Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to be a Mufassir

A Mufassir is a master of Qur’anic exegesis – noted scholars authorized to interpret the Qur’an and teach these interpretations to the masses. Some of the most commonly heard names around this discipline would be Ibn Abbas, At-Tabari and Ibn Katheer.

Tafseer is no simple feat and bestows considerable authority the Mufassir as sharia is mainly derived from it. Before one can endeavour to take on such a heavy responsibility, there are a few prerequisites to fulfill – and they are as follows:

Requirements of a Mufassir

  1. His ‘Aqidah must be sound.
  2. He must be free of his nafs (i.e, overcome it)
  3. He must be a master of (all the 13 disciplines of) the Arabic language.
  4. He must be learned in the disciplines related to the Qur’an itself (e.g Tajweed, Qiraat, Asbab an-Nuzul, Nasikh wal Mansukh, etc)
  5. He must be of high intellect and understanding.

The exegesis itself should be done in this order:

  1. Because the Qur’an is essentially self-explanatory, it must first and foremost be explained via references within itself.
  2. Afterwards, use references in the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh)
  3. If he fails to find an explanation, look to the sayings of the companions
  4. Then, the sayings of the Tabi’in

The Adab of a Mufassir

A Mufassir must possess the following qualities:

  1. Good intention ( حسن النية و صحة المقصد ) – because actions are by their intentions, and ones intention of delving in the disciplines of sharia should be first and foremost the betterment of society.
  2. Excellent mannerisms ( حسن الخلق ) – as such is obvious of one who has triumphed over his nafs.
  3. To be actively practicing what he knows ( الإمتثال و العمل ) – for the benefit of this is more than the expanse of his knowledge and understanding.
  4. Trustworthiness ( تحري الصدق و الضبط في النقل ) – he must be able to quote and make references accurately
  5. Humility ( التواضع و لين الجانب ) – because boastfulness is an impregnable barrier between knowledge and benefiting from it.
  6. Dignity ( عزّة النفس ) – for knowledge raises its acquirer above inferior matters.
  7. Unafraid to uphold the Truth ( الجهر بالحق ) – for such is a considerable jihad, to be able to stand up against an unjust leader.
  8. Excellent self-conduct ( حسن السمت ) – more specifically, to be solemn in all his actions, even when sitting, standing, walking, and so on.
  9. Patience and deliberation ( الأناة و الروية ) – thus ensuring accuracy in his words.
  10. Puts the more knowledgeable before himself ( تقديم من هو أولى منه ) – he must not openly challenge other Mufassireen in their lifetime, nor despise them after they have deceased. He should instead encourage learning from them and reading their books.
  11. Well-versed in presenting knowledge ( حسن الإعداد و طريقة الأداء ) – the explanation of the ayat should be done in an orderly fashion. For example, he could begin with explaining the Asbab an-Nuzul, and then explain the Mufradaat, afterwards proceed to identify the literary and grammatical instruments (Balaghah and Nahu) used, and so on.

[taken from: Mabaahith fi ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an by Mannaa’ al-Qatthaan (1990), Ch 24: Shuruut al-Mufassir wa Aadaabihi]

Terms explained

‘Aqidah: belief system

Nafs: the sense of self, also known as ego

Tajweed: the (high precision) art of reciting the Qur’an

Qiraat: the study of the different styles of Qur’anic recital

Asbab An-Nuzul: the study of the reasons behind the revelation of individual Qur’anic verses

Nasikh wal Mansukh: the study of early rulings and their nullification against more recent ones, during the time of revelation.

Mufradaat: synonyms

Balaghah: a discipline in Arabic literature

Nahu: Arabic grammar and syntax

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Qur'an


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An introduction to Hadith (part II)

“فربَّ حامل الفقه لا فقه له, و ربّ حامل الفقه إلى من هو أفقه منه….”
“.. perhaps the one who passes the message does not comprehend it, and perhaps he will pass it to one who understands better..” (Hadith)

In a previous entry some weeks back was a very brief explanation of what a Hadith consists of and its various degrees of authenticity. It is best for a Muslim to have even the vaguest idea of what a Hadith is to guide him along the way – though this does not automatically make him a scholar. This is an error that many of us make and few are aware of.

In order to understand the requirements of the Sahih, for example, one must inquire the history of the Islamic oral tradition – the conditions in which it thrived, as well as its developments over centuries and centuries of civilization. It is mainly the ever-changing state of Muslims that has driven this field to become what we see today. The demand for precision and authenticity rose to a critical height as Islam spread over wide expanses of cultures, ethnicities and former beliefs.

According to the Muhadditheen (scholars of Hadith) the history of the Islamic oral tradition is generally divided into 7 eras. Each era has a certain nature of development. For example, the collections of Bukhari and Muslim did not appear until the 3rd era, which is roughly 3-4 centuries after the Prophet’s (Pbuh) death. This is because they were dependent on the developments of the preceding era, where the foundations of ‘Ulum al-Hadeeth were laid down. Examples of this are Al-Jarh wa At-Ta’deel and ‘Ilal Al-Hadeeth the inception of these owing to scholars like Shuhbah ibn Al-Hajjaj, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi and Imam Al-Zuhri. It is also in this second era that Imam Ash-Shafi’ee wrote his famous treatise on Usul al-Fiqh titled Al-Risalah, in which he also explains various criterions of accepting Hadith.

This entry will only focus on the first era. The rest will be explained in consequetive entries, insha-Allah.

The first era begins with the death of the Prophet (Pbuh) and ends simultaneously with the closure of the 4 Rightly Guided Caliphs’ honourable reign. The companions were all extremely cautious about expressively attributing anything to the Prophet (Pbuh). Because all of them have had direct experience with the Prophet (Pbuh) himself, their actions could be justified and directly traced back to him, where it mattered.

