Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jerusalem was Liberated - Waiting for Salahuddin

The Great Warrior and Ruler - Sultan Salahuddin Ayoubi 



History tells us that when Sultan Salahuddin recaptured Jerusalem from the invading and ruthless Crusaders. Who had ninety years earlier massacred and savagely treated its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, he met a group of Latin Christian women who addressed him, "0 Sultan! You see that we are leaving. Among us are mothers, wives, daughters or sisters to the soldiers in captivity with you. These men are our support in life; and if we lose them we will lose everything. But if you leave them for our sake, you will be giving us back our lives." At this Salahuddin smiled and gave orders that the sons and husbands of those women be set free. He went even further and gave money to the women whose supporters were killed in the battle. An irate French girl came up to the Sultan and said, "You murderer, you have killed my father and captured both of my brothers. So there remains no one to support me!" Salahuddin calmly ordered that her brothers be set free, and then addressed her: "your father was killed in a war which he started himself, and in which many innocent people were killed." The French girl looked down, full of shame and regret for her insolence with such an honorable man and, with tears in her eyes, she said, "Forgive me, Sir! It was the bitterness of grief and the descriptions and bad impressions given to us about your people and their cruelty in our country (that caused my insolence). But now I see the reality: that you are honorable and I have not despaired of your forgiveness. May God curse the liars in our homelands who deceived us and depicted you as savage assassins who had desecrated our holy places? They exploited our emotions (and sent us here). But when we came to know you well we could not see the truth in any of their claims."
Salahuddin used to say, "It is better for one to err in forgiveness than to be right in punishment." However, we should not forget that this was only one of many special qualities that adorned his character.
Salahuddin was born of Kurdish parents in Takreet (in Iraq) in 1137 G., came at a time when the Islamic world was at its worst state, politically and even morally. In the Fertile Crescent (Today’s Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq) the ruler of almost every small town had an independent state of his own and tried to expand his authority through fighting with the other neighboring city states. Besides, almost all the major coastal towns on the East Mediterranean were captured and ruled by the Crusader invaders. Jerusalem (the claimed target of the Crusaders) was, of course, already under ruthless foreign domination. In brief, the picture was very bleak indeed.
Salahuddin was a man of unflinching faith. He knew that through the application of Islamic teachings and its principles, miracles could be made. Had not the early Muslims gone out of the desert and defeated the two greatest Empires on earth of their time? What were the arms with which they faced fighters who were much superior in number, training and equipment? It was certainly their firm faith in Allah, devotion to justice and unity. These three things were then the goals which Salahuddin tried to achieve in order to liberate Muslim lands from the Crusaders.
To Salahuddin Jihad started from inside. He had to watch himself and his aids and soldiers to make sure that they behaved in compliance with Divine commandments in all spheres of life, spiritual, moral and material. It is reported that prayers and devotion to Allah were the constant companions of Salahuddin. Once an adviser of his suggested, "Why do you not save the money you give in charity to the poor and religious teachers, and spend it in your war efforts?" He answered that he could not do that, because the prayers of poor men were a sure source of his strength in his wars.
Ibn Shaddad (an intimate companion of Salahuddin) reports, "In faith and practice the Sultan was a devout Muslim, ever conforming to the tenets at Islam. He was regular in the performance of religious observances, assiduous in offering the ritual prayers, founded on the practice of the Prophet; he also performed the voluntary prayers during the night." Salahuddin’s attitude to material luxury and gains is revealed in the fact that when he died he left nothing except one dinar and 47 dirhams. Nothing else did he leave by way of houses, goods, gardens or any other type of property. He did not leave even as much as that could suffice to defray his burial expenses. As for the acute sense of justice of Salahuddin, it is enough to mention that he did not object to go with one of his subjects to the Qadi (the judge). When he won the case he forgave the man and even gave him what he had claimed.
"0 believers! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and Let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice, Be just: that is nearer to piety and fear of Allah. Verily, Allah is well acquainted with what you do," (Al-Our'an: 5:8)
His greatness was due to two main qualities namely,
(1) His inborn leadership qualities, and
(2) Meticulous application of the Islamic teachings in all aspects of his life: spiritual and material, individual and social, at war and in peace.
The liberation of Jerusalem from the hands of the ruthless Crusaders was only one of the great achievements of Salahuddin.  At the age of seven, Salahuddin moved with his father Najmuddin to Damascus, where he closely witnessed the heroic deeds of his relative Nouruddin, the ruler of Damascus and some other parts of Syria, who was at constant war with the invading Crusaders. So, besides the civil education Salahuddin received (especially in religious learning), he had the opportunity of training in the arts of war and military maneuvers as well.
