Thursday, 30 May 2013

Islamic Fashion

Islamic Fashion History


Islamic fashion has been one of the most polarizing entities around the world for much of the past 20 years.  Discussion and debate around Islamic fashion has undoubtedly increased since immigration has increased and Muslim communities and populations have grown in locations where they had not been present previously.

As a result, Islamic fashion has been the source of much controversy, with critics ranging from politicians and religious commentators of all faiths to Muslims themselves, who often have strong and passionate views on the issue.

We looked at some of the biggest controversies that Islamic fashion has been at the bottom of in recent years, and examined whether there had been any consequences as a result, both positive and negative.

Oppression of Women

Women’s rights groups from around the world have led calls for Islam to be less strict in terms of the clothing expectations placed on women. They particularly point to women who lack confidence and have no life outside of their immediate family, and put this down to having to wear garments such as the burka against their will.

While such items are still widely worn by Islamic women, they are no longer regarded as a mandatory piece of attire, and as such many females have moved away from them. As a result, Muslim women are enjoying a much improved quality and standard of living in many parts of the world, but especially outside of predominantly Muslim communities, where their new outlook has enabled them to build relationships and feel a central part of society.

Banning the Burka

This has been a hotly debated topic in Western Europe, in particular, with some countries such as the Netherlands implementing an outright ban on the controversial burka headdress. Although accusations of religious hate and racism have been thrown around, even countries with larger Muslim populations, such as France, and especially Turkey, have also moved to restrict where are when they can be worn.

Elsewhere, governments have been more open and not looked to ban the burka, but have also stated clearly that they view it to be ‘a garment of separation,’ and that for an inclusive, coherent society it should not be worn.

Somali activist Ayaan Hirsi Magan has been one of the more outspoken critics, saying that it should be banned across Europe as it is not compatible with Western living values.

Islam’s Position

Controversy surrounding Islamic fashion, especially around issues such as the burka and other elements of Islamic dress, including the hijab, has caused many to question the position of Islam in Western society.

Due to the vast majority of Muslims in Western countries being immigrants or descended from immigrants, there have been arguments raised that even targeting Islamic fashion is a discriminatory act. At the same time, this is counter-balanced by those who feel that Muslims should adapt to fit in with the society in which they are living.

This has happened in many cases, although it has also led to some Muslim communities across Europe becoming even more secular and withdrawn, ensuring that Islamic fashion will always be a source of controversy in years ahead.

However, modern attitudes towards Islamic dress has seen clothing, especially for Muslim women, become much more stylish and inspirational, meaning that many have been happy to wear these new styles.

Author Bio: Aisha is a fashion writer who specializes in writing about Islamic fashion, particularly how modern trends towards the hijab and other garments represent a massive change in how style is viewed within the religion, both internally and externally.

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Islamic Gifts

Islamic Gifts History

Gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintains and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient. It is one of the acts that Prophet Muhammad  recommended us-Muslims- to do. Al-Bukhaari  narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: "The Messenger of Allaah  used to accept gifts and reward people for giving them." 

The phrase: “Reward people for giving them,” means giving the giver (at a later time) something of equal value at least in return.

This Hadeeth (narration) indicates that accepting gifts and giving something of equal value (or more) to the giver is the way of the Prophet . 

The Prophet  enjoined responding in kind to favours, as he said in an authentic narration: “Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” [Abu Daawood]

“Whoever does you a favour,” means, whoever treats you kindly in word or deed or by gifting you. 

“Respond in kind,” means to treat him kindly just as he has treated you kindly. 

“If you cannot find the means of doing so” means if you do not have the money. 

“Until you think that you have responded in kind” means, repeatedly supplicate for him until you think that you have rewarded him his due. 

One of the Du'aa' forms that one can say is 'Jazaaka Allaahu khayran' (may Allaah reward you with good). At-Tirmithi  narrated that Usaamah Ibn Zayd  said: The Messenger of Allaah  said: “Whoever has a favour done for him and says 'Jazaak Allaahu khayran' has done his utmost to thank him.” [At-Tirmithi]

“Done his utmost to thank him,” means that he has done his utmost to express his gratitude, because he has acknowledged his shortcomings and that he is unable to reward and thank him enough, so he refers the matter to Allaah, to reward him in the best manner. It is said that: "If you are unable to give him back in kind, then speak at length thanking him and supplicating for him." [Tuhfat Al-Ahwathi]

The Permanent Committee (a supreme Islamic judicial authority in Saudi Arabia, was asked a similar question) and replied as follows: 

"There is nothing wrong with accepting it (an amount of money as a gift), without you (the recipient) longing for that, and you can respond in kind if you are able to with an appropriate gift, or you can supplicate for him, because the Prophet  said: “Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind … (the above-mentioned Hadeeth)."  [Fataawa Al-Lajnah Al-Daa’imah] 

Difference between charity and gift-giving

Charity is given to the poor and the needy to meet their needs, and is done with the intention of seeking the Pleasure of Allaah. Its intention is not limited to a specific person; rather it is given to any poor or needy one. 

