Juma Khutba 28/02/20 – Sh. Jaffer Ladak (Video & Summary)

In: Jum'a


In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 
How to unite a fractured community: Guidance from the Qur’an part 3

In part one we looked at how the Qur’an addressed the Ansar and Muhajiroon on remaining united before disunity even had a chance to enter. In part two we discussed the Islamic social order of being part of the unity of creation and the attitude of a believer toward a fellow believer, even though they may be at odds with each other.

In this final part we will address the matter of community elections, drawing on lessons from how the Qur’an responds to the elites of a community. This will inshAllah give a fragmented community insight as to how the Qur’an provides practical guidance on navigating leadership contests that often divide our community.

The obligation of taking lessons from similar events
It is a well known trope that history repeats itself. One of the benefits of this is to learn from these events, not make the same mistakes or allow the same pitfalls to reach your own community.
Imam Ali (a) stated in this regard, اِعْتَبِرْ تَزْدَجِرْ “Take lesson and you will be deterred [from evil]” and اِتَّعِظُوا مِمَّنْ كانَ قَبْلَكُمْ قَبْلَ أنْ يَتَّعِظَ بِكُمْ مَنْ بََعْدَكُمْ “Take lessons from those who preceded you, before those who are after you take lessons from you.”
This means that if you do not learn to amend practises, those who come after you will point at you as means of avoiding your ways, the same way you (should) do to those before you. We learn from this that there is a difference between simply knowing or pointing out problematic behaviours and actually changing these repeated events for it to not become a generational practice. 

Only those who fear Allah (swt) will truly take heed of their community role
Surah al-An’aam speaks of the early Meccan period. In verse 51 Allah (swt) addresses the Prophet (s) and tells him (s) to warn by the Qur’an those who fear being presented before Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement. This is different to him (s) being told to warn those who do not fear or astray. This is of interest because we normally expect the Prophet (s) to address the heedless; not in this instance. Rather he (s) is told to address those who already have the quality of fear of being taken to account.
وَأَنذِرْ بِهِ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ أَن يُحْشَرُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ لَيْسَ لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ وَلِيٌّ وَلَا شَفِيعٌ لَّعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
“And warn with it those who fear that they shall be gathered to their Lord – there is no guardian for them, nor any intercessor besides Him – that they may guard (against evil).”

This is because, as per the conclusion of the verse, they will listen and pay heed to the Qur’an and so it will only increase them in their fear to a higher state of God-consciousness, or Taqwa.

What is being said here is that there are those who no matter what you tell them, or who warns them, or how they are warned, will never pay attention. They consider themselves to be the arbiters of truth and falsehood! Only those who have fear of accounting (in front of God) will benefit. We are invited to choose which group we wish to be in community affairs.

The needs of the Muslim masses are given priority over the elite 
The subsequent verse addresses an event where the Prophet (s) was sitting with his poorer companions and the elite of the Quraysh sought an audience. They demanded the Prophet (s) send away his companions on account of their lower social status, so they may speak with him exclusively, not wishing to be sullied by their presence. The verse was immediately revealed:

وَلَا تَطْرُدِ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ
“And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, they desire only His favour.”

The literal meaning of this verse is that protecting the sincere, poor, and striving believers is more important than the probable attraction of some rich pagans. The principle however, is the needs, rights and demands of the grassroots takes precedent over the demand and self-protection of the elite. Never should the existing believers be scorned in favour of the dominant elite and powerful.

Previous prophets (s) stated exactly the same at the demand of their community elites to remove those deemed worth less (see Qur’an 11:29 and 26:114)

Ensuring that powerful elites in a community do not have their selective interests protected is mentioned many times by Imam ‘Ali (a) to his governors, including Mohammed ibn Abi Bakr in Egypt, saying, “…accord them equal treatment so that the elite should not expect injustice from you in their favour and the low should not be despondent of your justice to them…” (Letter 27, Nahj al-Balaghah).

Taking lessons from other elections
Our communities often get divided by leadership elections. As we learnt above, we are obligated to take lessons from other such leadership contests.
In the 2016 US election, voters were almost never informed of policy positions of candidates by the media, who preferred to drum up controversy instead. One research looked at 13,481 mainstream articles and found the vast majority discussed two overriding matters:

1) The “horse race” i.e. the overall likelihood of victory of the candidates, details of intra-party conflicts and polling

2) Personal/Scandal articles, focused on the controversial actions and/or statements of the candidates either during the election itself or prior to it, and the fallout generated by those controversies.

Rarely was there focus on policy issues such as healthcare, immigration, taxation or education.

As an example, of 150 front-page articles that discussed the campaign in some way, over half (80) were ‘horse-race’, a third (54) were personal/scandal, with just over 10 percent (16) of articles discussing policy, of which six had no details!

One of the key practical ways to overcome strife in our communities is to focus less on personality, scandal, family name, tribe and ethnicity, but the policy positions and agenda of those who seek our support.

The Qur’an asks us to test people’s credentials before giving them support
Candidates often say they stand for things, be that the poor, unity, or a particular project. It is necessary for such leaders to be trusted in these matters and that has to be ascertained before and not post-facto. This is achieved by testing and examining whether they truly stood for such values before their campaign. The Qur’an states,

وَابْتَلُوا الْيَتَامَىٰ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغُوا النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَادْفَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ
“And test the orphans until they attain puberty; then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property” (4:6).

This teaches us to test such claims and requests and upon evidence of capability to make over to them their demands.

One of the great stories of testing a person’s truthfulness and character was upon Mulla Naraqi, author of the great Akhlaqi work, Jami’a Sadaat.

One day he visited a leading scholar. Upon entering he was given due respect and consideration from everyone but the scholar he came to visit. No salutation, no engagement. Mulla Naraqi waited patiently until he had to leave. The second day he returned and again no attention was paid to him by the scholar.
On the third day again he was ignored completely until the scholar offered his explanation saying, ‘You are the author of such a great book of manners and etiquettes. I wanted to test whether you practised what you preached and so was rude to you to see how you reacted.’

In this way, knowing the true character of those who seek our support would aid us during leadership contests and stop us from being divided into personality or clique wars.

By: education

Juma Khutba – 21/02/20 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (video & summary)

In: Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful


How to unite a fractured community: Guidance from the Qur’an: Part 2

In part one we looked at how the Qur’an gave guidance to the Ansar and Muhajiroon on staying united and not permitting disunity to enter into the community. Unity is essential to the community, family, friends and business circles, and so we often need guidance on re-establishing unity in a broken circle.

Surah al-Hashr (Chapter 59 of the Qur’an) verse 9 provided three principles: 1) Genuine love those who may be considered ‘other’ than you

2) Do not covet what the others are given and

3) Give preference to them over your own selves.

Part 2 addresses the attitudes toward being part of the system of unity and attitudes to fellow believers that you may profoundly disagree with, or even be fighting with. The purpose of this is to mould the mindset of a person so their engagement with an antagonist is in keeping with the Islamic sociological ethos.