Later, when Salahuddin Uncle Asaduddin Shirkoh was sent to Egypt,  Salahuddin was ordered to accompany him, which he did. However, this trip proved to be the most critical in Salahuddin’ s life, For not only did he learn so much from his second teacher , his great uncle Asaduddin in the tactics of war, but he also succeeded him later to the position of minister to the Fatimide Caliph in 564 A.H. (1169 C.E).
At the age of 32 he was given the title "The Supporting King". This appointment seemed to have changed Salahuddin’ s temperament and attitude to life in a manner reminiscent of another earner hero of Islam, 'Urnar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz. For to both, authority was a responsibility rather than an honor, and they felt that they had to shun the life of ease and comfort in order to carry out the responsibility placed upon their shoulders. Salahuddin started by rectifying the corrupt conditions in Egypt. His first target was to clean the government from corrupt elements and the heads of treachery, some of whom he caught red-handed. The second major step was to abolish the whole ailing Fatimide Dynasty, sending parts of the unjustly earned and heaped property of the Dynasty to the Abbaside caliph in Baghdad and to his commanders-in-chief in Damascus to be used in his war efforts. The rest of the properties of the Dynasty Salahuddin sold, and he deposited the money in the public treasury.
As an honest and sincere leader, Salahuddin stayed in his old residence and refused to move to the luxurious palaces of the Caliphate, until he built the castle at AI-Mugattam mount in Cairo. Then he launched a long campaign in an attempt to unify the Muslim world; thus, bringing into the fold a great part of North Africa {Libya and Tunis}, the West of Arabia (where the Sacred Cities of Makkah and Madinah are situated}, down to Yemen. Upon the death of Nouruddin , Salahuddin became the undisputable master and Sultan of Egypt, Yemen and the Syrian region, which were subjugated by Salahuddin after some battles in which some rulers of the area allied themselves with the invading forces. Despite the fact that Salahuddin had by then a very strong army, we believe that he had something far greater on his side in those battles; that is, his charitable nature, for that won him the hearts of the residents of the fortified towns even before he entered them. We find an illustration of this charitable and chivalrous nature of Salahuddin in the following incident. While Salahuddin was besieging Haab {Aleppo} and attacking it, the young daughter of his former leader Nooruddin Mahmood came out of the city to meet him. He gave her a very warm welcome. Then he asked her about her request. She told him that the people wanted 'l'zaz' (honourable departure). He complied with her request and even accompanied her and her soldiers to the gates of the city. Then he set free all the soldiers captured in that battle, soldiers whose hearts Salahuddin had already won, due to his kindness and charitable nature. As pointed out earlier, Salahuddin was in his kindness and charity only applying the teachings of Islam, which instructs its followers to demonstrate justice even with the most detested enemies.
Salahuddin returned to Egypt after unifying the newly founded state under his command. He sent his soldiers to their families and directed his attention to civil projects, such as building hospitals, schools, bridges and public parks. He also ordered the fortification of Cairo.
All these and similar incidents increased Salahuddin's conviction of the necessity of a major offensive. The battlefield was Hitteen at which Salahuddln met with a huge army of the Crusaders for which the conflicting Crusader rulers came into form with each other. The battle was very fierce but Salahuddin finally won the day, and the invaders were beaten. Thus, the way to Jerusalem was half paved for Salahuddin who captured (or rather liberated) it after ninety years of occupation. This was in Rajab 583 A.H. (July 1187); thus, opening the doors of the Masjid AI-Aqsa the most sacred mosque in Jerusalam, or (Bait-ul-Maqdis which is regarded as the third Sacred Mosque in Islam) again for the pious followers of Islam.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ata bin rabah


'ATA' BIN RABAH
The Slave who became a Teacher, to King (d. 104 A. H 225
The characteristic typical of all the Muslim heroes was their effort to direct their work for one and only one purpose; that is, the Pleasure of Allah. Whether in the Battle or in the mosque, in the royal courts or in the market-place those heroes' conduct never faltered.
Ata bin Rabah was an eminent personality of the second generation of Muslims who met or accompanied many Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). 'Ata' ibn Rabah was once at the doorsteps of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn 'Abdul Malik in Damascus. Let us listen to what goes on between him and the Caliph.
The Caliph: What can we do for you, Abu Muhammad?