On the other hand, a gift is not necessarily given to a poor person, rather it may be given to rich or poor; the intention is to show friendship and to honour the recipient. 

Both of them – charity and gift-giving – are righteous deeds for which a person will be rewarded (and please his Lord), but which is better? 

Ibn Taymiyah  stated that Sadaqah (charity) is that which is given for the sake of Allaah as an act of worship, without intending to give it to a specific person and without seeking anything in return, rather it is given for charitable causes, such as to the needy. A gift is given with the intention of honouring a specific person, either because the recipient is your friend whom you love, or because you want something in return.

Hence, the Prophet  used to accept gifts and reward people for them, so that no one could remind him of their favours, but he did not accept the “refuse” of people that they gave to purify themselves of sins, namely charity. He did not accept charity for this and other reasons.

Once this is understood, then charity is better, but there is a sense in which a gift is better than charity, such as giving a gift to the Messenger of Allaah  during his lifetime out of love for him.  Also, gifts which a person gives to a relative in order to uphold the ties of kinship or to a brother in Islam may be better than charity. 

Based on this, giving to one of your relatives may be better than giving charity, because it is more befitting to uphold the ties of kinship. The same may apply if you give a gift to a friend of yours, because that will strengthen the bonds of love between you. The Prophet  said: “Exchange gifts, as that will lead to increasing your love to one another.” [Al-Bukhaari]

What the Hadeeth  means is that giving gifts may generate and increase love.

To sum up, gifting vs. giving charity is dependent on the situation but, in principle, spending in charity takes precedence.

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Islam Muhammad

Islam Muhammad History

The earliest source of information for the life of Muhammad in a historical context (ca. 570/571 – June 8, 632 AD) is the Qur'an, which gives very little information, and its historicity has also been questioned.[1][2] Next in importance is the sīra literature and Hadith, which survive in the historical works by writers of second, third, and fourth centuries of the Muslim era (c. 700−1000 AD).[3][4] There are also a few non-Muslim sources which are valuable both in themselves and for comparison with Muslim sources.[5]
Contents  [show] 
Information on Muhammad [edit]

Attempts to distinguish between the historical elements and the unhistorical elements of many of the reports of Muhammad have not been very successful.[6] A major source of difficulty in the quest for the historical Muhammad is the modern lack of knowledge about pre-Islamic Arabia.[7] Harald Motzki states:
At present, the study of Muhammad, the founder of the Muslim community, is obviously caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, it is not possible to write a historical biography of the Prophet without being accused of using the sources uncritically, while on the other hand, when using the sources critically, it is simply not possible to write such a biography[2]
After examining early non-Muslim sources that mention Muhammad dating from the seventh century, Michael Cook concludes:
[This material] precludes any doubts as to whether Muhammad was a real person: he is named in a Syriac source that is likely to date from the time of the conquests, and there is an account of him in a Greek source of the same period [...] The Armenian chronicler of the 660s attests that Muhammad was a merchant, and confirms the centrality of Abraham in his preaching.[8]
Sources for the historical Muhammad [edit]