The next verse in Surah al-Hashr (verse 10): ‘And those [the Muhajireen] who came after them [the Ansar] say, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.’

Unity in the Islamic social order means completion of one another
In his commentaries, leading scholar Ayatollah Syed Taqi al-Modarresi explains the difference between an Islamic worldview and social order and others, such as a Western understanding. 
In the post-enlightenment and capitalist era, the individual is given priority over everything; God, religion, group rights, even the environment. A person is ‘free’ to live, dress, speak and act as they please; this has given rise to the idea that an individual or corporate profit is even priority over the environment or national resource. 
From an Islamic perspective everything in creation works with everything else in partnership for the purpose of its evolution and perfection. Sarah an-Naba (Chapter 78:8-11) says, “And We created you in pairs; And made your sleep [a means for] rest; And made the night as clothing; And made the day for livelihood.” Everything partners to achieve more than its own creation as a singular entity.
Ayatollah al-Modarresi explains that if you read the verses of the Qur’an carefully, you will see Allah (swt) calls people toward working with each other in so many places and in so many ways that the human community is expected to work as complimentary to each other, despite its diversity and individuality, as every other part of creation, for its greater purpose and achievement. Observe these series of verses that he mentions:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ(3:64) Say: “O followers of earlier revelation! Come to a joint word between us and you.”
وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ(5:2) “Help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity.”
وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ(103:3) “Enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity.”
فَاسْتَبِقُواْ الْخَيْرَاتِ(2:148) “Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works.”
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ(3:159) “And take counsel with them in all matters of concern.”

Such a plethora of verses tell us two primary things: First, that mankind are expected to act like the rest of creation in cohesion and greater achievement and second, it is only man in his ego and desire, from amongst creation, that breaks this trend of unity.

A person truly submitted to the desire of Allah (swt) would not want to shame himself by being a means of disunity, standing out before creation in such indifference to the order of creation. 

The attitude of the believers toward one another
Returning to Surah al-Hashr, Allah (swt) quotes the attitudes of the believers despite there being tensions amongst themselves. In it we notice a number of important points
وَالَّذِينَ جَاؤُوا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
(59:10) And so, they who come after them pray, “O our Sustainer! Forgive us our sins, as well as those of our brethren who preceded us in faith, and let not our hearts entertain any unworthy thoughts or feelings against [any of] those who have attained to faith. O our Sustainer! Verily, Thou art compassionate, a dispenser of grace!”

1) The believer sees his own faults FIRST and seeks forgiveness for them FIRST before looking the faults of those he opposes. This means he truly looks at his own role and shortcomings in the matter before at others.

2) The believer does not necessarily attach blame to others. It may be that he is right and the other is wrong, but the language he uses is not antagonistic but rather reconciliatory

3) The believer addresses his co-believer as ‘his brother’. Too often Muslims call each other names, hypocrites or even, God-forbid, disbelievers. Not so the early Muslims; even those they argued with they called ‘brothers’. This is the respect given to those who preceded them in faith and so have accumulated more goodness to their service.

4) The believer sincerely prays not to have any rancour in his heart for the believer.

The Qur’an also mentions how the believer prays not to be a fitnah – trial – for the oppressors (10:85) and disbelievers (60:5); how then could he allow himself to be a fitnah for the believers?!

The attitude of the believer
There are always two or more parties who are in conflict. With all of these conflicts it requires both sides of the believers to sincerely adopt these attitudes, otherwise one side will remain in darkness and devoid of the assistance of Allah (swt).

InshaAllah this the third and final part we will look at specific remedies to conflict within a community. 

By: education

Juma Khutba summary & video 24/01/20 Sh. Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a

Video here

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 
Prophet Jesus (a) in History Part 4: Where is the Prophet Muhammad (s) in the Bible?

In Part 1, we reviewed the Qur’anic verses which tell the Muslims that they have duties of care toward the Christian communities. In Part 2, we discussed how what a community knows of and remembers of past figures changes often with new information and social demands. In Part 3, we reviewed how the Gospels were compiled and how they leave a plethora of questions about their authenticity.

In this part we turn to the question of where the Prophet Muhammad (s) is mentioned or indicated to in Biblical scriptures. This is another important aspect of Muslim-Christian dialogue which allows co-religionists to explore each other’s holy books together and in good faith of the wider perspective of God’s purpose of revelation.

It is also necessary for the Muslim to know where the Prophet (s) is described in the Bible as part of the evidence of Islam, for this is something explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an, when it says, “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel” (7:157).

Looking at the Bible today there appears no apparent mentioning of the Prophet (s) such as by name. We also know from evidence that the Bibles in circulation in the 7th Century at the time of the Prophet in Arabia are generally the same as the ones today. That means that it is unlikely that the Prophet’s (s) name was removed upon his announcement, as this would not have been possible to cover. 

Yet the Qur’an speaks at length about Tahreef or distortions of the previously revealed books: “Among the Jews are those who distort words from their [proper] usages” (4:46) and “Woe, then, to those who write out the Scriptures with their own hands and then, in order to make a trifling gain, claim: “This is from Allah.”’ (2:79)

This suggests then, two potentials: Either the distortions occurred between revelation and the announcement of the Prophet Muhammad (s) meaning removal of all clear descriptions, or distortions here means false interpretations, or a mixture of both.

In either case the Qur’an was revealed responding to the presence of these distortions, and yet still claimed the presence of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in those very same scriptures

Let us start by looking at one of the most prominent verses affirming the Prophet Muhammad (s) in Deuteronomy 18:18
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” (Berean Study Bible translation) 

There appears four distinct parts to this verse:
1) There will be a Prophet from amongst the brothers of the Jews
2) This Prophet will be like you, meaning Moses (s)
3) God will raise him up amongst the people
4) He will speak only what divinity commands him to

  1. There will be a Prophet from amongst the brothers of the Jews

From the lineage of Abraham (s) comes two prophetic traditions, the line of Isaaq (Ishaaq) and Ishmael (Isma’il); from the latter comes the Prophet Muhammad (s).

Prophethood here is described as coming from the brothers of the Jews, or the lineage of Prophet Isma’il (a). The Jews are told not to despise those who come from the lineage of their cousin brothers in Duet 23:7, “Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country”, the Edomites, as descended from Esau the twin brother of Jacob.

