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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Bay’ah (also pronounced bay’at) is a mutual pledge relating to the striving, arranging, executing and adhering to the laws of A’maale Zaahiri and A’maale Baatini. This pledge is called Bay'at-e-Tareeqat which has been in vogue by authoritative trans-mission from generation to generation since the earliest time of Islam.

Ras├úlullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam had enacted Bay’at of the Sahabah not only on Jihad, but on Islam and the adherence of the Ahkam (Laws in general) as well on practical deeds (A’maal). This is established by numerous Ahadith. The following is one such Hadith:
"Auf bin Malik Ashja’ee (radhiyallahu anhu) said: We were with Nabi sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, seven, eight or nine (of us), when he said: 'Will you not make a bay'ah (pledge) to the Rasool of Allah?' We stretched out our hands and enquired: On what shall we make bay'at to you, O Rasool of Allah? He said: 'That you make the Ibadat of Allah; that you associate nothing with Him; that you perform the five Salah; that you hear and obey." (Muslim, Abu Dawood, Nisai)
On this occasion the Bay’at which Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam took from the Sahabah was neither Bay'at Imani (Pledge of Ieman) nor Bay'at Jihadi (Pledge of Jihad). This Hadith is categorical proof for the system of Bay’at practiced by the Masha-ikh of Tasowwuf.

The meaning of bay'at (ba ya ‘a - to sell) is inherent in Bay’at . Bay’at thus implies that the mureed ‘sells’ himself to the Shaikh. In other words he has sold himself to the Shaikh in preparation of ahkam-e-zaahirah and ahkam-e-baatinah (i.e. to learn to give practical expression to the Law of Allah Ta'ala). The nature of this ‘sale’ envisages that the searcher after the truth (taalib) should repose implicit trust and faith in his Shaikh. He should understand and accept that the advices and prescriptions, admonitions and prohibitions of the Shaikh are all designed and motivated for his (the mureed's) spiritual well-being. The taalib shall not interfere with or impede the diagnosis and prescriptions of the Shaikh. He should have implicit faith to such an extent that he should believe that in all the world there is none in his knowledge who can benefit him more than his Shaikh. In the terminology of Tasawwuf this conception of implicit faith in the Shaikh is known as wahdat-e-matlab (unity of purpose). Minus this conception, the ceremony of Bay’at is meaningless and of no benefit because congeniality (munasabat) with the Shaikh is an essential condition for islah (reformation) of the nafs.

The sign of the existence of congeniality (munasabat) between the Mureed and his Shaikh is that the heart of the Mureed does not object to the respect, statements and acts of the Shaikh. Should any objection arise in the heart regarding the Shaikh, the mureed should grieve and feel depressed.

The external form of Bay’at is beneficial to the general public since it induces reverence and respect in them for the Shaikh. As a result, they readily accept the Shaikh's statements and are constrained to act accordingly. However, for the elite (khawas), i.e. the Ulama, Bay’at proves beneficial after a period has been spent in association with the Shaikh. By virtue of Bay’at a bond of sincerity (khulus) is generated between the mureed and the Shaikh. The Shaikh considers the mureed to belong to him and the mureed considers the Shaikh to belong to him. There does not remain any suspense between them.

Like there are four Math-habs (Schools of Thought) in Fiqh, viz. Hanafi, Shaafi, Maliki and Hambali, so too, are there four schools (Orders) in Tasowwuf, viz., Chishtiyya, Qaderiyyah, Naqshabandiyyah and Suharwardiyyah. Our akaabir (authorities in Tasowwuf)initiate the bay'at in all the four Spiritual Orders, so that respect for the four Salaasil is maintained although the Chishtiyyah Order is dominant (among our pious predecessors).

The founder of the Chishtiyyah Silsilah or Order is Hazrat Khwajah Mueenuddin Chishti Ajmeri (rahmatullahi alaihi) of Ajmer, India.
The founder of the Qadiriyyah Order is Hazrat Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (rahmatullahi alaihi) of Baghdad, Iraq.
The founder of the Naqshbandiyyah Order is Hazrat Shaikh Bahauddin Naqshbandi (rahmatullahi alaihi) of Bukhara, Russia.
The founder of the Suharwardiyyah Order is Hazrat Shaikh Shihabuddin Suharwardi of Northern Iran (rahmatullahi alaihi).

