Category Archives: History

The Dynamic Trio ✨

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


It is often the case with today’s Muslim youth that by gaining a cursory understanding of the lives of the early great Muslims, it is sometimes difficult to grasp the vigour and determination they possessed; and their tenacity for knowledge and Deen. It is for these reasons that Allah granted them a lofty status and made them examples for the future generations to follow. A glimpse into one such episode is what has been recorded by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi in his work, ‘Manaqib Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’, 2/31 (chapter 58):

Hilal ibn al-‘Ala narrated:

خَرج الشافعي ويحيى بن معين وأحمد بن حنبل إلى مكة؛ فلما أن صاروا بمكة نزلوا في موضع، فأما الشافعي، فإنه استلقى، ويحيى بن مَعين أيضًا استلقى، وأحمد بن حنبل قائم يُصلي، فلما أصبحوا قال الشافعي: لقد عملتُ للمسلمين مئتي مسألة وقيل ليحيى بن معين: أي شيءٍ عملت؟ قال: نَفيتُ عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مِئتي كذاب وقيل لأحمد بن حنبل: فأنت؟ قال: صليتُ ركعات ختمتُ فيها القُرآن

Al-Shafi’i, Yahya ibn Ma’een, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal traveled to Makkah. When they reached the place where they were staying, al-Shafi’i lay down to rest and so did Yahya. Ahmad however, stayed up to pray salah.

The next morning al-Shafi’i said (of the prior night), “I’ve worked out two hundred legal matters for (the benefit of) Muslims.” What did you do?” they asked Yahya. “I’ve refuted two hundred lies told against the Prophet ﷺ.” They turned to Ahmad ibn Hanbal and asked, “What about you?” He replied, “I prayed two rak’at in which I completed the entire Qur’an.”

The himmah (aspired strength) and the juhud (striving) is a notable and recurring feature in their lives. May Allah grant them His Pleasure and infinite mercy, and inspire us with the legacy they’ve left behind. Ameen.


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Prowess of a Young Mind

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنه was asked, “How did you gain all of this knowledge?” He replied:

بقلب عقول ولسان سؤول

With a discerning heart and an insistent tongue.

Discernment reflects an intellect and ability to judge well, while insistence upon asking questions and seeking clarification reflects a genuine and sincere thirst for knowledge.

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab رضي الله عنه attested to both of these qualities belonging to Ibn’ Abbas while in his youth. [See, ‘Tareekh Jarjan’, #722]

Yet there was far more to his ingenuity as Ibn Taymiyyah forthwith said, relating a particular distinction of ibn Abbas:

وقد سمعوا ما سمع وحفظوا القرآن كما حفظه، ولكن أرضه كانت من أطيب الأراضي، وأقبلها للزرع، فبذر فيها النصوص

“They (the people) heard what he heard and memorised the Qur’an as he memorised it, however, his land (i.e. Madinah) was from the best of lands, and he settled there to cultivate and sow therein, the (legal) texts.”  [‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’, 4/93]

He was therefore, shaped by his geography, while learning from the best of people – attaining a broad array of knowledge that not only specialised in tafseer, but enveloped fiqh and hadeeth – leaving a theological legacy and legal jurisprudence of his own, which the Ummah continues to appeal to in understanding fields of knowledge.

Same is also the case for another Companion who achieved a lofty status in knowledge, even as a youth. Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah said in his prized ‘I’lam al-Muwaqqi’een’ (1/24):

‏قال ابن جرير: لم يكن في الصحابة أحدٌ له أصحاٌب معروفون حرّروا فتياه ومذهبَه في الفقه غيرَ ابنِ مسعود

Ibn Jareer (al-Tabari) said, “There was none among the Sahabah known in his youth to have freedom in (forming and choosing matters of) jurisprudence, other than Ibn Mas’ood.”

May Allah make them the best of examples for our own youth to emulate. Ameen.


Signposting Hypocrisy

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Signposting Hypocrisy


Worship in secret is from the strongest means of maintaining steadfastness in Deen, yet few appreciate its effects; for if (voluntary) acts of ‘ibadah are done in secret, they become farther from showing off or seeking fame, and reflect honesty and sincerity.