In fact, the Qur’an places the familial ties so close that it states the People of Book recognise the Prophet (s) as if one of their own family members: الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِّنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ “Those whom We have given the Book recognise him as they recognise their sons, and a party of them most surely conceal the truth while they know (it)” (2:145)

2) This Prophet will be like you, meaning Moses (s)
The Qur’an repeats the similitudes of the Prophet’s Muhammad (s) and Moses (a), such as their receiving Divine Law (Shar’iah), Revelation, and saving their peoples from tyranny. For example 
وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ فَلَا تَكُن فِي مِرْيَةٍ مِّن لِّقَائِهِ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ  “And certainly We gave the Book to Musa, so be not in doubt concerning the receiving of it [O Muhammad], and We made it a guide for the children of Israel” (32:23)
and “Behold, [O mankind,] We have sent unto you an apostle who shall bear witness to the truth before you, even as We sent an apostle unto Pharaoh” (73:15) إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا

What is most interesting is when the Prophet (s) returned from receiving revelation he presented himself to his wife, the “Lady and Leader of all the Women of the World’s” [Sayyidatu Nisaa’ il-‘Alameen] of her time, Khadija (a) who in turn brought him (s) to her cousin and Christian scribe, Waratah bin Nawfal who said, “Indeed what has come to you is just as what has come to Moses.”

Moreover in a Mutawatir (a narration transmitted so widely amongst the generations it yields certainty) narration the Prophet (s) told Imam Ali (a), “Are you not pleased that your position to me as that of Aaron to Moses, except that there shall be no prophet after me?”

3) God will raise him up amongst the people
The Qur’an repeats that messengers are raised to their people and amongst themselves so that they may distinctly know them. This leaves no excuse that he is unaware of their matters or untrustworthy to them, or seeking something worldly. 
For example the verse says, “It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses, purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom” (62:2).

4) He will speak only what divinity commands him to
The Qur’an explicitly states that the Prophet Muhammad (s) does not speak of his own caprice and whims: “Nor does he speak out of his desire. This is nothing but a revelation that is conveyed to him, something that a very powerful one has imparted to him” (53:3-5).
Interestingly, Isaiah 29:12 states that scripture is to be given to the one who knows no letters, or is unlettered. “Or if the scroll is handed to one unable to read, he will say, “I cannot read.” Famously, the first verse of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet (s) was that he was told “Read! In the Name of your Lord!” to which he replied, “I do not read!”

Here is just one verse of the previous scriptures referring to the Prophet Muhammad (s). InshaAllah in the coming sermon’s we will elaborate on where else he is mentioned so that this message may be spread widely. 

By: education

Juma Khutba 20 & 27/12/19 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (Summaries & Videos)

In: Jum'a

Prophet Jesus (a) in History: How has his mission been understood in different eras?
Part 2: Are narratives grounded in history or subject to evolution? What are the different narratives about Prophet Jesus (a)?

Our new series is to look at Prophet Jesus (a) from the perspective of his historical picture and to aid the Muslim in understanding this development toward greater interaction with their Christian counterparts. 

In part 1 we reviewed the Qur’anic verses which tell the Muslims that they have duties of care toward the Christian communities, namely protection of their faith and protection of their sanctified sites. Similarly the Qur’an calls on all peoples of faith to protect each other’s holy places and states that entrance into Mosques, Churches and Synagogues must be done with reverential fear.

In this part we will introduce the idea that the way a historical individual is remembered evolves with time. That is to say the narrative around a person may change and what is popularly known about him can shift both with time and space. This is a particular study elucidated on by scholars by Bart D. Ehram in Jesus Before The Gospels and Barry Schwartz in Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory

The Qur’an in particular seeks to ground the narrative of the [prophetic] individuals it refers to. This is because one of its reasons of revelation was to correct the narratives that had been falsified over time and also to ensure it preserves the accurate understanding of these great individuals going forward. The following verses mention not only that we should remember certain personalities by recalling their stories by they also provide characteristics that root their narrative around its pivot. 

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَى إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَّبِيًّا19:51 And remember through this divine writ, Moses. Behold, he was a chosen one, and was an apostle [of God], a prophet.
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَّبِيًّا19:54 And remember through this divine writ, Ishmael. Behold, he was always true to his promise, and was an apostle [of God], a prophet
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِدْرِيسَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا19:56 And remember through this divine writ, Idris. Behold, he was a man of truth, a prophet
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مَرْيَمَ إِذِ انتَبَذَتْ مِنْ أَهْلِهَا مَكَانًا شَرْقِيًّا19:16 And remember through this divine writ, Mary. Lo! She withdrew from her family to an eastern place
وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا19:41 And remember to mind, through this divine writ, Abraham. Behold, he was a man of truth, a prophet

As you can see the mentioning of the figure is immediately followed with a particular set of descriptions. Why did the Qur’an link Prophet Ismail (a) with his truthfulness? Because that was a central aspect to his mission and response to his time, central to his eternal legacy. Similarly why mention Lady Maryam (a) as withdrawing from her family for servitude of God? Because though against the norm of her time and how some characterise gender norms, Lady Maryam’s fulfilment of her potential could not be proscribed by culture, also something central to her eternal legacy.
Although the Qur’an seeks to ground the narrative, the way people remember an individual indeed evolves. That may be down to the availability and accessibility of information on that person or how a culture evolves its ethics or needs and so engages in a collective ‘historical revisionism’.

Bart Ehram provides examples of Abraham Lincoln and Christopher Columbus. The former has come to be known as the great champion of equality and freeing of slaves. Whereas historically there was a long period when he demonstrated great racism. Lincoln believed ‘blacks’ could not serve on jury’s or should be deported to colonies. In a debate with Stephen A. Douglas he said
“I am not, nor ever have been, in favour of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of equality.”

Why is Lincoln so well known for championing equality but less known for such earlier beliefs? Because as abolitionists and civil rights movements grew it projected Lincoln’s later beliefs only as evidence of his support ignoring other elements of his personality. This is what would become known of him.

The same evolution, Ehram points out, is how people ‘remember’ Christopher Columbus. Having a day named after him, he was initially celebrated for his ‘finding’ the America’s. As the true history of the United States was written, people have come to realise the terrorism Columbus performed. He is no longer celebrated but loathed. This is because colonisation is now also loathed and so what people remember of Columbus has changed too. James Loewen states
“Columbus introduced two phenomena: the taking of land, wealth, and labor from indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere and the transatlantic slave trade.”

The same shift in remembering can be said for so many people: Winston Churchill; Martin Luther King; Tony Blair and so on. 

How then is Jesus (a) remembered by Christians? Indeed this too has changed with time and space. What the earliest Christians knew of, championed and celebrated is very particular. Once the Gospels were written some 60 to 100 years after Jesus (a) the stories of Jesus shifted. This occurred again with non-canonical books being compiled and from the events at The First Council of Nicea, with the first consensus on Christianity occurred in 325 AD. 

Of course today, the way Jesus (a) is remembered, celebrated, emphasised and transmitted is very different to all those previous periods. How Jesus was remembered and his earliest known narratives is what this series will look at. 

