Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education

The Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education (NFIE) is a non-profit, tax exempt, religious and educational organization dedicated to serve Islam with a special focus on Tasawwuf(Sufism),

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mercy The Stamp of Creation - Dr.Umar Faruq Abd-Allah- Nawawi Foundation


The explicit link between the Arabic words Islam, literally “entering into peace,” and salam, “peace” or “perfect peace,” has been frequently highlighted of late. It is mainly because of this etymological connection that many Muslims and others advance the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, just as Christianity is customarily called a religion of love. Certainly, in terms of their creed and the historical record, Muslims are no less justified in equating Islam with peace than Christians are in identifying their faith with love. From a theological perspective, however, it would be more precise to describe Islam as the religion of mercy. Islamic revelation designates the Prophet Muhammad as “the prophet of mercy,” and Islam’s scriptural sources stress that mercy—above other divine attributions—is God’s hallmark in creation and constitutes his primary relation to the world from its inception through eternity, in this world and the next. Islam enjoins its followers to be merciful to themselves, to others, and the whole of creation, teaching a karma-like law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from those who hold it back from others.
The Prophet Muhammad said: “People who show mercy to others will be shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, and he who is in heaven will be merciful to you.”1 Because these words epitomize Islam’s fundamental ethos, it was called “the Tradition of Primacy” and, for generations of Classical Muslim teachers, constituted the first text that many of them handed down to their students and required them to commit to memory with a full chain of transmitters going back to the Prophet Muhammad.2
God: The All-Merciful I n Arabic, God is called by many names, but his primary and most beautiful name, embracing all others, is Allah (God, the true God). Allah is a derivative of the same Semitic root as the Biblical Elohîm (God) and ha-Elôh (the true God) of Moses and the Hebrew prophets or the Aramaic Al¥h¥ (God, the true God) of Jesus and John the Baptist. The formula “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving” (bismi-Llahi ‘r-Rahmani ‘r Rahim), occurs one hundred and fourteen times in the Qur’an––Islam’s holy book––at the beginning of all but one chapter and twice in another. The phrase is central to Islamic ritual. In Islam, the All-Merciful (ar-Rahman) and the Mercy-Giving (ar-Rahim) may be said to be the greatest names of God after Allah. Of all his names, they are most descriptive of his relation to the world and emphasize his will in salvation history and throughout eternity to benefit creation and ultimately bring about the triumph of supreme good over evil.