The Bay’at is enacted by the Shaikh taking into his right hand the right hand of the mureed (disciple). If the group contracting the Bay’at is large, the Shaikh uses a length of cloth onto which each member of the group holds with his right hand. Ladies who contract the Bay’at do so from behind a screen. A mahram of the lady should also be present at the Bay’at ceremony.
Hazrat Ayesha radhiyallahu anha said: “Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam never touched the palm of a woman, but he would take the (pledge-bay'at) from her (verbally). Upon having made the bay'at he would say: 'Go! Verily, I have already made bay'at with you.'" (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood)
It is for this reason that in entering ladies into the bay'at, the Masha-ikh do so verbally or by means of a cloth which is spread from the Shaikh to the lady behind the screen.
This is the method of bay'at when in the presence of the Shaikh. Those who are not able to present themselves personally to the Shaikh could contract the Bay’at by means of a letter or through the agency of a responsible and trustworthy person. This form of Bay’at is called bay'at-e-Uthmani. Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam on the occasion of bay'at-e-Ridhwan made the Bay’at of Hazrat Uthman in his (Uthman's) absence. On this occasion, Rasoolullah r placed his right hand on his left hand and announced that he has made Bay’at of Uthman. (The bay't in absence of the mureed is therefore termed bay'at-e-Uthmani.)


Monday, October 13, 2008

The Question of the Female Voice

In Surah Ahzaab, verse 32, Almighty Allah instructs the noble wives of Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam with the following: "...if you do fear (Allah) be not too complaisant of speech lest one in whose heart is a disease, should be moved with desire: but make a statement that is just.” This command makes it quite clear that the voice of a woman, by nature, can be alluring to the degree that passions of men folk are aroused. Hence she is ordered to alter that alluring and seductive tone in her voice when the need arises to converse with men. She should speak, not rudely or offensively, but in a matter-of-fact manner without overtures.

The question of whether the female voice is an object of concealment (satar or purdah) has been debated by the Scholars of Islam. We provide some food for thought on this issue, especially during times when Muslims have sadly discarded the Islamic injunctions on hijaab, and are facing the detrimental effects of such abandonment.
Shaikh Ali Saabooni supports the Hanafi view that the voice of a woman is satar. He quotes the following hadeeth shareef in his book, Raw’iul-Bayan (vol. 2 p.157): “Takbeer is for men, and clapping hands is for women.” That is, when she has to drew attention, she will clap the hands, while a man will recite takbeer. This proves that her voice will always remain concealed.

There is debate among Ulema over whether a woman should cover her face or not. The majority of Ulema rule that it is waajib for her to cover the face because the ultimate beauty and attraction lies in the face of a woman. She may uncover the face in cases of necessity. Needless to say, these Ulema have advanced strong proof for their claim, which we will not mention here. In like manner, debate has surfaced over the pardah of a woman’s voice. There is a large group of Ulema who say that her voice is also an object of concealment, only to be exposed when necessary. The use of the voice is a major necessity in our lives, so this she is not denied. In fact, the necessity of using the voice is far greater than exposing the face. According to the Maliki math-hab, the voice of woman is aurah. In the Shaf’ee and Hambali Math-habs, there are two views, one that it is aurah, the other that it is not. Both views have been narrated from Imam Ahmed bin Hambal (R.A.) Likewise in the Hanafi Math-hab there are two views of equal strength. All the Schools of Fiqah are unanimous on one issue, though, that it is haraam for a man to listen to a woman speaking or singing in a melodious or alluring tone.

Among the Hanafi Fuqahaa, Imam Abul-Abbas Qurtubi states: When we say the voice of a woman is aurah (object of concealment) we do not mean her (necessary) speech, for she is allowed to speak to strangers when necessary. However, we do not allow her to raise her voice (unnecessarily) or to speak in an alluring, melodious, and attractive way For this leads to arousing the attentions and passions of menfolk. That is why a female is not allowed to give azhaan. (Raddul-Muhtaar)

Here is more food for thought to convey the Shar’ee concept on this issue: A woman may not call out the azhaan; she may not lead men in salaah; she may not make loud zhikr; she may not recite Quran aloud; she may not conduct the Jumu’ah sermon; she may not read the talbiya aloud; she may not read qiraat aloud in salaah. Several Hanafi Scholars such as Allama Ibnul Hummam, Burhan Halabi, etc. say her salah breaks if she reads aloud.