A man came to Hudayfah (Ibn Yaman), and said:

إني أخشى أن أكون منافقاً فقال له: تصلي إذا خلوت، وتستغفر إذا أذنبت؟ قال: نعم قال: إذهب فما جعلك الله منافقاً

“I fear that I’ve become a hypocrite”. Hudayfah asked him, “Do you perform salah when you’re alone and do you make istighfar when you sin?” The man replied, “Yes”. Hudayfah then said, “Leave, may Allah not make you from the hypocrites.”  [1]

Hudayfah رضي الله عنه was the keeper of secrets of the Prophet ﷺ and was entrusted with the names of the munafiqeen of Madinah. After the passing of the Prophet ﷺ, people used to come to him and ask whether they were mentioned to be among the hypocrites. And he would refuse to divulge any information.

He would however, provide important indicators as to how to recognise hypocrisy within yourself should these traits be present. One was whether you performed salah while being alone, and away from prying public eyes. Other was being conscious and constant in seeking forgiveness upon committing a sin.

Recognising and working to develop one’s personal relationship with Allah ﷻ‎ is in itself, a blessing far removed from fakery or haughtiness for it necessitates Muhasibah (self-reflection and accounting). Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyyad رحمه الله said:

المؤمن يحاسب نفسه، ويعلم أن له موقفاً بين يدي الله تعالى، والمنافق يغفل عن نفسه، فرحم الله عبداً نظر لنفسه قبل نزول ملك الموت به

“The believer (is introspective and) takes stock of himself, and he knows that his stands between the Hands of Allah. While the hypocrite overlooks (and forgets) himself. May Allah have mercy on a slave who pays attention to himself (and takes heed) before the Angel of Death descends to him.” [2]

Introspection can’t fully take place until a person takes a quiet corner away from people, worshiping and repenting and taking matters back to Allah ﷻ‎. It also protects a person from complaining to others besides Allah. Shaykh ‘Abd Al-Azeez At-Tarifi حفظه الله said:

عبادة السر والخلوة هي السياج الذي يضعه الإنسان حول قلبه من الانتكاسات! لا يشكو أحد ضعفا إلا وخلوته بربه نادرة لذا كان زاد النبي ﷺ خلوة الليل

“Worship in secret and solitude plants a fence around the human heart from relapsing (and setbacks!) None should complain about their weakness (and vulnerability) except when alone with his Rabb. The Prophet ﷺ increased his retreat (to Allah) during the night (prayers).” [3]


May Allah purify us from any aspect of hypocrisy and grant us istiqamah and thabat upon His Deen. Ameen.



[1] Tareekh Dimishq, 66616

[2] Tareekh Dimishq, 52351

[3] سطور: من النقل والعقل والفكر 60

Rising Above Ranks

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


The Qur’an is Al-Adheem, Al-Kareem, Al-Majeed. It is Shifa’ and a source of immeasurable contentment. We often approach it with awe and a sense of huge responsibility towards it; wishing to read it to completion speedily and as often as we can. Such was also the case among some of our righteous predecessors.

‏كان أبو العباس بن عطاء يختم القرآن كثيرا إلا أنه جعل له ختمة يستنبط منها معاني القرآن فبقي بضع عشرة سنة، فمات قبل أن يختمها

Abu’l-Abbas bin Ata’ [d. 309H] used to complete (recitation of) the Qur’an often, but then Allah made him read the whole Qur’an with (the privilege of understanding and deducing) the meanings of the Qur’an. He remained at it for ten years, and he died before he could finish and conclude it.❞  [Hilyat al-Awliya’, 10/302]

The general folk often suffice with reading the Qur’an for purpose of barakah (blessing) alone. Yet it is those who have a loftier intent of seeking its guidance, wanting to understand its meanings to apply in their lives and get closer to the One who Revealed it – who are truly privileged and rise above the ranks of the ordinary.

Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (d.198H) said:

إنما آيات القرآن خزائن فإذا دخلْتَ خزانةً فاجتهد أن لا تخرج منها حتى تعرف ما فيها

Indeed Ayât of the Qur’an are treasures, so when you enter upon the treasure strive (to ensure) you do not leave them until you know what is in them.

