An Academic Session: Imaan, Ihsaan and Ikhlaas

Following is based on a listener’s understanding of one of the first academic sessions conducted as a part of a series of seminars on Classical tradition of Islamic Learning by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db)

Introductory comments:

-> Basically what we have decided is to show you through various seminars how Classical tradition of Islam studies this Deen. Today is basically an introduction to those series.

-> On Thursday we will talk about the issue of freewill and Predestination as that is the question a lot of people have i.e. Allah swt knows the future and Allah swt knows everything we are going to do then what’s the point of doing anything. That would be one whole topic.

-> Then after that a couple of topics that we will do, first is Quran, specifically how do we understand knowledge from the Quran. A lot of students have this question that there are so many different people who teach it har koi Dars-e-Quran kay naam say apnee baat ker raha hai How is it that we can know what is the true and well-intended meaning of Allah swt in the Quran?  What have the ulema written about this issue?

-> Third is the issue of Hadith there are a lot of confusions regarding Hadith Are Hadith authentic?

– Did the Prophet s.a.w really say those things? Are some of them authentic? Are some of them fabricated? How can we tell which ones are authentic? How can we tell which ones are fabricated? You have heard that there’s something called Zaeef or weak? What does it exactly mean that they are weak? So in Hadith there are weak, there are those that we don’t know about that’s the whole topic.

-> Then another topic would be Islamic law, that there are so many legal interpretations. First of all how exactly are legal rulings derived from the Quran and Hadith , what is that process . So the whole purpose of these series of seminars for freshmen is what we call BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK at the way Islamic Scholarship and the way formal academic engaged sustained look at Islam; what that would look like.

– The way I explain that is sometimes you go to a museum or a factory and they take you on a tour and they show you in the backroom how everything is made but at the end of the tour they drop you right back at the door. So I am not going to make you a Mufassir or a Muhaddith or a Mujtahid or a Faqih an Islamic Scholar or an Islamic Philosopher but I can take you on a tour on how those things work and then drop you right back on the door and then maybe some of you may one day want to investigate or pursue those things further.

The Concept of Imaan

What am going to do today is first I am going to illustrate to you some concepts that are going to be used in this and to do that I would want to tell you the concept of Iman. So the first thing I would tell you is:

Universities here that claim to be an undergraduate liberal arts education university. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely correct it’s not as liberal as American universities are. You would be stunned why I am saying ‘unfortunately’. I’m not talking about in terms of social activities and the things that students do and that itself is as liberal as any American university. I am talking about its curriculum and its academic content. But that is true for all of Pakistan. The teaching of Islam has been severely degraded in Pakistan.

For example before you came to this university in the last 10 years all of you have studied in Islam is the o-levels Islamiat. In o-levels Islamiat you had a book by Farkhanda Rum Muhammad who told you again about who the 4 khulafa-e-rashidoon were, who mentioned to you again about the 5 pillars of Islam, who went  with you again over some baby surahs and baby Hadith that you could have done in 5th grade. And in o-levels English you are reading Shakespeare or you reading Keats, you are reading the  great classics of American and English fiction. So obviously when a person studies something of this level and if a person is intelligent which mashaAllah all of you should be, then an intelligent person is not going to interested in something that they have studied at ‘this’ level when everything else they are studying at ‘that’ level. And that started at o-levels, in A-levels there was no Islamiat. So in A-levels you went further in all different types of knowledge and you didn’t study anything.

Now if you contrast that..I will tell you a story when we went to high school in American it’s completely opposite. Americans even in high school, let alone in college, are extremely proud of their intellectual tradition. American declared their independence in 1776. If you ask any American how far their tradition goes back , it’d go back to ancient Greeks. They’d say I’d go back to Plato. And in high school a little bit, but certainly in college part of undergraduate liberal arts education means that you must read Socrates, Aristotle, Plato , Machiavelli , Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas ,Locke, Mill, Weber, Marks, Nietzsche, etc, the whole tradition you have to read that. If you don’t read that you are not considered educated. But here in Pakistan, they don’t let you come anywhere near the intellectual tradition of Islam.

-> You should be reading Ghazali , you should be reading Rumi , you should be reading Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani, you should be reading Shafie’, you should be reading Ibn-e-Tahmiyyah etc.