Ata : The people of the two Harams (Makkah and Madinah), the guests of Allah (i.e. pilgrims) and the neighbors of the Messenger, give them their allotted annual gifts.
_ We will (Turning to Secretary): Write a decree to that effect. What else, Abu Muhammad?
_ The people of Hijaz and Najd are the heart of the Arabs and leaders of Islam. , request that you return to them the surplus of their charity.
- Yes, anything else?
_ Yes. leader of the faithful, the soldiers at the frontiers of the Muslim lands. They are there in the face of your enemies, fighting whoever attempts to attack the land of Islam or hurt the Muslims. These people deserve generous salaries and supplies to be sent to them. For if they are lost our frontiers are gone.
- Yes. (Addressing the Secretary) Write a decree to that effect. Anything else I can do for you?
- (the non-Muslim subjects living in the Muslim State who, in return for paying tax, enjoyed protection and safety) should not be asked to do things beyond their means. For whatever tax they pay you is a help against the State's enemies.
The Secretary was ordered to write a decree to that effect. The Caliph asks: Anything else, Abu Muhammad?
- Yes. Fear Allah for your own sake. Remember that you were born alone; you will die alone, will be raised on the Day of Resurrection alone, and you will receive the Judgment alone. No one of your friends or relatives can be of any help at those times."
With these words Ata bin Rabah bid farewell to the Caliph.
Before going out a man sent by the Caliph offered a pouch full of money for him. 'Ata ibn Rabah, declined to take the money, quoting from the Qur’an: "I ask you no reward (for the advice). For my reward is with the Lord of the universe."
Now let's go back to the earlier day’s life in Makkah. 'Ata ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian, born a slave to a Makkan lady. Since his childhood he became interested in learning. He divided his time into three portions: one third he spent in the service of his mistress carrying out his duties as a faithful servant. The second portion he devoted to worship and prayers, and one third he devoted to learning whatever he could from the former companions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). The Makkan lady was impressed with her bondsman's devotion. So she set him free, giving him the chance to spend all his time in the Sacred Mosque of Makkah, learning first then teaching and engaged in devotions.His knowledge and piety earned him a high place in the hearts of the rulers and the ruled alike. Of his knowledge we are told that a great man like 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar was reported to have been surprised that people in Makkah needed to seek religious guidance from anyone while they had a man like 'Ata ibn Rabah amongst them.
In the presence of 'Ata' even the greatest of Muslim Caliphs humbled themselves as we saw in the incident mentioned earlier (where we witnessed the encounter between Hisham ibn 'Abdul-Malik and Ata bin Rabah). In Makkah, another Umayyad Caliph, Sulaiman ibn 'AbdulMalik, accompanied his two sons to sit humbly in the presence of the ex-slave to listen to his teachings in the Sacred Mosque. When he was asked about the man by his sons, the Caliph answered, "This was 'Ata ibn Rabah." Then he said, "My children seek knowledge. For through knowledge and learning the humble becomes great. The fool becomes wise, and slaves become superior to kings."
He lived about one hundred years and performed pilgrimage (Hajj) no less than seventy times.'ATA' BIN RABAH
The Slave who became a Teacher, to King (d. 104 A. H 225
The characteristic typical of all the Muslim heroes was their effort to direct their work for one and only one purpose; that is, the Pleasure of Allah. Whether in the Battle or in the mosque, in the royal courts or in the market-place those heroes' conduct never faltered.
Ata bin Rabah was an eminent personality of the second generation of Muslims who met or accompanied many Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). 'Ata' ibn Rabah was once at the doorsteps of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn 'Abdul Malik in Damascus. Let us listen to what goes on between him and the Caliph.
The Caliph: What can we do for you, Abu Muhammad?
Ata : The people of the two Harams (Makkah and Madinah), the guests of Allah (i.e. pilgrims) and the neighbors of the Messenger, give them their allotted annual gifts.
_ We will (Turning to Secretary): Write a decree to that effect. What else, Abu Muhammad?
_ The people of Hijaz and Najd are the heart of the Arabs and leaders of Islam. , request that you return to them the surplus of their charity.
- Yes, anything else?
_ Yes. leader of the faithful, the soldiers at the frontiers of the Muslim lands. They are there in the face of your enemies, fighting whoever attempts to attack the land of Islam or hurt the Muslims. These people deserve generous salaries and supplies to be sent to them. For if they are lost our frontiers are gone.
- Yes. (Addressing the Secretary) Write a decree to that effect. Anything else I can do for you?
