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greater jihad

May 17, 2007

Documentation of
“Greater Jihad” hadith

(upd. Feb 28, 2005)

The “Greater Jihad” hadith comes to us
•  marfu` (as a Prophetic saying),
•  mawquf (as a Companion-saying), and
•  maqtu` (as a Tabi`i-saying or later).

I. Marfu`

As a Prophetic saying this hadith has two similar wordings from Jabir:

1. “Some troops came back from an expedition and went to see the Messenger of Allah MHMD sallallahu `alayhi wa-Sallam. He said: “You have come for the best, from the smaller jihad (al-jihad al-asghar) to the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar).” Someone said, “What is the greater jihad?” He said: “The servant’s struggle against his lust”(mujahadat al-`abdi hawah).

Al-Bayhaqi narrated it in al-Zuhd al-Kabir (Haydar ed. p. 165 §373 = p. 198 §374) and said: “This is a chain that contains weakness” (hadha isnadun fihi da`f). One might cautiously conclude from this that al-Bayhaqi himself does not consider it a forgery in view of his shart [ie. condition] that he does not narrate forgeries in any of his books except he indicates it.

2. “The Prophet MHMD upon him and his Family and Companions blessings and peace returned from one his expeditions and said: “You have come for the best. You have come from the smaller jihad to the greater jihad.” They said, “What is the greater jihad, Messenger of Allah?” He said: “The servant’s struggle against his lust.”Al-Khatib narrated it in Tarikh Baghdad (13:493=13:523).

Both their chains contain Yahya ibn al-`Ala’ al-Bajali al-Razi who is accused of forgery as per Ibn Hajar in the Taqrib, in addition to Layth ibn Abi Sulaym – Ibn Hajar said he was abandoned as a hadith narrator due to the excessiveness of his mistakes in addition to being a concealer of his sources (mudallis). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim did narrate three hadiths from him but only as corroborations of established chains.)

This shows that the statement of Ibn Taymiyya in Majmu` al-Fatawa (11:197 = his anti-Sufi tract al-Furqan bayna Awliya al-Rahman wa-Awliya al-Shaytan) “La asla lahu” is inaccurate, as this expression in their terminology denotes chainlessness. Al-Zayla`i also could not find it but, instead of positively denying the existence of hadiths he does not know like Ibn Taymiyya, he uses the expression “gharib jiddan” (extremely solitary/odd) as he does here in his Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (2:395 §825).

Most accurate is the verdict of Ibn Hajar: “its chain contains weak narrators” in his Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (p. 114) while al-Ahdab in his Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad (9:309-311 §2077) says “isnad talif” (a worthless chain).

All of the above negative verdicts concern the chain. The hadith in its meaning is confirmed by the Qur’an and established reports, at least two of them explicit in the preference of the mujahada or jihad of the ego over any other type but without using the specific term jihad akbar. This has been discussed elsewhere:

Yet, Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda mentioned in his marginalia on al-Lacknawi’s al-Ajwibat al-Fadila (p. 156 bottom) that his teacher Shaykh Ahmad al-Ghumari authored a monograph titled Tahsin al-Khabar al-Warid fil-Jihad al-Akbar (“The Fair Grade of the Extant Report on the Greater Jihad”) – presumably from an isnad standpoint but I have not seen this monograph by the Moroccan muhaddith mirabilis.

II. Mawquf

As a Companion-saying Ibn Rajab attributes something similar to `Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As in Sharh Hadith Labbayk (p. 128) but without chain nor reference.

III. Maqtu`

1. As a Tabi`i-saying this report is narrated as a statement of the brilliant Tabi`i Imam of Palestine Ibrahim ibn Abi `Abla by al-Nasa’i in his Kuna as mentioned by al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (2:144); Ibn Hajar in Tasdid al-Qaws, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (1:142), and al-Kafi al-Shaf fi Takhrij Ahadith al-Kashshaf (p. 114); and al-Zayla`i, op. cit.

Al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (Fikr ed. 6:486) says Muhammad ibn Ziyad al-Maqdisi said it was the habit of Ibrahim to address whoever came back from ghazu with that phrase. (Also among his sayings: “Whoever carries strange and unusual knowledge carries much evil.”)

2. As an Atba`-saying al-Bayhaqi also narrates it in al-Zuhd from Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham (p. 152)

3. and Abu Hatim al-Asamm (p. 286).

Ibn Taymiyya himself leaves no doubt as to the fact that jihad al-nafs comes first and is the precondition sine qua non of military jihad as he states it in and as related from him by Ibn al-Qayyim toward the very end of Rawdat al-Muhibbin: “I heard our Shaykh say, ‘The jihad of nafs and hawa is the foundation of jihad of the disbelievers and hypocrites; one cannot do jihad of them before he first does jihad of his nafs and hawa, then he goes out and fights them.'”

As for Ibn al-Qayyim then haddith wala haraj, he goes on and on about the jihad of the ego as the “prime” (al-muqaddam) and “most obligatory” (al-afraD) jihad in al-Fawa’id, Zad al-Ma`ad, al-Ruh, Ighathat al-Lahfan….
But neither he nor his teacher uses the term al-jihad al-akbar.