Some of you may not even have have heard some of these names. So what’s happened is that the knowledge of Islam has deliberately been dummed down in this country. So by the time the Pakistan students graduate from college or university, like I told you there’s already a gap in o-levels there, then in A-levels a further gap is there, so much so by university your knowledge of other than Deen is so high and your knowledge of Deen is so low that by the time you leave university or somewhere along the journey you drop your Deen somewhere, that’s what happens in this country.

Interestingly people in America, Harvard, Princeton, Yale , Oxford, Cambridge, people are doing PhD in Ghazali. Un ko bhee pata hai keh yeh bari eham cheez hai. Wo bhee is ko illm mantay hai and here us ka naam o nishan hee nahein hai. This’s a very very big problem. Even our seminars here are not to counter this problem but it’s a drop right, and everything starts with a drop.

To be honest with you apart from having a true undergraduate liberal arts education means that you have actually studied the human experience that’s  how it is conceived of  in America. See, I know this because I got lucky and I went to university of Chicago which is famous for having the best core curriculum or one of the best core curriculum in America, which is the pioneer in liberal arts co-education and in that basically what you are doing is that you are studying the whole human experience and irrefutably religion is part of that human experience. Harvard in 2004 had a core curriculum committee of review task force. You Google Harvard core curriculum review you will get this pdf document. In that they actually did a survey of Harvard students on religion and they found out that the majority of Harvard students were interested in religion. Whether as a matter of personal faith or whether as an area of academic study but they are interested in religion and so they added that courses , components and themes on religion and religious studies in their core curriculum because they know that if you want to study the humanities and human experience then religion is invariably been part of human experience throughout.

Now I am going to give you an example using this concept of Iman.

In classical Islamic studies the way the Deen of Islam was studied in history and the classical muslim world interestingly they used to start with one Hadith so following that I am going to start by teaching you that same Hadith and I am going to unpack that Hadith and use that Hadith to illustrate what I call the academic study of Islam. So that Hadith goes as follows that:

*(Ummul-Hadith: Hadith-e-Jibrael) The part in brackets is commentary of the honourable Shaykh on the Hadith 

One Day the Prophet s.a.w was sitting in Medina munawara ( whenever you are studying something what you are trying to do is that you are trying to put yourself in the zone and in the mind of that knowledge). So the Prophet s.a.w is sitting in medina munawarra in Masjid-e-Nabwi sitting around him are a large number of his Sahaba , the sahaba narrate that we were sitting with the Propher s.a.w and then a man appeared and he had the whitest of clothing and the blackest of beards and he cut through our ranks and he went right up to the Prophet s.a.w. He sat down knee to knee with the Prophet s.a.w (which is a very intimate and informal way of sitting in the Arab tradition) and he put his hands on the thighs of Prophet s.a.w, (an extremely intimate and informal thing to do. And he didn’t say Salam’alaykum, didn’t say hello or introduced himself) He asked a question ( immediately, pointblank)

What is Iman?

The Prophet s.a.w responded that Iman is to believe in Allah, the Prophet s.a.w, Day of Judgment , Life after Death, Angels , the Divine Decree of the Goodness and the Badness.

The person said you are correct , you have spoken the truth.

Then he asked a second question on what is Islam?

Prophet s.a.w asked Islam is to pray five times a day , pay zakat, go on Hajj if you are able, fast during the month of ramazan etc.

Again he said you have spoken truly.

Third he asked a question on What is Ihsaan?

The Prophet s.a.w said that is to worship Allah swt as if you seen Him or if you see Him not you are aware that He is seeing you.

Again he said you have spoken truly.

Then he asked a fourth question Tell me about the end of time? About the Hour?

Prophet s.a.w said the one being asked knows no more than the questioner.

So then he said ok so tell me about its signs, The Prophet s.a.w said that amongst its signs are that the slave girl will give birth to her mistress or that the naked and the destitute and the poor shepherds will compete with one another to construct tall buildings.

Stranger got up, took off his hands from the thighs, cut through all of the sahaba again and walked away.

Commentary on the Hadith:

-> Now Let’s relook at the Hadith again, the first thing they mentioned about him was that he was a stranger.