- (the non-Muslim subjects living in the Muslim State who, in return for paying tax, enjoyed protection and safety) should not be asked to do things beyond their means. For whatever tax they pay you is a help against the State's enemies.
The Secretary was ordered to write a decree to that effect. The Caliph asks: Anything else, Abu Muhammad?
- Yes. Fear Allah for your own sake. Remember that you were born alone; you will die alone, will be raised on the Day of Resurrection alone, and you will receive the Judgment alone. No one of your friends or relatives can be of any help at those times."
With these words Ata bin Rabah bid farewell to the Caliph.
Before going out a man sent by the Caliph offered a pouch full of money for him. 'Ata ibn Rabah, declined to take the money, quoting from the Qur’an: "I ask you no reward (for the advice). For my reward is with the Lord of the universe."
Now let's go back to the earlier day’s life in Makkah. 'Ata ibn Rabah was an Ethiopian, born a slave to a Makkan lady. Since his childhood he became interested in learning. He divided his time into three portions: one third he spent in the service of his mistress carrying out his duties as a faithful servant. The second portion he devoted to worship and prayers, and one third he devoted to learning whatever he could from the former companions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). The Makkan lady was impressed with her bondsman's devotion. So she set him free, giving him the chance to spend all his time in the Sacred Mosque of Makkah, learning first then teaching and engaged in devotions.His knowledge and piety earned him a high place in the hearts of the rulers and the ruled alike. Of his knowledge we are told that a great man like 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar was reported to have been surprised that people in Makkah needed to seek religious guidance from anyone while they had a man like 'Ata ibn Rabah amongst them.
In the presence of 'Ata' even the greatest of Muslim Caliphs humbled themselves as we saw in the incident mentioned earlier (where we witnessed the encounter between Hisham ibn 'Abdul-Malik and Ata bin Rabah). In Makkah, another Umayyad Caliph, Sulaiman ibn 'AbdulMalik, accompanied his two sons to sit humbly in the presence of the ex-slave to listen to his teachings in the Sacred Mosque. When he was asked about the man by his sons, the Caliph answered, "This was 'Ata ibn Rabah." Then he said, "My children seek knowledge. For through knowledge and learning the humble becomes great. The fool becomes wise, and slaves become superior to kings."
He lived about one hundred years and performed pilgrimage (Hajj) no less than seventy times.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Umar Bin Abdul Abdul Aziz - The Righteous Caliph


Umar Bin Abdul Aziz

The Umayyads, who gained control of the Islamic Caliphate, after the four Righteous Caliphs, chose Damascus for the capital of the Islamic Empire.  Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was not a man of war and military battles but rather a simple man who strived to live a very humble life in the midst of that type of life of luxury and affluence. What makes this all the more remarkable is that 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz did all this after he became the Caliph or the ruler of a great Empire. 'Umar the Caliph who was accustomed to the life of ease and comfort shunned all the amenities and luxuries of royal life and led a humble life like any of the ordinary citizens of the Empire he ruled. 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz was born in Madinah around 59 A.H. (680 G.). He was a descendent of 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab on his mother's side. So his life of material luxury and richness did not spoil the moral and religious aspects of his life. In his youth he memorized the Holy Ouran and kept the company of many religious scholars in Madinah and elsewhere. At the age of twenty-six, 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz was appointed Governor of Madinah. This was the first test of his character. 'Umar successfully passed the test. For as soon as he was appointed, he chose ten 'Ulama' (religious scholars) to help him carry out his duties, by giving him sincere advice and warning him of any injustices incurred by the citizens. In the year 99 A.H. (ca. 720 G.) 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz ascended to the throne in Damascus after the death of Sulaiman ibn 'Abdul-Malik who chose him for a successor.
And according to the conventions of the time, people swore the oath of allegiance to 'Umar who told them to make their pledge conditional on his obedience to Allah; in other words, he did not want allegiance of his subjects to be a blind one. People had to obey him and be loyal to him only as long as he did not break any of the Divine laws; otherwise, they did not have to obey him. In this great attitude 'Umar ibn' Abdul-Aziz was certainly following the path of the four Righteous Caliphs, who always insisted that subjects should show obedience to the ruler only so long as he broke no law of Allah.
To him worldly comfort and wealth had no meaning but rather were considered hindrances in the path of piety. He had never transgressed the laws of the faith; neither had he caused any harm to anyone intentionally. When he became the Caliph, however, in contrast to many or most rulers, he rejected the soft way of life and started a new way of austerity and hard work for the Pleasure of Allah. He refused to be accompanied by the official parade, and he sent off his royal guards saying: "I have no need for this; for I am only a member of the Muslim community."