11th century Persian Qur'an folio page in kufic script
The main source on Muhammad's life are Muslim sources written in Arabic, which include the Qur'an and accounts of Muhammad's life written down by later Muslims, based on oral traditions. These sources are known as sīra and hadith.
There are also non-Muslim sources written in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Hebrew by the Jewish and Christian communities.[2] These non-Muslim written sources go back to about 636 AD and many of the interesting ones date to within some decades later. One, attributed to a 7th century Armenian scholar Sebeos, states that Muhammad was a merchant and that his preaching revolved around the figure of Abraham.[9] There are also confirmations of Muhammad's migration from Mecca to Medina in them. However, they also contain some essential differences with regard to Muslim sources and in particular about chronology and about Muhammad's attitude towards the Jews and Palestine.[2]
The Qur'an itself has some, though very few, incidental allusions to Muhammad's life.[2] However, the "Qur'an responds constantly and often candidly to Muhammad's changing historical circumstances and contains a wealth of hidden data that are relevant to the task of the quest for the historical Muhammad."[1]
In the sīra literature, the most important extant biography are the two recensions of Ibn Ishaq's (d. 768), now known as Sīrat Rasūl Allah ("Biography/Life of the Messenger/Apostle of Allah"), which survive in the works of his editors, most notably Ibn Hisham (d. 834) and Yunus b. Bukayr (d.814-815), although not in its original form.[1] According to Ibn Hisham, Ibn Ishaq wrote his biography some 120 to 130 years after Muhammad's death. Many, but not all, scholars accept the accuracy of these biographies, though their accuracy is unascertainable.[2] After Ibn Ishaq, there are a number of shorter accounts (some of which are earlier than Ibn Ishaq) recorded in different forms (see List of earliest writers of sīra). Another biography of Muhammad is that of al-Waqidi's (d. 822) and then Ibn Sa'd's (d.844-5). Al-Waqidi is often criticized by early Muslim historians who state that the author is unreliable.[1] These biographies are hardly biographies in the modern sense. The writers did not wish to record the life of Muhammad, but rather to describe Muhammad's military expeditions and to preserve stories about Muhammad, his sayings and the reasons of revelations and interpretations of verses in the Qur'an.[1] In addition to sīra, the biographical dictionaries of Ali ibn al-Athir and Ibn Hajar provide much detail about the contemporaries of Muhammad but add little to our information about Muhammad himself.[10]
Lastly, there are the hadith collections, which include traditional, hagiographic accounts of the verbal and physical traditions of Muhammad. These date two to three hundred years after the death of Muhammad. The main feature of hadith is that of Isnad (chains of transmission). The majority of Western academics view the hadith collections with caution as accurate historical sources.[11] However, other Western historians have also defended hadith and the general authenticity of Isnad.[12]
Quran [edit]

See also: History of the Quran and Criticism of the Quran
Part of a series on

Quran reading[show]
Qur’anic exegesis[show]
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According to traditional Islamic scholarship, all of the Qur'an was written down by Muhammad's companions while he was alive (during AD 610-632), but it was primarily an orally related document. The written compilation of the whole Qur'an in its definite form as we have it now was not completed until many years after the death of Muhammad.[13]
F.E. Peters states, "Few have failed to be convinced that what is in our copy of the Quran is, in fact, what Muhammad taught, and is expressed in his own words... To sum this up: the Quran is convincingly the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation".[7] Peters argues that "The search for variants in the partial versions extant before the Caliph Uthman’s alleged recension in the 640s (what can be called the 'sources' behind our text) has not yielded any differences of great significance." .[7]
Patricia Crone and Michael Cook challenge the traditional account of how the Qur'an was compiled writing that "there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Koran in any form before the last decade of the seventh century." They also question the accuracy of some the Qur'an's historical accounts.[14] It is generally acknowledged that the work of Crone and Cook was a fresh approach in its reconstruction of early Islamic history, but their alternative account of early Islam has been almost universally rejected.[15] Van Ess has dismissed it stating that "a refutation is perhaps unnecessary since the authors make no effort to prove it in detail...Where they are only giving a new interpretation of well-known facts, this is not decisive. But where the accepted facts are consciously put upside down, their approach is disastrous."[16] R. B. Serjeant states: "Hagarism [the thesis of Crone and Cook]…is not only bitterly anti-Islamic in tone, but anti-Arabian. Its superficial fancies are so ridiculous that at first one wonders if it is just a ‘leg pull’, pure ’spoof’."[17]