What they meant by that was that Medina Munawaara was close community, they all knew  one another . So somebody shows up that you don’t know it means he must have travelled he must have made a desert journey to come to Medina. But what first stunned them was that his clothes were white and his beard was black. Because when you travel in the desert your clothes get dusty and it doesn’t stay white and your beard gets dusty and it doesn’t stay black. So just by looking at him they were a bit stunned that ok he’s a stranger that fine but he’s clearly should have come on journey but the marks and signs of a journey are not on him.

-> Second thing that stunned them is that he cut right through them

Put yourself in the mind of a sahaba you are the ultimate student and lover of the Prophet s.a.w and a complete stranger is just slicing through you as if you are nothing and just goes up right up to the Prophet s.a.w and then sits with him in that way and then just starts Q&A. The sahaba were just stunned at this person and the answers were very easy, those are answers that you and I, we all know, well atleast the first two were very easy.

Iman is to believe in Allah etc etc.

-> But then that person told the Prophet s.a.w that you have spoken truly

that also stunned the sahaba because normally it’s the teacher who tells the students that they are correct. So they amazed that who is this person who can do Tasdeeq who can what we call in Arabic verify and approve the words of Prophet s.a.w. then second time , then the third time.

-> then the fourth question tell me about the hour..the sahaba were again stunned because the Prophet s.a.w said to that person that I know no more than you, the one being asked knows no more than the one asking.

He equated himself with the person for knowledge. That for the sahaba nobody knows more than the Prophet s.a.w. They were stunned that how is the Prophet s.a.w. equating himself with that person with knowledge. And that the fourth question is obviously a bit stunning right salve girl will give birth to mistress and naked and poor shepherds will compete in constructing tall building and then he just gets  up cuts off and walks right through them again .

-> At this moment the sahaba were completely stunned so the Prophet s.a.w looked at the sahaba and he asked them O my Beloved companions do you know who that was?

And like we normally like to joke with the students that they didn’t try to score CP points, they didn’t guess, the sahaba karam when they didn’t know something they’d say Allah and His messenger knows the best. You know it better than us we have no idea who that was. So the Prophet s.a.w responded that that was the Angel Jibrael who came to teach you your Deen.

Because of the last word of the Prophet s.a.w ‘Deen’, this is why this Hadith is viewed as Ummul-Hadith. You see Surah Fatiha in the Quran is called Ummul-kitab. That surah is the mother of Quran. This Hadith is been viewed as the mother of the Hadith because the Prophet s.a.w  said that this was the Hadith which contains a summary of the Deen.

So let’s look at the questions. That means that in the Deen you have to understand and study and reflect and ponder upon the issues of Iman, issues of Islam, issues of ihsaan and also that the Prophet s.a.w said the issue of ‘the end’ and the signs of the end.

So we can call that in our modern day sort of terminology, some sense of social sciences . That’s also part of the Deen. And the big problem today is that people don’t take that approach to understanding the Deen. They may have spirituality but they don’t have law, they may have theology but they don’t have history, they know one aspect but they don’t know the other aspect so when they don’t look from these multiple angles they don’t have the proper perspective on the Deen of Islam. So let’s start with the last one.

This question that tell me about the hour and the end

-> now what basically is going on here is that Prophet s.a.w. is outlining a philosophy of history, the Islamic philosophy of History, which is radically different from the western philosophy of history.

-> The western philosophy of history teaches that human beings are continually going to progress. So when they write their history they write it as the progress, advancement and what are they thinking?  They are thinking in material terms , they are thinking in terms of scientific technology, they are thinking in terms of politics and economy , so much so that now western secularism believes that human beings are reaching the end of history.

There is a very famous book written by Francis Fukuyama called “End of History”

Why is he calling that End of History? Hes not thinking like we are thinking about end of time. He calls that end of history because he feels that humanity is about to reach the ultimate stage of advancement and progress beyond which there can be no further progress. What is that for them, if you organize your politics along the lines of democracy , you organize economy along the lines of capitalism , you organize your society along the lines of secularism , this is the end of history, this is the ultimate level of human attainment and because certain countries, maybe the small scale countries in the western world reaching this pinnacle and peak, so this is actually how they are right now that we are reaching the end of history.