How do Muslims ‘remember’ and speak of Prophet Isa (a)? Let us mention three narrations that ‘ground’ the Muslim understanding of who Jesus (a) was

1) Jesus (‘a) said, “My servant is my hands and my mount is my feet; my bed is the earth and my pillow, a stone; my blanket in the winter is the east of the earth and my lamp in the night is the moon; my stew is hunger and my motto is fear; my clothing is wool and my fruit and my basil is what grows from the earth for the wild beasts and cattle.
I sleep while I have nothing and I rise while I have nothing, and yet there is no one on earth more wealthy than I.”
2) One of the Imams is reported to have said, “It was said to Jesus the son of Mary (‘a), ‘How did you begin the morning, O Spirit of Allah?’ He said, ‘I began the morning with my Lord, the Blessed and Supreme, above me and the fire (of hell) before me and death in pursuit of me. I have not obtained that for which I wished and I cannot keep away the things I hate. So who of the poor is more poor than I?’”
3) Jesus (‘a) said to the disciples, “Be satisfied with a little of the world, while your religion is safe, likewise the people of this world are satisfied with a little of the religion, while their world is safe; love Allah by being far from them, and make Allah satisfied by being angry with them.”

The disciples said, “O spirit of Allah, so with whom should we keep company?” He said, “He the sight of whom reminds you of Allah, his speech increases your knowledge and his action makes you desirous of the other world.”

Ref: (https://www.al-islam.org/jesus-through-shiite-narrations-mahdi-muntazir-qaim

In this part we will present what Muslims should know about the Gospels so they may engage in healthy learning when discussing them with Christian counterparts.

Both the Qur’an and narrations about the Prophet Muhammad (s) were written down immediately. It is well known that the Prophet (s) ordered scribes to write revelation and these have been carbon dated to his era. Despite the first two caliphs prohibiting the writing of narrations, companions like Jabir ibn Abdullah wrote narrations and these became the basis for what was taught and spread until collections of narrations became systematised in the second century. 

Is this the same for the Prophet Jesus (a). Was his divine book scribed for posterity and did his companions – known as the Hawariyeen in Islam – write what what they saw?

In regards to the first, the Qur’an on numerous occasions mentions the revelations including the Injeel to Prophet Isa (a): “For it is He who has revealed the Torah and Bible” (3:3) and “Let then the followers of the Injeel judge in accordance with what God has revealed therein” (5:47) yet we have no record or copy or artefact of this revelation.

In regard to the second, and the focus of is this sermon, it is important to realise that the disciples did not write what they saw or memorised. They were lower-class, likely illiterates who spoke Aramaic. Not only did the twelve disciples not write down what they saw, neither did any of the eye witnesses of Jesus’s miracles or sayings or actions. 

So what are the earliest written and surviving reports of Jesus (a)? We have the Book of Acts, the Letters of Paul and The Gospels.
There are however, many questions Muslims may raise to their Christian counterparts regarding the authenticity of the Gospels. 
The Gospels were written in pristine, high level Greek at least forty to seventy years after Jesus (a). If the disciples spoke Aramaic and they did not write down what they saw, who translated these events into Greek? Who oversaw the accuracy of this and the choosing of stories and sayings to include? 
Moreover, if the disciples were in Palestine, how did these Gospels reach the furthest parts of the Roman Empire without intermediaries?

The earliest Gospel is that of Mark, which is the shortest account, more theological in its narrative. Matthew and Luke appear to have another source; these are the sayings of Jesus. Unfortunately we do not know the authors of these four Gospels; that is to say the authors are unknown. It is akin to someone 70 years after the Prophet Muhammad (s) writing accounts and attributing them to his greatest companions like Abu Dharr, Salman al-Muhammadi or Jabir ibn Abdullah but us not knowing who the authors are that are claiming to scribe their views. 

Another issue is that in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus (a) attempts to stop his name being made famous as the Messiah; he actively prohibits the telling of his acts to others. 
For example, when he (a) heals the sick he states (1:44) “And said to him, ‘See you say nothing to any man, but go on your way.’”
When he exorcises the demons (3:11-12) he tells them not to convey what they saw; the same when his disciples call him the Messiah and he tells them not to let it be known (8:29-30) and when they see him as divine light and he tells them not to reveal until after his death (9:1-9). If these stories we embargoed during his lifetime, how do we know the accuracy of what was conveyed after his his death as he was not there, nor did his companions write down what he did.

The Book of Acts was mentioned earlier. According to it, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death. As mentioned, The Gospel authors were in Greek speaking parts of the Roman Empire. This raises the questions as to what are the chances that in these Roman churches were eye witnesses spreading, writing and re-telling their accounts of Jesus? How much was being recreated in the absence of eye-witness accounts?
For example, the Church of Corinth, West of Athens, was established by Paul. Paul knew several eye witnesses but never Jesus. Paul spent two weeks with Peter, a disciple and eye-witness and with James, the half-brother to Jesus, in Jerusalem. After these two weeks Paul converts many pagans in Corinth, presumably by retelling these stories of Jesus. He goes away to start another Church. 

Apollos a teacher – himself never met Jesus, comes to Corinth and continues the Ministry. This raises the question of as Athens begins to learn of Jesus, who is teaching his mission and who is answering questions about the theology and sayings of Jesus (a)? If Peter saw Jesus, and Paul saw Peter for two weeks, once Paul conveys what he learned that person is now hearing it third hand – what happens when he conveys what he heard from Paul – and so on and so forth.

Due to this lack of control on the stories of Jesus many versions of the same events were in circulation; many were from non-canonical Gospels but were still famous amongst early Christians.
Today, when the birth story of Jesus is retold it is usually from the Gospel of Luke 2:1-7
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

It is famous that there was no space at the inn and baby Jesus was placed in a manger. However, early Christians may not have known or believed in this version. 
The Proto-Gospel of James (the half-brother of Jesus) writes the biography of Lady Mary (a) including the birth of Jesus very differently that when she (a) goes into labor, Joseph hurries to find her a private place – not in an inn but a cave. As he goes to find a mid-wife time stands still and “then suddenly everything returned to its normal course.” When he returns with a midwife the cave is covered by a brilliant cloud which is replaced by a blinding light emanating from the cave.
The midwife runs to find another who, hearing this story, refuses to believe until she examines the hymen of Mary. For her doubt her hand is suddenly set ablaze where she is told to pick up the baby Jesus, who is already able to walk, to return her hand to normal. 

This version of the birth story was far more famous in early Christendom. The Gospel of James has the same problem the other Gospels have in that its authors cannot be sourced. In fact this gospel was written anywhere between 140 to 250 AD and was eventually rejected by Pope Innocent I in the 400’s and condemned altogether in the year 500.
The point being raised is that how do we know these stories of Jesus (a) were accurately conveying who he was and what he said if their origins cannot be properly verified?
Because of the multiple versions and interpretations by the 7th Century, the Qur’an sought to give the proper account of Jesus (a), including his birth:
The Angel Gibrael (a) approaches Lady Mary (a) saying, “”I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.” She asks, “”How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?”
He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’”
“So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”

But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates” (Qur’an 19:19-25)

By: education

Monday night Tafsir sessions restart this Monday 23/12

In: Hujjat, Jum'a

What are the themes and goals of the first five Surahs of the Qur’an? – a commentary on the book ‘Maqaasid al-Sur’ by Ayatullah Syed Mohammed Taqi al-Modaressi

All details on the poster. Open to all. email education@hujjat.org with any queries.