Allah’s Love is achieved through capturing His Words with purpose of applying their objectives in our lives. Ibn Rajab said in ‘Majmu’ al-Rasa’il, 4/87:

أعظم ما تحصل به محبة الله من النوافل: تلاوة القرآن، وخصوصا مع التدبر

“(From the) greatest means in attaining the love of Allah is through voluntary reading the Qur’an, with particular focus on contemplation and (paying) deep attention to what its message is instructing.”

Ibn al-Qayyim said in his, ‘Al-Fawa’id, “If you want to take advantage of the Qur’an, then have an acute focus when reading and listening with your heart. You will find it like someone who is being spoken to by Allah for it is the Word of Allah spoken to you through His Messenger.”

Having tadabbur of the Qur’an must contain the  objective to take advantage and follows what it contains, for the purpose of reading and reflecting upon it means to practice and hold on to what it implies. Ibn Katheer mentioned in his commentary  on Ayah that Al-Hasan al-Basri said:

والله ما تدبره بحفظ حروفه وإضاعة حدوده، حتى إن أحدهم ليقول: قرأت القرآن كله ما يرى له القرآن في خلق ولا عمل

“By Allah! Tadabbur of the Qur’an does not mean to (just read and) memorise the letters or to waste (and ignore its legal rulings and) its boundaries. I’ve even heard someone say, ‘I have read the Qur’an entirely’, but its effects do not appear in his manners and morals, nor in their deeds’.”

Shaykh Abd Al-Rahman Habanakah asserted that the purpose of tadabbur is not merely the luxury of knowing, or for a proud (shallow) achievement of having knowledge – or a reason to express the meaning for the sake of boasting. Rather the aim of contemplation and understanding is to remind and extract lessons for practical implementation. Such lessons will not tangibly benefit except the ‘ulul albaab’ (i.e. people with intellects and cognitive minds).

In framing a closer relationship with the Qur’an, Dr Muhammad al-Rabee’ah mentioned some practical steps:

‏من أعظم الطرق للتخلق بالقرآن
أن تقرأه فتستخلص منه القواعد والأخلاق والسنن الثابتة وتمارسها في حياتك وتعاملاتك مع الناس

One of the greatest ways to develop (and establish) the Qur’an (in your lives) is to read it and infer (from it) rules of akhlaq (etiquette) and the sunan (i.e. the pathways) it establishes, and exercise them in your life and in the way you deal with people.”

Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Whoever makes tadabbur of the Qur’an in order to gain instructions (and guidance) from him, the way of truth will become clear to him.” And indeed this is the end goal for us all, to be guided by Allah and to seek His Pleasure in all that we do.


May Allah ﷻ‎ make Al-Qur’an the delight of our hearts, the light of our chests, the remover of anxiety and the pacifier of grief. Ameen.


Al-Baqillani in Constantinople

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


An Example of Wit and Wisdom in Articulation


[The following discourse of Imam Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (rahimahullah) and the Roman King of Constantinople, is found in Al-Khateeb’s ‘Tareekh al-Baghdad’, 5/379]:


“The King of Iraq (named ‘Adud al-Dawla) chose and sent them to Constantinople in 371H, some of the senior scholars of his time to debate with the City’s Christians. When the King of the Romans heard of the arrival of Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, he ordered his servicemen to reduce the height of the door entrance so that as Al-Baqillani enters, he would have to lower his head and his body by kneeling before the King of the Romans and his entourage.


Abu Bakr understood this trickery and so he turned his body backwards and knelt down to entered the door, walking backwards making directing his backside to the King of the Romans rather than his face! By this, the King learned that this imam was astutely shrewd.


Abu Bakr entered and he was not unaware of the manners in acknowledging the People of the Book, so he turned to an elder Monk and (making small talk) asked him, ‘How are you and how are you parents and children?’ The King of the Romans was angered by this question and, ‘Don’t you know that Monks do not marry nor have children!?’