Innovation and Creativity In Islam- Dr.Umar Faruq Abd-Allah - Nawawi Foundation


Islam is a global religion. Its followers constitute one of the world’s largest religious communities. They are of every ethnic group and inhabit every type of geographical region. The religion’s historical success as a universal religion arises in part from the simplicity of its message and its ability to make itself relevant to different times and peoples. Islam constitutes a “mobile idea” because it can be easily understood anywhere and is flexible enough to come together “in intriguing ways to produce unanticipated new configurations.”1 Two of the most important components of Islam that make it a mobile idea are the concepts of bid‘a (innovation) and ijtihad (critical legal thinking in search for answers to new problems). Close attention to bid‘a and ijtihad gives Islam great historical mobility, enabling it to preserve continuity with the past while renewing its vitality as a dynamic faith.In traditional Islamic thought, the concepts of bid‘a and ijtihad both have shades of meaning that are not always well understood by Muslims today. The allegation that something is bid‘a is often made rashly, marginalizing new ideas and making creativity difficult. For some Muslims, the term has become a rhetorical sledgehammer to vindicate their own ideas by obliterating others. Ijtihad suffers from a similar predicament. Some restrict its use so severely that it ceases to be functional; others apply it so freely that it becomes arbitrary and undermines any semblance of authenticity. A feel for the true conceptions of bid‘a and had is necessary for Muslims today. Both concepts are central to how we conceive of ourselves as Muslims, the types of practices we condone, and the future we envision. The health of a Muslim community is tied to the sophistication and functional religious literacy of its members. Sherman Jackson emphasizes the necessity of promoting the intellectual health of the Muslim community by spreading “Islamic literacy” in order to instill critical consciousness in the Muslim rank and file.2 By giving everyday Muslims basic immunity against pseudo-scholarly interpretations of Islam, this core understanding of the faith is necessary to regain a footing in moderation between secular skepticism and violent extremes. As will be shown, Islamic literacy is required by the rules of ijtihad, which were never restricted to scholars alone but required the lay community to pass judgment on each scholar’s aptitude. A sound understanding of bid‘a and ijtihad is a fundamental component of the Islamic literacy our community needs.
THE CONCEPT OF BID‘A The Arabic root from which bid‘a derives is connected in meaning to a distinct yet similar radical, BD’ (the difference being between the final letter hamza (’) in this root and the final ‘ayn (‘) in bid‘a). BD’ means “to start or begin something,” while the primary meaning of bid‘a is “to start or begin something novel.” Among the various words directly derived from the root of bid‘a is the noun Badi‘ (Originator), cited in the Qur’an as an attribution of God: “Originator (Badi‘) of the heavens and the earth” (2:117; 6:101).3 Use of Badi‘ with reference to God denotes the uniqueness of God’s creative act and implies that the universe came into existence without a previously existing prototype.4 As an adjective, badi‘ was applied to outstanding works of human genius, especially those of poets and other masters of the spoken and written word. 5
The pre-Islamic conception of bid‘a, in contrast to later Islamic usage, tended always to be negative and served as a critique of the social implications of non-customary practices. This concept of bid‘a, in contrast to later Islamic usage, tended always to be negative. The allegation that something was a bid‘a meant that it violated the tribal code. A bid‘a was an action or an idea that lacked precedent in established custom. It constituted a sort of tribal heresy, a hateful innovation caused by deviating from the ways of patriarchs of the past.
By contrast, in classical Islamic law and theology, bid‘a could take on various shades of meaning. When used without qualifying adjectives, it tended to be condemnatory, as, for example, in the statement, “bid‘a must be avoided.” Nevertheless, bid‘a was not always something bad. In certain contexts, especially when qualified by adjectives, bid‘a could cover a wide range of meanings from what was praiseworthy to what was completely wrong, as, for example, in the caliph ‘Umar’s statement below, “what an excellent bid‘a is this!”