-> And now what we have to do is export these three things to the rest of the countries of the world in the name of progress, advancement, development, civilization right. They use different words under colonialism they call it we are civilizing others , that’s no longer viewed as such a nice word so they are not colonialist so now they say we are engaged in development, political development means you are going further towards democracy , economic development means you are going further towards open market capitalist economy . I am going to the World Bank to take some loan on some conditions, those conditions are that you have to restructure your fiscal and financial policy to make it more like a open market capitalist economy. And progress and development means you should be more secular. That is the western philosophic history that is going up.

-> Prophet s.a.w taught us or you can say that the Angel Jibrael ‘s Q&A also taught us that in the Deen , the Deen philosophic history is completely opposite. According to the Deen , humanity, the Islamic philosophical history is that humanity is going on a decline. Not in progress but that’s because the Islamic philosophy is tracking something else. It’s not tracking materialism. It’s not tracking science or development or wealth or technology or that you have cars or space stations, it’s not looking at that Islamic philosophy of history is tracking spirituality. That says from the time onwards of Prophet s.a.w  human beings are in a spiritual decline. And so this is a whole genre a whole set of Hadith that are known as alamaat of qiyamah.

Now there are two types of Alamaat-e-Qiyamah. (Signs of the Hour)

1. First type about all the events and things that would happen, lets leave those aside for the moment.

2. Second type talks about what is going to be the state and condition of humanity in terms of the morality and spirituality

– and that is for example the Prophet s.a.w said that zina would be widespread,riba would be widespread , lying would be widespread, corruption would be widespread , the Muslims would have corrupted rulers over them , there’s almost hundreds of Hadith on this issue.

– So each and every one of those alamaat  or signs and markers are pointing towards a spiritual decline such that decline would continue continue continue continue continue that things will go so bad that Allah swt will just fold up and wrap up the earth.

So that’s called the end. So we have a concept of end of history or the end of time and the west is also coming up with its own concept of the end of history. So its radically different.

Why is this part of Deen?

Knowing this and having this philosophy of history is part of Deen why because Islam is fundamentally trying to tell people not to overly connect themselves to material pursuits , not to be overly attached to this material physical world but to live for some higher objective and purpose which is Love for Allah swt and preparation for the akhirah. It’s the ultimate message and that is actually the message that Allah swt send through all prophets in all religions. Its radically different from western philosophy. And knowing that always keeping that in mind and understanding every single aspect of Deen keeping that in mind that is necessary for academic study of Islam.

About Interpreting Revelation (Quran & Hadith)

Second thing, now let me show you there’s another thing which is called interpretation.

Interpretation means that you have a text , can be an ayah of the Quran, can be Hadith of the sunnah, and it has language in it, it has words in it, it has alfaz and you are trying to make the journey from those words to meaning. You are trying to figure out what is the meaning here, what Allah swt is trying to say to me here in this words, what is the Prophet s.a.w is trying to convey to me by these words.

So we are going to do it right now LIVE .

So I am going to take that same question 4,  that Angel Jibrael asked Prophet s.a.w. what are the signs? And the Prophet s.a.w what did he say that the slave girl will give birth to her mistress. So those are just words right? Now I am gonna ask you what does that mean?

So the Prophet s.a.w said that the slave girl will give birth to her mistress. So whenever he says words hes trying to convey a meaning to us. Its only when we understand that meaning that we will understand the Deen right? So what does that mean?

*boy answers: no respect for parents*

Ok so no respect for parents. Right ok.

*boy answers: a greater divide between slaves and upper class people *

So lets just that social inequality. Anyone else?

*boy answers: it means in war prisoners , female slaves will give birth to their owners*

So the third position is that you take the literal meaning.

Alright, now what did we just do here, we engaged in trying to search the meaning of a text by interpretation. How is this done?

This is done in many ways. But first thing we did here is what is called the knob, the tie.

What does that mean? You begin with:

The literal meaning 

So obviously when the Prophet s.a.w said something, the first possibility is that the meaning he is trying to convey, the meaning he intends is strictly literally what he said , so that means the knob is set at zero

So literally what it would mean, so the slave girl would give birth to her mistress would mean that somebody who has been enslaved , that’s a slave, and they give birth to a daughter, mistress is a feminine term , and later on their daughter themselves becomes the master of the mistress who was their mother. That’s the literal meaning of the slave girl will give birth to her mistress.