Abu Bakr said, ‘Allah is the greatest! Monks are prohibited to marry and bear children and yet you accuse your Lord of marrying Mary and fathering Jesus!?’ The anger of the King only increased by this.


Then the King said rudely, ‘(Isn’t) what you said what A’ishah did!?’

Abu Bakr said, ‘If A’ishah has been accused (as was the case by the hypocrites), then Mary has also been accused similarly (by the Jews). Yet both are pure, but A’ishah was married and did not have children, while Mary gave birth without marriage! Whom would be the first to be falsely accused, may Allah bless them both.’


The King ran amok! And then asked, ‘Did your Prophet go to battles?’

Abu Bakr said, ‘Yes’.

The King asked, ‘Was he fighting from the front?’

Abu Bakr said, ‘Yes’.

The King asked, ‘Did he win?’

Abu Bakr said, ‘Yes’.


The King asked, ‘Has he been defeated (in some battles)?’

Abu Bakr said, ‘Yes’.

The King explaimed gleefully, ‘Amazing! He was a Prophet and yet he was defeated?’

Abu Bakr responded, ‘He’s you Lord (i.e. Jesus) and yet he was crucified!?’


We’re amazed at their kufr.

Pulse on the Ground

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Pulse on the Ground


‘Ikrimah, the mawla of Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه and one of the leading authorities in Tafseer, once travelled to Basra. And he recalls an incident while out walking:

إني لأخرج إلى السوق فأسمع الرجل يتكلم بالكلمة فينفتح لي خمسون بابا من العلم

“I went out to the marketplace and (over)heard a man speak some words. (These words) opened for me fifty (different) doors of knowledge.” [1]

‘Ikrimah was a scholar of Qur’an par excellence, and he was also known for profound fiqh as well as knowledge of seerah. Many of his contemporaries and those who came after him , praised him highly mentioning him with specialties – see ‘Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’.

It was a distinct quality and an intrinsic value of our astute Imams, scholars, teachers and indeed tulabul ‘ilm that they observed society around them and kept their pulse on the ground. They were informed and listened to the kalam in the streets – by which they would extract from it, information and benefit that widened their scope of thinking. This also enabled them to grapple with finding solutions for many challenges communities face.

As constituents of society, we interact with all types of people from all walks of life. We may see a person or hear a word that may positively alter the way we see something – or it may open up for us, avenues in reassessing an area of benefit or harm. We beseech Allah grant us insight and acute sense of visual perception and spiritual insight into the decisions we make. Ameen.



[1] Al-Mizzi, ‘Tahdheeb al-Kamal’, 6/405

Legacy of Light

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحـمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آلـه وصحبه ومن والاه


Isma’eel ibn Ziyad said:

مَرَّ عَلِيٌّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ عَلَى الْمَسَاجِدِ ، وَفِيهَا الْقَنَادِيلُ فِي شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ ، فَقَالَ : نَوَّرَ اللَّهُ عَلَى عُمَرَ قَبْرَهُ كَمَا نَوَّرَ عَلَيْنَا مَسَاجِدَنَا

“Ali رضي الله عنه passed by some masajid in Ramadan, and they had lamps inside. He said, ‘may Allah fill Umar’s grave with light, just as he filled our masajid with light.’

[Ibn Abd-Al Barr, ‘Al-Tamheed’, 1303]

‘Umar رضي الله عنه was an entrepreneur par excellence, and a highly skilled administrator who revolutionised infrastructure in some of the most important areas of public life during his leadership. With his ingenuity, he put in place personnel and processes that worked for the welfare of the Ummah and brought ease to the masses.

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ ۙ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Allah has promised those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, that for them there is forgiveness and a great reward.” [Al Maa’idah, 9]


When talking about the amazing qualities of Umar رضي الله عنه we rarely pay attention to the things that made him the person he was. His thought and strategy was nuanced, primarily by the social and economic environment he had to shape. As individuals, we all have great potential to positively contribute within our own spheres of influence, private or public. We need to pay attention to detail when studying the successes of our illustrious predecessors in subsuming some of their successes and legacy.

May Allah make their lives an inspiration for us all in our own roles, no matter how insignificant we might see them to be. Ameen.