Can We Deliver The Goods?

In a 2009 article, Becoming Sinless: Converting to Islam in the Christian Solomon Islands, Debra McDougall investigates the nature of conversion to Islam in the Solomon Islands. Aside from merely being an interesting article to read, McDougall brings to light via citing Scott Flower, a query we here in America should stop and ask ourselves: are we, on an institutional level, a service-based community? Should we be?

In one of the few scholarly works on the topic (namely, Islam being inextricably linked with political violence and terrorism), Scott Flower (2008) argues that such speculations (on the part of the Melanesian government) are unfounded. He suggests that indigenous converts are drawn to the goods and services that Islamic organizations provide and are attracted to Islam because it resonates with indigenous cultural practices1 (parentheses and emphasis mine).

When I reflect back on my own conversion and admittance into the Muslim community, I would concur that I was indeed drawn to perceived goods and services in the Muslim community. For myself, this amounted mainly to socializing and fraternity. However, I clearly see that our community is having ever greater demands placed on it to provide all manner of services (for convert and non-convert alike) such as family counseling, mental health counseling to financial planning. But what I’m most curious about is McDougall’s last statement: Islam’s resonance “with indigenous cultural practices”. I wonder, is this the case? While attending a khutbah today, I heard a sermon whose theme centered around the notion of silah al-rahm, or the maintaining of kinship, taken from the hadith:

ليس الواصل بالمكافئ ولكن الواصل الذي إذا قَطَعت رحمُه وصلها

“The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith 322)

The khatib delivered an excellent khutbah but when it came to referencing maintaining family ties, his only reference was to Muslims who need to work on maintaining ties with families overseas. The idea or notion of converts, who often have much more delicate and complicated familial relations, failed to come to mind. This is indicative of how our community thinks of converts: reverent yet remote. I say this not in condemnation of any personal khatib or speaker but to raise awareness of persistent and enduring issues in our community that sadly, continue to fall short of notions that draw people to Islam. What is illuminating here is that the services that one segment needs (i.e., converts), will often resonate and find need in its counterpart (i.e., non-converts). And while our community will never be a utopia, we can, God willing, take steps to make it better and come closer to delivering the goods.

1. McDougall, Debra. “American Anthropologist Volume 111 Index.” American Anthropologist 111.4 (2009): 480-91. Web. 27 June 2014.

The Sweetness of the Qur’an

In a hadith transmitted by Sa’id ibn ‘Ubaydah, from Qutadah from Anas, from Abu Musa, from the Prophet,

في الصحيح  من حديث سعيد عن قتادة عن أنس عن أبي موسى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: المؤمن الذي يقرأ القرآن ويعمل به كالأترجة طعمها وريحها طيب والمؤمن لا يقرأ القرآن ويعمل به  كالثمرة طعمها طيب ولا ريح لها ومثل المنافق الذي يقرأ القرآن  كالريحانة ريحها طيب وطعمها مر ومثل المنافق الذي لا يقرأ القرآن كالحنظلة طعمها مر أوخبيث وريحها مر

“A believer who recites the Qur’an and acts according to it is a like a citron, whose taste and scent are excellent (tayyib). A believer who does not recite the Qur’an but still acts upon it like a fruit whose taste is sweet but has no odor. The likeness of the hypocrite who recites the Qur’an is that of an herb whose odor is sweet but whose taste is bitter. The likeness of the hypocrite who does not even recite the Qur’an is like a bitter melon, whose taste is bitter and whose odor is foul.”

Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari, noted in al-Qabisi’s al-Risalah al-Mufassilah l’Ahwal al-Muta’allimin wa A’hkam al-Mu’allimin wa’l Muta’allimin, A Epistle Concerning the Conditions surrounding Students and the Rules Governing Teachers and Students Alike.

Library of Islamic Books and Documents

For the students of Islamic studies, lay or otherwise, I thought, as I go, I would like to or provide books or other documents for download. I may also provide some reviews for books I’ve read in English on Islamic studies as well.

Books For Viewing & Download

‘Ilm Tajwid al-Qur’an علم تجويد القرآن: [download PDF] a concise introduction to science of  tajwid (rules for reciting the Qur’an) by Syrian scholar, Muhammad Hisham al-Burhani. Shaykh al-Burhani has been a faculty member of the University of Damascus in the department of Islamic jurisprudence [fiqh] as well as having spent some time in the Gulf, teaching at the University of al-‘Ayn [جامعة العين في أبي ظبي] in Abu Dhabi. I will be using elements of this book to teach a tajwid class for UPenn’s MSA, starting Spring 2012.

Kitab al-Miftah fi al-Sarf كتاب المفتاح في الصرف: [download PDF] a short introduction to sarf (morphology) by the medieval scholar of Arabic language, al-Jurjani (full name Abu Bakr Abd al-Qāhir bin Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad al-Jurjānī). The work here is a short but concise intro to the study of Arabic morphology. Recommended for students who are able to read in Arabic but are looking to tackle the study of sarf in the Arabic language.