By: education

Juma Khutba 13/12/19 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak (summary & video)

In: Education, Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful 


Prophet Jesus (a) in History: How has his mission been understood in different eras?

Part 1: What is the responsibility of Islam toward Christianity?

How has the picture and beliefs in the Prophet Jesus (a) developed in time? How did the early Christians understand Jesus compared to those who received the agreed upon Gospels? How are people remembering Jesus today? And how do those narratives compare to those in the Qur’an and Islamic narrations?

The purpose of asking these questions over these upcoming Friday Sermons is to allow the Muslim community to develop its understanding of Jesus Christ in the Christian tradition, where there may be similarities and how to present its case for greater proximity between Muslims and Christians. In reality, and according to scholars like Dr. Richard Bulliet, author of the seminal work, ‘The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization’, these two great faiths have learnt and protected one another and so this must continue today. 

The Qur’an places great emphasis on mutual protection, especially the inviolability of sacred spaces and places of worship. That is to say, that Muslims are responsible to ensure Christian and Judaic spaces are protected, the same as it expects those faiths to protect Muslims spaces of worship. 

Importantly, this protection is not limited to the physical protection of life and buildings, but as the Qur’an is the unblemished and perfect Word of God, it clarifies misinterpretations of previous scriptures and so the Muslim is also responsible to protect the faith and purity in devotion to the Prophets, something we will expand upon in the coming parts, God-willing. 

In this section let us look at the physical inviolability and sacredness of Churches and Synagogues and the responsibilities that attach itself to those.

At the time of revelation, the Jews and Christians had continued a long period of sporadic wars with each other, often destroying each others books and sites. They accused each other of having no place with God.

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ لَيْسَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَىٰ لَيْسَتِ الْيَهُودُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُمْ يَتْلُونَ الْكِتَابَ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ مِثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ فَاللَّهُ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

“And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ” (Qur’an 2:113)

Because they believed the other had no standing with God, they happily desecrated each others spaces of worship. The Qur’an objected to this, taking no sides, but imploring great reverence and a feeling of deep spirituality when entering such places of God’s name being glorified.

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن مَّنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ أَن يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَىٰ فِي خَرَابِهَا أُولَٰئِكَ مَا كَانَ لَهُمْ أَن يَدْخُلُوهَا إِلَّا خَائِفِينَ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

“And who is more unjust than he who prevents (people) from the places of worship of Allah, that His name should be remembered in them, and strives to ruin them? (As for) these (who seek to ruin them), it was not proper for them that they should have entered them except in reverential fear; (instead) they shall meet with disgrace in this world, and they shall have great chastisement in the hereafter” (Qur’an 2:114)

This means that these sites were given protection in the Qur’an. In fact leading historian Dr. Juan Cole states that the Prophet Muhammad (s) had envisioned the whole of Hijaz as a sanctuary for these religions, away from the persecution and violence they reaped on each other in other parts of the world (refer to the podcast ‘The Qur’an, the Prophet, and a Forgotten History’ for further information).

These verses were re-revealed on multiple occasions in order to reflect the importance of sanctified sites in Islamic thinking. For example, occasions included

1) “Ibn Abbas, cited in the book ‘Asb-ab-un-Nuzul’, that this verse was revealed about Fatlus-ur-Rumi, a Roman, and his friends. They fought against the Children of Israel and burnt the Turah. In that war, Jewish children were made captives, and Jerusalem was ruined and filled with corpses.”

In fact, with the wars between the Byzantine and Persians, and the alliances between the Jews and the latter, there often massacre and destruction of holy sites. 

2) ‘Allamah Tabarsi narrates from Ibn Abbas, in his book ‘Majma’ul-Bayan’ that this responds to the destruction of Jerusalem which continued until it was conquered by Muslims

3) Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a) says that this verse was revealed about the Quraysh when they prevented the holy Prophet (s)from entering Mecca and the Ka’bah.

4) It refers to the sites in Mecca where Muslims used to pray at, which pagans destroyed totally after the emigration of the Prophet (S)from Medina

The Qur’an speaks again about the mutual nature of protecting these sites, that is that Jews and Christians must protect Islamic sites in the same way. This is particularly pertinent today generally during periods of anti-semitism and Islamophobia and when Synagogues, Churches and Mosques are attacked, often leaving massive numbers of casualties behind. 

“Had it not been for Allah’s repelling some people by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause)” (Qur’an 22:40).

In fact one of the earliest examples of this protection is when the Prophet Muhammad (s), whilst being a merchant on behalf of Lady Khadija (a) prior to revelation, spent several months living with Christian monks at the Monastery of St. Catherine at the place of the revelation of the Torah to Prophet Musa (a).

The first thing the Prophet (s) did was write an accord of peace, trust and protection, signing it with his handprint, which remained there until the 17th Century when it was taken by the Ottomans to Istanbul (for further reading, refer to ‘The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World’ by John Andrew Morrow).

Looking then at these verses and Prophetic history, the first responsibilities of the Muslims toward Christians (and Jews) in ANY country is to guarantee freedom of worship, protection and reverence of places of worship and historical importance. This is expected to be reciprocated so that a civilisation of God consciousness is spread and built upon. 

Based on this, the Muslims would then engage with the stories of Prophet Jesus (a), which we will address from next week’s sermon InshaAllah.

By: education

Juma Khutba 06/12/19 summary & video – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a

Islam & Politics: Part 6 What are the qualities in a leader that Muslims are encouraged to elect on?

Sermon’s 1-5 looked at how Islam support the building a society, encourages political engagement and creating a hierarchy of priorities of Islamic values by which to judge party manifestos.

In this discussion we will look at the qualities that a leader should have and what is prohibited to base the choice of leadership on.
The Qur’an provides the arguments of the disbelievers in rejecting the leadership of the Prophets for their own, tribal leadership. There is a common thread amongst these verses and that is wealth; they believed the wealthier the person, the more appropriate he is for leadership. There are also secondary reasons for leadership in their view: the size of the family and number of followers – or popularity. All of these are rejected by Allah (swt).