GF Haddad

Muslims under non-muslim rule by Yahya Michot,; oxford

May 17, 2007

Book Review – The father of Islamic radicalism?

Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule, by Yahya Michot, Oxford: Interface Publications, pp. 190, 2006, HB.

Born in 1263 in Harran (located close to Damascus) into a family of Islamic scholars and Hanbali jurists, Ibn Taymiyyah received his early education in Arabic and traditional Islamic sciences at home under the tutelage of his pre-eminent father. According to Yahya Michot, the author of the book under review, Ibn Taymiyyah was around seven when his family was forced to flee to Damascus due to an imminent threat of Mongol invasion.
In Damascus he studied under the guidance of some of the city’s leading theologians and jurists, and was barely seventeen when Shams al-Din, the city’s Chief Justice, granted him ijaza (certification) to issue fatwa. As an omnivorous reader, he claimed to have read more than two hundred different tafâsir (commentaries on the Qur’an) and became a leading authority on tafsir, hadith (Prophetic traditions), fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and ‘ilm al-kalam (dialectic theology). He knew the Qur’an and hadith literature probably better than any other scholar of his generation so much so that his books and treatises on Islamic sciences, philosophy, logic, comparative religion and heresiography are replete with references to the Qur’an, Prophetic traditions and the sayings of the early Islamic scholars.
Ibn Taymiyyah was not only an outstanding Islamic scholar and jurist, he was also a prolific writer and critic. According to Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi, the author of Tadhkirat al-Huffaz, he ate little and did not marry, and remained a confirmed bachelor all his life. This enabled him to read extensively and write prolifically on a wide range of subjects. Indeed, according to some of his biographers, he authored as many as five hundred books and treatises on all aspects of Islam and also actively participated in jihad (military struggle) against the Mongol invaders. However, to understand Ibn Taymiyyah, his religious ideas and thoughts, one has to thoroughly examine the social, political and intellectual condition of his time.
He was born five years after the Mongol sack of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. It was a time of considerable socio-political uncertainty and upheaval as the Mongols threatened to overwhelm the entire Islamic East. Likewise, most of the prominent Islamic scholars and jurists of the time were in the service of the ruling elites and this created a culture of blind imitation (taqlid) rather than promote intellectual creativity and fresh thinking. To make matters worse, the Sufis, he felt, had deviated from the original, pristine Prophetic norms and practices (sunnah). Thus, living as he did at a challenging and unpredictable period in Islamic history, it is not surprising that Ibn Taymiyyah’s life and thought also reflected the difficulties and contradictions of his time.
That is why it is imperative to study and explore his writings in the existential condition in which they were produced otherwise one is not only likely to misunderstand but also misinterpret them. His Mardin fatwa (which is the subject-matter of the book under review) is a good example. Mardin, as the author explains, is a Turkish town which “occupies a strikingly strategic location. It is dominated by a fortress reputed to have been unassailable, from which the view reaches deep into the vast plain of upper Mesopotamia.” (p1) And although the precise date of this fatwa is not known, Ibn Taymiyyah issued it in response to a request to clarify whether Mardin was a domain of peace (dar al-salam) or domain of war (dar al-harb).
In his own words, “Is [Mardin] a domain of war or of peace? It is a [city of a status] composite (murakkab), in which both the things signified [by those terms are to be found]. It is not in the situation of a domain of peace in which the institutions (ahkam) of Islam are implemented because its army (jund) is [composed of] Muslims. Nor is it in the situation of a domain of war, whose inhabitants are unbelievers. Rather, it constitutes a third type [of domain], in which the Muslim shall be treated as he merits, and in which the one who departs from the Way/Law of Islam shall be combated as he merits.” (p65)
Ibn Taymiyyah’s refusal to say whether Mardin was a domain of war or peace is most significant, not least because in the West he is increasingly considered to be the real inspiration behind many radical groups including al-Qa’ida.
In addition to Western writers like Gilles Kepel (Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, Cambridge, 2002) and Malise Ruthven (A Fury for God: The Islamist Attack on America, London, 2002), the US 9/11 Commission Report identified him as an intellectual champion of contemporary Islamic radicalism/militancy. But is he the real inspiration behind these radical groups? His refusal to say whether Mardin was a land of war or peace proves, if proof was required, that his religious ideas and thoughts were far from being black and white. Indeed, according to Michot, “Crass howlers about Ibn Taymiyyah have long been in circulation – one might think as far back as the tittle-tattle about him hawked around by Ibn Battuta. Since 9/11, however, the situation has worsened. The most ignorant untruths are reproduced apace, not only in the media but even in supposedly serious studies.” (p123) He then takes prominent academics and writers like N J Delong-Bas (Georgetown University); Bernard Haykel (New York University); Menahem Milson (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Guy Sorman (University of Paris) to task for disseminating untruths about Ibn Taymiyyah.
If Ibn Taymiyyah is grossly misunderstood by Western scholars and writers, then many contemporary Islamists have also failed to understand and appreciate his ideas and thoughts, argues Michot. He proves his case by examining six modern Muslim readings of Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa; he shows how five of the six writers and activists (namely, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj, Abdullah Azzam, Muhammad al-Mas’ari, Abd al-Aziz al-Jarbu and Zuhayr Salim) have singularly failed to understand the full thrust and complexity of his religious ideas and thought. A closer examination of Ibn Taymiyyah’s vast corpus of writing demonstrates, argues Michot, he was in favour of resisting foreign invaders but completely rejected internal rebellion and insurgency. So, far from being a champion of religious radicalism, he was a sophisticated and pragmatic Islamic scholar and thinker, argues Michot. If this is true, why is he so readily misunderstood and misinterpreted – both by the Western scholars as well as the Islamists?
Michot, who is a lecturer at Oxford University and prominent authority on Ibn Taymiyyah, argues both the Western scholars and the Islamists have advertently or inadvertently emphasised his political thought at the expense of his moral and ethical teachings. This has led to the increasing politicisation of his complex and sophisticated writings on Islamic moral, ethical and legal thought. This raises an interesting question, namely, were there two different Ibn Taymiyyahs, an “Islamic reactionary and jihadist” or Islamic thinker and pragmatist?
Michot has no doubt that he was a pragmatist who carefully examined the ideals and realities of his time before he authorised military action or issued a legal decree to the contrary. To him, Ibn Taymiyyah was a multi-dimensional Islamic scholar and thinker, whose writing needs to be studied and explored in their totality if one is to understand and appreciate them fully. Although I could not agree more, it may nevertheless be possible to argue, for instance, that Ibn Taymiyyah the jurist was very different from Ibn Taymiyyah the critic. The reason for this is because his Islamic moral, ethical, legal and economic thoughts are much more polished and restrained in their tone than, for instance, his refutation of the Sufis, falasifah, mantiq’in, qadariyyah, the Christians, etc. Thus, as a polemicist, he was not only uncompromising but also very dogmatic. This naturally led to his incarceration on more than one occasion, but Michot is right to say Ibn Taymiyyah bore all his trials and tribulations with great patience and dignity. He eventually died in prison in 1328.
Having said that, Yahya Michot should be congratulated for writing this book; it is a powerful and cogent defence of Ibn Taymiyyah against the charge of radicalism/militancy. Originally written in French and meticulously translated into English by Jamil Qureshi, Ibn Taymiyyah’s Mardin fatwa is rigorously referenced. The author’s commentary and exploration of the fatwa is both extensive and enlightening, even if at times one feels he is all too eager to give Ibn Taymiyyah the benefit of the doubt
Muhammad Khan
M Khan is author of The Muslim 100: The Life, Thought and Achievement of the Most Influential Muslims in
History (forthcoming).