Those Scholars who say that her voice is not an object of concealment are not issuing a license for her to showcase her vocal talents, or to engage in unrestricted conversation with men. She may speak when necessary. Due to the natural danger that exists, the ill-effects of which we are suffering today, Jurists and Scholars rule that both the face and voice must be concealed, and only exposed at the time of necessity.

It is evident from the above that there is a strong case to support the view that the voice of a woman should not be heard unless due to a necessity. The Fuqaha have ruled, on the basis of Qur’aan and Sunnah, that the woman’s voice is intrinsically an object of concealment only to be exposed during times of necessity. In a hadith of Abu Dawood it is stated that some women did not even speak to the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, but wrote notes to him instead. Hazrat Ayesha (radhiyallahu anhaa) says that once a woman came to the Prophet of Allah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam with a letter which she handed to him from behind a screen. (Abu Dawood). The Messenger of Allah in turn did not force them to speak up, nor did he disapprove of the practice (of sending in a hand-written note).

When the need arises for a female to ask a question on some religious matter, or to communicate some important information to a male that will be allowed on the basis of necessity. A necessary and unavoidable situation is not something that happens daily and cannot form the basis for a general ruling.


Your Dua: His Moments of Acceptance

The Princess of Muhadditheen and the mother of the Believers, Ayesah Siddeeqa (Radihiyallahu anha) narrates that when the month of Ramadaan would enter Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam would increase his salaah, his complexion would change, and he became more fervent in dua. (Bayhaqi)

This condition of his would undergo even further transformation upon the entry of the last ten days of the great month, a period which we are currently enjoying. It therefore, behoves us as followers of this Illustrious Rasool sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to assimilate within ourselves at least a semblance of this fervour, devotion, and commitment to Allah during this holy period.

Dua is an act that one cannot do enough of. No ibadat is complete without dua, and no Muslim can do without it, yet the Ummat has shown surprising indifference to this forte of ieman. A cursory survey of the Ummat’s condition at this stage of our history will reveal the true extent of our spiritual and mundane woes. The problems we face are complex, complicated, and seemingly insurmountable. Our marriages are under severe strain, domestic lives are cast into disarray, financial circumstances have become straitened, physical well-being is always threatened by debilitating illnesses, and worse still, the enemies of Islam have joined ranks in a physical and spiritual onslaught against the Ummat world-wide. Any nation would normally capitulate under such austere conditions, but Almighty Allah has given Muslims special spiritual resilience to withstand all the elements of adversity.

While we have experimented with many formulas in an attempt to resolve these and numerous other problems, the cause of failure can partially be attributed to lack of sufficient dua. No doubt, we are making dua, but it appears that our dua has no spark, fervour, or zeal. It must be acknowledged that dua alone cannot solve certain issues and people affected will have to resort to Shar’ee solutions, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that dua has that catalytic effect to convert our efforts into successful solutions. Furthermore, when one has exhausted all avenues in arriving at a solution or in resolving an issue without success, the last recourse is dua. It is this aspect of Islam which we wish to address in this article.

There are sure to be many complex and unsolvable issues that we have almost given up hope on. Well. Ramadaan is the month of Dua; the month when the acceptance of duas is guaranteed by Allah Azza Wa Jall. When all else has failed, let us utilize this opportunity to turn to Our Rabb in earnest. When all our efforts have reached a dead end, it is time we allowed the element of dua to prevail. Stretch out that begging bowl before your Creator with a passion that has never been witnessed before. Submit to Allah The Majestic in total humility, admit to Him our failure and weakness, and acknowledge that having reached the end of our tether, we now revert to Him for the alleviation of our difficulties.

This is the actual and factual position of our lives at this juncture. It is our conviction beyond all shadow of doubt that none can alleviate hardship but Allah The Supreme. Confess to Allah: Oh Our Rabb! We have given up all hope of successfully resolving the huge problems that plague us! We are at our wits end! We now petition you, O Almighty Rabb to provide succour, help, and Divine Aid in resolving the complexities of our troubled lives!