قَالَ نُوحٌ رَّبِّ إِنَّهُمْ عَصَوْنِي وَاتَّبَعُوا مَن لَّمْ يَزِدْهُ مَالُهُ وَوَلَدُهُ إِلَّا خَسَارًا
“Noah continued: “O my Sustainer! Behold, they have opposed me [throughout], for they follow people whose wealth and children lead them increasingly into ruin.” (71:21)

وَكَانَ لَهُ ثَمَرٌ فَقَالَ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَهُوَ يُحَاوِرُهُ أَنَا أَكْثَرُ مِنكَ مَالًا وَأَعَزُّ نَفَرًا
“And so the man who had fruit in abundance said to his companion, bandying about his views: I have more wealth than you and am mightier in followers.” (18:34)

وَقَالَ لَهُمْ نَبِيُّهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ قَدْ بَعَثَ لَكُمْ طَالُوتَ مَلِكًا قَالُوَاْ أَنَّى يَكُونُ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ بِالْمُلْكِ مِنْهُ وَلَمْ يُؤْتَ سَعَةً مِّنَ الْمَالِ قَالَ إِنَّ اللّهَ اصْطَفَاهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَزَادَهُ بَسْطَةً فِي الْعِلْمِ وَالْجِسْمِ وَاللّهُ يُؤْتِي مُلْكَهُ مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“And their prophet said unto those elders: “Behold, now God has raised up Saul to be your king.” They said: “How can he have dominion over us when we have a better claim to dominion than he, and he has not [even] been endowed with abundant wealth?” [The prophet] replied: “Behold, God has exalted him above you, and endowed him abundantly with knowledge and bodily strength and perfection.” (2:247)

This third verse provides significant guidance on the necessary qualities of leadership. In response to the claim of wealth, the response is knowledge is superior. Bodily strength is also stated. This is because in that period part of leadership required strength on the battlefield. Given that this may not be a criterion today as leadership in warfare has changed, this means that knowledge is always the permanent and a primary requirement, whilst secondarily there may be relativity in requirements.

Muhammad Rayshari writes, “Honesty is the most fundamental principle in the administrative policies of Imam Ali (a). He set up honesty and truthfulness as a steadfast principle. In the Umayyad culture, honesty is meaningless. All sorts of fabrication, lies and imposture are the motif of their politics.” (Imam Ali and Political Leadership, pg 27)

Based on this Rayshari quotes a number of narrations to support this as being the central quality when electing your leadership. Under the chapter ‘Election of Righteous Administrators’, he writes:

Imam Ali (a) in his his instruction to Malik al-Ashtar wrote: For every person there is a right over the ruler, such that if it (the right) is set correctly, the persons life will be set aright to that same extent. But the ruler will not accomplish what God has enjoined upon him except by resolutely striving for God’s help, by making himself adhere to the truth and being patient in enforcing the right, be it easy for him or burdensome.
Appoint as commander the one who in your sight is the most sincere in the way of God, the most chaste of heart and the most outstanding in intelligence, slow to anger, accepts pardon, is gentle to the weak and harsh to the strong.

Look into the affairs of your administrators. Employ them after having tested them and do not appoint them with favouritism or arbitrariness. Whatever fault of your administrators you overlook will come to be attached to you.” (Nahj al-Balaghah, Letter 53).

The Qur’an states that a person is responsible for their actions and will have a share in it, for the good or evil they attach themselves to (4:85) “Whoever rallies to a good cause shall have a share in its blessings and whoever rallies to an evil cause shall be answerable for his part in it.” مَّن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً حَسَنَةً يَكُن لَّهُ نَصِيبٌ مِّنْهَا وَمَن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً سَيِّئَةً يَكُن لَّهُ كِفْلٌ مِّنْهَا
Based on this, Imam Ali (a) also said, “Appoint the pious, the knowledgable and people of good policy for taking charge of the works.” (Tuhuf al-Uqool, pg 137)  

In the chapter ‘Refraining from Employing (electing) the Treacherous and Feeble’, Rayshari also mentions the following narration from Imam Ali (a)
“Know, O Rifa’a that this position of governance is a trust, so whoever betrays it on him will be the curse of God until the Day of Judgement. And whoever employs (elects) a traitor (of this trust), truly [Prophet] Muhammad (s) will despise him both in this world and the world to come.”

The Muslim is obligated to know the character and trustworthiness of the candidate they vote for, to the best of their ability.

By: education

Juma Khutba – summary – 29/11/19 – Sh Jaffer Ladak

In: Education, Jum'a

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful


Islam & Politics: Part 5 What are the priorities of the Muslim voter and how do the UK parties compare?

Sermon’s 1-4 looked at how Islam provides support to a society, encourages political engagement, distributive justice and creating a hierarchy of priorities of Islamic values by which to judge party manifestos.

Accordingly it was argued that with Global Warming and the sale of arms to rogue and repressive nations causes the greatest harm to human life and social order on a global scale, combatting these are the first two priorities for the Muslim vote. 

In this discussion we will continue with assessing our priorities and how the major political parties have responded.

The hierarchy of needs, known as the Maqasid as-Shari’ah, prioritises that Islam protects faith. This is not just the faith of the Muslim but also the faith of all, that they there is an environment in which belief in God and the moral vision of Islam can flourish. Where this is threatened Islam must prioritise its response. This is the third priority.

Importantly this means, where faith is attacked or the freedom to express faith or faiths are pitted against another creating division and discord, the Islamic responsibility is to protect religious freedom and unity. 

It is well known that Muslim youth are having their identities attacked. Many fear expressing their religiosity in school or public for fear of reprisal. Indeed this isn’t limited to Muslims only but anti-semitism and racism are again on the rise – especially in a post Brexit referendum which, arguably was nothing more than an appeal to the Far Right and a soft-peddling of their narratives. 

Accusations of anti-semitism and Islamophobia being present in both mainstream parties are rife. The Muslim is responsible to vote in such a way that the protection and freedom of religion is guaranteed and that the party can not only remove systemic prejudice from its ranks, but demonstrate a plan for healing the country’s wounds. The Muslim is therefore responsible to protect more than just his own faith but that of ALL faiths. 

Let us review what the leaders of both mainstream parties have been accused of:

The Guardian newspaper writes
Has Labour seen departures over the issue of antisemitism?
Yes. The Jewish Labour MPs Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger both left the party, citing antisemitic abuse and bullying, while others who quit cited solidarity with their Jewish colleagues as a factor in their decision.
For example, 635 complaints were made in the first six months of 2019, which resulted in eight expulsions from the party during that time period.

Has Corbyn himself been criticised over antisemitism?
Yes, particularly his record when he was a backbencher. For example, Corbyn has said he regrets calling members of Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” at a meeting in parliament in 2009. Last year, he accepted he had made a mistake by supporting a graffiti artist after his work, featuring several known antisemitic tropes, was removed from a wall in east London after complaints.

The Prime Minister on the other hand, has made a series of racist and Islamophobic comments across his career. Let us mention just a few of them:

“Islam inherently inhibits the path to progress and freedom” (2006)
“There must be something about Islam that helps to explain why there was no spread of democracy in the Muslim world” (2007)
“What is going on in these Mosques and Madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th Century on Islam’s medieval a**?” (2005)
“To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran Islamophobia seems a natural reaction and exactly what that text is meant to provoke” (2005)
“The problem is Islam. Islam is the problem” (2005)
“It is absolutely ridiculous that people choose to go round looking like letterboxes” (2018)

The Muslim community must look seriously at these two sets of examples and ask which leaders and parties have created racism and which have the plans to defeat hate and division.