Now when you look at the literal meaning what do you have to do now  when you are running the knob theres a second thing you have to do , you have to run the box . Why because this much we know from the context of this Hadith that the Prophet s.a.w mentioned this as a sign of the end of time.

So we are trying to figure out how can this be the sign of end of time?

 That’s the link we have to make and now that we have understood that end of time is spiritual decline so the question is how will this constitute spiritual decline? So what most of you will see because I can see by your looks that the purpose that has puzzled you that it seems like the literal meaning doesn’t seem to be going as much anywhere, so we start turning the knob.

When you start turning the knob what that means is that you move a little bit towards

non-literal interpretation.

You start thinking figuratively. You think that maybe these words are symbolic. They are not meant to be taken literally. So some of you did that right? So for example who the first person, he said that no respect for parents and that’s not the literal meaning. Literal meaning is slave girl gives birth to her mistress like I told you , but that person turned the knob . He decided that the literal meaning doesn’t seem to be fitting here so let me give it some play. That’s what we call umoom, umoom fil ma’na

Let me expand those words outside so that we can have more general , broad, expansive meaning. So what he did, we are gonna make you sound good here , well there is some type of, well the fact that the daughter is becoming the mistress , that’s very disrespectful that you should become master of your own mother. So he viewed it that this is a metaphor, a symbolism that the Prophet s.a.w. is trying to say that the end of time is that children will no longer have respect for their parents.

Then you will have to run the box , it’s that interpretation that I come up with does that fit the context?

Does that seem that would be something that we could call spiritual decline? and what we could say is that yes because that’s a value in Islam that people should respect their parents, if people are no longer respecting their parents , then that could be a sign of spiritual decline so it may seem to work.

Another person may come in and they turn the knob even further so that’s what he did. What he did was that okay daughter becoming master of mother that’s kind of like children disrespecting and disobeying parents and that basically generally represents social disorder. Social disharmony an overall upheaval of the natural order of things. Be it children disrespecting parents, be it students disrespecting teachers, be it any other thing. Be it husbands no longer being caring towards their wives. Being wives no longer being caring towards their husbands. Somebody could turn and say all family values will go down whether its children , parents, parents children , spouse.

Somebody could turn even further and say all social values, an upheaval of all social values be they children, parents , be they family members, be they societal values.

The more you turn the knob, what I mean by that is the more you take the meaning non-literally, the more you mold a wider and wider meaning than the words of the text actually literally convey. And in every one of those meanings you have to go back and run the box and see that those meanings how well do they fit in the context of what the overall Hadith has guaranteed telling us the number one knowing what is critical to our Deen and number one that this is a sign of spiritual decline.

Now we go to the interpretation.

He turned the knob in a different way. He looked at this issue of slave and mistress, and that it is a disparity. Being a slave and a master suggest a social structure in which you have people with widely disparate roles; as opposed to where you may have a society where everybody is viewed as equal, like the din of Islam says that everybody who is a Muslim is equal. It doesn’t matter what race, what gender, what ethnicity, what creed.

So somebody may take it that way, and he took out inequality, that there is going to be a lot of inequality in society, a lot of gap. There is going to be rich and there is going to be poor.

Now comes the next question.

So I have showed to you how interpretation takes place; turning the knob and running the box. [Now if I were to say these sentences you would know what they mean. If somebody comes next time and I say “turning the knob”, “running the box”, they would not know what I am talking about. But you will understand when I say “turning the knob” and “running the box”].

Now that we have put all this stuff out there, then, another question comes up: which interpretation is correct.

Because you can see, these are not identical meanings. There is a single text, a single hadith, a single set of words – that the slave girl will give birth to a mistress – and from that people have derived interpretation, extracted multiple meanings.

[So what do you guys think? Which one is correct?]

Regarding Multiple meanings of one text:

According to the classical tradition of Islam, you can have multiple meanings of one text; that is what they felt. They felt that when  you engage in the interpretative process, which I called ‘turning the knob and running the box’,  when you engage in the interpretative process you will sometimes end up with multiple meanings and it is actually possible and plausible that more than one meaning will be correct.

And that is actually viewed by the classical scholars of Islam as the power of Qur`an and hadith.