Islam and the Cultural Imperative - Dr.Umar Faruq Abd-Allah - Nawawi Foundation

For centuries, Islamic civilization harmonized indigenous forms of cultural expression with the universal norms of its sacred law. It struck a balance between temporal beauty and ageless truth and fanned a brilliant peacock’s tail of unity in diversity from the heart of China to the shores of the Atlantic. Islamic jurisprudence helped facilitate this creative genius. In history, Islam showed itself to be culturally friendly and, in that regard, has been likened to a crystal clear river. Its waters (Islam) are pure, sweet, and life-giving but—having no color of their own—reflect the bedrock (indigenous culture) over which they flow. In China, Islam looked Chinese; in Mali, it looked African. Sustained cultural relevance to distinct peoples, diverse places, and different times underlay Islam’s long success as a global civilization. The religion became not only functional and familiar at the local level but dynamically engaging, fostering stable indigenous Muslim identities and allowing Muslims to put down deep roots and make lasting contributions wherever they went. By contrast, much contemporary Islamist1 rhetoric falls far short of Islam’s ancient cultural wisdom, assuming at times an unmitigated culturally predatory attitude. Such rhetoric and the movement ideologies that stand behind it have been deeply influenced by Western revolutionary dialectic and a dangerously selective retrieval and reinterpretation of Islamic scripture in that light. At the same time, however, the Islamist phenomenon is, to no small degree, a byproduct of the grave cultural dislocation and dysfunction of the contemporary Muslim world. Culture—Islamic or otherwise—provides the basis of social stability but, paradoxically, can itself only flourish in stable societies and will inevitably break down in the confusion of social disruption and turmoil. Today, the Muslim world retains priceless relics of its former cultural splendor, but, in the confusion of our times, the wisdom of the past is not always understood and many of its established norms and older cultural patterns no longer appear relevant to Muslims or seem to offer solutions. Where the peacock’s tail has not long since folded, it retains little of its former dazzle and fullness; where the cultural river has not dried up altogether, its waters seldom run clear.
Human beings generate culture naturally like spiders spin silk, but unlike spiders’ webs the cultures people construct are not always adequate, especially when generated unconsciously, in confusion, under unfavorable conditions, or without proper direction. Unsurprisingly, Muslim immigrants to America remain attached to the lands they left behind but hardly if ever bring with them the full pattern of the once healthy cultures of their past, which—if they had remained intact—would have reduced their incentive to emigrate in the first place. Converts overwhelmingly African-American—are often alienated from their own deep indigenous roots and native cultural sensibility through the destructive impact of culturally predatory Islamist ideologies from abroad.
All the same, Muslims in America have been silently forging sub-cultural identities over recent decades around our mosques, in Islamic schools, at home, and on college campuses.2 Some of these developments are promising. The upcoming generation has produced a number of notable Muslim American writers, poets, rap artists, and stand-up comedians. We experiment with dress (special dresses from denim, for example) and coin words (like fundamentalist) as parts of our daily speech. Cross-cultural and interracial marriages have increased and show that many Muslim Americans now find themselves more Muslim and American than Indian, Pakistani, Syrian, Egyptian, or anything else. In other ways too, the young generation shows signs of cultural maturity and is connecting on positive levels often unthinkable to their parents. Many of them are comfortable with their American identity, while cultivating a healthy understanding of their religion, pride in their past, connection to the present, and a positive view of the future. But, despite positive signs, much of the cultural creation taking place over recent years around the mosque, school, home, and campus has been without direction, confused, unconscious, or, worse yet, subconsciously compelled by irrational fears rooted in ignorance of the dominant culture and a shallow, parochial understanding of Islam as a counter-cultural identity religion.3 The results—especially if mixed with culturally predatory Islamist ideology—may look more like a cultural no-man’s-land than the makings of a successful indigenous Muslim identity.

"ONE GOD MANY NAMES" - Dr.Umar Faruq Abdallah- Nawawi Foundation

 Please read complete article (PDF)

In the turmoil of current events and talk of clashing civilizations, people often want to know what Muslims worship. Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims correctly assert that each of their religions invokes the God of Abraham, but many among America’s religious right increasingly make a point of denying this common ground. For the Christian Coalition’s Pat Robertson, the world’s troubles turn on the question of “whether Hubal, the moon god of Mecca known as Allah,1 is supreme or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, God of the Bible, is supreme.” Franklin Graham—son of Billy Graham and prominent evangelical who led the invocation at George W. Bush’s 2001 presidential inauguration—insists that Christians and Muslims worship different Gods. In the same vein, William Boykin, a top Pentagon general, brought himself international notoriety by proclaiming his God to be a “real God” and “bigger” than the Muslim God, whom he deemed a mere “idol,” inflammatory remarks for which the Bush-Cheney administration has refused to hold him accountable.2 The fact that All¥h and the Biblical God are identical is evident from Biblical etymology.3 From the standpoint of Islamic theology and salvation history,4 it is simply unacceptable to deem the Biblical God and that of the Qur’an to be anything but the same, despite the fact that, in recent years, many English-speaking Muslims have developed an ill-advised convention of avoiding the word “God” under the mistaken assumption that only the Arabic word “Allah” carries a linguistic guarantee of theological authenticity. Beautiful names for God are not unique to the Bible or the Qur’an nor to any religion or group of human tongues. Semitic languages—like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic—possess rich glossaries of divine names, but those who invoke them have never possessed a monopoly on God. At a most fundamental level, all humanity shares in a legacy of knowing the Supreme Being and being able to designate him by appropriate names, which—from an Islamic point of view—reflect humankind’s inborn knowledge of God, bolstered by its remote association with the primeval legacy of universal prophecy. As for our English word “God,” it reflects such primordial roots, belongs to the treasury of ancient divine names, and is among the most expressive designations of the Supreme Being. The continued aversion on the part of many English speaking Muslims to admit “God” into their vocabulary serves only to reinforce the groundless claims of the religious right. It is urgent for English-speaking Muslims to communicate coherently, and embracing the word “God” is an important step in that direction.
Symposium of Abrahamic Faiths : Today, it has become part of the generally accepted ecumenical lexicon to speak of the “Abrahamic faiths,” since the expression accurately reflects that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam invoke the God of Abraham and share a host of monotheistic beliefs and values. The Qur’an calls Islam the religion of Abraham (millat Ibrahim): “Then we revealed unto you (Muhammad) that you follow the religion of Abraham, who did not belong to those associating false gods with God.”5 The thesis that Muslims worship the God of Abraham is so central to Islam that even Muslim school children know it well. Muslims invoke salutations upon Abraham and his family in their daily prayers, and the annual rites of pilgrimage to Mecca and the House of Abraham (the Kaaba) are tied to the Abrahamic story at every point. Islamic scripture repeatedly asserts the belief that Islam represents a pristine model of the Abrahamic dispensation.6 It instructs Muslims to declare their allegiance to Abraham’s God and his primordial teaching: “Say (all of you): ‘We believe in God and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes of Israel and what was given unto Moses and to Jesus and what was given to all the prophets from their Lord. We draw no distinctions between any of them, and we are a people who submit themselves (willingly) to God.”7 From the Qur’anic standpoint, Muslims, Christians, and Jews should have no difficulty agreeing that they all turn to the God of Abraham, despite their theological and ritual differences. Historical arguments between their faiths have never been over what name to call Abraham’s God. As for Muslims, the Islamic concept of salvation history is rooted in the conviction that there is a lasting continuity between the dispensation of Muhammad and the earlier ones of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Biblical and extra-Biblical prophets. The Qur’an instructs Muslims to acknowledge openly and forthrightly that their God and the God of the followers of Biblical religion—Jews and Christians—is the same: “Do not dispute with the people of the Bible (the Book—Jews and Christians) but in the best of manners, excepting those of them who commit oppression, and say (to them): ‘We believe in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one, and we are a people in (willing) submission to him.’”8