Another practice discontinued by 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz was the practice of giving rewards and incentives to the poets who praised the Caliphs. To him this was an unfair way of wasting the money of the public treasury. For that money should only go to the people who really needed it.
What makes 'Umar ibn 'Abdul-Aziz a heroic model is the fact that to him piety and justice were not matters of preaching only, but they were matters of practice, and that practice began at home. He divested himself of all the unnecessary amenities of life and asked his wife Fatimah to return her dearest and valuable jewelry to the Muslim treasury. To him, members of the royal family were no better than the common people, and they deserved no special favors.
It was In fact this sense and practice of justice and sincerity in carrying out the duties of the caliphate that made the whole empire free of the poor and needy people, which made it difficult to find people who deserved the poor dues (Zakat).
Another important aspect of his personality was his extreme modesty and humility. He, the ruler of one of the greatest empires in history, wore the simplest of inexpensive garments, lived the simplest way of life and served himself whenever possible. His order to his servant was: "Rulers usually appoint people to watch over their subjects. I appoint you a watcher over me and my behavior. If you find me at fault in word or action guide me and stop me from doing it."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Animal Rights in Islamic Perspective


Prophet Peace Be upon Him - Love for Animals
Once, when the Prophet Peace be upon him was on a journey with his companions, he stopped over to answer the call of nature. Meanwhile, some of his companions noticed a redstart bird with two chicks. He took the chicks away. The bird came and began to circle around them flapping its wings. When the Prophet ~ came and saw the scene, he turned to his companions and said, "Who distressed the bird by taking its chicks from it? Return the chicks to the bird!"
With animals
On a different occasion, the Prophet! Ii noticed a burnt ants' nest. "Who burnt the nest?" he demanded. One of his companions replied, "I did." The Prophet Peace be upon Him became angry and said, "No one but Allah punishes with fire!" The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM was so merciful that if he saw a cat whilst he was performing ablution, he would lower the utensil down for the cat to drink from and then perform ablution from the leftover water.
Once he passed by a man who had laid a sheep on the ground and placed his foot on its neck to slaughter it while sharpening the knife as the sheep looked on. The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM became angry upon seeing this and said, "Do you want it to die twice? Why didn't you sharpen your knife before you laid it on the ground?"
On another occasion, he passed by two men in the middle of a conversation and each of them was sitting on his camel. When he saw this, he felt pity for the camels and therefore forbade people from using animals as chairs, meaning that one is not to mount  it except when required and that when the need is fulfilled, one should dismount and allow it to rest. The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM also forbade branding an animal on its face.
A story is related of the Prophet ~ and his camel called al' Adhba: Once a group of pagans attacked some camels belonging to the Muslims on the outskirts of Madinah. They took away all the camels including al-'Adhba, as well as a Muslim woman. Whenever they stopped over on their way, they let the camels loose so they could pasture. When they stopped over at a certain place and fell asleep, the woman got up in order to escape. She went to the camels so as to mount one of them. Each time she went near a camel, it made a noise, causing her to avoid approaching it lest the pagans woke up. She kept approaching the camels one by one until she came to al-'Adhba and moved it to discover that it was docile and well-trained. She then mounted the camel and made her way back to Madinah. When she felt safe, she was overcome with joy and said,"0 Allah, I vow to you that if you save me by means of this camel, I would sacrifice it for you!"
When the woman reached Madinah, the people recognized the Prophet's camel. The woman then went home and the people brought the camel to the Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM. Later, the woman came and asked for the camel so that she could slaughter it. The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM  said, "How evil is the reward you give it! Allah saved you on it and now you want to slaughter it!"
The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM then said, "A vow is not valid if it is in disobedience to Allah, or with that which one does not own."
The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM would give Friday sermons resting his back on an erect trunk of a date-palm tree in his mosque. A woman from the Ansaar said, "0 Messenger of Allah, shall I not make something for you to sit on? I have a servant who is a carpenter, The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM said, "If you wish." The woman made a pulpit for him. The next Friday, the Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM climbed the pulpit she had made, and as he sat on it, the tree-trunk behind him mooed like a bull screamed as if it was about to split in half. The mosque shook. The Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM descended from the pulpit and embraced the trunk and it wailed like a child. Thereupon the Prophet PEACE BE UPON HIM said, "I swear by the One who has Muhammad's soul in His Hand, were it not that I embraced it, it would have continued crying until the Day of Resurrection."

Friday, March 2, 2012