The Uthman Qur'an, dated to the early 9th century. It is an alleged 7th century original of the edition of the third caliph Uthman but this is disputed by some owing to its 9th century kufic script. This Qur'an is located in the small Telyashayakh mosque in Tashkent.[citation needed]
Gerd R. Puin's initial study of ancient Qur'an manuscripts found in Yemen led him to conclude that the Qur'an is a "cocktail of texts", some of which may have been existent a hundred years before Muhammad. He later stated that "these Yemeni Qur'anic fragments do not differ from those found in museums and libraries elsewhere, with the exception of details that do not touch the Qur'an itself, but are rather differences in the way words are spelled." Puin has stated that he believes the Qur'an was an evolving text rather than simply the Word of God as revealed in its entirety to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century A.D[14][18][19] Karl-Heinz Ohlig comes to the conclusion that the person of Muhammed was not central to early Islam at all, and that at this very early stage Islam was in fact an Arabic Christian sect (likely Ebionite, Arian and/or Nestorian, based on the recorded Ebionite faith of Khadija, Muhammad's first wife, and the Arianism and/or Nestorianism of her cousin,[dubious – discuss] the monk Bahira, recorded by John of Damascus in the early 8th century) which had objections to the concept of the trinity, and that the later hadith and biographies are in large part legends, instrumental in severing Islam from its Christian roots and building a full-blown new religion.[20][page needed] John Wansbrough believes that the Qu’ran is a redaction in part of other sacred scriptures, in particular the Judaeo-Christian scriptures.[21][22] Prof. Herbert Berg writes that "Despite John Wansbrough's very cautious and careful inclusion of qualifications such as "conjectural," and "tentative and emphatically provisional", his work is condemned by some. Some of negative reaction is undoubtedly due to its radicalness...Wansbrough's work has been embraced wholeheartedly by few and has been employed in a piecemeal fashion by many. Many praise his insights and methods, if not all of his conclusions."[23]
There is considerable academic debate over the real chronology of the chapters of the Qur'an.[24] Carole Hillenbrand holds that there are several remaining tasks for the Orientalist Qur'anic scholars: Few Qur'anic scholars have worked on the epigraphy of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem whose foundation inscription dates to 72/692 and the antique Qur'an recently discovered in the Yemen, the Sana'a manuscripts. The Carbon-14 tests applied to this Qur'an date it's parchment to 645-690 AD with 95 percent accuracy. Their real age may be a good deal younger, since C-14 estimates the year of the death of an organism, and the process from that to the final writing on the parchment involves an unknown amount of time, and parchments were also re-used often.[24] Paleography has dated the San'a manuscripts to 690-750 AD.
Hadith [edit]

Main article: Hadith
Early Muslim scholars were concerned that some hadiths (and sīra reports) may have been fabricated, and thus they developed a science of hadith criticism (see Hadith studies) to distinguish between genuine sayings and those that were forged, recorded using different words, or were wrongly ascribed to Muhammad.
In general, the majority of western academics view the hadith collections with caution. Bernard Lewis states that "The collection and recording of Hadith did not take place until several generations after the death of the Prophet. During that period the opportunities and motives for falsification were almost unlimited."[25] However, some Western historians have defended hadith and the general authenticity of Isnad (chain of transmission).[12] It has also been suggested that the concept of isnad was a precursor to modern academic citation.[26]
Prophetic biography (sīra) [edit]

Main article: Prophetic biography#Authenticity and usefulness
According to Wim Raven, it is often noted that a coherent image of Muhammad cannot be formed from the literature of sīra, whose authenticity and factual value have been questioned on a number of different grounds.[27] He lists the following arguments against the authenticity of sīra, followed here by counter arguments:
Hardly any sīra work was compiled during the first century of Islam. However, Fred Donner points out that the earliest historical writings about the origins of Islam first emerged in 60-70 AH, well within the first century of Hijra (see also List of biographies of Muhammad). Furthermore, the sources now extant, dating from the second, third, and fourth centuries AH, are mostly compilations of material derived from earlier sources.[3]
The many discrepancies exhibited in different narrations found in sīra works. Yet, despite the lack of a single orthodoxy in Islam, there is still a marked agreement on the most general features of the traditional origins story.[28]
Later sources claiming to know more about the time of Muhammad than earlier ones (to add embellishments and exaggeration common to an oral storytelling tradition).[29]
Discrepancies compared to non-Muslim sources. But there are also similarities and agreements both in information specific to Muhammad,[8] and concerning Muslim tradition at large.[30]
Some parts or genres of sīra, namely those dealing with miracles, are not fit as sources for scientific historiographical information about Muhammad, except for showing the beliefs and doctrines of his community.
Nevertheless, other content of sīra, like the Constitution of Medina, are generally considered to be authentic by both Muslim and non-Muslim historians.[27]
Some historians expressed doubt about Muhammad's original name, suggesting that his real personal name was Zobath or قثم Qotham or Qutham.[31][32][33]
Non-Muslim sources [edit]