That is its sha’an and it’s azmat that from one single text of words, multiple meanings can emerge. And in fact you will see that people – even when human beings create something that is viewed as something great. So there is one piece of art and people can interpret it in different ways, its abstract art, and that is viewed as good abstract art because people can take different things from it. There is one line in Hegel and different people have interpreted it differently throughout the centuries. That is why Hegel is brilliant, because his words can potentially lead to multiple meanings.

So obviously when Allah سبحانه وتعالى in the Qur`an, and nabi-e-kareem صلى الله عليه وسلم in the hadith – their words can sometimes actually have multiple meanings, and those multiple meanings can coexist.

And then the next thing is that they may coexist sometimes in equal levels of truth and they may sometimes coexist at varying levels of truth.And sometimes the level of truth depends on context.

So there may be a particular area in time where, let’s say 2010, slave girl giving birth to mistress may have a different way of manifesting itself in society. That sign may manifest maybe through gross inequality. There may be another time, or in another place, where this sign can manifest in children not respecting their parents. So normally what happens is that when you feel the need to engage in interpretation, you have to be open to the possibility that there may be multiple interpretations. Not always necessarily one single one could be correct, or that you can indentify one and invalidate the others, that is not always the case.

Second, now let us try another one. What was the second sign that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  said: that the naked and poor shepherds and Bedouins compete with one another to construct tall buildings. So what could that be? Fine, one is the literal; one is the leave the knob at zero and to take it literally. What else can it mean?

Same thing in Europe. I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City. Some of might have heard that in Manhattan, New York City—not just Manhattan, but also Brooklyn, Bronx, etc, they all have this—have a group of people known as the homeless. You can Google this also “Homeless People New York City”. They are people who live in the subway tunnels of New York. When you go down there; I was just there in the summer; when you go down the steps into the subway station, you see they are living there. Every day, thousands of commuters, who are very well off, who work on wall Street, go down from their Park Avenue apartment buildings, into those subways, pass by those homeless, get into

the subway, take the subway down to Wall Street, get out at the Wall Street station, see some more homeless, go into their high-rise office buildings—twice a day, five times a week, forty to fifty weeks a year.

Just about any ten of these guys’ annual bonus-forget their salary-ten of these guys’ annual bonuses could probably solve the homeless problem in New York City. They don’t do it. It’s a type of materialism that is cold, uncaring. This is such a lust for wealth that they are blinded by the type of poverty they have allowed to continue, along with the pursuit of that wealth. But all of that just goes to explain why these poor shepherds are competing with each other to build high-rise buildings.

So here, I’m going to give you a few examples of this.

So this is another way in which you say, that you turn the box, and you see all of these things fit with spiritual decline; more materialism and spiritual decline; shift from natural order of thing, a natural lifestyle. Urbanization, migrant labor; you can use sociological terms to understand this phenomenon. All of these things could fit with the broader meaning of spiritual decline.

So it takes the box; it takes the knob; it takes mutual discussion; mutual learning, it takes study to get at

those meanings. And the asal is the meanings, right? What we’re after is the meanings; and when we understand the meaning, that’s how we will be able to understand poverty.

So that first question: what is imaan?

That was a much easier answer. That the Prophet  صلى الله عليه وسلم said that Imaan is to believe in Allah, in the prophets, in the angels, the Books, life after death, resurrection, the Divine decree of the good and bad. We can understand this p0retty easily.
Now let me ask you a question; how many of you think the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم answered the question? Raise your hand if you think he answered the question. The Angel Jibrael asked him “What is Imaan?” and he answered the belief of prophets, angels, Books, etc.

-> No. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not answer the question in one sense; he did not tell you what imaan is.

He told you the things that you have to have imaan in; he told you the objects of faith.

You have Ainul-Yaqeen that I have chalk in my hand that’s not Iman. That’s Mushahidah

Let’s try something else, how many of you have I’man that I have a wallet in my pocket. Look around you look at the back, the faithful are very few in number, so to reward the faithful, I have a wallet in my pocket.

So for the people who raised their hands, that was the belief in the unseen.

Ghaib does not just mean unseen more properly it means unascertainable. Not just a visual thing, something that you cannot ascertain or perceive something for which you cannot have yaqeen or mushahida.

Now Look at something interesting.

When a person accepts Islam what do they call it what do they take? Shahadah.