Where narrations were required, the companions were very strict and highly skeptical about Ahadith that they have never heard of before (and rightly so, because they spent the most time with the Prophet pbuh). In such a situation, they would require an oath or a witness to verify that the narration was true – even if it was between the 4 Khulafa’ themselves. An example of such an incident was when Sayyidina ‘Ali (r.a) accepted Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s (r.a) oath on the hadith, “Whomsoever performs ablution and then proceeds to perform 2 Raka’ah, Allah will forgive his sins”. This does not, in any way, allude to any inadequacy on Abu Bakr’s part. It only goes to show the strictness of the Sahaba at the time. The ones who were most stringent were the 4 companions themselves.

Relating to this, it should also be noted that not all Hadith is meant for public consumption. The Prophet (Pbuh) is very wise and gives specific advice to specific people. This means that one’s state, faith and piety are all precursors to the level of knowledge on which such advice is given. This is most common amongst the Ghareeb Hadith. An example is a Hadith narrated by Mu’az ibn Jabal, where the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “whoever proclaims ‘la ilaha illa Allah with a sincere heart, Allah will prevent him from falling into the fire”. Mu’az then asked the Prophet (Pbuh) if he could spread this to the others, which the Prophet (Pbuh) forbade him from doing, for fear that it might be misunderstood, and people would neglect their deeds upon hearing it.

And Allah knows.

Terms explained:

Al-Jarh wa At-Ta’deel : literally means ‘discrediting and accrediting’ – also known as ‘Ilm al-Rijal, meaning ‘knowledge of men’. This is a form of biographical evaluation used in discerning authenticity.

‘Ilal al-Hadeeth : literally means ‘flaws in Hadeeth’, a field first established by Imam Al-Zuhri, a renowned collector of Seerah (history).

Usul al-Fiqh: literally means ‘the origins of Fiqh’, focused on jurisprudence, and the methodology of deriving laws from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Ghareeb: Ahadith with only a single narrator at a point of transmission.

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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Hadith


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“Ramadhaan” comes from the root word “Ramidha” (رَمِضَ ) which literally means to be burning or scorching hot.

It has come down to –once again – the final 10 nights of the blessed month of Ramadhan. In this final lap its tribulations are great, our eyes are bloodshot from late nights and our knees are weary from either kneeling or shopping – whichever you prefer. But there is no time to judge for there is still much to do, and few opportunities left to chase

Below are some Ud’iah (sing. Du’a) you could add to your mix of night activities and spice up your witr. These are all commonly used and heard, and references are included where I am able to.

من حديث أبي سعيد الخدري -وهو بإسناد جيد- يقول: “إذا كنز الناس الذهب والفضة، فاكنزوا أنتم هذه الكلمات:

“اللّهُمًّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الثَّبَاتَ عَلَى الْأَمْرِ، وَالعَزِيمَةَ عَلَى الرُّشْدِ، والغَنِيمَةَ مِن كُلِّ بِرٍّ، وَالسَّلَامَةَ مِن كُلِّ إِثْمٍ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ قَلْبًا سَلِيمًا ولِسَانًا صَادِقًا، اللّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ مِن خَيْرٍ مَا تَعْلَمُ وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِن شَرِّ مَا تَعْلَمُ، وَأَسْتَغْفِرُكَ لِمَا تَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ”

The Prophet (Pbuh) mentioned Hadith narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, “if people treasure gold and silver, then treasure you these words:

‘O Allah, grant me firmness in conduct, and a resolution of consciousness, and to profit from every good action, and to be saved from every sin, O Allah grant me a sound heart and truthful tongue, O Allah grant me that which You know is good and protect me from that which You know is evil, and I seek forgiveness for (my errors) that which You know of, and You are the Knower of the Unseen’

اللَّهُمَّ اسْأَلُكَ نَعِيمًا لا يَنفَذْ واسْأَلُكَ قُرَّةَ عَيْنٍ لَا تَنقَطِعْ وَاَسْأَلُكَ الرِّضَى
بَعدَ القَضَاءِ واسأَلُكَ بَرْدَ الْعَيْشِ بَعْدَ الْمَوْتِ
اللَّهُمَّ اَسْأَلُكَ لَذَّةَ النَّظَرِ اِلَى وَجْهِكَ الْكَرِيمِ وَالشَّوقِ اِلَى لِقَائِكَ في غَيْرِ
ضَرَّاءً مُضِرَّةً وَلَا فِتْنَة مُضِلَّة اللَّهُمَّ زَيِّنَّا بِزِينَةِ الْاِيمَانِ
وَاجْعَلْنَا هُدَاةً مُهْتَدِينَ

O Allah grant me an inexhaustible comfort, and offspring that will never be cut off, and grant me Your pleasure and a soothing abode after death, and the delight of Your presence, and a longing for our Union, with no distress or harm, and no misleading charms, o Allah decorate us with the decoration of Faith, and make us amongst the guided.

اللَّهُمَّ اِنَّا نَسْأَلُكَ حُبَّكَ وَ حُبَّ مَن يُحِبُّكَ وَ حُبَّ عَمَلٍ يُقَرِّبُنَا إِلَى حُبِّكَ

O Allah we ask from you Your love, and the love of those who love You, and love for works that bring us closer to Your love.

اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَعُوذُ بِكَ مِن عَمَلٍ يُخزِينَا وَ مِن صَاحِبٍ يُردِينَا

وَ مِن أَمَلٍ يُلْهِينَا وَ مِن فَقْرٍ يُنْسِينَا وَ مِن غِناً يُطْغِينَا

O Allah we seek refuge in you from works that disgrace us, and companions that destroy us, and ambitions that distract us, and poverty that makes us forget, and riches that make us transgress.

and Allah knows.

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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Ramadan