See also: Seeing Islam as Others Saw It
There is a reference recording the Arab conquest of Syria, that mentions Muhammed. This much faded note is preserved on folio 1 of BL Add. 14,461, a codex containing the Gospel accord to Matthew and the Gospel according to Mark. This note appears to have been penned soon after the battle of Gabitha (636 CE) at which the Arabs inflicted crushing defeat of the Byzantines. Wright was first to draw the attention to the fragment and suggested that "it seems to be a nearly contemporary notice",[34] a view which was also endorsed by Nöldeke.[35] The purpose of jotting this note in the book of Gospels appears to be commemorative as the author appears to have realized how momentous the events of his time were. The words "we saw" are positive evidence that the author was a contemporary. The author also talks about olive oil, cattle, ruined villages, suggesting that he belonged to peasant stock, i.e., parish priest or a monk who could read and write. It is worthwhile cautioning that the condition of the text is fragmentary and many of the readings unclear or disputable. The lacunae are supplied in square brackets:
... and in January, they took the word for their lives (did) [the sons of] Emesa [i.e., ̣Hiṃs)], and many villages were ruined with killing by [the Arabs of] Mụhammad and a great number of people were killed and captives [were taken] from Galilee as far as Bēth [...] and those Arabs pitched camp beside [Damascus?] [...] and we saw everywhe[re...] and o[l]ive oil which they brought and them. And on the t[wenty six]th of May went S[ac[ella]rius]... cattle [...] [...] from the vicinity of Emesa and the Romans chased them [...] and on the tenth [of August] the Romans fled from the vicinity of Damascus [...] many [people] some 10,000. And at the turn [of the ye]ar the Romans came; and on the twentieth of August in the year n[ine hundred and forty-]seven there gathered in Gabitha [...] the Romans and great many people were ki[lled of] [the R]omans, [s]ome fifty thousand [...][36]
The 8th century BL Add. 14,643 was published by Wright who first brought to attention the mention of an early date of 947 AG (635-6 CE).[37] The contents of this manuscript has puzzled many scholars for their apparent lack of coherence as it contains an assembly of texts with diverse nature.[38] In relation to Arabs of Mohamed, there are two important dates mentioned in this manuscript.
AG 945, indiction VII: On Friday, 4 February, [i.e., 634 CE / Dhul Qa‘dah 12 AH] at the ninth hour, there was a battle between the Romans and the Arabs of Mụhammad [Syr. tayyāyē d-Ṃhmt] in Palestine twelve miles east of Gaza. The Romans fled, leaving behind the patrician YRDN (Syr. BRYRDN), whom the Arabs killed. Some 4000 poor villagers of Palestine were killed there, Christians, Jews and Samaritans. The Arabs ravaged the whole region. AG 947, indiction IX: The Arabs invaded the whole of Syria and went down to Persia and conquered it; the Arabs climbed mountain of Mardin and killed many monks there in [the monasteries of] Kedar and Benōthō. There died the blessed man Simon, doorkeeper of Qedar, brother of Thomas the priest.[39]
It is the first date above which is of great importance as it provides the first explicit reference to Muhammad in a non-Muslim source. The account is usually identified with the battle of Dathin.[40] According to Hoyland, "its precise dating inspires confidence that it ultimately derives from first-hand knowledge".[41]
Another account of the early seventh century comes from Sebeos who was a bishop of the House of Bagratunis. From this chronicle, there are indications that he lived through many of the events he relates. He maintains that the account of Arab conquests derives from the fugitives who had been eyewitnesses thereof. He concludes with Mu‘awiya's ascendancy in the Arab civil war (656-61 CE), which suggests that he was writing soon after this date. Sebeos is the first non-Muslim author to present us with a theory for the rise of Islam that pays attention to what the Muslims themselves thought they were doing.[42] As for Muhammad, he has the following to say:
At that time a certain man from along those same sons of Ismael, whose name was Mahmet [i.e., Mụhammad], a merchant, as if by God's command appeared to them as a preacher [and] the path of truth. He taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially because he was learnt and informed in the history of Moses. Now because the command was from on high, at a single order they all came together in unity of religion. Abandoning their vain cults, they turned to the living God who had appeared to their father Abraham. So, Mahmet legislated for them: not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsely, and not to engage in fornication. He said: 'With an oath God promised this land to Abraham and his seed after him for ever. And he brought about as he promised during that time while he loved Ismael. But now you are the sons of Abraham and God is accomplishing his promise to Abraham and his seed for you. Love sincerely only the God of Abraham, and go and seize the land which God gave to your father Abraham. No one will be able to resist you in battle, because God is with you.[43]