Before proceeding with a dissertation on the reality of dua, we need to take cognizance of a most important requisite for the acceptance of dua, and that is the earning of halaal sustenance in whichever form. One who indulges in eating and dressing that were acquired from unlawful or haraam sources can forget about his or her dua accepted. This is proven from the following hadith of Saheeh Muslim:
Hazrat Abu Hureira (radhiyallahu anhu) reports that Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: O People! Verily Allah is Pure and only accepts that which is pure. And verily Allah has commanded the Believers with that which He commanded the Messengers; He says (to the Messengers): “O Messengers! Eat from pure, wholesome foods and perform righteous deeds.” (Surah Muminoon, verse ) And He says (to the Believers): O Believers! Eat from the pure, wholesome foods that We have provided for you. (Surah Baqara, verse ). Then Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam mentioned a man who travelled a far distance, was dishevelled, weary and tired. He then stretches out his hand to Allah in dua, and exclaims: “O My Lord! O My Lord!” Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam says: “But his food is from haraam sources, his drink is from haraam, and his clothes are from haraam, so how can his dua be accepted?

Many great Auliyaa of the past have identified this as one of the major reasons why peoples duas are not accepted. For the record let it be said that there are two types of haraam: one is haraam in the item itself, the other is a haraam that is due to some external factor. Examples of the first are wine, pork, and animals that have not been slaughtered according to Shariah, or any food items that contains one of the above. Example of the second is wealth earned through haraam source such as stealing, fraud, gambling, usury, etc.

From the Ahadeeth of our Beloved Master sallallahu alaihi wa sallam we learn a number of important guidelines when making dua. It is imperative that we adhere to these principles to ensure acceptance of our duas.

When asking from Allah, we need to be convinced of His Ability to grant our request.
One should not ask for anything that is sinful or haraam, such as breaking of family ties, or asking Allah to destroy a Muslim who happens to be one’s enemy.

One should not become impatient if there is a delay in the answering of one’s dua.
To be convinced that a dua is answered in one of four ways: a) Allah Ta’ala either grants exactly what we ask for; b) Or He grants us something else in place of our request; c) Or He wards of some calamity because of that Dua; d) Or He stores that Dua for us in the Hereafter.

One should be firm and demanding from Allah, but with humility and in a begging way.
If one has committed a sin, then first repent from that sin, then place your request before Allah Azza Wa Jall. Hence it should be a standard practice to make istighfaar before a dua.

Begin the dua with praising Allah Ta’ala and Durood (Reciting Salwaat upon Our Beloved Master sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). End the Dua also with Durood.

This brings us to the most important aspect of this article: the precious moments when duas are accepted. There is no greater time for dua than the blessed days and nights of Ramadaan. In a hadith narrated by Imam Bayhaqi, Rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam is reported to have said:
The sleep of a fasting person is ibadah, his silence is tasbeeh, his deeds are multiplied in reward, his sins are forgiven, and his dua is accepted.

This proves that at any given time of the day or night, when a fasting person raises his hands to Allah, that dua does not fall on deaf ears. Then there is the time of iftaar, another moment of guaranteed acceptance from Allah Azza Wa Jall. The time of tahajjud, just before sehri has always been the choice of saintly people for their duas. When the brothers of Nabi Yusuf (alayhis salaam) confessed to their wrong-doing and requested their father Nabi Ya’qoob (alayhis salaam) to seek forgiveness on their behalf, he (Ya’qoob AS) responded: “I shall soon ask My Rabb for your forgiveness; Undoubtedly He is Oft Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf, verse 98) In the tafseer of this verse it is written that the time Hazrat Ya’qoob (alayhis-salaam) referred to in his promise was the latter part of the night, i.e. Tahajjud time.

Numerous ahadeeth mention the efficacy of dua after the faradh salaah. This is another time when duas are readily accepted. Some Auliyaa mentioned that when a Muslim is going through a difficult period in life, such as sadness, depression, stress, loss of life or property or any situation of grief or hardship, then his duas are also quickly accepted by Allah. They deduce this from a hadith-e-qudsee, where Allah Ta’ala speaks to the Ummat. It says: I am by those whose hearts are broken. (Mishkatul-Masabih).

Let us get into the habit of dua with fervour, zeal, enthusiasm, conviction, imploring and begging from Allah The Most High.