Marmaduke Pickthall

May 9, 2006

 The translation duly appeared, in 1930, and was hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘a great literary achievement.’ Avoiding both the Jacobean archaisms of Sale, and the baroque flourishes and expansions of Yusuf Ali (whose translation Pickthall regarded as too free), it was recognised as the best translation ever of the Book, and, indeed, as a monument in the history of translation. Unusually for a translation, it was further translated into several other languages, including Tagalog, Turkish and Portuguese.
In 1935 Pickthall left Hyderabad.

In 1935 Pickthall left Hyderabad. His school was flourishing, and he had forever to deny that he was the Fielding of E.M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India. (He knew Forster well, and the charge may not be without foundation.) He handed over Islamic Culture to the new editor, the Galician convert Muhammad Asad. He then returned to England, where he set up a new society for Islamic work, and delivered a series of lectures.
Despite this new activity, however, his health was failing, and he must have felt as Winstanley felt:

‘And here I end, having put my arm as far as my strength will go to advance righteousness.  I have writ, I have acted, I have peace: and now I must wait to see the Spirit do his own work in the hearts of others and whether England shall be the first land, or some other, wherein truth shall sit down in triumph.’ (Gerrard Winstanley, A New Year’s Gift for the Parliament and Army, 1650.)

He died in a cottage in the West Country on May 19 1936, of coronary thrombosis, and was laid to rest in the Muslim cemetery at Brookwood. After his death, his wife cleared his desk, where he had been revising his Madras lectures the night before he died, and she found that the last lines he had written were from the Qur’an:

‘Whosoever surrendereth his purpose to Allah, while doing good, his reward is with his Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them, neither shall they grieve.’

Marmaduke Pickthall; a brief biography, by Abd al Hakim Murad

Allah is our Sufficiency

May 7, 2006

This is another one
This is a gathering of the qadiri sufi brotherhood of chechnia may ALLAH bless them in there fight for freedom

A Shaikh at the end says:
If a wolf asks a dog, why his chained
The dog say's that's how it is

I prefer to be free,
Say's the wolf to the dog, and walks away.

That's what its like for us.
And even if it is defficult…

…We are very satisfied with our life
Praise God

If only for a day, for a year..

You can better die a Cockerel
Than a Chicken.

Truemen withstand the blows of time

Truemen become rooted in what they believe.

Hello world!

March 15, 2006

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