why we all need a divinely revealed religion to follow. 

 

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Say: O unbelievers! I do not serve that which you serve, Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve: Nor am I going to serve that which you serve, Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve: You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion. (Chapter 109, verses 1 to 6 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The above verse tells us something interesting. No one in this world is without a religion. The word for religion in Arabic is “deen” which comes from the old Persian word dā’ina, that is, “a way of life.”  

 

So the last part of the verse can very well be read as “you shall have our way of life and I shall have my way of life.” 

 

We are all governed by set assumptions about the world and truth. These assumptions guide our thoughts and our actions. We are sometimes aware of these guiding principles and at other times we are not.  

 

The way we view the world and the way we lead our lives are very important. They shape and form our souls. If we live a good life, our souls will be good accordingly, if we live a bad life, our souls will be dark.  

 

The point of a divinely revealed religion, and in our case, Islam, is to save us from choosing the wrong path and thereby saving our heats from spiritual corruption. The point of Islam is to create a grounds through which our īmān can be nurtured. Īmān is often translated as faith, but we don’t think that this definition does justice to the word.  

 

Īmān is a deeply spiritual relationship of trust and intimacy that we develop with God. In this relationship, we not only trust that everything Allah says is true, but that He is our absolute nurturer and that He alone is the one we can rely on. 

 

Other paths in this life outside of divinely revealed religions can bring us happiness in this world. But happiness does not equate with the purification of the heart. Only the straight path unto God and the proper development of īmān can purify our hearts and souls. 

 

It is through this purification of the heart from spiritual diseases like forgetting God, pride, arrogance, hatred etc. that salvation on the Day of Judgment happens. A corrupt and dark soul on the Day of Judgment, namely one that is distant from God, will not fare well.  

 

So the point of religion is to give us a platform to develop īmān and purify our hearts. It is there to give us a program through which we can be saved on the Day of Judgment.  

 

As such, just because religion or Islam doesn’t always serve our worldly or material goals in life doesn’t mean that we don’t need it. When you consider the question of eternity, religion and the salvation of your soul, it becomes the most important thing you will ever have.  

 

A good analogy to think of is a sickness. Imagine a doctor comes and wants to give you medicine to save your life from a deadly disease, but you completely ignore it because having to go to the hospital inconveniences you too much so you just forget it and try to live your life.  

 

But in the end, you end up getting sicker and dying. That’s how people unfortunately treat religion. The Prophet Muhammad (s) and other Prophets before him were sent to cure our hearts of a spiritual disease; the disease of forgetting God.  

 

But what we do instead is think that because it doesn’t serve our short term pleasures and goals, it is somehow useless. 

 

Think about it, what is more important, your temporary life in this world or your eternal life in the next? Any sane person will choose the latter! 

Before we let you go though, there is one final point that we want to talk about. Why is it that religion nowadays is failing? There are obviously plenty of reasons; but here we will mention one important one.  

 

The purpose of divinely revealed religions is to cure the sickness of our souls and lead our hearts to salvation. Any rational person will choose his or her eternity over the temporality of this world. But for those who believe, why isn’t this ringing any bells? Well, perhaps one reason is that we live in an age of heedlessness. 

 

If you notice people, they act the same way with their bodies. How many people are heedless of the way they eat and lead their lives despite knowing that it will bring about sickness? The key thing is heedlessness, people think that it will never happen to them and that it only happens to others.  

 

I’m sure you can think of other reasons, so we leave that up to you for now. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please join the social forum section of our site. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh


 
10.9 Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

The typical word for ignorance in Arabic is something called Jahl. A jāhil is someone who is ignorant. But the meaning of jahl in Islam, particularly in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) is quite different from this.  

 

In this lesson, we will take a look at what the meaning of jahl and spiritual ignorance in Islam and what it can mean for us and our spiritual lives. 

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

And when Moses said unto his people: Lo! Allah commandeth you that ye sacrifice a cow, they said: Dost thou make game of us? He answered: Allah forbid that I should be among the foolish! (Chapter 2, verse 67 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool. (Chapter 33, verse 72 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

The word jahl is often translated as ignorance. Ignorance is translated as a lack of knowledge and information. According to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), this translation is wrong. 