" ONE GOD" Poem by Walid Lounès Bouzerar

The Makkan Litany by Walid Lounes Bouzerar
The One God
My name is the newly begotten
And my Lord is He Who begets not
Nor is He begotten nor does He forget
al-Ahad, al-Samad, who Brought Forth and Taught
He Says to a thing “Be” so it is
Reason cannot encompass Him nor can thought
Though He is always found when He is Sought
Blessed is the Name of He in Whose Hands we were Wrought
Allah, al-Hayy, al-Qayyum, al-Muhyi, al-Mumit
al-Wahid, al-Ahad, al-Fard, al-Samad
Through His Providing we drink and we feed
The One Sustainer, our Self-Subsisting God
His Plotting Overpowers every creature's plot
Every man is compelled by He who Created him from a clot
Every intention against His Will leads to naught
Blessed is this Divine Net in which we are caught!
He is All-Pure, All-Perfect, All-Seeing, All-Hearing
Who is heedful of Him is blessed, who is heedless is flawed
He is al-Jabbar, al-Qahhar, blessed are the God-fearing
Who in the day and in the night by His Jalal are awed
And the first creation He Fashioned is a Resplendent Lightﷺ
And thus the first created and the last to be sent is this Messenger of Godﷺ
Muhammad, Ahmad, Mustafa, Mahmood, Creation's Highest Heightﷺ
al-Amin, al-Matin, al-Ra'uf, al-Rahim, whom the Lord did laudﷺ
The oneﷺ not taught by creature's writings nor their flawed thoughts
But directly by hisﷺ Creator, the Infinitely Wise, All-Knowing God
Who was presentﷺ with us on the Day of “We witness You are our God”
And his messageﷺ is an exegesis of this Day of Alast, for those who forgot
Blessed is his existenceﷺ, blessed is what Muhammad has broughtﷺ
Blessed is this Divine Market in which believers' selves are bought
O Allah, bless this Perfect Exemplar for Manﷺ , who errs not
Our Master, the Coolness of our Eyes, the Blessed Messenger of Godﷺ
- Walid Lounès Bouzerar