Bidayah al-Hidayah: [download PDF] a classic in the field of Muslim spirituality as well as moral and ethical excellence, Imam al-Ghazzali’s Beginning of Guidance is also available in a bilingual edition translated by Mashhad al-Allaf via White Thread Press.

Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim: [download PDF] a large early tafsir by Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi [born in al-Rayy in 240/854]. The son of a well-respected scholar, Abu Hatim al-Razi, this tafsir is based on the accounts of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, the Companions, and the Inheritors [may God be pleased with all of them]: امتاز هذا التفسير بأنه جمع بين دفتيه تفسير الكتاب بالسنة و آثار الصحابة و البابعين بالإسناد.

Hikam Ibn ‘Ata Allah: [download PDF] a collection of aphorisms by the Alexandrian scholar. A few minor errors in the copy until I get a chance to re-type a new one. English and Arabic edition.

al-I’tisam: [Vol. 1 and Vol. 2PDF; Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 .docx; ebook format with .epub and .mobi files] by Imam al-Shatibi—literally translated as Holding Fast—is an important volume on fiqh, especially as it relates to the Sunnah. The two volumes go into detail on such important topics as bid’ah, as well as clarifying actions and spontaneous actions. I hope to be able to translate this work into English.

Sunan al-Darimi: [download the PDF] the author’s full name being ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Darimi (181H–255H), his Sunan is a hadith collection among the other prominent collections such as the Muwatta’ of Imam Malik and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, etc. Despite its title as a Musnad, it is not arranged by narrator in the manner of other musnads, such as that of Tayalisi or Ibn Hanbal. It is arranged by subject matter in the manner of a book of Sunan, like the Sunan Ibn Majah.

al-Mudawwanah [10 parts]: a classic Maliki text on fiqh. I wrote a small piece about it here. Download the 10 parts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 [PDF’s].

Matn al-Risalah of Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani: [download the PDF]. Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani was a scholar devoted to the education of the youth. His scholarship still remains in a prominent position as one of the earliest proponents of education in history. The book is a summary of the main aspects of Aqidah (Faith), Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Akhlaq (character), and explains the essences of education in terms of these three principles. It was divided into 45 small, easy to read and understand chapters.

Mushaf al-Sahabah: a small volume [PDF] on the 10 recitations via the accounts of the Companions.

Sahih Ibn Hibban [two parts]: 1, and 2 [PDF’s]. A great muhadith and Shaykh, Muhammad Ibn Hibban al-Busti [also known as Ibn Habban], died in the year 354/965. His collection of hadith were compiled as Sahih Ibn Hibban. The hadiths in his book are arranged neither as in a musannaf nor as in a musnad. Ali b. Balban rearranged the hadiths and published them as al-Ihsan Fi Taqrīb Sahih Ibn Hibban. Ibn Hibban’s collection contains 2647 hadiths, which do not appear in the collections of Bukhari or Muslim, published in legal order in the book Mawarid al-Zam’an Ila Zawa’id Ibn Hibban by Nur al-Din ‘Ali b. Abi Bakr al-Haythami.

al-Wabil al-Sayyib: by reknowned scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [download the PDF]. The volume, also know in English as The Invocation of God, is a commentary on his master’s work [Shaykh al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyya], al-Kalim al-Tayyib, or The Goodly Word, also available in English.

Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah [in 3 parts]: a short hadith collection from one of the early sources. Volume 1, 2, and 3 in PDF format.

Sahih al-Bukhari [in 12 parts]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. All are Microsoft Word documents [.doc extension]. This files will only work on a PC to my knowledge, as the font is formatted for the PC. However, if you have a dual-book Mac with a PC side, it should work.

Sahih al-Bukhari [in 12 parts]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. All are PDF documents. These files are best if your machine [Mac, for example] cannot read the Arabic font from a PC.

Mukhtasar al-Akhdari: a short Maliki text on worship [‘ibadat] by the reknown scholar Abu Zayd ‘Abd al-Rahman Bin Muhammad al-Sagir al-Akhdari. Word .doc, PDF or eBook format — Arabic only.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn: one of the most significant tafsīrs for the study of the Qur’an, Tafsir al-Jalalayn is generally regarded as one of the most easily accessible works of Qur’anic exegesis because of its simple style and one volume length. Download as a PDF.

Mushaf Riwayah Warsh ‘an Nafi’: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Warsh recitation, see here.

Mushaf Riwayah Qalun ‘an Nafi’: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Qalun recitation, see here.

Mushaf al-Susi min Abi ‘Amru al-Basri: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the al-Susi recitation, see here.

Mushaf Riwayah Khalaf ‘an Hamzah: a PDF document. For audio files of the entire Qur’an in the Khalaf ‘an Hamzah recitation, see here.

Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary: The Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic is an Arabic-English dictionary compiled by Hans Wehr and edited by J Milton Cowan. First published in 1961 by Otto Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden, Germany. Download as a PDF.