 

Most often than not, the word jahl in Islam means foolishness. 

 

For example, if you look at the first volume of Usul al-Kafi, one of Islam’s most important books of hadith, one of the beginning chapters is called Kitab al-Aql wa al-Jahl, meaning “The Book of the Intellect and Foolishness.”  

 

If you go through the book, you will also notice another chapter called “the Book of the Excellence of Knowledge”. Notice here that the word Jahl is not juxtaposed with Ilm or knowledge, but it is contrasted with Intellect.  

 

So here it becomes pretty obvious that Jahl is foolishness, and really, this is what makes sense. Conceptually speaking, the word jahl is similar to the word safaaha in Arabic, which also means foolishness.  

 

The Qur’an describes people who reject the truth or God as jāhil, meaning that they are fools.  

 

They may have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information, but despite this they are still fools and are ignorant of God. Jahl in this sense can also refer to ignorance of God which is, at its root, foolishness regarding Allah. 

 

The same here can be applied to the Devil. The Devil rejected God’s grace by disobeying Him. He knew everything there was to be known, yet what he did was act foolishly in spite of knowing! 

 

Another opposite of jahl that we can think of that is related to the Aql itself is wisdom. The Arabic word for wisdom is hikmah. The word hikmah comes from the word hakama, meaning to bind something together. 

 

In the Islamic context, hikmah means to take relevant knowledge and bind it together and as a result, use it in its most relevant optimal fashion that is aimed at the greater good. 

 

The inability to do this, that is, binding information together in a relevant fashion is called jahl in Islam. 

 

So what does all of this have to do with our lives?  

 

Well, think about it. How many of us know that we must obey Allah and follow His commands in order to repair our interior spiritual dysfunction? How many of us know that because of the evil deeds we commit, we may drag ourselves to hell? 

 

How many of us know that sins not only corrupt our souls, but they are also the reason why our duas or prayers to God are not accepted? 

 

Despite knowing all of this, we continue to make foolish choices by choosing short term pleasure over long term, eternal happiness in the next world. 

 

In other words, despite knowing what the greater good is, and what is wrong and evil, we still risk our souls in this world and in the Hereafter for the sake of fleeting and worthless pleasures.  

 

In Islam, we’re given the following example to help us think better about this: would you choose a temporary mansion that can breakdown anytime or a mediocre house that will last forever? But in Islam’s context, it’s the choice between the eternal mansion and the temporary mediocre house. Foolishness or jahl in Islam is to choose the temporary mediocre house. 

 

Another way of acting foolishly is through extremism. Allah and His messenger taught us to be rational, composed and peaceful individuals. The last thing the Prophet (s) wanted us to be was violent people. Yet despite this, some decide to act foolishly and turn to terrorism. 

 

Fortunately, the Prophet Muhammad (s) warned us of these people.  

 

Imam Ali (as) once said: I heard the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, say, “In the last days, there will be young people rebelling with foolish dreams. They will say the best of words but they will go out of Islam just as an arrow goes through its game. Their faith will not go beyond their throats.  

 

What this hadith is telling us is that fools, even when they have a lot of information and knowledge, will be deprived of īmān or a true and strong relationship with God. As a result of this, these kinds of people don’t end up staying in Islam for too long, they eventually end up leaving it, either outwardly, or inwardly.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 


 
10.11 Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell? Download Topic

INTRODUCTION 

 

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

 

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! 

 

This lesson may perhaps be the most important topic for a convert to Islam. For those of us who reverted to Islam, many of our family members, if not all of them, are non-Muslims. 

 

A pressing question that comes to mind is the following: if my family doesn’t convert to Islam, does that mean that they will go to hell?  

 

What if I talk to them about Islam and they refuse to convert, will they go to hell? 

 

We are aware that often times black and white answers are given and they tend to be quite alienating. One the one hand, they don’t take into account the gray areas involved in this subject, and on the other, they ignore the fact that God is the only sovereign entity who decides who goes to hell and who doesn’t, so this is not something that can be decided by armchair theorists.  