Sebeos was writing the chronicle at a time when memories of sudden eruption of the Arabs was fresh. He knows Muhammad's name and that he was a merchant by profession. He hints that his life was suddenly changed by a divinely inspired revelation.[44]

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Islamic Way

Islamic Way History

Islam A Total Way of Life
Islam is a “total way of life.” It has provided guidance in every sphere of life, from individual cleanliness, rules of trade, to the structure and politics of the society. Islam can never be separated from social, political, or economic life, since religion provides moral guidance for every action that a person takes. The primary act of faith is to strive to implement God’s will in both private and public life. Muslims see that they, themselves, as well as the world around them, must be in total submission to God and his Will. Moreover, they know that this concept of His rule must be established on earth in order to create a just society. Like Jews and Christians before them, Muslims have been called into a covenant relationship with God, making them a community of believers who must serve as an example to other nations by creating a moral social order. God tells the Muslim global nation:

“You are the best community raised for mankind, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong…” (Quran 3:110)

Throughout history, being a Muslim has meant not only belonging to a religious community of fellow believers but also living under the Islamic Law. For Islamic Law is believed to be an extension of God’s absolute sovereignty.

God is the Only Sovereign
God is the absolute sovereign in Islam, and is therefore the only Lord of heaven and earth. Just as He is the Lord of the physical universe, to the true Muslim believers, God is the Lawgiver for every area of human life. Just as He is the Master of the physical world, God is the Ruler of the affairs of men in Islamic doctrine. Thus God is the supreme Lawgiver[1], the Absolute Judge, and the Legislator Who distinguishes right from wrong. Just like the physical world inevitably submits to its Lord by following the ‘natural’ laws of the universe, human beings must submit to the moral and religious teaching of their Lord, the One Who sets right apart from wrong for them. In other words, God alone has the authority to make laws, determine acts of worship, decide morals, and set standards of human interaction and behavior. This is because,

“His is the Creation and Command.” (Quran 7:54)

The Separation of Institutional Religion & the State
As we have mentioned, in Islam God is acknowledged the sole sovereign of human affairs, so there has never been a distinction between religious and state authority. In Christendom, the distinction between the two authorities are said to be based upon records in the New Testament of Jesus, asking his followers to render unto Caesar what was his and unto God what was His. Therefore throughout Christian history until the present times, there have always been two authorities: ‘God and Caesar’, or ‘the church and state.’ Each had its own laws and jurisdictions, each its own structure and hierarchy. In the pre-westernized Islamic world there were never two powers, and the question of separation never arose. The distinction so deeply rooted in Christendom between church and state has never existed in Islam.

The Vision of an Islamic State
The vision of an Islamic state and the purpose of its political authority is to implement the divine law. Thus, the ideal Islamic state is a community governed by the Law revealed by God. This does not entail that such a state is necessarily a theocracy under direct rule of the learned men of religion, nor is it an autocracy that vests absolute power in the ruler. The function of the Islamic state is to provide security and order so that Muslims can carry out both their religious and worldly duties. The Caliph[2] is the guardian of faith and the community. His role is not so much checked by the ulama (religious scholars), but enhanced by them because they provide him religious and legal counsel. He also appoints judges who resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Law. There is a certain level of flexibility in regards to the system of governance and its establishment in Islam, however, religion must be implemented fully into state and society.

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Islamic Stores

Islamic Stores History


Prophet Muhammad ﷺ promised that every century, a re-newer of the faith of Islam will arise. Throughout history, great Muslim intellectuals, rulers, generals, and artists have come and managed to rejuvenate faith in the Muslim world and help Muslims deal with the problems of that age. For each one of these great figures, a specific historical context was necessary for them to accomplish what they did.

One of the greatest renewers of the faith in history was the 11th century scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. Today, he is known as Hujjat al-Islam, the Proof of Islam, because of his efforts in intellectually fighting against some of the most dangerous ideas and philosophies that plagued the Muslim world during his time. From the ubiquitous nature of ancient Greek philosophy to the rising tide of political Shi’ism, Imam al-Ghazali did not leave a stone unturned in his effort to bring back serious Islamic scholarship in the face of heterodox threats.