The fourth priority is to protect the welfare and healthcare systems of the country. This includes living standards and mental health too. In this case we will focus purely on the NHS.

Grand Ayatollah Syed Mohammed Taqi al-Modarresi writes about the five levels of healthcare in a community. This is because wellness, prevention of disease and treatment of ill health is from the tranquility of the soul and needs guaranteeing. He states:
1: The minimum level of wellness is that which maintains the life of the soul and the survival of the body

2: The level that preserves the human being from fear of serious harm leading to, for example, general weakness, or a significant lack of human prowess

3: The level that maintains public health, which affects its loss in large corruption, such as the spread of deadly epidemics

4: The level of community protection from non-lethal epidemics and the preservation of the environment 

5: The highest level of health protection, which ensures the safety of human beings of various diseases

He evidences this by a number of verses and narrations, for example:

( يَآ أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُوا اَنّ اللّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَاَنَّهَُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ( (الانفال/24)( وَمِنْهُمْ مَن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الاَخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ( (البقرة/201)( يَآ أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا لاَ تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلآَّ أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِنْكُمْ وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيماً( (النساء/29)( وَأَنْفِقُوْا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِاَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُـحْسِنِينَ( (البقرة/195)
تداووا ، فما أنزل الله داءً إلا أنزل معه دواءً

“Medicate [properly]! For Allah has not revealed any disease except that He revealed with it, its cure.”

This means that the Muslim community is responsible to protect and develop its healthcare system. As the Qur’an says “And cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation” (7:56).

Therefore the question of the corporatisation, commodification and sale of the NHS as well as its maintenance and progression must also be at the top of the priorities of the Muslim vote. For further reading on each parties commitments to the NHS refer to their manifestos.

By: education

Juma Khutba – summary – 22/11/19 – Sh Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a

Islam & Politics: Part 4 What are the priorities of the Muslim voter and how do the major UK parties manifesto’s compare in these areas?
Sermon’s 1-3 looked at how Islam provides support to a society, emphasises political engagement how Islamic politics is rooted in distributive justice and transforming the social circumstances of a community.
In this discussion we want to ask ourselves what should we be prioritising, how do we create a framework by which to recognise that hierarchy and how do they major political party manifesto’s compare with those Islamic values?
Given that each political party has its own priorities, key policies, needs to appeal to its base and an array of projects to change the country, it can be quite confusing where to start when trying to understand their different positions. Moreover this UK election has the added bonus of the Brexit spectrum to consider. Is this election primarily about Brexit and all other matters secondary or is Brexit just one of the key issues?
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has conducted a detailed survey of its affiliates and wider Muslim communities, including speaking to over 500 Muslims across Britain about the policies they want political parties and the next government to prioritise. The following represents a consensus view of those surveyed:
1) Tackle racism and Islamophobia 2) Religious Liberty3) Engagement with Muslim Communities 4) Safety at Places of Worship
5) Effective Health & Elderly Care Services 6) Resettlement of Refugees
7) Full participation in British Life 8) Criminal Justice
9) Equality in Education 10) Ethical Foreign Policy 
For further reading refer to www.mcb.org.uk/muslimvote
In Islamic studies there is a science known as the Maqasid as-Shari’ah which are the higher goals and aspirations of the divine law. These set what Islam is supposed to achieve and protect for people. These are constructed from the Qur’an, Ahadith, moral principles and so on. Let us mention a few and from there construct a guide for what some of the priorities may be.
The Qur’an states
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلاً(17:70) “We have conferred dignity on the children of Adam and borne them over land and sea, and provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life, and favoured them far above most of Our creation”
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ(30:41) “Corruption has appeared on land and in the sea as an outcome of what mens hands have wrought: and so He will let them taste [the evil of] some of their doings, so that they might return [to the right path].”
In the first verse we see that Allah (swt) has placed the dignity of all people as sacrosanct. If this is violated it must be returned. He (swt) has also linked our dignity to the right of travel and receiving our sustenance meaning that where these things are removed so too is the dignity of the person. 
In the second verse we see that corruption across the world has occurred and that by our experiencing it should the means of working toward returning to a state of justice. 
Two major themes can be understood here for a Maqasid which are to maintain and return dignity, and where corruption of the planet is occurring we must work to resolve it.
Ahadith also provide us useful insight. For example the Prophet Muhammad (s) said لا ضرر و لا ضرار “Islam does not occasion harm”. Where harm occurs we must work to remove or minimalise it. Or for example he (s) said لا خير في الوطن الا مع الامن و السرور “There is no value to living in a place except with security and happiness.”
Based on the verses and narrations we can see that where there is maximum exposure to harm and maximum need to reduce harm, the Muslim is obligated to do so. From this perspective, in my own humble opinion, the first policy I will be looking to is that of responding to Global Warming. This is because it has the potential for catastrophic failure of the planets natural systems and would harm the most number of people.
For example after Hurricane Erika in 2017, Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the United Nations saying “In the past we prepared for one heavy storm a year; now thousands of storms form in the mid Atlantic. Before this century no generation had seen more than one Category 5 hurricane in their life times. In this century this has happened twice.”
Let us compare what the manifesto of each main party pledges on the matter of Climate Change and a Green Economy
The Liberal Democrats have promised “We will set a new legally binding target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045 at the latest, and implement a comprehensive climate action plan, cutting emissions across all sectors.” You can read more here https://www.libdems.org.uk/plan
The Labour Party have promised “Our Green New Deal aims to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 in a way that is evidence-based, just and that delivers an economy that serves the interests of the many, not the few.” You can read more at https://labour.org.uk/manifesto/a-green-industrial-revolution/
As yet the Conservative Party have not published a manifest. However we can look at the governments track record for the last nine years: According to David King, government advisor and Britain’s climate ambassador at the Paris talks that led to the landmark 2015 agreement, “The government has completely taken its eye off delivery and it has not been as consistent as it needed to be. If there isn’t support across the board from No 10, then it’s not going to happen. I wouldn’t give them a pass mark. The leadership has simply not been there.” [1]
Based on those principles of right of human dignity and removing harm, my second key policy would be to look to end wars and immediately halt the support for states like Saudi Arabia and Israel through weapons sales that have massacre literally millions of people. Let us again look at the manifest pledges.
The Liberal Decorates have pledged to
“Officially recognise the independent state of Palestine, condemn violence on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and support Israel’s right to security. We remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement, which includes a two-state solution” and “Suspend UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to their consistent targeting of civilians, in breach of international humanitarian law, in Yemen.”
The Labour Party have pledged
“Immediately suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and to Israel for arms used in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians, and conduct a root-and-branch reform of our arms exports regime so ministers can never again turn a blind eye to British-made weapons being used to target innocent civilians.”
The Conservative Party manifesto has not yet been released, however we can again ask of the recent track record as evidence and according to one headline, “Tory ministers have approved £2bn in arms sales to repressive regimes since last election” [2]
In our next sermon we will continue to construct an Islamic hierarchy of priorities and compare each parties policies.
[1] https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/17/scientists-and-climate-advisers-condemn-tory-environmental-record
[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-arms-sales-weapons-turkey-saudi-arabia-syria-caat-tory-ministers-a9186181.html

By: education

Juma Khutba (summary & video) 08/11/19 – Shaykh Jaffer Ladak

In: Jum'a, Uncategorized

In the Name of Allah, Most Kind, Most Merciful

Islam and Politics Part 2: Is political engagement prohibited, permissible or necessary? (VIDEO HERE)

Is engagement in politics prohibited, permissible or necessary in Islam? What does the Qur’an say about our responsibilities to the world? Why did Shiism have a period where political engagement was prohibited?

