Thursday, April 8, 2010

Calling People Kufar

The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari
by Imam Bukhari
Translated by: Ustadha Aisha Bewley

Chapter 10: The Qibla

384. It is related that Anas ibn Malik said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Whoever prays our prayer and faces our qibla and eats what we slaughter, he is a Muslim and is under the protection of Allah and the protection of His Messenger. Do not act treacherously against Allah with respect to those under His protection." 

Who do we call a Muslim? What does Kufar really mean?

Kufar has almost turned into a curse word in our current community setting. People use this in anger towards one another and call them Kufar. When someone is seen smoking or being too close to the opposite gender, Kufar is an easy word off of many people's tongues.

Kufar literally means "unbeliever" and unbeliever is defined as "someone who refuses to believe (as in a divinity." Notice how the word "belief" is the core component, not "action." Of course as Muslims, we believe that belief is shown through action, but as I'm sure anyone can relate to, our actions sometimes are not as Muslim as our heart may be. By definition, there are only two groups - believer and unbeliever. Or, Muslim and Kufar, respectively.

Since only Allah is able to see what is in our heart, we must judge by actions who is a Muslim and who is a Kufar. We judge by outward appearances, but Allah judges by inward realities. We can not go to extremes and call someone a Kufar based on our witnessing of one sin. On the other side, we can not say that all sins are okay as long as you profess the shahadah (There is no god except Allah). Saying one is a Kufar does not, and should not be, labeling a person to Hellfire just like labeling someone a Muslim does not ensure their entry into Paradise.

When we say someone is Kufar, it is simply a legal statement and a label for who should be treated as a Muslim when they get married, die, have kids, etc.

Two terms are important in this discussion:
Tasdiq: "You are telling the truth"
Takdhib: "You are lying"
(both in reference to the Sunnah and Qur'an)

When someone is denying a pillar of Islam, such as saying that you don't have to pray, they are essentially saying to the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), "You are lying" and they are committing tasdiq. To deny a pillar of Islam is the gravest of errors and anything that a person rejects that is necessarily known of the religion will remove them from Islam. For instance, if a person states that drinking is not forbidden, they have committed tasdiq and it is safe to say they are Kufar. Again, does this mean we are saying they are going to Hellfire? No! We do not know what will happen in their life or what is in their heart but this person isn't required to have a nikkah when they get married, they are not expected to pay zakat, etc.

Notice in the examples given that we mentioned people who are denying that an action is a sin or that something is obligatory. There is a big difference between someone committing a sin when they are weak and denying it is a sin altogether. We are all sinners and Muslims may be punished for their deeds, in this life or the next, even if they are eventually destined for Paradise, by Allah's Mercy.

In short, Kufar is a legal term used for anyone who does not appear to be Muslim. Kufar is not a word used for a sinning Muslim, nor is it a derogatory term. We use it to classify someone, especially in legal matters such as paying zakat (required charity tax), creating a marriage contract, etc. It does not mean this person is going to Hellfire as no one in creation can determine this. It is up to Allah.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Don't We Learn From History?

Have you ever thought about the similarities of the Palestinian people and the Native Americans? How can we acknowledge the atrocities that happened to the Native American at the hands of the Europeans settlers but yet justify the Jews "right" to take land, at all costs, because they "were there first" (3,000 years ago!).

How many people that believe that Israel should be given to the Jews would hand over their home to any Native American that said "Hey, I want it back." I doubt it... seriously. And even more than that, who wouldn't put up a fight and take weapons to protect themselves if this was a sweeping movement effecting their friends, family and neighbors?

It would make a large statement to the world if these two groups banded together to speak up about what is happening. I don't think many people who support the expansion of Israel really understand what human rights violations they are agreeing to. I think they are also forgetting about the Golden Rule.

So let's say, for argument's sake, that Israel should be inhabited by only Jews and this land needs to be "purified" of all other races and religions and this is God's wish. Are we doing this in a way that God would approve? Does the end justify the means? The infamous question - What would Jesus (pbuh) do? While Jesus surprised many with his answers to questions he was asked, I have great doubts he (pbuh) would say, "Well, anyone who won't move, bulldoze their home. It doesn't matter if they are sleeping in it at the time."

We are in a time of technology and engineering. We are constantly breaking records of the tallest building in the world... why do people have to move in order for others to inhabit the same city? Can't tall apartment buildings be built?

The answer is, what is happening is nothing short of ethnic cleansing. This is what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of the Europeans and we are living the United States, aware of our own history, and allowing it to happen to others. The bombs dropped on the civilians might as well have the stamp "Made in the USA." Is this what you, as an American, a human being, approve of?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Pens Have Been Lifted and the Pages Have Dried

On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas, who said : One day I was behind the prophet and he said to me:

"Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice] : Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah; if you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the Nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried." Narrated Tirmidhi

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Knowing that we are tested throughout this life and that Allah tests those that He loves. It is through those tests that we can grow stronger and wiser. People simply don't make as much progress through times of ease.

He tests us with money, love, family, friends, abilities, etc. We learn as each one is taken away or reduced to be grateful for what we have. We learn to hold on to what we need, let go of what we don't, and delight in the small joys we are blessed with daily.

There are some of us who turn hard and cold from these trials. They shut down the piece of themselves that was hurt in order to prevent future pain. We fail to learn the lessons we needed to learn, and we fail to realize that a different part of our heart will be tested later. We aren't saving ourselves from future pain, but instead prisoning ourselves inside the past.

We must not trick ourselves into believing we are a victim of circumstance. Even in situations where we don't have control over what happens, we have control over how we REACT. In instances where we feel hurt from another, we must put ourselves in their shoes and understand their motivations and drive.

We can not wish to change another while resisting to look at the world through their eyes.

Take the time. Get to know what someone else understands. Know why they think the way they do. Take the time. Stop talking. Start listening.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge - Stephen Hawking

When there is not another person involved, we must accept what has been handed to us and accept that there is Wisdom in what has happened. Make the best out of it. Look forward. Look back only to evaluate and make adjustments so you can progress. Simply put - take time for yourself, but sulking is a waste of energy. Stand up. Move forward. Get on with life. Everyone else is.

What missed a servant could not have hit him and what hit him could not have missed him. - Imam Tahawi