Read more

The al-Aqsa Mosque Through the Ages: Part 2
May. 19 Art and Culture, Crusades, Featured, Modern History, Ottoman History, Palestine 2 comments
In Part 1 of this article, we saw the early history of the third holiest site in Islam: the al-Aqsa Mosque. From a Roman and Byzantine dumping site to a modest mosque built by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, to a giant complex crowned by the Dome of the Rock in Umayyad times, Islam played a major role in the history of the Haram al-Sharif complex in the early centuries of Islam. As the Fatimids came to power in the 900s, however, orthodox Islam was replaced with extremist Ismailism and Fatimid propaganda.

In the second part of this article, we will look at the threat the Crusaders posed to the mosque and the subsequent history of the area in Mamluk and Ottoman times.

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The al-Aqsa Mosque Through the Ages: Part 1
May. 14 Featured, Palestine 9 comments
When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ received the command from God to lead the Muslim community in five daily prayers, their prayers were directed towards the holy city of Jerusalem. For Muslims, the city of Jerusalem is an important site. As the home of numerous prophets of Islam such as Dawud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), and ‘Isa (Jesus), the city was a symbol of Islam’s past prophets. When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ made the miraculous Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and the Ascent into Heaven that night (known as the Isra’ wal-Mi’raj), it acquired an added importance as the place where the Prophet ﷺ led all the earlier prophets in prayer and then ascended to Heaven.

For Muslims, however, Jerusalem would remain a far-off symbol during the life of the Prophet ﷺ and the years immediately after his death. As Muslims came to control Iraq and then Syria in the 630s, however, Jerusalem would become a Muslim city, and the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem would become one of the most important pieces of land in the Muslim empire. Throughout the complex and war-torn history of this city, the Mosque has been a center-piece of the struggle for Jerusalem. With Muslims, Christians, and Jews all considering the land under the Mosque as especially holy, the importance of understanding the history of this land is of utmost importance.

Part 1 of this article will look at the history of the Mosque before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the early Islamic period until the coming of the Crusaders in 1099. Part 2 will describe the al-Aqsa Mosque’s history from the Crusades to the modern day.

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Pioneers of Aviation: 17th Century Flight in Istanbul
Apr. 26 Math and Science, Ottoman History 2 comments
One of the most enduring (and incorrect) accusations made about the Ottoman Empire is that it was intellectually stagnant. Orientalist historians claim that the Ottomans saw science and religion as mutually exclusive and incompatible, unlike earlier Muslim dynasties. While this accusation may be true for some time periods in Ottoman history, there were many examples of Ottoman scientific and intellectual progress. One notable example is the attempts at human flight made by a pair of brothers in the 1600s in Istanbul.

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The Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948
Apr. 23 Featured, Modern History, Ottoman History, Palestine 5 comments
One of the most jarring and important events of recent Islamic history has been the Arab-Israeli Conflict. This conflict is multifaceted, complex, and is still one of the world’s most problematic issues in international relations. One aspect of this conflict is the refugee problem that began in 1948, with the creation of the State of Israel. Over 700,000 Palestinians became refugees that year, in what is known as the “Nakba”, which is Arabic for catastrophe. 
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How Do We Know the Quran is Unchanged?
Apr. 13 Featured, Islamic Sciences 36 comments
The awakening of Europe from the Dark Ages and the subsequent intellectual enlightenment of the 1600s-1800s was one of the most powerful movements in modern history. It brought to Europe a dedication to empirical science, critical thinking, and intellectual discourse. Much of this was imported from the Muslim world’s intellectual history, through Muslim entry points into Europe such as Spain, Sicily, and Southeast Europe.

This rise in intellectual work coincided with a period of European imperialism and colonialism over the Muslim world. European nations such as England, France, and Russia slowly conquered portions of the Muslim world, dividing it among themselves. Thus the intellectual enlightenment, coupled with imperialism over the Muslim world, led to what the Europeans saw as a critical study of Islam, its history, beliefs, and teachings. This movement is known as Orientalism. One of the greatest shortcomings of Orientalism, however, is the analysis of Islamic history on European terms, discarding the centuries of academic work put in by great Muslim minds since the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

One of the most dangerous aspects of Orientalism was the European study of the origins of the Quran. Since it is well accepted in academic circles that both the Torah of the Jews and the New Testament of the Christians have changed over the centuries, European academics erroneously believed the same must be true about the Quran. Their efforts to prove their belief that the Quran has been changed and is not authentic led to studies and works of questionable intention and low scholarly merit. This article will critically analyze the origins of the Quran, its transmission, and its compilation, to understand why Muslims accept the copies of the Quran they have in their homes to be the exact same words that were spoken by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the early 600s AD.