The Arabic language is teaching you something Allah subhanahuwat’ala wants that your Iman in the unseen should be as much as you have seen as you have mushahidah. The act of Taking Iman is shahadah because your Iman in the unseen should be as strong as in the seen as mushahidah as if you see. Arabic language is also a big thing that you need; a really solid grasp on Arabic language, all its grammer and its particularities and its delicacies to understand the Islamic knowledges and sciences

Let me give you one more example from the Arabic language and then we will end. Sometimes using just Arabic language you can understand what something is. So I ll give you a little lesson in Arabic language. 85-90% words in Arabic are derived from the tri-letter root, what we call the three letter roots.

So this the root here is hamza, meem ,noon. What happens in the Arabic language that multiple words are derived from the same roots and those multiple derived words have a Ta’luq with that root? So for example what does A’man mean a state of peace, tranquility, sanctity, sanctuary, serenity, Like people say that “ Is mulk me to koi aman he nai he” what’s the Arabic language telling you? What’s aman related to??? I’maan. So they put their finger on something but they are doing the Taabir with aman.

These two words are related to one another Aman and I’maan. Now the question is that how these words are related to one another? The knowledge of Arabic grammar teaches you how to relate Aman and I’maan. I’maan is of a particular form If’aal. You put the word on its pattern, Aman—I’maan, Salm—Islaam

It’s a pattern it’s a particular form. That particular form is called If’aal that particular form means the creation of the root word. Imaan means the creation of amman, that is what imaan is. What it means is that the act of imaan creates amman in a person. The act of imaan, adopting faith or belief (we still have to do “what is imaan”, I’m using these English words for you, but we haven’t done that yet), the act of adopting faith and belief creates amman in a person.

So sometimes we could use language to understand what imaan is. That also goes to the workshop, there is a lot of stuff in this workshop, we will keep building the workshop. We started with ayat and hadith; Arabic language is also part of the workshop; grammatical analysis is also part of the workshop, it’s a big workshop. It’s not easy to be a scholar of any field, you have to know the workshop.Since I started with this Arabic thing, why don’t I finish these words.

Deen comes from daal-yaa-nun. There’s another word that is derived from this, it’s spelled exactly the same but you but a fatha, what you call a zabbar, this is call day-an. Day-an means loan in Arabic language. So what’s the relationship.

Ok now imaan and amman, that relationship was easy to you. What is the relationship between a loan and din. Din and day-an, the relationship between these two things is that actually our life is a day-an, a loan to Allah swt. And the way to discharge that loan is called din. So just the Arabic language makes you understand a lot of things.

Next was islam, so that is seen-laam-meem (س- ل- م).

Now for this a lot of you know a lot of words- Muslim, Salam, Islam, tasleem. Some people translate the word islam as peace, some people translate it as submission, they both are correct. Remember I told you this pattern with the creation of ifaal ; islam means to create peace through submission. Whether that is to create peace in an individual through individual submission to the will and wish and pleasure of Allah; or that is to create peace in a family through that family’s submission to the will and wish and pleasure of Allah; or that is to create peace in a community and a society through that society’s submission to the will, wish and pleasure of Allah. Or it can be to create peace in a whole global human race by the complete submission of that whole human race to the will, wish and pleasure of Allah.
So Islam doesn’t mean peace.

The Arabic word salam means peace that is when we say Assalamu ‘alaykum (peace be onto  you). It’s amazing, I know some amazing people, those very same people translate assalamu ‘alaykum as peace be onto you, and they also say Islam means peace. It’s two different Arabic words, Islam and Salam, how can you use the same English word for it. They don’t know the language. They can’t even understand a basic concept of deen without knowing language.

Salam means peace, tasleem means submission, Islam means creation of peace through submission to Allah سبحانه وتعال.
We’ll stop over here. This was a little bit of Arabic for you, so that’s also part of the workshop. And we are still left with this question that as to what is Iman. Next time we will show you a few things and we will try to explore this issue of what is imaan. And again, i’ll bring you in on it, like we tried to understand the meaning of that hadith. We’ll bring you in on it and will take your views on as to what is imaan, and when we are done with that then I will talk about this issue of freewill and predestination.

This entry was posted in Academic Session, Classical Islamic Learning, Iman, Islamic Scholarly Tradition, Lahore Talks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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