In part one we introduced the series by looking at how the Qur’an relates the responsibilities of a Muslim society and how it can practically affect a non Muslim society. This leads us to ask what is the foundation of Islamic political thinking which this part focuses on.

The purposes of creation

The first point is that building good governance and infrastructure in which people can thrive is one of the reasons for creation. The Qur’an and Ahadith detail several reasons for our purpose, of which this is one. Let us review some of these purposes and note how some of them relate directly to the need of political participation:

1) Purpose is to serve God (وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ (51:56) And I have not created the jinn and mankind except that they may serve Me.

2) A purpose is love of Ahl al-Bayt (a). In the Event of Kisaa (refer to commentaries of verse 33:33) the angel Gibrael states that Allah (swt) said, “I have not created the skies, the earth, the moon or the sun except for the love of the five underneath the cloak” meaning the Prophet Muhammad (s), his daughter Lady Fatima (a), Imam Ali (a) and Imam’s Hassan (a) and Hussain (a). 

3) Purpose of Isti’maar (Cultivation) وَإِلَى ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـهٍ غَيْرُهُ هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَاسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا 
(11:61) And to [the tribe of] Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih. He said: “O my people! Worship God [alone]: you have no deity other than Him. He brought you into being out of the earth, and made you thrive thereon. 

The third purpose of creation is for us to cultivate and progress our civilisation. Thriving here  means something positive; something of benefit. In the Islamic sense if you cultivate something harmful, it does not fulfil the goal of cultivation and so it does not count. Of course when cultivating civilisation, this needs regulations and policies which would be the responsibility of a just government. This is why the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s) states, “One hour of a Just Ruler is better than 70 years of the Worshipper” because his impact in cultivating the earth can produce so much positive progression.

4) Purpose of Istikhlaaf (stewardship) وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلاَئِفَ الأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ(6:165)

For, He it is who has made you inherit the earth, and has raised some of you by degrees above others, so that He might try you by means of what He has bestowed upon you.

The fourth purpose of creation is stewardship. Specific stewardship is reserved for those appointed Caliphs of Allah (swt) however, general stewardship is for all mankind to be responsible for the planet and what is within their capacity to be a shepard over. 

This stewardship is divided into two: Care for that which came before you and responsibility toward those who will come after you. Those before you will have performed their Isti’maar and cultivated civilisation; we are obliged to protect and develop it further. If it has reached us in a poor state, we are obliged to improve it. This may be roads, healthcare systems or the environment, for example. If it reaches us having being improved, we are also prohibited from damaging it as per the verse “Do not corrupt the earth after its reformation.” As for that which we are leaving behind, we are responsible to leave for the forthcoming generations a world which is healthy, safe and productive for them. 

In this way we are the link between what came previously and what is to come which also requires standards and laws which are put in place by government and policy makers.

What is Siyasah in Islam? Siyasah modern Arabic means politics however, its root and original meaning sheds great light on why it is translated today as such and what its applications are.

Originally Siyasah meant to train a horse. Training wild horses is especially difficult – much like training a human being or even a nation of human beings. Training the horse may be done through violence, for example, or gentleness. Both will have their effects, short, medium and long term just like it would upon a community. In this sense, Siyasah is about training a community for it to develop and prosper, taking them from their negative states to enlightenment, or in the Islamic sense from darkness into light.

Why did Shi’i scholars prohibit political engagement in the 17th to 19th centuries?

During the Akhbari-Usuli debates of the 15th to 17th centuries, the Safavid state adopted Shiism as its religion. However much oppression and corruption was performed in the name of Shiism. With the intellectual victory of Usuliism came a stark departure from Akhbari practises including a prohibition in political engagement owing the fears that the religion may continue to be used for abusive purposes. This prohibition remained until a series of incidents which brought a new thinking as to the relationship between Shiism and political theory.

These included
a) The tobacco revolution of Ayatollah Shirazi

b) The Iraqi constitutional crises 

c) The Islamic revolution of Iran

d) The attempted Islamic revolutions in IraqI

n the previous centuries Shiism has withdrawn itself from study and produce of national law or policy; this left a vacuum in which other ideologies spread and could govern in, especially during the era of the flourishing of nation states. However, as Shii scholars came more into contact with the need to re-engage the political landscape they referred to narrations such as the following

Hasan Ibn Husain Anbari narrates: Over a period of fourteen years I kept writing letters to Imam Ridha (peace be upon him), seeking permission from him to allow me to work within the administrative setup of the ruler (of the city).

Since the Imam (peace be upon him) never replied, I, in my final letter, wrote: I fear oppression and persecution. Those working with the Sultan say: “You are of the Shiites and this is why you do not co-operate  with us and are evasive.”

In reply, the Imam (peace be upon him) said: From your letter I sense that you fear for your life. You are aware that if you are placed in a (high and) responsible position, you can adhere to and act upon the teachings and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny); this would cause your subordinates to also follow the dictates of your faith.

If you happen to come across instances whereby you have to deal with poor and indigent Mu’minin, ensure that you exhibit consideration, toleration and forbearance towards them!

And since you would now be working with them, it would be deemed that you are one of them, (and thus) you would have to strive hard to perform God-pleasing deeds, since these deeds would then serve to compensate your co-operation with the illegal ruling apparatus.

However, if you are unable to act in this manner, then it is not permissible for you to take up this employment.

With this came a number of books written on Shii political theory such as 
a) Politics: The very heart of Islam by Ayatollah Syed Sadiq as-Shirazi

b) Aspects of Political Theory of Ayatollah Syed Mohammed Hussaini Shirazi

c) Islamic Government by Imam Khomeini 

d) Studies of Wilayah al-Faqih by Ayatollah Muntadheri 

e) Imam Ali and Islamic Political Theory by Muhammad Rayshari 

f) Qiyadatul Islami by Ayatollah Syed Taqi al-Modarresi

This shows that across the spectrum of Maraji’ and scholars a movement from prohibition of participation to an emphasis and obligation toward political awareness and engagement.

By: education