Who Was Malcolm X’s Shaykh?

By Omar Zaki 

This article was originally published by the Sudanese Community and Information Centre – London. Apr 5, 2014

Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) is by far one of the most influential activists of our time and increasingly so in a period when young Muslim generations have gained ‘a new  kind of consciousness’ as Malcolm once said, in light of increasing violation of Muslims civil liberties and Islamophobia primarily in the West, since 9/11.

To many Muslims, Malcolm X holds a great place of respect and admiration as a man who spoke and fought for not only the rights of African-Americans but for the oppressed people of the third world. Even Rosa Parks whose act of refusing to move from a white only seat triggered the civil rights movement, stated that Malcolm X was her hero.

Throughout the active political years of his life with the Nation of Islam until his end,  Malcolm X had few but interesting encounters with Sudan and Sudanese. He travelled to Sudan in 1959 visiting Khartoum and Omdurman and spoke of Sudanese in glowing terms saying, ‘’I was impressed the most by the Muslims of the Sudan. Their religious piety and hospitality are unmatched anywhere. I really felt in heaven and home there.’’

In 1962 Malcolm X felt increased resentment from high ranking Nation of Islam members in Chicago for his public recognition and were suspicious that he wanted to succeed Elijah Muhammed. Malcolm sought to deflect these feelings by reducing his media appearances and promote Elijah Muhammed’s cult by defending the NOI against orthodox Muslims. The Muslim community in America looked at the NOI from the outset as a heretical cult but rarely spoke against it outright.

One of the first Orthodox Muslims to publicly criticise the NOI was a Sudanese student at Pennsylvania University called Yahya Hayari. Malcolm responded both private and publicly with a letter to the Pittsburg Courier against Hayari saying it’s ‘’difficult for me to believe that you’re a Muslim from the Sudan’’, he further aggressively defended Muhammed and accused Hayari for sounding ‘’like a brainwashed, American negro’’ that had ‘’been in Christian America too long’’ yet Hayari continued prompting Malcolm.

In the same year, another Sudanese student from Dartmouth College called Ahmed Osman, who attended services at No. 7 Mosque (the active Harlem Mosque that Malcolm himself set up) engaged with Malcolm  during a question and answer session. He directly challenged Malcolm on Elijah Muhammed’s prophetic claims and that whites were literally ‘’devils’’. Osman was ‘’greatly impressed by Malcolm’’ but not by his answer. Afterwards the two exchanged letters and Osman sent literature from the Islamic Centre in Geneva with which Malcolm was grateful for and requested more. Despite Osman’s insistence for Malcolm to join true Islam, he was unprepared.  These engagements between Yahya, Ahmed and Malcolm must of helped lay the tracks for Malcolm’s searching into orthodox Islam as he would later incorporate their discourses against the NOI.

In chapter 18 of Malcolm’s autobiography edited by Alex Haley, when he discusses his Hajj and the warm exchanges with various Muslims who expressed their solidarity with the struggle of African-Americans in the US, he pointed out a Sudanese ‘high official’ who hugged him and said ‘’You champion the American black people!’’. When at Mecca, Malcolm befriended a Sudanese called Shiekh Ahmed Hassoun who taught in Mecca for 35 years and would serve as Malcolm’s spiritual advisor and later taught at the Muslim Mosque Inc. which Malcolm created four days after his departure from the NOI in 1964.  It was Shiekh Ahmed who prepared Malcolm’s body for burial at the Faith Temple Church of God in West Harlem where he lay in state and oversaw his burial.

It is common that Sudanese feel their country is rarely recognised or mentioned some way in contemporary history, however many I believe will take pride in knowing that Sudanese were involved closely in the inspiring picture of Malcolm X’s incredible life.

Omar Zaki is an active half-Sudanese student with an BA History degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and former Union Secretary for the SOAS Student’s Union. 

Published in: Uncategorized on March 8, 2020 at 13:32  Comments (1)  

Educating Muslim Women: The West African Legacy of Nana Asma’u 1793-1864.

This is a Book Review by Amidu Olalekan Sanni

by Jean Boyd and Beverly Mack 

Until very recently a dominant stereotype in the Western discursive tradition portrayed Africa as a ‘Dark Continent’ and her women as subalterns who lived on the margins of history. The work under review not only invalidates this negative assumption, but also establishes the lasting influence of Nana Asma’u (1793-1864), ‘the most prolific woman writer and influential lady to emerge in the Western Soudan in the nineteenth-century’ (p. 173). This six-chapter work highlights the history of Sufism in West Africa—the esoteric platform on which Asma’u’s sociointellectual upbringing and engagement was built; the routines in the house of the state officials, especially in relation to harems, slaves, and concubines; and the events that led to the establishment of the Sokoto caliphate in 1808, especially those relating to migration and wars. The social infelicities of the antebellum migration, and the postwar social dislocations suffered by women inspired Nana Asma’u to establish ‘Yan Taru’ (The Associates), a movement that undertook the education, edification, social welfare, and empowerment of rural women through trained local facilitators (Jajis). This movement, which came into being by the first quarter of the nineteenth century, not only survived British colonialism but also continued into modern Nigeria in the form of women’s rights and activist groups, as demonstrable with Women in Nigeria (WIN) founded in 1982, and the Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) founded in 1985.

Yan Taru’s replication and transformation as far afield as North America is further proof of its universal relevance. This is a central, if not the central, subject matter of this work. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the organisation promotes the original ideals of Nana Asma’u, albeit in an urban setting, through the appropriation of modern information facilities and intellectual enterprise.