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The Last Great Caliph: Abdülhamid II
Apr. 06 Featured, Modern History, Ottoman History 36 comments
Throughout Islamic history, one of the uniting aspects of the Muslim world was the caliphate. After the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his close companion, Abu Bakr, was elected as the first khalifah, or caliph, of the Muslim community. His job as leader combined political power over the Muslim state as well as spiritual guidance for Muslims. It became a hereditary position, occupied at first by the Umayyad family, and later by the Abbasids. In 1517, the caliphate was transferred to the Ottoman family, who ruled the largest and most powerful empire in the world in the 1500s.

For centuries, the Ottoman sultans did not place much emphasis on their role as caliphs. It was an official title that was called in to use when needed, but was mostly neglected. During the decline of the empire in the 1800s, however, a sultan came to power that would decide to revive the importance and power of the caliphate. Abdülhamid II was determined to reverse the retreat of the Ottoman state, and decided that the best way to do it was through the revival of Islam throughout the Muslim world and pan-Islamic unity, centered on the idea of a strong caliphate. While Abdülhamid’s 33-year reign did not stop the inevitable fall of the empire, he managed to give the Ottomans a final period of relative strength in the face of European encroachment and colonialism, with Islam being the central focus of his empire.

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Al-Biruni: A Master of Scholarship
Apr. 02 Featured, Islam in India, Math and Science 1 comment
When learning about Islamic history, it’s hard to not be amazed at the scientific and intellectual accomplishments of Muslims in the past. From medicine to mathematics to philosophy to art to physics, during their golden age, Muslims were at the forefront of almost all sciences, making new discoveries and building on earlier ones. Names like Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Khaldun, and al-Farabi come to mind when people think of the giants of Islamic science.

One man who is in this elite group of the greatest scholars of all time is the Muslim Persian polymath, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni. He lived from 973 to 1048 and spent most of his life in Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. During his illustrious career, al-Biruni became an expert in numerous subjects, including history, physics, mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, comparative religion, and earth sciences. Despite the unsettling political problems the Muslim world was dealing with during his life, he managed to rise above the instability and become one of the greatest scholars of history.

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The Importance of Studying History According to Ibn Khaldun
Mar. 29 Islamic Sciences, Philosophy no comments
The following is a translation from the opening pages Ibn Khaldun’s book of world history, Tarikh ibn Khaldun, written in 1377 in North Africa.

Ibn Khaldun was a scholar of history, economics, sociology, and historiography. His summary of history and particularly its introduction, the Muqaddimah,  is seen by many as the basis for modern historical philosophy.

“Know that the subject of history is a noble science that can be very beneficial only if it gives us a proper understanding of:

1- Previous nations’s morals and character

2- The stories of the Prophets

3- Government and politics

For whoever embarks on the study of history, they will end up in a beneficial imitation of the mindset of previous peoples in the subjects of religion and worldly matters.

This subject is dependent on studying numerous sources, understanding diverse subjects, having the best insight and analysis, and being able to verify the truth of sources as they can deviate and be filled with mistakes. Historical research must not be dependent on bare copying of all reports. It should instead be based on an understanding of local customs, politics, the nature of civilization, and the local conditions of where humans live. You must also be able to compare primary and secondary sources, as they can help you differentiate between the truth and falsehood, helping derive conclusions that are believable and honest.”


Translation by Firas Alkhateeb.


What Was Special About Pre-Islamic Arabia?
Mar. 25 Featured 10 comments
In the early 600s, a new religious and political force arose out of the deserts of Arabia. Islam, spearheaded by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, quickly became the way of life for the entire Arabian Peninsula within a few years of the first revelations. By the end of the reigns of the first four caliphs, the Islamic realm extended from Libya in the West to Persia in the East. And just 100 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Muslims had expanded the empire into Spain and India.

Throughout world history, no other movement has grown as fast as Islam did in its first 100 years. What was special about Islam and the conditions it was born into that allowed it to grow so rapidly? Some historians attempt to offer simplistic explanations about why Islam spread so fast such as drought in the Arabian Peninsula, constant in-fighting among the Arabs, and Arab pride/nationalism. The truth is of course much more complex and nuanced than a simple one-line slogan. In fact, the Arabian Peninsula and the surrounding lands were perfectly prepared for the arrival of a powerful monotheistic and uniting force. The culture, language, geography, and politics of the Middle East could not have been better situated for the arrival of Islam in the early 600s.

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