The Purpose of a Good Life: An Islamic Perspective

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Telling Christmas Tales

This post covers a few issues to do with the whole Christmas topic. First, as Muslims, is it OK to partake with the festivities to some capacity?

First off, as humans, we can do whatever we like. We all know this. But there are somethings that are good and are to be encouraged, and others that are bad and to be discouraged. However, as Muslims – that is, to be (good) Muslims – surely, there are certain parameters that govern these moral notions? We are, for instance, judged by Allah (Most High) according to our right conduct and wrong conduct and things inbetween.

So, coming right to it: Can we, as Muslims, partake with the Christmas festivities?
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What is a Person of Opinion?

A ‘Person of Opinion’ uses his/her own judgement to decide what is best for him/her. This is bad if ALLAH, Most High, and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, have given us guidance already. This guidance is in the form of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

“O you who have believed, obey ALLAH and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds.” (Qur’an, Muhammad 47:33)

Without that guidance we would wander the world in blindness. Such are the disbelievers.

“Indeed, for those who do not believe in the Hereafter, We have made pleasing to them their deeds, so they wander blindly.” (Qur’an An-Naml 27:4)

However, there are Muslims who wander the world in a similar manner of blindness, precisely when they decide to not adhere to the Qur’an and Sunnah and decide to use their own opinions on matters that necessitate guidance.

They use their own Opinions for three main reasons:

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The Difference between Shariah (Fiqh) and Aqeedah

Consider the degrees of halal (what is lawful) and haram (what is unlawful – and sinful) in Islam. There are 5 degrees:

  1. Fard, Wajib: This is Obligatory: You MUST do this. No excuses. Severe in punishment for failure.
  2. Mustahabat*: This is Preferred or Rewardable: For example, Qiyyum al-Layl; fasting in Shawwal; i.e. doing the Sunnah.
  3. Haram: This is Forbidden or Illegal.
  4. Makruh#: This is Hated or Disliked: i.e. it is better to avoid it for more Taqwa (piety; fear of ALLAH) – but it is not haram.
  5. Mubah: This is Allowance: For example, to eat meat… there is silence about it – it’s not haram, not mustahabat and not makruh. It’s just O.K..

*Mustahabat are those actions that if performed will achieve rewards, but if these actions are not done, they will not incur a sin.

# Makruh are those actions that if is performed will not acquire a sin, but if they are avoided will gain a reward.

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The Golden Generation

The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them. Then, there will come people after them whose testimony precedes their oaths and their oaths precede their testimony.” The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

Reported by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud. Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6065, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2533.

What this shows is there is something special about the Companions of the Prophet, and their Successors (for the next two generations). They are the Golden Generation: al-Qurun al-Dhahabiyyah. It was due to their Imaan (faith) and the Tawheed that they lived and breathed, garnered from the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, that make them examples of how to practice the teaching of the Prophet (Deen al-Islam). What is clear is they were united in their Aqeedah.

And the intended purpose is that the Sahaabah – may Allaah be pleased with them – did not fight ever, over a principle (qaa’idah) from the principles of Islaam originally. And they did not differ in anything from the qawaa’id of Islaam, not about the Attributes, not about the Qadr, not about the issues of al-Asmaa` and al-Ahkaam (rulings), nor in the issues of the Imaamah.” (Minhaajus-Sunnah (6/336) of Ibn Taymiyyah)

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Lesson 23: The 29 Characteristics of Ahl al Sunna wal Jammah


What characterises Ahl al Sunna wal Jammah from other groups? Especially in matters of aqeedah?

The unique position with the aqeedah of Ahl as Sunna wal Jamaah is that noone can deny it because it is all evidence-based and goes right back to the formative period of Islam.

For instance, if we glance at the deviant sects, we notice they have a specific focus, which though their topic of interest itself is good – these groups make these topics an unbalanced priority. For instance:

  • The Khawarij focus only on jihad or the outward signs of worship
  • The Shia focus only on the ahl al bayt (i.e. the family of Ali, may Allah be pleased with him)
  • The Sufis focus only on dhikr
  • Hizbut Tahrir (HT) focus only on khilafa
  • Ikhwan al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) focus only on the unity of the Muslims

But the reality is that the mission of the prophets was only ever about Towhid (the one-ness of Allah, monotheism). And this is the priority of the Ahl al Sunnah wal Jamaah or the Muwahidun (monotheists):

  • “Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, is One.” Deuteronomy 6:4
  • La ilaha illallah: There is no ilah except Allah (The Only One, Unique, True Ilah [i.e. deity, god, one to worship])

So what exactly are the characteristics of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jamaah?

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A note on what is meant by ‘Sunnah’ and ‘Jamaah’

sunnah jamaah2

By ‘Sunnah’, which means ‘the tradition’, what is meant is the general tradition of all the prophets and messengers from Adam, the First to Muhammad, the Last (peace be upon them all). This tradition is focussed on Towhid (monotheism, the One-ness of Allah). It is also refers to the specific tradition of the Last prophet as his alloted time lasts till the Last Day. In this sense, it is a short hand for us to follow what has been revealed via the Qur’an (Allah’s revelation to the prophet- Most Exalted be Allah, The Lord of All that exists) and the Sunnah (the traditions of the Last prophet).

By ‘Jamaah’, what is meant is generally the ijma (consensus) of the community of believers, which is a reference to the early community around the prophet (peace be to him) that included the first three generations. Their understanding is critical – even now – because they were the closest to his way (his Sunnah) and lived it after he died. The superiority of their perspectives that should never be overlooked is vouched for and supported by authentic hadiths. Specifically, however, ‘Jamaah’ is a reference to the necessity to imbibe the ‘Heart-Action’ (one of the parts of faith outlined previously) without which whatever knowledge and whatever action we possess or demonstrate is ultimately meaningless.

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.”

(Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran 3:103 – My emphasis, bold and italic)

So here we have a direct connection between loyalty, obedience, practice and necessity for Allah’s ‘rope’ or His Way (Qur’an and Sunnah) and our hearts (hence, Heart-Action).

This is why this topic of aqeedah is critical to first know and then apply.