For example, since 2005 it has published a bimonthly newsletter, Yan Taru, and in 1985 founded the Sankore Institute. The Institute has engaged not only in facilitating the ‘restoration of cultural ties between African-Americans and Africans’ (p. 219), but also in promoting African Islamic heritage, particularly the values of the Sokoto Qadiriyya community, as well as translating the writings of the Fodios into English (see http://www.siiasi.org/). This narrative goes a long way in establishing that women’s leadership in intellectual, social, and spiritual voyages had never been lacking in the West African Sufi tradition.

A particular merit of this work is that the personal experiences of the two authors arising from their extensive field studies and stays in Nigeria enhances the probative value of their analyses of works by and on Nana Asma’u. These analyses also provide insights into her intellectual credentials, social orientation, and the nature and quality of her interaction in a conservative cultural landscape in which she also collaborated with men in the production of poetry and prose pedagogic materials in Arabic, Fulfulde, and Hausa for the community, particularly women. The work also provides an objective assessment of women and their roles in the caliphate where they ‘are allowed more liberty’, and of the harem as a place of honour rather than ‘a place where women were sequestered, waiting to provide sex service in turn’ (p. 69).

There are, however, some inadequacies and drawbacks in this otherwise outstanding work. References to the landmass south of the Sahara as sub-Saharan Africa (p. 13) has become less than eirenic due to its inherent pejorative undertone; Sudanic Africa has become a more-acceptable term. Although past Eurocentric authors and travellers’ accounts may be pardoned for being unaware of local developments in the political and intellectual terrain of colonial and/or postcolonial Nigeria or for simply choosing to ignore them, this cannot be extended to modern authors bivouacking in the terrain of the narratives.

The claim that there were no records or minutes of events at the Sokoto caliphal courts during colonialism (p. 157) is not true, as can be gleaned from Muhammad S. Umar’s enlightening study Islam and Colonialism: Intellectual Responses of Muslims of Northern Nigeria to British Colonial Rule (Leiden: 2006). Also, the claim that ‘Asma’u’s works had not yet been published’ (p. 173) is absolutely incorrect. A cursory look at the bio-bibliographical notice on Asma’u in John Hunwick’s Arabic Literature of Africa (Leiden: 1995, pp. 162-172) indicates that a number of her works, some with English translations, have been published since the last quarter of the twentieth century, as has her major prose work on paraenetic, the Tanbīh al-ghāfilīn. In fact, as early as 1968 Isaac A. Ogunbiyi made available to the reading public materials from the works of Nana Asma’u, (Isaac. A. Ogunbiyi, ‘Further Light on Asma’u bint ’Uthman bin Fudi’, Research Bulletin of the Centre for Arabic Documentation 11 (1975): 26-37) and has followed this up with the publication as text editions and translations of her other works. Evidence of the circulation of Ogunbiyi’s pioneering publication of Asma’u, as later updated, among the Sokoto intellectual and academic elites is not altogether lacking, even while one of the authors of the title under review was in the Caliphate. Nikki Merritt, unnoticed by our authors, also presents an insightful description of Asma’u’s elegies (Nikki Merritt, ‘Nana Asma’u, Her Elegies and the Possibility of ‘insider alternatives’, African Languages and Cultures 7.2 (1994): 91-99). It is exceedingly strange that Boyd and Mack could fail to notice, even en passant, John Hunwick’s monumental reference work on West African Islamic intellectual legacy already noted above. The concluding chapter (pp. 187-231) on scholars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries would also have benefitted from the insights afforded by recent studies on Muslim women’s education in Nigeria. These criticisms notwithstanding, this work brilliantly illustrates the enduring legacy of Asma’u as a quintessential local educator, a Muslim family woman, and above all, a social mobiliser with universal appeal.

Amidu Olalekan Sanni

Lagos State University, Nigeria

Oxford Center for Islamic Studies (OCIS), UK

Published in: Uncategorized on March 6, 2020 at 17:29  Leave a Comment  

Tackling Religious Literacy: Lexical Empiricism

by Marc Manley

In a recent khutbah, I addressed a major issue that Muslims in general, and American Muslims in specific, face: Religious literacy. There have been a few scholars coming out now to draw attention to this deficit in the community and I pray their efforts are doubly successful. While having a conversation today with a brother regarding fiqh, I came across a passage in the Mālikī text, al-Mudawwanah, a foundational treatise on Mālikī jurisprudence that reminded me again of the subtle and elusive nature of language. I hope these thoughts will be a small voice in  the growing chorus calling for religious literacy by Muslims everywhere.

Religious literacy is not simply a new buzz word, a phrase to kick around to either feel good about or to feel intellectually superior, but it is a real need that embraces both the fard al-‘Ayn/فرض الكفاية as well as the fard al-Kifāyah/فرض العين: Individual as well as communal obligations. Religious literacy, like its secular counterpart, allows for functionality. It is also the engine that drives the plurality in Islam. At the moment, the engine block feels like it might seize at any moment. However, with some attention, care, and maintenance, we might set out to fix this debilitating condition. I would like to use wudū’/وضوء, or ablution, as the model to open the conversation on religious literacy.

I am sure many of us have experienced the following: One enters into the mosque to offer prayers, and before doing so, one goes to perform wudū’. Whilst performing wudu’, one is interrupted by an individual who objects to the manner and method one is making wudū’. “The water needs to be running,” the person says. “The water must be like this, or like that, you must apply the water this way, or that way.” You get the gist of what I am saying. The problem does not lay solely with this interrogation, but with the excessive demand that if one does not perform wudū’ in the way this particular person deems to be correct, then one’s wudū’—and by extension, prayer—is invalid. The typical response one might have is to offer this person one’s own proofs, from the Sunnah of course, and demonstrate that despite the difference of opinion you both share, rest assured, you are performing wudū’ correctly. Much to one’s chagrin, this is met with further condemnation, bordering on hostility.

So what is at play and at stake here? What stands out plainly here is that difference of opinion or practice, in our current time, is equivalent to innovation. Yet, as we will see below, differences in practice are a staple of our religious tradition. To begin, let us look at the difference of opinion that has cropped up regarding the wiping of socks/foot versus the washing the foot. As we will see, much of the basis for this difference is rooted in language—the very means by which we come to understand and know our religion, which highly complicates the notion of literalism being the equivalent of one single interpretation:

The first entry in Imām Mālik’s al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrā looks at wudū’ and how the act of wudū’ is approached, whether one is to wipe, wash, or touch the extremities once, twice, or three times, and some of the variance which surrounds it. Mālik’s student, ‘Abd al-Rahmān Bin al-Qāsim, provides us some background information on how Imām Mālik looked at the process of wudū’:

قال بن القاسم لم يكن مالك يوقت في الوضوء مرة ولا مرتين ولا ثلاثا وقال إنما قال الله تبارك وتعالى

“[Imām] Mālik did not arbitrarily wash once, twice, or three times, but instead also looked at what God Almighty had said concerning it [wudū’]:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا قمتم إلى الصلاة فاغسلوا وجوهكم وأيديكم إلى المرافق وامسحوا برؤوسكم وأرجلَكم إلى الكعبين وإن كنتم جنبا فاطهروا وإن كنتم مرضى أو على سفر أو جاء أحد منكم من الغائط أو لامستم النساء فلم تجدوا ماء فتيمموا صعيدا طيبا فامسحوا بوجوهكم وأيديكم منه ما يريد الله ليجعل عليكم من حرج ولكن يريد ليطهركم وليتم نعمته عليكم لعلكم تشكرون

“O’ you who profess faith! When you stand to perform prayer, wash your faces and your hands and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads, and your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of major impurity, then purify yourselves. But if you are sick, on a journey, have come from the lavatory or have touched women and cannot find any water, then perform tayammumwith pure earth and wipe your faces and your hands. God does not want to make things difficult for you, but God does want to purify you and to perfect God’s blessing upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful.” [Qur’ān al-Mā’idah (5):6]

I have marked some of the text with some colorations to key in on some of the inflections of the language here to highlight how, from the same lexical source, differing opinions on language, nuance, grammar, etc., can extract different opinions.

The first is the highlighted command, “wash your faces”. Most importantly here is the verb, “wash”, in the imperative mood. As we’ll see, this command here will be the root of one of the differences of opinion regarding washing one’s feet instead of simply wiping over them. Of key interest here is Ibn al-Qāsim’s observation:

فلم يوقت تبارك وتعالى واحدة من ثلاث

“The Almighty did not differentiate the number of times, one from three.”

Ibn al-Qāsim does note, however, [Imām] Mālik’s approach to wudū’ in a more comprehensive manner:

و ما رأيت عند مالك في الغسل و الوضوء توقيتا لا واحدة و لا اثنتين و لا ثلاثا و لكنه كان يقول يتوضأ و يغتسل و يسبغهما جميعا

“I did not see [Imām] Mālik, concerning ghusul/غسل[washing], wudu’, where it was done solely a number of times, once, twice, or three times, but instead he used to say one does wudū’ and ghusul a number of times asbagha/يسبغ أسبغ“excellently”, where these two components are considered part of an excellent wudū’ altogether [lit. jamī’an/جميعا].”

Mālik’s method as we can see here is a conglomerate of Qur’ānic sources as well as those compiled from the Sunnah, which we will note below for reference, though for time’s sake, we’ll skip in detail. But let us return to the above phrase, “wash your faces”, فاغلسوا وجوهكم. As I mentioned, this extended passage here is one of the source points for differences on washing versus wiping. This stems not from the “fā’”, but from the “waw” and the “bā’” in the phrase:

و امسحوا برؤوسكم و أرجلكم

For the ease of argument sake, I will note the two opinions: One stronger, the other weaker. The stronger opinion links the washing of one’s feet back to the washing of one’s face. This is a matter of rhetoric, or what is also known as balāghah/بلاغة . The weaker opinion, as is favored in some Shiite as well as “Sunni” schools [as minor opinions to be sure] is that the washing of the feet is linked not to the washing of one’s face, but to the wiping of one’s head. From this understanding, those that take this weaker or should I say minority opinion, root their stance not in wanton allegory, but in the language of the Verse itself. To be clear, this is not intended to be a lesson in wudū’, but to demonstrate the fluidity and nuance of language. In this case, the interpretations are literal: They proceed directly from the source text [the Qur’ān], yet, due to the duality of language, both parties are able to extract two very different meanings from the same source. To be sure, Imām Mālik, as supported by Ibn al-Qāsim’s statement, relies not solely on this Verse, but also includes states from other Companions, who themselves provide their own accounts of how the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] performed or reacted to [actively or tacitly] their respective performance of wudū’.

To see this play out in a different manner, let us examine some of the various English translations of the Qur’ān. We will see how each of these translators interpreted this verse, taking into account the aforementioned nuances of language:

“O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles” [Abdullah Yusuf Ali Translation].

“You who have iman! when you get up to do salat, wash your faces and your hands and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads, and wash your feet to the ankles” [Aisha Bewley].

“O YOU who have attained to faith! When you are about to pray, wash your face, and your hands and arms up to the elbows, and pass your [wet] hands lightly over your head, and [wash] your feet up to the ankles” [Muhammad Asad Translation].

As we can see here, all three of these translators had to tackle this issue regarding the interpretive methods of language. Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s method was to use parenthetical inserts to flush out the meanings that were not explicitly mentioned in the text. Inserts such as “(and arms)”, “(with water)”, and especially in relation to the argument here, “(wash)”, show how Ali had to tackle this issue of literal interpretation coupled with implicit meanings. Muhammad Asad’s translation follows a similar path, making use of brackets to highlight implied meanings. Aisha Bewely’s translation however, skips parenthetical usage and quotes, “and wash your feet to the ankles” as if the meaning were explicit. This is done in part because Bewely, a Mālikī scholar in her own right, is assuming Mālik’s position [the above “jamī’an”] which is in favor of washing the feet, and is no doubt familiar with this very same text. Again, the message here is not who is right or wrong, but rather to demonstrate how these three translators, who recognize the ambiguity that is latent in the text [the Qur’ān]—not unlike ‘Abd al-Rahmān Bin al-Qāsim, Ibn Wahab, and Imām Mālik himself—and are all able to make “literal translations” that differ in practice, though not in meaning, as they all recognize the closing portion of the Verse:

ما يريد الله ليجعل عليكم من حرج و لكن يريد ليطهركم وليتم نعمته عليكم لعلكم تشكرون

God does not want to make things difficult for you, but God does want to purify you and to perfect God’s blessing upon you so that hopefully you will be thankful. [Qur’ān al-Mā’idah (5):6]

I will mention one last hadith here from Mālik’s al-Mudawwanah to highlight the existence of ambiguity, particularly as it relates to language. Mālik sites a hadith from ‘Uthmān Bin ‘Affān, a noted Companion of the Prophet [may God be pleased with him and peace and blessings upon the Prophet], where by ‘Uthmān uses the preposition “nawha”/نحو :

أن عثمان بن عفان دعا يوما بوضوء فتوضأ فغسل كفيه ثلاث مرات ثم تمضمض واستنثر ثلاث مرات ثم غسل وجهه ثلاث مرات ثم غسل يده اليُمنى إلى المرفق ثلاث مرات ثم غسل يده اليسرى أيضا إلى المرفق ثلاث مرات ثم مسح رأسه وأذنيه ثم غسل رجله اليمنى إلى الكعب ثلاث مرات ثم غسل رجله اليسرى إلى الكعب ثلاث مرات وأخبرنا أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم توضأ نحو وضوئي

“‘Uthmān Bin ‘Affān called to make wudū’ one day and so he performed wudū’: He washed his palms three times, then rinsed his nose and mouth three times, washed his face three times, washed his right hand to his elbows three times as well as the left, then he wiped his head and ears and washed his feet, right then left, up to his ankle bone, three times, whereupon he informed us that the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, performed wudū’similar to my wudū’.

‘Uthmān’s use of “similar”/نحو is of key importance [as is Mālik’s mentioning of it], as it highlights a proximity, not an exactness, of ‘Uthmān’s wudū’ and that of the Prophet. Mālik quotes the Prophet again:

من توضأ نحو وضوئي هذا ثم قام فركع ركعتين لا يحدث فيهما نفسه غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه

“Whoever performs wudū’ like me and then stands for prayer, praying two units, does  not talk idly to himself, he will be forgiven for what sins proceeded him.”

I hope the short example here will be of some use to demonstrate not only the pluralism that exists in Islam, but to show that literalism is not the same as uniformity. Language is a multifaceted enterprise and cannot be reduce to single interpretations. It is my hope as well to also illustrate that literal interpretations are also not problematic [as is often the opinion of certain voices who feel ‘literal interpretations’ are always locked in stasis of a time gone by]. Above all, I hope this case helps to impart the awe, humility, and respect we should all be taking when approaching this gift we call Islam. We may differ from one another, but before we cast aspersions at one another, I hope we will think twice, and take more time to grasp the enormity, if not the entirety, of these topics which are both broad and expansive.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 5, 2020 at 18:50  Leave a Comment  

The Way Forward for the Muslims is to Establish Madinan Communities, Markets and Trade

بسم اللّه الرّحمن الرّحيم

The Way Forward

This affair of ours which is the establishment of the Diin wherever we are is the business of establishing families and clans who in turn band together in a community relationship that functions under the commands and adaab of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.  This affair of ours is about social transactions, social interaction, and the social contract. 

Allah has said in His Noble Book

و جعلناكم شعوبًا و قبآئل لتعارَفوا

We have made you nations and tribes so that you know one another… 49:104

When the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم arrive in Madinah, he brought together the believers from the two existing tribes al-Aws and al-Khazraj who historically had been enemies under the singular title al-Ansaar.  Furthermore, when they arrive in Madinah, he صلّى الله عليه وسلّم paired an Ansaar with a muhaajiruun (ones who had emigrated with the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم)..

There is a narration in Sahiih al-Bukhaarii about the patterns of mutual aid which was practiced in Madinah. It was narrated by Ibraahiim bin Saʿd from his father from his grand-father ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan bin ʿAuf who said, 

“When we came to Madinah as immigrants, the Messenger of Allah صلّى الله عليه وسلّم established a bond of brotherhood between me and Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ.  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said to me, I am the riches among the Ansaar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you choose, I will divorce her, and when she has completed the prescribed waiting period you may marry her.  ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan said, ‘I am not in need of all of that. (Then he said),‘Is there a marketplace where trade is practiced?’  Saʿd bin Rabii said, “the market of Qaynuqaa’u”. ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan went to that market the following day and brought some yogurt and butter… ”  B34:6 

On one occasion, a Jewish leader by the name of Shaas ibn Qays passed by a group of al-Aws and al-Khazraj tribesmen enjoying each other’s company.  He began to reflect on the days when these two tribes were enemies of one another and so he decided to send a Jewish youth who frequented their gatherings to stir up memories of the Days of Buʿaath when the Aws had victory over the Khazraj.  When the youth brought up the matter, it aroused old pride and tribal hatred.  When the Prophet ¬ heard about this, he immediately went to them and reminded them how Islam had come and softened their hearts towards one another.  He ¬ continued talking to them emphasizing the need for unity and brotherhood.

واعتصم بحبل اللّه جميعًا و لا تفرّقوا واذكرو نعمت اللّه عليكمو إذ كنتمو أعْدآء فأَلَّف بين قلوبِكم فأصبَحْتم بنعمته إخوانًا و كنتم على شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِنَ النَّارِ فَأَنْقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا …

“And hold on to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.  And remember Allah’s favor on you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that by His favor you became brothers.  And you were on the brink of a pit of fire and He saved you from it …” 3:103

This business is about Ṣuḥbah (companionship).  We should build and organize what we do around this principle.   Ṣuḥbah includes visiting, keeping company, inviting each other to eat (feed each other; the secret is the food) and mutual assistance.

Diin means social transaction – which means there is a need for adaab (good behavior and good manners).  All of Islam is adaab – the adaab you owe to Allah, the adaab you owe to His Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم,  the adaab you owe to your neighbor, the adaab you owe to the members of your family, the adaab you owe to the rest of the creation and the adaab you owe to yourself.  The Holy Qur’an is a book full of adaab and the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم is the best example of the practice of it’s adaab.

Our Daʿwah

Our greatest daʿwah is our behavior (adaab) towards each other and others who are not from among us.  This is followed by our actions and our activism.  It has been said actions speak louder than words. This is followed by ours words which are our expressions based on sincerity and truthfulness which will raise us in stature in the community or our expressions base on hypocrisy and untruthfulness which lower or standing in the community.  

When we behave with good adaab and love towards each other, our ranks will grow in-shaa’a-l-laah.  There is a natural inclination of the ahlu-l-khayr (the people of good action and intent) to incline towards the ‘lovers’.  Who are the lovers?  They are those who love Allah more than anybody or anything; they are those who love the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم more than themselves or those who are near and dear to them, and they are those who love each other for the sake of Allah and by means of the example of His beloved Prophet  Muhammad صلّى الله عليه وسلّم.   

We must fortify the barrier between us and the Hellfire, and collapse the barrier that stands between us and the Jannah.  We must get our priorities straight.  The Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم said: “Strive for the Dunyaa (the life of this world) as if you are going to live forever, and strive for your hereafter as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

Allah has said in His Noble Book:  

ولتكن منكمو أمّة يدعون إلى الخير

Let there arise from out of you an Ummah (internationally: a nation;: a community [locally]) calling to good … (to the end of the ayat) 3:104

That community should be established on the character of Muhammad صلّى الله عليه وسلّم.

We can not remain in the position of trying to be this or that or trying to do this or that and nothing gets up off the ground.  We must check ourselves to see what we are possibly doing wrong and accept our shortcomings, and when we find them, we should do something to change them, and find the best way to bring about success.    

When you are young it is hard to stay focused, because you want instant gratification.  In reality, the business of Islamic movement is about patience and staying in for the long haul.   Success comes not to the swift, but it comes to he who endures to the end. It is not about taking your ball and going home when the game doesn’t go your way.   

Allah says in His noble Book:

Do you say you believe and think that you will not be tried?

On the contrary, Allah has also said,

ولِنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيءٍ مِّنَ الْْخَوفِ وَ الْجُوعِ وَ نَقْصٍ مِنَ الاَموَالِ وَ الاَنفُسِ و َالثَّمَارَاتِ وَ بَشِرِ الصَابِرينَ

“And We will try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits.  And give glad tiding to the patient ones.”  2:155

Allah also tries us with each other.  That’s why it is necessary that we become team players – people who are willing to humble our nafs in order to foster cooperation and mutual assistance rather than be self-centered – ‘see me and see what I can do all by myself individual’.   

One of the best examples given to us by our Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم is when he was called upon to solve the problem between the tribal elders as to who would have the honor of placing the black stone in the corner of the Kaʿbah.    The Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم said, “Bring me a robe.  He صلّى الله عليه وسلّم took the robe they brought him, and spread it out on the ground and place the Black Stone on it, and then said, “Let the elders of each clan hold on to a corner of the robe.”  They all complied and together they carried the stone to the site of the reconstruction of the Kaʿbah.  Then the Prophet صلّى الله عليه وسلّم himself picked up the stone and laid it in its place.  As a result, the dispute was resolved peacefully and so bloodshed was avoided.

Our daʿwah should be one of action rather than words. We must overcome the prevailing condition that exists in the Muslim Ummah الكلام كثير والفعل قليل (The words are many while the actions are few.  On the contrary, we must become people of few words and a lot of action.

The Madinan Way

Muslim life is distinct in that it is a Diin (a social transaction) between its members based on the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.  The core value of the community is its religious beliefs. 

The Diin of Islam permeates daily life, Learning, diet, marriage, trade, and the applications of energy to business pursuits. The Diin of Islam determines hours of prayer, the daily, weekly, seasonal, and yearly activities which are associated with the social transaction.  The Diin of Islam helps to determine the Muslim’s occupation, means and destination of travel, choice of friends, and mates.

The natural organic environment of the Diin is found in small close-knit communities where customs and culture within the bounds of Islam are upheld, a strong sense of togetherness is fostered, continuity and consistency of Islamic practice prevails and the needs of the individual from birth to death are met and assured within an integrated and shared value system.

The Muslims best survive in a small homogeneous and self-governing community.  The homogeneous character of the Muslim community can be observed in the parts its members play, the activities which govern their lives, and the willingness of the members of their community to conform to the pattern of life that has been established by previous generations.  Their distinctive dress, social behavior, personal conduct, and religious attitude demonstrate the seriousness of their conformity and helps to preserve their Muslim way of life in an ever-changing world.  

Self-sufficiency is the basis of upon which the economy of the Muslims rest, and although the Muslim’s economy is sometimes linked to the economy of the broader non-Muslim society outside of their community, this economic linkage is conditioned by distinct core values embedded in their belief system and by special rules which govern such relationships.  The economic life of Muslims is connected to trade.  Hard work, thrift, and mutual aid fortify the economic independence of the Muslims.

Muslim success, with the help of Allah at self-sufficiency and self-governance, is best achieved as a result of their living in close proximity to one another.   The Madinan model, based on the function of the “Little Community” has been the best example given. 

The prototype offered in the fiqh discussion put forth concerning the Madinan model is a community of Muslims living adjacent to one another in communities consisting of forty households with a Masjid, a market, and a madrasah (school).  These communities in turn form a functional part of the broader society in which they are located, but at the same time, they are a distinct cultural unit within that society.  Under this social arrangement, the Muslims are able to practice mutual-aid, bartering, intensive trading, thrift, educate their children, care for the elderly of their community, achieve prosperity, observe the tenets of their religion, maintain their way of life and preserve their identity.

Self-sufficiency is also the Muslims answer to government aid.  They wouldn’t have  to rely on receiving government aid of any kind, whether it is an old age pension, welfare subsidy, or compensation payments.  The continued acceptance of and the reliance on such aid,  undermines the stability of the Muslim community and its ability to rely on itself. 

The Muslims must assume responsibility for their aged relatives.  Life insurance and nursing homes run contrary to Muslims values.  The goals of the greater outside non-Muslim society are unacceptable as well to the Muslims with respect to the education of their children.  

The Muslim must assume responsibility for the education of their children.  The non-Muslim school system can not be allowed to relieve the Muslim family and community of the duty of preparing the young for the future task of being honorable members of the Muslim community, raising good families, and calling people to Islam.

The Market of Madinah 

There is the narration in Sahiih al-Bukhaarii that was already mentioned above but shall be repeated here about the patterns of mutual aid which was practiced in Madinah. It was narrated by Ibraahiim bin Saʿd from his father from his grand-father ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan bin ʿAuf who said, 

“When we came to Madinah as immigrants, the Messenger of Allah Sallaa-l-laahu ʿalayhi wa Sallim established a bond of brotherhood between me and Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ.  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said to me I am the riches among the Ansaar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you choose, I will divorce her and when she has completed the prescribed waiting period you may marry her.  ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan said, ‘I am not in need of all of that. (Then he said),‘Is there a marketplace where trade is practiced?’  Saʿd bin Rabiiʿ said the market of Qaynuqaa’u ʿAbdu-r-Rahmaan went to that market the following day and brought some yogurt and butter… ”  B34:6 

Again from this hadith, we can see that “Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah.” When the Messenger of Allah entered Madinah, after he built the mosque he made the market of the Muslims. This is the central model of Islamic cities.

Islamic Trade


When the Messenger of Allah entered Madinah, after he constructed the masjid, he organized the market of the Muslims. The Madinan model is the central model for Islamic trade in all of the Islamic cities.  

Islamic Trading raises societies by raising people’s capabilities to their highest economic potential, offering equal accessibility to the business nexus to everyone in identical conditions of equality and justice.

Up until the 15th century the Muslims completely dominated world trading.

Under the Islamic model, in principle, unemployment shouldn’t exist, and the one earning income is not a slave of a salary, but rather enjoys his own business, free from the compulsion of having to work for someone else for a meager wage.

In the Islamic model, multinationals and hyper-markets do not exist. Unlike the model of one owner with a thousand employees that is the case of many hyper-market today. On the contrary, in the Islamic Model, we have a thousand free owners in an open Free Market.

The Islamic model removes any form of monopoly that makes everybody a salaried worker and gives a chance of independence to the self-motivated individual in a ‘free-market without an interest based economy’.

The Muslims Must Establish Real Free Markets (Islamic Open Air Market [Suuq]), regulated according to the Islamic Law.


The Market is in fact the most essential of all the elements that constitute the practice of trading. It is the open space where trading and the pricing of the goods takes place. The Market is the space for the free evaluation, in it, a substantial part of our freedom is invested. The guaranteeing of the freedom in the market is a pillar in the guaranteeing of freedom of the society in general.

Freedom of the market does not mean what modern economists mean by a free market. Free market is that market where usury (interest), monopolies, restrictions of access or prices, privileges, and impositions are not allowed. For a start, the medium of exchange can not be imposed, but should be commonly agreed upon by the people.

The market is also the physical space where trading takes place. The protection of this physical space and the preservation of its main legal parameters is therefore a task of major importance in our days.

Like a mosque as Rasuulu-l-laah صلّي اللّّه عليه و سلم,  indicated  and  guarantees that most people can enter the business nexus with the absolute minimum conditions. he shops and the end to reserved space, something that Umar Ibn al-Khattab clearly forbade in the market place; just as we will not tolerate reserving a place in the prayer-line of the mosque; but more significantly it is the end of the supermarket.

The supermarket is the most infamous of all monopolies for it affects the most important of all institutions of trading, the marketplace. If the marketplace is monopolized, soon the distribution and production processes will be monopolized as well, forcing people to abandon honest business endeavors in favor of artificially higher profits gained from monopolistic privileges.

The Rasuulu-l-laah صلّي اللّّه عليه و سلم, not only made the markets accessible to all, professionals and non-professionals, but also made them free and he forbade charging any form of tax or rent. It is very important to realize, that the first thing that gets corrupted when a Muslim society is in decline is the marketplace. That is why the market is the most regulated by Law, and about 1/3 of all Islamic Law is about trading. The market is corrupted most readily by the introduction of private shops and consequently by renting the spaces. Umar Ibn al-Khattab رضي اللّه عنه, had to fight against it even in Madinah.

Soon after his arrival in Madinah al-Munawwarah, when he صلّى الله عليه وسلّم created two institutions, a mosque and a market,  the Prophet of Islam, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, made it perfectly clear, by his statements and explicit injunctions, that the marketplace was to be a space freely accessible to everybody, with no divisions (such as shops), and where no taxes, levies or rents could be charged.

The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, said: The Market is like a Mosque… 

The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, said: “Markets should follow the same sunnah as the mosques: whoever gets his place first has a right to it until he gets up and goes back to his house or finishes his selling. (suq al-muslimin ka-musallah l-muslimin, man sabaqah ila shay’in fa-huwa lahu yawmahu hatta yada’ahu.)”. (Al-Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, V, 488, no. 2688)

It is a sadaqah, with no private ownership... Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir al Hizami relates from Abdallah ibn Ja’far, that Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Hasan said, “The Messenger of Allah, صلّى الله عليه وسلّم, gave the Muslims their markets as a charitable gift (tasaddaqa ‘ala l-muslimina bi-aswaqihim).” (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 304)

With no rent charged …

Ibn Zabala relates that Khalid ibn Ilyas al-‘Adawi said, “The letter of Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz was read out to us in Madinah, saying that the market was a sadaqah and that no rent (kira’) should be charged on anyone for it.” (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 749)

With no taxes levied on it …

Ibrahim ibn al-Mundhir relates from Ishaq ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad, from Abdallah ibn Ja’far ibn al-Miswar, from Shurayh ibn Abdallah ibn Abi Namir, that Ata’ ibn Yasar said, “When the Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, wanted to set up a market in Madinah, he went to the market of Bani Qaynuqa’ and then came to the market of Madinah, stamped his foot on the ground and said, “This is your market. Do not cause it to be narrower (than this) (la yudayyaq), and do not let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it.'” (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 304)

Where no reservations or claims can be made …

Ibn Zabala relates from Hatim ibn Isma’il that Habib said that Umar ibn al-Khattab (once) passed by the Gate of Ma’mar in the market and [saw that] a jar had been placed by the gate and he ordered that it be taken away. … Umar forbade him to put any stones on the place or lay claim to it (in any way) (an yuhajjir ‘alayha aw yahuzaha). (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 749)

And where no shops can be constructed …

Ibn Shabba relates from Salih ibn Kaysan that The Messenger of Allah, salla’llahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: ‘This is your market. Do not build anything with stone (la tatahajjaru) (on it), and do not let any tax (kharaj) be levied on it.'”  (As-Samhudi, Wafa al-Wafa, 747-8)

Abu-r-Rijaal relates from Israa’il, from Ziyaad ibn Fayyad, from one of the Shaykhs of Madinah that Umar ibn al Khattab, radiya’llahu ‘anhu, saw a shop (dukkan) which someone had newly put up in the market and he destroyed it. (Ibn Shabba, K. Tarikh al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, 750)

Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah. The exaggerated rents paid nowadays by shopkeepers all over the world and in places like the Grand Bazaar and the enormous amount of small traders selling very inefficiently in the streets or in small shops all around the town, are clear signs that people need open markets.

Open Islamic markets will not only unleash the inhibited potential of the local people, but will also attract traders from other countries who will come to trade in our open markets. The return of the caravans to our cities will be the sign of the restoration of the glory that the town had in the past. And we will achieve that simply by following the same method that the great sultans used: the promotion of Islamic Trading. 

Most of the design features are focused on the increase of the productivity for the traders, through architectural design and use of technology. For example, to facilitate the daily movement of the merchandise and to provide the buyers with some convenient technical facilities for the payment and the collection of the goods. 

Employment is the Lowest Form of Economic Activity. Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah. 

Most employees spend their lives working for others, paying off debts to others, and performing tasks that others tell them that they “must” do.  The vast majority of employees are no more than indentured servants.  It is just that the mechanisms of servitude are more sophisticated these days.

Debt bondage at an early part of adulthood. creates obligations that must be met to avoid the unwanted consequences that are faced when debts are not paid.  Most people don’t realize that over the course of a lifetimes the amount of money that they repay on their debts is far greater than the amount that they originally borrowed. As a result, they spend most of their lives as employees of others paying off debts, without ever working for themselves or owning their own businesses  In fact, their tenure of employment, makes the businesses that other people own more profitable.

So if they spend the best years of their lives building businesses for others in order to  service debts owed to others while making others wealthier, what does that make them?  Answer: dependent and indentured (bound) because of debt bondage.

Employees, particularly those at the bottom end of the infrastructure, will be provided with a basic salary which usually amounts to a fraction of that of their employers profits. The amount they receive merely enables them to feed, clothe, and house themselves.

In some cases, the salary provided will just barely cover the employee’s living costs, making it almost impossible for them to save up any money, and thus keeping them trapped. Those with families and mortgages would likely face financial ruin if they were to lose their jobs. This in turn creates an atmosphere of fear and desperation.

Unlike the slave and the serf, the employee is a “free”  to work or to be idle. Idleness of course is not really a choice because of the more than likely negative consequences that will come as a result of it. Therefore, the so-called freedom of choice is no real choice at all.. The worker as an individual appears to be free; in reality, however, he becomes enslaved by the need for employment.

The employee sells his labour at so much per hour, per day, per week.  Yet, he never participates in ownership of either the means of production or the finished product. He receives the wages that were agreed upon only.

On the other hand, the guild craftsman of the earlier ages stood a better chance at becoming his own master. Even the individual slave now and then might rise above his fellows and buy his freedom or escape from slavery; but the modern employee is solidly enslaved to his wage and his debt. Employment is slavery and debts are the chains that bind.

The Islamic Guild Represented the Free Society of Free People. 

For centuries, Muslims living within an Islamic Madinah belonged to an Islamic guild. The relationship in the Islamic guild which is the relationship of the master craftsman / apprentice is a higher relationship than employer / employee.

The Guilds Are Born FromThe Open Market

If the market was only accessible to a few then a few masters would keep their apprentices as employees forever, because they would depend on those few to buy and sell.

But the guild master knows that once his apprentice has reached a certain professional expertise he is able just like him, by virtue of the open Islamic market, to buy the same materials and sell his manufactured products in the same market as he does. The guilds are, thus, natural to the Islamic market. And it follows that wherever there is an Islamic market, it will be difficult to find life-time employees. For many employees of today, the Islamic market is an opportunity to emancipate themselves to rise above the salary and to unleash their own inhibited motivation to work, individually or in a group, for themselves.

The employee, as a member of a class of people forced to work for someone else or otherwise be on the dole (unemployed), did not exist in Islam. This is why some people have spoken about the Islamic guilds as the condition of a society without a working class, for only slaves historically speaking could be classified as the working class.

The End of Unemployment Must Coincide with the End of Employment.

Unemployment based on the non-Muslim model hides a more severe problem which is the massive situation of implicit enforced employment, due to access being denied to the market and business opportunities for a significant segment of society. That is the real problem. Unemployment is only the severe symptom of that problem.

Trading must be promoted as the means to increase the wealth of the Ummah.

In the open Islamic market, an old lady can come in the morning produce and sell a soup in the Islamic market and go in the afternoon with the earnings she has honestly earned. In the Islamic market, a carpenter can buy wood at the same price as the factory does and can then sell his product alongside all other wood producers in the same place. The comparative quality, price, and acceptance of their products, and nothing else, will then determine the success of these two people.

Accessibility and no rent in the Islamic market secure that the only minimum conditions are required to enter into the business nexus.

If we now consider the enormous potential wasted by unemployment, plus the inhibited talent of life-time employees (the lowest form of economic activity), plus the resources wasted in the really unnecessary yet unavoidable ‘private tax’ on thousands of private shops who pay exorbitant rents, plus the immense wealth lost by forbidding trading (that is the caravans), then, if we add all this, it becomes very clear that not to have Islamic markets is a luxury that no society can afford.

Unemployment is a time-bomb in Europe and America. There is no answer within their economic models. All the economists can do is to accommodate, as best they can, the increasing number of the unemployed, as if it were something natural, that can at best perhaps be stabilized.

On the other hand, we Muslims, have a model that has worked in the past and it will work in the future In shaa’a-l-laah. It is Islamic trading. Islamic trading will not only eliminate unemployment but will eliminate inflation as well. 

The Caravans 

The caravans can only happen if there is a place to go to; that is if there is an Open market. Their disappearance is the clearest symptom of the abolition of trading. The caravans represent an open distribution network which means that anyone can sell anything, anywhere within that trading network.

The caravan is the transportation and agency. Who would go on their own if they could participate of the expectation and the attention of the caravan of the whole city? Just like who wouldn’t like to sell out of the market-place, if in the market-place is where all the customers were? Nobody was denied from doing it on their own, but the Caravan represented the interest of the great majority of sellers in the town. They all nurse and care for its reach and quality.

The caravans can only happen if there is a place to go to; that is if there is an Open Market. Their disappearance is the clearest symptom of the abolition of trading. The caravans represent an open distribution network which means that anyone can sell anything, anywhere within that trading network.

aravans both serve to acquire good materials for production andto acquire new customers to sell directly without barriers or intermediaries

Why would traders join the caravans?

A caravan is more powerful than an individual and might obtain, from the government of the land visited, special privileges which would not be granted to the solitary merchant.

A caravan offers protection since a large part of international trading is protection against robbery, fraud, trickery, and deceit.

A caravan stops corruption since its trade would be carried on year after year, and would be anxious to build up and maintain a reputation for honesty and fair dealing.

A caravan offers access to the benefits from the services that it has already established throughout the years in the areas of protection, storage, accommodation, and most importantly, reputation.


Islamic Trading versus Monopolistic Distribution 

All civilizations created markets for trading, because there can be no trading without markets, without markets, there can only be monopolistic distribution.

What is the difference between trading and monopolistic distribution?

Trading is the movement of merchandise to be sold in the Islamic market. Trading requires a market place, so that the merchandise can move from one place to another in order to be sold. The caravans cannot exist if there is not a place to go.

Distribution is the movement of merchandise already sold. Without a market place, merchandise can only move if it is already sold. Without the market, trade disappears and only monopolistic distribution is left. Caravans cannot go to a supermarket. 

Accessibility and Openness of Trading

Accessibility is the opposite of monopoly and privilege.

It is the condition for the return of all other elements of Islamic trading.  Without markets no guilds. Without the markets no trading.  Without trading no caravans

Islamic Trading – Accessibility Based on Trade

There are the three institutions of Islamic trading:

A. Open Markets Islamic Market

B. Open Distribution Caravans

C. Open Production Guilds

Non-Islamic trading is based on non-access based distribution.

There are the three institutions of non-Islamic trading. These are the new institutions that have replaced the institutions of Islamic trading:

A.Closed Markets Shops or Supermarkets

B. Closed Distribution Exclusive Distributors

C. Closed Production Patent or Capital Corporation

The highest degree of civilization and justice comes from the Institutions of Islamic trading based on the following three elements: 

* Markets

* Caravans

* Guilds

These institutions have been present in the culture of man  since the beginning of the civilized world, only to be completely supplanted in the modern times by un-Islamic economic theory and  un-Islamic trade practices.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 1, 2020 at 16:36  Leave a Comment  
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