 

In this lesson, we will discuss the school of Ahl al-Bayt’s (as) view on the subject on the status of non-Muslims in hell.  

 

BODY OF TEXT 

 

O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Chapter 49, verse 1 of the Holy Qur’an) 

 

A common pain that reverts are usually faced with is loneliness. Many, if not all of their family members, often reject their faith.  

 

Despite this, they see many of their family members as good and decent people, and it is sometimes hard to hear from some Muslims that all non-Muslims will necessarily go to hell.  

 

This raises a few important questions, for example; what if the person just isn’t sincerely convinced? What if a person has never heard of Islam? What if all a person has heard of regarding Islam is just bad stuff and this person has no access to decent sources of information? 

 

Furthermore, isn’t it unfair that some are born in Muslim families and others are not, yet the latter are expected to go to hell if they don’t do their “research” regarding the truth?  

 

And how about people who are victims of their circumstances? What if a person is born in a village somewhere in the mountains of Tibet and has never heard of Islam? Or what about someone who was born in a family of drug addicts and a neighborhood that’s full of crime and is thus not in the right state of mind to figure out religious truths? 

 

Islam teaches us that matters like these are not black and white, but gray. 

 

The school of the Ahl al-Bayt (as) teaches us that there are two kinds of non-Muslims. One is called al-Jāhil al-Qāsir and the other is called al-Jāhil al-Muqassir.  

 

Al-Jāhil al-Qāsir  is a non-Muslim who either does not know about Islam, or is a victim of his or her circumstances which do not allow him or her to make proper decisions about the truth. A Jāhil al-Qāsir can also be a person who has had Islam presented to him or her in such a bad way that he or she rejects it. 

 

As such, al-Jāhil al-Qāsir is someone who sincerely does not believe Islam is the truth. Rejection of Islam is not out of malice or spite or love of the world, it is an honest and sincere non-acceptance of the religion. 

 

Such a person, according to the school of Ahl al-Bayt (as), if presented with the true and pure message of Islam, along with its true and intelligent proofs, would undoubtedly accept the religion yet his or her circumstances have not allowed it unfortunately. 

 

In this sense, the Jāhil al-Qāsir, who is also sometimes called a mustaḍʿaf in the Qur’an (namely someone who is in a weakened position who cannot make proper decisions about the truth), is someone whom God may forgive and grant him or her heaven if the person lives in accordance with his or her spiritual nature or fitrah where he or she lives a good and moral life and keeps his or her heart and soul relatively clean. As such, Allah is just and He does not take people to task until the truth is manifest unto them.  

 

Remember that this does not give a person the green light to just reject Islam and accept no responsibility for seeking the truth. God has given us an intellect and some resources. To the best of our abilities, we are still required to search. Taking the easy way out will get a person in trouble on the Day of Judgment and possibly send him or her to hell. 

 

Al-Jāhil al-Muqassir is the very opposite of al-Jāhil al-Qāsir. He or she knows the truth, yet because of arrogance, malice, pride, love of the world, he or she decides to reject Islam. Such a person may find it very, very difficult to find himself or herself in heaven unless he or she is purified either in this world or at some point in the Hereafter. 

 

So if a non-Muslim person goes to hell, it is usually a non-Muslim who is either guilty of evil or is a Jāhil al-Muqassir just like an evil Muslim who may be denied heaven and be sent to hell.  

 

Before we leave you, we’d like to make the following point: notice here that we’ve used the word “may” a lot here. We do this because in the end, every single individual will be judged individually by God for his or her state on the Day of Judgment. Unless the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) or the Qur’an calls out a person specifically, or a person is so blatantly evil until the moment of his or her death that there is little doubt that he or she will go to hell, it is very difficult to try to guess what will happen on the Day of Judgment. 

 

As seen in the beginning verse of this lesson, that is, Chapter 49, verse 1 of the Holy Qur’an, we really don’t know what is in God’s or the Prophet’s mind. So we should leave it up to Allah Himself to judge who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. As caring individuals, we should pray for the salvation and guidance of the good and bad people of this earth. 

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh